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In This Edition

Norman Solomon asks, "Bernie Sanders Has Bonded With President Biden. Is That Good?"

Ralph Nader explores, "The Power Structure For Deadly Lag And The Prophetic Work Of Unsung Heroes."

Margaret Kimberley exclaims, "U.S. Out Of Haiti!"

Jim Hightower explains, "Why Corporations Pay Millions For Executive Mediocrity."

William Rivers Pitt reports, "The Delta Variant Is Feasting On The Unvaxxed - And It's Getting Worse."

John Nichols says, "I'm Fine With Sending Jeff Bezos Into Space, As Long As He Pays His Taxes Here On Earth."

James Donahue examines, "Transplant Phenomena Suggests Cellular Memory."

David Swanson reports, "War Powers Reform Bill Far Better Than Feared."

David Suzuki says, "Blueberry River First Nations Court Victory Offers Path To Reconciliation."

Charles P. Pierce says, "I Don't Know What In The Hell Merrick Garland Is Doing."

Juan Cole wonders, "Did Netanyahu Try To Get Trump To Wag The Dog With Strike On Iran After Biden Won?"

Robert Reich considers, "The Anti-Family Party."

Amy Goodman finds, "Billions In Trust Meant For Wildfire Survivors Went To Lawyers And Consultants."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Waterford Whispers News reports, "US Government Offended By Suggestion It Would Ever Try To Meddle In Cuban Affairs," but first, Uncle Ernie sez, "And Then There's 'Moon Wobble.'"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Mr. Fish, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Ruben Bolling, Brandon Bell, Drew Angerer, Anna Moneymaker, David Suzuki Foundation, Black Agenda Report, Robert Reich, Jim Hightower, Pexels, AFP, Unsplash, Shutterstock, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments-

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

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

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And Then There's 'Moon Wobble'
Global warming strikes again!
By Ernest Stewart

"It's the accumulated effect over time that will have an impact. But if it floods 10 or 15 times a month, a business can't keep operating with its parking lot under water. People lose their jobs because they can't get to work. Seeping cesspools become a public health issue." ~~~ Phil Thompson ~ assistant professor at the University of Hawaii

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

I see where U.S. coastlines will face increasing flooding in the mid-2030s thanks to a regular lunar cycle that will magnify rising sea levels caused by global warming according to research led by NASA scientists. A key factor identified by the scientists is a regular "wobble" in the moon's orbit - first identified in the 18th century - that takes 18.6 years to complete. The moon's gravitational pull helps drive Earth's tides.

In half of this lunar cycle, Earth's regular daily tides are diminished, with high tides lower than usual and low tides higher than usual. In the cycle's other half, the situation is reversed, with high tides higher and low tides lower.

The expected flooding will result from the combination of the continuing sea level rise associated with climate change and the arrival of an amplification part of the lunar cycle in the mid-2030s, the researchers said.

"In the background, we have long-term sea level rise associated with global warming. It's causing sea level to increase everywhere," Ben Hamlington, NASA team leader and one of the study's authors.

"This effect from the moon causes the tides to vary, so what we found is that this effect lines up with the underlying sea level rise, and that will cause flooding specifically in that time period from 2030 to 2040," Hamlington said.

The researchers studied 89 tide gauge locations in every coastal U.S. state and territory aside from Alaska. The effect of the dynamic applies to the entire planet except for far northern coastlines like in Alaska.

The prediction pushes previous estimates for serious coastal flooding forward by about 70 years. You may recall that we'd have no problems with global warming until the turn of the next century according to estimates from the 1990's

The study, published last month in the journal Nature Climate Change, was led by members of a NASA science team that tracks sea level change. The study focused on U.S. coasts but the findings are applicable to coasts worldwide, NASA said.

"This is eye-opening for a lot of people," Hamlington said. "It's really critical information for planners. And I think there's a great amount of interest in trying to get this information from science and scientists into the hands of planners."

Hamlington said city planners should plan accordingly.

"A building or particular piece of infrastructure, you may want to be there for a very long amount of time, whereas something else you may just want to protect or have access to for a few years."

I'm glad I won't be around when it really hits the fan, it bad enough as it is today and every year it's going to get worse. I really feel bad for my grand children and their children.


05-25-1950 ~ 07-17-2021
Thanks for the music!

10-31-1939 ~ 07-18-2021
Thanks for the laughs!

05-25-1945 ~ 07-19-2021
Thanks for the music!

12-30-1940 ~ 07-20-2021
Thanks for the music!


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


Until the next time, Peace!

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

Bernie Sanders Has Bonded With President Biden. Is That Good?
By Norman Solomon

So far, most of the Biden presidency has been predictable. Its foreign policy includes bloated Pentagon spending and timeworn declarations that the United States should again "lead the world" and "sit at the head of the table." Many corporate influence peddlers have settled into jobs in upper reaches of the executive branch. The new administration has taken only baby steps toward student debt relief or progressive taxation. On health care, the White House keeps protecting the interests of insurance companies while rebuffing public opinion that favors Medicare for All.

And yet -- Joe Biden is no longer on the narrow corporate road that he traveled during five decades in politics.

President Biden's recent moves to curtail monopolies have stunned many observers who -- extrapolating from his 36-year record in the Senate -- logically assumed he would do little to challenge corporate power. Overall, Biden has moved leftward on economic policies, while Sen. Bernie Sanders -- who says that "the Biden of today is not what I or others would have expected" decades ago -- has gained major clout that extends into the Oval Office.

This month has seen a spate of news stories about Sanders' new political leverage, not only as chair of the Senate Budget Committee but also due to his close working relationship with Biden. Under the headline "Vermont's Longtime Outsider Has Become a Trusted Voice in the Biden White House," CNN summed up: "The Biden-Sanders connection is not a love story; it's more a marriage of convenience. But as Biden pushes an unprecedented progressive White House agenda, it's crucial." Sanders told the network that Biden "wants to be a champion of working families, and I admire that and respect that."

But if Biden is pushing "an unprecedented progressive White House agenda," it's a high jump over a low bar. Leaving aside President Lyndon Johnson's short-lived Great Society program that was smothered by Vietnam War spending, no White House agendas since the 1940s really merit the term "progressive." And the current president hardly passes as "a champion of working families" unless he's graded on an unduly lenient curve.

One danger of Bernie's tight political embrace of Biden is that "progressive" standards will be redefined downward. Another danger is that Biden's international policies and conformity to militarism will be further swept off the table of public debate.

For instance, targeting Venezuela, Iran, Cuba and other disfavored nations, Biden continues to impose sanctions that are killing many thousands of people each month, with children especially vulnerable. A truly progressive president would not do such a thing.

Meanwhile -- despite strong efforts by Sanders, some other lawmakers and many human-rights activists -- Biden is still abetting Saudi Arabia's warfare in Yemen that continues to cause the world's worst humanitarian disaster. "While he is a welcome change from the incompetence, venality, and cruelty of the Trump administration," epidemiologist Aisha Jumaan and attorney Charles Pierson wrote days ago, "Biden has continued the Obama and Trump administrations' support for the Saudi-led war on Yemen." A truly progressive president would not do such a thing.

And then there's the enormous U.S. military budget, already bloated during the Trump years, which Biden has opted to raise. A truly progressive president would not do such a thing.

There is political and moral peril ahead to the extent that Bernie Sanders -- or others who oppose such policies -- feel compelled to tamp down denunciations of them in hopes of reaping progressive results by bonding, and not polarizing, with Biden.

In the aftermath of his two presidential campaigns that achieved huge political paradigm shifts, Sanders is now in a unique position. "Sanders already influenced a leftward shift in the Democratic Party through his time on the campaign trail in 2016 and 2020," Bloomberg News reported last week. "Biden has embraced a series of progressive priorities, including an expanded child tax credit and subsidies for clean energy, and made an attempt at increasing the national minimum wage earlier this year."

Sanders routinely combines his zeal for the art of the morally imperative with the art of the possible. So, four months ago, he helped push the American Rescue Plan through the Senate and onto Biden's desk for signing. It resulted in upwards of 160 million direct cash payments to individuals, but did not boost the minimum wage. Sanders commented: "Was it everything we wanted? No. Was it a major step for the working class of this country. You bet it was."

His approach has been similar this week in the midst of negotiations for a multitrillion-dollar budget plan. After a private White House meeting with Biden that Sanders called a "very good discussion," the senator told reporters: "He knows and I know that we're seeing an economy where the very, very rich are getting richer while working families are struggling."

For genuine progressives, the Sanders-Biden bond is positive to the extent that it helps sway the president's policies leftward -- but negative to the extent that it restrains Sanders, and others in his extended orbit, from publicly confronting Biden about policies that are antithetical to the values that the Bernie 2020 presidential campaign embodied. Today, Sanders' role is appreciably and necessarily different than the needed roles of grassroots movements that have inspired and been inspired by him.

Progressives cannot and should not be satisfied with the policies of the Biden presidency. Yet breakthrough achievements should not be denied.

At the end of last week, Public Citizen's president Robert Weissman sent out a mass email hailing big news about Biden's executive order on monopolies. Noting that Biden "tasked agencies throughout his administration with helping to level the playing field for consumers, workers, and small businesses," Weissman declared: "Joe Biden just took the most significant action any president has taken in generations to confront the menace of corporate monopolies."

An exaggeration? Hyperbolic? I wondered. So, I asked a leading progressive economist, Dean Baker.

"I think the enthusiasm is warranted," Baker replied. "Biden laid out pretty much everything that he could do in terms of executive action. In many cases, everything will depend on the implementation, and also what the courts will buy." The executive order's provisions will be legally contested. "But some of these items are a really big deal. In the case of imported prescription drugs, you could easily be talking about [saving] $100 billion a year and if they push hard, possibly as much as $200 billion a year. That comes to more than $600 per person every year."

Baker added that Biden's recent appointment of Lina Kahn to be the chair of the Federal Trade Commission "was a really big deal -- she is probably the foremost progressive anti-trust scholar in the country."

Overall, what the Biden administration is doing runs the gamut from very good to very awful. Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders -- an extraordinary politician who has always worked in tandem with progressive movements -- has landed in an exceptional position to shape history. He recently told an interviewer, "As somebody who wrote a book called 'Outsider in the House,' yes, it is a strange experience to be having that kind of influence that we have now."

As Bernie Sanders continues to navigate that "strange experience," one of the realms where he excels is public communication. It was aptly summarized a few days ago by Nathan J. Robinson, who wrote that Sanders "is always on message, always trying to make sure the press has to talk about what he wants them to talk about.... Bernie has his flaws and made serious mistakes in both of his presidential campaigns, but he is very good at politics despite his marginal position. If he goes on a talk show, he will be discussing wealth inequality or the future of democracy... Staying relentlessly on message -- and thinking about what topics we want to spend our finite resources and time talking about -- is critical to having an effective, persuasive left."

An effective, persuasive left cannot be sustained by any leader, no matter how inspiring or brilliant. With the future at stake, what's ultimately possible -- as the Bernie 2020 motto insisted -- is not about him, it's about us.

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

A Lag Time gave us Global Warming!

The Power Structure For Deadly Lag And The Prophetic Work Of Unsung Heroes
By Ralph Nader

Kicking life-saving solutions endlessly down the road is the mark of the brutish power of the corporations over the innocents.

Fifty years ago, medical research warned about the overuse of antibiotics creating mutations of resistant bacterium, making these drugs less effective. Dr. Sidney Wolfe warned about this criminal negligence again and again, along with other colleagues. But the drug companies kept over-promoting to get physicians to over-prescribe. Today, antibiotic resistance takes over 100,000 lives a year just in the U.S. Some bacterium are mutating beyond the ability of medical science to catch up with new more powerful antibiotics to curb new antibiotic resistance bacterium.

Deadly Lag Time.

For decades, starting in the 1970s, at the very least, both the big oil companies and knowledgeable government officials warned about global warming. Exxon's own scientists sounded the alarm internally as well. Now with little preparedness to move fast from fossil fuels to renewables and conserve energy, the climate crisis is upon the world. Mega storms, floods, wildfires, and rising sea levels threaten everything and everybody. As James Gustave Speth's forthcoming book, They Knew: The U.S. Federal Government's Fifty-Year Role in Causing the Climate Crisis, people knew, including the graphic, forecast report in 1993, now forgotten, authored by Bill Clinton and Al Gore who promptly gave the auto industry an eight-year holiday from the regulatory push on fuel efficiency.

Deadly Lag Time.

Great physicians such as Quentin Young, Arnold Relman, Steffie Woolhandler, and David Himmelstein warned of the avoidable casualties and price gouging if we did not enact single-payer universal health insurance. They were ignored. The delay is costing trillions of dollars and about 100,000 lives a year with many more injuries and illnesses for those unable to afford health insurance to get a timely diagnosis and treatment.

Dr. Philip Lee supported a study by Harvard Medical School physicians back in the early 1990s, estimating the huge fatality toll annually from medical malpractice just in hospitals. In 2015, Johns Hopkins medical researchers reported a minimum of 250,000 deaths a year from preventable problems in hospitals excluding clinics and doctors' offices. The prophets warned, but the power structure, including the media, turned a largely deaf ear.

Deadly Lag Time.

Walter Hang, an environmental scientist, has warned for years about the toxic nature of fluids used in fracking of gas and oil. He and others mobilized people in New York state to persuade Gov. Andrew Cuomo to ban the practice, unlike the increasingly poisoned fracking sites in Pennsylvania and other fracking states. Now we have been told by scientists that a chemical used in the mining breaks down into a toxic giant called PFAS, which they call a "forever" pollutant endangering underground drinking water sources.

Deadly Lag Time.

Over twenty-five years ago, scientists spoke out against the rising epidemic now known as the opioid disaster, promoted by drug companies and their owners like the Sackler family. The government and medical professions dillydallied. Last year, a record 90,000 people died in America from drug overdoses, mostly from opioids.

Deadly Lag Time.

In the 1950s, government scientists reported the connection between cigarette smoking and cancer. In 1964, the annual report by the Surgeon General (launched by Dr. Luther Terry) kept adding to the evidence of diseases from this highly promoted tobacco industry killer. Philip Morris Co., R.J. Reynolds and others kept promoting, denying, deceiving and regularly luring youngsters with free samples near schools. Over 400,000 annual deaths in the U.S. are attributed to smoking-related diseases.

When Congress, the media, and the public health groups started banging the drums in the 1980s, Big Tobacco was put on the defensive year after year. The number of daily smokers declined to under 15% from a high of 42% in 1964. Non-smokers more aggressively demanded smoke-free places and helped mightily to turn the tide. Who remembers the handful of tobacco-use fighters for their courageous and prescient advocacy?

Deadly Lag Time.

Lag time is another phrase for the "democracy gap." It is the space between what most of the people want and need, and what those same passive people suffer and tolerate.

The same "lag time" bleeds people economically. The federal minimum wage is still frozen by Congress at $7.25 per hour. Many millions of workers are between that number and $15 per hour.

Prof. Malcolm Sparrow of Harvard has led the way in highlighting the many billing frauds in the health care industry that totals $350 billion or more this year alone. His detailed warnings and his classic book, License to Steal: Why Fraud Plagues America's Health Care System, came out years ago in 1996. Still, a corporate Congress does nothing. The Biden Administration does not ask for necessary money for this area of enforcement, even though $1billion would save over $15 billion from fraudulent billing.

Jake Lewis and Jonathan Brown wrote and spoke about the damaging influence of the Federal Reserve and its Big Bank patrons back in the 60s and 70s. The lag time became worse, especially under Fed Chairman Jerome Powell who studies show has made the super-rich and corporate giants soaked in unearned wealth more rich while expanding the impact of gross inequality against the masses. (See the op-ed by Karen Petrou in the New York Times, July 12, 2021).

New Time Lags are underway. We have been forewarned about Medicare [Dis]Advantage, yet its corporate deceivers continue to devour traditional Medicare (controlling over 40% of Medicare beneficiaries).

Technology seers are warning against the terrible effects on younger people, including children, who will become addicted to Facebook's rollout of the Oculus or augmented reality goggles. Avaricious Zuckerberg continues to expand his dangerous monopolistic empire.

All those who told us so are largely forgotten, uncelebrated and, if they are still active, hardly getting their calls returned. Is there a more abject sign of a decaying democracy?

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

U.S. Out Of Haiti!
By Margaret Kimberley

The United States playing any role in Haiti's future is akin to the fox being left in charge of the henhouse. The recent assassination of Haiti's president Jovenel Moise has created a great deal of confusion, not only about the crime itself but about the role that the United States might play in that nation. Scant and contradictory information make it difficult to discern who benefits from his killing. Moise was the United States puppet president who refused to step down in February as Haiti's constitution required, and despite massive protests across the country opposing the continuation of his administration.

Questions about the assassination are relevant but they are not particularly helpful in analyzing the situation. Details about the plot are important but so is understanding the history of Haiti's relationship with the U.S. and other countries. That history makes a mockery of any claim that the U.S. could be helpful at this moment.

Haiti was met with animosity from the beginning. Black people successfully leading a revolt made its former enslavers very angry. In 1825 and again in 1838 the French sent warships threatening to conquer Haiti and re-enslave its population unless they were paid millions of francs. So great was the debt that it was not paid off until 1947 and is estimated to total $25 billion. The narrative that Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere should always be followed by an explanation of how the French grand theft left a nation in financial ruin.

The United States has already directly intervened in Haiti. In 1915 Woodrow Wilson sent marines to occupy that country and they remained for another 19 years. That occupation was followed by U.S. puppet governments including the notorious Duvalier family. Every effort that Haitians have made to win sovereignty for themselves has been met with attack.

Bill Clinton sent troops again in 1994 and his successor George W. Bush followed by kidnapping president Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004. Nature added to Haiti's woes with a catastrophic earthquake in 2010 and United Nations so-called peacekeeping forces brought cholera which killed 10,000 people.

Democrats and Republican presidents alike have done great damage to Haiti with election interference. In 2009 secretary of state Hillary Clinton pressured the government to prevent the minimum wage from increasing to 61 cents per hour from a paltry 24 cents. Shortly after the 2010 earthquake she forced puppet president Michel Martelly to undo election results and stay in office against the will of Haitian voters.

This is the history that must be remembered when we are told that Haitian officials are requesting the presence of U.S. troops in the wake of assassination. Even if true, the U.S. can never play a positive role there.

Foreign interventions are at the root of Haiti's problems. Even philanthropy is suspect. The millions of dollars raised after the 2010 earthquake ended up in the hands of the oligarch class. Venezuela's Petrocaribe project was intended to provide oil to Haiti and other nations at steeply discounted prices. Instead, it was undermined by theft on a massive scale. None of the funds reached the people who desperately needed them.

Haitians are perfectly capable of handling their own affairs. Whenever they take a step toward independence they are quickly subverted. It is bad enough that the United Nations refused to compensate Haiti for the cholera epidemic that it caused, but now they declare who will be the next president, without any input from the Haitian people.

The United States playing any role in Haiti's future is akin to the fox being left in charge of the henhouse. The assumption that the exploiters can suddenly become helpful is a racist one. Haitians have been punished ever since 1804 because they dared to resist oppression from white led nations. Every step they take towards true independence has been systematically subverted.

If outsiders do nothing else, they must call attention to Haiti's history and speak the truth about two hundred years of oppression at the hands of more powerful countries. The narrative of incompetent Black people must be denounced whenever it appears. It is the U.S. and its allies who must be exposed as the creators of a failed state. The Haitian people have suffered at their hands long enough. Anyone claiming to be concerned about their fate should speak in their defense and that means opposing any U.S. intervention.

(c) 2021 Margaret Kimberley's Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-mail at Margaret.Kimberley@BlackAgendaReport.Com.

Why Corporations Pay Millions For Executive Mediocrity
By Jim Hightower

Most people believe the American economy is being rigged by and for bankers, CEOs, and other superrich elites, because... well, because it is!

With their hired armies of lawmakers, lobbyists, lawyers, and the like, they fix the economic rules so even-more of society's money and power flows uphill to them. Take corporate CEOs. While 2020 was somewhere between a downer and devastating for most people, the CEO class made out like bandits, with each of the three top paid corporate honchos pocketing as much as a billion dollars in personal pay!

Are they geniuses, or what? What. All three of their corporations ended 2020 with big financial losses and declining value. So how can such mediocrity produce such lavish rewards? Simple -rig the pay machine.

Today's corporate system of setting compensation for top executives is a flimflam disguised as a model of management rectitude. On its face, it sounds good -"Pay for performance," it's called, meaning the CEO does well if the company does well.

But who defines "doing well?" The scam at most major corporations is that the standard of corporate performance that the chief must meet to quality for a huge payday is set by each corporation's board of directors. Guess who they are? Commonly, board members are the CEO's handpicked brothers-in-law, golfing buddies, and corporate cronies. So, they set the bar for winning multimillion-dollar executive paychecks so low that a sack of concrete could jump over it.

Well, insist these flimflammers, corporate shareholders are the ultimate stopgap against CEO greed. These "owners" can just vote "no" on any executive pay they consider excessive. However, even "shareholder democracy" is rigged -corporate rules decree that votes by shareholders are merely "advisory," meaning top executives can simply ignore them, grab the money, and run. This system is fixed... and we need to break it!

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

A man sits with his head down while waiting to depart the Houston Methodist Hospital on July 16, 2021, in Houston, Texas.

The Delta Variant Is Feasting On The Unvaxxed - And It's Getting Worse
By William Rivers Pitt

"If matters continue as they are," I wrote on July 6 about vaccinations and the Delta variant of COVID, "a bright new line will be drawn between 'Two Americas': The Vaccinated vs. the Unvaccinated." The Wall Street Journal this morning would seem to agree: "The Delta variant is hardening a divide between people who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and those who aren't, prompting hospitals to brace for new case surges and health authorities to redouble vaccination efforts. Now the most common strain in the U.S., Delta is spreading as public life resumes at restaurants, sporting events and other public settings across the country."

There are two stark truths here: The vaccines work, and the Delta variant is chewing through the unvaccinated within the population with a level of relentlessness that threatens to undo any progress we have made to date. The number of deaths from COVID are way down across the board, which is nothing but good. The longer this thing is allowed to burn through unvaccinated hosts, however, the more likely new variants become, and one of them could eventually blow past our vaunted vaccines like they were so much tap water.

Every person who died of COVID in Maryland during the month of June was unvaccinated. Ninety-seven percent of those who died from COVID in Louisiana since February were unvaccinated. In Alabama, 96 percent of those who have died from COVID since April 1 were unvaccinated. "In Los Angeles County, nearly every COVID-19 case, hospitalization and death is in unvaccinated people," Reuters reports. "Of the 1,059 new cases reported that day, nearly 87% were in people under the age of 50." New cases are up 70 percent because of the variant and the stagnation of new vaccinations; nearly 32,000 new infections were reported yesterday, a two-week increase of 140 percent. "There is a clear message that is coming through," Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director Rochelle Walensky told reporters. "This is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated."

Walensky is not the only expert voicing deep concern over the downward path we appear to be taking. On Sunday, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy told CNN, "I am worried about what is to come because we are seeing increasing cases among the unvaccinated in particular. And while, if you are vaccinated, you are very well protected against hospitalization and death, unfortunately that is not true if you are not vaccinated."

At about the same time Murthy was speaking to CNN, former head of the Food and Drug Administration Scott Gottlieb was delivering a similarly dire warning on CBS: "This virus is so contagious, this variant is so contagious that it's going to infect the majority of them - most people will either get vaccinated or have been previously infected or they will get this Delta variant. And for most people who get this Delta variant, it's going to be the most serious virus that they get in their lifetime in terms of the risk of putting them in the hospital."

There are people who have not gotten the vaccine for various understandable reasons ... and then there are the (often Trump-supporting) others, described by an Arkansas ER doctor named Ken Starnes. (Starnes works near the border of Missouri and Arkansas, and confronts with dreary regularity the mulish indifference to science and the well-being of others presented by those who won't get the shot because they won't because they won't, so there.)

"When I was in college I did telemarketing for a while," Starnes related to Esquire blogger Charles P. Pierce. "In those jobs they give you a sheet of things to say to overcome objections when people don't want to buy from you. But how do you overcome an objection when they don't give you one? They just look at you [and] shrug [their] shoulders. I tried giving them the science. I tried mild anger and looking at everybody over my glasses like their disappointed father. They are just not gonna do it and nothing I say is going to change that so it makes me wonder whether I even need to keep trying."

Matters are not faring much better abroad. In the U.K., today is being called "Freedom Day": the day when virtually all COVID restrictions are lifted. The day finds new British Health Secretary Sajid Javid, who received both doses of the AstraZenaca vaccine, infected with the virus. (He reports his symptoms thus far are mild.) Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Finance Minister Rishi Sunak have been told by health officials to quarantine at home because of their exposure to Javid. Meanwhile, new COVID cases in the U.K. have spiked to levels not seen since the last wave hit there in January.

In Africa, catastrophe looms. "The Delta variant is sweeping across the continent," reports The New York Times. "Namibia and Tunisia are reporting more deaths per capita than any other country. Hospitals across the continent are filling up, oxygen supplies and medical workers are stretched thin and recorded deaths jumped 40 percent last week alone. But only about 1 percent of Africans have been fully vaccinated. And even the African Union's modest goal of getting 20 percent of the population vaccinated by the end of 2021 seems out of reach."

And as for Donald Trump, the author of so much of this misery? He continues to hold court at his Bedminster club, spinning fabulations for whomever comes to kiss his ring. On Sunday, he put out a statement claiming people were refusing to get vaccinated because "they don't trust the Election results." EXACTLY, Donald, and you are to blame for that. Your big lie already has a gruesome body count to its name, and that number climbs by the day.

In 1972, a clutch of brilliant group dynamics scientists from MIT authored a study that claimed "industrial civilization was on track to collapse sometime within the 21st century, due to overexploitation of planetary resources," according to Vice. A recent new study of that 1972 paper comes to an utterly chilling appraisal: The report is devastatingly accurate, as all the predicted pieces are falling into place.

The worst outcome - extinction - remains avoidable, but only if human beings take the wheel in immediate and dramatic fashion. COVID is but one test we face. Combined with the others - most notably the climate crisis and the economic worship of "growth" against the backdrop of a collapsing global ecosystem - it appears grimly clear that too many of us simply won't work to fix these things because they won't because they won't, so there. Hell of an epitaph for a species.

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

A mobile billboard calling for higher taxes on billionaire Jeff Bezos on Capitol Hill.

I'm Fine With Sending Jeff Bezos Into Space, As Long As He Pays His Taxes Here On Earth
Taxing the rich might curtail Bezos's extraterrestrial activities. But it would make this corner of Planet Earth more habitable.
By John Nichols

As the richest man in the world prepares to rocket into space, more than 160,000 Americans have signed a petition that demands, "Do not allow Jeff Bezos to return to Earth."

I have a hard time getting excited one way or the other about the otherworldly adventures of the billionaire class.

I'd just like Mr. Bezos to pay his taxes on the planet where he currently resides.

A ProPublica report published last month revealed, "In 2007, Jeff Bezos, then a multibillionaire and now the world's richest man, did not pay a penny in federal income taxes."

It wasn't like Bezos fell on hard times in the mid-2000s. According to Forbes magazine, his personal fortune increased by $3.8 billion in 2007. Yet Bezos somehow avoided taking a hit from the IRS.

"How did a person enjoying that sort of wealth explosion end up paying no income tax?" asked ProPublica. Well, the forensic investigators explained, "In that year, Bezos, who filed his taxes jointly with his then-wife, MacKenzie Scott, reported a paltry (for him) $46 million in income, largely from interest and dividend payments on outside investments. He was able to offset every penny he earned with losses from side investments and various deductions, like interest expenses on debts and the vague catchall category of 'other expenses.'"

But Bezos didn't just get lucky in 2007.

"In 2011, a year in which his wealth held roughly steady at $18 billion, Bezos filed a tax return reporting he lost money-his income that year was more than offset by investment losses. What's more, because, according to the tax law, he made so little, he even claimed and received a $4,000 tax credit for his children," reported ProPublica, which added, "His tax avoidance is even more striking if you examine 2006 to 2018, a period for which ProPublica has complete data. Bezos' wealth increased by $127 billion, according to Forbes, but he reported a total of $6.5 billion in income. The $1.4 billion he paid in personal federal taxes is a massive number-yet it amounts to a 1.1 percent true tax rate on the rise in his fortune."

That was before a year and a half of pandemic profiteering that saw the very rich get very much richer.

"Over the last 16 months, since the formal beginning of the pandemic lockdown, the combined wealth of 713 U.S. billionaires has surged by $1.8 trillion, a gain of almost 60 percent. The total combined wealth of U.S. billionaires increased from $2.9 trillion on March 18, 2020 to $4.7 trillion on July 9, 2021," explains Chuck Collins, who directs the Program on Inequality and the Common Good for the Institute for Policy Studies.

Rocketman leads the pack.

"Amazon's Jeff Bezos, almost a 'double-centi-billionaire' with a net worth of nearly $197 billion, is up 74 percent over the last 13 months," noted Collins. "If he was still married to his ex-wife, MacKenzie Scott, together they would be worth another $60 billion or so-giving the couple a net worth of a quarter trillion dollars."

Bezos keeps piling up cash at a jaw-dropping rate.

In early July, after the Pentagon canceled a cloud-computing contract with Microsoft-clearing the way for Amazon to make a grab for the $10 billion project-Amazon's stock value jumped 4.7 percent in a single day. Bezos's wealth spiked $8.4 billion, according to Bloomberg.

"In one day, Jeff Bezos' worth increased by $8.4 billion. His average Amazon warehouse worker earned $120 in the same day," observed Representative Ro Khanna (D-Calif.). "What a shame to become the richest person of all time and not empower those that work for you?"

And what a shame, noted Representative Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), that on more than a few days in recent years, that Amazon warehouse worker paid more in taxes than Bezos.

Pocan ran all the numbers and concluded that it is time to "Tax the rich."

The congressman is onto something. When so-called "deficit hawks" question whether the United States can afford to pay for the modest improvements in social welfare that are outlined in the $3.5 trillion budget proposal that President Biden and Senate Budget Committee chair Bernie Sanders advanced last week, the answer is that of course there is enough money to add vision, dental, and hearing care to Medicare. And to guarantee family and medical leave. And to expand home care and community-based services for the elderly and people with disabilities. And to cut prescription drug costs. The same goes for proposals to extend the child tax credit and to provide universal pre-K programs for 3- and 4-year-old children. And to make higher education either free or more affordable for millions of students. And to increase nutrition assistance and funding for affordable housing. And to meet climate goals of 80 percent clean electricity and percent economy-wide carbon emissions by 2030.

It's all doable.

The money is readily available, as Sanders said when he presented the budget plan that not only outlines ambitious spending proposals but that also details the progressive tax policies that will pay for them. "For a very long time, the American people have seen the very rich getting richer and government developing policies, which allow them to pay, in some cases, not a nickel in federal income taxes," explained the senator. "They've seen corporations make huge profits-in some cases, they're not paying a nickel in taxes. And what this legislation says, among many, many other things, is that those days are gone."

Of course, deficit hawks will whine. But former US secretary of labor Robert Reich, a noted economist, says, "Don't listen to Republicans claiming we can't afford to pass this reconciliation package. Jeff Bezos added $8 billion to his wealth in a single day last week. If we actually tax the billionaires, we can give the American people what they need and deserve."

That could require Bezos to curtail some of his extraterrestrial activities.

But it will allow the rest of us to make this corner of Planet Earth a little more habitable.

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

Transplant Phenomena Suggests Cellular Memory
By James Donahue

Ever since doctors in Boston successfully transplanted a living human Kidney in 1954, and Dr. Christian Bernard replaced a human heart in South Africa in 1967, there has been a boom in the business of organ transplants.

While it is not the perfect solution to solving worn out body parts, the business of transplanting hearts, livers, kidneys, lungs, eyes and even fingers has become big business, with millions of successful cases worldwide.

And as more and more patients recover from these surgical procedures, a strange thing has been happening. Some report having foreign memories, eerie new personal preferences and even unexplained emerging talents.

The Discovery Health Channel once explored this occurrence in a program titled "Transplanting Memories." In the show various experts explained why they believe cellular memories are transplanted with organs.

Dr. Candace Pert, a professor at Georgetown University, said she believes the mind is not just in the brain, but also exists throughout the body. This school of thought could explain such strange transplant experiences.

"The mind and body communicate with each other through chemicals known as peptides," she said. "These peptides are found in the brain as well as in the stomach, muscles and all of our major organs. I believe that memory can be accessed anywhere in the peptide/receptor network. For instance, a memory associated with food may be linked to the pancreas or liver, and such associations can be transplanted from one person to another."

Indeed, a German neurologist, Leopold Auerbach, discovered over 100 years ago that a complex network of nerve cells, very like those of the human brain, exists in the intestine.

Professor Wolfgang Priz, of the Max Planck Institute for Psychological Research, Munich, recently wrote about this "second brain" in Geo, a German science magazine.

Prinz said the digestive track is made up of a knot of about 100 billion brain nerve cells, more than found in the spinal cord. The article suggested the cells may save information on physical reactions to mental processes and give out signals to influence later decisions. It may also be involved in emotional reactions to events.

Prinz joked that the discovery gives a new twist to the old phrase "gut reaction."

"People often follow their gut reactions without even knowing why, its only later that they come up with the logical reason for acting the way they did. But we now believe that there is a lot more to gut feelings than was previously believed," Prinz wrote. He said he thinks the stomach network may be the source for unconscious, or possibly even subconscious decisions.

The television show, Transplanting Memories, recorded a variety of stories in which cellular memory altered lives.

In one amazing story, an eight-year-old girl who received the heart of a murdered 10-year-old, began having nightmares in which she relived the crime. Her dreams helped police solve the murder.

In another story, a shy, reserved woman has vivid dreams about the donor, even though she never met this person. She also develops a more assertive personality. A third heart recipient strangely picks up his donor's musical taste.

Research with the human cell has taken science on molecular adventures and beyond into the DNA, which is, in effect, the Cabalistic Tree of Life. The discovery is that each individual holds within every cell a memory of ancestral history that reaches back to his or her origins.

From all indications, the cells communicate with one another, passing new memories on throughout the body when foreign cells are adhered to the body. This might explain why some humans have vivid memories of past lives, especially when under hypnosis, that were never lived. They are reacting to cellular memory, not reincarnation.

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

War Powers Reform Bill Far Better Than Feared
By David Swanson

Senators Murphy, Lee, and Sanders have introduced legislation to address Congressional and Presidential war powers. (See bill text, press release, one pager, video of press conference, op-ed, and Politico article).

In recent months, we've seen efforts to repeal some but not other AUMFs (Authorizations for the Use of Military Force), plus talk of creating a new AUMF (why?!). And for years we've watched people like Senator Kaine talk about reclaiming Congressional war powers while pushing legislation to eviscerate them. So, I thought I had reason to worry.

I heard about this new legislation before it appeared from people concerned that it was not going to address the power to impose illegal and deadly sanctions on nations around the world. I thought that was a serious concern. And it turns out to have been well justified, as the bill does not say one word about sanctions. But I was wary of focusing on promoting that improvement to a bill that nobody would show me or tell me what else was in it. Not much point in perfecting a catastrophically bad bill, you know?

Now, to be clear, this bill is not the arrival of peace, sanity, and disarmament. It does not recognize that wars are illegal under the UN Charter, the Kellogg-Briand Pact, and various other treaties, and prosecutable by the International Criminal Court. It treats perfectly seriously the question of which branch of government should authorize the worst crime there is, in a manner that would never be applied to, say, Congressional Rape Powers or Congressional Child Abuse Powers.

Nor, of course, does new legislation deal with the failure to use existing legislation. The War Powers Resolution of 1973 was simply not used to end any wars until Trump was in the White House, at which point both houses of Congress used it to end U.S. participation in the war on Yemen, knowing that they could rely on a Trump veto. As soon as Trump was gone, Congress - down to every last man and woman - pretended it had never done anything and declined to inconvenience Biden by making him end the slaughter or veto the bill. Laws are only as useful as the people using them.

That being said, this bill looks to me to have much more good than bad in it. While it repeals the War Powers Resolution of 1973, it replaces it with a tweaked (not a decimated) version that is in some ways better than the original. It also repeals the AUMFs, including the 2001 AUMF that the busy AUMF repealers of recent months have avoided mentioning. It also strengthens the means by which Congress could, if it chose, not just end a war, but block a weapons sale or put an end to a declared state of emergency.

The new legislation is longer, more detailed, and with clearer definitions than the existing War Powers Resolution. This may make the biggest difference when it comes to the definition of "hostilities." I recalled Obama lawyer Harold Koh informing Congress than bombing Libya would not count as hostilities. What are non-hostile bombs? Well, the War Powers Resolution (and this carries over to numerous sections of the new bill) is phrased in terms of the placement of troops. The general understanding of the U.S. government and U.S. corporate media for many years has, in fact, been that you could bomb every inch of a country hourly without it being a war, but as soon as a U.S. troop was placed in danger (of something other than suicide or command rape) it would be a war. Thus you can "end" the war on Afghanistan while including plans to target it with missiles in the same paragraph. But the new bill, while it might not receive awards for good grammar, pretty clearly defines "hostilities" to include distant war by missiles and drones [bolding added]:

"The term 'hostilities' means any situation involving any use of lethal or potentially lethal force by or against United States (or, for purposes of paragraph 4(B), by or against foreign regular or irregular forces), irrespective of the domain, whether such force is deployed remotely, or the intermittency thereof."
On the other hand, I notice that the new bill introduces the need for a president to request an authorization from Congress when he or she has launched a war, but makes no mention of what happens if said president does not make that request. The legislation introduced in the past by Congresswoman Gabbard to make presidential wars automatic impeachable offenses might have made a good amendment here.

I also notice that the new bill requires a joint resolution in both houses, without making crystal clear to my amateur eye that a single member of a single house can still initiate the process of ending a war without having a colleague in the other house yet doing the same. If a member of the House of Representatives were forced to wait for a Senator before acting, most of the votes in the House over the years that have made use of the War Powers Resolution would never have happened.

That being said, these high points enumerated by the bill's sponsors are all very much to the good:

The bill shortens the time period for ending an unauthorized war from 60 to 20 days. [But what about one-off drone murders that don't take 20 days?]

It automatically cuts off funding of unauthorized wars.

It outlines requirements for future AUMFs, including a clearly defined mission and operational objectives, the identities of groups or countries targeted, and a two–year sunset. A subsequent authorization is required to expand the list of objectives, countries, or targeted groups. As most U.S. wars have never had a clearly defined mission, this bit could turn out to be stronger than its authors even think.

But of course all would depend on how Congress chose to use this new law, if were ever made into law - a big if.


A smart colleague points out a new weakness. The new bill defines the word "introduce" to exclude various wars instead of relying on the word "hostilities" to do so. It does this by defining "introduce" to exclude "the assigning or detailing of members of United States forces to command, advise, assist, accompany, coordinate, or provide logistical or material support or training for any foreign regular or irregular military forces" unless "such activities by United States forces make the United States a party to a conflict or are more likely than not to do so." It never defines "party."

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

Blueberry River First Nations Court Victory Offers Path To Reconciliation
By David Suzuki

Blueberry River First Nations Court Victory Offers Path To Reconciliation By David Suzuki with contributions from Boreal Project Manager Rachel Plotkin A recent momentous court victory for Blueberry River First Nations could put Canada on track to realizing key Truth and Reconciliation Commission "calls to action."

Two of those are for government to "fully adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the framework for reconciliation" and to "renew or establish Treaty relationships based on principles of mutual recognition, mutual respect, and shared responsibility for maintaining those relationships into the future."

That would be transformational. How will governments renew or establish treaty relations when provinces have long been ignoring and breaking treaty promises? How can a declaration be implemented that includes Indigenous Peoples' rights to free, prior and informed consent when provincial decision-making excludes them, relying instead on consultation?

The Blueberry River First Nations court ruling provides some answers. Resource extraction and agricultural activity have heavily disturbed Treaty 8 territory in the Peace River Valley in northeastern B.C., severely affecting Blueberry's way of life and ability to hunt. The Nations spent more than a decade expressing concerns about cumulative impacts to the Oil and Gas Commission, forestry companies and the province. After being bounced between departments or disregarded, they took the province to court in 2018, arguing their treaty rights were breached.

The late-June B.C. Supreme Court ruling said the province failed to uphold its treaty promises and outlines a bold new framework for decision-making around resource extraction.

Justice Emily Burke said the Crown promised First Nations under Treaty 8, as with most numbered treaties, "that there would be no forced interference with their mode of life. They would be as free to hunt and fish after the Treaty, as they would be if they never entered into it."

The B.C. government argued, among other things, that Blueberry members could still travel in their territory to hunt, even if not for their preferred species (caribou are threatened with extinction, and moose populations are declining), and thus their treaty rights were not infringed.

Justice Burke disagreed. "Blueberry needs places to exercise its rights and an opportunity to harvest healthy wildlife. These conditions are not being met in this landscape where, according to 2018 data, over 90% of the Blueberry Claim Area is within 500 metres of a disturbance."

She added, "The wildlife are not as healthy or abundant," noting Blueberry people "do not have peaceful enjoyment on their traplines or in their hunting areas, as they smell the sour gas and hear the drones of oil and gas infrastructure. They do not feel safe or welcome in their territory."

Justice Burke also found that, despite B.C.'s claims, it failed to plan for cumulative effects: "the evidence shows that the Province has not only been remiss in addressing cumulative effects and the impacts of development on treaty rights, but that it has been actively encouraging the aggressive development of the Blueberry Claim Area through specific royalty programs (including for marginal wells) and Jobs Plan policies."

She wrote, "Delay in dealing with these matters and the continuation of the status quo has benefitted the Province," but the "tipping point" has been reached and change is needed. Blueberry didn't seek financial remedy but, rather, changes to planning and approvals processes. Justice Burke ruled, "The Province may not continue to authorize activities that breach the promises included in the Treaty, including the Province's honourable and fiduciary obligations associated with the Treaty, or that unjustifiably infringe Blueberry's exercise of its treaty rights."

This historic ruling will put Blueberry River First Nations at decision-making tables around industrial extraction and development approvals. It also marks a groundbreaking step toward shaping the future of treaty relations - as long as the province maintains its commitment to reconciliation by not appealing, which would add further delays.

Other provinces should take note, as the context is similar from coast to coast.

The ruling offers renewed hope for Blueberry members, who have watched in sorrow as their land was degraded year after year, and for allies frustrated by provincial adherence to the status quo and limitless resource-extraction approvals that have thrown roadblocks on reconciliation pathways.

Many First Nations have tried to seek justice through the courts. Few have won. This ruling creates a path to repair both treaty relationships and the land.

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

I Don't Know What In The Hell Merrick Garland Is Doing
At the moment, with regard to the muck and mire of the Trump administration*, it looks like the answer is "nothing."
By Charles P. Pierce

I always thought Wilbur Ross, the last administration*'s occasionally narcoleptic Secretary of Commerce, was the most underrated ball of sleaze in what was an impressive roster of them. He got off to a great start when the Office of Government Ethics shredded him for filing a "not accurate" financial disclosure form. But what really tipped me off on Ross was the story in Forbes about how he'd allegedly stashed $2 billion into trusts for members of his family and, therefore, did not have to disclose those assets at all. The man was a walking conflict of interest, and that's not even to mention the fact that some of those interests also belonged to...wait for it...friends of Vladimir Putin. Again, from Forbes:

For most of last year, Ross served as secretary of commerce while maintaining stakes in companies co-owned by the Chinese government, a shipping firm tied to Vladimir Putin's inner circle, a Cypriot bank reportedly caught up in the Robert Mueller investigation and a huge player in an industry Ross is now investigating. It's hard to imagine a more radioactive portfolio for a cabinet member...

...In addition, five days before reports surfaced last fall that Ross was connected to cronies of Vladimir Putin through a shipping firm called Navigator Holdings, the secretary of commerce, who likely knew about the reporting, shorted stock in the Kremlin-linked company, positioning himself to make money on the investment when share prices dropped.

Because the real crookedness in situations like this resides in the things that are legal, none of this stuff is illegal. However, lying to Congress is. And that's what the Department of Commerce's inspector general said Ross and several of his lieutenants did concerning the possible addition of a citizenship question to the Census. From Government Executive: Ross twice told Congress the addition of the citizenship question was based solely on a request from the Justice Department, but the IG found Ross "misrepresented the full rationale" behind the decision. Its findings follow publicly disclosed emails that clearly demonstrated the role Ross, the White House and other Commerce officials played well before Justice became involved. The Supreme Court noted the political influence when ordering the removal of the question. "Evidence shows there were significant communications related to the citizenship question among the then-Secretary, his staff, and other government officials between March 2017 and September 2017, which was well before the DOJ request memorandum," the IG said. "Evidence also suggests the department requested and played a part in drafting the DOJ memorandum." Look, I don't think Ross et al. should be tossed in the clink for decades over this. But you don't have to be a prosecutorial Antetokounmpo to slam this one down in court. Hefty fines. Lengthy probation. Establish publicly that lying to Congress to cover up a misbegotten policy initiative is not what good government is about. Besides, it's Wilbur Freaking Ross. Who's going to notice?

But, no.

The IG said it presented its findings to Justice's Public Integrity Section of the department's Criminal Division, but the department declined to pursue prosecution. Under the Trump administration, Justice similarly declined to prosecute Ross and others after Democrats voted to hold them in contempt for refusing to turn over documents related to citizenship question decision making. Justice did not respond to an inquiry into why it declined prosecution.
In the years I've been covering politics, there has been no more pernicious phenomenon than the idea of "looking forward, not back"-i.e., declining to investigate and, if necessary, prosecute officials from the previous administration for crimes they committed in office. It's almost as though successive DOJs, members of subsequent Congresses, and the media got gun-shy about the services they'd done during Watergate and didn't want to disturb the public order by doing their jobs as vigorously ever again. (The late Ben Bradlee said as much to author Mark Hertsgaard in the latter's essential On Bended Knee, regarding the pass Ronald Reagan and the Iran-Contra crooks were given.) Of course, the incoming Obama administration said this outright regarding the crimes and misdemeanors of the Bush Avignon Presidency. And the hell of it all is, this set up a dynamic by which actual Republican crimes were not pursued while fake crimes attended by phony outrage became the GOP's go-to playbook ever since Bill Clinton was elected in 1992.

So, no, I don't know what in the hell Attorney General Merrick Garland is doing with regard to the muck and mire that was the previous administration*, but at the moment, it looks like nothing.

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

The Quotable Quote-

"For many, the American dream has become a nightmare."
~~~ Bernie Sanders

Did Netanyahu Try To Get Trump To Wag The Dog With Strike On Iran After Biden Won?
By Juan Cole

Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) - Susan B. Glasser reports at The New Yorker that after it became clear that Joe Biden had won the presidency, from November 7, lame duck Donald Trump desperately wanted to hold on to his office and contemplated a strike on Iran to bolster his position.

Glasser writes that "the subject of Iran was repeatedly raised in White House meetings with the President, and [Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark] Milley repeatedly argued against a strike."

She says then Vice President Mike Pence was asked why there was such an insistence on firing missiles at Iran, and he replied "Because they are evil."

Milley, she writes, saw Trump as vulnerable and surrounded by Iran hawks, including then Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

Netanyahu, she says, "was also urging the Administration to act against Iran after it was clear that Trump had lost the election."

This reporting has not gotten the attention it deserves. Glasser is saying that Netanyahu was attempting to manipulate Trump into launching an action that could well have escalated into a full-blown US war against Iran. Since Trump was thinking of strikes on Iran as a way to stay in office, Netanyahu's advice takes on an extremely sinister overtone. Was he colluding with Trump in trying to prevent Biden from taking office, and in destroying the foundations of American democracy?

Netanyahu supported Mitt Romney against Obama in 2012, and had strongly identified with the Republican Party.

Glasser says Milley did not believe Trump wanted a big war, but he appears to have felt that Trump had no appreciation for how military action can spin out of control and escalate unexpectedly, adding that Milley told Trump regarding the missile attack on Iran that Netanyahu was pressing on the lame duck president, "If you do this, you're gonna have a fucking war."

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was also working the phones in the Pentagon insisting that safeguards be put in place to prevent the unhinged Trump from launching a war in his last months in office.

Remember that Netanyahu was in something close to a panic about Biden becoming president, even though Biden throughout his career had been a strong Christian Zionist and was close to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the powerful Israel lobby. Biden, however, backs a two-state solution, contrary to Netanyahu's desire to gobble up the whole Palestinian West Bank. And Biden was committed to resurrecting the Joint Plan of Comprehensive Action, the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, which Netanyahu hated the way the devil hates holy water.

BBC Monitoring reports that on November 20, after confronting President-elect Biden about his plans to reenter the 2015 Iran nuclear accord, Netanyahu said on Twitter, "There must be no return to the previous nuclear agreement. We must stick to an uncompromising policy to ensure that Iran does not develop nuclear weapons, and that it will stop its aggressive conduct, including its support for terrorism."

The fact is that the JCPOA is the most effective means to preventing Iran from ever militarizing its civilian nuclear enrichment program. My own suspicion is that Netanyahu knows this, but does not want Iran to be viewed as unthreatening by the US and Europe, and does not want Iran to be welcomed back into the international community economically and diplomatically, as the JCPOA envisaged. Netanyahu's policy of colonizing Palestine needs a big shiny piece of misdirection in order to succeed, and being able to deflect criticism of his brutal Occupation by pointing to the Iranian bogeyman is central to his rhetorical success.

Then, on November 27, seven days later, Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was assassinated, with Netanyahu as among the chief suspects. This murder of a scientist may have been carried out in part in hopes that Tehran would lash out against Israel or the US, providing Trump a pretext in turn to launch airstrikes on Iran.

If so, the Iranians did not take the bait.

BBC Monitoring reports that on December 22, Israeli Chief of the General Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi "warned Iran and its partners that if they carry out an operation against Israel or Israeli targets they will be attacked."

This statement no doubt came in response to fears that Tehran would target Israel or Israeli interests in revenge for the Fakhrizadeh murder, but it may also have been intended to goad the clerics in Tehran.

Perhaps because Trump was too involved in planning the January 6 insurrection domestically to attend very closely to foreign affairs, or perhaps because Milley had effectively signalled that the Pentagon would resist a Wag the Dog ploy by Trump regarding Iran (and would resist a Trump coup against Biden), Trump never went the route of striking Iran.

Nowadays Biden's negotiators are in Vienna engaged in indirect talks with Iran toward restoring the nuclear deal. Trump is a heavily indebted hotelier who occasionally mounts the soapbox to spew nonsense. Netanyahu licks his wounds in the opposition benches in parliament, having been summarily expelled from office by his erstwhile political allies in coalition with the Palestinian-Israeli branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Bonus Video:

CBS This Morning: "Joint Chiefs chairman worked to stop strike on Iran, new report reveals"

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

Sinators Lee & Rubio

The Anti-Family Party
By Robert Reich

Last Thursday, 39 million American parents began receiving a monthly child allowance ($300 per child under 6, and $250 per child from 6 through 17). It's the biggest helping hand to American families in more than 85 years.

They need it. Even before the pandemic, child poverty had reached post-war records. Even non-poor families were in trouble, burdened with deepening debt and missed payments. Most were living paycheck to paycheck - so if they lost a job, they and their kids could be plunged into poverty. It's estimated that the new monthly child allowance will cut child poverty by more than half.

But every single Republican in both the House and Senate voted against the measure.

After I posted a tweet reminding people of this indisputable fact, Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah responded Friday with a perfectly bizarre tweet: "If you're one of the 39 million households receiving their first Child Tax Credit payment today, don't forget that every single Democrat voted against making it larger."

Hello? Did we just go through the funhouse mirror?

In point of fact, when the American Rescue Plan was being debated last February, Lee and Senator Marco Rubio did propose slightly larger payments. But here's the rub: They wanted to restrict them only to "working parents." Children of the unemployed would be out of luck. Yet those kids are the poorest of the poor. They're most at risk of being hungry without a roof over their heads.

In a joint press release at the time, Lee and Rubio said they refused to support what they termed "welfare assistance" to jobless parents, warning against undercutting "the responsibility of parents to work to provide for their families." Then Lee, Rubio, and every other Republican voted against the whole shebang - help for working and non-working parents. And now Lee wants to take credit for wanting to make the payments larger to begin with? Talk about both sides of the mouth.

As we move toward the gravitational pull of the midterm elections - and polls show how popular the monthly child payments are - I expect other Republicans to make the same whopper of a claim.

But underneath this hypocritical Republican rubbish lie two important questions. The first: will a payment of up to $300 per child every month - totaling up to $3,600 per child per year - invite parents to become couch potatoes?

That seems doubtful. Even a family with three kids under six would receive no more than $10,800 a year. That's way below what's needed to pay even subsistence expenses, and still far below what a full-time job at the federal minimum wage would pull in.

But even if the payment caused some parents to work a bit less, it's far from clear their children are worse off as a result. Maybe they benefit from additional parenting time.

Which only raises a second question: should children be penalized because their parents aren't working, or are working less than they would without the child payment?

This question has been debated in America for many years - ever since Franklin D. Roosevelt first provided "Aid for Families with Dependent Children" (AFDC) in the Social Security Act of 1935.

It can't be decided based on facts; it comes down to values. We know, for example, that child poverty soared after Bill Clinton and congressional Republicans ended AFDC in 1996 and substituted a work requirement. Many people - myself included - look back on that decision as a horrible mistake.

But many of its proponents call it a success because it resulted in additional numbers of poor adults getting jobs and thereby setting good examples for their children of personal responsibility. In the view of these proponents, a country where more parents take responsibility to provide for their children is worth the collateral damage of a greater number of impoverished children.

Since the 1990s, the Republican view that public assistance should be limited to families with breadwinners has taken firm hold in America. Only now, with the American Rescue Plan - put into effect during the worst public health crisis in more than a century and one of the fiercest periods of unemployment since World War II - has that view been rejected in favor of a universal family benefit.

It's too early to know whether this about-face is permanent. The Act's payments will end a year from now unless Congress passes Biden's proposed $3.5 trillion addition. Almost every Senate Democrat has signaled a willingness to go along. But here again, not a single Senate Republican has signed on.

Let's be clear. Mike Lee's Republican Party - the putative party of "family values" - doesn't support needy families. It supports a pinched and, in these perilous times, unrealistic view of personal responsibility - children be damned.

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

Billions In Trust Meant For Wildfire Survivors Went To Lawyers And Consultants

By Amy Goodman

We look at the corporate profiteering off people who lost their homes and loved ones to recent fires in California, where wildfires continue to rage amid record temperatures. A major investigation by KQED and NPR's California Newsroom found a special trust set up to distribute $13.5 billion to survivors of wildfires caused by PG&E - the state's largest utility company - instead spent lavishly on its own administration while distributing almost nothing to the 70,000 fire victims, many of whom still live in trailers. Those who profited while the fire victims waited for help included Wall Street bankers and prestigious law firms. The investigation has prompted a bipartisan call from state lawmakers for the state attorney general to investigate. "A lot of fire survivors are looking at this situation and wondering: Why is this taking so long?" says Lily Jamali, a co-host for KQED's The California Report and the reporter behind the exposé. "They're getting really impatient, and they're very unhappy with the way this process has been run so far."

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I'm Amy Goodman.

As wildfires rage in California, we look now at the corporate profiteering off of those who lost their homes and loved ones to recent fires. A major investigation by the NPR and PBS station KQED in San Francisco found a special trust set up to distribute $13.5 billion to survivors of wildfires caused by PG&E, California's largest utility company, instead spent lavishly on its own administration, while distributing almost nothing to the 70,000 fire victims. This includes victims of the 2018 Camp Fire in Paradise, many of whom continue to live in trailers. Those who profited while the fire victims waited for help include Wall Street bankers and prestigious law firms. KQED revealed the Fire Victim Trust is led by retired California Appeals Court Justice John Trotter, who billed $1,500 an hour for his work. The findings have prompted a bipartisan call from state lawmakers for the California attorney general to investigate.

For more, we go to Berkeley, California, to speak with the reporter behind this exposé. Lily Jamali is co-host and a correspondent for KQED's The California Report. Her latest piece is headlined "A Year After PG&E Left Bankruptcy, Spending by Fire Victim Trust Remains a Mystery."

Welcome to Democracy Now!, Lily. Congratulations -

LILY JAMALI: It's so good to be on with you, Amy. Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: And congratulations on this excellent report. Why don't you lay it out for us? And for a global audience, explain what PG&E is and its role in these fires, and then go on from there.

LILY JAMALI: Sure. Well, this was a joint investigation that was done with us at KQED and with NPR's California newsroom. And as you mentioned, PG&E is the largest utility in California. It's actually the largest utility in the country, as well. And in the last half-decade, this utility has been responsible for causing several catastrophic wildfires. The worst took place in 2017 and 2018, but there are people who were affected by these fires all the way back to 2015. And so, after that last fire which you mentioned, the Camp Fire, which destroyed much of the town of Paradise - people might remember that. It killed at least 85 people, destroyed thousands of homes and left tens of thousands of people homeless. After that fire, PG&E chose to go into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. And by doing that, they took all of these claims that people had against them, having lost their homes, having lost their businesses, and, in the worst cases, having lost their loved ones, they all got thrown into the bankruptcy process. And so, that's sort of where the story that we have been reporting really begins.

About a year into the bankruptcy, PG&E struck a deal with fire survivors, 70,000 of them, through their lawyers, that basically called for them to have a special trust set up to distribute what was then marketed to them as being worth $13.5 billion, half of it in cash and half of it in PG&E stock, which, as you might imagine, is very unsettling for a lot of fire survivors, this idea of being asked to accept stock in the company that harmed them. But as we sit here today, through this trust, fire survivors do own 500 million shares of PG&E. And so, that is part of the reason why it has taken quite a bit of time to get this money into the hands of victims.

But our investigation also looked at the claims processing expenses that this trust, led by former appeals court Justice John Trotter - how much they have taken in in overhead. He is charging $150,000 a month. The top claims administrator charges $1,250 an hour. There's a whole coterie of bankruptcy attorneys and financial advisers, many of whom are making well over $1,000 an hour. And so, you really have this giant entity that is taking in a lot of money. We showed that they took in $50 million in overhead in their first year of operations, while distributing just $7 million in the calendar year 2020 to these fire survivors.

The pace of those payments to fire survivors has picked up. At this point, they have distributed north of about $400 million. But their expenses have also risen to the range of about $80 to $90 million. And I think a lot of fire survivors are looking at the situation and wondering, "Why is this taking so long? If you are spending this kind of money on overhead, what are they getting in return?" And they're getting really impatient, and they're very unhappy with the way this process has been run so far.

AMY GOODMAN: What is the status of the bipartisan calls for the California attorney general to investigate this?

LILY JAMALI: Yeah. So, after our investigation - as you say, this was a bipartisan group of about a dozen state lawmakers here in California. Most of them - in fact, I think all of them - represent communities who have been affected by these catastrophic fires. And they went to Attorney General Rob Bonta and said, you know, "Look at this. Please take a look and review the claims processing, the way it works, and the amount of money that's being spent on overhead. Please vet this." We have reached out to the Attorney General's Office a number of times to see if they are planning to pick that up and run with it. At this point, we don't know. They've told us that they can't comment even on a pending investigation or can't comment on even if they're thinking about opening up an investigation. But certainly, you know, our work, thankfully, was able to get this in front of some influential lawmakers, including members of Congress who expressed outrage after we released our findings. And, you know, we'll see. We'll see what comes next.

AMY GOODMAN: What about Paradise and the areas right around it being threatened again? I mean, we're talking in the midst of more horrendous fires through California, Oregon, Washington state. And what kind of preparations are being made? You've also got PG&E last August instituting rolling blackouts that put 800,000 Californians into the dark. How can Governor Newsom - how he's dealing with what's happening right now?

LILY JAMALI: Yeah, I mean, I was so struck hearing your conversation earlier with Michael Mann, because you guys were talking about a climate emergency being here, and that is exactly what it feels like to live in California right now. The rolling blackouts of last year was actually instituted by the Independent System Operator here in California because they ran out of power. They didn't have enough reserve in their system, so they ended up instituting these rolling blackouts over two days in August. But there is another kind of blackout that is called by the utilities, including PG&E, because their lines have caused so many fires. That's one way that they now try to prevent their aging and poorly maintained equipment from sparking future fires. Generally, those kinds of - those outages come a little bit later in the fire season, when we see - for example, next month, we'll see more wind events, and that's when the situation becomes really dire.

But there's no doubt about it: We are in a climate emergency here. And one of the fires that we have been tracking, among several, is the Dixie Fire, which just broke out this week, very close to the burn scar of the Camp Fire. In fact, it started very close to the ignition point of the Camp Fire. And I've been getting texts and emails -

AMY GOODMAN: We have 10 seconds.

LILY JAMALI: - from people in Paradise who are very concerned. And they're seeing this smoke in the air, and they're worried. They're worried about what to do and how to make sure they're safe.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Lily Jamali, we want to thank you so much for your superb reporting, co-host and correspondent for KQED's The California Report. We'll link to her investigation, "A Year After PG&E Left Bankruptcy, Spending by Fire Victim Trust Remains a Mystery."

And that does it for our show. I'm Amy Goodman. Stay safe.

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

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US Government Offended By Suggestion It Would Ever Try To Meddle In Cuban Affairs
By The Waterford Whispers News

STUMBLING back with an outstretched hand seeking to grab hold of something to retain its balance, the US government reportedly needed to lie down in bed for 30 minutes to recover from the shock allegation that it has ever tried to interfere in Cuban affairs.

The accusation was thrown in the direction of the Biden administration and those that preceded it in the wake of fresh protests by Cubans against their government amid food and electricity shortages, something some cynics suggest could have been encouraged and fomented by the US intelligence services.

"Cuba? As in the Cuba we've had a trade embargo with for 6 decades that is routinely condemned by the UN, that Cuba? Oh that is a scurrilous accusation, why our large corporations would love nothing more than to further bloat their profits by entering Cuba" offered a White House spokesperson.

"The Bay of Pigs? Is that the lovely beach people on Instagram go to swim with pigs? I've always wanted to go," offered president Biden, "I'm so mad at the insinuation that if I had a cigar in my mouth it'd probably explode!"

"Some citizens have recently risen up and demanded the boot of the security services, police and military be removed from their necks, something no American citizen has ever gone through but we urge the Cuban government to let democracy flow," added Biden, who said he knew of a lovely Cuban based military prison that could house an overthrown regime if it's needed.

Government officials also said that if character references are needed from other countries on other 'hands off' approaches, the CIA would happily forge them at short notice.

(c) 2021 The Waterford Whispers News

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