Please visit our sponsor!

Bookmark and Share
In This Edition

Nick Turse examines, "The Global Growth Of U.S. Special Operations Forces."

Uri Avnery exclaims, "Not Enough!"

Glen Ford reports, "Russiagate Is A Ruling Class Diversion."

Norman Solomon warns, "Climb Down From The Summit Of Hostile Propaganda."

Jim Hightower is, "Delivering The News To The New York Times."

John Nichols wonders, "When Will These Republicans Act To Safeguard Our Elections?"

James Donahue finds, "Denying Bad News Makes Us 'Feel Good.'"

Medea Benjamin asks, "Can the Brit's Baby Trump Blimp Come Play At Trump's DC Military Parade?"

Heather Digby Parton reminds us, "Basic Instinct Told Us What He Was."

David Suzuki says, "Fake Grassroots Campaigns Deserve Uprooting."

Charles P. Pierce reminds us, "There Are Dozens Of Brett Kavanaughs Haunting The Lower Courts."

David Swanson considers, "The Limits Of Empathy."

Jeff Biggers joins us with a must read, "Donald Trump is Taking America Back to 1798 - When John Adams Colluded With an Enemy Power."

South Dakota Rep. Michael Clark, wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich tells, "7 Truths About Immigration."

Chris Hedges concludes, "The War On Assange Is A War On Press Freedom."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Andy Borowitz reports, "Kim Jong Un Upset To Learn That Trump Is Seeing Other Dictators" but first Uncle Ernie sez, "Talk Is Cheap."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Rick McKee, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Ruben Bolling, Tom Tomorrow, Mr. Fish, Dr. Seuss, Aleksey Nikolskyi, David Horsey, Capt. Thomas Cieslak, Mike Keefe, Michael W Andersen, Robert Reich, Presidential Administration of Russia, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, Black Agenda Report, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

The Quotable Quote...
The Vidkun Quisling Award...
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."

Bookmark and Share

Visit me on Face Book

Talk Is Cheap
By Ernest Stewart

"To our European friends, we value the NATO treaty the most significant military alliance in world history. We believe the European Union countries are our friends, the Russians are not." ~~~ Sen. Mitch McConnell.

"I think we should all be more concerned about the environment and the effects of global warming. It will be pointless to talk about all the issues that divide us when it's 300 degrees outside." ~~~ Don Cheadle

"We have been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy, and we will continue to provide unvarnished and objective intelligence in support of our national security." ~~~ Dan Coats ~ former Republican Senator

Keep pushin, keep pushin, keep pushin, keep pushin on
Keep pushin, keep pushin, you know you have got to be so strong
Keep pushin, keep pushin, well even if you think your strength is gone
Keep pushin on
Keep Pushin' ~~~ REO Speedwagon

Yes, the Rethuglicans came out quite critical of tRump ass kissing of Putin, here's a small sample:

"No prior president has ever abased himself more abjectly before a tyrant." ~~~ Sen. John S. McCain (R-Ariz.).

"Disgraceful and detrimental to our democratic principles," ~~~ Mitt Romney

"The most serious mistake of his presidency. ~~~ Newt Gingrich ~ the former House speaker.

"When he had the opportunity to defend our intelligence agencies who work for him, I was very disappointed and saddened with the equivalency that he gave between them and what Putin was saying. The president's comments made us look as a nation more like a pushover and I was disappointed in that." ~~~ Sen. Bob Corker

"President Donald Trump's Helsinki summit performance with Vladimir Putin was shameful and confused. It a mistake for him to meet privately with the Russian president. If that is what victory looks like, as the White House said, I think we'd all like to know what failure looks like in a summit performance." Sen. Jeff Flake

"As Americans and members of Congress, regardless of party, a lot of us are having to reassure our allies, reassure NATO, and I think many of us were taken aback at an embracing of Mr. Putin. We certainly don't need to be poking our friends and allies in the eye and embracing those who wish to do our nation harm and have exhibited that. And not only our nation but those that are trying to pursue their own freedom, such as the republic of Georgia and Moldova and Ukraine and the Baltic states." ~~~ Rep. Steve Russell

"There is no question that Russia interfered in our election and continues attempts to undermine democracy here and around the world. That is not just the finding of the American intelligence community but also the House Committee on Intelligence. The president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally. There is no moral equivalence between the United States and Russia, which remains hostile to our most basic values and ideals. The United States must be focused on holding Russia accountable and putting an end to its vile attacks on democracy." ~~~ Rep. Paul Ryan

Of course, we've heard it all before, question is, what will they do about? Did they mean what they said, or was that said, purely to help them get reelected? Are they spitting out tRump's Kool Aide to keep from going down in flames come November? My guess is they'll do nothing about tRump and hem and haw their way through the election. tRump, like talk, is cheap!

In Other News

I see where the L.A. Times editorial board says: "The record-breaking heat that baked Southern California and prompted mass power outages last weekend was just a taste of what is to come."

The board in an editorial writes that climate change is expected to produce more frequent and more severe heat waves in coming years, stressing electrical grids and challenge utilities to keep up with the power demand.

"The demand for electricity Friday, Saturday and Sunday overwhelmed the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power's aged system, prompting power outages that affected more than 80,000 customers. The unluckiest people went 48 hours without electricity; they and many others had to evacuate their homes in search of air conditioning elsewhere."

The editorial says things will get worse, citing a 2015 UCLA study that shows that number of days over 95 degrees could triple or quadruple by 2050. Back here in the Detroit area we've broken all the records for days over 90 degrees in a summer and the summer is less than half over. According to the editorial "...the Department of Water and Power launched an ambitious plan to replace old electrical distribution equipment and city officials hiked rates to boost modernization efforts, it could take decades for the system to catch up with the sizzling heat waves that have plagued Southern California in the last few years..."

The editorial calls for finding ways to reduce energy demand, for homes and businesses to install solar panels and to make older buildings more energy efficient.

The editorial concludes, "Preparing for a hotter future won't be cheap or easy, but the past weekend provided a worrisome glimpse into what will happen in Los Angeles if we don't."

Well, what did they think would happen when they built a city of millions and millions of people in a desert with little or no constant water supply. Add to that the disaster of global warming and you see their problems.

One of the things that I liked about "China Town" was it showed how LA went from a sleepy little town to a megapolis in just a few years. Oh and can you guess what caused it? For those of you said, "Good old American 'CORPORATE GREED.'" May stay after class and clean the erasers! There'll be milk and cookies to follow!

And Finally

Well our national embarrassment didn't disappoint choosing Putin over US intelligence an act many are calling treason. Sure after a 1,000 acts of treason it's hard to get upset about another one, eh?

Expecting Con-gress to do something about it like impeaching the tyrant? Don't hold your breath, because over the 4th of July eight members of Con-gress joined in a secret meeting with the Russians in Moscow. These traitors are Sin-ators Richard Shelby R-AL, John Thune R-SD, Ron Johnson R-WI and Con-gress members, John Kennedy R-LA, John Hoeven R-ND, Jerry Moran R-KS, Steve Daines R-MT, and Kay Granger R-TX. You can bet your life those 5 won't be voting to impeach tRump in Con-gress or those 3 Sin-ators voting to convict.

Like those gay bashing Republicans that are still in the closet and hence can be blackmailed into committing treason, perhaps tRump should come clean about his pee movies where a couple of female Russians spys peed on him, that Putin holds and he wouldn't have to be a traitor and Putin's puppet.

I'm sure his fascist followers whether KKK members, American Nazis, or fundamentalist Christians will forgive him, don't you?

Keepin' On

Rumor has it that's there's some money in the pipeline; but the last time I checked the kitty, it was empty. And time is fast running out to keep this going for another year. If Donnie goes down in flames, I'm sure that the money will pick up, and we'll be solvent again. I'm hoping we'll still be here to take advantage of that?

Whether it's President tRump or Pence, we're still in deep do-do; whether you believe it or not, we're screwed if we re-elect the war criminal or the thief! If you'd like to compare time-lines for a better understanding, think Nazi Germany, circa 1932. While it hasn't hit the fan yet, that's just around the corner, and a whole lot sooner then most imagine. Wouldn't it be handy to have a canary in the mine, giving you a forecast of things to come before it's too late? I know I'd want one!

If you think that's a good idea, who ya gonna call? There are many pretend-liberal sites on the Internet; but, when push comes to shove, they're centralist at best, still drinking the MSM kool-aid; and that could very well prove fatal, not only to them, but to you, too. You know us, we tell you the truth -- the important things you really need to know, and let the chips fall where they may. If knowing what the truth actually is, so that you can deal with it, is important to you and the ones you love, then send in what you can, whenever you can; and we'll keep on sending it out to you! Just go here and follow the directions!


10-10-1947 ~ 07-17-2018
Thanks for the laughs!


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

****** We've Moved The Forum Back *******

For late breaking news and views visit The Forum. Find all the news you'll otherwise miss. We publish three times the amount of material there than what is in the magazine. Look for the latest Activist Alerts. Updated constantly, please feel free to post an article we may have missed.


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

Until the next time, Peace!
(c) 2018 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Facebook. and like us when you do. Follow me on Twitter.

"While most missions involve training, instruction, or war games, Special Forces soldiers are also regularly involved in combat operations across America's expansive global war zones."

The Global Growth Of U.S. Special Operations Forces
133 Countries Down, 17 to Go?
By Nick Turse

Early last month, at a tiny military post near the tumbledown town of Jamaame in Somalia, small arms fire began to ring out as mortar shells crashed down. When the attack was over, one Somali soldier had been wounded -- and had that been the extent of the casualties, you undoubtedly would never have heard about it.

As it happened, however, American commandos were also operating from that outpost and four of them were wounded, three badly enough to be evacuated for further medical care. Another special operator, Staff Sergeant Alexander Conrad, a member of the U.S. Army's Special Forces (also known as the Green Berets), was killed.

If the story sounds vaguely familiar -- combat by U.S. commandos in African wars that America is technically not fighting -- it should. Last December, Green Berets operating alongside local forces in Niger killed 11 Islamic State militants in a firefight. Two months earlier, in October, an ambush by an Islamic State terror group in that same country, where few Americans (including members of Congress) even knew U.S. special operators were stationed, left four U.S. soldiers dead -- Green Berets among them. (The military first described that mission as providing "advice and assistance" to local forces, then as a "reconnaissance patrol" as part of a broader "train, advise, and assist" mission, before it was finally exposed as a kill or capture operation.) Last May, a Navy SEAL was killed and two other U.S. personnel were wounded in a raid in Somalia that the Pentagon described as an "advise, assist, and accompany" mission. And a month earlier, a U.S. commando reportedly killed a member of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), a brutal militia that has terrorized parts of Central Africa for decades.

And there had been, as the New York Times noted in March, at least 10 other previously unreported attacks on American troops in West Africa between 2015 and 2017. Little wonder since, for at least five years, as Politico recently reported, Green Berets, Navy SEALs, and other commandos, operating under a little-understood legal authority known as Section 127e, have been involved in reconnaissance and "direct action" combat raids with African special operators in Somalia, Cameroon, Kenya, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Tunisia.

None of this should be surprising, since in Africa and across the rest of the planet America's Special Operations forces (SOF) are regularly engaged in a wide-ranging set of missions including special reconnaissance and small-scale offensive actions, unconventional warfare, counterterrorism, hostage rescue, and security force assistance (that is, organizing, training, equipping, and advising foreign troops). And every day, almost everywhere, U.S. commandos are involved in various kinds of training.

Unless they end in disaster, most missions remain in the shadows, unknown to all but a few Americans. And yet last year alone, U.S. commandos deployed to 149 countries -- about 75% of the nations on the planet. At the halfway mark of this year, according to figures provided to TomDispatch by U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM or SOCOM), America's most elite troops have already carried out missions in 133 countries. That's nearly as many deployments as occurred during the last year of the Obama administration and more than double those of the final days of George W. Bush's White House.

Going Commando

"USSOCOM plays an integral role in opposing today's threats to our nation, to protecting the American people, to securing our homeland, and in maintaining favorable regional balances of power," General Raymond Thomas, the chief of U.S. Special Operations Command, told members of the House Armed Services Committee earlier this year. "However, as we focus on today's operations we must be equally focused on required future transformation. SOF must adapt, develop, procure, and field new capabilities in the interest of continuing to be a unique, lethal, and agile part of the Joint Force of tomorrow."

Special Operations forces have actually been in a state of transformation ever since September 11, 2001. In the years since, they have grown in every possible way -- from their budget to their size, to their pace of operations, to the geographic sweep of their missions. In 2001, for example, an average of 2,900 commandos were deployed overseas in any given week. That number has now soared to 8,300, according to SOCOM spokesman Ken McGraw. At the same time, the number of "authorized military positions" -- the active-duty troops, reservists, and National Guardsmen that are part of SOCOM -- has jumped from 42,800 in 2001 to 63,500 today. While each of the military service branches -- the so-called parent services -- provides funding, including pay, benefits, and some equipment to their elite forces, "Special Operations-specific funding," at $3.1 billion in 2001, is now at $12.3 billion. (The Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps also provide their special operations units with about $8 billion annually.)

On any given day, more than 8,000 exceptionally well-equipped and well-funded special operators from a command numbering roughly 70,000 active-duty personnel, reservists, and National Guardsmen as well as civilians are deployed in approximately 90 countries. All this means that, on any given day, more than 8,000 exceptionally well-equipped and well-funded special operators from a command numbering roughly 70,000 active-duty personnel, reservists, and National Guardsmen as well as civilians are deployed in approximately 90 countries. Most of those troops are Green Berets, Rangers, or other Army Special Operations personnel. According to Lieutenant General Kenneth Tovo, head of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command until his retirement last month, that branch provides more than 51% of all Special Operations forces and accounts for more than 60% of their overseas deployments. On any given day, just the Army's elite soldiers are operating in around 70 countries.

In February, for instance, Army Rangers carried out several weeks of winter warfare training in Germany, while Green Berets practiced missions involving snowmobiles in Sweden. In April, Green Berets took part in the annual Flintlock multinational Special Operations forces training exercise conducted in Niger, Burkina Faso, and Senegal that involved Nigerien, Burkinabe, Malian, Polish, Spanish, and Portuguese troops, among others.

While most missions involve training, instruction, or war games, Special Forces soldiers are also regularly involved in combat operations across America's expansive global war zones. A month after Flintlock, for example, Green Berets accompanied local commandos on a nighttime air assault raid in Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, during which a senior ISIS operative was reportedly "eliminated." In May, a post-deployment awards ceremony for members of the 2nd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group, who had just returned from six months advising and assisting Afghan commandos, offered some indication of the kinds of missions being undertaken in that country. Those Green Berets received more than 60 decorations for valor -- including 20 Bronze Star Medals and four Silver Star Medals (the third-highest military combat decoration).

For its part, the Navy, according to Rear Admiral Tim Szymanski, chief of Naval Special Warfare Command, has about 1,000 SEALs or other personnel deployed to more than 35 countries each day. In February, Naval Special Warfare forces and soldiers from Army Special Operations Aviation Command conducted training aboard a French amphibious assault ship in the Arabian Gulf. That same month, Navy SEALs joined elite U.S. Air Force personnel in training alongside Royal Thai Naval Special Warfare operators during Cobra Gold, an annual exercise in Thailand.

The troops from U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command, or MARSOC, deploy primarily to the Middle East, Africa, and the Indo-Pacific regions on six-month rotations. At any time, on average, about 400 "Raiders" are engaged in missions across 18 countries.

Air Force Special Operations Command, which fields a force of 19,500 active, reserve, and civilian personnel, conducted 78 joint-training exercises and events with partner nations in 2017, according to Lieutenant General Marshall Webb, chief of Air Force Special Operations Command. In February, for example, Air Force commandos conducted Arctic training -- ski maneuvers and free-fall air operations -- in Sweden, but such training missions are only part of the story. Air Force special operators were, for instance, recently deployed to aid the attempt to rescue 12 boys and their soccer coach trapped deep inside a cave in Thailand. The Air Force also has three active duty special operations wings assigned to Air Force Special Operations Command, including the 24th Special Operations Wing, a "special tactics" unit that integrates air and ground forces for "precision-strike" and personnel-recovery missions. At a change of command ceremony in March, it was noted that its personnel had conducted almost 2,900 combat missions over the last two years.

Addition Through Subtraction

For years, U.S. Special Operations forces have been in a state of seemingly unrestrained expansion. Nowhere has that been more evident than in Africa. In 2006, just 1% of all American commandos deployed overseas were operating on that continent. By 2016, that number had jumped above 17%. By then, there were more special operations personnel devoted to Africa -- 1,700 special operators spread out across 20 countries -- than anywhere else except the Middle East.

Recently, however, the New York Times reported that a "sweeping Pentagon review" of special ops missions on that continent may soon result in drastic cuts in the number of commandos operating there. ("We do not comment on what tasks the secretary of defense or chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff may or may not have given USSOCOM," spokesman Ken McGraw told me when I inquired about the review.) U.S. Africa Command has apparently been asked to consider what effect cutting commandos there by 25% over 18 months and 50% over three years would have on its counterterrorism missions. In the end, only about 700 elite troops -- roughly the same number as were stationed in Africa in 2014 -- would be left there.

Coming on the heels of the October 2017 debacle in Niger that left those four Americans dead and apparent orders from the commander of United States Special Operations forces in Africa that its commandos "plan missions to stay out of direct combat or do not go," a number of experts suggested that such a review signaled a reappraisal of military engagement on the continent. The proposed cuts also seemed to fit with the Pentagon's latest national defense strategy that highlighted a coming shift from a focus on counterterrorism to the threats of near-peer competitors like Russia and China. "We will continue to prosecute the campaign against terrorists," said Secretary of Defense James Mattis in January, "but great power competition -- not terrorism -- is now the primary focus of U.S. national security."

A wide range of analysts questioned or criticized the proposed troop reduction. Mu Xiaoming, from China's National Defense University of the People's Liberation Army, likened such a reduction in elite U.S. forces to the Obama administration's drawdown of troops in Afghanistan in 2014 and noted the possibility of "terrorism making a comeback in Africa." A former chief of U.S. commandos on the continent, Donald Bolduc, unsurprisingly echoed these same fears. "Without the presence that we have there now," he told Voice of America, "we're just going to increase the effectiveness of the violent extremist organizations over time and we are going to lose trust and credibility in this area and destabilize it even further." David Meijer, a security analyst based in Amsterdam, lamented that, as Africa was growing in geostrategic importance and China is strengthening its ties there, "it's ironic that Washington is set to reduce its already minimal engagement on the continent."

This is hardly a foregone conclusion, however. For years, members of SOCOM, as well as supporters in Congress, at think tanks, and elsewhere, have been loudly complaining about the soaring operations tempo for America's elite troops and the resulting strains on them. "Most SOF units are employed to their sustainable limit," General Thomas, the SOCOM chief, told members of Congress last spring. "Despite growing demand for SOF, we must prioritize the sourcing of these demands as we face a rapidly changing security environment." Given how much clout SOCOM wields, such incessant gripes were certain to lead to changes in policy.

Last year, in fact, Secretary of Defense Mattis noted that the lines between U.S. Special Operations forces and conventional troops were blurring and that the latter would likely be taking on missions previously shouldered by the commandos, particularly in Africa. "So the general purpose forces can do a lot of the kind of work that you see going on and, in fact, are now," he said. "By and large, for example inTrans-Sahel [in northwest Africa], many of those forces down there supporting the French-led effort are not Special Forces. So we'll continue to expand the general purpose forces where it's appropriate. I would... anticipate more use of them."

Earlier this year, Owen West, the assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict, referred to Mattis's comments while telling members of the House Armed Services Committee about the "need to look at the line that separates conventional operating forces from SOF and seek to take greater advantage of the 'common capabilities' of our exceptional conventional forces." He particularly highlighted the Army's Security Force Assistance Brigades, recently created to conduct advise-and-assist missions. This spring, Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe, a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, recommended that one of those units be dedicated to Africa.

Substituting forces in this way is precisely what Iowa Senator Joni Ernst, an Iraq War veteran and member of the Armed Services Committee, has also been advocating. Late last year, in fact, her press secretary, Leigh Claffey, told TomDispatch that the senator believed "instead of such heavy reliance on Special Forces, we should also be engaging our conventional forces to take over missions when appropriate, as well as turning over operations to capable indigenous forces." Chances are that U.S. commandos will continue carrying out their shadowy Section 127e raids alongside local forces across the African continent while leaving more conventional training and advising tasks to rank-and-file troops. In other words, the number of commandos in Africa may be cut, but the total number of American troops may not -- with covert combat operations possibly continuing at the present pace.

If anything, U.S. Special Operations forces are likely to expand, not contract, next year. SOCOM's 2019 budget request calls for adding about 1,000 personnel to what would then be a force of 71,000. In April, at a meeting of the Senate Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities chaired by Ernst, New Mexico Senator Martin Heinrich noted that SOCOM was on track to "grow by approximately 2,000 personnel" in the coming years. The command is also poised to make 2018 another historic year in global reach. If Washington's special operators deploy to just 17 more countries by the end of the fiscal year, they will exceed last year's record-breaking total.

"USSOCOM continues to recruit, assess, and select the very best. We then train and empower our teammates to solve the most daunting national security problems," SOCOM commander General Thomas told the House Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities earlier this year. Why Green Berets and Navy SEALs need to solve national security problems -- strategic issues that ought to be addressed by policymakers -- is a question that has long gone unanswered. It may be one of the reasons why, since Green Berets "liberated" Afghanistan in 2001, the United States has been involved in combat there and, as the years have passed, a plethora of other forever-war fronts including Cameroon, Iraq, Kenya, Libya, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, the Philippines, Somalia, Syria, Tunisia, and Yemen.

"The creativity, initiative and spirit of the people who comprise the Special Operations Force cannot be overstated. They are our greatest asset," said Thomas. And it's likely that such assets will grow in 2019.
(c) 2018 Nick Turse is the managing editor of TomDispatch and a fellow at the Nation Institute. An award-winning investigative journalist, he has written for The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and The Nation, and is a contributing writer for The Intercept. His latest book is Next Time They'll Come to Count the Dead: War and Survival in South Sudan. His website is

"Not Enough!"
By Uri Avnery

The State of Israel has no oil wells. It has no gold mines. What has it got? It has the ownership of the remembrance of the Holocaust.

That is worth a lot. Everyone who wants to clean himself from the stain needs a certificate from the State of Israel. Such a document is worth very much. And the larger the guilt of the applicant, the higher the price of the dispensation.

What does that remind us of?

FOR MANY centuries the Catholic Church sold "dispensations". These were documents issued by the pope and the cardinals, which allowed the recipient to dispense with religious duties or to do things forbidden by the church.

The most notorious case is that of Henry VIII, king of England. The pope gave him a dispensation that allowed him to marry a Spanish princess, even though she had a remote family connection with him, contrary to church law. But when he wanted to divorce her in order to marry the daughter of an English nobleman, the Pope denied him the necessary dispensation. The result was the split between the Catholic Church and the independent Church of England, in which the King (or Queen) acts as a kind of pope.

The trouble was that, in time, the issuing of dispensations became a high-class business, from which the pope and lesser priests became rich. This situation caused the rebellion of Martin Luther and the other reformers, who created independent new churches.

THE LEADERS of Israel, headed by Binyamin Netanyahu, now act like the pope in former times: they sell Holocaust dispensations.

Netanyahu did not invent the business. He inherited it from his predecessors. It started with David Ben-Gurion, soon after the end of World War II, when he made a deal with the German chancellor, Konrad Adenauer. Ben-Gurion declared that there is a "New Germany", which is totally kosher, and in return the Germans paid the State of Israel three billion marks as compensation, as well as individual pensions to survivors.

I, too, received a small payment for "lost education", and my parents received a monthly pension which made the rest of their life bearable.

In the eyes of Ben-Gurion, this was a purely economic matter. The new State of Israel had no money, the German compensation helped it to survive the first years.

But behind the deal there was hidden another decision. Israel, as is well-known, is a "Jewish State". The government of Israel wears two crowns: it is the government of a sovereign state and it sees itself as the leader of the world-wide Jewish Diaspora. The ideological assumption is that these two tasks are one and the same.

But that is a fiction. From time to time there arises a matter which shows a divergence between the interests of Israel and those of the Diaspora. On all these occasions, the interests of Israel take precedence.

SUCH A situation has arisen now.

Binyamin Netanyahu, King of Israel and would-be Emperor of the Jewish people, has signed a joint statement with the Polish government that clears, in effect, the Polish people from all responsibility for the Holocaust. It condemns anti-Semitism and anti-Polishism in the same breath.

The document aroused a storm, centered around two questions: (1) is it correct? And (2) why did Netanyahu sign it?

The second question is easier to answer: Netanyahu feels a profound kinship with the regimes in Eastern Europe, which form a new bloc, headed by Poland, and which also includes Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

All these regimes are extreme rightist, near-totalitarian, anti-refugee. One could call them soft-fascist.

In present-day Europe, all of them are in opposition to the leadership of Chancellor Angela Merkel and her allies, who are more or less liberal, welcome refugees, and condemn the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories and the Israeli settlements. Netanyahu believes that his alliance with the European opposition might deter the Merkelists.

Jewish institutions all over the world see this in a completely different light. They remember that these extreme rightist parties are the descendents of the pro-Nazi parties of the Hitler period. For them, Netanyahu's cynicism is a betrayal of the Jewish victims of the Holocaust.

A FAR more important question is: is the joint statement accurate?

In Israel, Netanyahu's pro-Polish statement is also widely condemned. The hatred of Poland is far deeper than hatred of Germany. It is a long and complicated story.

In pre-Holocaust times, Poland was home to the largest Jewish community in the world. Very few Jews ever ask themselves: Why? How come?

The simple (forgotten) truth is that for centuries, Poland was the most progressive country in Europe. While Jews were persecuted, killed and expelled in most other European countries - including England. France and Germany - they were welcomed by the Polish kings with open arms. One king had a Jewish mistress, noble land-owners used the Jews as managers of their estates, Jews felt protected.

In the course of time, this changed completely. Poles resented the huge minority in their midst, who looked and dressed differently, spoke a different language (Yiddish) and had a different religion. They also resented the economic competition. During long stretches of domination and oppression by Russia and other neighbors, Poles became extremely nationalist, and this nationalism excluded the Jews. Anti-Semitism became a fierce force.

The Jewish answer was a very deep-seated hatred for Poland and everything Polish.

The Nazi invasion of Poland created a very complicated situation. For most Jews after the war it was clear that the Poles had cooperated with the Nazis in exterminating the Jews. It became normal to speak about "the Polish concentration camps."

This made Poles very angry. They recently enacted a law which makes the usage of these and similar expressions a criminal offense.

So when Netanyahu signed a statement clearing Poles of any responsibility for the extermination of the Jews in Poland, it caused a storm of fury in Israel and around the Jewish world.

ABOUT A dozen years ago I visited Poland for the first time. It was part of my research for my (Hebrew) book "Lenin Does Not Live Here Anymore", which described the situation in Russia and several other countries immediately after the fall of Communism.

No country surprised me as much as Poland. I learned that during the Nazi occupation there were not one, but two underground organizations that fought the Nazis. Millions of Christian Poles were executed by the Nazis besides the Jews.

(When we returned to Israel, my wife Rachel, who had accompanied me throughout the journey, heard a female shop owner in Tel Aviv speaking Polish. "Did you know that the Germans also killed three million Christian Poles?" she interrupted, still under the influence of what she had heard. "Not enough," the shop owner retorted.)

During the Holocaust, the first reliable information about he extermination camps that reached the Western allies and the Jewish institutions came from the Polish exile government in London. Thousands of Poles were decorated in Israel for helping Jews to survive, often risking their own lives and the lives of their families.

True, many other Poles helped the Germans to kill Jews, as did local people in all the countries of the Nazi occupation. Also, Immediately after the end of the Nazi occupation, there was at least one local pogrom. But there were no Polish "Quislings". Compared with the other occupied peoples, the Poles come out rather well.

So why were the extermination camps located in Poland? Because that's where the bulk of the Jews were living, and because it was easy to bring the Jews from other countries there. But they were not "Polish extermination camps".

There are some exaggerations in the Netanyahu-Poland statement. For example, mentioning anti-Semitism and anti-Polishness - whatever that means - in one sentence. But it certainly does not merit the storm it evoked.

YEARS AGO I read a short story by an Israel writer. It described the invasion of the Middle East by a Mongolian people, who had an obsessive hatred for the Arabs. The occupiers asked the Jews to help them to exterminate the Arabs, promising all kinds of advantages.

How many did so? What would YOU have done?
(c) 2018 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Russiagate Is A Ruling Class Diversion
By Glen Ford

So this is what we can look forward to in the long twilight of a shrinking U.S. empire: the shrieks of a delirious ruling class, concocting endless diversions from the central reality of late-stage capitalism's inability to offer the people anything but widening wars and deepening austerity. The Lords of Capital have led us to a dark yet insanely cacophonous realm, a throbbing madhouse din. "Traitor!" scream the minions of corporate communications, calling for the blood of the corporate government's orange-branded CEO -- a no longer exceptional spectacle for the self-proclaimed exceptional nation.

Donald Trump is, indeed, a kind of traitor to the Washington Consensus, a hyper-militarized capitalist utopia of corporate dominated global supply chains that doubled the international wage-slave workforce in the last two decades of the 20th century and herded these desperate billions into a race to the bottom. The leadership of both corporate parties conspired to force U.S. workers into the global meat-grinder. Democrat Bill Clinton inflicted NAFTA on his party's wage-earning base and, two decades later, Democrat Barack Obama tried, but failed, to pass the even more devastating Trans Pacific Partnership corporate trade and governance bill. Donald Trump captured the Republican Party by feeding its base the overt racist rhetoric they crave, rather than the more polite "dog whistle" menu cultivated by White Man's Party politicians since Richard Nixon. With the indispensable assistance of Democrat-oriented corporate media and the Democratic National Committee -- both of which saw Trump as the most easily beatable Republican -- Trump trounced the entire GOP presidential wanna-be menagerie to seize the reins of half the electoral duopoly, and carried a majority of white voters - including white women -- in the general election.

It was not Trump's flaming racism that made him a traitor to his class and to the empire. One of the U.S. duopoly parties has always played the role of White Man's Party, with white supremacy as its organizing principle. Were it not for endemic, fervent, nationwide white racism, the most reactionary wing of the U.S. ruling class would have no effective electoral base. Trump simply serves up a stronger brew of white supremacist elixir for the good ole boys and girls. His heresy - precipitating the crisis in ruling class politics -- was to rhetorically oppose "free trade" and U.S. "regime change" policies, and to call for normalizing relations with Russia. "Free trade" -- a euphemism for the unfettered ability of the ruling class to move money and jobs wherever it chooses on the planet - and the "exceptional" right of U.S. imperialism to remove and replace sovereign governments at will, are the pillars of the Washington Consensus. Donald Trump became anathema to the Lords of Capital and their servants in the national security "deep state," who crowded into Hillary Clinton's Democratic tent, where Russiagate was invented out of whole cloth.

Again, racism was not Trump's unpardonable sin, although it plays into the strategies of the (financial and high tech) ruling class sectors at the helm of the Democratic Party, whose own electoral organizing principle is an anemic anti-racism, a phony politics of "inclusion" that welcomes representatives of minority populations to help enforce the race-to-the-bottom and to join in the general capitalist plunder. Trump's howling racism was what made Democrats believe he was the ideal candidate for a trouncing by Hillary Clinton, who could be counted on to escalate Barack Obama's general military offensive and to aggressively pursue TPP and other corporate governance arrangements. (Only fools believed Clinton's late switch, opposing TPP.) When Clinton lost, the ruling class panicked and resolved to bring down the Orange Menace no matter the cost to U.S. institutions and to the appearance of stability in the very bosom of the empire. The rolling coup was begun.

Black folks think the crisis is about race. It is - and it isn't. If the ruling class, including those that fund and run the Democratic Party, were really concerned about Black people's rights, they would have challenged Trump's election victory based on blatant Black voter suppression in key Midwest states. As Greg Palast pointed out, the Republican "Crosscheck" scheme fraudulently and illegally purged 449,000 disproportionately Black voters from the rolls in Michigan, alone -- about 40 times larger than Trump's 10,700-vote margin of victory. Yet, Hillary Clinton and the Democrats only reluctantly joined in Green Party candidate Jill Stein's recount action, and the first words out of Black Congressman John Lewis's mouth when the polls closed in November were "Russia...Russia...Russia." Republicans have been stealing elections through Black voter suppression in broad daylight since 2000, but only one Democratic senator and one congresswoman -- California's Barbara Boxer and Ohio Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, in 2004 - have in this century challenged the thefts. Black voter suppression has been part of the gentlemen's agreement between the two corporate parties. Rich white people do not plunge the system into crisis for the sake of Black voting rights, or any Black rights at all, including the right to life. But the Lords of Capital will roll the dice on the fate of all humanity to preserve and expand their global dominion and the military machine that is their only remaining advantage. Their survival as a class is at stake. Trump must go because he cannot be depended on to preserve the Washington Consensus -- the imperial project.

Trump's racism did factor into the ruling class decision to oust him from the White House, but not in the way that most people believe. Donald Trump proved that his white base is more enthusiastic to support a candidate that affirms white supremacist "values" (yes, that's what they value most) than they are about maintaining an aggressive military posture everywhere in the world. They did not blink or budge when Trump denigrated NATO, opposed regime change and U.S. efforts at "nation-building" (a euphemism for prolonged military occupation of other peoples), and called for better relations with Russia. These same voters were presumed to be the most militaristic cohort in the nation, dependable fodder to elect fire-breathing war hawks. But clearly, Trump's base -- composed of a majority of whites - cares more about white supremacy in the U.S. than waging endless wars abroad. And, they either hate "free trade," or don't care enough about it either way to abandon their White Man's President.

The national security state, the military industrial complex and the oligarchs whose interests the empire defends were forced to confront the reality, that their presumed prime constituency was not nearly as gung-ho for war as previously assumed. How, then, to continue the "generational" War on Terror (war of imperial conquest)? Answer: Make Russia a clear and present danger, aided and abetted by "useful idiots" (like BAR), domestically. Trump still retains the support of his white majority. Most importantly, these white supremacists feel affirmed, as "a people," by his presence, and what they perceive as Trump's loyalty to them. They are feeling "Great Again." And they are reveling in their national strength, as a bloc. That's why they seem unmovable. This re-energized, aggressively white supremacist, intensely self-aware White Man's Party will assert its permanent, militant and very large presence in the U.S. political spectrum, no matter what happens to Donald Trump. Other politicians, with billions to spend, will appeal to this majority bloc of whites, after Trump leaves the scene. They see themselves as a distinct and independent force in the nation -- the saviors of America, in their diseased minds -- and they now hate the Democratic Party in a far deeper way than before, when it was perceived as too concerned with Blacks and other "minorities." Hillary Clinton turned a new chapter when she called Trump voters "deplorables" -- a kind of white trash, but connoting moral degeneracy, transcending financial condition. The "witch-hunt" against Trump is perceived as an elite mob out to lynch the "deplorables" -- or, at the least, to decertify them as decent Americans.

The Democrats can forget about ever getting back most of these self-aware white supremacist voters, but the establishment corporate Republicans that Trump crushed in winning the GOP nomination will not win back his followers' allegiance unless they become more like Trump, i.e. more blatantly white supremacist. Which is decidedly not the corporate way, in the 21stcentury. Thus, corporate America, wedded as it is to a "diversity" doctrine that means little to the masses of Black people but is a red flag to the White Man's Party "deplorables," will be forced to identify more publicly with the Democrats, or pretend to be apolitical.

The Trump phenomena -- and the resultant ruling class hysteria -- has stolen the corporations' option to pose as "non-partisan" actors in U.S. politics. They are forced deeper into the Democratic camp, creating further contradictions for the "inclusive" party, which must ultimately answer to a more clearly defined -- and also more self-aware - constituency of the "left," most broadly speaking, if it is to preserve the duopoly. This other half of the country, slightly bigger than Trump's white majority base, is composed of a minority of whites, virtually all Blacks, and large majorities of Latinos and other minorities. It is way to the left of the Democratic Party and roiling with economic demands that the Lords of Capital will not, and cannot, fulfill while keeping on the path of a global race-to-the-bottom and deepening austerity, enforced by endless wars.

Therefore, there must be Russiagate hysteria -- or some other fictitious obsession -- primarily to divert the attentions of the "left" half of the electorate, most of which is broadly social democratic (the Black component is the most left-leaning, and peace-oriented). If the duopoly were to collapse, and the various cohorts of the U.S. political spectrum were reorganized along ideological lines, the two biggest parties would be the Trumpist White Man's party and a social democratic party with a platform to the left of 2016 Bernie Sanders, with the (rightwing) Democrats and establishment Republicans coming together in an avowedly "centrist" party, the smallest of the three. Space would also be created for more radical and libertarian politics.

The ruling class is determined to prevent such a scenario from occurring, and thus needs a permanent, all-consuming diversion. But the Russiagate hysteria -- or something else like it -- cannot be maintained indefinitely; U.S. political structures cannot withstand such an institutional assault by the ruling class, itself.

The Lords of Capital are caught in the contradiction. To save the corporate state, they are besieging the corporate state, with no vision or timetable for the outcome.
(c) 2018 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

Clearly the needed shift won't be initiated by the Republican or Democratic leaders in Congress; it must come from Americans who make their voices heard.

Climb Down From The Summit Of Hostile Propaganda
Contempt for diplomacy with Russia is now extreme
By Norman Solomon

Throughout the day before the summit in Helsinki, the lead story on the New York Times home page stayed the same: "Just by Meeting With Trump, Putin Comes Out Ahead." The Sunday headline was in harmony with the tone of U.S. news coverage overall. As for media commentary, the Washington Post was in the dominant groove as it editorialized that Russia's President Vladimir Putin is "an implacably hostile foreign adversary."

Contempt for diplomacy with Russia is now extreme. Mainline U.S. journalists and top Democrats often bait President Trump in zero-sum terms. No doubt Hillary Clinton thought she was sending out an applause line in her tweet Sunday night: "Question for President Trump as he meets Putin: Do you know which team you play for?"

A bellicose stance toward Russia has become so routine and widespread that we might not give it a second thought -- and that makes it all the more hazardous. After President George W. Bush declared "You're either with us or against us," many Americans gradually realized what was wrong with a Manichean view of the world. Such an outlook is even more dangerous today.

Since early 2017, the U.S. mass media have laid it on thick with the rough political equivalent of a painting technique known as chiaroscuro - "the use of strong contrasts between light and dark, usually bold contrasts affecting a whole composition," in the words of Wikipedia. The Russiagate frenzy is largely about punching up contrasts between the United States (angelic and victimized) and Russia (sinister and victimizer).

Countless stories with selective facts are being told that way. But other selectively fact-based stories could also be told to portray the United States as a sinister victimizer and Russia as an angelic victim. Those governments and their conformist media outlets are relentless in telling it either way. As the great journalist I.F. Stone observed long ago, "All governments lie, and nothing they say should be believed." In other words: don't trust, verify.

Often the biggest lies involve what remains unsaid. For instance, U.S. media rarely mention such key matters as the promise-breaking huge expansion of NATO to Russia's borders since the fall of the Berlin Wall, or the brazen U.S. intervention in Russia's pivotal 1996 presidential election, or the U.S. government's 2002 withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, or the more than 800 U.S. military bases overseas -- in contrast to Russia's nine.

For human survival on this planet, an overarching truth appears in an open letter published last week by The Nation magazine: "No political advantage, real or imagined, could possibly compensate for the consequences if even a fraction of U.S. and Russian arsenals were to be utilized in a thermonuclear exchange. The tacit pretense that the worsening of U.S.-Russian relations does not worsen the odds of survival for the next generations is profoundly false."

The initial 26 signers of the open letter - "Common Ground: For Secure Elections and True National Security" -- included Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, writer and feminist organizer Gloria Steinem, former UN ambassador Gov. Bill Richardson, political analyst Noam Chomsky, former covert CIA operations officer Valerie Plame, activist leader Rev. Dr. William Barber II, filmmaker Michael Moore, former Nixon White House counsel John Dean, Russia scholar Stephen F. Cohen, former U.S. ambassador to the USSR Jack F. Matlock Jr., Pulitzer Prize-winning writers Alice Walker and Viet Thanh Nguyen, The Nation editor Katrina vanden Heuvel, former senator Adlai Stevenson III, and former longtime House Armed Services Committee member Patricia Schroeder. (I was also one of the initial signers.)

Since its release five days ago, the open letter has gained support from a petition already signed by 30,000 people. The petition campaign aims to amplify the call for protecting the digital infrastructure of the electoral process that is now "vulnerable to would-be hackers based anywhere" -- and for taking "concrete steps... to ease tensions between the nuclear superpowers."

We need a major shift in the U.S. approach toward Russia. Clearly the needed shift won't be initiated by the Republican or Democratic leaders in Congress; it must come from Americans who make their voices heard. The lives -- and even existence -- of future generations are at stake in the relationship between Washington and Moscow.

Many of the petition's grassroots signers have posted comments along with their names. Here are a few of my favorites:

From Nevada: "We all share the same planet! We better learn how to do it safely or face the consequences of blowing ourselves up!"

From New Mexico: "The earth will not survive a nuclear war. The weapons we have today are able to cause much more destruction than those of previous eras. We must find a way to common ground."

From Massachusetts: "It is imperative that we take steps to protect the sanctity of our elections and to prevent nuclear war anywhere on the earth."

From Kentucky: "Secure elections are a fundamental part of a democratic system. But this could become meaningless in the event of thermonuclear war."

From California: "There is only madness and hubris in talk of belligerence toward others, especially when we have such dangerous weapons and human error has almost led to our annihilation already more than once in the past half-century."

Yet a wide array of media outlets, notably the "Russiagate"-obsessed network MSNBC, keeps egging on progressives to climb toward peaks of anti-Russian jingoism. The line of march is often in virtual lockstep with GOP hyper-hawks like Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham. The incessant drumbeat is in sync with what Martin Luther King Jr. called "the madness of militarism."

Meanwhile, as Dr. King said, "We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent coannihilation."
(c) 2018 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."

Delivering The News To The New York Times
By Jim Hightower

Before major news organizations pronounce someone dead, they ought to check the person's pulse.

Take, for example, a recent New York Times screed prematurely pronouncing the Our Revolution political organization - launched only two years ago by Sen. Bernie Sanders - a moribund failure. "The group has repeatedly picked fights with the Democratic establishment in primary elections, losing nearly every time," the paper barked.

But, lo and behold, the very next day, Our Revolution's endorsed candidate for governor in the Maryland primary, Ben Jealous, handily defeated the party establishment's favorite. Also, in New York a 28-year-old Our Revolution activist, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, shocked the national party's entire corporate hierarchy with her resounding grassroots victory over Rep. Joe Crowley, the fourth highest ranking Democrat in the US House.

These big scores followed OR's earlier outsider victories over monied insiders in the Georgia and Texas gubernatorial primaries. Also, the insurgent group, which the Times ridiculed as "failing," has been winning dozens of upset victories in down-ballot primary elections from coast to coast, electing 45 percent of its candidates.

Just as significant, these Sanders'-inspired progressive rebels have now defined the Democratic Party's agenda. Plus they've enlivened both its supporters and many of its previously-lethargic office holders by backing such populist (and popular) proposals as Medicare For All and debt-free higher education.

Apparently, it's hard to see America's grassroots reality through the dusty-distant office windows of the New York Times. So, before the editors and writers do another hit piece on the people and candidates of Our Revolution, maybe they could come out of their journalistic cubicles... and at least visit the countryside.
(c) 2018 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

Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin give a joint press conference after meeting in Helsinki on July 16, 2018.

When Will These Republicans Act To Safeguard Our Elections?
Trump's comments alongside Putin were rightly condemned, but words don't count for much. We need action.
By John Nichols

It was not just Democrats but Republicans who expressed shock after Donald Trump's "apology tour" appearance with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The President of the United States refused to condemn Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and instead attacked the inquiry by special counsel Robert Mueller into a host of allegations regarding political skullduggery. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) called Monday's joint press conference in Helsinki a "missed opportunity by President Trump to firmly hold Russia accountable for 2016 meddling and deliver a strong warning regarding future elections." That was actually one of the milder critiques on a day when former CIA director John Brennan declared: "Donald Trump's press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of 'high crimes & misdemeanors.' It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump's comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican patriots: Where are you?"

A number of prominent Republicans did speak up.

Arizona Senator Jeff Flake-noting the indictment last last week of 12 Russians for interfering with US elections-complained that: "I never thought I would see the day when our American President would stand on the stage with the Russian President and place blame on the United States for Russian aggression. This is shameful."

Even House Speaker Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican who is famous for pulling his punches, swung hard on Monday. Arguing that "Russia interfered in our election and continues attempts to undermine democracy here and around the world," Ryan said, "The United States must be focused on holding Russia accountable and putting an end to its vile attacks on democracy."

Those were strong words. But so what? Complaining about the signals that this president is sending with regard to election integrity, even suggesting that Trump's comments might encourage interference in the 2018 and 2020 elections, is just talk. It means nothing unless words are matched with deeds. No matter what anyone thinks about Trump, or about Putin, or about US-Russian relations, or about how direct and how ambitious outside interference may have been in 2016, or about what details of that interference may tell us about the legitimacy of Trump's presidency, or about where the Mueller investigation is headed-it is simply absurd that affirmative steps are not being taken to secure the electoral processes of the United States going into this fall's midterm elections and heading toward the 2020 presidential election.

"Not acting now will only lead to repeated interference." -- @repmarkpocan

It is stunning that a sense of urgency has not developed-among leaders of both major parties. Even Dan Coats, the Trump administration's director of national intelligence, has said that: "There should be no doubt that Russia perceives that its past efforts have been successful and views the 2018 midterm U.S. elections as a potential target for Russian influence operations."

"Frankly," Coats told the Senate Intelligence Committee earlier this year, "the United States is under attack."

That should not be viewed as an observation. That should be viewed as a call to action.

"It is abundantly clear that we need to get ahead of anyone wanting to interfere with our elections," says Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair Mark Pocan, (D-Wisconsin). "We need better protections for our elections, including paper ballots for our voting machines."

While other members of Congress are make grand pronouncements about election integrity, Pocan has a plan. The Wisconsin Democrat has, with Democratic Congressmen Keith Ellison of Minnesota and Hank Johnson of Georgia, introduced tech-savvy legislation that gets to the heart of the matter. Their Securing America's Future Elections (SAFE) Act would safeguard US elections from cyber threats and interference by permanently classifying the integrity and security of elections as a component of the country's critical infrastructure.

Arguing that the United States needs "a comprehensive approach to secure our election process from start to finish," Pocan said when the SAFE Act was introduced last year: "By making our elections a top national security priority, we can ensure cybersecurity standards for voting systems are upgraded and require paper ballots with all electronic voting machines. One thing Democrats and Republicans should agree on is that we should be doing everything in our power to guarantee the sovereignty of our country and the integrity of our elections. This bill will do just that."

The SAFE Act is not the final answer to concerns about election integrity and the many challenges facing American democracy. However, it is a practical point of beginning. And it is shocking that the bill has less than two dozen cosponsors == all of them progressive Democrats.

Why haven't more House members - especially Republican leaders like Ryan, who say that Russia "continues attempts to undermine democracy" - signing on? Perhaps it is because this legislation is about more than Russian intrigues. It is, as well, a response to the threat of voter suppression. It pushes back against the wrongheaded attempt last year by key Republicans on the House Administration Committee to shut down the Election Assistance Commission, the federal agency created to help states update election systems and security. The SAFE Act reauthorizes the EAC for a period of 10 years and requires a random audit of precincts/wards in each state to ensure there are no discrepancies between paper ballots and electronic ballots.

"Few things are as critical as the integrity of our elections, which is why we must protect one of our most sacred institutions from foreign powers and domestic hackers who seek to undermine and influence our democratic process," says Ellison. "The SAFE Act makes our elections a top national security priority, creates cybersecurity standards to protect our voting systems, and ensures accountability to voters. The American people must have full confidence that their votes are protected and counted."

To create that confidence the SAFE Act would:

1. Permanently classify the security and integrity of our elections as essential to the United States' national security interests and allow the Department of Homeland Security to designate election infrastructure as critical infrastructure. This includes storage facilities, polling places, vote tabulation locations, voter databases, voting machines, and other systems that manage the election process. This important classification would place election systems in the same category as other critical infrastructure including the power grid, the banking system, and other utilities.

2. Authorize the necessary funding for upgrading cybersecurity standards of voting systems, including the software used to operate such systems, and to ensure the security of the manufacturing processes for such components through collaboration with the National Institute for Standards in Technology and the Department of Homeland Security. The bill will also ensure cybersecurity for all voter registration databases.

3. Require NIST and DHS to create basic cybersecurity standards for private companies contracted to work on election systems in the U.S.

4. Require all electronic voting machines to have a corresponding paper ballot. The Election Assistance Commission would be required to randomly audit 5 percent of wards/precincts in each state to ensure that there are no discrepancies between paper ballots and electronic ballots.

5. Reauthorize the EAC for a period of 10 years. The EAC is the most well-equipped agency to deal with election technology issues, such as software patches, for voting machines from private vendors. Eliminating this crucial agency would create an easily exploitable opportunity for hackers.

6. Require the DHS to conduct a review of election systems yearly beginning in 2018.

The SAFE Act was proposed more than a year ago. Bipartisan concern about interference in our elections has only increased since then. Yet, this concern is still, for the most part, expressed with inflated rhetoric rather than a guarantee of election integrity.

The time has come to act, because Pocan is right when he says that: "Not acting now will only lead to repeated interference."
(c) 2018 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. 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.

Denying Bad News Makes Us "Feel Good"
By James Donahue

Sometimes it seems hard to believe that national leaders like our own president and many of his staffers would deny global warming even though the evidence around us is becoming so overwhelming even the average Joe on the street senses that something is really wrong. And why would other world leaders and influential people say that the Nazi slaughter and suffering of Jews did not happen when there are many survivors of those World War II concentration camps still living today who tell the story? The embellishment of the death camp story is another matter.

Why, for that matter, is the world turning its back on the horrors now going on in places like Darfur, Africa, where the Sudanese Government is conducting mass genocide on hundreds of thousands and over a million people have been driven from their homes?

And why does Donald Trump still have so many followers, including many of his extreme right-wing Republican legislators, when he has turned most of the world against us, has worked to destroy Obama's health care system, has appointed people set to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency, has created so many social problems at home and has been shown to be a constant liar when he speaks.

Dr. Drew Weston, in a published paper reported that a research study conducted at Emory University in Atlanta indicates that the brain responds to bad news in a unique way. The research shows that "there are flares of activity in the brain's pleasure centers when unwelcome information is being rejected."

The study of brain mapping techniques reveals that "we derive pleasure from irrationally sticking with beliefs against evidence," Weston wrote.

The study suggests that most people internalize a system of beliefs and that changing those beliefs in the form of new and compelling information can bring psychological and social pain. But when a person allows the brain to find a way to deny this new evidence and thus maintain old beliefs he or she experiences immediate biochemical pleasure.

The Weston study helps us understand why so many people throughout the world remain in denial that our planet is dying from overpopulation, extreme exploitation of natural resources, and irresponsible polluting of our land, seas and air. There is a widespread unwillingness to believe some recent scientific reports that suggest that we have no more than 50 years before the planet will no longer support life.

What we find troublesome has been the lapdog nature of the national media to go right along with the federal program of denial. Now that extreme weather changes have forced journalists to take a more serious look at the effects of global warming this has started to change. Yet Mr. Trump and some of our legislators are still denying it. As a retired journalist, this writer found it difficult to understand why responsible media would ignore the most important and critical news story in history . . . the threatened extinction of the human race.

The Weston study may give us some insight into the full spectrum of issues associated with individual opinions and mass-mindedness. If the story is too dire, we just do not want to hear it. Thus we allow our brains to play tricks on us, and let us go on believing that all is well when we really should know better.
(c) 2018 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.

Can the Brit's Baby Trump Blimp Come Play At Trump's DC Military Parade?
The UK protests should be an inspiration to Americans resisting Trump
By Medea Benjamin

The best thing about Donald Trump's visit to England and Scotland was the protests-or Carnival of Resistance, as some called them. Their outrageous signs, costumes, and visuals, including the Baby Trump blimp, were in contrast to our oftentimes sedate US demonstrations. That's why a GoFundMe has been started to make Baby Trump Blimp the Guest of Honor at the November 10th protest against Trump's scheduled military parade in Washington DC. The American public would certainly get a lift from an oversized Trump in diapers hovering above Trump's macho display of guns and missiles. The UK protests should be an inspiration to Americans resisting Trump. When Trump met with British Prime Minister Theresa May and Queen Elizabeth, then went to Scotland for a round of golf, hundreds of thousands of people poured into the streets in opposition. With good humor and lively, creative actions, they trounced Trump's policies on everything from immigration, race relations, women, climate change, gun violence and war. One sign said it all: "We love the US but dislike pussy-grabbing, fake tanning, sabre rattling, serial philandering, white supremacist pandering, compulsive lying, first amendment-defying, corporate whoring, hate-mongering, no shaming, infant detaining, immigrant blaming, Putin colluding, climate change denying, over privileged, draft dodging, underperforming, inheritance squandering, insecure, infantile, snake-oil selling, small minded, tiny handed, celebrity demagogues."

The carnival atmosphere included drag queens decked out in their finest wigs and gowns, with signs proclaiming "No Closets, No Cages." A brass band called Trumpets Against Trump delighted the crowds with their brash tunes. A singing group with orange wigs crooned "We Shall Overcomb." Young women held photos of Trump with sparkles and red lipstick advocating "Less Guns, More Glitter." Rappers called for radical transformation: "The revolution is coming, I don't care what you think; the ship looks stable right before it sinks."

The belle of the ball, however, was Baby Trump-the delightful giant orange blimp of a screaming baby, wearing a diaper and gripping a cell phone for tweeting. The creators of the Baby Trump inflatable, who call themselves "the Babysitters," got the idea while hanging out in a pub, thinking about how to visualize their opposition to Trump's xenophobia that is affecting both the United States and Europe. Recalling comedian Jon Stewart's characterization of Trump as a "man-baby," they got the idea of making the blimp to target Trump's fragile ego. "He doesn't seem to be affected by the moral outrage that comes from his behavior and his policies," said organizer Matt Bonner. "We realized that you can't reason with him, but you can ridicule him." They also thought that in these dark and disturbing times, both in the US and in Europe, humor would be a welcome relief. Their idea struck a chord with the public: a crowd-funding campaign garnered $25,000 to make the big baby fly.

The "Babysitters" did, indeed, nail Trump's behavior, as he acted like an infantile bully on the visit. He hurled insults at his host, Prime Minister Theresa May, chastising her for not following his advice on Brexit. He criticized London's first Muslim mayor, Sadiq Khan, who authorized the Trump blimp on free speech grounds. Trump accused Khan of being soft on terrorism and allowing too many immigrants into London.

In a blatant show of dog whistle racism, Trump insulted not only Brits but all of Europe, saying immigration is "changing the culture" of Europe. Ironically, vintage British culture was on full display at the protests, with signs such as "Teapot Not Despot," "Hate is not my cup of tea," or the height of disdain: "He probably doesn't even like tea." Some signs used widely recognized colloquialisms, like "Trump can bugger off" and "Too many tweets make a twat." Others needed translation, like "Feed him to the corgis", referring to a popular Welch dog originally bred to herd sheep, or "Go Home: Wonsit W*nker", invoking a masterbuting orange cheese puff.

Trump certainly got the message. The protests led him to avoid the entire downtown of London. "When they put out blimps to make me feel unwelcome, [there was] no reason for me to go to London," Trump told the Sun newspaper. "I used to love London as a city. I haven't been there in a long time. But when they make you feel unwelcome, why would I stay there?" But even at the US Ambassador's residence in Regent's Park, where Donald Trump and Melania stayed, protesters showed up with signs like: "Not Even Your Wife Likes You." And outside his meeting with the Queen, Trump was met by merrymakers proclaiming, "Save our queen from the fascist tangerine."

Retreating to his golf resort in Turnberry, Scotland, Trump was still hounded by opponents. A Greenpeace activist was arrested for paragliding over the golf course with a banner reading "Trump: Well Below Par." Scots gathered at the nearby beach to denounce Trump's "special relationship" with Scotland because his mother grew up there. One sign opposing Trump's treatment of immigrants read: "Yer Maw Was an Immigrant, Ye Nugget."

The protests did have a serious side, with speakers like popular Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn addressing the London crowd. "We are asserting our right to a world that is not divided by misogyny, racism, and hate. We wish to live in a world of peace not at war, we wish not to blame refugees for wars that they themselves are victims of," Corbyn said to thunderous applause. "When we divide ourselves by xenophobia, when we divide ourselves by hatred, at the end of the day we all lose. When we unite together with common objectives, we can all win."

A woman leaving the London protest at the end of the day was ecstatic. "I don't know if we made a difference, but we had a great time," she laughed. "We saw Jeremy Corbyn, we saw the floating Baby Trump, and we drank gin. What more could we want?"

So on this side of the pond, let's toast to values and creativity of the Brits and to Baby Trump crossing the Atlantic in time for Trump's military parade. Join the GoFundMe to bring the big baby stateside. In these grim times, we could use a good dose of British humor.
(c) 2018 Medea Benjamin, co-founder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK: Women for Peace, is the author of the new book, Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the U.S.-Saudi Connection. Her previous books include: Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control; Don't Be Afraid Gringo: A Honduran Woman Speaks from the Heart, and (with Jodie Evans) Stop the Next War Now (Inner Ocean Action Guide). Follow her on Twitter: @medeabenjamin

Basic Instinct Told Us What He Was
By Heather Digby Parton

If only I could figure out how anyone who heard this garbage during the presidential campaign thought they were dealing with an "isolationist" I think I could sleep better at night. All you have to have is basic human instincts to see what he is:

"Look, we have the greatest business people in the world and we don't use them. We use political hacks. Some of these business people are not nice people. Who cares? You care? I don't think so. Some of these business people are vicious, horrible, miserable human beings. Who cares? Who cares?"

"Some of these people, they don't sleep at night! They twist, and turn, and sweat!" he cried, twisting his hand furiously, "and their mattress is soaking wet! Because they're thinking all night about victory the next day against some poor person that doesn't have a chance."

"And these people - unfortunately, I know them all. These people would love to represent us against China, against Japan, against all of these countries...These people. They feel crazy! They feel angry! They cannot believe the deals that are made. We will do things we have never done before."

It made me sick when I heard it. It made me sicker to hear the gleeful shouts and cheers from his ignorant fans.

This is not someone who just wants America to mind its own business. That's not what he's talking about. At all.

He doesn't understand anything. He's flailing about like a nuclear pinball all over the globe. But his psychology is violent and aggressive and he is the most powerful man on earth.

He's got his desired trade war now. It hasn't yet gotten truly ugly. But they often do. And then they lead to real wars.

Recall this gem, if you forgot it:

A sordid tale of Gen. John J. Pershing executing Muslim insurgents in the Philippines at the turn of the century is a favorite of President Trump.

"They were having terrorism problems, just like we do," Trump told a throng of cheering supporters on the campaign trail in South Carolina in February 2016. Pershing "caught 50 terrorists who did tremendous damage and killed many people. And he took the 50 terrorists, and he took 50 men and he dipped 50 bullets in pigs' blood - you heard that, right? He took 50 bullets, and he dipped them in pigs' blood. And he had his men load his rifles, and he lined up the 50 people, and they shot 49 of those people. And the 50th person, he said: You go back to your people, and you tell them what happened. And for 25 years, there wasn't a problem."

It's a story Trump has repeated, and echoed again Thursday after a terrorist attack in Barcelona that killed at least 13 people and left many more wounded when a driver smashed his van onto a busy sidewalk.

"Study what General Pershing of the United States did to terrorists when caught. There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years!" he tweeted.

A man who recites a lurid, bloodthirsty tale like that (and it isn't the only one) is a warmonger. By definition.

That quote came from a piece by Sarah Kendzior in which she wondered at the time who "these people" are?

They are him.
(c) 2018 Heather Digby Parton, also known as "Digby," is a contributing writer to Salon. She was the winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.

Rolls of AstroTurfAstroTurf's brand name has taken on a new meaning, referring to purported
"grassroots" efforts that are actually funded and supported by industry and political entities.

Fake Grassroots Campaigns Deserve Uprooting
By David Suzuki

AstroTurf looks and feels like grass - in an all-too-perfect way. But it's not grass.

Now the well-known artificial turf's brand name has taken on a new meaning, referring to purported "grassroots" efforts that are actually funded and supported by industry and political entities.

Some people, organizations and campaigns around everything from forestry to fossil fuels look and feel "grassroots," but many are anything but. In discussions around climate change and fossil fuels, for example, we see groups like Canada Action (and its spin-offs, Oil Sands Action and Pipeline Action), Ethical Oil, Resource Works, the International Climate Science Coalition, Friends of Science and the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, among others.

It's one tactic in the industry playbook. In a recent column, we discussed science denial campaigns related to climate change and caribou habitat protection. Astroturf campaigns are designed not just to deny evidence and discredit opponents but also to imply broad public support for products or practices.

Many of the organizations are secretive about their funding and alliances, even as they attack social justice and environmental organizations over "foreign funding" and collaboration with international groups.

Astroturf campaigns aren't new, but they're becoming increasingly widespread and effective as social media and the internet play a greater role in shaping public opinion.

In B.C., they go back at least as far as the 1980s and '90s, during the "War in the Woods" over logging in Clayoquot Sound. To counter massive protests, the Citizens Coalition for Sustainable Development, also known as Share B.C., was launched with support from and ties to the forestry industry, later spawning a number of "Share" offshoots.

The tactic gained notoriety in the U.S. after the Environmental Protection Agency released a 1992 report about the health impacts of tobacco smoke on non-smokers. In response, the world's biggest tobacco company, Philip Morris, launched a campaign "to prevent states and cities, as well as businesses, from passive-smoking bans."

The company hired PR firm APCO, which warned that industry spokespeople are not always seen as credible messengers and that a "national grassroots coalition" would carry more weight. APCO then established the Advancement of Sound Science Coalition to challenge the scientific consensus about tobacco smoke harms.

In his book Heat, U.K writer George Monbiot quotes a memo from tobacco company Brown and Williamson: "Doubt is our product since it is the best means of competing with the 'body of fact' that exists in the mind of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy."

The coalition, with additional funding from Exxon and other fossil fuel companies, went on to sow doubt about climate science. Its name illustrates another tactic: using labels and branding to convince the public they're evidence-based or to blur distinctions between them and legitimate entities. In Canada, the International Climate Science Coalition and Friends of Science (both of which Tom Harris has been or is involved with), are anything but friendly to science.<> A report sponsored by the U.S. Heartland Institute and promoted by Harris's ICSC was published under the banner of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change, a name aimed at creating confusion between it and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

In 1998, a group called the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine sponsored the Oregon Petition, which urged the U.S. government to reject climate change measures. It used the same font and format as the legitimate Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, prompting that organization to issue a statement distancing itself from the bogus group.

As the internet and social media become greater forces in society, astroturf groups and campaigns are growing, especially around global warming. Armies of trolls and credible-sounding organizations spread similar messaging on a range of topics. In keeping the forestry industry's caribou science denial tactics, we can expect to see it using PR firms and ostensibly third party voices to make its case.

Although it would be difficult or impossible to end astroturfing, people can learn how to spot phoney "grassroots" organizations and campaigns. SourceWatch and DeSmogBlog provide thoroughly researched information on a range of groups and individuals involved in these campaigns.

For the sake of public discourse and progress on important social, health and environmental issues, it's up to all of us to critically assess all information sources.
(c) 2018 Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co_founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.

There Are Dozens Of Brett Kavanaughs Haunting The Lower Courts
And they'll be there for generations.
By Charles P. Pierce

Assuming we can do the job at all, the task of fumigating American democracy from what modern conservative Republicanism has done to it, which naturally includes the elevation to the presidency of a vulgar talking yam, is going to take decades, if not the odd century.

While everyone is paying attention to what's going on in the White House, what has been done through the years to the federal judiciary will be a stubborn infection in the body politic for as close to forever as we are likely to experience. The lower levels of the federal court system are turning into the wild kingdom. From Mark Joseph Stern over at Slate:

James Ho, the judge in question, sits on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. He has a staunchly conservative background, serving as Texas solicitor general during the state's legal campaign against the Obama administration and volunteering for the anti-LGBTQ, anti-abortion First Liberty Institute. Ho has also asserted that the U.S. should "abolish all restrictions on campaign finance." It was no surprise, then, that in his very first opinion in April, Ho attacked the city of Austin's limits on candidate contributions. In a strikingly cynical rant, he suggested that wealthy people must buy off politicians in order to protect themselves from "regulators."
"You must realize that, if they want to pollute the water and the air, very rich people are forced to buy politicians on the cheap. I am not an ideological maniac."
But this polemic pales next to to Ho's latest judicial harangue, which places Roe v. Wade squarely in his crosshairs. The case involves a Texas law that requires the cremation or burial of "fetal remains," which Whole Woman's Health challenged in court. In January, U.S. District Judge David Alan Ezra blocked the latest iteration of Texas' fetal burial rule, ruling that it likely imposed an "undue burden" on a woman's right to abortion access. Under current precedent, that is a sensible decision; after all, the requirement creates no benefit for women, while passing on substantial costs to patients and clinics. Texas, however, argues that the fetal burial rule will not saddle clinics with extra costs, because the Texas Conference of Catholic Bishops has offered to bury fetal remains for free, or at reduced cost.
Wait. What? The Texas Conference of Catholic Bishops is now in the fetal burial business? Is that coming out of the collection baskets of a Sunday? If the state wants to pass this cruel and stupid law, then let the state pay for it.

A protest outside the Texas legislature
To determine the veracity of this offer, Whole Woman's Health served a subpoena on the conference requesting documents relating to fetal burial. The conference provided many documents but refused to turn over about 300 internal communications, alleging a First Amendment right to keep them secret. A magistrate judge rejected this First Amendment claim, so the conference appealed to Ezra. At noon on Sunday, June 17, Ezra rejected the appeal and gave the conference 24 hours to fully comply with the subpoena. Things were looking bad for the bishops there for a moment. But, ah, there is always the Fifth Circuit, a notorious nesting spot for the federal judiciary's more exotic conservative fauna. For example, Judge Edith Jones sits on that panel like a cat's curse. But it was the rookie, Judge Ho, who, in concurring with Jones's nonsense, took home the House Cup for this particular chronic ward.
"The First Amendment expressly guarantees the free exercise of religion-including the right of the Bishops to express their profound objection to the moral tragedy of abortion, by offering free burial services for fetal remains. By contrast, nothing in the text or original understanding of the Constitution prevents a state from requiring the proper burial of fetal remains."
But then, as Stern points out, Ho went after Judge David Allen Ezra, whose previous decision the Fifth Circuit had decided to reverse.
Those proceedings are chronicled in Judge Jones's comprehensive opinion for the Court. And they are troubling. They leave this Court to wonder why the district court saw the need to impose a 24-hour mandate on the Bishops on a Sunday (Father's Day, no less), if not in an effort to either evade appellate review-or tax the Bishops and their counsel for seeking review. They leave this Court to wonder if this discovery is sought, inter alia, to retaliate against people of faith for not only believing in the sanctity of life- but also for wanting to do something about it.
Judge Ho called Judge Ezra a religious bigot because of the way that Ezra had ruled on a perfectly ordinary discovery motion. (What in the hell does Father's Day have to do with anything, inter alia or not?) Anyone who doesn't think there's a huge claque of federal judges frothing at the notion of overturning Roe-and, I would argue, Griswold-up to and including Good Neighbor Brett Cavanaugh hasn't been paying attention over the past 30 years. And Judge Ho's career is only now just getting under way.
(c) 2018 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...

"There is no more independence in politics than there is in jail."
" ~~~ Will Rogers

The Limits Of Empathy
By David Swanson

Paul Bloom's book Against Empathy was bound to be either advocacy for cruelty and sadism, or a horribly misguided attempt to improve the world, or false advertising (it would turn out he's only against the most narrowly or bizarrely defined concept of empathy), or genuinely interesting. It turns out to be a combination of the last two, plus a third part made up of numerous lengthy but tangentially related topics - some of them also interesting.

The book's subtitle is "The Case for Rational Compassion." Bloom is not against thinking through how others might feel about or be impacted by actions. He's against the process of actually trying to feel what one imagines others would feel. Except that he's not against it, he's only against too much of it. He's against the fairly strawmanish position that one ought to engage in feeling empathy 24/7, that one ought to engage in no other mental processes, that thinking about things coolly is of zero value, and so on.

Much of what Bloom has to say seems valuable, though I don't think as much of it is related to empathy as he does, and I don't think he's followed his own guidance.

When Bloom blames empathy for racism and parochialism, I think he ought to save some criticism for racism and parochialism. Imagining how someone very different from yourself may feel could be difficult, prone to error, and a million miles away from being the only thing needed to direct moral behavior; it could also be helpful, just as imagining how someone very close to you might feel could be helpful. I suspect many proponents of empathy actually mean to encourage and prioritize the more difficult acts of empathy over the easier ones. Bloom points out, however, that this can mean first thinking one's way to caring about people and only then feeling empathy for them.

When Bloom blames empathy for violence and vengeance, I think he should reserve some criticism for the culture in which he is writing and thinking which treats such bad choices as inevitable and acceptable and praiseworthy. Far less violent cultures have probably not engaged in less empathy.

When Bloom points out the difficulty of empathizing with the billions of people impacted by major political decisions, he is either making the obvious point that one needs to think morally and consequentialistly and not merely empathize for hours, or he is making the more dubious claim that one will be able to do such thinking as well or better if one has never empathized with anyone in any way. The rest of his book makes clear that he is not making the latter point. He does, however, go on to make the interesting observation that in thinking about large-scale policy what's needed is not something closer to empathy for millions of strangers but something less like empathy for those closest to you, so as to put those you love on the same level as others.

Bloom does, however, make a data-based case that those who engage in more empathy do not tend to be significantly better people - or, rather, that no definitive proof of that has been offered, and possibly could not be short of us agreeing on what a better person is. (I disagree with some of what Bloom takes to be strictly uncontroversial on this point, as I'll come to shortly.)

When Bloom blames empathy for parochialism, he has a partial point, I think. He says that news media focus on one little girl in a well rather than on events affecting millions. He might have said they focus on fictional tales of babies taken out of incubators rather than on the endless death and suffering that will result from a war and the subsequent wars. But, even while Bloom coolly asserts that it is more difficult for a white person to empathize with a black person, he simply assumes that thinking about a little girl in a well (or babies in an incubator) is an act of empathy. But who knows exactly what it's like to be those beings? Surely it's easier for an adult to empathize with another adult with a different color of skin than with a small child or an infant. I think there are degrees of empathy, some of them closer to compassion (the more pensive process Bloom favors), and that the problem here is not empathy but lack of moral character and discipline, failure (whether by news producers or viewers) to properly prioritize the larger problem impacting many people over the smaller problem impacting one person about whom you've been told some details.

Bloom blames empathy for people falling for the Willie Horton ad, because a policy that reduced crime overall resulted in particular victims with whom people empathized. I'm not sure that what people were feeling wasn't fear and racism and hatred. The ad didn't show us any victims or tell us any details about them. It showed us Willie Horton and advocated for the death penalty - a position that seems to me to require a shutting down of empathy. In any case, the problems seem to be small-mindedness, thoughtless passion, acceptance of vengeance and violence, and racism - any of which may overlap with or interact with empathy, or may not.

In fact, Bloom makes clear that he's in favor of "cognitive empathy," that is, of thinking about what others might experience, as distinct from merely trying to imaginatively experience what others might experience. What he's against is thoughtlessness.

We're told that Donald Trump's daughter showed him videos of children suffering in Syria, which persuaded him to bomb Syria and cause lots more children to suffer. But we're told that Bobby Kennedy backed wise and good policies after seeing children suffer. Bloom would point out that for every good story there's a bad one, but the reverse is also true. If someone combines empathy with wisdom, I have no complaint with empathy (or compassion, or cognitive empathy, or caring about particular people under whatever banner).

Should we blame empathy for the horribly inefficient and corrupt work of many charities? I blame thoughtlessness, gullibility, greed, and arrogance.

What I find most valuable in Bloom's book is his advocacy for reasoned thought. I've long found it endlessly frustrating to be told that people must be "humanized" before we can do anything to help them. What, I've always wondered, are they prior to being humanized?

Another bit of thoughtlessness, or anti-thoughtfulness, that I think grows out of a focus on empathy is the common assertion that empathy is impossible. "Unless you've been a victim of this or look like me, you can never understand." This is harmful nonsense. People have amazing capacities to understand. People understand fictional characters stranger than any real ones.

But parochialism is the big problem coming out of the cluster of issues Bloom writes about. People are shown images and stories of refugee families separated by the U.S. government, and they care, and they act. But will they oppose the military and economic policies that play such a major role in forcing people to become refugees? If they were shown images and stories of bombing victims, then would they? Is monopolistic cartel control of mass media possibly a larger moral problem than too much or too little empathy? Why do people hate and take pride in what they falsely imagine to be a massive amount of non-weapon foreign aid? Why do even peace activists demand to "bring our war dollars home," as if what's wrong with a war is principally that it costs money, and as if it isn't enough money to transform people's lives both at home and abroad? To any extent that an overemphasis on the power of empathy is to blame, I'm for scaling it back. And I'm certainly against proudly accepting it. We now have a culture in which it's acceptable for a Congressman to oppose war funding because his brother died in a war, but not to do so because the current war will kill lots of other people's brothers. It's deemed respectable to give a personal and emotional justification for an action, but not a reasoned one. That needs to change.

I said that Bloom hasn't followed his own guidance. Perhaps that's not to be expected. One study concluded that there is nothing particularly ethical about the behavior of ethics professors. Perhaps that can be extended to other professors who write about ethics. Bloom announces behaviors he engages in, as though he knows they are immoral, but wants to make sure we see him as normal or don't feel uncomfortably challenged in any way. For example: "I eat meat." In the same book he addresses climate change as a major problem requiring more than empathy. I'd say it also requires more than complacency.

Bloom makes clear other immoral positions without as clearly recognizing them as such. He seems to believe it uncontroversial to claim that the proper question in a court of justice is not "What does the victim want?" but rather "What would I want if I or someone I cared about were in the position of the victim?" Whether this suggests that Bloom's opposition to empathy leads him away from respecting the actual views of others is not my point here. Rather, I believe the proper question is "What will most benefit the whole society and those involved, generate restitution, facilitate reconciliation, and avoid additional unnecessary suffering, without encouraging the madness of revenge?" In other words, I think Bloom should stop and coolly reason a little.

Bloom speaks throughout the book of "the right sort of aggression," "when going to war is the just decision," "there are worse things than violence and war; sometimes the reprisal motivated by empathy makes the world a better place." Of course, Bloom offers only one example of this, and it's the predictable thought-free, fact-free whopper:

"Even if there were no other considerations, the United States would have been right to invade Germany to liberate camps such as Dachau."

A reasoned look at the possibility of a just war finds that there can be no such thing. The facts of what happened in the 1940s make clear that the United States can't have been right to invade Germany to liberate camps because it did no such thing. Liberating camps was not part of secret internal motivations in the U.S. government, not present in public speeches, not on a single propaganda poster. The United States led conferences like that at Evian uniting the world in refusing to accept Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany, and for explicitly racist reasons, even as Hitler publicly offered to send them all anywhere on luxury cruise ships. The United States locked out the Jews. The Coast Guard chased a ship of Jewish refugees away from Miami, Florida. The State Department turned down Anne Frank's family's visa applications. Through the war, as peace activists begged the U.S. and British governments to negotiate the evacuation of the Jews, the response was always the same: we're too busy fighting a war. No step, diplomatic, military, or as far as I know empathetic, was ever taken to liberate the camps until the war was over. By then, the war had killed many more people than were killed in the camps, so the obviousness of the assertion that a war to liberate the camps was right is dubious, but it's primarily irrelevant because there was no war to liberate the camps. And more serious defenders of the supposed justness of U.S. entry into WWII and conduct during WWII don't even deal in such mythology. But the U.S. public does, and it has consequences that we need to apply passionate and cool, emotional and wise thought to.
(c) 2018 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.

Donald Trump is Taking America Back to 1798 - When John Adams Colluded With an Enemy Power
"His Highness" John Adams attacked the press, tried to deport his enemies and colluded with a foreign power. Hmm
By Jeff Biggers

While President Donald Trump's dalliance with President Vladimir Putin of Russia on Monday in Helsinki may suggest a historic shift in U.S.-Russian relations, his actions actually recall another trying moment in history when an American president's collusion with a former enemy led to one of our nation's darkest times.

President Trump is not leading us into fascism, as many warn. He is taking us back to 1798.

Strangely enough, Trump resembles President John Adams, who succeeded George Washington as president in 1797. Adams once wrote about preferring the title of "His Highness, the President of the United States and Protector of the Rights of the Same." As admirers of the British system of government, Adams and Alexander Hamilton both accepted a division in society between the "few and the many." An aristocracy was unavoidable; the United States would be ruled by the rich, the wellborn and the able.

Adams was also a thin-skinned president, who chafed at the giggles over his moniker "His Rotundity," and railed against what he considered deceptive and false characterizations of his administration by certain journalists. Like Trump's personal attacks against "fake news" purveyors, Adams singled out contentious newspapers, including the Argus in New York, that he planned to take down; Abigail Adams, his wife and confidante, directed her invective at the printing press of Benjamin Franklin Bache, who possessed "the malice and falsehood of Satan."

Bache's Auroranewspaper would eventually publish accounts about electoral collusion in 1798 with our former British enemies, who allegedly spent more than $800,000 to influence the midterm elections and buy off Adams' support. The Aurora had also chastised Adams for appointing family members and in-laws to government positions as personal secretaries and diplomats in Berlin.

For most journalists and observers of the period, a line in the sand had been drawn over the Jay Treaty in 1795, a questionable pro-British trade and settlement agreement that had been engineered by Hamilton and hammered out by Justice John Jay, which exacerbated the Federalist-Republican divide. While the treaty negotiated the final withdrawal of British troops from the continent, it also provided most-favored-nation status to Britain, and openly shifted the American alliance away from the French.

Bache declared that the new nation had "realigned with a despotic rather than a republican state," and charged the treaty with serving the financial interests of a handful of wealthy merchants.

The Aurora went on the attack. After publishing a leaked letter from the French foreign minister that demonstrated his nation had no war intentions against the United States, as the pro-British Adams had suggested, Bache was arrested for sedition - before the notorious Sedition Act had even been passed. His real crime was the embarrassment of Adams' bungling of diplomatic relations with France. Bache feared the ramifications of Adams's "war speech" to Congress in the early summer of 1798, in which the president had ramped up the American military arsenal for an apparent conflict with France. When the initial charges against Bache were dropped, a Federalist-appointed judge quickly issued another arrest warrant for the Aurora editor, who was hauled to the Philadelphia jail. He was charged with "tending to excite sedition, and opposition to the laws, by sundry publications."

Using the pretense of a threatened nation, invoking unholy French alliances among the American press and supposed spies, Congress passed the Sedition Act of 1798 with the intention of clamping down on the emerging free press hailed by Bache. "To write, print, utter or publish, or cause it to be done, or assist in it, any false, scandalous, and malicious writing against the government of the United States, or either House of Congress, or the President" - this was now a crime, warranting imprisonment for journalists and all others. Adams did not stop with the press: Congress passed an Alien Friends Act to grant the president the powers to deport anyone he deemed dangerous.

A feisty member of Congress from Vermont, Matthew Lyon, became the first person jailed under the Sedition Act for publishing a letter in his newspaper claiming that Adams displayed "a continual grasp for power [and] unbounded thirst for ridiculous pomp, foolish adulation and selfish avarice."

In a letter to a fellow Republican in Congress, Jefferson quietly cast Lyon's judges as "objects of national fear." The vice president, who would later hail the period as the "reign of witches," admitted his own alarm at the witch hunt. "I know not which mortifies me most," he wrote, "that I should fear to write what I think, or my country bear such a state of things."

Released from jail, Bache wouldn't back down. He disregarded the mobs that attacked his newspaper office repeatedly with rocks. "Like the British monarch, John Adams now has the Alien and Sedition Acts to silence his critics," he wrote to his readers. He defended the First Amendment in defiance. Legions of other newspapers and critics defied Adams and the Federalists.

While Bache died a few months later from the scourge of yellow fever, the Sedition Act witch hunts would continue for another year with serious consequence. Before his death, Bache had challenged other editors: Is there "any alternative between an abandonment of the constitution and resistance?"

A Federalist-baited mob nearly murdered another Aurora editor, William Duane, when it dragged him into the streets and took turns brutally beating him in a circle. As fearless as Bache, Duane recognized that each prosecution and trial of a newspaper editor disgraced the administration in front of the public. This included members of Congress, whose silence in the face of the treacherous act had become noticeable: "If they have a sense of honor left," Duane wrote, "their silence ... can only disgrace themselves."

By the election of 1800, according to Jefferson, the newspapers remained the "standard bearer for the political opposition." He framed the election as whether "republicanism or aristocracy would prevail."

Jefferson prevailed, and he would praise journalists like Duane and the Aurora for "rallying the whole Union," and providing "comfort in gloomiest days."

The Alien and Sedition Acts expired three days before Jefferson's inauguration. All those under prosecution, such as Duane, were pardoned. "The history of the monarchical forms of government have taught us," Duane wrote triumphantly in the Aurora, "never to trust power to any man" and to "preserve inviolate the freedom of the press."

Never have those words been truer than today for our nation, and our president.
(c) 2018 Jeff Biggers is the American Book Award-winning author of Reckoning at Eagle Creek: The Secret Legacy of Coal in the Heartland (Nation/Basic Books), among other books. Visit his website:

The Dead Letter Office...

Heil Trump,

Dear Unterfuhrer Clark,

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 saying that business owners should be able to refuse customers based on race, 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 "Rethuglican 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 the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Trump at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 07-27-2018. We salute you Herr Clark, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

7 Truths About Immigration
By Robert Reich

1. A record high of 75 percent of Americans now say immigration is a "good thing" for the country.

2. America needs more immigrants, not fewer, because our population is rapidly aging.

3. Historically, new immigrants have contributed more to society in taxes than they have taken from society in terms of public assistance.

4. Most immigrants don't take jobs away from native-born Americans. To the contrary, their spending creates more jobs.

5. Trump's claim that undocumented immigrants generate more crime is dead wrong. Both legal and undocumented immigrants are significantly less likely to commit crimes than people born in the United States.

6. Violent crime rates in America are actually at historical lows, with the homicide rate back to its level from the early 1960s.

7. Illegal border crossings have been declining since 2014 - long before Trump's "crackdown." There is no "surge" in illegal immigration.
(c) 2018 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

The War On Assange Is A War On Press Freedom
By Chris Hedges

The failure on the part of establishment media to defend Julian Assange, who has been trapped in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London since 2012, has been denied communication with the outside world since March and appears to be facing imminent expulsion and arrest, is astonishing. The extradition of the publisher-the maniacal goal of the U.S. government-would set a legal precedent that would criminalize any journalistic oversight or investigation of the corporate state. It would turn leaks and whistleblowing into treason. It would shroud in total secrecy the actions of the ruling global elites. If Assange is extradited to the United States and sentenced, The New York Times, The Washington Post and every other media organization, no matter how tepid their coverage of the corporate state, would be subject to the same draconian censorship. Under the precedent set, Donald Trump's Supreme Court would enthusiastically uphold the arrest and imprisonment of any publisher, editor or reporter in the name of national security.

There are growing signs that the Ecuadorean government of LenĂ­n Moreno is preparing to evict Assange and turn him over to British police. Moreno and his foreign minister, Jose Valencia, have confirmed they are in negotiations with the British government to "resolve" the fate of Assange. Moreno, who will visit Britain in a few weeks, calls Assange an "inherited problem" and "a stone in the shoe" and has referred to him as a "hacker." It appears that under a Moreno government Assange is no longer welcome in Ecuador. His only hope now is safe passage to his native Australia or another country willing to give him asylum.

"Ecuador has been looking for a solution to this problem," Valencia commented on television. "The refuge is not forever, you cannot expect it to last for years without us reviewing this situation, including because this violates the rights of the refugee."

Moreno's predecessor as president, Rafael Correa, who granted Assange asylum in the embassy and made him an Ecuadorean citizen last year, warned that Assange's "days were numbered." He charged that Moreno-who cut off Assange's communications the day after Moreno welcomed a delegation from the U.S. Southern Command-would "throw him out of the embassy at the first pressure from the United States."

Assange, who reportedly is in ill health, took asylum in the embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden to answer questions about sexual offense charges. He feared that once in Swedish custody for these charges, which he said were false, he would be extradited to the United States. The Swedish prosecutors' office ended its "investigation" and extradition request to Britain in May 2017 and did not file sexual offense charges against Assange. But the British government said Assange would nevertheless be arrested and jailed for breaching his bail conditions.

The persecution of Assange is part of a broad assault against anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist news organizations. The ruling elites, who refuse to accept responsibility for profound social inequality or the crimes of empire, have no ideological veneer left to justify their greed, ineptitude and pillage. Global capitalism and its ideological justification, neoliberalism, are discredited as forces for democracy and the equitable distribution of wealth. The corporate-controlled economic and political system is as hated by right-wing populists as it is by the rest of the population. This makes the critics of corporatism and imperialism-journalists, writers, dissidents and intellectuals already pushed to the margins of the media landscape-dangerous and it makes them prime targets. Assange is at the top of the list.

I took part with dozens of others, including Daniel Ellsberg, William Binney, Craig Murray, Peter Van Buren, Slavoj Zizek, George Galloway and Cian Westmoreland, a week ago in a 36-hour international online vigil demanding freedom for the WikiLeaks publisher. The vigil was organized by the New Zealand Internet Party leader Suzie Dawson. It was the third Unity4J vigil since all of Assange's communication with the outside world was severed by the Ecuadorean authorities and visits with him were suspended in March, part of the increased pressure the United States has brought on the Ecuadorean government. Assange has since March been allowed to meet only with his attorneys and consular officials from the Australian Embassy.

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled Friday that those seeking political asylum have the right to take refuge in embassies and diplomatic compounds. The court stated that governments are obliged to provide safe passage out of the country to those granted asylum. The ruling did not name Assange, but it was a powerful rebuke to the British government, which has refused to allow the WikiLeaks co-founder safe passage to the airport.

The ruling elites no longer have a counterargument to their critics. They have resorted to cruder forms of control. These include censorship, slander and character assassination (which in the case of Assange has sadly been successful), blacklisting, financial strangulation, intimidation, imprisonment under the Espionage Act and branding critics and dissidents as agents of a foreign power and purveyors of fake news. The corporate media amplifies these charges, which have no credibility but which become part of the common vernacular through constant repetition. The blacklisting, imprisonment and deportation of tens of thousands of people of conscience during the Red Scares of the 1920s and 1950s are back with a vengeance. It is a New McCarthyism.

Did Russia attempt to influence the election? Undoubtedly. This is what governments do. The United States interfered in 81 elections between 1945 and 2000, according to professor Dov Levin of Carnegie Mellon University. His statistics do not include the numerous coups we orchestrated in countries such as Greece, Iran, Guatemala and Chile or the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba. We indirectly bankrolled the re-election campaign of Russia's buffoonish Boris Yeltsin to the tune of $2.5 billion.

But did Russia, as the Democratic Party establishment claims, swing the election to Trump? No. Trump is not Vladimir Putin's puppet. He is part of the wave of right-wing populists, from Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson in Britain to Viktor Orban in Hungary, who have harnessed the rage and frustration born of an economic and political system dominated by global capitalism and under which the rights and aspirations of working men and women do not matter.

The Democratic Party establishment, like the liberal elites in most of the rest of the industrialized world, would be swept from power in an open political process devoid of corporate money. The party elite, including Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, is a creation of the corporate state. Campaign finance and electoral reform are the last things the party hierarchy intends to champion. It will not call for social and political programs that will alienate its corporate masters. This myopia and naked self-interest may ensure a second term for Donald Trump; it may further empower the lunatic fringe that is loyal to Trump; it may continue to erode the credibility of the political system. But the choice before the Democratic Party elites is clear: political oblivion or enduring the rule of a demagogue. They have chosen the latter. They are not interested in reform. They are determined to silence anyone, like Assange, who exposes the rot within the ruling class.

The Democratic Party establishment benefits from our system of legalized bribery. It benefits from deregulating Wall Street and the fossil fuel industry. It benefits from the endless wars. It benefits from the curtailment of civil liberties including the right to privacy and due process. It benefits from militarized police. It benefits from austerity programs. It benefits from mass incarceration. It is an enabler of tyranny, not an impediment.

Demagogues like Trump, Farage and Johnson, of course, have no intention of altering the system of corporate pillage. Rather, they accelerate the pillage, which is what happened with the passage of the massive U.S. tax cut for corporations. They divert the public's anger toward demonized groups such as Muslims, undocumented workers, people of color, liberals, intellectuals, artists, feminists, the LGBT community and the press. The demonized are blamed for the social and economic dysfunction, much as Jews were falsely blamed for Germany's defeat in World War I and the economic collapse that followed. Corporations such as Goldman Sachs, in the midst of the decay, continue to make a financial killing.

The corporate titans, who often come out of elite universities and are groomed in institutions like Harvard Business School, find these demagogues crude and vulgar. They are embarrassed by their imbecility, megalomania and incompetence. But they endure their presence rather than permit socialists or leftist politicians to impede their profits and divert government spending to social programs and away from weapons manufacturers, the military, private prisons, big banks and hedge funds, the fossil fuel industry, charter schools, private paramilitary forces, private intelligence companies and other pet programs designed to allow corporations to cannibalize the state.

The irony is that there was serious meddling in the presidential election, but it did not come from Russia. The Democratic Party, outdoing any of the dirty tricks employed by Richard Nixon, purged hundreds of thousands of primary voters from the rolls, denied those registered as independents the right to vote in primaries, used superdelegates to swing the vote to Hillary Clinton, hijacked the Democratic National Committee to serve the Clinton campaign, controlled the message of media outlets such as MSNBC and The New York Times, stole the Nevada caucus, spent hundreds of millions of dollars of "dark" corporate money on the Clinton campaign and fixed the primary debates. This meddling, which stole the nomination from Bernie Sanders, who probably could have defeated Trump, is unmentioned. The party hierarchy will do nothing to reform its corrupt nominating process.

WikiLeaks exposed much of this corruption when it published tens of thousands of messages hacked from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta's email account. The messages brought to light the efforts by the Democratic Party leadership to thwart the nomination of Sanders, and they disclosed Clinton's close ties with Wall Street, including her lucrative Wall Street speeches. They also raised serious questions about conflicts of interest with the Clinton Foundation and whether Clinton received advance information on primary-debate questions.

The Democratic National Committee, for this reason, is leading the Russia hysteria and the persecution of Assange. It filed a lawsuit that names WikiLeaks and Assange as co-conspirators with Russia and the Trump campaign in an alleged effort to steal the presidential election.

But it is not only Assange and WikiLeaks that are being attacked as Russian pawns. For example, The Washington Post, which has sided with the Democratic Party in the war against Trump, without critical analysis published a report on a blacklist posted by the anonymous website PropOrNot. The blacklist was composed of 199 sites that PropOrNot alleged, with no evidence, "reliably echo Russian propaganda." More than half of those sites were far-right, conspiracy-driven ones. But about 20 of the sites were major progressive outlets including AlterNet, Black Agenda Report, Democracy Now!, Naked Capitalism, Truthdig, Truthout, CounterPunch and the World Socialist Web Site. PropOrNot, short for Propaganda or Not, accused these sites of disseminating "fake news" on behalf of Russia. The Post's headline was unequivocal: "Russian propaganda effort helped spread 'fake news' during the election, experts say."

In addition to offering no evidence, PropOrNot never even disclosed who ran the website. Even so, its charge was used to justify the imposition of algorithms by Google, Facebook, Twitter and Amazon to direct traffic away from the targeted sites. These algorithms, or filters, overseen by thousands of "evaluators," many hired from the military and security and surveillance apparatus, hunt for keywords such as "U.S. military," "inequality" and "socialism," along with personal names such as Julian Assange and Laura Poitras. These keywords are known as "impressions." Before the imposition of the algorithms, a reader could type in the name Julian Assange and be directed to an article on one of these targeted sites. After the algorithms were put in place, these impressions directed readers only to mainstream sites such as The Washington Post. Referral traffic from these impressions at most of the targeted sites has plummeted, often by more than half. Challenged by these algorithms and the abolition of net neutrality, these sites will be pushed further and further to the outer reaches of the media.

Any news or media outlet that addresses the reality of our failed democracy and exposes the crimes of empire will be targeted. The January 2017 Director of National Intelligence Report spent seven pages on RT America, where I have a show, "On Contact." The report does not accuse RT America of disseminating Russian propaganda, but it does allege the network exploits divisions within American society by giving airtime to dissidents and critics including whistleblowers, anti-imperialists, anti-capitalists, Black Lives Matter activists, anti-fracking campaigners and the third-party candidates the establishment is seeking to mute.

If the United States had a public broadcasting system free from corporate money or a commercial press that was not under corporate control, these dissident voices would be included in the mainstream discourse. But we don't. Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, Malcolm X, Sheldon Wolin, Ralph Nader, James Baldwin, Susan Sontag, Angela Davis and Edward Said once appeared regularly on public broadcasting. Now critics like these are banned, replaced with vapid courtiers such as columnist David Brooks. RT America was forced to register under the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA). This act requires Americans who work for a foreign party to register as foreign agents. The FARA registration is part of the broader assault on all independent media, including the effort to silence Assange.

WikiLeak's publication in 2017 of 8,761 CIA files, known as Vault 7, appeared to be the final indignity. Vault 7 included a description of the cyber tools used by the CIA to hack into computer systems and devices such as smartphones. Former CIA software engineer Joshua Adam Schulte was indicted on charges of violating the Espionage Act by allegedly leaking the documents.

The publication of Vault 7 saw the United States significantly increase its pressure on the Ecuadorean government to isolate and eject Assange from the embassy. Mike Pompeo, then the CIA director, said in response to the leaks that the U.S. government "can no longer allow Assange and his colleagues the latitude to use free speech values against us." Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Assange's arrest was a "priority."

It is up to us to mobilize to protect Assange. His life is in jeopardy. The Ecuadorean government, violating his fundamental rights, has transformed his asylum into a form of incarceration. By cutting off his access to the internet, it has deprived him of the ability to communicate and follow world events. The aim of this isolation is to pressure Assange out of the embassy so he can be seized by London police, thrown into a British jail and then delivered into the hands of Pompeo, John Bolton and the CIA's torturer in chief, Gina Haspel.

Assange is a courageous and fearless publisher who is being persecuted for exposing the crimes of the corporate state and imperialism. His defense is the cutting edge of the fight against government suppression of our most important and fundamental democratic rights. The government of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull of Australia, where Assange was born, must be pressured to provide him with the protection to which he is entitled as a citizen. It must intercede to stop the illegal persecution of the journalist by the British, American and Ecuadorean governments. It must secure his safe return to Australia. If we fail to protect Assange, we fail to protect ourselves.
(c) 2018 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. Keep up with Chris Hedges' latest columns, interviews, tour dates and more at

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...

Kim Jong Un Upset To Learn That Trump Is Seeing Other Dictators
By Andy Borowitz

PYONGYANG (The Borowitz Report)-The North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, is reportedly "upset" and "hurt" that Donald J. Trump is seeing other dictators, sources in Pyongyang have confirmed.

According to an aide close to the North Korean leader, Kim was "devastated" to see images of Trump warmly embracing another dictator in Helsinki on Monday, just one month after jetting off to Singapore to spend a memorable and intense five hours with Kim.

Shortly after their time together, aides close to Kim warned him against becoming emotionally attached to Trump, alerting Kim to press reports linking the American to many other dictators.

"He's been quoted saying nice things about Xi Jinping and Rodrigo Duterte, to name just two," one aide said. "Trump could never commit to just one dictator. When it comes to autocrats and strongmen, he's a total player."

Still, despite all the red flags, seeing Trump in the clutches of another dictator left Kim "deeply wounded," aides said.

"Donald Trump said that he and I had a 'special bond,'" Kim reportedly said, choking back tears. "I guess that meant something different to him than it did to me."
(c) 2018 Andy Borowitz

The Gross National Debt

Iraq Deaths Estimator

The Animal Rescue Site

Issues & Alibis Vol 18 # 28 (c) 07/20/2018

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

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

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

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

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