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In This Edition

Norman Solomon says, "In 18 Months, Republicans Are Very Likely To Control Congress. Being In Denial Makes It Worse."

Ralph Nader says to, "Challenge Government's Autocratic Incommunicados."

Jesse Jackson says, "Supreme Court Guts Voting Rights Act- Again."

Jim Hightower asks, "Is Your Governor Part Of The GOP's Border Stunt?"

William Rivers Pitt watches a, "Billionaire Tax Cheat Travels To Space For A Few Minutes."

John Nichols says, "Educators And Their Unions Will Defend The Honest Teaching Of History."

James Donahue wonders if, "Human Brains Are Shrinking; Is This Bad?"

David Swanson says, "Biden Defends Ending A War He's Not Fully Ending."

David Suzuki concludes, "Reparation, Land And Justice For Indigenous Peoples Is Long Overdue."

Charles P. Pierce finds, "Lisa Murkowski Has Angered Trump With Her Insistence On Staying (Relatively) Sane."

Juan Cole reports, "Gasoline And Coal's Climate Freak Show: Fire-nado, 1 Billion Dead Marine Animals, And Earth's All-Time Record Heat."

Robert Reich sends, "Trump To The Barricades."

Amy Goodman & Denis Moynihan gives, "A Posthumous Measure Of Justice For Berta Caceres."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion reports, "Infrastructure Talks Come To Halt After Giant Sinkhole Swallows Capitol Building," but first, Uncle Ernie considers, "Global Weirding And You."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of R.J. Matson, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Ruben Bolling, Chip Somodevilla, Christopher Dolan, Patrick T. Fallon, Tamara Herman, Drew Angerer, Robert Reich, Jim Hightower, Pexels, AFP, Unsplash, Shutterstock, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments-

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

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

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Global Weirding And You
Global warming strikes again!
By Ernest Stewart

"The term "global weirding" was coined by American environmentalist Hunter Lovins, and was popularised by the New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman in 2010. It is used to describe how climate change is causing severe adverse weather events -such as extreme hot or cold temperatures, flooding, or droughts -which will become more intense as global temperatures rise." ~~~ Harry Clarke-Ezzidio

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

I see where from the dried-out landscape of the Southwest to the rapidly warming Arctic, the climate shifts we've already seen have resulted in what some researchers call "weather weirding," as deadly and damaging weather events supercharged by global warming strike with increasing regularity. Three "heat domes" in the last three weeks is a good example! Another is that all of the 10 warmest years have occurred since 2005.

The oceans, which absorb most of the extra heat trapped by greenhouse gases, are warming so rapidly that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's chart of ocean heat content has had to be continually adjusted upwards to accommodate the new readings.

Extreme events: Climate change has manifested itself in the form of extreme weather and climate events that have cost lives and property.

During 2020, California saw its worst wildfire season on record, with massive fires also occurring in other Western states as well as Siberia and Australia, among other areas.

Due to human-caused global warming, heat waves are becoming more severe and longer-lasting across large portions of the globe, from the American Southwest to the Middle East.

A burgeoning scientific field known as extreme event attribution focuses on the links between climate change and extreme weather events, with some of these studies showing that individual events could not have occurred without human-caused global warming.

Sea level rise is leading to a dramatic increase in so-called "sunny day flooding" -floods caused by high tides combined with higher sea levels rather than weather -in major cities along the East Coast of the U.S., a trend that is forecast to continue.

The summer of 2021 is a prime example of the costly extreme weather that's becoming the norm, with a severe drought in the West combining with record heat waves to create ideal conditions for wildfires in much of the region.

Studies show that the more we cut emissions of greenhouse gases -especially if we do it quickly -the better our chances are of averting truly catastrophic consequences of climate change, such as the collapse of the Greenland or West Antarctic Ice Sheets.

Upcoming climate negotiations in November are aimed at securing enough emissions reduction commitments to avert such disastrous outcomes.

However, even if all emissions were to stop today, the long atmospheric lifetime of carbon dioxide -on the order of 1,000 years per each molecule -means that we will have to cope with climate change's effects for the rest of our lives and our children's lives too.

Because of this, adaptation efforts are underway to make society more resilient to climate shocks. As always it will be the poor who suffer the most, in India for example they're dropping like flies as no one has air conditioning except the rich. Or in Canada where those 200 or so folks that died who had no air conditioning because they never needed it before.

The bottom line: How severe the effects will be is largely up to us. Innovation in the energy sector to create the clean technologies of the future, as well as the resources we already have available, such as wind, solar, water and battery technology, mean we can cut emissions by large amounts starting now, depending on the political will. Where there's a will there's a way, but as far as I can tell, there is no political, i.e., corporate will! At least not in this country, which is, the world's biggest polluter!


07-06-1944 ~ 07-10-2021
Thanks for the music!

11-09-1945 ~ 07-12-2021
Thanks for the film!

03-18-1963 ~ 07-14-2021
Thanks for the music!


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


Until the next time, Peace!

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

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) address reporters
outside the White House after their Oval Office meeting with President Joe Biden on May 12, 2021 in Washington, DC.

In 18 Months, Republicans Are Very Likely To Control Congress. Being In Denial Makes It Worse
By Norman Solomon

Since the Civil War, midterm elections have enabled the president's party to gain ground in the House of Representatives only three times, and those were in single digits. The last few midterms have been typical: In 2006, with Republican George W. Bush in the White House, his party lost 31 House seats. Under Democrat Barack Obama, his party lost 63 seats in 2010 and then 13 seats in 2014. Under Donald Trump, in 2018, Republicans lost 41 seats. Overall, since World War II, losses have averaged 27 seats in the House.

Next year, if Republicans gain just five House seats, Rep. Kevin McCarthy or some other right-wing ideologue will become the House speaker, giving the GOP control over all committees and legislation. In the Senate, where the historic midterm pattern has been similar, a Republican gain of just one seat will reinstall Mitch McConnell as Senate majority leader.

To prevent such disastrous results, Democrats would need to replicate what happened the last time the president's party didn't lose House or Senate seats in a midterm election --two years after Bush entered the White House. The odds are steeply against it, as elections analyst Nathaniel Rakich points out: "Bush was very popular in 2002 in the aftermath of 9/11. According to a retrospective FiveThirtyEight average of polls at the time, he had a 62 percent approval rating and 29 percent disapproval rating on Election Day 2002. And in this era of polarization --where presidential approval ratings are stuck in a very narrow band --it's hard to imagine (President) Biden ever reaching that level of popularity."

It's not just history that foreshadows a return to Capitol power for the likes of McCarthy and McConnell. All year, Republican officeholders have been methodically doing all they can to asphyxiate democracy. And they can do a lot more.

With new census data, the once-in-a-decade chance to redistrict means that Republican-dominated state legislatures can do maximal gerrymandering. "Because Democrats fell short of their 2020 expectations in state legislative races," FiveThirtyEight politics reporter Alex Samuels says, "Republicans have the opportunity to redraw congressional maps that are much more clearly in their favor." All this year, awaiting census figures to manipulate, Republican legislatures have been enacting outrageous new voter-suppression laws, many of the sort recently greenlighted by the Supreme Court and calculated to destroy voting rights.

In the face of impending election disasters in 2022 and beyond, denial might be a natural coping mechanism, but it only makes matters worse. Reality should now spur a sustained all-out effort --in courts, legislatures, Congress and public venues --to safeguard as many democratic processes as possible for next year's elections, while organizing against the dozens of major voter-suppression tactics of recent years.

At the same time, truly bold political actions --culminating in landmark legislation to improve the economic and social well-being of vast numbers of Americans --will be essential to improve the slim chances that Biden's presidency won't lead to a Republican takeover of Congress midway through his term. Though largely drowned out by the din of mainstream punditry urging "bipartisan" approaches, many astute voices are urgently calling for measures that could transform political dynamics before the 2022 general elections.

* "We've got to go big, and take it to another level," first-term Democratic Rep. Jamaal Bowman said in an email to supporters this week. "We've got to deliver and get this done for our communities. So why on earth are we wasting time trying to compromise with Republicans?" Bowman added: "If we do not fight for our communities and put them in the center of the work we do --if we continue to prioritize the myth of 'bipartisanship' over the people we were elected to fight for and represent in Washington --we will lose elections. If we want to maintain control and the opportunity to do great work beyond 2022, Democrats need to deliver in this very moment."

* Nina Turner, who's likely to become a member of Congress in November after a special election for a vacant seat in a northeast Ohio district, said recently: "When are we going to learn? Republicans plan for the long term. What can we do right now before the next election cycle and get it done and go big? Because power is fleeting. You've got to use it while you've got it."

* Days ago, in a Washington Post column, The Nation's editorial director Katrina vanden Heuvel posed "the critical question" as Congress reconvened after a holiday break: "Are Democrats ready to act?" She wrote: "While President Biden is selling the bipartisan infrastructure deal as a 'generational investment,' the real effort will come from using the budget reconciliation process to pass vitally needed public investments with Democratic votes only. For all the focus on Biden's ability to work across the aisle, the true challenge is whether he and the congressional leadership can work with all Democrats. That test will do much to determine whether the party can retain or increase its majorities in the next election --and whether the country will begin to address the cascading crises that it faces."

What remains to be determined is whether such warnings will end up being the tragically prophetic voices of Cassandras --or clarion calls for action that are heeded in time to prevent an unhinged Republican Party from taking control of Congress when 2023 begins.

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

"If members of Congress aren't listening or responding except to commercial lobbyists and some causes
that happen by gut-wrenching tragedy to be in the news, Congress just becomes a stone-walling dictatorship
for lawlessness, servicing the always welcomed lawless, self-enriching plutocracy."
(Louise Hachmeister, White House operator on switchboard, March 7, 1933

Mind-Stretching Summertime Book Recommendations
By Ralph Nader

The First Amendment to our Constitution declares that Congress cannot abridge the right of the people " petition the Government for a redress of grievances." Unfortunately, this vital tool of our democracy is easily circumvented by Congress simply not responding whatsoever to "petitions" by the citizenry. This government undermining of our constitutional right is producing invincibly incommunicado government officials.

Countless times over the years, I have asked civic group leaders about the outcome of their "petition," their deliberative letters, their serious requests regarding desired policy changes, public hearings, new initiatives, and reversal of courses of actions. Their replies have almost always been no answer, no response, didn't hear from them, and not even an acknowledgment of receipt.

This government of the incommunicado, by the incommunicado, and for the incommunicado infects both Congress and Executive Branch agencies.

I am not referring to congressional "casework" matters or letters and calls from campaign donors, social buddies, nor the easy letters by politicians on the occasion of birthdays and graduations.

I am referring to letters about serious matters of government raised by the citizenry. George W. Bush, during the weeks leading up to his criminal, bloody invasion of Iraq in 2003, received over twelve urgent, organized requests to meet from Americans. These requests turned out to be prophetic in their warnings about the deadly consequences of this unconstitutional, illegal war. These informed entreaties came from large religious organizations, business, labor, peace, veterans, lawyers, and women's groups, as well as former intelligence officials, some of whom had recently returned from Iraq or had direct experience with the region.

They wrote, telephoned, and emailed the White House. There was not even an acknowledgment. It was as if these citizens did not exist.

Over two years later the American Bar Association (ABA) -the largest membership organization of lawyers in the country -sent Bush and Cheney three "white papers" written by ABA task forces of lawyers who served under both Republican and Democratic Administrations. These task forces charged the White House with three significant violations of the Constitution (See: The ABA did not receive an acknowledgment, never mind a response. There wasn't even a White House referral for review by the Justice Department for a response.

Our experience in recent years has confirmed that being an arrogant, incommunicado government official is now entrenched government policy. Yet, such closed-door inaction is not considered news by the media, including the independent media.

Together with two leading constitutional law specialists, Bruce Fein and Louis Fisher, I have sent scores of requests for action regarding an array of criminal and civil violations -many impeachable offenses -by Trump to the Executive Branch agencies and departments as well as Democratic leaders in Congress. Only one response from Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) was received, only because the letter was related to his prior support for invoking the 25th Amendment.

But our letters went way beyond Trump. Letters of import were sent, backed by phone calls and emails to Commissioners of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, chairs of Congressional Committees and Subcommittees, and many more. We received no response, nor any acknowledgment. Into a depthless void they were sent, by people whose jobs, salaries, and power come from the sovereignty and tax dollars of the people.

Some of these politicians might be considered political allies. Try getting Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) to return a call or respond to an invitation to be on our weekly radio show and podcast to discuss serious matters. Progressive chairs of the Senate and the House Committees on Financial Services became incommunicado after receiving two of our requests to hold long-overdue hearings on public banking and reinstating the postal savings bank. Both Senator Sherrod Brown and Congresswoman Maxine Waters chose to be incommunicado.

Among the worst is crypto Republican, the nominally Democratic Chair of the tax-writing U.S. House Ways and Means Committee, Richard Neal (D-MA). (

After one hundred or more serious letters to George W. Bush and Barack Obama went unanswered, I compiled them into a book titled, Return to Sender: Unanswered Letters to the President, 2001-2015, Seven Stories Press 2015 (See,

We don't take our government officials being incommunicado personally. We take this civically and seriously. Even members of Congress routinely do not get replies to their letters directed at the Executive Branch departments. Congressional Committee subpoenas are ignored -subpoenas! -by both Republican and Democratic Presidents. Trump set the all-time record -defying over one hundred subpoenas without so much as an acknowledgment. Why, members of Congress have told us that their own letters to other members of Congress go unanswered!

Last year, former Representative Alan Grayson (D-FL) communicated to his good friends in the House, Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) and Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), regarding a proposal to shield government Covid-19 scientists from White House madness. He got no response at all.

The straight-arm culture is omnipresent because there is no penalty, no accountability, no legal action possible for inaction, and there is no media exposure. Journalists could care less, because they are more likely to get some response to their inquiries and, if not, they simply report the lack of a reply or comment in their stories. Civic groups do not want to publicly complain, because they would appear powerless and weak. Many simply stop communicating their new horizons and urgencies.

In the nineteen sixties and seventies -until the dark Reagan years -citizen group letters for demands, requests, or advice to government officials were made public. Often the press would report on such initiatives. Politicians felt some heat to hold hearings, demand Executive Branch action, or introduce legislation. Today the absence of media coverage gives our incommunicado government officials little incentive to address civic calls to action.

Today the silence is deafening. Just try calling your members of Congress, not as one of their donors or golf companions, but as a serious informed citizen behaving as described in Civics 101. Note the automated runaround, where you end up not connecting with any real person and leaving a message that goes unanswered.

This shut-out got worse under Covid-19, but long preceded that convenient explanation for not having real human beings answer telephone calls to Congressional offices. The switchboard number for Congress is 202-224-3121. Ask for your incommunicado lawmaker or their chief of staff by name. Be patient, the Congress has taken off most of the summer until after Labor Day while still collecting their pay and perks. All the backlogged undone work on Capitol Hill can be once again deferred and avoided to the detriment of "the People."

Whatever happened to "We the People," people? Among other nullifications of your Constitution by Congress is that aforementioned part of the First Amendment. If members of Congress aren't listening or responding except to commercial lobbyists and some causes that happen by gut-wrenching tragedy to be in the news, Congress just becomes a stone-walling dictatorship for lawlessness, servicing the always welcomed lawless, self-enriching plutocracy.

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

Supreme Court Guts Voting Rights Act- Again
By Jesse Jackson

The right-wing majority on the Supreme Court just undercut the Voting Rights Act again. Having gutted the section that required pre-approval of state voting laws to protect the rights of minorities to vote in Shelby v. Holder, Republican-appointed justices now have castrated the backup clause - Section 2 - which bans racial discrimination in election practices in Brnovich v. DNC.

The result will open the floodgates even further to the wave of partisan laws that Republicans are pushing in states across the country to suppress the votes of African Americans and other people of color. The right-wing justices continue their assault on the meaning and power of the Voting Rights Act, a triumph of the Civil Rights movement that Justice Elena Kagan, writing in dissent, noted represents the "best in America."

The reaction against the civil rights movement continues. Every movement for equal justice under the law in this country has been met with a brutal reaction. When reformers tried to limit the spread of slavery into new states coming into the Republic, the slave states seceded, launching the Civil War, the deadliest war in American history.

After losing the war, when the federal government began reconstruction to free the slaves and guarantee equal political and economic rights to all, the reaction was brutal, with lynching and terrorism - led by the Ku Klux Klan and others - spreading to suppress the newly freed slaves. In the end, segregation - America's version of apartheid - spread through the South and the hope of the Civil Rights Amendments was crushed.

Now, after the civil rights movement, the Voting Rights Act and the election of Barack Obama, the reaction has been fierce. Across the country, Republican legislators have sought to make it harder for African Americans and other people of color to vote. The long lines that mark inner-city voting sites are a graphic demonstration of the success of those efforts, for many people can't take the hours off from work to cast a ballot.

In each era, the lawless reaction - and blatant violations of the Constitution - have been ratified by disgraceful decisions in the Supreme Court. The Court ratified segregation in Plessy v. Ferguson, inventing the doctrine of separate but equal - a concept that existed only in the judge's imaginations not in the realities of any of the former slave states. Voter suppression following the civil rights movement was ratified in Shelby v. Holder and now in Brnovich vs. the DNC, that have essentially gutted the Voting Rights Act, the crown jewel of the civil rights movement.

The so-called "conservative" justices on the Supreme Court are rewriting the laws passed by Congress to serve their own partisan purposes. Now the excuse is to limit voter fraud, even though there is no evidence of such fraud other than in the ravings of partisan politicians.

This struggle will continue. Clearly Republicans across the country have decided that rather than seeking to win the votes of African Americans and other peoples of color, they would rather pass measures to suppress their vote - from discriminatory changes in voting practices, to gerrymandering of districts, to - most dangerously - empowering Republican legislatures to overturn the results of an election.

Once more people of conscience must stand up and organize to protect the right to vote and to counter those who would suppress it. Once more, right-wing justices have written another shameful chapter of judicial ignominy that must simply be overturned.

Once more Congress must act to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act to counter the brazen efforts of the Court's right wing to neuter it. Once more, those standing in the way of equality under the law will find that the movement for justice will not be deterred.

(c) 2021 Jesse Jackson is an African-American civil rights activist and Baptist minister. He was a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984 and 1988 and served as shadow senator for the District of Columbia from 1991 to 1997. He was the founder of both entities that merged to form Rainbow/PUSH.

Is Your Governor Part Of The GOP's Border Stunt?
By Jim Hightower

Herd immunity is important in stopping deadly viruses, but in politics the herd instinct can send a whole species over a cliff.

Witness the frenzied herd of Republican governors now stampeding behind the scaremongering scheme of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to use the personal suffering of Latin-American migrants and asylum seekers as political pawns. Rather than helping find a humane solution to the very real plight of these desperate Latin people, various governors are following Abbott in confronting the migrating families with "Keep-Out" military-style force. First came Ron DeSantis of Florida, strutting around in a mucho macho photo-op, pledging to send a small hodge-podge of deputies, highway patrol, and even wildlife officials (!) to Texas for a few days. What will they do? Who'll direct them? Who would pay? Uh... DeSantis didn't know.

Then came Cornhusker Gov. Pete Ricketts, proclaiming that "Nebraska is stepping up to help Texas respond to the ongoing crisis on their border." But local public officials who're actually on the Texas border say there is a problem, not a crisis -and helter-skelter squads of clueless gendarmes from afar won't help. Still the hyper-partisan governor of Iowa, Kim Reynolds, said she was sending a few state troopers to Texas to defend "The health and safety of Iowans." Interestingly, she had refused a request this spring by the Biden administration to help house migrant children crossing our border to seek asylum, coldly declaring, "This is not our problem."

South Dakota's Kristi Noam also piled on, dispatching some of her state's National Guard troops to Texas. Oddly, though, Noam's troops were not sent as true agents of the state, but 25 political mercenaries, paid an undisclosed amount by an out-of-state right-wing billionaire to join in the GOP governors' border stunt.

To monitor the posturing of these shameful frauds, go to

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

Virgin Galactic founder Sir Richard Branson drinks champagne with crew members after flying into space aboard a Virgin Galactic vessel, near Truth and Consequences, New Mexico, on July 11, 2021.

Billionaire Tax Cheat Travels To Space For A Few Minutes
By William Rivers Pitt

It isn't often that we see a New York Times paragraph so freighted with syrup and honeyed goo, but there it was on Sunday afternoon, like something you'd order at IHOP to beat back a hangover: "Soaring more than 50 miles into the hot, glaringly bright skies above New Mexico, Richard Branson at last fulfilled a dream that took decades to realize: He can now call himself an astronaut."

Better lede: "Fulfilling his desire to beat a fellow billionaire into the lowest verge of space, notorious tax cheat Richard Branson burned some of the money he owes his home country in order to fling himself past the troposphere so he could experience weightlessness for as much time as it takes to make a decent bowel movement. An achievement that will go down in corporate history, Branson now holds bragging rights over the guy whose monopolies are eating the economy alive."

When I was 12 years old, I got in trouble because of space. In 1983, my friend Andrew and I went to the Circle Cinema to see The Right Stuff for real, Philip Kaufman's soaring film based on the Tom Wolfe book about the early days of space travel. I didn't tell the person picking us up that the movie was more than three hours long, because I didn't know, and didn't notice once I was inside. I was utterly captivated from the moment Levon Helm spoke the opening words: "There was a demon that lived in the air. They said whoever challenged him would die." I emerged from the theater with stars in my eyes to find my ride, who had been lapping the block for more than an hour, red-faced and furious from having been made to wait.

I was gone, and a fair portion of me still resides in the little palace of wonder that was constructed 37 years ago by that masterpiece of propaganda... because it happened. Astronauts strapped themselves to the nosecones of fluky missiles and dared the thing to kill them before they got home again. Later, they jumped into shuttles that got more perilous to fly with each passing year, and some of them came home in tiny smoldering pieces.

In the intervening years, we have borne witness to moonwalks, Mars landings, the exploration of Saturn, the majesty of the Hubble telescope, and the daunting yet thrilling idea that somewhere out there, farther from Earth than anyone has ever been, the Voyager deep space probe - seeking other intelligent life - is carrying music made by Aboriginal Australians, percussion from Senegal, Mozart, Bach, a Navajo night chant, and the blues lamentations of Blind Willie Johnson, who died penniless in 1945 after sleeping in the rain-swept ruins of his burned-out house.

I get the argument against space exploration: Public money should be used to help people here on Earth instead of chasing stardust beyond the atmosphere, and the "space race" lionized by The Right Stuff was a well-orchestrated propaganda arm of the Cold War. Shifting the burden of financing these endeavors to the private sector frees up desperately needed funds for, well, everybody.

Something in me still cleaves to the dream of space exploration, however, and no amount of pragmatism about funding can shake it loose.


Because of the Hubble Deep Field.

Please look at this image closely. First taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in 1995, the "Deep Field" is a series of pictures of a black spot of space the size of a grain of sand held at arm's length. Once the exposures were done, the pictures revealed thousands of galaxies in that one tiny dot. Thousands of galaxies, with millions of stars and billions of planets. Spread that dot across 360 degrees of sky, and you are confronted with an incredibly crowded universe and the astonishment of time travel - the galaxies shown are billions of years old now - wonders stacked upon wonders, and the likelihood of life somewhere out there if the Law of Large Numbers has any meaning.

The Hubble Deep Field altered my perspective forever. It happened because public money was spent on it. The spark of discovery fires the imagination. I bow to the counterargument about funds needed elsewhere, but I will always be that kid in the dark theater way back in Reagan's first term when we all expected to die in a pillar of nuclear fire. On that screen was wonder, a reach for achievement, and hope... everything magical about the human experience.

But this corporate billionaire space race? You can keep it. Billionaire Jeff Bezos is slated to blast off on his own tax-free ego project in nine days, and the corporate media will fawn over it as they did for Branson on Sunday. Corporate news treating a corporate space race like the Armstrong landing? Sounds like savvy marketing to me, but it leaves inspiration in ashes.

What's to follow? The first trillionaires racing each other to the moon to see who can carve their corporate logo into the dust and rock so the whole planet can see it every night, whether they want to or not? You know that's next, right? Of course it is, and the corporate media will lavish praise on it like they did all day on Sunday. Never mind that space is the most inhospitable environment we've ever encountered as a species, so billionaire dreams of sipping poolside champagne with a full view of Earth are, to be blunt, unrealistic.

Space travel used to be about "us," a collective effort by the country to reach beyond previously unreachable limits. That was the Cold War propaganda, anyway, and it had an unavoidable allure. Now, it's about "them," the 0.1 percent who hide their fortunes and use those revenues to give their egos a televised tongue-bath in zero-g, followed by a gala event suffused with celebrities. Space exploration is now a plaything for those who already exist in an alien atmosphere. I'm pretty sure Chuck Yeager would not be impressed.

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

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten has come under attack by conservatives for pushing back at Republican attempts to restrict teaching about race.

Educators And Their Unions Will Defend The Honest Teaching Of History
By John Nichols

The cynical assault on honest instruction about American history has come to Wisconsin. State Sen. Andre Jacque, R-DePere, and state Rep. Chuck Wichgers, R-Muskego, are promoting legislation that aims to prevent public schools from teaching critical race theory concepts about the role systemic racism has played in warping public policy and undermining efforts to forge a more perfect union.

Wisconsin Republicans did not come up with this legislation on their own. They tapped into a national political strategy for stirring up resentment going into the 2022 midterm elections. At the heart of that effort is fearmongering about critical race theory and related efforts to examine the history of institutionalized racism.

Conservative strategists hope Republican politicians and Fox News hosts can convince suburban swing voters that the issue that matters most in their lives is the history curriculum at the local high school. It's an old "culture wars" strategy, but it only works if the GOP spin goes unquestioned.

That means that challenges to the big lie du jour are being treated as threats - not merely to the absurd arguments of CRT critics but to Republican electoral prospects in 2022. Vitriolic attacks from right-wing talk radio and on social media make it hard to explain CRT as what it is: an academic project that seeks to expand thinking about systems that perpetuate racism.

But Randi Weingarten is unafraid of the right-wing speech police. The American Federation of Teachers union president took them on last week with a robust defense of public education that teaches the whole story of America.

"Let's be clear: critical race theory is not taught in elementary schools or high schools," she said. "It's a method of examination taught in law school and college that helps analyze whether systemic racism exists - and, in particular, whether it has an effect on law and public policy. But culture warriors are labeling any discussion of race, racism or discrimination as CRT to try to make it toxic. They are bullying teachers and trying to stop us from teaching students accurate history."

Weingarten, a savvy observer of politics at its best and worst, has identified the danger in blunt terms.

"These culture warriors want to deprive students of a robust understanding of our common history. This will put students at a disadvantage in life by knocking a big hole in their understanding of our country and the world," she told the virtual AFT TEACH Conference. "Yale historian Timothy Snyder likens it to the 'memory laws' of Soviet and other repressive regimes. Authoritarians take actions designed to manipulate interpretation of the past, assert a mandatory view of events and forbid discussions of accurate historical facts. But you - the professionals in the classroom, the people who use your expertise to help our students succeed - you know better. We teach history, not hate."

This pushback scared the proponents of the assault on CRT. Fox News, right-wing talk radio and the Wall Street Journal ripped into Weingarten. The Journal editorial page was especially angry with the union leader for comparing the whipped-up crusade against CRT "to historical revisionism in the Soviet Union and other repressive regimes."

The reality, of course, is that rewriting history in order to prevent education about what really happened is what authoritarians do. Former President Donald Trump has been peddling a false narrative about the 2020 election. Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson is claiming that the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol wasn't an insurrection. So it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that opponents of thoughtful instruction regarding systemic racism want us to believe there is something un-American about teaching that slavery, segregation, redlining, economic inequity and structural racism in the criminal justice system have fostered contemporary inequality.

In addition to attacking Weingarten, the Wall Street Journal attacked delegates to the annual meeting of the National Education Association for supporting a call for "a national day of action to teach lessons about structural racism and oppression." In particular, it seems, the Journal editors were concerned that proposals for action have come from Black Lives Matter at School and the Zinn Education Project.

"That's Zinn as in Howard Zinn, the late radical whose history of the United States boils down to one long tale of the people versus the oppressors in power," warned the editorial page, which declared, "The NEA and AFT get behind progressive political indoctrination."

The editors would do well to read Zinn's writings, which celebrate the struggles of working-class people of all races and backgrounds against elites who would create a society where the balance is invariably tipped in favor of the wealthy and powerful. Zinn's books aren't about indoctrination but liberation. They argue that knowing the full history of the United States, the good and the bad, the tragic and the inspiring, will free people to forge a more economically, socially and racially just and democratic United States.

That's what the critics of teaching about systemic racism, who decry "critical race theory," fear the most. They know that voters who want justice and democracy are unlikely to empower the likes of Donald Trump and Ron Johnson. So the right is trying to cancel those who dare to suggest that America is a work in progress that benefits most from a rich understanding of its full history - and of its full potential to address the inequities that extend from that history.

"Teaching the truth is not radical or wrong," says Weingarten. "Distorting history and threatening educators for teaching the truth is what is truly radical and wrong."

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

Human Brains Are Shrinking; Is This Bad?
By James Donahue

They don't know why but scientists say the human brain has been getting smaller. Does that mean we are losing intelligence or is something else going on?

Indeed, researchers have found that our brains have generally decreased from 1,500 cubic centimeters to 1,350 centimeters. This study looked at both male and female brains. It is happening everywhere on Earth. Should we be worried?

Looking at the news reports from around the world we sometimes have to wonder about human behavior. We seem to all be caught up in some kind of religious fervor, sparked to hate anybody different from us, willing to go to war, caught up in gluttony for junk food, shiny merchandise, drugs, sex and football, and racing to extinction by recklessly polluting our air, land and water. Overall, it doesn't appear that we are very smart at all.

The music and art being produced . . . at least for the public eye . . . literally stinks. Our television programming appears designed for idiots. Our schools in America are failing to teach even the basics like reading, writing and simple mathematics. Students graduate from high school not understanding how our government works, how to make proper change when operating cash registers, or even understanding the geography of the world.

Yet there are researchers among us who are making amazing advancements in science, astronomy, medicine and philosophy that rivals anything ever done in history. There are writers, musicians, poets and artists at work behind the scenes creating amazing works, but not being recognized by people with money needed to promote them.

We don't perceive humans as having less brain power today, but instead they are victims of a defunct education system, a commercialization of too many "toys" that preoccupy their minds, and a clever system of brainwashing by the electronic and printed media that is leaving them confused and uneducated.

When compared to students in foreign countries, American students are ranked low in mathematics, science, political science and all of the other things they should know. Thus it is clear that human brain size is not causing the mental devolution.

Indeed, this writer has always struggled to find hats to fit him because of an unusually large head size. My late wife, Doris, who I considered to be much more intelligent than I, was a small person with an unusually small head. She had to be fitted with children's eye glasses and clothes. Yet she had an astounding intellect.

When researching the skull of Cro Magnon man, researchers discovered its brain was about 20 percent larger than that of contemporary humans. Yet Cro Magnons were the real "cave dwellers" of the past. They walked the Earth some 20,000 to 40,000 years ago, and preceded homo Sapiens, who had smaller sized brains, but became the dominant species that began building monuments, cities and farms.

There is a troubling aspect of this picture. When we look back at the remains of the great monuments erected by ancient civilizations we find great stone block structures, architectural wonders apparently erected without the help of modern technology. Some believe it may still be impossible for contemporary architects to duplicate many of these ancient buildings, like the Great Pyramid of Giza.

There is no way for us to measure the intelligence of our ancestors, even those who lived a century before us, so it is impossible for us to compare ourselves with the people of the past.

One thing we do know is that because of computers, i-Phones and the invention of satellite global positioning systems to guide aircraft, ships and even our cars, humans today are not using their brains as much as they once did. We don't have to memorize routes, use mathematics to locate our position at sea, or even learn how to spell the words we write. Computers do it all for us.

One of the early copies of MAD Magazine offered a cartoon story about a future society that had become so dependent on computers, everything operated under a master computer that controlled all of the machines in the world. People had become so lazy they rode around in wheeled vehicles that took them where-ever they wished at mere thought. One day the master computer broke down and the people discovered that they not only forgot how to repair it, but they lacked the muscular power to get out of their wheeled machines and walk. Their muscles had atrophied.

Are we doing this to our brains?

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

Biden Defends Ending A War He's Not Fully Ending
By David Swanson

It's been a dream of peace-loving people everywhere for over 20 years now for a U.S. government to end a war and to speak in support of having done so. Sadly, Biden is only partially ending one of the endless wars, none of the others having yet been fully ended either, and his remarks on Thursday were too glorifying of war to be of much use in the cause of abolishing it.

That said, one would not wish for Biden to bow before the belligerent demands of the U.S. media and escalate every possible war until all life on earth is ended on a day of record ratings and advertising revenue. It's helpful that there is some limit to how far he'll go.

Biden pretends that the United States attacked Afghanistan legally, justly, righteously, for noble motives. This is harmful false history. It seems helpful at first because it feeds into his "We did not go to Afghanistan to nation-build" schtick which becomes a basis for withdrawing troops. However, bombing and shooting people doesn't actually build anything no matter how long or how heavily you do it, and actual assistance to Afghanistan -reparations in fact -would be a very appropriate third choice beyond the false dichotomy of shoot them or abandon them.

Biden pretends not only that the war was launched for good reason, but that it succeeded, that it "degraded the terrorist threat." This is an example of going so big with a lie that people will miss it. The claim is ludicrous. The war on terrorism has taken a couple of hundred cave-dwellers and expanded them into thousands spread across continents. This crime is a horrendous failure on its own terms.

It's nice to hear from Biden that "it's the right and the responsibility of the Afghan people alone to decide their future and how they want to run their country." But he doesn't mean it, not with a commitment to keeping mercenaries and lawless agencies in Afghanistan, and missiles ready to do further damage from outside its borders. This has long been largely an air war, and you can't end an air war by removing ground troops. Nor is it especially helpful to wreck a place and then declare it the responsibility of those left alive to run it now.

Not to worry, however, because Biden proceeded to make clear that the U.S. government would continue funding, training, and arming the Afghan military (clearly at a reduced level). He then recounted how he had recently instructed that government as to what it needed to do. Oh, and he plans to get other nations to control an airport in Afghanistan -in support of course of Afghanistan's rights and responsibilities.

(He added as a side note that the U.S. would "continue to provide civilian and humanitarian assistance, including speaking out for the rights of women and girls." This effort compares with what's needed as Biden's domestic health, wealth, environment, infrastructure, education, retirement, and labor efforts compare with what's needed.)

All is well, Biden explains, and the reason the U.S. is helping people who collaborated in its evil occupation flee for their lives is simply that they don't have jobs. Of course there isn't anybody else anywhere in the world who doesn't have a job.

If you make it this far into Biden's firehose of BS, he starts sounding quite sensible:

"But for those who have argued that we should stay just six more months or just one more year, I ask them to consider the lessons of recent history. In 2011, the NATO Allies and partners agreed that we would end our combat mission in 2014. In 2014, some argued, 'One more year.' So we kept fighting, and we kept taking [and primarily causing] casualties. In 2015, the same. And on and on. Nearly 20 years of experience has shown us that the current security situation only confirms that 'just one more year' of fighting in Afghanistan is not a solution but a recipe for being there indefinitely."
Can't argue with that. Nor can one argue with the admissions of failure that follow (albeit in conflict with the earlier claim of success):
"But that ignores the reality and the facts that already presented on the ground in Afghanistan when I took office: The Taliban was at its strongest mil--is at its strongest militarily since 2001. The number of U.S. forces in Afghanistan had been reduced to a bare minimum. And the United States, in the last administration, made an agreement that the -with the Taliban to remove all our forces by May 1 of this past -of this year. That's what I inherited. That agreement was the reason the Taliban had ceased major attacks against U.S. forces. If, in April, I had instead announced that the United States was going to back -going back on that agreement made by the last administration -[that] the United States and allied forces would remain in Afghanistan for the foreseeable future -the Taliban would have again begun to target our forces. The status quo was not an option. Staying would have meant U.S. troops taking casualties; American men and women back in the middle of a civil war. And we would have run the risk of having to send more troops back into Afghanistan to defend our remaining troops."
If you can overlook the total indifference to the vast majority of the lives at stake, the obsession with U.S. lives (but avoidance of fact that most U.S. military deaths are suicides, often after withdrawal from a war), and the pretense of innocently stumbling into a civil war, this is basically right. It also gives Trump a good deal of credit for locking Biden into partially getting out of Afghanistan, just as Bush forced Obama to partially get out of Iraq.

Biden then moves on to admitting that the war on terrorism has been the opposite of the success he claimed:

"Today, the terrorist threat has metastasized beyond Afghanistan. So, we are repositioning our resources and adapting our counterterrorism posture to meet the threats where they are now significantly higher: in South Asia, the Middle East, and Africa."

In the same breath he makes clear that the withdrawal from Afghanistan is only partial:

"But make no mistake: Our military and intelligence leaders are confident they have the capabilities to protect the homeland and our interests from any resurgent terrorist challenge emerging or emanating from Afghanistan. We are developing a counterterrorism over-the-horizon capability that will allow us to keep our eyes firmly fixed on any direct threats to the United States in the region, and act quickly and decisively if needed."
Here we have the pretense that the wars follow the spontaneous generation of terrorism, rather than stimulating it. This is followed quickly by an expression of eagerness for other wars elsewhere despite the absence of any terrorism:
"And we also need to focus on shoring up America's core strengths to meet the strategic competition with China and other nations that is really going to determine -determine our future."
Biden closes by repeately thanking the troops for the "service" of wrecking Afghanistan, pretending Native Americans are not people and the wars on them not real and the war on Afghanistan the United States' longest, and asking God to bless and protect and so on.

What could make such a presidential speech look good? The revolting reporters who ask questions aftrwards, of course! Here are some of their questions: "Do you trust the Taliban, Mr. President? Do you trust the Taliban, sir?"

"Your own intelligence community has assessed that the Afghan government will likely collapse."

"But we have talked to your own top general in Afghanistan, General Scott Miller. He told ABC News the conditions are so concerning at this point that it could result in a civil war. So, if Kabul falls to the Taliban, what will the United States do about it?"

"And what do you make -and what do you make, sir, of the Taliban being in Russia today?"

In addition the U.S. media is now, after 20 years, interested in the lives of Afghans killed in the war!

"Mr. President, will the United States be responsible for the loss of Afghan civilian lives that could happen after a military exit?"

Better late than never, I guess.

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

Growing recognition of the devastating harms our colonial past and still-existing systemic racism and oppression have perpetrated on Indigenous people
has been met with increasing calls to redefine how we see our country, to give land back and to advance systems of economic reparation.

Reparation, Land And Justice For Indigenous Peoples Is Long Overdue
By David Suzuki

Canada as a nation was founded by "hewers of wood and drawers of water," as late Canadian economist Harold Innis wrote in his 1930 book, The Fur Trade in Canada - using a biblical phrase to describe the country's long-standing reliance on resource exploitation.

When the Hudson's Bay Company started buying and exporting fur pelts, it created such a demand in Europe that the most commonly trapped creature, the beaver, was almost wiped out. Once settlers got settled, resource extraction expanded to logging and later oil and gas extraction.

Both have shown the same lack of appreciation for moderation as the fur trade. For example, less than three per cent of original old-growth forests that once graced British Columbia still stand, and the fossil fuel industry's greenhouse gas emissions make an outsized contribution to climate change.

Indigenous Peoples were integral to the fur trade, but settlers eventually saw their presence on the land, and their sense of responsibility to it, as impediments to their ability to exploit and profit from its "resources." And so colonial-settler governments moved Indigenous Peoples to reservations, while the newcomers reaped the benefits of their "property" - a concept unfamiliar to people who believe in shared responsibility to and reciprocity with land rather than "ownership."

According to the 2021 Yellowhead Institute report "Cash Back," "Hard work is not what made Canadians richer than First Nations. … The difference was that their labour was paid off in free land stolen from Indigenous peoples. First Nations were left stranded on a vast archipelago of reserves and settlements, denied access to their wealth in territory."

But Canada is changing. Growing recognition of the devastating harms our colonial past and still-existing systemic racism and oppression have perpetrated on Indigenous people has been met with increasing calls to redefine how we see our country, to give land back and to advance systems of economic reparation.

One recent initiative on southern Vancouver Island aims to start decolonizing by creating a forum for businesses and homeowners to make voluntary payments, equal to one per cent of private property taxes a month, to the First Nations whose traditional territories they're in. The Reciprocity initiative is about creating a way to connect people, return wealth and make territorial recognition tangible. It aims to change the culture of private property and the way people think about home, in Canada and beyond.

The idea of redirecting taxes is not new. In a short video on the future of land governance in Canada, Plenty Canada senior adviser Tim Johnson says that, as Canada's Parliament buildings stand on unceded Algonquin lands, "I'd rather see the government just say, 'Yes, we do not legally possess this land; let's work out a lease arrangement for it.' There should be an annual payment that allows First Nations to develop their societies, develop their governments and develop the institutions they need to also help manage those lands."

Another possible change concerns royalties - fees companies pay to provinces in exchange for rights to extract trees, minerals and oil and gas. The system badly needs transforming. B.C. just called for a royalty review for petroleum and gas extraction. Throughout Canada, royalty fees should be increased to reflect externalities - costs not accounted for, such as negative impacts to nature and climate - and should go to First Nations and provincial governments, not to the province alone.

Canada was built on resource extraction, and its foundations are shaky on many fronts, including dispossession of Indigenous Peoples and wilful blindness to natural limits - the surpassing of which has led to the climate and biodiversity crises.

As "Cash Back" says, "It is important that we do not talk about a single 'economy' in this country. Because the 'Canadian economy' is not the same thing as the many other types of economies that organize Indigenous lives. … Restoring Indigenous economies requires focusing on the perspectives of those most impacted by colonization and the attacks on Indigenous livelihoods. It means reclaiming the language for 'sharing' in dozens of Indigenous tongues. It means recognizing that Indigenous inherent rights do not stop at the boundaries of the reserve."

The sun has set on limitless extraction. Let's work together to ensure the future is built on economies that sustain and repair, rather than degrade, life.

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

Lisa Murkowski Has Angered Trump With Her Insistence On Staying (Relatively) Sane
The ex-president* endorsed her opponent, Kelly Tshibaka, in the Alaska Republican Senate primary.
By Charles P. Pierce

El Caudillo del Mar-a-Lago has a mad on for Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) due to her stubborn insistence on staying sane despite his explicit instructions to the contrary. So, a week or so ago, he endorsed someone named Kelly Tshibaka, who has announced that she will run against Murkowski in the 2022 Republican senatorial primary. Being good little doggies, Alaska's Republican state committee endorsed Tshibaka overwhelmingly over this past weekend. From the Anchorage Daily News:

Trump endorsed Tshibaka last month, calling her "MAGA all the way." Trump said in a statement at the time that he would campaign for Tshibaka in Alaska. "We now move forward with a united front, determined to defend Alaska from the continued onslaught of the radical Biden administration," Tshibaka said in the statement Saturday. "It is time for conservative leaders, with courage and common sense, to rise together across the nation."
And in case you're wondering, yes, Tshibaka is a family-sized bag of nuts. From CNN:
In an article unearthed by CNN's KFile, Tshibaka wrote that gay people can "work through the process of coming out of homosexuality" through Christianity and urged gay people to "not be controlled by the 'once-gay-always-gay' rhetoric used to advance political agendas" in a 2001 Harvard Law School student newspaper article.

In other blog posts found by KFile that have since been scrubbed from the internet, Tshibaka said that the "Twilight" book and movie series "is evil and we should not read or watch it" because "entertaining and participating in these kinds of activities leaves us spiritually vulnerable. It also leaves us open to the enemy's attacks."

The Big Lie is very much her thing.
Tshibaka told CNN on Tuesday that "it's only logical that we apply the same standards that Democrats established in the 2000 and 2016 presidential elections. Allegations regarding voting integrity should be investigated and fully examined."

Earlier this month, Tshibaka said, "We don't know the outcome of the 2020 election," despite Biden's victory in both the Electoral College and the popular vote. No evidence of widespread voter fraud has been proven.

Bear in mind. This is no hockey mom in mukluks shooting wolves from the sky. Tshibaka is more J.D. Vance than Sarah Palin. She is Harvard Law-and what in the hell goes on at that place, anyway?-and she's spent most of her career in big government jobs.
Prior to launching her campaign, Tshibaka worked as a lawyer for the federal government in Washington, DC, for approximately 17 years in the offices of the inspector general for the US Postal Service, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice.

She most recently served as the Alaska Department of Administration commissioner for two years but has since resigned to run for Senate.

This is still a long-shot bid. Murkowski lost the last Republican primary and won re-election anyway as a write-in. However, it's a legitimate, polysyllabic test of how deeply the prion disease has established itself in that party. If Murkowski can lose a primary twice, and then win re-election as a write-in, despite being named "Murkowski," then there may be a glimmer of hope after all.

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

The Quotable Quote-

"The basic issue of an American society which is fair, which is providing opportunity for all, is nowadays being replaced by the correct perception that we're living in a rigged economy -where it doesn't matter how hard you worked, the result will be all the income goes to the people at the very top. It's leading to a lot of frustration and anger, and people want some fundamental changes to the way we do economics and growth."
~~~ Bernie Sanders

Gasoline And Coal's Climate Freak Show: Fire-nado, 1 Billion Dead Marine Animals, And Earth's All-Time Record Heat
By Juan Cole

Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) -Gasoline demand in the U.S. rebounded vigorously in the week leading up to the 4th of July, to an average of 9.6 million barrels a day, the highest rate seen since September, 2019, well before the pandemic. This is bad. During the 2020 pandemic year, global carbon dioxide emissions plummeted from 36.6 billion metric tons to a mere 34 billion metric tons. It is the kind of 7% a year reduction we need if we are to avoid the worst effects of the climate emergency. The bad news is that as the post-pandemic economy rebounds, our carbon emissions are shooting right back up. In China, where the government used masking, lockdowns and social distancing to all but defeat the virus by late summer of 2020, carbon dioxide emissions were down less than 2%.

As we blithely go back to our gas-guzzling ways, and as brain-dead state governments like that of North Dakota actively attempt to keep unprofitable coal plants in operation, the earth atmosphere on which we are inflicting our 36 billion metric tons of CO2 (sort of like blowing up myriads of atomic bombs up there) is taking revenge on us with rocketing temperatures.

The heat dome over the Northwest and Canada, which daytime US cable news virtually ignored, killed hundreds of people, even as corporate news obsessed 24/7 about the Surfside apartment building collapse that killed something over 100 people. My heart goes out to the Surfside relatives, I am just saying there was room in the day to cover the much bigger death toll under the heat dome, as well. It is almost as though news corporations own petroleum and coal stocks and don't want to spook the market.

Exhibit A is the wildfires raging in the US West and in Canada (!). The Tenant Fire in northern California is so hot, dry and and generally extreme that it produced a fire-nado!

Powerful fire tornado in California -BBC News

Exhibit B is that on Friday it was 130°F in Death Valley, and almost as hot again on Saturday. That repeats the record high of last year this time, and these are likely the hottest anywhere on the earth since records began being kept around 1880. That's right, we just witnessed the hottest earth. And since we know that the Holocene from around 10,000 before present till now has been cold, that was likely the hottest the earth has been since the beginning of civilization. (There is an old 1913 record of 134°F, but the serious climate scientists and historians of climate such as Michael Mann at Penn State think that one was bogus.)

Fox5 Las Vegas: "Death Valley National Park expects to continue breaking heat records this summer"

And now for the piece de resistance. Marine biologist Christopher Harley in Vancouver estimates that the heat dome over the Salish sea in Canada killed a billion seashore marine animals such as mussels and clams.

Harley informs us that mussels and other now-dead marine animals clean the ocean by filtering it for their food. They will likely recover quickly from the heat dome genocide, as long as they don't face 100 degrees F. temperatures again any time soon. Unfortunately, these global heating events are expected to become more frequent. A heat dome every five years would prevent the filtering animals from recovering, thus ensuring a dirtier ocean with more toxic micro-organisms. The mussel beds also feed a lot of other animals, including birds, so their loss will massively reorganize the coastal eco-system, in ways that are negative not only for those animals but also for human beings.

The Weather Channel: "One billion seashore animals cooked to death in B.C. heat wave"

PBS NewsHour is right that we have to begin planning for massive heat waves for the rest of this century. What I miss is Judy Woodruff climbing up on her desk and shouting at us to stop burning gasoline and coal.

PBS NewsHour: "Heatwaves are becoming more common. Here's how the U.S. must plan for them"

Of course that is not something individuals can accomplish, though we should do what we can. We need to lobby our representatives heavily to push the panic button and go green.

The Print: "The 'pressure-cooker-like' weather phenomenon that killed hundreds in America last month."

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

Trump To The Barricades
By Robert Reich

The former guys is suing Facebook, Twitter, and Google for violating his 1st Amendment rights by keeping him off their platforms.

Perhaps someone should remind him that they're private companies to which the 1st Amendment doesn't apply.

Presumably Trump or his lawyers know this. The purpose of the lawsuit isn't really to win it. It's to give him more ammo for his incessant grifting - raising more money from followers who are eager to show their support for him, now by "sticking it" to Facebook, Twitter, and Google.

The irony here is that in many respects Facebook, Twitter, and Google are mini-governments. They're monopolies with extraordinary power over both the economy and our personal lives. They should be brought under control - but by antitrust laws and government action, not by a failed president who has used them to sow lies and inspire sedition.

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

A Posthumous Measure Of Justice For Berta Caceres

By Amy Goodman & Denis Moynihan

Catastrophic climate change is heating the planet, shattering records from Siberia to California, fueling wildfires, droughts and hurricanes. Yet, land and water defenders fighting to save the planet face threats ranging from intimidation to imprisonment to assassination.

In Honduras, Berta Caceres was a leader of the indigenous Lenca people's campaign to stop construction of a hydroelectric dam on the Gualcarque River, which they consider sacred. She was gunned down in her home on March 2nd, 2016. Seven men who carried out the execution were convicted, but the person who ordered the killing escaped justice - until this week. On Monday, the Honduran Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, found Roberto David Castillo guilty of ordering the murder of Berta Caceres. Castillo was the head of Desarrollos Energeticos or DESA, the company that was trying to build the dam. He was a 2004 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and a Honduran military intelligence officer. His conviction won't bring Berta Cáceres back, but it might deter similar attacks and ultimately save lives.

Honduras has long been a virtual colony of the United States, providing bananas, coffee, and minerals for export, produced with cheap labor that has created one of the greatest gaps between rich and poor anywhere in the world. Honduras has also been a base of operations for the U.S. military and CIA, from the 1954 overthrow of the democratically elected president of Guatemala to the Contra forces in the 1980s when the U.S. attempted to overthrow Nicaragua's Sandinista government.

After he was elected in 2006, former Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, despite being a member of the elite, promoted populist, progressive policies, like an increase in the minimum wage. On June 28, 2009, Zelaya was ousted in a coup d'etat. Since then, corrupt, U.S.-backed rightwing presidents have ruled Honduras, prioritizing privatization of public resources and multinational corporate profiteering. Mass unemployment and increasingly violent criminal gangs have added to the already dire conditions there, driving tens of thousands to seek the safety of asylum in the United States.

A vigorous grassroots resistance movement has grown in Honduras, led by workers and indigenous communities. Berta Caceres co-founded COPINH, the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organisation of Honduras, in 1993. In 2006, she began organizing against the Agua Zarca hydroelectric project, successfully driving out DESA's key partner, Sinohydro, the world's largest dam builder. Caceres was honored for her leadership in 2015 with the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize. Less than a year later, she was dead. In the wake of her murder, DESA's international funding partners backed out of the project, and the dam remains unbuilt.

"Berta Caceres was someone who called out Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration constantly," Pitzer College professor Suyapa Portillo, said on the Democracy Now! news hour. "She used to say Honduras is a laboratory for what the U.S. wants to do in other countries, not just in Latin America." Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton defended the overthrow of Zelaya without publicly calling it a coup. In 2012, Vice President Joe Biden met with the first coup president, Porfirio Lobo, reaffirming the "long and close partnership" between the two countries. Biden was supported on that trip by his advisor Tony Blinken, who is now Secretary of State.

Honduras' current president, Juan Orlando Hernandez, has been implicated in the cocaine trafficking for which his brother Tony Hernandez is currently serving a life sentence in prison.

"The role of the U.S. in Honduras and the reason we're critical of it is because it has been a role of extractivism, of racial capitalism," Suyapa Portillo added. "A role that has never been about respecting the sovereignty of Honduras or other Central American nations...We're seeing more of the same."

The environmental/human rights group Global Witness, in its most recent annual report on attacks against land and water defenders, found at least 212 of these front line activists were killed in 2019, and that, as the climate crisis intensifies, so do attacks on defenders. Honduras was fifth on the list, with the highest per capita rate for murder of environmental activists in the world.

In her 2015 Goldman Prize acceptance speech, Berta Caceres said,

"In our worldviews, we are beings who come from the Earth, from the water and from corn. The Lenca people are ancestral guardians of the rivers, in turn protected by the spirits of young girls, who teach us that giving our lives in various ways for the protection of the rivers is giving our lives for the well-being of humanity and of this planet."
The cost of preserving life should not be death. As the climate emergency intensifies, we all have a responsibility to protect front line defenders like Berta Caceres.

(c) 2021 Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now,!" a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 750 stations in North America. She is the co"author of "Standing Up to the Madness: Ordinary Heroes in Extraordinary Times," recently released in paperback and "Breaking The Sound Barrier."

(c) 2021 Denis Moynihan is a writer and radio producer who writes a weekly column with Democracy Now's Amy Goodman.

The Cartoon Corner-

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ R.J. Matson ~~~

To End On A Happy Note-

Have You Seen This-

Parting Shots-

Infrastructure Talks Come To Halt After Giant Sinkhole Swallows Capitol Building
By The Onion

WASHINGTON-In a devastating setback to negotiations that have been plagued for weeks by partisan gridlock, sources confirmed Friday that infrastructure talks in Congress came to a halt after a giant sinkhole opened up beneath the Capitol, swallowing the building and its occupants whole.

"Unfortunately, our attempts to reach an agreement on this urgently needed investment in America have stalled again, this time because the ground under our feet gave way and hundreds of senators and representatives were sucked into a gaping void deep within the earth," said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, adding that while progress had been made on a plan that would cover transportation, broadband, and clean water, it was impossible to proceed now that both congressional chambers and the lawmakers necessary for a quorum had plummeted into the darkness of a massive pit that appeared to have no bottom.

"Unfortunately, just after the Senate rejected an amendment to pay for the spending with a tax on the rich, the building shook violently, collapsed in on itself, and tumbled into the emptiness below. A few of us managed to survive by clinging to a rocky outcropping and waiting several hours for a rescue helicopter. But most members are missing and presumed to be plunging downward, forever, unto their doom. At this point, the only indications of their survival are the horrifying screams of 'Nay' echoing from the eternal depths of a half-mile-wide crater where Capitol Hill used to be."

Reached by phone for comment, Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he would allow certain sections of the infrastructure bill to proceed so long as someone promised to throw him a rope before the flames rising beneath him completely enveloped his body and burned him alive.

(c) 2021 The Onion

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Issues & Alibis Vol 21 # 28 (c) 07/16/2021

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