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In This Edition

Chris Walker reports, "Oklahoma Teacher Disciplined For Sharing Access To Banned Books Has Quit."

Ralph Nader wants to, "Make Congress Accountable."

Leonard Pitts Jr. observes, "Gov. DeSantis Is Now Captain Florida, The Super Opportunist."

Jim Hightower gives us, "Good News: Small Groups Can Defeat Corporate Giants."

William Rivers Pitt finds, "Mitch McConnell's Condemnation Of Debt Relief Is Dripping With Hypocrisy."

John Nichols concludes, "Wisconsin Will Be Better Off If UW Nurses Get A Union Contract."

James Donahue has, "A Memory Of Dinosaurs."

David Swanson reports, "Every Single Member Of Congress Is Willing To Let Yemeni Children Die."

David Suzuki says, "Climate Activism Is Good For Health."

Charles P. Pierce reports, "A U.S. Senator's Veiled Threat Is Scrubbing The "Semi-" Off The Semi-Fascism."

Juan Cole says, "MAGA GOP Complains About Biden's 'Semi-Fascism' Jibe."

Robert Reich reports, "The Fed Keeps Raising Interest Rates. Working People Are Getting Hammered By It."

Thom Hartmann wonders, "Is The GOP Now Promoting The Business Of Tracking Women?"

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Waterford Whisperss News reports, "Taliban Send Fruit Basket & Thank You Card To Biden On 1st Anniversary Of Afghanistan Takeover," but first, Uncle Ernie asks, "Are You Wondering What To Do About Global Warming?"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Bruce Plante, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Tom Tomorrow, Ron Larch, David Madison, Luis Santana, Tom Williams, Janice Williams, Kayla Huynh, Win McNamee, Aleli Dezmen, Andres Kudacki, Akiragiulia, Jim Hightower, Twitter, Pixabay, Pexels, AFP, Unsplash, Shutterstock, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, YouTube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments -

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

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

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Are You Wondering What To Do About Global Warming?
By Ernest Stewart

I see where National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the US found that the global temperatures (sea and surface) in 2021 were the sixth warmest on record.

During June and July last year, what climatologists called a 'heat dome' enveloped British Columbia (Canada) and the ensued record-setting temperatures killed about 600 people. This was recorded as one of the extreme weather conditions caused by global warming. Wildfires ravaged the small town of Lytton in southern British Columbia, Canada, and destroyed everything in their path. The highest temperature recorded during the time was over 121 degrees Fahrenheit. This heat anomaly also affected neighbouring provinces of Canada and extended to the Pacific Northwest of the United States. This year it's been pretty much the same with massive droughts, floods and fires! Wondering what you can do to help end global warming? Here are 10 simple things to do that if we all did them (and by all I mean everyone of the planet) would help bring global warming under control.

Change a light

Replacing one regular light bulb with a compact fluorescent light bulb will save 150 pounds of carbon dioxide a year.

Drive less

Walk, bike, carpool or take mass transit more often. You'll save one pound of carbon dioxide for every mile you don't drive!

Recycle more

You can save 2,400 pounds of carbon dioxide per year by recycling just half of your household waste.

Check your tires

Keeping your tires inflated properly can improve your gas mileage by more than 3 percent. Every gallon of gasoline saved keeps 20 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.

Use less hot water

It takes a lot of energy to heat water. Use less hot water by taking shorter and cooler showers and washing your clothes in cold or warm instead of hot water (more than 500 pounds of carbon dioxide saved per year).

Avoid products with a lot of packaging

You can save 1,200 pounds of carbon dioxide if you reduce your garbage by 10 percent.

Adjust your thermostat

Moving your thermostat down just 2 degrees in winter and up 2 degrees in summer could save about 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year.

Plant a tree

A single tree will absorb one ton of carbon dioxide over its lifetime.

Turn off electronic devices

Simply turning off your television, DVD player, stereo, and computer, when you're not using them, will save you thousands of pounds of carbon dioxide a year.

Now times all that by 7 billion!


07-29-1946 ~ 08-27-2022
Thanks for the film!

06-12-1970 ~ 08-29-2022
Thanks for the music!

01-27-1990 ~ 08-29-2022
Thanks for the music!

03-02-1931 ~ 08-30-2022
Thanks for the peace making!


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


Until the next time, Peace!

(c) 2022 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, philosopher, author, stand-up comic, dj, actor, political pundit and managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Facebook. and like us when you do. Follow me on Twitter. My most recent book is, The Red Kings Horror (2022)

Oklahoma Teacher Disciplined For Sharing Access To Banned Books Has Quit
By Chris Walker

A high school English teacher in Oklahoma has resigned from her position after school officials placed her on administrative leave for sharing with her students a way to access books that the state banned educators from including in their lesson plans.

Summer Boismier, who has taught in the state for the past nine years, began this year at Norman High School in Norman, Oklahoma, by greeting her students with a unique display - bookshelves covered in red construction paper that read, "books the state doesn't want you to read."

The display was meant to respond to legislation, signed into law last year by Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt, that restricts a number of classroom materials, including books that reference "discriminatory principles." Books that address inequalities and discuss issues relating to systemic racism and LGBTQ topics are the ones that are primarily targeted by the law.

Stitt claimed that the law would protect children from feeling "discomfort" over learning about discrimination and other acts of bigotry in the U.S. - a common talking point among far right officials and pundits who have implemented or promoted such bans elsewhere while ignoring the discomfort students of color or LGBTQ students feel by not having teachings that are representative of their identities or experiences.

Included in Boismier's display was a QR code to the Brooklyn Public Library. That library system is providing digital copies of books being banned by state legislatures and municipalities across the country, free of charge to teenagers.

Boismier viewed the QR code as a loophole to the state law and her own school's rules on the matter. "Nowhere in my directives did it say we can't put a QR code on a wall," she said to Gothamist.

Officials at her school disagreed, and she was placed on administrative leave for her actions.

After the school said that she could return to teaching this week, Boismier refused, citing "fundamental ideological differences between myself and district representatives that I just couldn't get past," in a statement. She further added that the restrictive law and the high school's strict adherence to it created "an impossible working environment for teachers and a devastating learning environment for students."

Boismier also noted that her departure created an unfortunate situation for students at the high school:

For the second year in a row, students at Norman High will be without a certified English teacher for a substantial amount of time. The fault for that lies with Governor Stitt and Republican state leadership.
Boismier has raised grievances with the law on her social media profile as well. Earlier this month, she expressed anger at the new guidelines she was forced to follow.

"The censorship of LGBTQ+ and multicultural texts ... is the latest in a long line of attempts to enact violent erasure on marginalized communities and vulnerable populations in Oklahoma," she said on Twitter.

"Every child - and I mean every child - deserves to see themselves reflected and validated in our schools. But no #oklaed student deserves to see their identity - nay, their humanity - vilified by adults in powerful positions who are supposed to protect them... all of them," she said in a follow-up tweet.

(c) 2022 Chris Walker is based out of Madison, Wisconsin. Focusing on both national and local topics since the early 2000s, he has produced thousands of articles analysing the issues of the day and their impact on the American people.

Make Congress Accountable
By Ralph Nader

Its failings and subservience to corporatism are historic in scope.

This is the 50th anniversary of our Congress Project that profiled in detail members of Congress. No citizen group has ever done this before or since.

Our 1972 Congress Project provides a context for measuring the decline of Congress, both in its near abandonment of its constitutional powers vis-a-vis the executive branch and its collective subservience to the many forces of corporatism over the people's necessities.

Congress was relatively productive in the early 1970s but could have done much more to address people's needs. While enacting groundbreaking legislation on consumer, environmental and worker safety protections, Congress dragged its feet on full Medicare for All; strengthening the antiquated federal criminal laws; labor law reform to facilitate union organizing; housing and mass transit programs; and, of course, its oversight and constitutional duties regarding the Vietnam War quagmire.

Bills languished that sought to establish a strong federal regulatory presence for pensions, drinking water safety and safer food products, from farms to families.

Strong amendments to the 1966 Freedom of Information law, pioneered by California Democratic Rep. John Moss, were blocked by both federal bureaucrats and corporate lobbyists.

With expectations for that Congress rising, commensurate with its constitutional authority and its visibility to the populace, our Congress Project embarked on an unprecedented profiling of every member running for re-election in November 1972-the year of the Nixon-McGovern presidential contest. It was a massive undertaking. We strove to produce magazine-size political biographies of each senator and representative. Teams of undergraduate, graduate and law school summer interns were supervised by full-time stalwarts to assure that each intern produced several high-quality profiles.

Other teams also worked long hours to produce books on key congressional committees such as Judiciary, Commerce and Rules. These efforts required digging, interviewing and working with about 1,000 volunteers in all 50 states.

Personal interviews were conducted with the lawmakers, whether they liked it or not. Such was the presence of the "Nader Raiders" in those days when the mainstream media covered far more progressive civic initiatives than is the case today.

Preparing the profiles of 30 or more pages was a Herculean task, given the tight deadlines. An intern even traveled with me to Copenhagen, Denmark, where I attended an event, so I could review dozens of draft profiles on the plane so he could immediately fly back to Washington with the edits.

The leadership in the House and Senate reserved large rooms so that final drafts of the profiles could be reviewed for factual accuracy by the legislators themselves. On the appointed days, the lawmakers came to these rooms one by one and read every page. Whether they wanted to or not, they deemed it the better part of political prudence to accept our entreaties for maximum accuracy.

Imagine anything remotely like this response and humble spectacle occurring today. On publication day in the fall of 1972, we held news conferences in Washington and throughout the country with piles of printed profiles for reporters. We also prepared what turned out to be the best-selling book ever on Congress, titled Who Runs Congress? Requests for copies of the profiles poured into our office from citizens keen to learn more about their congressional representatives.

There never was another Congress Project of this magnitude by anyone. Passing years witnessed an increase in official source coverage of Congress, including C-SPAN, and a stiffening resolve by some members of Congress not again to be, in their inflated words, "humiliated," "ordered around" or "subjected to biased reporting" in such a very personal, specific manner.

The solons of Congress just didn't want the people back home to know much beyond what members of Congress said in their choreographed newsletters, radio and TV reports and occasional town meetings. Members of Congress didn't like their unedited voting records reported in detail. They intuitively knew that "information is the currency of democracy," and most of them, with few exceptions, wanted to determine what currency was released and printed.

Fast forward to today. The failings of Congress are historic in scope and regularity, given its constitutionally specified authorities, such as the power to declare war and dutiful executive branch oversight. Congress no longer works a five-day week-it's in on Tuesday, out on Thursday afternoon or evening, not counting ample recesses. Members of Congress spend enormous time raising campaign money, even though they exclusively can change how elections are funded nationwide.

Congress must come closer to and be more of the people's common good. Communicating with Capitol Hill is far more difficult in this Internet Age. Serious citizens who try all forms of communication often only have the option to leave desperate brief messages for an increasingly unresponsive voicemail Congress.

Two simple bills, if enacted, would go a long way toward making members of Congress identify with their sovereign voters, to be more part of "we the people" instead of "we the Congress."

Bill No. 1: Congress members will have no employment benefits that are not accorded to all American workers, including pensions, health insurance and deductible expenses. As for wage ratios, members will be paid no more than ten times the federal minimum wage.

Bill No. 2: Anytime the U.S. is engaged in armed warfare, declared or undeclared by Congress, all age-qualified able-bodied children and grandchildren of senators and representatives shall be immediately conscripted into the armed forces for military or civilian rendition of services.

Sharing in the benefits and burdens of the people would nourish the desire by members of Congress to become part of the solutions.

Who will introduce these bills and start this vibrant public conversation?

(c) 2022 Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His latest book is The Seventeen Solutions: Bold Ideas for Our American Future. Other recent books include, The Seventeen Traditions: Lessons from an American Childhood, Getting Steamed to Overcome Corporatism: Build It Together to Win, and "Only The Super -Rich Can Save Us" (a novel).

Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks to a crowd of supporters during the Keep Florida Free Tour on Aug. 24, 2022, in Tampa.

Gov. DeSantis Is Now Captain Florida, The Super Opportunist
The superhero's super motto? 'With great power comes great opportunism.'
By Leonard Pitts Jr.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was walking down the street when he heard it - the blood-curdling sound of children being ruthlessly exposed to diversity.

Faster than you can say, "political hack," he ducked behind a handy mango tree. Moments later, gone was the mild-mannered governor of a great southeastern state. In his place, clad in the teal unitard and pink cape that strike terror in purveyors of compassion everywhere, stood ... Captain Florida!

Wasting not an instant, the sunshine avenger scanned the horizon with his opportunistic vision until he spotted the source of the sound. There, in a middle school classroom, the Woke Monster towered over two boys.

"You know," the Woke Monster was saying, "it shouldn't matter if another kid is gay or transgender, should it? What matters is what kind of person they are."

The boys never got to respond, because at that precise moment, Captain Florida came crashing through the window. "Eat restrictive legislation!" he cried as he slugged the Woke Monster.

"But...," the Woke Monster gasped, "I was ... just ... trying to teach the kids ... tolerance!"

"Not on my watch!" snarled Captain Florida as, with another mighty blow, he vanquished the Woke Monster, as another teacher decided she'd rather get her real estate license.

"We must fight the woke in our schools," declared Captain Florida, as the teacher gave notice. "We must fight the woke in our businesses. We must fight the woke in government agencies. We can never, ever surrender. ..." Which is an actual thing the actual governor actually said, sounding not unlike Winston Churchill. ("We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds. ... We shall never surrender.")

Except, of course, Churchill was only talking about Nazis. He didn't know about real threats, like "woke."

But Captain Florida did. And now he posed with arms akimbo, scanning the horizon for new dangers. The kids gaped.

"Who's going to teach us math?" asked the first boy.

"Wait a minute," said the second boy. "Captain Florida, aren't you the one who attacked that Miami restaurant for hosting a Sunday brunch where drag queens perform?"

"Yes," said Captain Florida, "I did fight the Legion of Cross Dressers."

"And didn't your election cops just arrest some former felons for voting," asked the first boy, "even after the state told them they could?"

"Dr. Voting Fraud. One of my toughest foes."

"And you even picked a fight with Disney World, didn't you?" It was the second boy again. "They opposed your 'don't say gay' bill."

"Ah, Mr. Mouse. A worthy opponent."

"My dad thinks you're a jackass," said the first boy.

Captain Florida gave him a sharp look. "Your father doesn't understand my mission. I fight for freedom." "But who's going to teach us math?" the boy demanded again.

Captain Florida wasn't listening. "You see, boys, someday I want to do for America what I've done for Florida."

"But my dad says all you've done is bully LGBTQ people, people of color and other vulnerable Floridians because you want those MAGA lunatics to elect you president."

"Exactly. Ever since I was bitten by that radioactive ambition, I have lived my life by a simple creed."

"What's that?"

Captain Florida returned his steely gaze to the far horizon. "With great power comes great opportunism."

(c) 2022 Leonard Pitts Jr. won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2004. He is the author of the novel, Before I Forget. His column runs every Sunday and Wednesday in the Miami Herald. Forward From This Moment, a collection of his columns, was published in 2009.

Good News: Small Groups Can Defeat Corporate Giants

By Jim Hightower

From corporate polluters to political bosses, power elites try to create a myth of inevitability, trying to make workaday people feel helpless, too small to change the injustices of the system. Don't bother is their message.

But the feisty residents of Boxtown, Tennessee, definitely did bother when they learned that a couple of profiteering fossil fuel giants were targeting them. Boxtown, a historic Black neighborhood of Memphis settled by former slaves 160 years ago, was considered by Valero Energy and Plains All-American Pipeline to be politically powerless, so when these multibillion-dollar petro powers decided to ram a dirty and dangerous pipeline through the Memphis area, Boxtown was their chosen route. The rich Texas oil barons even sneeringly called the lower-income community, "The point of least resistance."

Boy did they get that wrong! Those "small" people of Boxtown resisted fiercely and smartly. Most flat-out refused to sell their family land at the thieving price offered by the oil slicks. They forged a unified grassroots coalition (Memphis Community Against the Pipeline), reached out to other neighborhoods, and educated locals about the terrible safety records of the two corporate plunderers. They also enlisted environmental groups to help beat back the strong-arm attempt by Valero and Plains All-American to seize the people's property through eminent-domain. It's a long story, with many ups and downs, but the inspiring essence of it is that local "nobodies" defeated the big money and raw racist arrogance of a powerhouse duo of absentee corporate elites that disrespected - and misjudged - them.

It gets little national media attention, but regular grassroots communities and coalitions are mounting - and winning - such gutsy fights against corporate exploiters all across America. We're not helpless or too small - remember this: Even the smallest dog can lift its leg on the tallest building! To learn more, contact

(c) 2022 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

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Rick Scott, right, conduct a news conference after the Senate luncheons in the U.S. Capitol on June 22, 2022.

Mitch McConnell's Condemnation Of Debt Relief Is Dripping With Hypocrisy
By William Rivers Pitt

Often in this society, when a scam is exposed, one must peel it layer by layer like an onion to reveal the stinky green, tear-inducing nubbin at the core. This week's lesson in "How We Get Screwed Everywhere We Turn" finds us confronting the sticky wicket of student loan debt, and the problem some people have with the idea that other people might get something that helps them.

This is the deal as I have always been given to understand it: If you can, you excel at school. You nail the grades and the extracurriculars, assembling a dossier of achievement that makes you attractive to superior institutions of higher education. If you can, you attend one of those schools, paying for it with scholarships if available or with student loans if possible. Like as not, you accrue debt, but this is done on the promise that the education and training you receive will avail you the kind of future employment whose financial compensation makes such debt endurable.

Thus, the cynic in me is forced to note, you are inducted into The American Way: Your salary provides you with purchasing power that entire industries - maybe even the one you work for! - cater to. You buy a house and staple yourself to a mortgage, you buy cars and furniture and vacations, you have children of your own and aim them toward a future that is now your past... all because you volunteered to lock yourself into a debt cycle that bought the education which provides you with the salary required to participate in that American Way. ...And it can be utterly insidious, how it all goes sideways sometimes. Take my friend the lawyer, for example. She aced her way through high school and got into a top-tier college. She aced college, with the sole exception of an ill-advised foray into the arcane brain cramp of organic chemistry. She wanted to go to law school because she wanted to serve the greater good, and because of her superior grades, she was invited to attend one of the best law schools on the eastern seaboard.

By the time she was finished with college and law school, my friend the newly minted lawyer had a pile of student debt on her back large enough to enjoy its own gravity. The advocacy groups, the public defender's office, all the places she wanted to apply her talents and intentions, paid far too little for her to be able to manage her debt, and so she wound up at a desk by the window of a glass-and-steel cage 30 stories above downtown, another associate "grinder" at another corporate law firm.

Want to know why corporations always seem to win? That's why. My friend the lawyer, who wanted to save the world, took a job in corporate law "just for a few years," she said at the time, until her debt was paid off. Like so many who came before her, the talents she brought to the table became another tool corporate America uses to maintain its supremacy by way of the courts. She dared to start a family and buy a house, and the siren song of that salary drowned out all the earlier aspirations that buried her in debt to begin with. It is an old story, all too often repeated.

There you have it. How do you get the smartest students in the country to work defending the rights and power of corporations? Bury them in debt and then lure them into six-figure careers - perhaps a partnership, or even a judge's robe down the road - spent defending those corporations in court. So long as these students are shackled to debt, torrents of them will be available to make sure oil companies will never know a reckoning for, say, turning the Gulf of Mexico into a death zone. This frees up money for the corporations to buy politicians who bring things like Citizens United to life, and the wheel goes round.

In truth, it's actually simpler than that, and worse. My friend the lawyer had her choices and made them, but a great many debt-riddled students today face a future starkly denuded of opportunities. The way The Way works - the only way it works - is if there are legitimate means to pay down that accrued debt once the schooling is finished. Otherwise, it's all just another O. Henry story, a bait and switch that has people doing what they are expected to do, only to get hosed after they walk the stage to grasp that suddenly worthless diploma.

Welcome to the world endured by millions of student debt holders. Education is more expensive by orders of magnitude than it was 20 years ago, and post-education opportunities have become brutally scarce in an economy that tends to eat itself every so often. Too many people from previous generations enjoyed privileges afforded by things like the G.I. bill and properly funded public schools, climbed to the top of the ladder, and then pulled the ladder up behind them.

How? By voting for Republicans who hate public money and public schools, and why? To pay less taxes. It wasn't Millennials or Gen Z who threw 74 million votes at Donald Trump in 2020, but a whole lot of them did what was expected of them and got an expensive education on the promise of future opportunity, only to find that ladder missing and their grandparents waving at them from the now-unattainable economic high ground.

The irony here has poison dripping from its fangs.

"On Wednesday," reports Politico, "[President Joe] Biden finally signed off on his highly anticipated student loan assistance package. The plan will deliver hundreds of billions of dollars of relief to tens of millions of borrowers and transform the federal government's student loan program."

Finally, after two years of deliberations, we have come to another typical Biden administration moment: a decision to do less than what is required but more than many actually believed could happen.

Biden's student debt relief plan has inspired howls of outrage from Republicans desperate for something to howl about with the midterms looming. Cries of "socialism!" and "deadbeats!" rattled the Murdoch portraits on the walls of Fox News. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called Biden's plan a "slap in the face to every family who sacrificed to save for college," and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy labeled the plan a "debt transfer scam."

Tuition for student McConnell was $330, and tuition for student McCarthy was $800. Even a cursory peek at a college rankings magazine will immediately reveal that the salad days of affordable education are on the same extinction list as the dodo and the brontosaurus. Put another way: Nearly 30 years after I graduated, tuition at my alma mater runs in excess of $72,000 a year. Think I'd be going there today with that price tag attached? Think again... and I'm Gen X. I remember when gasoline was less than two bucks a gallon. It ain't like it used to be, Mitch. Maybe you missed the memo, dated 2001 to the present.

You'd like to think the Republicans in high dudgeon over debt relief are trying to make a point - you go into debt, you pay your debt - without the usual dollop of hypocrisy on the side, but you would be wrong to all points on the compass.

GOP Representatives Vern Buchanan, Marjorie Taylor Greene and Mike Kelly got mouthy over the unfairness of it all. Which is kind of strange upon further analysis. During the height of the pandemic, each and every single one of them took advantage of the debt forgiveness available in the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Greene had $183,504 in PPP loans forgiven. Kelly had $987,237 in loans forgiven. Buchanan had more than $2.3 million in PPP loans forgiven, and is now calling Biden's new policy "reckless."

Biden's debt relief plan is not nearly enough to ameliorate the generational economic screwing currently endured by millions, but it helps. It helps if only to acknowledge the reality that The American Way, which was never available to all, is now a debt trap designed to lock people into a permanent financial scramble even as their few remaining coppers are wrung from their bones.

If you're an advocate for The Way, you want these people to buy houses and cars and become part of the system, right? Like a Ponzi scheme, participation is the only way it works. The money freed up by this debt forgiveness is somebody's down payment on a mortgage. That's the whole point, yes? Hello? Is this thing on?

(c) 2022 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.

Citing burnout and unsafe staffing levels, hundreds of UW Health nurses (shown here protesting earlier
this year) voted to strike for three days in September if bosses don't agree to recognize their union.

Wisconsin Will Be Better Off If UW Nurses Get A Union Contract
By John Nichols

UW Health nurses saw Madison, Dane County and Wisconsin through the worst of the coronavirus pandemic and - with nurses at other local hospitals and clinics - they continue to be in the forefront of efforts to respond to the lingering threat posed by COVID-19. They are the ultimate essential workers.

But like so many essential workers, local nurses have not been given the support they need and deserve.

So UW nurses have over the past several years been organizing a union, with the support of SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin. That's an understandable and appropriate move for the nurses and for Wisconsin. Union representation in health care settings, especially hospitals, assures that the voices of the frontline workers are heard and respected. Through the collective bargaining process, nurses are able to develop standards for hospitals in which they work and can guarantee that quality patient care is prioritized. Once a contract is bargained and approved, nurses then have a platform from which to advocate for patients.

Clearly, that sort of advocacy is needed at UW Health.

The hospital system remains one of the best in the country. But it has, like other systems, struggled to keep ahead of the COVID crisis. That's not surprising. But it is a circumstance that needs to be addressed. UW Health nurses say they're being forced to deal with dangerous levels of understaffing in hospital wards, that they are experiencing exhaustion and burnout. That's leading to a great deal of turnover, which is just making things worse.

The nurses I've talked with are realistic. They know a union won't solve all the problems in a health care system in which the right to health care is often upended by managers who are often too concerned with hefty CEO salaries and returns on investments. The United States needs a single-payer "Medicare for All" system that takes the profiteering out of health care to guarantee quality care for everyone. But in the absence of that humane and necessary reform, we have to recognize - as do the nurses at UW Health - that a strong union can restore a measure of balance that is now missing.

"I've cared for COVID patients throughout the pandemic, and my colleagues and I have seen more patient deaths than ever before in our careers," says Tami Burns, a registered nurse who has worked at UW Hospital since 2017. "Compounding this brutal experience has been the almost total lack of support and resources from the UW Health administration. We've been suffering from extreme short staffing and cuts, and there's a mass exodus of our talented nurses. Many of the nurses who've left have been medically diagnosed with PTSD, including myself. UW nurses must have a union so that we can stay in this essential profession we love and continue to be there for our patients."

Unfortunately, UW Health administration and its board have refused to recognize the union, despite the fact that Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul determined in June that "it is within the (UW Hospitals and Clinics) Authority's statutory power to voluntarily engage in collective bargaining." Though the circumstance is somewhat complicated by the anti-union climate created by defeated former Gov. Scott Walker's Act 10 law and related pieces of legislation, serious observers of labor relations believe Kaul's conclusion is sufficient to clear the way for union recognition and bargaining.

"Day after day, nurses care for us and our loved ones, and go above and beyond the call of duty to provide for some of our most vulnerable," says state Sen. Melissa Agard, a Madison Democrat who has a long history of working on labor issues at the county and state levels of government. "As one of the largest employers and healthcare providers in the state, UW Health has a moral responsibility to be a leader in setting the highest standards for care, jobs, and workers' rights. It is absolutely unacceptable that they are refusing to recognize the nurses' union and threatening them with retaliation for their union activity. Like other workers in Wisconsin, UW nurses are protected by state employment laws providing them with the legal right to engage in concerted activity, including the right to strike, free of retaliation. Providing UW Health nurses with a union voice in the workplace will create a more collaborative, safe, and respectful work environment that will improve the lives of both nurses and patients."

Agard's correct. Nurses have a right to take action to demand union recognition and a fair contract. That includes a right to strike, and UW Health nurses have voted overwhelmingly to launch a job action from 7 a.m. on Sept. 13 through 7 a.m. on Sept. 16.

There is still hope that the strike will not be necessary. The way to avoid it is for UW Health administrators and the members of the authority's board to accept the logic of Kaul's legal assessment and begin bargaining in good faith. If they refuse to do so, the administration and the board will force the nurses to press the issue on behalf of patient care and safety.

We can no longer ignore the reality that Colin Gillis, a nurse at the hospital for five years, describes: "Turnover and understaffing force us to make gut wrenching decisions: Do I stay with a patient who's medically unstable, or do I leave to give medicine to someone in dire pain? I'm no longer willing to allow UW Health to put me in those impossible situations."

The solution, says Gillis, is to assure that "nurses at the bedside are involved in decision making about how we deliver patient care, not just executives in the boardroom."

That's the commonsense equation that should be embraced by the UW Health administration and the UW Hospitals and Clinics Authority Board.

(c) 2022 John Nichols writes about politics for The Capitol Times. His book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, is published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

A Memory Of Dinosaurs
By James Donahue

If planted in our DNA is the cellular memory of all human experiences, passed down to us from our genetic links to the past, it should not be surprising that stories have survived about brave knights who fought against mighty dragons.

The Discovery Channel's recent documentary suggesting that ancient humans once lived to slay a real prehistoric creature may be closer to reality than many watchers might have thought.

Narrator Patrick Stewart may have fallen short of the truth, however, when he suggested that the combined mythologies of Asian, European and Latin civilizations all referenced contact with a single prehistoric creature.

Because of archaeological evidence that clearly shows covered human footprints in the same fossilized riverbed muck with the prints of dinosaurs, both dating back an estimated 62 million years or more, there is the suggestion here that humans not only lived on this planet during the time of the dinosaurs, but they also hunted them.

Thus, the mythology of doing battle with "dragons" could easily hinge on subconscious human memory of such encounters. Because of the great size of these prehistoric monsters, any human that successfully confronted and killed a carnivorous beast the size of a Tyrannosaurus rex, for example, would become a legend in his own time. From the bones recovered we know that this particular monster grew to a size of about 40 feet in length and stood some 15 to 20 feet in height.

We can think of the stories told around campfires over the years, of the heroic escapades of "dragon killers" of old, who did battle with these ancient monsters, even after they were gone from the face of the planet. They would be stories that would be carried on, simply because of the glory of the deed, and the need for good stories told during the long winters.

Similar story telling goes on even today among the indigenous people of the world. Some years back when my wife and I spent a winter with a Navajo family in northeastern Arizona, we heard tales of heroic deeds involving witches, monsters and animals that talked. The stories also attempted to explain local geological peculiarities, as well as teach the children about the culture in which they lived.

As is human nature, the stories tended to be embellished as they were passed down from generation to generation. Thus we have an explanation for the stories of knights of old doing battle with fire breathing dragons to rescue fair maidens being held captive.

Even if it did not breathe smoke and flame, a human standing up against a giant like Tyrannosaurus rex or perhaps his even larger cousin, the Giganotosaurus, with nothing more than a spear in hand, would be a frightening experience. Should this hunter, or group of hunters, survive such a battle you can expect their stories to be spectacular.

Such a hunting expedition would tend to embellish its story, especially if the battle was lost. Thus, the story of smoke and fire from the nostrils of the beast would help explain why the hunt was unsuccessful. Fire was a necessary, mysterious and unexplained power to early humans much like electricity or atomic energy is in the minds of modern man.

We have our own mythology today in somewhat odd places where contemporary stories are told. Comic book characters like Superman, Hellboy and the X-Men all do amazing things with their minds, including sending off killing rays of power, seeing through walls, starting fires and blowing up buildings on demand. From the comics, these characters have recently emerged on our movie screens as real life-like characters.

Who can say that the same creative mind of man was not already at work among the early primates following the dragon hunts of old?

(c) 2022 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.

Every Single Member Of Congress Is Willing To Let Yemeni Children Die
By David Swanson

If you want to prove that statement wrong, I think you'll want to start by proving wrong one or more of these five points:

1. A single member of the House or Senate can compel a speedy vote on ending U.S. participation in the war on Yemen.

2. Not one single member has done so.

3. Ending U.S. participation would effectively end the war.

4. Despite the temporary truce, millions of lives depend on ending the war.

5. The passionate speeches in 2018 and 2019 by Senators and Representatives demanding an end to the war when they knew they could count on a veto from Trump have vanished during the Biden years chiefly because Party is more important than human lives.

Let's fill these five points out a little:

1. A single member of the House or Senate can compel a speedy vote on ending U.S. participation in the war on Yemen.

Here's an explanation from the Friends Committee on National Legislation:

"Any member of the House or Senate, regardless of committee assignment, can invoke section 5(c) of the War Powers Resolution and get a full floor vote on whether to require the president to remove U.S. armed forces from hostilities. Under the procedural rules written into the War Powers Act, these bills receive a special expedited status that requires Congress to make a full floor vote within 15 legislative days of their introduction. This provision is especially useful because it allows members of Congress to force important debates and votes on the president's use of military force and Congressional war authority."

Here's a link to the actual wording of the law (as the resolution was passed in 1973), and another (as part of existing law in 2022). At the first one, see section 7. At the other one, see section 1546. Both say this: when a resolution is thus introduced, the foreign affairs committee of the relevant house gets no more than 15 days, then the full house gets no more than 3 days. In 18 days or less you get a debate and a vote.

Now, it is true that the Republican House passed a law violating and effectively blocking this law in December of 2018 preventing any forcing of votes on ending the war on Yemen for the remainder of 2018. The Hill reported:

"'Speaker [Paul] Ryan [(R-Wis.)] is preventing Congress from conducting our constitutional duty and once again, breaking the rules of the House,' [Rep. Ro Khanna] said in a statement. [Rep. Tom] Massie added on the House floor that the move 'violates both the Constitution and the War Powers Act of 1973. Just when you thought Congress couldn't get any swampier,' he said, 'we continue to exceed even the lowest expectation.'"
According to the Washington Examiner:
"'It's kind of a chicken move, but you know, sadly it's kind of a characteristic move on the way out the door,' Virginia Democrat [and Senator] Tim Kaine told reporters of the House rule on Wednesday. '[Ryan is] trying to play Saudi Arabia's defense lawyer, and that's stupid.'"
As far as I can tell, either no such trick has been played since the dawning of 2019, or every single member of the U.S. Congress, and every single media outlet, is either in favor of it or deems it unworthy of reporting or both. So, no law has undone the War Powers Resolution. So, it stands, and a single member of the House or Senate can compel a speedy vote on ending U.S. participation in the war on Yemen.

2. Not one single member has done so.

We'd have heard. Despite campaign promises, the Biden Administration and Congress keep the weapons flowing to Saudi Arabia, and keep the U.S. military participating in the war. Despite both houses of Congress voting to end U.S. participation in the war when Trump had promised a veto, neither house has held a debate or a vote in the year-and-a-half since Trump left town. A House resolution, HJRes87, has 113 cosponsors - more than were ever obtained by the resolution passed and vetoed by Trump - while SJRes56 in the Senate has 7 cosponsors. Yet no votes are held, because the Congressional "leadership" chooses not to, and because NOT ONE SINGLE MEMBER of the House or Senate can be found who's willing to compel them to. So, we go on asking.

3. Ending U.S. participation would effectively end the war.

It's never been a secret, that the Saudi-"led" war is so dependent on the U.S. military (not to mention U.S. weapons) that were the U.S. to either stop providing the weapons or compel its military to cease violating all of the laws against war, never mind the U.S. Constitution, or both, the war would end.

4. Despite the temporary truce, millions of lives depend on ending the war.

The Saudi-U.S. war on Yemen has killed many more people than the war in Ukraine thus far, and the death and suffering continue despite a temporary truce. If Yemen is no longer the very worst place in the world, that's principally because of how bad Afghanistan - its funds stolen - has become.

Meanwhile the truce in Yemen has failed to open roads or ports; famine (potentially aggravated by the war in Ukraine) still threatens millions; and historic buildings are collapsing from rain and war damage.

CNN reports that, "While many in the international community celebrate [the truce], some families in Yemen are left watching their children slowly die. There are around 30,000 people with life-threatening diseases requiring treatment abroad, according to the Houthi-controlled government in the capital Sanaa. Some 5,000 of them are children."

Experts discuss the situation in Yemen here and here.

If the war has been paused, yet the peace needs to be made more stable, why in the world would Congress not vote to permanently end U.S. participation immediately? The urgent moral need to do so that Congress members spoke about three years ago was and still is all too real. Why not act before more children die?

5. The passionate speeches by Senators and Representatives demanding an end to the war when they knew they could count on a veto from Trump have vanished during the Biden years chiefly because Party is more important than human lives.

I would like to refer Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Reps. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) and Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) to the following text and video from 2019 by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Reps. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) and Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.).

Congressman Pocan commented: "As the Saudi-led coalition continues to use famine as a weapon of war, starving millions of innocent Yemenis to near death, the United States is actively participating in the regime's military campaign, providing targeting and logistical assistance for Saudi airstrikes. For far too long, Congress has refused to carry out its constitutional responsibility to make decisions regarding military engagement-we can longer stay silent on matters of war and peace."

Frankly, Congressman, they can smell the BS from beyond Yemen. You all can stay silent for years and years. Not a single one of you can pretend the votes aren't there - they were there when Trump was in the White House. Yet not a single one of you has the decency to even demand a vote. If this is not because the royal rear-end on the throne in the White House had a "D" tattooed on it, give us another explanation.

There is no pro-peace Congress Member. The species is extinct.

(c) 2022 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.

Get involved and get out into nature. You'll feel better while helping the planet!

Climate Activism Is Good For Health
By David Suzuki

Burning coal, oil and gas in vehicles, factories, power plants and homes causes a range of health problems: asthma, heart attacks, strokes, respiratory disease and more. It caused one in five deaths worldwide in 2018, according to research from Harvard University and others.

But it's not just pollution putting health and lives at risk; climate disruption from burning fossil fuels is also wreaking havoc on human health. A recent review of "more than 77,000 research papers, reports and books for records of infectious diseases influenced by climatic hazards that had been made worse by greenhouse-gas emissions" - most published after 2000 - found climate change caused or aggravated 277 infectious and non-transmissible diseases and conditions, including 58 per cent of all infectious diseases.

The study, published in Nature Climate Change in early August, examined 10 climate-change-induced hazards, including droughts, floods, heat waves, wildfires, storms, sea level rise and changes to natural land cover.

Warming, precipitation changes, habitat disruption and more have brought disease-carrying organisms and pathogens increasingly closer to humans. These include dengue, chikungunya, plague, Lyme disease, West Nile virus, Zika, trypanosomiasis, echinococcosis and malaria. Most are spread by vectors such as mosquitoes, ticks, fleas and birds, but direct contact, waterborne, airborne and foodborne illnesses are also rising. Besides communicable diseases, global heating also increases levels of plant and fungal allergens, the study found.

Climate disruption can also make some pathogens more virulent and transmissible and, at the same, time "weaken people's ability to cope with infections through factors such as mental stress, lowered immunity and malnutrition."

Earlier research shows that deforestation and habitat loss bring animals that carry viruses such as COVID-19 closer to humans and livestock, increasing the risk of pandemics. And pollution from burning fossil fuels can exacerbate symptoms for illnesses such as COVID, as it's a respiratory disease.

The consequences go beyond illness, suffering and death. The Nature Climate Change study notes, "the cumulative financial costs of the COVID-19 pandemic could mount to US$16 trillion for the United States alone."

Climate change is also profoundly affecting mental health worldwide. The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report on impacts, vulnerabilities and adaptation shows global heating is increasing stress, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and suicide among people who experience climate-related disasters, have their livelihoods threatened by them or simply watch the crisis unfold.

As with physical illness, and climate change itself, these mental health challenges affect some more than others - young people especially, but also those in farming and Indigenous communities, and people who are marginalized and have limited access to resources.

A 2021 study found mental health conditions affect at least a billion people worldwide and cost trillions of dollars every year, and that climate-related issues are adding to the burden. It noted that impacts are "likely to be vastly underestimated as despite the serious effects, this has been a neglected area of research" and that they will "get worse without meaningful interventions, driving and exacerbating health and social inequalities which themselves worsen mental health."

For physical illness, the Nature Climate Change study notes, "The sheer number of pathogenic diseases and transmission pathways aggravated by climatic hazards reveals the magnitude of the human health threat posed by climate change and the urgent need for aggressive actions to mitigate GHG emissions."

The mental health study says efforts to tackle climate change will have greater benefits than expected, "as they will prevent or reduce adverse effects on mental health that have not yet been considered in policies and budgets." It also points out that getting involved in actions to reduce or prevent climate change threats can improve mental health.

"Taking climate action seems to be very positive for mental health, both on an individual and community scale, but also as a society," report lead Emma Lawrance of Imperial College London said. Spending time in nature also helps.

As I and others have long pointed out, we're part of nature, and what we do to it we do to ourselves. We can't have healthy people without healthy environments and a healthy planet. We must do everything to reduce fossil fuel use and all energy consumption and to protect and restore natural areas.

Get involved and get out into nature. You'll feel better while helping the planet!

(c) 2022 Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.

A U.S. Senator's Veiled Threat Is Scrubbing The "Semi-" Off The Semi-Fascism
Rodeo clown gangsterism is a weird look for a party that claims to be about law and order.
By Charles P. Pierce

It's time for Lindsey Graham to take the rest of the year off. Because his relentless sycophancy toward the former president* clearly has poisoned his mind and it is now a danger to the public order. From the Guardian:

Graham said: "Most Republicans, including me, believe when it comes to Trump, there is no law. It's all about getting him. There's a double standard when it comes to Trump." Alleging a failure by the FBI to investigate Hunter Biden, Joe Biden's son, Graham added: "I'll say this, if there's a prosecution of Donald Trump for mishandling classified information, after the Clinton debacle ... there'll be riots in the streets."
Remember how the Republicans all now have a regularly scheduled cow about how Rep. Maxine Waters threatened to bring on armageddon if Derek Chauvin walked for the murder of George Floyd? Here's a U.S. senator cosplaying the lost Piranha Brother from his perch at the height of power. The only saving grace is that it's Lindsey Graham, so that makes the whole thing completely laughable because Lindsey Graham is the single-most ridiculous person in American public life. (Marco Rubio is coming up fast along the rail, but he will probably dwindle into insubstantiality long before they get down to the wire.) Graham's relationship to El Caudillo del Mar-A-Lago has gone from largely spurned devotee to something akin to the role of Renfield at Castle Dracula. Now, he's sent out to be some sort of half-assed consigliere. These people are worse at being mobsters than they are at being politicians.

It is plain that this is going to be where the MAGA's and the rest of the Republicans line up together. And they're still recruiting, as this Truth Social spasm from the former president* makes quite clear:

via TruthSocial

Those of us who remember to our everlasting horror the last two months of the 2016 presidential campaign also remember the evident schism between FBI Director James Comey and certain personnel in the New York FBI office. (And before anyone comes at me about impugning the integrity of FBI field offices, remember that I'm from Boston and lived through the corruption of that city's field office that arose from the devil's bargain Agent Zip Connolly made with Whitey Bulger.) There were reliable reports that certain NYC agents were inveterate Clinton-haters and whose threats regarding the contents of Anthony Weiner's laptop forced Comey to chicken out and write the letter to the House that leaked on October 28 and probably turned the whole campaign around.

Excuse me for a moment while the PTSD passes.

Deep breath

Thank you. We continue.

If the threat of extralegal violence is going to be the defense of last resort, not even Graham's rodeo clown gangster persona is going to make it less barbaric. If the people at whom Graham aimed his threat fold under this pressure, or if a certain judge in Florida indulges Trump's legal sand trap, then the threat to the republic becomes real, and everyone who pretended to be offended recently by the president's use of "semi-fascist" needs to send the White House a nice fruit basket to apologize. Maybe Sen. Josh Hawley can, you know, run out and buy a bunch.

(c) 2022 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 -

"If the environment were a bank, it would have been saved by now."
~~~ Bernie Sanders

America Really Wanted Iraq's Basra For Oil That's Now Making It Uninhabitable
Also MAGA GOP: There will be Blood in the Streets
By Juan Cole

Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) - President Joe Biden told donors at a fundraising dinner a few days ago, "The MAGA Republicans don't just threaten our personal rights and economic security. They're a threat to our very democracy. They refuse to accept the will of the people. They embrace ... political violence. They don't believe in democracy." He added, "it's not just Trump, it's the entire philosophy that underpins the - I'm going to say something - it's like semi-fascism." So reports Rebecca Falconer at Axios.

If there was anything wrong with Biden's pronouncement, it was the use of the term "semi-." The MAGA philosophy of Trump and his acolytes is just plan fascism, with no 'semi' about it.

Fascism turns out to be difficult to define. Because it depends so heavily on nativism, its themes are slightly different in each country where it takes root. In some ways it is more a style than a coherent ideology. The great linguist and novelist Umberto Eco made a list of 14 elements of fascism:

1) The cult of tradition; 2) The rejection of modern Reason in favor of irrationalism; 3) Action for action's sake, divorced from thinking; 4) Disagreement and dissent are treason; 5) Fear of difference, racism, xenophobia; 6) Appeal to frustrated middle classes suffering economic crisis or the pressure of working class groups; 7) Paranoia about a plot against the group; 8) Branding the enemy both as too strong and too weak; 9) Condemns pacifism, exalts struggle; 10) Contempt for the weak; 11) Cult of heroes and death; 12) Machismo- disdain for women and LGBTQ+ people; 13) Populism, but of a selective sort, where favored citizens are made the norm; 14) Rejection of complex, critical reasoning in favor of simple slogans.
The very name of Trump's movement, "Make America Great Again," is an appeal to the cult of tradition. Trump and his MAGA crowd disdain Enlightenment reason in favor of irrational beliefs like that climate change is false Chinese propaganda or wind turbines cause cancer. The Jan. 6 insurrection was action for action's sake and was not well thought through. We all know that Trump and his acolytes view anyone who criticizes Trump as beyond the pale. Republicans who stood against him have mostly been defeated at the polls. The racism and Islamophobia of the MAGA crowd is striking, and their hysteria about immigration is typical of fascist movements. Trump's followers are for the most part well off, but frustrated by the shrinking white majority and threatened by union workers from below. Trump constantly talks about the plotting against him and his movement by the "Deep State," a hostility that has been transferred to the FBI. Trump views Muslim states as weak and easily defeated, pledging to bomb them back to the stone age, but at the same time he vastly exaggerates the threat Muslims pose to US security. Trump making fun of the handicapped is an example of his contempt for the weak. His general-worship while in office was part of his cult of heroes. Trump not only has disdain for pacifism, he has contempt for any limitation on his power to elevate or deep-six a group. Trump's anti-abortion stance and insistence to Chris Matthews that women would be punished for getting an abortion, and his branding of any woman who criticized him as "nasty," speak to his misogyny. Many on the MAGA Right want to undo gay marriage. Their hostility to Critical Race Theory, to the extent of trying to outlaw it, is emblematic of their rejection of complex, critical reasoning.

MSNBC: "White House's Klain Expands On Biden's MAGA 'Semi-Fascism' Remarks"

Umberto Eco, who had grown up under Mussolini, would easily be able to recognize American fascism if he were still around. He died in February, 2016, and so did not see the rise of MAGA semi-fascism.

Despite the Republican outcry about Biden's statement, key Republican figures go on giving supporting evidence that Biden is right. Senator Lindsey Graham told Fox "News" on Sunday, "And I'll say this, if there is a prosecution of Donald Trump for mishandling classified information after the Clinton debacle, there will be riots in the streets."

This threat is typical fascism. It appeals to "the folk" in the streets, it curbs the right to criticize Trump, and it exalts action for action's sake. It has a militaristic, fascist overtone. The rule of reason and law is thrown out of the window in favor of irrational conspiracy theories and false equivalencies.

(c) 2022 Juan R.I. Cole is the founder and chief editor of Informed Comment. He is the Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. He has written extensively on modern Islamic movements in Egypt, the Persian Gulf and South Asia and has given numerous media interviews on the war on terrorism and the Iraq War. He lived in various parts of the Muslim world for nearly 10 years and continues to travel widely there. He speaks Arabic, Farsi and Urdu.

A man wearing a backpack stands in a supermarket aisle looking down at two boxes of food in his hands. At his feet is a black shopping basket.

The Fed Keeps Raising Interest Rates. Working People Are Getting Hammered By It
The Federal Reserve has signaled that it will probably raise interest rates again in September.
By Robert Reich

Friday at Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Federal Reserve chairperson Jerome Powell said the Fed must continue to raise interest rates, even though it will "bring some pain to households and businesses." This - with all due respect - is nuts.

True, inflation is near a four-decade high. But the Fed's aggressive effort to tame it through steep interest rate hikes - the fastest series of rate hikes since the early 1980s - raises the risk of recession. Powell's remarks signal that the Fed will probably increase rates again in September by another three-quarter of a percent, raising the risk still further.

The pain is already being felt across the land. Wage gains haven't kept up with inflation. This means most Americans continue to lose economic ground.

Powell is in effect telling them they'll lose even more ground. Higher interest rates, he admits, will slow economic growth and result in "softer" labor market conditions - a euphemism for lower wage increases and fewer jobs. But "these are the unfortunate costs of reducing inflation."

Meanwhile, though, corporate profits continue to soar. Profit margins are at their highest since 1950, according to Commerce Department figures published Thursday.

Stop for a moment and let your mind dwell on this: the prices businesses are charging their customers are outpacing whatever increased costs businesses are facing for materials and labor.

In other words, wages aren't pushing up inflation. The costs of production aren't pushing up inflation.

Corporations are pushing up inflation. The biggest single unique source of inflation in the United States is the pricing power of corporations.

So why is the Fed raising interest rates? Because that's what the Fed does when prices are rising. That's the only tool in the Fed's toolkit. To quote the old saying, when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail - or, in this case, an interest rate to hike.

The problem: this mostly burdens working people and the low-income with fighting inflation. They're the first to lose pay and jobs as the economy slows. They're already getting hammered.

If the Fed continues to raise rates to slow inflation, they'll get hammered even more.

This might be justifiable if corporations were investing their windfall profits in more productive capacity - adding factories, materials, warehouses, and jobs - which would expand their ability to meet future demand and thereby better guarding against inflation.

But they aren't. They're using their profits to buy back their shares of stock so that their share values won't sag too much further after already sagging due to the anticipated Fed-induced slowdown.

At the beginning of the year, Goldman Sachs estimated that 2022 would see a record-breaking $1tn in buybacks. That's unlikely to happen, but buybacks are continuing at a strong pace. In the second quarter, buybacks were up by about 7% over the year before.

Some economists argue that there's no reason to think corporations would now exert more pricing power than they've had all along. Why would they wait for the costs of materials and labor to rise before increasing their profit margins?

The answer is simple. Inflation gives them cover. They can say - as many now do - that they have no choice but to raise prices in light of the rising costs of materials and labor. They're just not advertising the fact that their profits are rising as they do so.

Which brings us to the central policy question: why can't the burden of fighting inflation be placed where it belongs - on big corporations continuing to raise their prices in pursuit of larger profit margins and higher share prices?

The simple answer is big corporations have so much political clout that they'd never allow the sorts of policies that would have that effect - say, a windfall profits tax, price controls, higher taxes on themselves and the wealthy, and bolder and more effective antitrust enforcement.

Although the Democrats did pass a 1% percent tax on stock buybacks in the recently enacted Inflation Reduction Act, they weren't able to take these other steps. Not even a Democratic president and Democrats in control of both houses of Congress could overcome vested corporate interests.

So it's all on Jerome Powell and the Fed. Which means, it's all on working people.

(c) 2022 Robert B. Reich is the Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and a senior fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He 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

Is The GOP Now Promoting The Business Of Tracking Women?
Tracking and lying to pregnant people should not be an Industry
By Thom Hartmann

When the Dobbs decision came down from six Republicans on the Supreme Court, many folks were wondering how long it would take before vigilantes and GOP-controlled states might start tracking women seeking abortion services.

After all, pregnant women in Republican-controlled states didn't just lose the right to an abortion with that decision. They can now legally be the victims of any man - be he a nosy neighbor, bounty hunter, or police authority -who wants to harass or control them. And there is no shortage of such men.

We're there. It's now. Between corporate data brokers and religiously affiliated Crisis Pregnancy Centers, women are under surveillance in ways never before seen. And soon we will be seeing that surveillance turned into actual prosecutorial action. In states like Greg Abbott's Texas, bounty hunters are now looking for ways to identify women getting abortions and friends helping them, visions of $10,000 dancing like sugar plums in their heads (and those bounties will go up to $100,000 with the most recent legislation Texas Republicans have proposed).

In states where getting, facilitating, or performing an abortion is now or about to become a crime, prosecutors looking to make a name for themselves - from those with statewide portfolios like Attorneys General to local police and DAs - dream of being the heroes of political ads in the next election cycle showcasing their high-profile arrests.

Both need data to track down women seeking abortions, and, it turns out, multiple organizations are already both acquiring, aggregating, and offering that data for sale to bounty hunters, police, and, in some cases, any person willing to pay.

The biggest players in this space of tracking pregnant women have, for years, been the so-called Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs). These organizations draw in women by advertising and marketing themselves in a way that causes people to assume they're offering abortions or referral to places or physicians offering abortions. Privacy International calls these "honeypot sites."

As Planned Parenthood notes:

"Once they have lured pregnant people into the facility, they peddle misinformation, use scare tactics, and shame people to discourage abortion at all costs. They stoke fear by framing abortion as dangerous and amplify false claims that are not based in science."
The American Medical Association's Journal of Ethics has an OpEd arguing:
"[B]oth the lack of patient-centered care and deceptive practices make CPCs unethical. … CPCs violate principles of medical ethics, despite purporting to dispense medical advice."
When women phone these places in response to advertising or directory listings, many convince them to come in for a "personal consultation" using language that suggests they are, in fact, offering or referring abortion services. When the woman arrives, the Centers typically look like doctors' offices, right down to gynecological posters on the walls, ultrasound information, and medical journals in the waiting rooms.

This is entirely legal.

Five Republicans on the Supreme Court ruled in 2018 that Crisis Pregnancy Centers are not required to provide women with truthful or complete information about how to end their pregnancies. The case, National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra, struck down a California law that required CPCs in that state to inform women about the full range of options available to them.

Since then, horror stories abound across the Internet of women trapped into CPCs. And, while CPCs don't have to tell women the truth about pregnancy and options for ending it, they sure can gather women's information and use it pretty much anyway they want.

Up until recently, the vast majority of CPCs' use of the data has been to harass women into continuing their pregnancies, lie to them about how far along they are in their pregnancies, and constantly call or visit them to preach Christianity at them.

Now that the laws have changed with the Dobbs decision, however, many are concerned that CPCs will begin working alongside bounty hunters and police agencies nationwide. They are certainly gathering all the data they would need to play that role, and doing it largely without oversight or regulation from the states.

Before a woman can see a "counselor" at a CPC, she typically has to fill out a lengthy and detailed "medical history" that not only gathers medical background information but also collects a lot of personal information.

According to a 2020 report from Privacy International, the data CPCs collect and aggregate nationwide includes:

"Name, address, email address, ethnicity, marital status, living arrangement, education, income source, alcohol, cigarette, and drug intake, medications and medical history, sexual transmitted disease history, name of the referring person/organisation, pregnancy symptoms, pregnancy history, medical testing information, and eventually even ultrasound photos."
Women assume this information is confidential under HIPAA, but because most CPCs are not offering any licensed medical services whatsoever they have no HIPAA obligations (they're typically incorporated as churches or social welfare nonprofits, in fact, so the local community is subsidizing them by paying for their taxes and city services).

Therefore, most CPCs don't have to comply with federal or state medical privacy laws because they're not actual medical centers.

To lure women in for "counseling," most offer "pregnancy tests" that you can purchase over-the-counter in your local pharmacy, and about half offer "non-diagnostic" (IOW, "non-medical" or "entertainment purposes only") ultrasounds, enhancing their appearance as medical centers without triggering state or federal regulation.

The information they collect can not only legally inform their own network (including local priests or lay "counselors" who typically start calling women regularly after they've been drawn in) but could legally be sold on the open market, as well. In multiple states, CPCs receive millions in state funds.

The Alliance, a national group working to protect women's rights - including a women's right to abortion - just released a chilling report titled Designed to Deceive on the status of CPCs. Here are a few of their findings:

*For every abortion provider in America there are three CPCs; in states like Minnesota that subsidize them, there are as many as 11 CPCs to every single abortion provider.

*About half (45.8%) are members of a larger group, including Heartbeat International, Care Net, Birthright International, Obria, and National Institute of Family and Life Advocates. Many of these compile extensive dossiers on women seeking abortion information.

*Sixty-three percent give women information that is patently false or so biased as to lack the context necessary to be meaningful. About a third promote "Abortion Pill Reversal" (APR), something that does not exist.

*The largest, Heartbeat International, markets a data system to a network of 2700 CPCs, and the industry even developed its own data software system, eKYROS.

*Some run mobile CPCs and position them near actual abortion providers in an attempt to intercept women before they arrive at the abortion provider.

*Some, like the Thrive Women's Clinic, explicitly state in their privacy information that they will share information with local authorities, "To assist law enforcement officials for law enforcement purposes."

*Some use a practice called geofencing, allowing them to define a particular area - like the block on which an abortion clinic is located - and push anti-abortion ads to every cellphone within the geofenced area.

*An investigative report published in The Markup found that, "Facebook is collecting ultrasensitive personal data about abortion seekers and enabling anti-abortion organizations to use that data as a tool to target and influence people online, in violation of its own policies and promises."

*"CPCs are now positioned to surveil pregnant people and feed their data to vigilante anti-abortion bounty hunters anywhere in the country."

The GOP has thrown in with the CPCs in a big way.

Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson and Utah's Mike Lee introduced last month a Senate resolution designating election week this November as "National Pregnancy Center Week." It has the support of 17 Republican co-sponsors.

Republican Attorneys General around the US - including Texas' Ken Paxton, Virginia's Attorney General Jason Miyares and Kentucky's Daniel Cameron - are demanding that when women search online for pregnancy information they be immediately directed to the websites of local CPCs.

"We ...hope you will decide that Google's search results must not be subject to left-wing political pressure, which would actively harm women seeking essential assistance," they and other attorneys general demanded of Google's Chief Executive Sundar Pichai last month.

"If you do not," they threatened, "we must avail ourselves of all lawful and appropriate means of protecting the rights of our constituents, of upholding viewpoint diversity, free expression, and the freedom of religion for all Americans."

Over in the House, Republicans have introduced legislation that would allow CPCs to sue and recover a minimum of $20,000 from anybody who "attacks" them. If Republicans recover power in America, it's not too bizarre to think that an article like this might be in the cross-hairs of future GOP legislation.

CPCs and their networks are only part of the problem, though. Some of the nation's largest for-profit data aggregators, as I lay out in The Hidden History of Big Brother, have already jumped into the business of tracking pregnant women and selling that information.

Vice News reported yesterday, for example, that:

"The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has sued Kochava, a large location data provider, for allegedly selling data that the FTC says can track people at reproductive health clinics and places of worship, according to an announcement from the agency."
Dozens of other data providers have the ability to sell information that can track a specific woman from a specific abortion provider to her home. And the market is growing by the day.

Both state and federal legislators need to jump on this now.

The privacy of pregnant people deserves the protection of law, citizens should lobby their governments to stop funding CPCs, and CPCs themselves should be licensed and regulated.

(c) 2022 Thom Hartmann is a talk-show host and the author of "The Hidden History of Monopolies: How Big Business Destroyed the American Dream" (2020); "The Hidden History of the Supreme Court and the Betrayal of America" (2019); and more than 25 other books in print.

The Cartoon Corner -

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Bruce Plante ~~~

To End On A Happy Note -

Have You Seen This -

Parting Shots -

Taliban Send Fruit Basket & Thank You Card To Biden On 1st Anniversary Of Afghanistan Takeover
By The Waterford Whispers News

THE TALIBAN has marked the one-year anniversary of America serving up Afghanistan against the wishes of its people and their democratically elected government to religious extremist terrorists, and have not forgotten the man who made it all possible.

"May Allah be with you Joe. People say we have had great success taking so much away from Afghans, but you must share this praise with us - 40 million people in poverty what an achievement," read a sincere card of thanks sent to the White House by Taliban leader Haibatullah Akhundzada.

Aside from sending cards, the Taliban have celebrated plunging Afghanistan back into the dark ages in many ways including shooting at a crowd of female protesters and many more instances of good-spirited fun.

"In America you have your independence day and fireworks, and we have similar on our independence day; we will set some infidels on fire, we are much alike Joe".

"We apologise for the meagre basket of fruit we humbly offer up to you, but as you know Afghanistan is one of the world's poorest countries, and you confiscated billions of dollars which rightly belong to its people," added Akhundzada.

The Taliban leader decided to wait until the sending of a Christmas card to ask for help with repelling the Afghan branch of the ISIS, Islamic State Khorasan, who have wreaked havoc on the country and targeted the Shia Hazara minority.

"PS. Joe, none of these gifts are to be touched by your wife. She defies religious law, you're lucky we even sent a fruit basket to the husband of a woman who received a school and college education. That's a big no-no here again, but I think you probably know that. Please use my favourite beating sandal, which I have included in the basket, to beat Jill with until she learns a woman's true place."

(c) 2022 The Waterford Whispers News


Issues & Alibis Vol 22 # 34 (c) 09/02/2022

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