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In This Edition

Chris Hedges returns with a must read, "America's Fate: Oligarchy Or Autocracy."

Ralph Nader says, "Please Teach Your Children About Corporate Criminals."

Leonard Pitts Jr. says, "Dear Unvaccinated: Bye! And Don't Let The Door Hit You In The A . . Well, You Know."

Jim Hightower wonders, "Can Corporate Profit And Morality Be Compatible?"

William Rivers Pitt asks, "Are The Motives Of War Profiteers Driving Us To The Brink Of A New Cold War?"

John Nichols wonders, "Has Big Pharma Bought Enough Democrats To Derail Biden's Plan?"

James Donahue says, "Let's Dismantle The Federal Reserve."

David Swanson explains, "How To Prevent Terrorism."

David Suzuki returns with, "Greening The Red List Can Accelerate Species Recovery."

Charles P. Pierce says, "It's Been 10 Years Since I Started This Blog. Cheers To Everyone Who's Made It Possible."

Juan Cole reports, "Israeli Youth Protest Israel-UAE Oil Pipeline That Endangers Climate, Key Coral Reefs: The Dark Side Of 'Abraham Accords.'"

Robert Reich remembers, "When I Was At Law School With Clarence Thomas."

Thom Hartmann concludes, "These GOP Grifters Will Be The Death Of This Republic ."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Andy Borowitz reports, "Biden Thanks Arizona G.O.P. For Letting Him Relive Greatest Victory Of His Life," but first, Uncle Ernie asks, "How Long Can You Tread Water: Part Five?"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Jeff Stahler, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Tom Tomorrow, Sergio Flores, Jerod Harris, Yuri Ramsey, Mr. Fish, The Washington Post, Brent Moore, Angela Weiss, Joe Raedle, Robert Reich, Jim Hightower, Pexels, AFP, Unsplash, Shutterstock, 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 Cartoon Corner-
To End On A Happy Note-
Have You Seen This-
Parting Shots-

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How Long Can You Tread Water: Part Five?
Global warming strikes again!
By Ernest Stewart

We know we're going to have sea rise. This is literally a one-way street now. The only thing we're discussing now is how fast, it's not whether anymore, and then eventually how much." ~~~ Dr. Harold Wanless ~ chairman of the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Miami

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

For decades, scientists have warned that unchecked global warming could bring climate extremes such as severe droughts, flash floods and rising sea levels. Starting in the early 90s we bagan to hear of the coming debacle that we'd face by 2100. Ten years later it was going to happen by 2050. 20 years later and it's here! From heatwaves across North America, to flash floods in China and fires smouldering across Siberia, 2021 has brought a steady stream of climate extremes. In August, Valerie Masson-Delmotte, co-chair of the latest Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) report, warned that as the earth continues to warm, scientists expect to see "extremes that are unprecedented in magnitude, frequency, timing or in regions that have never encountered those kind of extremes."

For Christopher White, these strong statements show just how far climate science has come since the IPCC's first reports in the 1990s. White, head of the Centre for Water, Environment, Sustainability and Public Health at the University of Strathclyde in Scotland, tells us that as attribution science - the ability to link the severity of particular events to climate change - has become more assured in recent years, so too has the language about what might happen next.

But White says some scientists, shocked by recent extreme weather events, are beginning to worry they've underestimated how quickly the climate will change. "We're perhaps caging our statements around what could happen because of the uncertainty in the projections, saying they might happen in 30 years time or 50 years or 80 years time. To see these sorts of events happening right now, means it's a major shift in thinking." I'm having a deja vu!

Then there's the Atlantic seaboard and the Atlantic Ocean's system of currents - called the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC).

AMOC is a conveyor belt that transports warm, salty water from the tropics north toward Greenland, where it cools and sinks. However, because the climate is warming, and Greenland's glaciers are melting, that conveyor belt is slowing down.

"One consequence of this conveyor belt slowdown is more heating of the ocean off the Northeastern coast, which helps to explain the spike in ocean temperatures in the Mid-Atlantic Bight and Gulf of Maine regions," Ambarish Karmalkar, a professor at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst said.

AMOC is also connected to rising temperatures in the Northeast's coastal cities, due to a weather phenomenon called the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), which guides the winds that blow over the Atlantic Ocean from the U.S. to Europe. As waters rise the next major hurricane will send waves over parts of Manhattan, Boston and Long island too. So, how long can you tread water Bostonians and New Yorkers?


07-19-1944 ~ 09-26-2021
Thanks for the music!

02-07-1949 ~ 09-26-2021
Thanks for the music!

04-14-1972 ~ 09-27-2021
Thanks for the music!

09-16-1948 ~ 09-28-2021
Thanks for the film!


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


Until the next time, Peace!

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

America's Fate: Oligarchy Or Autocracy
The competing systems of power are divided between alternatives which widen the social and political divide - and increase potential for violent conflict.
By Chris Hedges

The competing systems of power in the United States are divided between oligarchy and autocracy. There are no other alternatives. Neither are pleasant. Each have peculiar and distasteful characteristics. Each pays lip service to the fictions of democracy and constitutional rights. And each exacerbates the widening social and political divide and the potential for violent conflict.

The oligarchs from the establishment Republican Party, figures such as Liz Cheney, Mitt Romney, George and Jeb Bush and Bill Kristol, have joined forces with the oligarchs in the Democratic Party to defy the autocrats in the new Republican Party who have coalesced in cult-like fashion around Donald Trump or, if he does not run again for president, his inevitable Frankensteinian doppelganger.

The alliance of Republican and Democratic oligarchs exposes the burlesque that characterized the old two-party system, where the ruling parties fought over what Sigmund Freud called the "narcissism of minor differences" but were united on all the major structural issues including massive defense spending, free trade deals, tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations, the endless wars, government surveillance, the money-saturated election process, neoliberalism, austerity, deindustrialization, militarized police and the world's largest prison system.

The liberal class, fearing autocracy, has thrown in its lot with the oligarchs, discrediting and rendering impotent the causes and issues it claims to champion. The bankruptcy of the liberal class is important, for it effectively turns liberal democratic values into the empty platitudes those who embrace autocracy condemn and despise. So, for example, censorship is wrong, unless the contents of Hunter Biden's laptop are censored, or Donald Trump is banished from social media. Conspiracy theories are wrong, unless those theories, such as the Steele dossier and Russiagate, can be used to damage the autocrat. The misuse of the legal system and law enforcement agencies to carry out personal vendettas are wrong, unless those vendettas are directed at the autocrat and those who support him. Giant tech monopolies and their monolithic social media platforms are wrong, unless those monopolies use their algorithms, control of information and campaign contributions to ensure the election of the oligarch's anointed presidential candidate, Joe Biden.

The perfidy of the oligarchs, masked by the calls for civility, tolerance, and respect for human rights, often outdoes that of the autocracy. The Trump administration, for example, expelled 444,000 asylum seekers under Title 42, a law that permits the immediate expulsion of those who potentially pose a public health risk and denies the expelled migrants the right to make a case to stay in the U.S. before an immigration judge. The Biden administration not only embraced the Trump order in the name of fighting the pandemic, but has thrown out more than 690,000 asylum seekers since taking office in January. The Biden administration, on the heels of another monster hurricane triggered at least in part by climate change, has opened up 80 million acres for oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and boasted that the sale will produce 1.12 billion barrels of oil over the next 50 years. It has bombed Syria and Iraq, and on the way out the door in Afghanistan murdered 10 civilians, including seven children, in a drone strike. It has ended three pandemic relief programs, cutting off benefits under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance that were given to 5.1 million people who worked as freelancers, in the gig economy or as caregivers. An additional 3.8 million people who received assistance from the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation for the long-term unemployed have also lost access to their benefits. They join the 2.6 million people who no longer receive the $300 weekly supplement and are struggling to cope with a $1,200 drop in their monthly earnings. Biden's campaign talk of raising the minimum wage, forgiving student debt, immigration reform, and making housing a human right has been forgotten. At the same time, the Democratic leadership, proponents of a new cold war with China and Russia, has authorized provocative military maneuvers along Russia's borders and in the South China Sea and speeded up production of the long-range B-21 Raider stealth bomber.

Oligarchs come from the traditional nexus of elite schools, inherited money, the military and corporations, those C. Wright Mills calls the "power elite." "Material success," Mills notes, "is their sole basis of authority." The word oligarchy is derived from the Greek word "oligos" meaning "a few" and it is the oligos who sees power and wealth as its birthright, which they pass on to their family and children, as exemplified by George W. Bush or Mitt Romney. The word "autocracy" is derived from the Greek word "auto" meaning "self," as in one who rules by himself.

In decayed democracies the battle for power is always, as Aristotle points out, between these two despotic forces, although if there is a serious threat of socialism or left-wing radicalism, as was true in the Weimar Republic, the oligarchs forge an uncomfortable alliance with the autocrat and his henchmen to crush it. This is why the donor class and hierarchy of the Democratic Party sabotaged the candidacy of Bernie Sanders, although on the political spectrum Sanders is not a radical, and publicly stated, as the former CEO of Goldman Sachs Lloyd Blankfein did, that should Sanders be the nominee they would support Trump. The alliance between the oligarchs and the autocrats gives birth to fascism, in our case a Christianized fascism.

The oligarchs embrace a faux morality of woke culture and identity politics, which is anti-politics, to give themselves the veneer of liberalism, or at least the veneer of an enlightened oligarchy. The oligarchs have no genuine ideology. Their single-minded goal is the amassing of wealth, hence the obscene amounts of money accrued by oligarchs such as Bill Gates, Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos and the staggering sums of profit made by corporations that have, essentially, orchestrated a legal tax boycott, forcing the state to raise most of its revenues from massive government deficits, now totaling $3 trillion, and disproportionately taxing the working and middle classes.

Oligarchies, which spew saccharine pieties and platitudes, engage in lies that are often far more destructive to the public than the lies of a narcissist autocrat. Yet, the absence of an ideology among the oligarchs gives to oligarchic rule a flexibility lacking in autocratic forms of power. Because there is no blind loyalty to an ideology or a leader there is room in an oligarchy for limited reform, moderation and those who seek to slow or put a brake on the most egregious forms of injustice and inequality.

An autocracy, however, is not pliable. It burns out these last remnants of humanism. It is based solely on adulation of the autocrat, no matter how absurd, and the fear of offending him. This is why politicians such as Lindsey Graham and Mike Pence, at least until he refused to invalidate the election results, humiliated themselves abjectly and repeatedly at the feet of Trump. Pence's unforgivable sin of certifying the election results instantly turned him into a traitor. One sin against an autocrat is one sin too many. Trump supporters stormed the capital on Jan. 6 shouting "Hang Mike Pence." As Cosimo de' Medici remarked, "We are nowhere commanded to forgive our friends."

The political and economic disempowerment that is the consequence of oligarchy infantilizes a population, which in desperation gravitates to a demagogue who promises prosperity and a restoration of a lost golden age, moral renewal based on "traditional" values and vengeance against those scapegoated for the nation's decline.

The Biden's administration's refusal to address the deep structural inequities that plague the country is already ominous. In the latest Harvard/Harris poll Trump has overtaken Biden in approval ratings, with Biden falling to 46 percent and Trump rising to 48 percent. Add to this the report by the University of Chicago Project on Security & Threats that found that 9 percent of Americans believe the "use of force is justified to restore Donald J. Trump to the presidency." More than one-fourth of adults agree, to varying degrees, the study found, that, "the 2020 election was stolen, and Joe Biden is an illegitimate president." The polling indicates that 8.1 percent - 21 million Americans - share both these beliefs. Anywhere from 15 million to 28 million adults would apparently support the violent overthrow of the Biden administration to restore Trump to the presidency.

"The insurrectionist movement is more mainstream, cross-party, and more complex than many people might like to think, which does not bode well for the 2022 mid-term elections, or for that matter, the 2024 Presidential election," the authors of the Chicago report write.

Fear is the glue that holds an autocratic regime in place. Convictions can change. Fear does not. The more despotic an autocratic regime becomes, the more it resorts to censorship, coercion, force, and terror to cope with its endemic and often irrational paranoia. Autocracies, for this reason, inevitably embrace fanaticism. Those who serve the autocracy engage in ever more extreme acts against those the autocrat demonizes, seeking the autocrat's approval and the advancement of their careers.

Revenge against real or perceived enemies is the autocrat's single-minded goal. The autocrat takes sadistic pleasure in the torment and humiliation of his enemies, as Trump did when he watched the mob storm the capital on Jan. 6, or, in a more extreme form, as Joseph Stalin did when he doubled over in laughter as his underlings acted out the desperate pleading for his life by the condemned Grigori Zinoviev, once one of the most influential figures in the Soviet leadership and the chairman of the Communist International, on the way to his execution in 1926.

Autocratic leaders, as Joachim Fest writes, are often "demonic nonentities."

"Rather than the qualities which raised him from the masses, it was those qualities he shared with them and of which he was a representative example that laid the foundation for his success," Fest wrote of Adolf Hitler, words that could apply to Trump. "He was the incarnation of the average, 'the man who lent the masses his voice and through whom the masses spoke.' In him the masses encountered themselves."

The autocrat, who celebrates a grotesque hyper-masculinity, projects an aura of omnipotence. He demands obsequious fawning and total obedience. Loyalty is more important than competence. Lies and truth are irrelevant. The statements of the autocrat, which can in short spaces of time be contradictory, cater exclusively to the transient emotional needs of his followers. There is no attempt to be logical or consistent. There is no attempt to reach out to opponents. Rather, there is a constant stoking of antagonisms that steadily widens the social, political, and cultural divides. Reality is sacrificed for fantasy. Those who question the fantasy are branded as irredeemable enemies.

"Anyone who wants to rule men first tries to humiliate them, to trick them out of their rights and their capacity for resistance, until they are as powerless before him as animals," wrote Elias Canetti in "Crowds and Power" of the autocrat:

"He uses them like animals and, even if he does not tell them so, in himself he always knows quite clearly that they mean just as little to him; when he speaks to his intimates, he will call them sheep or cattle. His ultimate aim is to incorporate them into himself and to suck the substance out of them. What remains of them afterwards does not matter to him. The worse he has treated them, the more he despises them. When they are no more use at all, he disposes of them as he does excrement, simply seeing to it that they do not poison the air of his house."
It is, ironically, the oligarchs who build the institutions of oppression, the militarized police, the dysfunctional courts, the raft of anti-terrorism laws used against dissidents, ruling through executive orders rather than the legislative process, wholesale surveillance and the promulgation of laws that overturn the most basic constitutional rights by judicial fiat. Thus, the Supreme Court rules that corporations have the right to pump unlimited amounts of money into political campaigns because it is a form of free speech, and because corporations have the constitutional right to petition the government. The oligarchs do not use these mechanisms of oppression with the same ferocity as the autocrats. They employ them fitfully and therefore often ineffectually. But they create the physical and legal systems of oppression so that an autocrat, with the flick of a switch, can establish a de facto dictatorship.

The autocrat oversees a naked kleptocracy in place of the hidden kleptocracy of the oligarchs. But it is debatable whether the more refined kleptocracy of the oligarchs is any better than the crude and open kleptocracy of the autocrat. The autocrat's attraction is that as he fleeces the public, he entertains the crowd. He orchestrates engaging spectacles. He gives vent, often through vulgarity, to the widespread hatred of the ruling elites. He provides a host of phantom enemies, usually the weak and the vulnerable, who are rendered nonpersons. His followers are given license to attack these enemies, including the feckless liberals and intellectuals who are a pathetic appendage to the oligarchic class. Autocracies, unlike oligarchies, make for engaging political theater.

We must defy the oligarchs as well as the autocrats. If we replicate the cowardice of the liberal class, if we sell out to the oligarchs as a way to blunt the rise of autocracy, we will discredit the core values of a civil society and fuel the very autocracy we seek to defeat. Despotism, in all its forms, is dangerous. If we achieve nothing else in the fight against the oligarchs and the autocrats, we will at least salvage our dignity and integrity.

(c) 2021 Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for fifteen years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East Bureau Chief and Balkan Bureau Chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning News, The Christian Science Monitor, and NPR. He is the host of the Emmy Award-nominated RT America show On Contact.

Students haven't studied "corporate welfare," even though taxpaying parents subsidize these government
giveaways, handouts, and bailouts to demanding, mismanaged, or criminal corporations with power.

Please Teach Your Children About Corporate Criminals
By Ralph Nader

If you think elementary, middle, and high school students know too little history, geography, and government, try asking them about the corporations that command so many hours of their day, their attention, what they consume, and their personal horizons.

Howard Zinn published A Young People's History of the United States (2009), to go with his best-selling pioneering work, A People's History of the United States (1980), but he didn't do justice to all the modern corporate controls of just about every facet of American life, including educational institutions.

Today's corporate plutocracy is at a different level of penetration altogether.

Today, school children are engulfed by corporate apps and software, textbooks biased toward the corporate definitions of an economy, and myths about "free markets." For years free school materials and videos produced or sponsored by business groups, including the coal and nuclear industries, have flooded elementary classes. Our report: Hucksters in the Classroom: A Review of Industry Propaganda in Schools by Sheila Harty (1979), documented this mercantile assault on education. Students even take tests designed by corporate institutions.

Eleven-year-olds have asked me "What is a corporation?" Teenagers ask, "What's corporate crime?" or "What's a company union?" These are the same youngsters who click on the handcuffing fine-print contracts of internet companies that own social media apps such as Instagram and TikTok. These are the same youngsters who are lied to daily by corporations about harmful junk foods and drugs, and whose parents overwhelmingly work in anti-union offices and factories.

Forget about students knowing or learning about "The Commons," although they listen to music broadcast on the public airwaves and probably have visited a national park. (For more on The Commons see: Think Like a Commoner: A Short Introduction to the Life of the Commons by David Bollier). Students haven't studied "corporate welfare," even though taxpaying parents subsidize these government giveaways, handouts, and bailouts to demanding, mismanaged, or criminal corporations with power.

Schools forever have separated students from giant slices of reality-historical and contemporary. Much of this ignored or distorted reality shapes present conditions, such as the various controls of the many by the few. But today's corporate plutocracy is at a different level of penetration altogether. Shucking past taboos, corporate marketeers hard sell directly to children bypassing or undermining parental authority. What they sell is obesity, diabetes, promiscuity, dangerous addictions and violence in their merciless "entertainment programs" and narratives about armed force, however illegal it may be.

In terms of sheer time, range of exposure, and planned peer group pressures, corporations are raising our children day and night. Big companies do strategic planning about everything affecting our children. There are no longer adequate limits and boundaries on corporatism or protections of commercial-free zones.

It's getting worse. Eyewear for "augmented reality" from Facebook and rapidly expanding "artificial intelligence" induce dependency and more sedentary living. People from Bill Joy to Stephen Hawking to Elon Musk have strongly warned about these emerging technologies and the consequential loss of freedom and democracy.

I'd like to invite some open-minded educators to consider a six-hour curricula for late middle school through high school students on the modern global corporation. Hour One could be called "Big Corporations are Different from You and Me" illuminating this fast-dominating "artificial person" with all the rights of real humans yet structurally escaping from responsibility, a status of "privileges and immunities" under corporate law[lessness].

Hour Two could be devoted to the history of corporate power so heavily characterized by the costs of their amassing wealth-costs to workers, communities, small businesses, voters, consumers, patients, our governing ways, and, yes, students. Having been told repeatedly about how companies "built America," students should learn about all the "NOs." Corporations were operationally entrenched against the abolition of slavery, women's suffrage, union organizing, the minimum wage, universal health insurance, early solar energy, mass transit, public campaign financing, and governmental institutions accountable to the citizenry. The most recent big "NOs" are against consumer, labor, and environmental justice and, of course, waging peace instead of forever wars of mayhem and profit have filled volumes of documentation.

Hour Three might run students through all the attempts and reforms by the American people to reign in the destructive, unjust excesses of large companies and their controlling ideology of corporatism. What were the results from all those widespread protests, regulatory actions, prosecutions, and electoral reforms? What are the successes of the peace movement, environmental groups and initiatives by workers, consumers, creators, and defenders of The Commons, (such as the public lands and public airwaves), investors and savers for justice and the common good? What happened to the corporate tax system, the drive for shareholder rights and corporate democracy and, most importantly, the rule of law over corporate power?

Hour Four, Hour Five, and Hour Six - well, to be continued. That is, if we hear from people interested enough in having this proposal described further.

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

More businesses are imposing COVID vaccine mandates on employees, some of who are leaving their jobs.

Dear Unvaccinated: Bye! And Don't Let The Door Hit You In The A . . Well, You Know
By Leonard Pitts Jr.

"If you want to leave, take good care, hope you make a lot of nice friends out there" ~ from "Wild World" by Cat Stevens.

This is for those of you who've chosen to quit your jobs rather than submit to a vaccine mandate.

No telling how many of you there actually are, but lately, you're all over the news. Just last week, a nearly-30-year veteran of the San Jose Police Department surrendered his badge rather than comply with the city's requirement that all employees be inoculated against COVID-19. He joins an Army lieutenant colonel, some airline employees, a Major League Baseball executive, the choral director of the San Francisco Symphony, workers at the tax collector's office in Orange County, Florida, and, incredibly, dozens of healthcare professionals.

Well, on behalf of the rest of us, the ones who miss concerts, restaurants and other people's faces, the ones who are sick and tired of living in pandemic times, here's a word of response to you quitters: Goodbye.

And here's two more: Good riddance.

Not to minimize any of this. A few weeks ago, a hospital in upstate New York announced it would have to "pause" delivering babies because of resignations among its maternity staff. So the threat of difficult ramifications is certainly real. But on the plus side, your quitting goes a long way toward purging us of the gullible, the conspiracy-addled, the logic-impaired and the stubbornly ignorant. And that's not nothing.

We've been down this road before. Whenever faced with some mandate imposed in the interest of the common good, some of us act like they just woke up on the wrong side of the Berlin Wall. "There's no freedom no more," whined one man in video that recently aired on "The Daily Show With Trevor Noah." The clip was from the 1980s, and the guy had just gotten a ticket for not wearing his seatbelt.

It's an unfortunately common refrain. Can't smoke in a movie theater? Can't crank your music to headache decibels at 2 in the morning? Can't post the Ten Commandments in a courtroom? "There's no freedom no more." Some of you seem to think freedom means no one can be compelled to do, or refrain from doing, anything. But that's not freedom, it's anarchy.

Usually, the rest of us don't agonize over your intransigence. Often it has no direct impact on us. The guy in "The Daily Show" clip was only demanding the right to skid across a highway on his face, after all. But now you claim the right to risk the healthcare system and our personal lives.

So if you're angry, guess what? You're not the only ones.

The difference is, your anger is dumb, and ours is not. Yours is about being coerced to do something you don't want to do. Like that's new. Like you're not already required to get vaccinated to start school or travel to other countries. For that matter, you're also required to mow your lawn, cover your hindparts and, yes, wear a seatbelt. So you're mad at government and your job for doing what they've always done.

But the rest of us, we're mad at you. Because this thing could have been over by now, and you're the reason it isn't.

That's why we were glad President Biden stopped asking nicely, started requiring vaccinations everywhere he had power to do so. We were also glad when employers followed suit. And if that's a problem for you, then, yes, goodbye, sayonara, auf wiedersehen, adios and adieu. We'll miss you, to be sure. But you're asking us to choose between your petulance and our lives.

And that's really no choice at all.

(c) 2021 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.

Can Corporate Profit And Morality Be Compatible?

By Jim Hightower

Is "corporate ethics" an oxymoron? Do you have to be a jerk to be a successful CEO? Is exploitation the only path to profit?

The good news is that many companies, big and small, in the food economy are blazing a different path through Wall Street's jungle of greed, demonstrating that money and morality can be compatible. Texas supermarket chain HEB, for example, has drawn an intensely loyal customer base by (1) investing in good wages and benefits for employees, (2) showing up in such emergencies as pandemics, hurricanes, freezes, etc. to give essential supplies and hands-on help, and (3) being an involved and supportive neighbor to the hundreds of unique communities it serves.

Also, Maine Grains is "relocalizing" the business of milling grain by working with local farmers who'd been abandoned by global grain marketers like Ardent and Gold Medal. They're producing nutrient-rich flours from heritage grains, boosting the local economy in the process. Then there's Bob's Red Mill, which also artfully mills its products from diverse, natural grains-and it's 100% employee-owned.

These are part of a rising business alternative to the selfish, profiteering ethic of Fortune 500 titans. Called certified B Corporations, they definitely exist to make a profit, but they are equally focused on having a positive social impact, prioritizing fair wages, environmental protections, and healthy communities as core elements of their missions, even making those goals legal requirements of their corporate charter.

Ben & Jerry's, Amy's Kitchen, King Arthur Baking, and New Belgium Brewery are just a few more of some 3,800 other businesses now organized as B Corps. Though not pretending to be perfect, they're at least striving to be more than money grubbers, instead trying to contribute to the Common Good. For more information on the products and practices of B Corps, go to

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

Royal Australian Navy submarine HMAS Rankin is seen during a biennial maritime exercise between
the Royal Australian Navy and the Indian Navy on September 5, 2021, in Darwin, Australia.

Are The Motives Of War Profiteers Driving Us To The Brink Of A New Cold War?
By William Rivers Pitt

"The United States will compete, and will compete vigorously, and lead with our values and our strength," President Biden told the UN General Assembly on Tuesday. "We'll stand up for our allies and our friends and oppose attempts by stronger countries to dominate weaker ones, whether through changes to territory by force, economic coercion, technological exploitation or disinformation. But we're not seeking - I'll say it again - we are not seeking a new Cold War or a world divided into rigid blocs."

This was the only part of Biden's speech where he said the words "Cold War." They stood out; last everyone had heard, the U.S. was engaged in a "war on terror" that, thanks to the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF), could conceivably run on until the stars burn out. The Cold War is black-and-white television, duck-and-cover drills, Ike, Kennedy, the Cuban Missile Crisis, Nixon, Ronald Reagan scaring the hell out of everyone, and finally a wall falling on my 18th birthday, seemingly a thousand years ago.

Biden did not say "China" in that particular passage either - though China was mentioned several times elsewhere in his remarks - but that country was most certainly the intended recipient of that specific message. Biden was speaking amid a diplomatic meltdown between the U.S. and long-time ally France over a new Australia/United Kingdom/United States (AUKUS) strategic alliance, and specifically over the sale of at least eight nuclear submarines to Australia by the U.S.

France was perturbed because it only learned of the new AUKUS alliance after Australia publicly announced it. This was an open-handed slap from Australia's conservative Prime Minister Scott Morrison, a man any modern U.S. Republican would embrace on sight, to the more left-leaning French prime minister, Emmanuel Macron. France was legitimately outraged over having been excluded from such important, high-level discussions and the French ambassador to the U.S. was immediately called home.

Why the sudden reversal? Nuclear subs are more expensive to maintain and operate, and New Zealand does not allow anything nuclear within its territorial waters, which from a strategic standpoint leaves a huge swath of Australia's coast exposed. The Pacific is massive, to be sure, but what set of circumstances exist that would lead Australia - and the U.S. - to believe that nation needs at least eight of the most fearsome weapons platforms ever devised?

Answer: The "pivot to Asia," an Obama-era recasting of global strategic imperatives which was exacerbated by Donald Trump's blizzard of nonsense tariffs against China. "Until this week, the so-called 'pivot to Asia' by the United States had been more of a threat than a reality for Europe," reports The New York Times. "But that changed when the Biden administration announced a new defense alliance against China that has left Europe facing an implicit question: Which side are you on?"

"We are not seeking a new Cold War or a world divided into rigid blocs," Biden said at the UN.

But the sudden new AUKUS alliance (a rigid bloc?), and the placement of U.S.-made nuclear submarines into that portion of the Pacific, seems vividly at odds with the president's placating words. Indeed, it is beginning to feel as if a new Cold War is off and running.

Deploying U.S.-made subs in that part of the Pacific Ocean is a big, deliberate thumb in China's eye, an act provocative enough to motivate UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to speak words of warning a day before Biden's speech. "We need to re-establish a functional relationship between the two powers," Guterres told the Associated Press. "We need to avoid at all cost a Cold War that would be different from the past one, and probably more dangerous and more difficult to manage."

At bottom, however, the argument between France and the U.S. was as much over money as it was national pride. France had already inked a deal to sell a dozen diesel-powered submarines to Australia, and the AUKUS nuclear sub deal blew that up. The collapse of this arrangement cost France tens of billions of euros - France is the United States of Europe when it comes to global arms sales, and France's leaders take the arms trade as seriously as U.S. leaders do - which could translate into a whole slew of lost jobs if that money is not recouped. (French defense contractor Naval Group, which is partially owned by France and was already building the diesel subs, intends to bill Australia for the lost revenue.) It would surprise me not one single bit if the AUKUS agreement, and specifically the sub sale switcheroo from France to the U.S., first came into being after a few phone calls to some officers in "defense" procurement from lobbyists for General Dynamics and/or Huntington Ingalls, the only two shipbuilders in the U.S. with shipyards capable of building nuclear submarines. The cost to build one of these monstrously deadly machines runs, on average, around $3 billion per unit.

"Why are you letting France get that money?" would have almost certainly been the crux of such a call. "Don't you love America?" And away we go.

Money. Cold Wars, you see, are notoriously expensive (read: wildly lucrative for the various war profiteers that circle the Pentagon like so many carrion birds).

The average military spending during "peacetime" in the Cold War ran about $285.4 billion per year. The first hot Cold War conflict in Korea, according to Richard M. Miller Jr. of Praeger Security International, cost $678 billion. The cost of the Korean Conflict spanning from 1951 to 2000 is over $1 trillion. The Vietnam War cost another $1 trillion. Benefits to the veterans and veteran families of those wars runs into the tens of billions of dollars per year. The total cost of the Cold War from 1948 to 1991 is estimated to be $13.1 trillion, including $5.8 trillion for the development and maintenance of a vast nuclear arsenal.

These eye-popping numbers, all pegged as closely as possible to current dollar values, scarcely tell the tale of the present moment. The "Black Budget" cost of the national security state, born during World War II and massively expanded during the Cold War, is unknown... well, somebody knows, but they ain't telling. The Pentagon, for its part, currently has a $35 trillion hole in its accounting. Nobody seems to know just where that money went... but somebody knows, and again, they ain't telling. Meanwhile, despite our "withdrawal" from Iraq and Afghanistan, the war on terror grinds on relentlessly, and expensively.

U.S. politicians and the corporate "news" media have a casually self-destructive way of discussing military spending: They don't. If someone goes on TV and says we have to feed the poor, ten voices will be raised howling "How much will that cost?" and "We can't afford it!" A president flips 20 missiles into a foreign country, at the cost of hundreds of millions of dollars from construction to deployment to launch, and "How much did that cost?" never seems to come up.

It comes down to this: Every bullet, every bomb, every attack helicopter, every destroyer, every fighter jet, every field meal, every tent, every rifle, every pistol, every grenade, every land mine, every missile, every submarine (!), every uniform, every pair of boots, every body bag, every coffin, every everything that goes into the U.S. war-making machine is money flooding into some "defense" contractor's bank account and stock portfolio.

It has been 73 years since the onset of the first Cold War, and the "terror" war is not quite the money spigot it was for the last two decades. Still, 53 cents of every tax dollar goes to the fighting of and preparation for war already, and a new Cold War with China would dramatically increase that.

It goes entirely without saying that a new Cold War with China is an astonishingly terrible idea, an undermining of nuclear nonproliferation efforts and a good reason for China to harm the U.S. by way of the massive share of our economy they already own and control. The potential cost in human life is nigh incalculable... but ask yourself this: When was the last time you can remember the warmakers actually thinking things through when massive profits were in play? I'm stumped.

There is also this: Among the many things the Cold War is remembered for, inflicted popular fear and mass control stand out. Here in the "free" U.S., the groupthink inspired by enmity toward the Soviet Union destroyed lives and constrained liberty for decades. It inspired two lucrative shooting wars, one of which technically never ended and another that lasted 20 years, along with a dozen proxy skirmishes around the world. All of this invigorated the fury and paranoia of enforced patriotism, and did great and lasting damage to those who did not take up the standard of war.

As we enter an era of unrest, amid racist police violence and state efforts to repress the popular uprising against it, a fascist authoritarian surge in the halls of government everywhere, and a climate preparing to show us all who is really in charge around here, a new Cold War with all attendant mechanisms of enforced control would be just the ticket for those looking to make a buck while avoiding actual solutions to these concerns.

"If you want a picture of the future," wrote George Orwell, "imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever." I am forced to wonder if future years will have us looking back on this seemingly insignificant submarine deal between the U.S. and Australia the way historians today regard George Kennan's "Long Telegram": One diplomat's long transatlantic missive that is now widely regarded as the seedcorn for U.S. Cold War policy toward the U.S.S.R. - along with all its consequences - for the next five decades. It had to start somewhere. It always does.

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

A mobile billboard sponsored by Protect Our Care appears throughout Representative Scott Peters's district, calling on the congressman to stand up to Big Pharma.

Has Big Pharma Bought Enough Democrats To Derail Biden's Plan?
If Democrats allow the party's Manchinema wing to derail prescription drug pricing reforms, they could lose their ability to govern.
By John Nichols

Polling tells us that when it comes to health care issues, the top priority of Americans is lowering prescription drug prices. While this remains a divided country on many issues, there is absolute unity on the question of how to achieve this particular goal.

Eighty-eight percent of all Americans surveyed in May by the KFF Health Tracking Poll expressed support for a Democratic plan to allow the federal government to negotiate lower prices on medications. Seventy-seven percent of Republicans, 89 percent of independents, and 96 percent of Democrats favor the plan.

A West Health/Gallup survey in June put the level of Democratic support for the proposal at 97 percent, and announced that "nearly all empowering the federal government to negotiate lower prices of brand-name prescription drugs covered by Medicare."

Since polls have margins of error, it's reasonable to speculate about whether any grassroots Democrats oppose using the power of government to cut drug prices.

Unfortunately, a handful of congressional Democrats do oppose acting on the issue. Because Democrats control the House and Senate by narrow margins, this opposition threatens necessary reforms. If that threat becomes a reality, it could doom Democratic prospects for retaining control of Congress in 2022.

President Biden acknowledged as much in his inaugural address, saying, "This is certain, I promise you: We will be judged, you and I, by how we resolve these cascading crises of our era."

That judgment will be harsh if Democrats fail to deliver on an issue so broadly popular as lowering drug prices.

Yet, when the House Energy and Commerce Committee reviewed a proposal for government negotiations to lower drug prices, three Democrats-Kathleen Rice of New York, Scott Peters of California, and Kurt Schrader of Oregon-voted "no." Their votes, in combination with Republican "no" votes, created a tie that blocked approval of the reform by the key committee. Politico observed that the trio "threw their party's health care agenda into disarray."

While things may get sorted out in the House, circumstances in the Senate took a turn for the worse on September 15, when Arizona Democrat Kyrsten Sinema reportedly informed Biden that she's opposed to the drug-price reform proposals that Democrats ran and won on in 2020.

Sinema's resistance to the drug reform component of the Senate budget reconciliation bill, in combination with the more generalized rejection of the measure by West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin, has inspired speculation about whether Biden might be forced to accept a deep cut in the $3.5 trillion proposal-which, as outlined by Senate Budget Committee chair Bernie Sanders, relies on funds saved by negotiating lower drug prices to pay for Medicare expansion.

Biden met with congressional Democrats on Wednesday in hopes of keeping things together. But Politico reports that the latest moves by the Arizona and West Virginia senators-who so frequently combine to upend the party's plans that they've come to be referred to as a single entity, Manchinema-have "cast significant doubt on Biden's ability to get the votes to pass his signature domestic initiative."

That's bad news for the tens of millions of Americans who would benefit from drug-price reductions, and terrible news for the hundreds of millions of Americans who would benefit from the passage of the reconciliation bill-which features proposals to provide dental, vision, and hearing care under Medicare, to guarantee paid family and medical leave, to provide affordable day care for working parents and to make community college free.

It's also bad news for Democratic political prospects. If President Biden and his congressional allies do not deliver on promises made in the 2020 election cycle that gave them control of the White House and the House and Senate, Democratic prospects for keeping control of Congress in 2022 will undoubtedly be harmed. Mobilizing the high turnout of irregular voters that the party needs was always going to be hard in a midterm election-and it will be even harder if frustrated Americans find themselves asking, "What's the point of electing Democrats if nothing changes?"

Why would any Democrat put at risk their party's ability to govern boldly, and in so doing make easier the work of former president Donald Trump and the Republicans who are maneuvering to regain power in 2022 and 2024?

The answer has everything to do with Big Pharma's big bankroll. Says Sanders:

While millions of Americans cannot afford the outrageous price of prescription drugs, pharmaceutical companies are making obscene profits and paying their executives exorbitant compensation packages.

Last year alone, the six largest drug companies in the U.S. made nearly $50 billion dollars in profits, while the ten highest paid pharmaceutical executives made over $500 million dollars in total compensation.

And what does the pharmaceutical industry do with these profits?

Well, over the past 20 years, they have spent over $4.5 billion on lobbying and hundreds of millions of dollars in campaign contributions. They employ nearly 1,500 lobbyists in Washington, DC alone-including the former congressional leaders in both major political parties. Got that? That's almost three prescription drug lobbyists for every Member of Congress.

The bottom line, says Sanders, is that "the prescription drug industry, through their wealth and their power and their ability to bribe Members of Congress with massive campaign contributions, can get away with ripping-off the American people by charging whatever outrageous price that the market will bear for prescription drugs."

This is bipartisan bribery. Millions of dollars flow from pharmaceutical industry-aligned donors to Democrats. Many of those Democrats still support regulating the industry, but those who refuse to do so have become a major headache for Biden.

Sinema has, during the course of her congressional career, collected $519,238 from the pharmaceutical and health products industries. In the last year alone, individuals and PACs associated with Big Pharma have donated $398,697 to her campaign committee-a striking figure, considering that she's not up for reelection until 2024.

Manchin has, during his Senate career, collected $506,265 from pharmaceutical interests-including $199,015 so far in the 2022 cycle, despite the fact that, like Sinema, he won't be on the ballot until 2024.

The three House Energy and Commerce Committee Democrats who voted with the industry have taken in a combined total of more than $1.5 million in Big Pharma-linked contributions. Peters, who represents a solidly Democratic San Diego-area district, has been raking in the cash, inspiring headlines like "Pharma CEOs, lobbyists showered Democrat with cash after his attempt to torpedo Pelosi's drug pricing bill," and "This Democrat got big money from Big Pharma-and turned against lower drug prices."

Amid speculation that Peters and the Democratic Party's Big Pharma Caucus might ultimately tank legislation that could secure lower drug prices, Sanders says, "I understand that the pharmaceutical industry owns the Republican Party and that no Republican voted for this bill, but there is no excuse for every Democrat not supporting it."

There is no excuse. But there is an explanation.

Big Pharma doesn't discriminate when it buys politicians. It buys a lot of Republicans, and just enough Democrats to tip the balance against Americans who cannot afford the drugs they need to survive and thrive.

That's a bad moral calculation for all the politicians who accept Big Pharma money. But it's an especially bad political calculation for Democrats.

If Joe Biden, Chuck Schumer, and Nancy Pelosi fail to pull compromised Democrats out of the clutches of Big Pharma, they will not be able to secure drug-price reforms that are enormously popular-and crucial to paying for the expanded benefits voters are clamoring for. And if Democrats cannot deliver the changes that voters gave them the power to enact, there's a good chance they will lose that power in the next election.

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

Let's Dismantle The Federal Reserve
By James Donahue

Americans and perhaps some of the elected representatives in Washington seem to believe that we all must depend upon the Federal Reserve to stabilize the nation's financial system and keep the wheels of commerce running smoothly.

Indeed, we once considered Alan Greenspan, long-time chairman of the Federal Reserve, as one of the most powerful and influential figures in the world of finance. Today Jerome Powell fills that void and wields as much power as Greenspan once did. But why?

Writer David Quinn in an article for The Cutting Edge said most Americans erroneously believe the Federal Reserve is part of our government. It is, however, a privately held corporation owned by stockholders representing the largest banks in the land. The Federal Reserve holds its power because Americans have been led to believe that it should have it.

Quinn wrote that "if the American public understood what their (Federal Reserve) policies have done to their lives, they would be rioting in the streets. "In less than one century the Federal Reserve Bank of the United States has destroyed our currency and has allowed bankers to gain unwarranted power over the country. They had the ability and opportunity to bring down the worldwide financial system," Quinn wrote. The U. S. Constitution gives the power of making money to the Congress. Congress also has the power of regulating its value. The Constitution also requires that money be coined of gold or silver, and that paper bills, if used, must be backed by their printed value by gold or silver maintained in government vaults.

Thomas Jefferson, a former president and one of the framers of the Constitution, once warned that "if we turn our monetary system over to the bankers our children will wake up as slaves to the country we fought to free." Jefferson understood the power of greed that has historically emanated from the hearts of the few that rise to possess and control the wealth.

In 1913, the very thing that Jefferson warned us about happened. On Christmas Eve that year, while many members were home with their families for the holidays, a key number of congressmen met for a special session in Washington to pass the Federal Reserve Act. This is an unconstitutional act that turned over the U. S. monetary system to a few international bankers. The act was signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson, who advocated a better system of stabilizing the monetary system.

With the banks under the control of the Federal Reserve, the rules for printing money changed. Our dollar bills once were considered a representation of their value in gold stored in places like Fort Knox, Kentucky. The old bills once stated this. Now our bills are identified as Federal Reserve notes. This means that they are loans or I.O.U.s and are no longer backed up in value by gold reserves. And that is in clear violation of the Constitution.

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

How To Prevent Terrorism
By David Swanson

Hi, this is David Swanson, executive director of World BEYOND War, campaign coordinator of RootsAction, and host of Talk World Radio. I was asked by the Association for Defending Victims of Terrorism for a video on foreign intervention and domination as an important factor in the spread of violence and extremism.

I'm not a huge fan of the word "extremism," both because I think we should be extreme about things that merit it, and because the U.S. government distinguishes bad extremist murderers from good moderate murderers in places like Syria where the distinction is between people trying to violently overthrow a government and people trying to violently overthrow a government. But if extremism means racism and hatred, then it is clearly and currently and historically has been fueled in places where wars are waged and in places that wage wars far from home.

I'm not a huge fan of the word "intervention," both because it sounds so helpful and because it avoids the term used in the treaties that make it illegal, namely war. The ways in which wars and occupations spread violence, including torture, are inseperable from their spread of lawlessness and impunity. Interventions and enhanced interrogations aren't crimes, but war and torture are.

Studies have found 95% of suicide attacks to be motivated by ending a foreign occupation. If you don't want to see any more suicide terrorist attacks in the world, and you're willing, toward that end, to kill millions of people in wars, to create the biggest refugee crisis ever, to sanction murder and torture, to set up lawless prisons, to spend trillions of dollars desperately needed by humanity and other living things, to give up your civil liberties, to devastate the natural environment, to spread hatred and bigotry, and to erode the rule of law, then you must really have a very strong attachment to foreign occupations of other people's countries, because all you had to do was give those up.

Studies have also found that nations that sent token numbers of troops to join in the U.S.-led war on Afghanistan generated terrorism against themselves back in their own nations in proportion to the number of troops they sent to participate. Spain had one foreign terrorist attack, took its troops out of Iraq, and had no more. Other Western governments, despite anything they might tell you in other circumstances about believing the science and following the facts, have simply maintained that the only way to counter terrorism is to do what generates more terrorism.

The lawless world in which the U.S. government as top enemy of the International Criminal Court, top violator of the UN Charter, and top holdout on human rights treaties, preaches to others about a "rule-based order" is a world in which criminal impunity spreads, and the possibility of an actual rule of law is made to seem impossible. Efforts by Spain or Belgium or the ICC to investigate U.S. murder or torture are blocked by bullying. Torture is modeled to the world and proliferates accordingly. Then drone murder is modeled to the world. This week we saw a report on the CIA plotting to kidnap or murder Julian Assange. The only reason they hesitated and questioned the legality was their preference not to use a missile. Missiles are now entirely above the rule of law. And the only reason they prefered not to use a missile was Assange's location in London.

And over 20 years since September 11, 2001, the U.S. public has effectively been made incapable of imagining the crimes of that day being prosecuted as crimes (rather than used as excuses for greater crimes).

The lawlessness and wars have fueled weapons sales, which have fueled wars, as well as base construction which has fueled wars. They have also fueled racism and hatred and violence in the heart of the U.S. empire. At least 36% of mass shooters in the United States have been trained by the U.S. military. Local police departments are armed and trained by the U.S. and Israeli militaries.

I haven't said much about domination. I think that word was well-chosen and should be mentioned more. Without the drive to dominate, ending wars and occupations - and deadly sanctions - would be significantly easier.

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

Close up of two black-tailed prairie dogs

Greening The Red List Can Accelerate Species Recovery
A slow transition away from carbon will be costlier than a fast one, but each year that we keep spewing carbon is a year in which fossil-fuel companies' current business models stay intact.
By David Suzuki

Environmentalists working to promote recovery of plants and animals at risk of extinction often face the challenge of how to best motivate the public. Should we describe the alarming decline of a beloved creature to spur action, or communicate a rare but inspiring success story to instil hope?

How best to frame efforts to recover species on the brink is not limited to how we communicate with others; it's also relevant to how we approach our work. Efforts to reverse the trends that threaten wildlife survival can be hard to sustain. It's sometimes tremendously difficult to remain energized and positive in the face of ongoing, demoralizing species declines.

Happily, a glass-half-full approach to framing species at risk recovery has emerged. It didn't come from a communications team or a public engagement think tank as one might imagine; rather, it was developed by people working worldwide to halt extinction and advance recovery.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature - which assesses global species' status using a "red list" to differentiate between levels of imperilment - introduced the concept of a "green list" to assess levels of recovery feasibility and conservation success.

"Warnings of imminent extinctions are not the only way to catalyse conservation efforts," the IUCN states. "We also need an optimistic vision of species conservation that presents a road map on how to conserve a species and achieve its recovery. This is necessary to incentivize positive conservation actions and programmes. To achieve this, the Red List assessment process needs to be expanded to include classifiers of conservation success. IUCN is currently in the process of creating a new set of metrics to do just that."

This framing gives conservation practitioners a far broader - often more encouraging - picture than species' status assessments alone. As the online magazine Yale Environment 360 describes, "While the Sumatran rhino's low numbers may well keep it in the Critically Endangered category for decades to come, its Green Status assessment puts its long-term recovery potential near 50 percent, meaning that continued conservation efforts over the next century could take the species nearly halfway to full recovery ...For a species that has long been considered little more robust than a museum display, that's a radical shift in its narrative - one that may well lead to new commitments of money and effort."

The emergent framework can also play a vital role in changing status quo practices. The popular Canadian approach to government-led recovery initiatives is "priority threat management." It's detailed in the study "Prioritizing Recovery Funding to Maximize Conservation of Endangered Species," which focuses on an area of southern Saskatchewan and uses a template for evaluating recovery options for at-risk species based on, among other factors, the perceived cost-effectiveness of recovery measures. As the report notes, "We show here, that we can make limited resources for endangered species go much further by prioritizing investment in management strategies that recover the greatest number of species for the least cost."

This approach may sound sensible, but the David Suzuki Foundation has expressed concerns about cost-effectiveness becoming the dominant filter under such frameworks, as it could rule out much-needed conservation approaches and result in abandonment of some species. For example, the Saskatchewan report notes that habitat restoration was one of the "least cost-effective individual strategies" in its study area.

Habitat restoration can be a costly undertaking. Yet in many, if not most, cases of species imperilment in Canada, the primary drivers have been industrial and development activities that, while fragmenting and degrading habitat, generated significant economic gains. They thus bear a responsibility to shoulder the costs.

Recovering species at risk is a difficult journey. The first step is stopping the primary threats - stilling the knife, so to speak. But from there the undertaking becomes more hopeful, grounded in the belief that humans have the imagination and commitment to repair what we've damaged.

As the authors of the Journal of Conservation Biology article on which the green list is premised write, "We believe development and implementation of this system will lend to The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species a positive vision for conservation, encouraging optimism."

"Optimism" isn't a word you find in scientific journal articles about vulnerable species every day. Here's to more.

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

It's Been 10 Years Since I Started This Blog. Cheers To Everyone Who's Made It Possible.
It is safe to say the world has been a target-rich environment for a political blog over this past decade.
By Charles P. Pierce

This week, a point of personal privilege.

Ten years ago this Sunday, I first threw open the doors to this shebeen. I was in Orlando, Florida for a comically irrelevant Republican straw poll as the GOP was beginning the process that would end with Willard Romney as the candidate to run against-and lose to-President Barack Obama. At that event in Florida, I heard for the first time the names of Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann, Agenda 21, and the Keystone XL pipeline. It can be safely said that I had no idea what I was doing.

I was familiar with blogs, a regular reader of Atrios and TBogg, of Josh Marshall and The Horse, of the redoubtable Digby and a number of others. From my perch in a mainstream media outlet, it looked like these people were having all the fun. It also looked like those were the places where the renegade spirit of the old alternative press had come to rest. That's where I'd gotten my start. I wrote a sports blog for the Boston Globe. I had contributed to a couple of political blogs, most notably Eric Alterman's Altercation, The American Prospect under Mountaineer Mike Tomasky, and the letters section of Jim Romenesko's old, essential media site. (Jim was an old friend from Marquette University, one of the freshmen I allegedly was supposed to be mentoring as a senior.) I'd also gotten in trouble with my full-time employer for having done so.

So, in the late summer of 2011, I jumped, not knowing how or where I would land. Since then, it is safe to say, the world has been a target-rich environment for a political blog. Watching the prion disease eat slowly away at the higher functions of the conservative mind has been increasingly sad grist for an increasingly sad mill. I began this past decade with the rise of the Tea Party and Obama's second term, and I ended with a country in the middle of a pandemic where people were fighting not about the disease, but the cure. I began with a gallbladder, the right patella tendon with which I'd been born, and never having broken a bone or been hit by a car. As we enter the second decade, none of those things are true any more.

I mention that litany of hospitalizations because it brings me to the thing that most surprised me about running the shebeen these 10 years: the community that has gathered here. When I was laid up, I heard from so many of you bastids that I choked up fairly regularly. I can't thank all of you by name for making this place the merry joint that it is, but I have to hold out a laurel and hardy handshake to Friedman of the Plains, who never has missed a deadline on a Thursday, and who continues to provide us tales from the great state of Oklahoma. A blessing on your house, young man. The rest of you know who you are. A blessing on all your houses, too.

I personally am blessed with a patient, wondrous family, as well as a work family second to none. I have now worked under three editors-in-chief at Esquire: Michael Sebastian, who's our current boss; Jay Fielden; and David Granger, with whom I worked on one masthead or another for nearly 30 years. The shebeen's immediate inspectors have been Matt Sullivan, Mike Nizza, John Hendrickson, and our current benevolent overlord, Jack Holmes. Other fingerprints on the murder weapon have been identified as those belonging to Ben Boskovich, Elizabeth Sile, and Natasha Zarinsky.

And so we beat on, into the second decade, flotsam against the current. Very early on, I wrote a great deal about the idea of a commonwealth, and not just because I live in one (God save it!), but because it is at the heart of everything that is good and righteous about this country, and fck the begrudgers, as Brendan Behan used to say. "I believe that we are lost here in America," Thomas Wolfe wrote, "but I believe we shall be found." I'm off to light another signal fire in the darkness. I hope someone's out there to see it.

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

The Quotable Quote-

"If the discussion is about personalities and negotiations, people get frustrated with Washington. But if the discussion is about what's in the plan, about how it meets the needs of working families, people get excited.."
~~~ Bernie Sanders

Israeli Youth Protest Israel-UAE Oil Pipeline That Endangers Climate, Key Coral Reefs: The Dark Side Of 'Abraham Accords'
By Juan Cole

Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) - The so-called Abraham Accords, which take the patriarch's name in vain, were about many things, but genuine peace was not one of them. The were a series of bilateral horse trades with no implication for Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Now it turns out that they were in part a plot against the earth's climate by the United Arab Emirates and the former Israeli government of the far right wing Binyamin Netanyahu. One of the corners of the deal was a reactivation of the state-owned Europe Asia Pipeline that connects terminals at Eilat on the Gulf of Aqaba with Ashkelon on the Mediterranean coast.

Sue Surkes at the Times of Israel reports that hundreds of Israeli climate activists of Fridays-4-Future youth movement demonstrated on Sunday at 50 sites throughout the country, including in front of the home of Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, against the UAE pipeline deal.

Surkes says that the use of the pipeline to transport UAE petroleum from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean where it can be loaded on tankers for the Balkans is opposed by Israel's Ministry of Environmental Protection, by its Nature and Parks Authority and by a plethora of environmental organizations and many in the Israeli scientific establishment. The pipeline is old and leaky and a 2014 leak proved the biggest environmental catastrophe in Israel's history, with a 4-mile-long river of oil flowing through the delicate ecology of the Evrona Nature Reserve just north of Eilat port.

Just last month there was another pipeline spill, this one near Ashkelon, which has Israeli environmentalists up in arms.

David Isaac at the Jewish News Syndicate says that the environmentalist organization Zalul denounced the oil deal in autumn of 2020, organizing 20 other such groups to fight the transformation of Eilat and Ashkelon into "oil cities."

A major issue is the prospect of damage to the 11 miles of coral reefs in the Gulf of Aqaba, an issue that would concern Jordan as well. These coral reefs, some of them 5,000 years old, have not been as damaged by the warming of the seas caused by humans pumping carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere as corals elsewhere in the world. They may therefore contain precious secrets that could preserve coral reefs around the world. The reefs are key parts of marine ecosystems, providing shelter and breeding grounds to marine life. Isaacs reports that 231 scientists from Israel and around the world signed a letter in January protesting the pipeline deal on the grounds of danger to the corals.

I visited Eilat once, and can attest that snorkeling in the Red Sea and seeing the coral is a major tourist attraction.

The EAPC pipeline company is under fire for its obsessive secrecy and refusal to behave as a publicly owned company ought to. It is part of the Israeli security apparatus, which still censors newspapers occasionally.

The United Arab Emirates is the world's third-largest petroleum exporter, shipping out between 2.5 and 3 million barrels a day. The giant supertankers now used for oil shipments to Asia, where most UAE oil goes, cannot go through the Suez Canal when they are full. The UAE, the Saudis and the Egyptian government thus created the Sumed oil pipeline from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean. The EAPC only has a capacity of 600,000 barrels a day, but apparently Abu Dhabi wants to use it to supplement Sumed. When the supertankers have offloaded petroleum to Sumed, they are then light enough to get through the Suez.

The EAPC pipeline was built jointly by Iran and Israel in 1968 when Israel and the Iran of Reza Shah Pahlevi (r. 1941-1979) were allies against the Arabs. Israel and Iran called each other a lot of dirty names after the 1979 so-called Islamic Revolution in Iran, which brought Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to power. It turns out, however, that behind the scenes Khomeini went on sending oil to Israel, and Israel let Khomeinist Iran use the pipeline across its territory to bust US sanctions on the Shiite theocracy. US financier Marc Rich was part of this scheme, and had to flee to Switzerland to avoid being jailed for sanctions-busting. He was pardoned by Bill Clinton in 2000; Eric Holder did the paperwork. Iran for its part probably went on supplying Israel with oil despite Khomeini's prediction that Israel would "vanish from the page of time" because Iran's weapons systems were mostly American and had been cut off from spare parts by Washington. Israel was glad to supply its rhetorical enemy in return for the petroleum. This corrupt dealing intersected with the Iran-Contra scandal that shook the Reagan administration in the Gipper's last years.

To tell you the truth, I cannot even understand the economics of this deal. Europe is marching rapidly to electric vehicles that don't use petroleum, and it has few uses other than transportation. Why should Israel risk its environment for such a short-term prospect? Is Abu Dhabi hoping to string out some of the southern European states that are not yet in the European Union on internal combustion engines into the 2030s?

Let us hope that the new government of Naftali Bennett, which has more of an interest in climate issues than did Netanyahu, is forced by public pressure to renege on this deal. The UAE won't care- it has lots of deals in mind for Israel apart from the pipeline, many of which have a much longer time horizon. Oil is a stranded asset, the value of which is plummeting, and sinking money into new oil infrastructure is a waste- not to mention the damage it does the earth.

More power to Zalul!


Bonus Video:

Al Jazeera English: "Red Sea coral reefs 'under threat' from Israel-UAE oil deal"

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

When I Was At Law School With Clarence Thomas
By Robert Reich

Just one year after Ruth Bader Ginsburg died, Republican nominees on the Supreme Court are on the way to overturning Roe v. Wade. But they're going out of their way to speak out publicly against the partisanship they're actively engaged in.

Last week, Clarence Thomas told a crowd of more than 800 students and faculty at Notre Dame that the Court shouldn't be viewed in partisan terms, and that justices don't base their rulings on "personal preferences." But if not personal preferences, where exactly do they discover the law? Thomas never said. When asked whether the attorneys presenting oral arguments ever compel him to change his mind, Thomas said, "almost never."

The previous week, the court's newest member, Justice Amy Coney Barrett, told a crowd in Kentucky that Supreme Court justices are not a "bunch of partisan hacks."

Methinks they doth protest too much.

If there's any doubt about the partisan hackery of the Supreme Court's six Republican appointees, it will be on full display in the Court's next session when they overturn Roe in the case they've already teed up to do the dirty deed: Dobbs vs. Jackson Women's Health Organization, about Mississippi's law that bans almost all abortions after the 15th week. It's scheduled to be argued December 1.

Flashback: I was in law school in 1973 when the Supreme Court decided Roe, protecting a pregnant person's right to privacy under the 14th amendment to the Constitution. Also in my class at the time was Clarence Thomas, along with Hillary Rodham (later Hillary Clinton) and Bill Clinton.

The professors used what you probably know as the "Socratic method" - asking hard questions about the cases they were discussing and waiting for students to raise their hands in response, and then criticizing the responses. It was a hair-raising but effective way to learn the law.

One of the principles guiding those discussions is called stare decisis - Latin for "to stand by things decided." It's the doctrine of judicial precedent. If a court has already ruled on an issue (say, on reproductive rights), future courts should decide similar cases the same way.

Supreme Courts can change their minds and rule differently than they did before, but they need good reasons to do so, and it helps if their opinion is unanimous or nearly so. Otherwise, their rulings appear (and are) arbitrary - even, shall we say? - partisan.

In those classroom discussions almost fifty years ago, Hillary's hand was always first in the air. When she was called upon, she gave perfect answers - whole paragraphs, precisely phrased. She distinguished one case from another, using precedents and stare decisis to guide her thinking. I was awed.

My hand was in the air about half the time, and when called on, my answers were meh.

Clarence's hand was never in the air. I don't recall him saying anything, ever.

Bill was never in class.

Only one of us now sits on the Supreme Court. By all accounts, he and four of his colleagues - all appointed by Republican presidents, three by a president who instigated a coup against the United States - are getting ready to violate stare decisis, judicial precedent.

I don't expect them to give a clear and convincing argument for why. Do you?

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

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference being held in the Hyatt Regency on February 26, 2021 in Orlando, Florida.

These GOP Grifters Will Be The Death Of This Republic
Perhaps the 2022 election will bring Democrats a large enough progressive majority that they can work around their own grifters-or maybe it'll signal the death knell of the republic.
By Thom Hartmann

Trump just unleashed an unhinged, barely coherent rant about the possibility President Biden might reveal what was going on in the White House on January 6th, the day Trump tried to finally end, once and for all, any possibility of governmental oversight of his ongoing criminal career. He believed he could follow in the footsteps of grifters before him who've taken control of and then drained dry countries from Hungary to Russia, Brazil to Turkey and The Philippines.

Thus it surprises nobody to discover that when Donald Trump and the people around him learned, in mid-November of 2020, that there was absolutely no meaningful voter fraud in that month's election, they chose, instead of acknowledging the truth, to go ahead with a plan to raise over $200 million dollars (and counting). That even today "President Trump" is sending out one or two fundraising emails a day, each one with the tiny "make this a recurring donation" box pre-checked.

Republican appointees on the US Supreme Court cracked open the door for professional grifters in 1976 when, for the first time in American history, the Court redefined politicians taking money from billionaires away from being "political corruption" and "bribery"-what such behavior had been called since the beginning of the republic-to instead say it was a mere "exercise of free speech" on the part of the morbidly rich.

Two years after the Buckley decision, in 1978, Justice Lewis Powell (author of the infamous 1971 Powell Memo) pushed the door even farther open when he wrote for the Republican majority a decision granting giant corporations the same "free speech right" to own politicians in Boston v Bellotti.

And in 2010, with Citizens United, Republican appointees on the Court didn't just blow the doors open; they tore down the entire building of "good government" in America, reaffirming that any billionaire or corporation that wanted to own their very own pet politician-or, if rich enough, own an entire political party-was totally legal and not at all corrupt.

Which is why Richard Nixon, who resigned in 1974, was one of the last Republican politicians who actually believed that politics in America had something to do with governing the nation (even if he did it poorly). Ever since then, the GOP has been composed almost exclusively of professional grifters (which is a somewhat different type of cat from an ordinary criminal like Nixon who just took bribes, blackmailed people and lied about it all).

Grifters occupy a unique niche in the world of criminals: they avoid direct violence, but live and act only to enrich themselves, whether it's with money, sex, power or all three. They're typically high-functioning sociopaths who sneer at the rules of civilized society the rest of us take seriously. They combine the not-uncommon skill set of being charming and great salesmen and storytellers, but have no conscience or respect for the truth.

Grifters believe they're the only "real" people in the world and all the rest of us are here for their entertainment, satisfaction or to pluck clean of whatever we have that they want. They view us as cardboard cutouts; their pains and loves and desires are real while ours are merely background noise.

And the entire Republican Party has become one giant in-crowd of professional grifters, most all of them getting rich, getting famous and/or getting laid in the process.

Ronald Reagan grew up during the Great Depression, became a Democrat who loved FDR, and once believed in government and that hard work and talent would get him ahead. Then Nancy Davis introduced him to her wealthy father, who let Ronnie in on the grift. Shill for General Electric and the GOP and he could marry Nancy, get rich, and might even have a bright political future. He was the first professional grifter president of the modern era.

Newt Gingrich was primed for the grift, screaming about Bill Clinton having an affair with Monica while porking Calista down the hall and fending off calls from his then-second wife. He got into the grift in a big way when he rolled out his "Contract With America" that was almost entirely tax cuts for giant corporations and the morbidly rich. Hell, he's still in on it; I'm getting an email almost every week from Trump with Gingrich's picture and signature asking for money.

Paul Ryan pimped tax cuts for the obscenely rich his entire career, knowing when he left office there's be massive paychecks waiting for him the rest of his life.

Dick Cheney knew there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and that Saddam Hussein not only had nothing to do with 9/11 but actively hated and hunted down Bin Laden's Al Qaeda operatives so he could imprison or kill them. But Cheney had run Halliburton into trouble, betting that if he picked up Dresser Industries on the cheap that the Clinton administration would cover their asbestos liability. When he lost that bet and Halliburton was in trouble, a nice war with billions in no-bid contracts for the oil-company-turned-defense-contractor was just the grift he needed to both bail him out and make him fabulously rich.

Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia both knew that if any other federal judge were to go quail hunting with a defendant before the Court three weeks before trial or allow his spouse to take hundreds of thousands a year from a think tank with business before the Court, there would be hell to pay. But they were in on the grift and simply exempted themselves from the Federal Code of Judicial Conduct. Hell, they helped write the grift with Citizens United.

Since Citizens United the Republican grift has fully gone party-wide and even picked up a few Democrats along the way.

Some members of Congress get rich with money from Big Pharma, others choose to make their money with Big Oil or Big Coal, others are deeply in the pockets of airlines, telcom companies, the tobacco industry, banks, insurance companies or the food and hospitality monopolies.

Some Republicans even ran day-trading operations on insider information out of their offices until then-Democratic Congressman Brian Baird tipped off the world on my show and Air America's Majority Report 14 years ago.

They all believe, as Bob Dylan famously sang, "You've gotta serve somebody." And the "somebody" they all choose to serve are always the ones who pay the most.

Which is why it only makes sense that the Republican Party would put up a lifelong grifter as their nominee for president in 2016. And that he'd surround himself with grifters like Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who Forbes magazine said would, by any measure, "rank among the biggest grifters in American history," having scammed business partners out of at least $120 million.

Everybody in the GOP is either stuffing their "Leadership PACs" with money they can dip into after they leave office, living high on the hog, using their position to become famous or get into the pants of underage girls, or preparing for their well-feathered-nest after leaving politics.

I've been running a contest on my radio show since it started in 2003 offering a prize to anybody who can identify even one single piece of legislation that was originally sponsored by a Republican, passed Congress with a Republican majority, and was signed into law by a Republican president that primarily helped average working people or poor people instead of the rich or giant corporations.

Nobody has ever won the prize, and I'm betting nobody ever will.

This is not to say the Democratic Party doesn't have its share of grifters (two publicity-hungry senators come to mind). After all, when the Supreme Court legalized political grifting they didn't limit it to one party or the other.

But the single largest caucus in the Democratic Party is the Congressional Progressive Caucus (co-founded by Bernie Sanders) and its members generally refuse corporate PAC money and don't usually hang out with lobbyists. Former co-chair of the Caucus, Representative Mark Pocan, has joked on my show that "they say there are three Big Pharma lobbyists for every member of Congress, but I have no idea who mine are."

While Democrats are trying to legislate around the corrupting landmines laid by conservatives on the Supreme Court, Republicans are expanding on Donald Trump's "voter fraud" and "antifa" grifts to raise money and consolidate their own power in the face of an American electorate that's starting to figure out their game.

Trump and a handful of his grifter buddies who were up for full-out treason thought they could pull off the ultimate grift and seize the trillions in assets of the entire country. They only failed, we're learning, by a whisker.

Next time we may not be so lucky. Congress must grift-proof our politics by getting billionaire and corporate money out of politics, as Democrats tried to do when the House of Representatives passed the For The People Act that arguably Democratic grifters Manchin and Sinema are blocking in the Senate.

Perhaps the 2022 election will bring Democrats a large enough progressive majority that they can work around their own grifters. Or maybe it'll signal the death knell of the republic.

To an extent largely unprecedented in American history, that decision will be in the hands of activists and voters like you and me. We have a big job ahead of us.

(c) 2021 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
~~~ Jeff Stahler ~~~

To End On A Happy Note-

Have You Seen This-

Parting Shots-

Joe Biden smiles and raises his fist after being declared the winner of the Presidential election Biden Thanks Arizona G.O.P. For Letting Him Relive Greatest Victory Of His Life
By Andy Borowitz

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)-In an extraordinary expression of gratitude to his political foes, President Biden thanked the Arizona G.O.P. for allowing him to relive the most glorious victory of his life.

Speaking from the White House, Biden said, "The election was almost a year ago, and the memory of that amazing achievement had really started to fade. Thanks to the Arizona Republicans, all those wonderful memories have begun flooding back."

The President added that he was indebted to the Arizona G.O.P. for "giving me a lift when I needed it most."

"Let me tell you, this job is a killer, Jack," he said. "Some days can get very, very dark. But thanks to the Arizona Republicans there's a smile on my face and a skip in my step again." Biden noted that Pennsylvania Republicans, following in the footsteps of their Arizona brethren, are about to let him relive his greatest win yet again. "All I can say is, thanks, man," he said. "You guys are the best!"

(c) 2021 Andy Borowitz

Issues & Alibis Vol 21 # 39 (c) 10/01/2021

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