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In This Edition

Naomi Klein returns with, "Capitalism Killed Our Climate Momentum, Not 'Human Nature.'"

Uri Avnery wonders, "Who The Hell Are We?"

Glen Ford describes, "Martial Law By Other Means."

Eugene Robinson exclaims, "Trump's Rally Rhetoric Is Going To Get Somebody Killed!"

Jim Hightower asks, "Who Was Smedley Darlington Butler, And Why Is He Important?"

John Nichols explores, "The Right Way To Talk About Impeaching Donald Trump."

James Donahue warns of, "Ignoring Deadly Climate Change."

William Rivers Pitt says, "Mueller Is Building A Case For Obstruction. Manafort May Be The Key."

Heather Digby Parton watches tRump, "California On Fire? It's Their Own Damned Fault."

David Suzuki is, "Reconciling Energy And Indigenous Rights."

Charles P. Pierce concludes, "This Isn't A Government Anymore. It's A Game Of Truth Or Dare."

David Swanson returns with, "Russia Is Our Friend."

Jane Stillwater wants us to, "Make Friends With Immigrants."

Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich explains, "Where Trump Sees Foreign Danger."

Pepe Escobar warns, "Here's The Real Reason The US Must Talk To Russia."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Andy Borowtz reports, "Millions Of Americans Denied Groceries After Failing To Provide I.D." but first Uncle Ernie watches, "The Building Of Trumpistan."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Bruce Plante, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Ruben Bolling, Tom Tomorrow, Saul Loeb, Scott Stewart, John Greim, Win McNamee, Gage Skidmore, Dennis Cook, Zack Embree, Olga Maltseva, Mandel Ngan, 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."

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The Building Of Trumpistan
By Ernest Stewart

"I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat." ~~~ Will Rogers

"Our nation's annual temperature highs are likely to increase by at least 20 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100 compared to what we experienced at the end of the 20th century if we continue releasing global warming emissions under business-as-usual conditions." ~~~ Juan Declet-Barreto - climate scientist at UCS

"A dangerous movement, undetected by many, is now challenging and eroding our great tradition of religious freedom. There can be no doubt. This is no little matter. It must be confronted and defeated." ~~~ Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III

Back from the shadows again
Out where an Injuns your friend
Where the vegetables are green
And you can pee right into the stream (And that's important)
Yes, we're back from the shadows again
Back From The Shadows ~~~ The Firesign Theatre

One of the most often told lies about Christopher Columbus is that he names the native Americans, Indians, because he was trying to find a shorter route to India and he thought they were native Indians. In 1492 there was no such place as India and he names them Indians from a Spanish bastardization of the Latin Indios or children of God. At the time India was called Hindustan and wouldn't have the epithet India for more than 100 years!

When the Soviet Union broke up it lost five of the seven stans, i.e., Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, (the other two stans are Pakistan and Afghanistan) not to mention a whole lot of other countries. Like England, and France, Russia wants it's empire back, and Putin has his eyes on controlling America, or as he looks at it Trumpistan!

Unfortunately, Trump is more than willing to help him achieve his goal. Trumpistan has a nice ring to it, huh Donald? Not to mention those billions of Russian rubles that keep flowing his way. Yes, anything that Vlad wants, Vlad is going to get. That is, unless we put a stop to it by electing liberal, social Democrats come November. And to get those liberals instead of corpo-rat Democrats on the ballot in November you have got to get out and see that they are elected in the primary elections. If we don't, this could be our last election!

In Other News

We're having a heat wave; just another aspect of global warming and not as Irving Berlin wrote:

Oh! We're having a heatwave, a tropical heatwave
The temperature's rising, it isn't surprising,
She certainly can can-can
She started a heatwave by letting her seat wave,
In such a way that the customers say
That she certainly can can-can

We should all be that lucky! Instead, we're faced with this!

Crippling and sometimes deadly heat waves have blanketed many countries across the world thus far this season, including the United States. The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) has released two new synthesis fact sheets on extreme heat. The first examines changes in the frequency, intensity and duration of extreme heat events like heat waves, as well as the role of climate change in driving current and future trends. The second reviews the impacts and implications of extreme heat-including on health and infrastructure reliability-within the United States. These fully referenced fact sheets summarize the latest science, making them ideal for citing in stories on extreme heat events when a scientific source is needed.

According to the (UCS) fact sheets:
Over the last five decades, many parts of the United States have seen an increase in the frequency of intense heat waves.

Every region of the country is projected to experience hotter temperatures in the 21st century.

* In the next few decades, if carbon emissions continue to grow, most of the country could see 20 to 30 more days annually with maximum temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The Southeast could be hit even harder, potentially enduring 40 to 50 more such days.

* By the end of the century, the entire United States is likely to experience more frequent and intense heat waves than what is experienced today, with the Southeast, Southwest and Alaska expected to see the biggest increases.

Some U.S. residents are at greater risk of adverse health effects and death in the face of these changes in extreme heat. Low-income residents, the young and elderly, construction and agricultural workers, individuals with pre-existing medical conditions, and people living in the center of urban areas can be more vulnerable to physical harm from heat.
This week California and much of the Southwest can expect three digit temperatures and since we're doing nothing to change global warming it's only going to get worse and worse and worse. Currently, the largest wild fire in California history is burning out of control. Aren't you glad that you voted for tRump?

And Finally

I see where Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the Department of Justice's creation of a "religious liberty task force" to "help the department fully implement our religious guidance." In a speech at the Department of Justice's Religious Liberty Summit in Washington, Sessions said:
"The task force will help the department fully implement our religious liberty guidance by ensuring that all Justice Department components are upholding that guidance in the cases they bring and defend, the arguments they make in court, the policies and regulations they adopt and how we conduct our operations. That includes making sure that our employees know their duties to accommodate people of faith."
Sessions cited "a dangerous movement" aimed toward stripping away the First Amendment right to freedom of religion as a basis for forming the new task force.
"A dangerous movement, undetected by many, is now challenging and eroding our great tradition of religious freedom. There can be no doubt. This is no little matter. It must be confronted and defeated."
Of course, this is not the first time Sessions promoted the idea of federal protections for religious groups, i.e., Christian Fundamentalists. Muslims, Jews and Hindus etc. need not apply!

Sessions issued a religious liberty fatwa following President Donald Trump's executive order in May 2017, which outlined how federal administrative agencies and executive departments should interpret federal law to protect religious groups.

In a memo, Sessions highlighted how the task force would implement the memorandum released last year.

"The Religious Liberty Task Force will continue the Department's ongoing work to implement the Religious Liberty Memorandum and the implementation memorandum. The Task Force will also consider new initiatives that will further the Department's work to protect and promote religious liberty."
The task force will be co-chaired by Associate Attorney General Jesse Panuccio and Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Policy Beth Williams.

What this actually means is if you don't like something and you can tie it to religion where you actually believe it or not, you can refuse service stating that it's against your religious beliefs. It's Jeffie's way of keeping women and LGBTQIA folks in their place by calling discrimination, religious freedom. More rights for some, less rights for everybody else. Ergo Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III wins this weeks Vidkun Quisling Award!

Keepin' On

Well, we dodged another bullet but I'm beginning to get a little tired of doing so. We've raised and paid a little over $4500 of our yearly bills of $6600 and that last bit of $2180 is due on or before November 10th. Thanks for the righteous donations Marcy and Paul, without your kind help we wouldn't be holding this conversation!

Needless to say, we need your help to make this final push to keep the magazine going through the end of June 2019. All of our major donors, those who could pay the total bill out of their chump change supply are gone. I'm guessing all the members of, "The Usual Suspects" have been rounded up and taken to a Happy Camp by the moster that currently resides, from time to time, in the White House.

If you want to keep the truth and facts flowing into your computer, please consider making a donation or buying some ad space in the magazine. It's all in your hands whether we keep working for you, or whether I go back to writing books and restoring my empty bank account. While my friends and family would like me to do the latter, I still prefer to do the former, but I can no longer afford do it alone, so, a little help if you please, Ya'll!


04-22-1926 ~ 08-05-2018
Thanks for the laughs!

05-08-1935 ~ 08-06-2018
Thanks for the film!


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.

The skyline of Manhattan at sunset in New York, May 23, 2018.

Capitalism Killed Our Climate Momentum, Not 'Human Nature'
By Naomi Klein

THIS SUNDAY, THE entire New York Times Magazine will be composed of just one on a single subject: the failure to confront the global climate crisis in the 1980s, a time when the science was settled and the politics seemed to align. Written by Nathaniel Rich, this work of history is filled with insider revelations about roads not taken that, on several occasions, made me swear out loud. And lest there be any doubt that the implications of these decisions will be etched in geologic time, Rich's words are punctuated with full-page aerial photographs by George Steinmetz that wrenchingly document the rapid unraveling of planetary systems, from the rushing water where Greenland ice used to be to massive algae blooms in China's third largest lake.

The novella-length piece represents the kind of media commitment that the climate crisis has long deserved but almost never received. We have all heard the various excuses for why the small matter of despoiling our only home just doesn't cut it as an urgent news story: "Climate change is too far off in the future"; "It's inappropriate to talk about politics when people are losing their lives to hurricanes and fires"; "Journalists follow the news, they don't make it - and politicians aren't talking about climate change"; and of course: "Every time we try, it's a ratings killer."

None of the excuses can mask the dereliction of duty. It has always been possible for major media outlets to decide, all on their own, that planetary destabilization is a huge news story, very likely the most consequential of our time. They always had the capacity to harness the skills of their reporters and photographers to connect abstract science to lived extreme weather events. And if they did so consistently, it would lessen the need for journalists to get ahead of politics because the more informed the public is about both the threat and the tangible solutions, the more they push their elected representatives to take bold action.

The Aug. 5, 2018, issue of the New York Times Magazine. Which is why it was so exciting to see the Times throw the full force of its editorial machine behind Rich's opus - teasing it with a promotional video, kicking it off with a live event at the Times Center, and accompanying educational materials. That's also why it is so enraging that the piece is spectacularly wrong in its central thesis.

According to Rich, between the years of 1979 and 1989, the basic science of climate change was understood and accepted, the partisan divide over the issue had yet to cleave, the fossil fuel companies hadn't started their misinformation campaign in earnest, and there was a great deal of global political momentum toward a bold and binding international emissions-reduction agreement. Writing of the key period at the end of the 1980s, Rich says, "The conditions for success could not have been more favorable."

And yet we blew it - "we" being humans, who apparently are just too shortsighted to safeguard our future. Just in case we missed the point of who and what is to blame for the fact that we are now "losing earth," Rich's answer is presented in a full-page callout: "All the facts were known, and nothing stood in our way. Nothing, that is, except ourselves."

Yep, you and me. Not, according to Rich, the fossil fuel companies who sat in on every major policy meeting described in the piece. (Imagine tobacco executives being repeatedly invited by the U.S. government to come up with policies to ban smoking. When those meetings failed to yield anything substantive, would we conclude that the reason is that humans just want to die? Might we perhaps determine instead that the political system is corrupt and busted?)

This misreading has been pointed out by many climate scientists and historians since the online version of the piece dropped on Wednesday. Others have remarked on the maddening invocations of "human nature" and the use of the royal "we" to describe a screamingly homogenous group of U.S. power players. Throughout Rich's accounting, we hear nothing from those political leaders in the Global South who were demanding binding action in this key period and after, somehow able to care about future generations despite being human. The voices of women, meanwhile, are almost as rare in Rich's text as sightings of the endangered ivory-billed woodpecker - and when we ladies do appear, it is mainly as long-suffering wives of tragically heroic men.

All of these flaws have been well covered, so I won't rehash them here. My focus is the central premise of the piece: that the end of the 1980s presented conditions that "could not have been more favorable" to bold climate action. On the contrary, one could scarcely imagine a more inopportune moment in human evolution for our species to come face to face with the hard truth that the conveniences of modern consumer capitalism were steadily eroding the habitability of the planet. Why? Because the late '80s was the absolute zenith of the neoliberal crusade, a moment of peak ideological ascendency for the economic and social project that deliberately set out to vilify collective action in the name of liberating "free markets" in every aspect of life. Yet Rich makes no mention of this parallel upheaval in economic and political thought.

In this May 9, 1989 file photo, James Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, testifies before a Senate transportation
subcommittee on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., a year after his history-making testimony telling the world that global warming was here and would get worse.

WHEN I DELVED into this same climate change history some years ago, I concluded, as Rich does, that the key juncture when world momentum was building toward a tough, science-based global agreement was 1988. That was when James Hansen, then director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, testified before Congress that he had "99 percent confidence" in "a real warming trend" linked to human activity. Later that same month, hundreds of scientists and policymakers held the historic World Conference on the Changing Atmosphere in Toronto, where the first emission reduction targets were discussed. By the end of that same year, in November 1988, the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the premier scientific body advising governments on the climate threat, held its first session.

But climate change wasn't just a concern for politicians and wonks - it was watercooler stuff, so much so that when the editors of Time magazine announced their 1988 "Man of the Year," they went for "Planet of the Year: Endangered Earth." The cover featured an image of the globe held together with twine, the sun setting ominously in the background. "No single individual, no event, no movement captured imaginations or dominated headlines more," journalist Thomas Sancton explained, "than the clump of rock and soil and water and air that is our common home."

(Interestingly, unlike Rich, Sancton didn't blame "human nature" for the planetary mugging. He went deeper, tracing it to the misuse of the Judeo-Christian concept of "dominion" over nature and the fact that it supplanted the pre-Christian idea that "the earth was seen as a mother, a fertile giver of life. Nature - the soil, forest, sea - was endowed with divinity, and mortals were subordinate to it.")

When I surveyed the climate news from this period, it really did seem like a profound shift was within grasp - and then, tragically, it all slipped away, with the U.S. walking out of international negotiations and the rest of the world settling for nonbinding agreements that relied on dodgy "market mechanisms" like carbon trading and offsets. So it really is worth asking, as Rich does: What the hell happened? What interrupted the urgency and determination that was emanating from all these elite establishments simultaneously by the end of the '80s?

Rich concludes, while offering no social or scientific evidence, that something called "human nature" kicked in and messed everything up. "Human beings," he writes, "whether in global organizations, democracies, industries, political parties or as individuals, are incapable of sacrificing present convenience to forestall a penalty imposed on future generations." It seems we are wired to "obsess over the present, worry about the medium term and cast the long term out of our minds, as we might spit out a poison."

When I looked at the same period, I came to a very different conclusion: that what at first seemed like our best shot at lifesaving climate action had in retrospect suffered from an epic case of historical bad timing. Because what becomes clear when you look back at this juncture is that just as governments were getting together to get serious about reining in the fossil fuel sector, the global neoliberal revolution went supernova, and that project of economic and social reengineering clashed with the imperatives of both climate science and corporate regulation at every turn.

The failure to make even a passing reference to this other global trend that was unfolding in the late '80s represents an unfathomably large blind spot in Rich's piece. After all, the primary benefit of returning to a period in the not-too-distant past as a journalist is that you are able to see trends and patterns that were not yet visible to people living through those tumultuous events in real time. The climate community in 1988, for instance, had no way of knowing that they were on the cusp of the convulsive neoliberal revolution that would remake every major economy on the planet.

But we know. And one thing that becomes very clear when you look back on the late '80s is that, far from offering "conditions for success [that] could not have been more favorable," 1988-89 was the worst possible moment for humanity to decide that it was going to get serious about putting planetary health ahead of profits.

President Ronald Reagan signs legislation implementing the U.S.-Canada free trade agreement during a ceremony at the White House, Sept. 28, 1988.

RECALL WHAT ELSE was going on. In 1988, Canada and the U.S. signed their free trade agreement, a prototype for NAFTA and countless deals that would follow. The Berlin wall was about to fall, an event that would be successfully seized upon by right-wing ideologues in the U.S. as proof of "the end of history" and taken as license to export the Reagan-Thatcher recipe of privatization, deregulation, and austerity to every corner of the globe.

It was this convergence of historical trends - the emergence of a global architecture that was supposed to tackle climate change and the emergence of a much more powerful global architecture to liberate capital from all constraints - that derailed the momentum Rich rightly identifies. Because, as he notes repeatedly, meeting the challenge of climate change would have required imposing stiff regulations on polluters while investing in the public sphere to transform how we power our lives, live in cities, and move ourselves around.

All of this was possible in the '80s and '90s (it still is today) - but it would have demanded a head-on battle with the project of neoliberalism, which at that very time was waging war on the very idea of the public sphere ("There is no such thing as society," Thatcher told us). Meanwhile, the free trade deals being signed in this period were busily making many sensible climate initiatives - like subsidizing and offering preferential treatment to local green industry and refusing many polluting projects like fracking and oil pipelines - illegal under international trade law.

I wrote a 500-page book about this collision between capitalism and the planet, and I won't rehash the details here. This extract, however, goes into the subject in some depth, and I'll quote a short passage here:

We have not done the things that are necessary to lower emissions because those things fundamentally conflict with deregulated capitalism, the reigning ideology for the entire period we have been struggling to find a way out of this crisis. We are stuck because the actions that would give us the best chance of averting catastrophe - and would benefit the vast majority - are extremely threatening to an elite minority that has a stranglehold over our economy, our political process, and most of our major media outlets. That problem might not have been insurmountable had it presented itself at another point in our history. But it is our great collective misfortune that the scientific community made its decisive diagnosis of the climate threat at the precise moment when those elites were enjoying more unfettered political, cultural, and intellectual power than at any point since the 1920s. Indeed, governments and scientists began talking seriously about radical cuts to greenhouse gas emissions in 1988 - the exact year that marked the dawning of what came to be called "globalisation."
Why does it matter that Rich makes no mention of this clash and instead, claims our fate has been sealed by "human nature"? It matters because if the force that interrupted the momentum toward action is "ourselves," then the fatalistic headline on the cover of New York Times Magazine - "Losing Earth" - really is merited. If an inability to sacrifice in the short term for a shot at health and safety in the future is baked into our collective DNA, then we have no hope of turning things around in time to avert truly catastrophic warming.

If, on the other hand, we humans really were on the brink of saving ourselves in the '80s, but were swamped by a tide of elite, free-market fanaticism - one that was opposed by millions of people around the world - then there is something quite concrete we can do about it. We can confront that economic order and try to replace it with something that is rooted in both human and planetary security, one that does not place the quest for growth and profit at all costs at its center.

And the good news - and, yes, there is some - is that today, unlike in 1989, a young and growing movement of green democratic socialists is advancing in the United States with precisely that vision. And that represents more than just an electoral alternative - it's our one and only planetary lifeline.

Yet we have to be clear that the lifeline we need is not something that has been tried before, at least not at anything like the scale required. When the Times tweeted out its teaser for Rich's article about "humankind's inability to address the climate change catastrophe," the excellent eco-justice wing of the Democratic Socialists of America quickly offered this correction: "*CAPITALISM* If they were serious about investigating what's gone so wrong, this would be about 'capitalism's inability to address the climate change catastrophe.' Beyond capitalism, *humankind* is fully capable of organizing societies to thrive within ecological limits."

Their point is a good one, if incomplete. There is nothing essential about humans living under capitalism; we humans are capable of organizing ourselves into all kinds of different social orders, including societies with much longer time horizons and far more respect for natural life-support systems. Indeed, humans have lived that way for the vast majority of our history and many Indigenous cultures keep earth-centered cosmologies alive to this day. Capitalism is a tiny blip in the collective story of our species.

But simply blaming capitalism isn't enough. It is absolutely true that the drive for endless growth and profits stands squarely opposed to the imperative for a rapid transition off fossil fuels. It is absolutely true that the global unleashing of the unbound form of capitalism known as neoliberalism in the '80s and '90s has been the single greatest contributor to a disastrous global emission spike in recent decades, as well as the single greatest obstacle to science-based climate action ever since governments began meeting to talk (and talk and talk) about lowering emissions. And it remains the biggest obstacle today, even in countries that market themselves as climate leaders, like Canada and France.

But we have to be honest that autocratic industrial socialism has also been a disaster for the environment, as evidenced most dramatically by the fact that carbon emissions briefly plummeted when the economies of the former Soviet Union collapsed in the early 1990s. And as I wrote in "This Changes Everything," Venezuela's petro-populism has continued this toxic tradition into the present day, with disastrous results.

Let's acknowledge this fact, while also pointing out that countries with a strong democratic socialist tradition - like Denmark, Sweden, and Uruguay - have some of the most visionary environmental policies in the world. From this we can conclude that socialism isn't necessarily ecological, but that a new form of democratic eco-socialism, with the humility to learn from Indigenous teachings about the duties to future generations and the interconnection of all of life, appears to be humanity's best shot at collective survival.

These are the stakes in the surge of movement-grounded political candidates who are advancing a democratic eco-socialist vision, connecting the dots between the economic depredations caused by decades of neoliberal ascendency and the ravaged state of our natural world. Partly inspired by Bernie Sanders's presidential run, candidates in a variety of races - like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York, Kaniela Ing in Hawaii, and many more - are running on platforms calling for a "Green New Deal" that meets everyone's basic material needs, offers real solutions to racial and gender inequities, while catalyzing a rapid transition to 100 percent renewable energy. Many, like New York gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon and New York attorney general candidate Zephyr Teachout, have pledged not to take money from fossil fuel companies and are promising instead to prosecute them.

These candidates, whether or not they identify as democratic socialist, are rejecting the neoliberal centrism of the establishment Democratic Party, with its tepid "market-based solutions" to the ecological crisis, as well as Donald Trump's all-out war on nature. And they are also presenting a concrete alternative to the undemocratic extractivist socialists of both the past and present. Perhaps most importantly, this new generation of leaders isn't interested in scapegoating "humanity" for the greed and corruption of a tiny elite. It seeks instead to help humanity - particularly its most systematically unheard and uncounted members - to find their collective voice and power so they can stand up to that elite.

We aren't losing earth - but the earth is getting so hot so fast that it is on a trajectory to lose a great many of us. In the nick of time, a new political path to safety is presenting itself. This is no moment to bemoan our lost decades. It's the moment to get the hell on that path.
(c) 2018 Naomi Klein is an award"winning journalist and syndicated columnist and the author of the international and New York Times bestseller, "The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism." To read all her latest writing visit You can follow her on Twitter: @NaomiAKlein.

Who The Hell Are We?
By Uri Avnery

YEARS AGO I had a friendly discussion with Ariel Sharon.

I told him: "I am first of all an Israeli. After that I am a Jew."

He responded heatedly: "I am first of all a Jew, and only after that an Israeli!"

That may look like an abstract debate. But in reality, this is the question that lies at the heart of all our basic problems. It is the core of the crisis which is now rending Israel apart.

THE IMMEDIATE cause of this crisis is the law that was adopted in great haste last week by the rightist Knesset majority. It is entitled "Basic Law: Israel the Nation State of the Jewish People".

This is a constitutional law. When Israel was founded during the war of 1948, it did not adopt a constitution. There was a problem with the Orthodox religious community, which made an agreed formula impossible. Instead David Ben-Gurion read out a "Declaration of Independence", which announced that "we are founding the Jewish State, namely the State of Israel."

The declaration did not become law. The Supreme Court adopted its principles without a legal basis. The new document, however, is a binding law.

So what is new about the new law, which at a first glance looks like a copy of the declaration? It contains two important omissions: the declaration spoke of a "Jewish and Democratic" state, and promised full equality between all its citizens, without regard to religion, ethnicity or sex.

All this has disappeared. No democracy. No equality. A state of the Jews, for the Jews, by the Jews.

THE FIRST to cry out were the Druze.

The Druze are a small and close-knit minority. They send their sons to serve in the Israeli army and police and consider themselves "blood brothers". Suddenly they have been robbed of all their legal rights and sense of belonging.

Are they Arabs or not? Muslims or not? That depends on who is speaking, where and what for. They threaten to demonstrate, to leave the army and generally rebel. Binyamin Netanyahu tries to bribe them, but they are a proud community.

However, the Druze are not the main point. The new law completely ignores the 1.8 million Arabs who are Israeli citizens, including the Bedouin and Christians. (No one even thinks about the hundreds of thousands of European Christians, who immigrated with their Jewish spouses and other relatives, mainly from Russia.)

The Arabic language with all its splendor, which until now was one of the two official languages, was demoted to a mere "special status", whatever that means.

(All this applies to Israel proper, not to the 5 million or so Arabs in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip, who have no rights at all.)

Netanyahu is defending this law like a lion against mounting criticism from within. He has publicly declared that all the Jewish critics of the law are leftists and traitors (synonyms), "who have forgotten what it is to be Jewish."

AND THAT is really the point.

Years ago, my friends and I asked the Supreme Court to change the "nationality" entry in our identity cards, from "Jewish" to "Israeli". The courts refused, stating that there is no Israeli nation. The official register recognizes almost a hundred nations, but not an Israeli one.

This curious situation started with the birth of Zionism in the late 19th century. It was a Jewish movement, designed to solve the Jewish Question. The settlers in Palestine were Jewish. The whole project was closely connected with Jewish tradition.

But once a second generation of settlers grew up, they felt uneasy about being just Jewish, like Jews in Brooklyn or Krakow. They felt that they were something new, different, special.

The most extreme were a small group of young poets and artists, who in 1941 formed an organization nicknamed "the Canaanites", who proclaimed that we were a new nation, a Hebrew one. In their enthusiasm they went to extremes, declaring that we have nothing to do with Jews abroad, and that there was no Arab nation - Arabs were just Hebrews who had adopted Islam.

Then there came the news of the Holocaust, the Canaanites were forgotten and everybody became remorseful super-Jews.

But not really. Without a conscious decision, the popular language of my generation adopted a clear distinction: Jewish Diaspora and Hebrew agriculture, Jewish history and Hebrew battalions, Jewish religion and Hebrew language.

When the British were here, I took part in dozens of demonstrations shouting "Free Immigration! Hebrew State!" I don't remember a single demonstration where anyone shouted "Jewish State!"

So why does the Declaration of Independence speak of a "Jewish State"? Simple: it was alluding to the UN resolution which decreed the partition of Palestine into an Arab and a Jewish state. The founders simply stated that we are now setting up this Jewish state.

Vladimir Jabotinsky, the legendary forefather of the Likud, wrote an anthem declaring "A Hebrew is the son of a prince."

ACTUALLY THIS is a natural process. A nation is a territorial unit. It is conditioned by its landscape, climate, history, neighbors.

When the British settled in America, they felt after some time that they were different from the British they had left behind in their island. They became Americans. The British convicts sent to the Far East became Australians. In two World Wars, Australians rushed to the rescue of Britain, but they are not British. They are a proud new nation. So are Canadians, New Zealanders, and Argentinians. And so are we.

Or would have been, if official ideology had allowed it. What has happened?

First of all, there was the huge immigration from the Arab world and Eastern Europe in the early fifties - for every one Hebrew there were two, three, four new immigrants, who considered themselves Jews.

Then there was the need for money and political support from the Jews abroad, especially in the US. These, while considering themselves full and true Americans (try and say they are not, you bloody anti-Semite!) are proud to have a Jewish State somewhere.

And then there was (and is!) a rigorous government policy of Judaization of everything. The present government has reached new heights. Active - even frantic - government actions try to Judaize education, culture, even sports. Orthodox Jews, a small minority in Israel, exert immense influence. Their votes in the Knesset are essential to the Netanyahu government.

WHEN THE State of Israel was founded, the term Hebrew was exchanged for the term Israeli. Hebrew is now only a language.

So is there an Israeli nation? Of course there is. Is there a Jewish nation? Of course there isn't.

Jews are members of an ethnic-religious people, dispersed throughout the world and belonging to many nations, with a strong feeling of affinity with Israel. We, in this country, belong to the Israeli nation, whose Hebrew members are part of the Jewish people.

It is crucial that we recognize this. It decides our outlook. Quite literally. Are we looking towards Jewish centers like New York, London, Paris and Berlin, or are we looking towards our neighbors, Damascus, Beirut and Cairo? Are we part of a region inhabited by Arabs? Do we realize that making peace with these Arabs, and especially the Palestinians, is the main task of this generation?

We are not temporary tenants in this country, ready at any moment to go and join our brother and sister Jews around the globe. We belong to this country and are going to live here for many generations to come, and therefore we must become peaceful neighbors in this region, which I called, 75 years ago, "the Semitic Region."

The new Nation Law, by its clearly semi-fascist nature, shows us how urgent this debate is. We must decide who we are, what we want, where we belong. Otherwise we will be condemned to a permanent state of impermanence.
(c) 2018 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Martial Law By Other Means
Corporate Strangulation of Dissent
By Glen Ford

The people that rule the United States are in the third year of a frenzy to blame Russia and its "trolls," "dupes," and witting or unwitting "colluders" - including a sitting president - for racial conflicts, eroding respect for public institutions and a general social breakdown in the nation. "We are at war!" they scream, incessantly, and in a thousand well-placed voices. The relentless barrage of war-talk crowds out all other subjects in the corporate media -- the Omnipresent Voice of Oligarchy -- including the actual warswaged all across the globe by the U.S. and its shrinking gaggle of allies. By now, 65 percent of Americans -- if asked -- tell pollsters they think Russia "interfered" in the 2016 elections. According to an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released late last month, 41 percent believe that whatever the Russians did had some effect on the election, and 30 percent think Hillary Clinton would be president if the Russians had not interfered.

People don't volunteer these opinions; the question is presented by the pollsters and respondents select an answer among the multiple choices offered. However, A Gallup poll, taken during the same period, that allowed respondents to offer their own list of problems besetting the nation showed that less than one percent thought "the ongoing situation with Russia was the top issue." Immigration was the top problem on people's minds (22 percent), followed by dissatisfaction with the U.S. government (19 percent), and racism (7 percent). Concerns over "unifying the country," "lack of respect for each other," "the economy in general," "health care," and the catch-all, "ethics/morality/religious/family decline" rank in the even lower single digits - but almost nobody considers Russia to be a top problem.

Apparently, Americans don't yet believe that anything like a "Pearl Harbor" has occurred, despite the Herculean efforts of the corporate media, the Democratic Party, old school Republicans, and the National Security State (Spookland). Undeterred, these fevered fomenters of hysteria insist that Russia's "war" against the United States -- aided by a "fifth column" composed of left-wing and right-wing web sites -- must be answered by putting the nation on martial footing, through further curbs on freedom of speech and association at home, and relentless pursuit of full spectrum military dominance over all potential adversaries and competitors abroad.

The oligarch-declared state of war requires that there be one set of "truths" and a common worldview to unite the nation at this time of peril -- whether the people perceive such a peril, or not. If there is insufficient public resolve to respond to the "threat" from Moscow and their partners in Beijing, then that is blamed on Kremlin-disseminated disinformation designed to confuse Americans or cause them to lose faith in U.S. institutions, and to fight among themselves - to "hate" each other -- thus requiring more censorship.

It is the ruling class that is in panic, and using Russia as an all-purpose foil. The U.S. is in terminal decline, and has already been economically surpassed by China, based on "purchasing power parity," the standard of measurement preferred even by the U.S dominated International Monetary Fund. According to an analysis by business columnist Noah Smith in Bloomberg, "not only is China already the world's largest economy, the gap between it and the U.S. can be expected to grow even wider." Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Studies, says "China's economy is already 25 percent larger than the U.S. economy and is on a path to be almost twice as large in a decade."

The era of U.S. economic dominance has already ended, and the Potemkin facade of American economic supremacy is only maintained by the U.S. dollar's artificial status as the main international reserve currency - from which pedestal it will ultimately be toppled, and the imperial era will be over. But this is an historical verdict that the U.S. rulers cannot accept. Having lost the economic capacity to lord over the planet, they must now rely on their military -- a terror machine more expensive than most of the rest of the world's militaries, combined -- in a "generational," twilight battle to preserve the empire. The Lords of Capital cannot imagine a world in which they are not on top. They have chosen permanent, "infinite" war.

On the home front, the ruling class policy is eternal austerity, dictated by the requirements of capitalism at this stage in its decline. It is a horrifically destructive process of corporate consolidation (the big get bigger, devouring each other and everyone else) and the shrinking of the public sphere, through public sector starvation and privation. The job market is restructured, with more and more workers becoming "casual" or "contracted" -- the "gig" economy -- and millions of others (especially Blacks) made permanently redundant and disposable.

A regime of permanent war and austerity -- the fate that both corporate parties plan for us -- requires the manufacture and perpetual maintenance of war hysteria, and the methodical suppression of popular demands for economic rescue of the affected classes. It demands Russiagate and the snuffing out of radical dissent. This is not about Hillary Clinton, although she was the presidential choice of the great bulk of the ruling class because she could be trusted to pursue permanent war and austerity. It's about preserving and serving the oligarchy under capitalism in terminal decline.

A similar process is underway in Europe, where the welfare state is besieged by the ruling bankers and corporate chiefs. Some leftish pundits describe the corporate parties' lashing out at "the left and the right" as an offensive of "the center" -- but that's nonsense. In both the U.S. and Europe, the corporate governments are to the right of the public; they don't represent some political "center" -- they represent only their corporate selves. The corporate leaders of the Democratic Party are positioned way to the right of Democratic voters, and also rightward of the general American pubic on most key economic issues. They are carrying out their corporate duties to preserve and maintain austerity and war.

This compels them to make a spectacle of Russiagate, and to ensure that the show never ends, but takes on new forms of hysteria. And it requires that internet-based dissent be brought to heal, as Hillary would say -- even at the cost of billions to one of the top oligarchs, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, who has been mercilessly bludgeoned by his fellow corporatists. Facebook's political tampering with its algorithms to marginalize left-wing sites like BAR cannot help but suggest that the company also puts its fingers on the scales of the algorithms whose results are sold to advertisers. But Zuckerberg no doubt understands that the purge of "left and right" sites is in the best interest of his class, and has accepted to forgo some profits.

Facebook, Apple, Google, YouTube and Spotify all came down on right-winger Alex Jones and his Infowars, this week, in what appeared to be a coordinated purge. Although the corporate media have long accused Jones of spreading "disinformation," he was not purged for telling non-truths. Apple announced that "it does not tolerate hate speech." Facebook said "false news" was not the issue, but that Jones had violated its policies by "glorifying violence" and "using dehumanizing language to describe people who are transgender, Muslims and immigrants."

When it comes to "hate," the high tech oligarchs rely heavily on the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), the Morris Dees - Richard Cohen legal outfit in Montgomery, Alabama. The Center has a special animus towards Black nationalists, to whom it dedicates a whole page on its web site. "Most forms of black nationalism are strongly anti-white and anti-Semitic," the SPLC declares, as if its white, Jewish leadership are expert in the Black American polity. In addition to naming Min. Louis Farrakhan and every Nation of Islam mosque, the site lists a slew of "Black Nationalist Hate Groups," including book stores, the Black Riders Liberation Party and all its affiliates, various Black Israelites, both halves of the split New Black Panther Party, and the Revolutionary Black Panther Party, as well as the Nuwaubian Nation of Moors. We can assume that these groups' internet sites and Facebook presence are marked for special attention and future purging.

But, many more Blacks will be caught up in the "hate speech" net that the high tech monopolists have deployed. Anyone that has gone to protests against killer cops has shouted words that could be deemed hate speech -- because we do hate killer cops, and we do hate their armed occupation of our communities, and we have every right to say so among ourselves or to shout it to the world. Black people -- and especially Black activists -- must be most zealous in defense of free speech, knowing that our speech will be the first to be curtailed and outlawed.

We can expect no defense of Black speech rights from the Black misleadership class, which has always opted to cut off Black lips in order to silence a few white racists' mouths. In the early Seventies, the Congressional Black Caucus and the Atlanta NAACP tried to get the Federal Communications Commission to ban campaign ads by the arch-racist candidate for one of Georgia's seats in the U.S. Senate. I argued loudly against attempting to create a "hate speech" standard for the public airwaves, warning that among the first victims of such a standard would be Min. Farrakhan, whose weekly radio program was aired on over 100 Black-oriented radio programs.

The FCC ruled in J.B. Stoner's favor in 1972, but it was a good day for Black political speech, too. In the same way, the high tech monopolists' assault on right-winger Alex Jones under a "hate speech" standard is bad news for Black political speech, and for radical speech. "Hate speech" is a trap. A few months ago, all but eleven members of the Congressional Black Caucus voted to make any assault on police a "hate crime," thereby giving police the status of a protected class. The "hate speech" trick, in practice, rewards Black people's occupiers and abusers (the police) and renders voices of protest illegitimate and mute.

We will need every energizing expletive in our vocabularies to mobilize our folks against the racist repression that must accompany the rulers' plans for permanent austerity and war. We need to hate them very deeply for what they are trying to do to humanity, and to express that hatred at the top of our lungs and in every forum possible.
(c) 2018 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

"Trump calls the news media "the Enemy of the People," a phrase that blood-soaked totalitarian regimes have used to justify assassinations and purges."

Trump's Rally Rhetoric Is Going To Get Somebody Killed!
The GOP has lost its mind
By Eugene Robinson

Everything you need to know about today's Republican Party is summed up by a photograph from President Trump's political rally in Ohio on Saturday. Two men in the crowd look defiantly at the camera, proudly displaying the slogan on their matching T-shirts: "I'd Rather Be a Russian Than a Democrat."

The sound you hear is the GOP presidents of the Cold War era - Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford and Reagan - whirring like turbines in their graves.

This is the state of derangement to which Trump has brought a once-great political party. Anyone tempted to dismiss these cult-of-personality rallies as freakish sideshows should keep in mind one sobering fact: An astounding 89 percent of Republicans approve of Trump's performance as president, according to Gallup. The GOP has lost its mind.

The Republican Party used to believe in fiscal discipline and worry about the mounting national debt; Trump has blown a trillion-dollar hole in the budget. The party used to believe in free trade; Trump is imposing tariffs left and right, including on our closest allies. The party used to believe in free markets; Trump clumsily tries to pick winners and losers, hectors the independent Federal Reserve board and uses his Twitter feed to attack individual companies for political reasons.

The GOP used to champion American ideals of freedom and justice throughout the world. Trump gives the back of his hand to the postwar alliance of Western democracies, and has nothing but praise for autocratic rulers who abuse human rights in countries such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the Philippines and, of course, Russia.

Previous Republican presidents have complained about press coverage. Trump calls the news media "the Enemy of the People," a phrase that blood-soaked totalitarian regimes have used to justify assassinations and purges. Don't be comforted by GOP apologists who say Trump is just using over-the-top rhetoric and doesn't really mean it. As recently as Sunday, he tweeted that "The Fake News hates me saying that they are the Enemy of the People because they know it's TRUE." He called the media "very dangerous and sick!" On Friday, a C-SPAN caller who identified himself as "Don from State College, Pennsylvania" threatened that "I'm going to shoot" CNN hosts Brian Stelter and Don Lemon. Words have consequences: Trump's unhinged rhetoric is going to get somebody killed.

If you ask House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) or Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), they will, of course, disavow such sentiments. And then, la-di-da, they'll go back to pretending this is a normal presidency rather than a runaway train.

Brace yourselves, because it's all going to get worse.

It doesn't take a degree in psychology to see that Trump is increasingly frantic about special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. On Sunday, shortly after the "Enemy of the People" tweet, Trump added this:

"Fake News reporting, a complete fabrication, that I am concerned about the meeting my wonderful son, Donald, had in Trump Tower. This was a meeting to get information on an opponent, totally legal and done all the time in politics - and it went nowhere. I did not know about it!"
How much lying can you pack into one tweet? It was a meeting to get dirt on Hillary Clinton from emissaries of the Russian government. It is not at all clear that it was legal. It is not the sort of thing ever done in politics. We don't know whether it "went anywhere." And it sure seems unlikely that Trump's son, son-in-law and campaign chairman would have such a meeting without ever mentioning it to Trump - who, when the meeting was revealed, personally dictated a false statement designed to obscure its real purpose.

It is safe to surmise that Trump feels the walls closing in. And if Democrats seize control of the House in November, he will face a lineup of committee chairmen, armed with subpoena power, who are determined to do their constitutional duty of holding the administration accountable.

So Trump reportedly plans to spend as much time as possible on the campaign trail, desperately trying to stoke enough fear, resentment and anger among the GOP base to produce a big turnout that saves the House majority. What a surprise: Trump intends to make the election all about Trump.

It worked for those guys in the photo, the ones who'd rather be Russians than Democrats. The Republican Party has betrayed all of its history, all of its hallowed ideals and bet its future on the corrosive power of Trump's scorched-earth megalomania. GOP candidates richly deserve to lose.
(c) 2018 Eugene Robinson writes a regular column for The Washington Post.

Who Was Smedley Darlington Butler, And Why Is He Important?
By Jim Hightower

Many Americans can't believe that political coups are part of our country's history - but consider from the Wall Street Putsch of 1933.

Never heard of it? It was a corporate conspiracy to oust Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had just been elected president. With the Great Depression raging and millions of families financially devastated, FDR had launched several economic recovery programs to help people get back on their feet. To pay for this crucial effort, he had the audacity to raise taxes on the wealthy, and this enraged a group of Wall Street multimillionaires.

Wailing that their "liberty" to grab as much wealth as possible was being shackled, they accused the president of mounting a Class War. To pull off their coup, they plotted to enlist a private military force made up of destitute World War I vets who were upset at not receiving promised federal bonus payments. One of the multimillionaires' lackeys reached out to a well-respected advocate for veterans: Retired Marine general, Smedley Darlington Butler. They wanted him to lead 500,000 veterans in a march on Washington to force FDR from the White House.

They chose the wrong general. Butler was a patriot and lifelong soldier for democracy, who, in his later years, was critical of corporate war profiteering, and he was repulsed by the hubris and treachery of these Wall Street aristocrats. He reached out to a reporter, and together, they gathered proof to to take to Congress. A special congressional committee investigated and found Butler's story "alarmingly true," leading to public hearings, with Butler giving detailed testimony.

This is Jim Hightower saying... By exposing the traitors, this courageous patriot nipped their coup in the bud. But their sense of entitlement reveals that we must be aware of the concentrated wealth of the imperious rich, for it poses an ever-present danger to majority rule.
(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

US President Donald Trump delivers his first State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress inside the House Chamber on Capitol Hill, January 30, 2018.

The Right Way To Talk About Impeaching Donald Trump
Kaniela Ing wants Democrats to understand that impeachment is necessary to end the chaos and focus on the issues that matter.
By John Nichols

Make a note of August 1, 2018, the day when President Trump tweeted: "This is a terrible situation and Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now, before it continues to stain our country any further. Bob Mueller is totally conflicted, and his 17 Angry Democrats that are doing his dirty work are a disgrace to USA!"

The president is urging the attorney general of the United States, who more than a year ago recused himself from involvement with the investigation of allegations of wrongdoing by the Trump campaign and the Trump White House, to extend and amplify the aggressive obstruction of justice that began with the May 2017, firing of FBI director James Comey. If any serious attempt to remove Mueller is made, the August 1 tantrum by an increasingly desperate president would necessarily figure in an impeachment inquiry. Even Republicans who profess their loyalty to Trump tell us that the unwarranted firing of the special counsel could be an impeachable offense. As Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) says: "To stop [the Mueller-led] investigation without cause, I think, would be a constitutional crisis."

But the firing of Mueller is not required to justify an impeachment inquiry. Trump's lawless presidency-with its repeated obstructions of justice, its disregard for the emoluments clause, and its open disdain for the freedom-of-the-press protections outlined in the First Amendment to the founding document-has already crossed the lines that call for a constitutional remedy. The problem is that most members of Congress, no matter what their partisanship, no matter what their ideology, do not know how to talk about impeachment.

This is a particular problem for congressional Democrats, the opposition party that should take the lead when it comes to holding the president to account. Democratic voters want their representatives to act; 65 percent of Democrats say that if their party wins control of the House of Representatives in 2018, it should begin the impeachment process. The idea is most popular among women, people under the age of 35, and people of color-precisely the potential voters that Democrats must mobilize this fall. Yet House Democratic leaders such as Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer keep saying they want to keep the issue off the table.

That's one of the many reasons Congress needs new blood.

There are Democratic contenders for Congress who do know how to talk about impeachment, and the ablest of their number is Kaniela Ing, a Hawaiian state legislator who is running in a crowded August 11 primary for an open US House seat. Ing is a progressive, whose campaign platform details his commitment to fight in Congress for a "Medicare for All" health-care system, tuition-free college, a reinvigorated commitment to protect civil rights and civil liberties, a $15-an-hour minimum wage, strong unions, anD "100% Renewable Energy by 2035." It also calls, as a listed agenda item, for immediate action to "Impeach Donald Trump."

Ing does not have to be dragged into the discussion of presidential accountability. He highlights it, arguing that "From Russian collusion to obstruction of justice, we have the grounds for impeachment. We just need the will."

What distinguishes Ing's argument is his recognition that impeachment is about more than holding Trump (and scandal-plagued Vice President Mike Pence) to account. It is about getting beyond the chaos that surrounds Trump "so we can finally focus on progress beyond resistance."

As long as the constitutional crisis that Trump has already created remains unaddressed, it will be difficult to focus forward on addressing the real issues facing America, argues Ing, who says: "Democrats can flip the House in 2018. When that happens, our first order of business should be impeaching Trump and Pence, so we can begin to take America back to the future."

What Ing is proposing is not just a morally and legally necessary response to a president whose actions must be checked and balanced. It is a bold move to shift the debate away from the "questions of fear" that have dominated the discourse since Trump became president and toward "questions of hope: like how do we achieve universal health care and employment, truly affordable college and housing, a 100-percent renewable future nationwide; how do we protect women's health, reform our criminal justice system, end all those reckless wars abroad, insure equal rights for all of us, build a future economy that leaves no one behind and gets big money out of politics."

As he urges congressional candidates across the nation "to make impeachment part of their platform," Kaniela Ing argues, correctly, that "It's a winning issue, and it's time to be bold."

(John Nichols wrote the foreword to the upcoming book The Constitution Demands It: The Case for the Impeachment of Donald Trump, by Ron Fein, John Bonifaz, and Ben Clements. It will be published August 14.)
(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.

Ignoring Deadly Climate Change
By James Donahue

I am presently living in a moderate climate zone along the west California coast where we are enjoying perfect 70 plus degree temperatures, morning fog that waters the plants, and lots of afternoon sunlight. But the weather here is attracting thousands of people from inland where the temperatures are constantly soaring well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit and the lack of rainfall is spawning deadly forest fires. The cars are backed up for miles as those sweaty bodies choose to fight the traffic for a chance to cool off on our beaches.

While we Californians are glad to be hanging our hats in homes in this temperate zone, we are obviously troubled by the human masses now packing the shoreline where we used to swim, hold picnic gatherings and enjoy some time in the California sunshine. But we still wouldn't trade our place for theirs.

We are troubled too by the deadly fires sweeping the forests, dry grasslands and communities to the north and south of us. And we look with concern at the great trees from the forest that abuts our community on the hills just to the east. Will the day come when we too will be forced to flee for our lives from ravaging flames burning nearly over our heads?

Of even more concern is the knowledge that our elected "leaders" in Washington are going out of their way to ignore the threat of climate change, and refusing to join the European Union, China, India and South American nations in their decisions to do all they can to control the burning of carbon fuels and shift to alternate sources of solar, wind and ocean produced energies. We wonder how they can justify this inaction when Washington D.C. and the East Coast is suffering from intense heat and extreme storms and floods.

Well-known social critic and political activist Noam Chomsky recently put it all in perspective in a published interview with investigative journalist Amy Goodman. In the story, published in Truthout, Chomsky said: "Of all Trump's policies, the one that is the most dangerous and destructive, in fact poses an existential threat, is his policies on climate change, on global warming. That's really destructive. And we're facing an imminent threat, not far removed, of enormous damage."

Chomsky went on to say: "I don't know what word in the language - I can't find one - that applies to people of that kind, who are willing to sacrifice the literal - the existence of organized human life, not in the distant future, so they can put a few more dollars in highly overstuffed pockets. The word "evil" doesn't begin to approach it."

What is even more disconcerting, Chomsky noted, is that the media also appears to be ignoring this major news story, filling published space with what he called "marginalia." It is mostly about the president and his misdeeds, and the mass shootings, public riots and more recently the deadly fires and floods that are breaking out all over the planet. Few reports are linking these events to climate change.

It is not that Mr. Trump is not aware of the warming planet. Chomsky noted that Trump recently applied to the Irish government for permission to build a wall to protect his golf course from rising sea levels.
(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.

Former campaign manager for Donald Trump, Paul Manafort, leaves US District Court after pleading not guilty following his indictment on federal charges on October 30, 2017, in Washington, DC.

Mueller Is Building A Case For Obstruction. Manafort May Be The Key
By William Rivers Pitt

Special counsel Robert Mueller wants very much to speak with Donald Trump on the topic of obstruction of justice as it pertains to the ongoing Russia collusion investigation. Mueller is so interested in having that conversation, in fact, that he has offered to ask some of his questions in writing instead of asking them all during a proposed in-person interview, which is no small thing.

Why is Mueller so hot to chat with Trump about obstruction, and how does this involve the ongoing trial of Trump's former campaign manager, Paul Manafort? Before getting into that, let's talk about exactly what we're talking about.

Cornell Law School's Legal Information Institute explains it thusly:

Obstruction of justice is defined in the omnibus clause of 18 USC - 1503, which provides that "whoever - corruptly or by threats or force, or by any threatening letter or communication, influences, obstructs, or impedes, or endeavors to influence, obstruct, or impede, the due administration of justice, shall be (guilty of an offense).' - 1503 applies only to federal judicial proceedings. Under - 1505, however, a defendant can be convicted of obstruction of justice by obstructing a pending proceeding before Congress or a federal agency. A pending proceeding could include an informal investigation by an executive agency."
The refrigerator magnet version is simplicity itself: "Don't get in the way." Prosecutors and investigators are going to do what they do, and if you screw with the process, they will burn you down on an obstruction charge. Case law is riddled with instances of people who were as innocent as the new-fallen snow of what they were being investigated for but wound up getting smacked with obstruction because they impeded the original investigation.

Presidents are far from immune to charges of obstruction. In 1998, President Bill Clinton was charged with that very crime because he lied about his girlfriend during an investigation into a failed real estate deal. Clinton did nothing wrong on Whitewater but found himself hit with a count of obstruction for the actions he took while trying to hide his relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinski. The mansion of the law has many rooms, and prosecutors have keys to all the doors.

Why is the special counsel so interested in talking about obstruction of justice with the president of the United States? Well, let's see now... The matter of former FBI Director James Comey will surely be discussed. Comey was in charge of the Russia investigation when the newly minted Trump administration first took office. On January 27, 2017, Trump personally demanded a "pledge of loyalty" from Comey, which could be construed as an elliptical reference to the Russia probe.

Two weeks later in the Oval Office, Trump pointedly asked Comey to "let this go," referring to the investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who had resigned in disgrace the day before. Flynn, it should be noted, is now cooperating with special counsel Mueller.

Trump continued to apply pressure on Comey to end the investigation through the months of March and April of 2017, calling on him repeatedly to lift the "cloud" of the inquiry. That same March, Trump leaned on CIA chief Mike Pompeo and director of national intelligence Dan Coats to get them to convince Comey to end the Flynn investigation, which would in turn disrupt the Russia investigation.

James Comey did not respond to the increasing levels of pressure levied against him by the president and his agents, so on May 9, the president fired him as FBI director. The next day, according to The New York Times, Trump informed visiting Russian officials that firing Comey had "taken off" the "great pressure" of the Russia inquiry. The day after that, he told NBC News with his bare face hanging out that he had fired Comey because of "this Russia thing."

One grimly amusing aspect to all this is the genuine fear Trump's lawyers have of letting their client within fifty yards of Robert Mueller. Any on-the-record conversation between Mueller and Trump carries double-barreled peril for the president. They are worried, with cause, that Trump might lie under oath about any number of Russia-related topics, opening him up to charges of obstruction and perjury.

Worse for them, however, would be if Trump does with Mueller what he apparently did with those Russian officials and NBC News: He might tell the truth, incriminating him and others in any number of ways, and God only knows what could happen then. For the Trump legal team, as Greg Sargent wryly noted in The Washington Post, "This is not a position of strength."

Trump inappropriately pressured Comey to stop the investigation on numerous occasions and with increasing vigor. When Comey did not comply, Trump fired him, derailing the investigation until Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself (to Trump's ongoing fury) and Mueller was appointed. These acts, taken together, would appear to be almost a clinical exercise in obstruction of justice.

The case for obstruction extends even to Trump's volcanic behavior on Twitter. Most of us are numb to it by now; personally, I think it's probably quite similar to what you'd have gotten if someone had been able to plug Richard Nixon's id directly into a Teletype machine roundabout June of 1974.

If we hold Trump to the standard set in the articles of impeachment against Nixon, that he "made false or misleading public statements for the purpose of deceiving the people of the United States," his Twitter conversation with the country stands as one long chain of deliberate lies that puts Richard Nixon's wrestling match with the truth in deep shade.

What does all this have to do with Paul Manafort, the fellow on trial in Virginia? Robert Mueller has quite a lot to work with on the topic of obstruction, but the biggest club in his bag has everything to do with Manafort, because Manafort - along with Donald Trump Jr. - participated in the now-infamous "Trump Tower meeting" in June of 2016.

At that meeting, which took place at the height of the presidential campaign, Russian agents sought to trade information on Hillary Clinton for the lessening or outright removal of sanctions against Russia imposed by the Magnitsky Act. Nothing ultimately came of that meeting, despite Trump's public brag two days before it happened that some big anti-Hillary news was soon to come.

That news never came, but when the media broke the story about the meeting, the White House realized the optics of Russians meeting with Trump campaign officials at the highest levels were decidedly poor. At this point, Trump personally dictated a statement for the press declaring that the meeting had only been about the adoption of Russian children by US citizens. That statement was a brazen lie from start to finish.

Again, the Nixonian standard for obstruction - false or misleading public statements for the purpose of deceiving the people of the United States seems to be vividly in play.

Paul Manafort was at that Trump Tower meeting, and if convicted at trial, could be compelled to testify about Trump's knowledge of it. From the sound of things, Mueller may already have a corroborating witness to bolster Manafort's potential testimony about the meeting: Trump's former attorney and personal fixer, Michael Cohen, claimed last week that Trump knew all about it. Trump and his legal team have, of course, denied everything. If history is any guide, said denials are further proof that it's all true.

This is one of the many reasons why the bank and tax fraud trial of Paul Manafort is a historically big deal. Robert Mueller is, by all appearances, building a case for obstruction of justice against Donald Trump, and Manafort's possible testimony in the matter could be a cornerstone of that case. We watch, and we wait.
(c) 2018 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.

California On Fire? It's Their Own Damned Fault
By Heather Digby Parton

Why do Californians hate Trump?

Because he says things like this:

As California wildfires claimed their seventh victim, Donald Trump finally weighed in on the tragedy with one of his most confounding tweets ever, blaming California for the blazes because it "diverts" water to the Pacific Ocean.

He also blamed the state's "bad environmental laws" - the most protective in the nation - and trees. He called for a "tree clear to stop fire spreading."

He failed to express condolences to the families of the victims, thank firefighters, or offer comfort to Californians afraid for their lives, homes and communities.

California wildfires are being magnified & made so much worse by the bad environmental laws which aren't allowing massive amount of readily available water to be properly utilized. It is being diverted into the Pacific Ocean. Must also tree clear to stop fire spreading!
The tweet came just days after the Trump administration moved to scrap tough vehicle emissions standards - initially established by California. The move would clear the way for vehicles to pump an additional 600 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by 2030. That's the equivalent of the entire annual emissions of Canada.

It's unclear what the president meant by water "diverted" into the Pacific. California allocates water among residents, agricultural and industrial use, and for wetlands and wildlife, including water mandated to protect endangered species. But state waters eventually drain into the ocean. As one tweeter responded: "Water running into the Pacific Ocean is called a river." And firefighters haven't complained of a lack of water for battling the blazes.

The tweet could be a muddled indication of support for a GOP battle in Washington for a larger water allocation to farmers, many of them Republican voters, in the drought-stricken state's central valley. But it's unclear how that would help staunch California fires. The scientific consensus is that fires are becoming more common because of climate change, which Trump once called a Chinese "hoax."

Twitter users were stunned the president failed to express concern about people suffering in the fires. But most readers were stumped - or derisive. One responded: "Thanks, genius. Problem solved."

He's right, of course. Firefighters should use water to fight fires. And if the state were just desert nothing could burn. He's a stable genius.
(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.

The Tiny House Warriors of the Secwepemc Nation, in collaboration with Lubicon Solar, are building
eco-friendly solar-powered homes in the path of the proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

Reconciling Energy And Indigenous Rights
By David Suzuki

In 2007, Canada was one of four countries to vote against the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (with New Zealand, the United States and Australia). With its single-minded focus on making Canada an "energy superpower," albeit only with fossil fuels, the Harper government feared the declaration's concept of "free, prior and informed" consent regarding issues that affect Indigenous Peoples and their territories could hinder resource development.

The government was right. Most of Canada's fossil-fuelled energy policies are on a collision course with reconciliation. Canada finally signed the declaration in 2010 but hasn't made much progress living up to its principles around resource projects. Whether it's oilsands, fracking, offshore drilling, mining or pipelines, economic considerations are prioritized over Indigenous rights and environmental concerns -regardless of the government in power.

Rapidly shifting from fossil fuels to renewable energy would be a win for the environment, climate, economy and Indigenous rights. Renewable energy projects create more good jobs, distributed through a larger number of communities, than fossil fuel projects. They don't damage land, water and air the way fossil fuel development does. And bringing clean energy to remote communities that now fly, truck and ship expensive, polluting diesel fuel for generators would benefit those communities in many ways.

In their book The Reconciliation Manifesto, renowned Secwepemc activist and author Arthur Manuel (who passed away in January 2017) and Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs Grand Chief Ronald Derrickson write that the federal government's approval of Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline project was a continuation of its abrogation of the declaration. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau "knew that if UNDRIP is properly implemented, he would need not just to 'consult' Indigenous peoples, he would have to gain our consent. And that, he knows, we will never give."

An article on The Conversation website reports that 239 of 279 remote communities not connected to the power grid in Canada rely on expensive, polluting diesel. Almost two-thirds are Indigenous communities. "Large-scale, rapid improvements to energy access can have positive influences on economic, social, educational and health outcomes. They are an investment in the future that becomes the backbone to support a community's needs and growth," writes Jatin Nathwani, founding executive director of the Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy and Ontario research chair in public policy for sustainable energy at the University of Waterloo.

That's why many Indigenous communities are turning to renewables. Lumos Energy reports that Indigenous participation in the clean energy economy has been growing steadily in every part of Canada for two decades. Its report, "Powering Reconciliation," notes that 152 "medium-large scale solar, wind, hydro and bio-energy clean energy projects" are now in operation, representing "nearly one fifth of Canada's overall power production infrastructure" or enough to power up to 9.5 million homes. Lumos projects that 50 to 60 more will come online over the next five or six years.

At full operating capacity, medium-large projects generate at least one megawatt of energy, enough to supply 400 to 500 homes. Another 1,200 small projects are also operating in Indigenous communities. As well as generating clean energy, these projects provide employment, training and education, money and a sense of pride and independence for people and communities. The David Suzuki Foundation's Charged Up project promotes many of their stories, to inspire others to follow their lead.

Lubicon Solar founder and David Suzuki Foundation fellow Melina Laboucan-Massimo explains in a video that her Lubicon Lake Cree community of Little Buffalo near the Alberta oilsands saw the devastation from resource extraction, including a massive oil spill, and wanted to do something different.

"We're bathing in sunlight all around us and yet we don't utilize that energy, and so that's why our community has decided to install solar," she said.

Shifting from polluting fossil fuels to renewable energy offers benefits to everyone: cleaner air, good jobs, better energy security, and less devastation to land, air and water, among them. With growing Indigenous participation in clean energy projects, it's also a step to addressing many injustices that have come with rapacious fossil fuel extraction and the high costs of powering remote communities with diesel.

For reconciliation and for the good of everyone in Canada, it's time to get charged up with clean energy.
(c) 2018 Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co_founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.

This Isn't A Government Anymore. It's A Game Of Truth Or Dare
President* Donald Trump is running the dare-and winning.
By Charles P. Pierce

I don't remember who it was exactly, but someone mentioned over the weekend that the president*'s perception of his political invulnerability seems to have evolved from "I could shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue" to "Yeah, I shot at somebody on Fifth Avenue, but I missed him, so there's no crime here." Any weekend is remarkable when the president* admits being in cahoots with a foreign government full of kleptocratic thugs, thereby contradicting almost three years of official prevarication, and tosses his eldest son under the wheels as a bonus. Of all the tweets in all the gin joints in all the word, this one is the all-timer.

This isn't a government any more. It's an elaborate game of Truth or Dare and, so far, the president* is winning. Contrary to god alone knows how many previous public statements, he now admits the following: that the brain trust of his campaign did indeed take a meeting with Russian ratfckers for the purpose of gaining access to materials stolen from his political opposition; using this material, the rats were successfully fcked during the campaign, and, when the meeting with the ratfckers came to light, it was the president* who concocted the cover story and sent his wonderful son out to peddle the bullshit. One odd thing about the Oval Office-given the right circumstances, you can find yourself cornered there.

That's the truth. The president* is running the dare. He has admitted lying to the country on a profound issue of national security. He is doing next to nothing to prevent a similar attack this fall, and in 2020. He is clearly in league with-or, more likely, in hock to-an authoritarian goon presiding over an economic basket case complete with its own huge and threadbare nuclear arsenal. He is daring the institutions of democracy to do something about him. He is daring the system to work the way it's supposed to work. Waiting until after the midterms is not the way the system is supposed to work. Waiting for the special counsel to do the job for you is not the way the system is supposed to work. God knows, the supine behavior of the Republican congressional majorities is not the way the system is supposed to work.

The process of dealing with a lawless president* who admits to his own lawlessness should be easy, if the system works the way it's supposed to work. Instead, everybody along Fifth Avenue hears gunfire and hides behind a cab. But Robert Mueller, with no expression on his face, reaches across his desk for another file.
(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-

"In our age there is no such thing as 'keeping out of politics.' All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia."
~~~ George Orwell

Russia Is Our Friend
By David Swanson

Last May I was in Russia when fascists held a rally in my hometown of Charlottesville, not to be confused with their larger rally which followed in August. At the May rally, people shouted "Russia is our friend." I was on a Russian TV show called Crosstalk the next day and discussed this. I also discussed it with other Russians, actual friends in the human sense. Some of them were completely bewildered, arguing that Russia never had slavery and couldn't be the friend of Confederate-flag-waving people whom they saw as advocates for slavery. (Anti-Russian Ukrainians have also waved Confederate flags.)

I don't think slavery or serfdom were on the minds of the people shouting "Russia is our friend." Rather they believed the Democratic/Liberal accusation that the Russian government had tried to help make Donald Trump President, and they approved. They may also have thought of Russia as a "white" ally in their cause of white supremacy.

I think there is a case to made that, in fact, in a very different sense, "Russia is our friend." It's a case that could fill volumes. I don't make this case suffering under some delusion of the perfect saintliness of the Russian government, neither now nor at any time in history. In 2015, the Russian military approached me and asked if I would publish their propaganda under my own name. I told them to go to hell publicly. I've had Russian media censor my criticisms of Russia and highlight my criticisms of the United States (yet allow more criticism of Russia than big U.S. media allows criticism of U.S. foreign policy).

I make the following case because I think it is overwhelming yet fervently ignored. I'll just note a few highlights.

While the United States and Russia were war allies during World War I, the United States, in 1917, sent funding to one side, the anti-revolutionary side of a Russian civil war, worked to blockade the Soviet Union, and, in 1918, sent U.S. troops to Murmansk, Archangel, and Vladivostok in an attempt to overthrow the new Russian government. They abandoned the effort and withdrew in April, 1920. Most people in the United States do not know this, but many more Russians do.

The threat of the communists, as an example, albeit a deeply flawed one, of taking wealth away from oligarchs was a driving force in U.S. foreign affairs from 1920 up to, all during, and long after World War II. Senator and future president Harry Truman was far from alone in wishing to help the Russians if the Germans were winning, but the Germans if the Russians were winning, so that more of both would die. Senator Robert Taft proclaimed an elite view, shared by some West Point generals, that a victory for fascism would be better than a victory for communism. Wall Street had helped to build up Nazi Germany. Without the help of IBM, General Motors, Ford, Standard Oil, and other U.S. businesses right through the war, the Nazis could not have done what they did. The U.S. government was complicit in these acts of treason, avoiding bombing U.S. factories in Germany, and even compensating U.S. businesses for damage when hit.

The Russians had turned the tied against the Nazis outside Moscow and begun pushing the Germans back before the United States ever entered World War II. The Soviets implored the United States to attack Germany from the west from that moment until the summer of 1944 - that is to say, for two-and-a-half years. Wanting the Russians to do most of the killing and dying - which they did - the U.S. and Britain also did not want the Soviet Union making a new deal with or taking sole control of Germany. The allies agreed that any defeated nation would have to surrender to all of them and completely. The Russians went along with this.

Yet in Italy, Greece, France, etc., the U.S. and Britain cut Russia out almost completely, banned communists, shut out leftist resisters to the Nazis, and re-imposed rightwing governments that the Italians called "fascism without Mussolini." The U.S. would "leave behind" spies and terrorists and saboteurs in various European countries to fend off any communist influence.

Originally scheduled for the first day of Roosevelt's and Churchill's meeting with Stalin in Yalta, the U.S. and British bombed the city of Dresden flat, destroying its buildings and its artwork and its civilian population, apparently as a means of threatening Russia. The United States then developed and used on Japanese cities nuclear bombs, a decision driven largely by the desire to see Japan surrender to the United States alone, without the Soviet Union, and by the desire to threaten the Soviet Union.

Immediately upon German surrender, Winston Churchill proposed using Nazi troops together with allied troops to attack the Soviet Union, the nation that had just done the bulk of the work of defeating the Nazis. This was not an off-the-cuff proposal. The U.S. and British had sought and achieved partial German surrenders, had kept German troops armed and ready, and had debriefed German commanders on lessons learned from their failure against the Russians. Attacking the Russians sooner rather than later was a view advocated by General George Patton, and by Hitler's replacement Admiral Karl Donitz, not to mention Allen Dulles and the OSS. Dulles made a separate peace with Germany in Italy to cut out the Russians, and began sabotaging democracy in Europe immediately and empowering former Nazis in Germany, as well as importing them into the U.S. military to focus on war against Russia.

The war launched was a cold one. The U.S. worked to make sure that West German companies would rebuild quickly but not pay war reparations owed to the Soviet Union. While the Soviets were willing to withdraw from countries like Finland, their demand for a buffer between Russia and Europe hardened as the U.S.-led Cold War grew, in particular the oxymoronic "nuclear diplomacy."

Lies about Soviet threats and missile gaps and Russian tanks in Korea and global communist conspiracies became the biggest profit makers for U.S. weapons companies, not to mention Hollywood movie studios, in history, as well as the biggest threat to peace in various corners of the globe. The United States drew Russia into a war in Afghanistan and armed its opponents. Efforts at nuclear disarmament and diplomacy, which more often than not came from the Soviet side, were routinely thwarted by Americans. When Eisenhower and Khrushchev seemed likely to talk peace, a U.S. spy plane was shot down, just after an American who'd been involved with those planes defected to Russia. When Kennedy seemed interested in peace, he was killed, purportedly by that very same American.

When Germany reunited, the United States and allies lied to the Russians that NATO would not expand. Then NATO quickly began expanding eastward. Meanwhile the United States openly bragged about imposing Boris Yeltsin and corrupt crony capitalism on Russia by interfering in a Russian election in collusion with Yeltsin. NATO developed into a aggressive global war maker and expanded right up to Russia's borders, where the United States began installing missiles. Russian requests to join NATO or Europe were dismissed out of hand. Russia was to remain a designated enemy, even without the communism, and even without constituting any threat or engaging in any hostility.

When Russia gave the United States a memorial in sorrow for the victims of 9/11, the United States practically hid it, and reported on it so little that most people don't know it exists or believe it's a false story.

When Russia has proposed to make treaties on weapons in space or cyber war or nuclear missiles, the United States has regularly rejected such moves. Russia's advocacy for the Iran agreement meant nothing. Obama and Trump have expelled Russian diplomats. Obama helped facilitate a coup in Ukraine. Trump has begun weapons shipments to the coup government, which includes Nazis. Obama tried to facilitate an overthrow in Syria. Trump escalated the bombings, even hitting Russian troops. Trump accuses Russia - the one allied power not still occupying Germany - of dominating Germany, while trying to prevent Russia from selling its fossil fuels.

Russia is accused, and found guilty prior to convincing evidence, of shooting down an airplane, of "aggressively" flying near U.S. planes on Russia's borders, of "conquering" Crimea through a popular vote, of poisoning people in England, of torturing and murdering a man in prison, and of course of "hacking" an election - an accusation which, if evidence is ever produced for it, will amount to far less than Israel does in the United States or than the United States does in many countries. Through all of these accusations it is not uncommon for the Russians to be referred to as "the commies," despite the demise of communism.

What, you may ask, does any of this have to do with Russia being a friend? Simply this: nobody other than a friend would put up with this shit.
(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.

Make Friends With Immigrants
You're gonna need their help!
By Jane Stillwater

There I was, happily thinking that my life was safe and secure. I had a roof over my head, a car that (sort of) worked and lived within walking distance of a great public library. But then I got an e-mail in my inbox predicting the end of the (financial) world. Oh rats.

"Americans are over two hundred fifty TRILLION dollars in debt right now," said the e-mail. "Our five largest banks own over 200 trillion dollars in derivatives but only have 20 trillion dollars in assets. That kind of financial shell game is dangerous. It can't last. The greatest depression in history is heading our way. Hunker down and buy gold."

Derivatives? Huh? I had always thought that foolish spending on barbaric "wars" would be the cause of America's ruin. Who knew it would just be our very own greedy banks that would do us in, happily allowing our country to rot from the inside.

"So what else can I do to protect myself -- seeing as how buying gold isn't exactly an option for me right now?" I immediately e-mailed back.

"One good thing you can do immediately is to make friends with an immigrant."

But why?

"Because immigrants and refugees know basic survival skills. You don't. When the greatest financial catastrophe in history arrives, you are going to need immigrants and refugees far more than they are going to need you."

Immigrants and refugees, fleeing from America's cruel colonial realities in faraway places like Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen and in places closer to home like Mexico and Honduras, know how to survive when the going gets tough. Do we couch-potato Americans know how to survive and "make something out of nothing" too? Not so much.

Hey, wait. That's not entirely true. I know how to plant tomatoes. "Yeah but can you milk a cow, make candles and soap, entertain yourself without your SmartPhone or TV, cook without a microwave oven and build a house?" Er, no.

PS: I just got back from Aurora, Colorado, home of one of the largest and most totally scary I.C.E. "processing centers" in America. Three whole city blocks long and another whole city block wide -- with no windows and only one door. On a cold, wet, rainy afternoon last week I kept my eye on this GEO-run prison-for-profit where dozens of the parents of ICE-kidnapped children are being held. Disgusting.

"First we have a government that feels free to kidnap immigrant children and, when that works out so well for them -- will they also feel free to kidnap our own children too?" That is the question that every decent American mom should be asking herself right now.

700 immigrant children are still separated from their families right now. Remember back when your own parents, grandparents or ancestors were immigrants too? Even my Cherokee ancestors were once immigrants here. Even Black slaves were (brutally involuntary) immigrants. For better or for worse, there would be no freaking America at all without immigrants.

PPS: Breaking news: An immigrant toddler just died -- shortly after being released from an ICE kiddie jail -- due to a serious respiratory infection that she had contacted there (and probably from a broken heart too). My first question is, "How many babies have died inside ICE kiddie jails -- dead babies that we aren't being told about?"
(c) 2018 Jane Stillwater. Stop Wall Street and War Street from destroying our world. And while you're at it, please buy my books!

The Dead Letter Office-

Jeff gives the corporate salute

Heil Trump,

Dear Deputyfuhrer Sessions,

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 plans for a religious liberty task force to allow discrimination against women and LGBTQIA folks, 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 09-28-2018. We salute you Herr Sessions, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

Where Trump Sees Foreign Danger
By Robert Reich

What's the most worrisome foreign intrusion into the United States - unauthorized immigrants, Chinese imports, or interference in our democracy?

For Trump, it's immigrants and imports. He doesn't care much about the third.

"Border security is national security," Trump said last week, as he threatened a government shutdown if Congress didn't come up with money to build a wall along the Mexican border (at an estimated cost at least $25 billion).

Meanwhile, Trump has ordered his administration to consider raising tariff rates on $200 billion of Chinese goods, prompting China to threaten higher tariffs on $60 billion more of American goods.

Yet Trump continues to assert that talk of Russian meddling in American elections is "a big hoax." And his White House still has no coordinated plan for dealing with it.

Trump has it backwards.

Illegal immigration isn't the problem he makes it out to be. Illegal border crossings have been declining for years.

And if the Chinese want to continue to send us cheap imports that we pay for with U.S. dollars and our own IOUs, that's as much of a potential problem for them as it is for us.

But Russian attacks on our democracy are a clear and present threat aimed at the heart of America.

Facebook recently announced it uncovered a major disinformation campaign with the hallmarks of the same Kremlin-linked Internet Research Agency responsible for election interference in 2016.

Trump's own Department of Homeland Security found that in that 2016 election, Russian hackers tried to breach election systems in at least 21 states, likely scanned systems in all 50 states, stole the private information of hundreds of thousands of people, and infiltrated a company that supplies voting software across the nation. These findings led to the July indictment of 12 Russian Intelligence Officers.

Russian hackers are likely planning the same sort of intervention in this November's midterm elections. Kirstjen Nielsen, Secretary of Homeland Security, worries about Russia's ongoing "willingness and a capability" to hack into the American election infrastructure, including voter rolls and voting machines.

FBI Director Christopher Wray warns that "Russia ... continues to engage in malign influence operations to this day." Dan Coats, Director of National Intelligence, says "Russians are looking for every opportunity ... to continue their pervasive efforts to undermine our fundamental values."

Russia isn't the only foreign danger to our democracy.

The trial of Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign chairman, reveals another. It shows that Manafort hired a small army of American lawyers and lobbyists from both parties to influence U.S. lawmakers on behalf of Kremlin-connected former Ukrainian strongman, Viktor F. Yanukovych.

These were essentially laundered bribes - from Yanukovych through Washington-based influence peddlers, then on to U.S. politicians through the political action committees run by those influence peddlers.

A similar kind of laundered bribe from abroad occurred recently after the Chinese telecom giant ZTE was caught red-handed violating international sanctions on Iran. When the Commerce Department imposed penalties on the firm, ZTE hired the big Washington firm Hogan Lovells - which got Trump to lift the sanctions.

The timing was curious. Just before Trump came to ZTE's rescue, Chinese state enterprises agreed to give $500 million in loans to a project in Indonesia that included Trump-branded hotels, residences and golf courses - funneling millions of dollars into Trump's pockets.

When Congress threatened to reinstate the penalties on ZTE nonetheless, Hogan Lovells turned its sights on lawmakers. The firm's political action committee made fat donations to legislators who had the power to reduce the penalties.

The strategy paid off. Last Wednesday, the Senate passed a bill containing far weaker sanctions on ZTE than lawmakers originally intended.

All this raises the fundamental question of what we mean by national security.

Yes, our borders should be secure, and, yes, our trading partners should play fair.

But the essence of America - the attribute we must hold most secure because it defines who we are and what we strive for - is a system of government "of the people, by the people, for the people," as Lincoln put it.

If Putin or a Kremlin-connected Ukrainian strongman or even a giant Chinese company undermines this, they rob us of our most precious legacy.

Trump cares more about unauthorized immigrants and Chinese imports than about the sanctity of our democracy. This is a tragic mistake.
(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

Russian warships, among them the frigate Admiral Gorshkov (second left), sail near Kronshtadt
naval base outside St Petersburg on July 20, 2018, during a rehearsal for the Naval Parade.

Here's The Real Reason The US Must Talk To Russia
A new book details why future historians may well identify Putin's landmark March 1 speech as the ultimate game-changer in the 21st century New Great Game in Eurasia
By Pepe Escobar

President Vladimir Putin's landmark March 1 speech as the ultimate game-changer in the 21st-century New Great Game in Eurasia. The reason is minutely detailed in Losing Military Supremacy: The Myopia of American Strategic Planning, a new book by Russian military/naval analyst Andrei Martyanov.

Martyanov is uniquely equipped for the task. Born in Baku in the early 1960s, he was a naval officer in the USSR era up to 1990. He moved to the US in the mid-1990s and is now a lab director in an aerospace firm. He belongs to an extremely rarified group: top military/naval analysts specializing in US-Russia.

From quoting Alexis de Tocqueville and Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace to revisiting the balance of power during the Soviet era and beyond, Martyanov carefully tracks how the only nation on the planet "which can militarily defeat the United States conventionally" has reacted to a situation where any "meaningful dialogue between Russia and America's politicians is virtually impossible."

What is ultimately revealed is not only a case of disregarding basic Sun Tzu - "if you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles" - but most of all undiluted hubris, turbocharged, among a series of illusionistic positive feedback loops, by Desert Storm's "turkey shoot" of Saddam Hussein's heavily inflated, woefully trained army.

The United States' industrial-military-intel-security complex profits from a compounded annual budget of roughly US$1 trillion. The only justification for such whopping expenditure is to manufacture a lethal external threat: Russia. That's the key reason the complex will not allow US President Donald Trump even to try to normalize relations with Russia.

Yet now this is a whole new ball game as the US faces a formidable adversary that, as Martyanov carefully details, deploys five crucial capabilities.

Command, control, communications, computers, intel, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities equal to or better than the US.
Electronic warfare capabilities equal to or better than the US.
New weapons systems equal to or better than the US.
Air defense systems that are more than a match for US airpower.
Long-range subsonic, supersonic and hypersonic cruise missiles that threaten the US Empire of Bases and even the entire US mainland.

So how did we get here?

Debunking American military mythology

Martyanov argues that Russia, all through the first decade of the millennium, spent enough time "defining herself in terms of enclosed technological cycles, localization and manufacturing."

In contrast, Germany, even with a large, developed economy, "cannot design and build from scratch a state-of-the-art fighter jet," while Russia can. Germany "doesn't have a space industry, and Russia does."

As for those who pass in the US for Russian "experts," they never saw these techno-breakthroughs coming; they "simply have no grasp of the enormous difference between the processes involved in a virtual monetized economy and those involved in manufacturing of the modern combat informational control system or of the cutting-edge fighter jet."

Martyanov produces plenty of snapshots. For instance, "Russia ...without any unnecessary fanfare, launched a complete upgrade of her naval nuclear deterrent with state of the art ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) of the Borey-class (Project 955 and 955A).... This is the program which most Russia 'analysts' were laughing at ten years ago. They are not laughing any more."

A central tenet of the book is to debunk American military mythology. That must include in-depth reappraisal of World War II and a re-examination of how the Soviet Navy was closing the technological gap with the US Navy already by the mid-1970s, even as it remained "a dedicated sea denial force designed strictly for deterrent." The Soviet Navy, as the Russian Navy today, "was built largely for a single purpose: to prevent a NATO attack on the USSR from the sea."

Moving to the post-USSR era, it's inevitable that Russia had to come up with a concerted strategy to counteract the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's relentlessly moving east - a clear violation of the (verbal) agreement between George Bush Senior and Mikhail Gorbachev.

And that leads us to the holy of the holies concerning the favorite Beltway mantra, "Russian aggression." Even as Russia "does have the capability to deal major damage to NATO," as Martyanov reminds us, "why would Russia attack or damage European countries which are worth way more for Russia free and prosperous than they would be if damaged and, theoretically, subjugated?"

The caliber of Brzezinski's nightmare

The book's Chapter 7, titled "The Failure to Come to Grips with the Modern Geopolitical Realignment," brings us back to another game-changing moment: the 2015 Victory Parade in Moscow, with Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping sitting next to each other, graphically exposing the worst Zbigniew "Grand Chessboard" Brzezinski nightmare of the "two most powerful Eurasian nations declaring full independence from the American vision of the world."

And then there was Russia's campaign in Syria; on October 7, 2015, six 3M14 Kalibr cruise missiles were launched in intervals of five seconds from the Russian Navy's small missile ships in the Caspian Sea, aimed at Daesh targets in Syria. The USS Theodore Roosevelt and its carrier battle group immediately understood the message - exiting the Persian Gulf in a flash.

Since then, the message has been amplified: the Eastern Mediterranean, the Black Sea, or "the Russian Navy's Pacific zones of responsibility" are becoming "completely closed zones for any adversary."

The lesson from the Kalibr-in-the-Caspian saga, writes Martyanov, is that "for the first time it was openly demonstrated, and the world took note, that the American monopoly on symbols of power was officially broken."

As Martyanov shows how "in both Donbass and especially in Syria, Russia called the American geopolitical and military bluff," there's no question this Syria-Ukraine interconnection - which I analyzed here - is the foundation stone of the current "historically unprecedented anti-Russian hysteria in the US."

So the ball - just like the one offered by Putin to Trump in Helsinki - is in the United States' court. What Martyanov describes as "the deadly combination of contemporary American elites' ignorance, hubris and desperation," though, cannot be underestimated.

Already during his election campaign, Trump announced multiple times that he would contest the post-Cold War international (dis)order. Helsinki was a graphic demonstration that now Trump's "drain the swamp" faces a massive immovable object, as the swamp will take no prisoners to preserve its trillion-dollar power.

In contrast, Russian diplomacy, as explicitly reaffirmed once again this week by Putin himself, is adamant that anything is permitted when it comes to avoiding Cold War 2.0.

But just in case, Russia's new-generation weapons have now been formally unveiled by the Defense Ministry, and some of them are already operational.

'Pearl Harbor meets Stalingrad'

It's crystal clear that President Trump is applying Kissingerian divide-and-rule tactics, trying to reduce Russian political/economic connectivity with the two other Eurasian integration poles, China and Iran.

Still, the swamp cannot possibly contemplate The Big Picture - as this must-watch conversation between two of the very few Americans who actually know Russia in-depth attests. Professor Stephen Cohen and Professor John Mearsheimer go to the jugular: Nothing can be done when Russophobia is the law of the land.

Over and over again, we must go back to Putin's March 1 speech, which presented the US with what can only be described, writes Martyanov, as "a military-technological Pearl Harbor-meets-Stalingrad."

Martyanov goes all the way to explain how the latest Russian weapons systems present immense strategic - and historical - ramifications. The missile gap between the US and Russia is now "a technological abyss," with ballistic missiles "capable of trajectories which render any kind of anti-ballistic defense useless." Star Wars and its derivatives are now - to use a Trumpism - "obsolete."

The Kinzhal, as described by Martyanov, is "a complete game-changer geopolitically, strategically, operationally, tactically and psychologically." In a nutshell, "no modern or prospective air-defense system deployed today by NATO can intercept even a single missile with such characteristics."

This means, among other things - and stressing it is never enough - that the whole Eastern Mediterranean can be closed off, not to mention the whole Persian Gulf. And all this goes way beyond asymmetry; it's about "the final arrival of a completely new paradigm" in warfare and military technology.

Martyanov's must-read book is the ultimate Weapon of Myth Destruction (WMD). And unlike the Saddam Hussein version, this one actually exists. As Putin warned (at 7:10 in the video), "They did not listen to us then." Are they listening now?
(c) 2018 Pepe Escobar is the roving correspondent for Asia Times. His latest book is "Obama Does Globalistan." He may be reached at

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To End On A Happy Note-

Have You Seen This-

Parting Shots-

Millions Of Americans Denied Groceries After Failing To Provide I.D.
By Andy Borowitz

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA (The Borowitz Report)-Millions of Americans were foiled in their attempts to purchase groceries on Wednesday after failing to provide the proper government-issued I.D. cards.

From coast to coast, food-seeking scofflaws were turned away from supermarkets, convenience stores, and fruit markets as they tried to circumvent the nation's long-standing grocery I.D. laws.

"Given that Americans have been required to show I.D. to buy food for years, it's amazing that people still try to get away with this," Carol Foyler, a supermarket cashier in Fresno, California, said. "It's always, 'Oh, I left my food I.D. in my other pants,' or some B.S. like that. Believe me, I've heard it all."

In Cleveland, Ohio, a man attempting to buy a loaf of bread, two yogurts, and a bottle of Fanta tried to use another consumer's food I.D. to make the purchase, but was busted by sharp-eyed security personnel.

"It's not just people using other people's food I.D.s to get groceries," Harland Dorrinson, the store's security chief, said. "I can't tell you how many fake food I.D.s we see in here on a daily basis."

Dorrinson said that, although the nation's food-I.D. laws have served it well, they "need to go further" to prevent rampant abuses of the system.

"Requiring people who want groceries to have a food I.D. is a good start, but there should also be background checks and a waiting period," he said.
(c) 2018 Andy Borowitz

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Issues & Alibis Vol 18 # 31 (c) 08/10/2018

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