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In This Edition

Norman Solomon returns with, "Stop Calling The Military Budget A 'Defense' Budget."

Ralph Nader explores, "While Americans Sleep, Our Corporate Overlords Make Progress Impossible."

Leonard Pitts Jr. reports, "You Might Not Think This Guy Is A Criminal. And Neither Did A Tennessee Grand Jury."

Jim Hightower says, "Your Dog Knows Better Than To Let The GOP 'Fix' Our Postal System."

William Rivers Pitt reports, "Corporate Media Want Us To Think Biden 'Lost' To Progressives On Infrastructure."

John Nichols considers, "Pramila Jayapal's Perfect Pitch."

James Donahue discovers a, "X-Ray Infinity Symbol In The Heart Of The Milky Way."

David Swanson wonders, "Can War Be Both Reformed And Abolished?"

David Suzuki concludes, "Changing Animal Food Could Solve Big Problems."

Charles P. Pierce says, "The Pandora Papers Are A Rare Moment Where The Money Power Is Visible."

Juan Cole finds, "It Isn't Red COVID, It Is Republican Necrophilia - Creepy Love Of Death."

Robert Reich is, "Remembering My Date With Hillary."

Thom Hartmann wonders, "Americans Are Fed Up With Both Corporate & Political Grift: Can the Democrats & Biden Reverse That Trend?"

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion reports, "Biologist Chases Invasive Moth Species Through Crowded Chinatown Marketplace," but first, Uncle Ernie sez, "Due to Global Warming The Earth Is Dimming."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Scott Stantis, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Ruben Bolling, Nicholas Kamm, Loic Venance, Kevin Dietsch, Alex Wong, NASA, Alex Proimos, 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-

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

Earthshine on the moon

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Due to Global Warming The Earth Is Dimming
Global warming strikes again!
By Ernest Stewart

"Change to the Earth's albedo is a powerful driver of climate. When the planet's albedo or reflectivity increases, more incoming sunlight is reflected back into space. This has a cooling effect on global temperatures. Conversely, a drop in albedo warms the planet. A change of just 1% to the Earth's albedo has a radiative effect of 3.4 Wm-2, comparable to the forcing from a doubling of CO2." ~~~ John Cook

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

I see where the American Geophysical Union (AGU) said on September 30, 2021, that Earth's warming oceans are causing fewer bright clouds to reflect sunlight back into space. The result is that more heat reaches the Earth's surface. The additional heat will, presumably, lead to even warmer oceans. This result is contrary to what many scientists had hoped. They'd hoped a warmer Earth might lead to more bright clouds and higher albedo (greater reflectivity), and more heat reflected away. That outcome would have helped to moderate warming and balance the climate system, they said. But their result shows the opposite is true.

The new Earth-albedo study is published in the peer-reviewed AGU journal Geophysical Research Letters. These researchers used two decades of earthshine measurements and satellite measurements to quantify the drop in Earth's albedo, or reflectance. Earthshine is what happens when sunlight bounces from Earth onto the night landscape of the moon. It's that lovely dim glow you sometimes see on the darkened portion of a crescent moon. The Big Bear Solar Observatory in Southern California gathered the earthshine data from 1998 to 2017.

The scientists said that:

"The Earth is now reflecting about half a watt less light per square meter than it was 20 years ago. Most of the drop has occurred in the last three years of earthshine data ... It's the equivalent of 0.5% decrease in the Earth's reflectance. Earth reflects about 30% of the sunlight that shines on it."

It was a surprise

Philip Goode, a researcher at New Jersey Institute of Technology, is lead author of the new study. He said:

"The albedo drop was such a surprise to us when we analyzed the last three years of data after 17 years of nearly flat albedo."

These scientists said that, when the latest data were added to the previous years, the dimming trend became clear. They said:

"Two things affect the net sunlight reaching the Earth: the sun's brightness and the planet's reflectivity. The changes in Earth's albedo observed by the researchers did not correlate with periodic changes in the sun's brightness. So that means changes in Earth's reflectiveness are caused by something on the Earth.

"Specifically, there has been a reduction of bright, reflective low-lying clouds over the eastern Pacific Ocean in the most recent years. That's according to satellite measurements made as part of NASA's Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System (CERES) project.

"That's the same area, off the west coasts of North and South America, where increases in sea surface temperatures have been recorded. The increases are because of the reversal of a climatic condition called the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, with likely connections to global climate change.

"The dimming of the Earth can also be seen in terms of how much more solar energy is being captured by Earth's climate system. Once this significant additional solar energy is in Earth's atmosphere and oceans, it may contribute to global warming. The extra sunlight is of the same magnitude as the total anthropogenic climate forcing over the last two decades."

So, in recent years, Earth has gotten dimmer, as climate has warmed. It's an unexpected feedback and one that can be expected to warm Earth more. Is there any silver lining to this story of fewer bright clouds and a dimmer Earth? Maybe it's that climate research has an inherent unpredictability, due to feedbacks precisely like this one. Maybe there's some threshold of temperature increase, beyond which the clouds will brighten - and Earth as a whole will brighten - as Earth continues to warm? It's possible ... but cold comfort.

Bottom line: Scientists used measurements of earthshine, plus satellite data, to learn that Earth has dimmed significantly, especially in the study's last three years. Global warming has a million different effects, and this is only one of them!


03-21-1943 ~ 10-04-2021
Thanks for the announcements!

10-18-1950 ~ 10-06-2021
Thanks for the film!

15-28-1929 ~ 10-06-2021
Thanks for the film!


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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.

Stop Calling The Military Budget A 'Defense' Budget
By Norman Solomon

It's bad enough that mainstream news outlets routinely call the Pentagon budget a "defense" budget. But the fact that progressives in Congress and even many antiwar activists also do the same is an indication of how deeply the mindsets of the nation's warfare state are embedded in the political culture of the United States.

The misleading first name of the Defense Department doesn't justify using "defense" as an adjective for its budget. On the contrary, the ubiquitous use of phrases like "defense budget" and "defense spending" -- virtually always written with a lower-case "d" -- reinforces the false notion that equates the USA's humongous military operations with defense.

In the real world, the United States spends more money on its military than the next 10 countries all together. And most of those countries are military allies.

What about military bases in foreign countries? The U.S. currently has 750, while Russia has about two dozen and China has one. The author of the landmark book "Base Nation," American University professor David Vine, just co-wrote a report that points out "the United States has at least three times as many overseas bases as all other countries combined." Those U.S. bases abroad "cost taxpayers an estimated $55 billion annually."

As this autumn began, Vine noted that President Biden is "perpetuating the United States' endless wars" in nations including "Iraq, Syria, Somalia and Yemen" while escalating "war-like tensions with China with a military buildup with Australia and the UK."

All this is being funded via a "defense" budget?

Calling George Orwell.

As Orwell wrote in a 1946 essay, political language "is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind." In 2021, the hot air blowing at gale force through U.S. mass media is so continuous that we're apt to scarcely give it a second thought. But the euphemisms would hardly mean anything to those in faraway countries for whom terrifying and lethal drone attacks and other components of U.S. air wars are about life and death rather than political language.

You might consider the Pentagon's Aug. 29 killing of 10 Afghan civilians including seven children with a drone attack to be a case of "respectable" murder, or negligent homicide, or mere "collateral damage." Likewise, you could look at numbers like 244,124 -- a credible low-end estimate of the number of civilians directly killed during the "war on terror" in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq -- and consider them to be mere data points or representing individuals whose lives are as precious as yours.

But at any rate, from the vantage point of the United States, it's farfetched to claim that the billions of dollars expended for ongoing warfare in several countries are in a budget that can be legitimately called "defense."

Until 1947, the official name of the U.S. government's central military agency was the War Department. After a two-year interim brand (with the clunky name National Military Establishment), it was renamed the Department of Defense in 1949. As it happened, that was the same year when Orwell's dystopian novel "1984" appeared, telling of an always-at-war totalitarian regime with doublespeak slogans that included "War Is Peace."

Today, the Department of Defense remains an appropriately capitalized proper noun. But the department's official name doesn't make it true. To call its massive and escalating budget a "defense" budget is nothing less than internalized corruption of language that undermines our capacities to think clearly and talk straight. While such corroded language can't be blamed for the existence of sloppy thinking and degraded discourse, it regularly facilitates sloppy thinking and degraded discourse.

Let's blow away the linguistic fog. The Pentagon budget is not a "defense" budget.

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

Both Parties allow unconstitutional wars violating federal laws and international treaties that we
signed onto long ago, including restrictions on the use of force under the United Nations Charter.

While Americans Sleep, Our Corporate Overlords Make Progress Impossible
Both the Republicans and the Democrats vote as if the nation's middle-class taxpayer is a sleeping sucker.
By Ralph Nader

"Polarization" is the word most associated with the positions of the Republicans and Democrats in Congress. The mass media and the commentators never tire of this focus, in part because such clashes create the flashes conducive to daily coverage.

Politicians from both parties exploit voters who don't do their homework on voting records and let the lawmakers use the people's sovereign power (remember the Constitution's "We the People") against them on behalf of the big corporate bosses.

The quiet harmony between the two parties created by the omnipresent power of Big Business and other powerful single-issue lobbyists is often the status quo. That's why there are so few changes in this countrys politics.

In many cases, the similarities of both major parties are tied to the fundamental concentration of power by the few over the many. In short, the two parties regularly agree on anti-democratic abuses of power. Granted, there are always a few exceptions among the rank & file. Here are some areas of Republican and Democrat concurrence:

1. The Duopoly shares the same stage on a militaristic, imperial foreign policy and massive unaudited military budgets. Just a couple of weeks ago, the Pentagon budget was voted out of a House committee by the Democrats and the GOP with $24 billion MORE than what President Biden asked for from Congress. Neither party does much of anything to curtail the huge waste, fraud, and abuse of corporate military contractors, or the Pentagon's violation of federal law since 1992 requiring annual auditable data on DOD spending be provided to Congress, the president, and the public.

2. Both Parties allow unconstitutional wars violating federal laws and international treaties that we signed onto long ago, including restrictions on the use of force under the United Nations Charter.

3. Both Parties ignore the burgeoning corporate welfare subsidies, handouts, giveaways, and bailouts turning oceans of inefficient, mismanaged, and coddled profit-glutted companies into tenured corporate welfare Kings.

4. Both Parties decline to crack down on the nationwide corporate crime spree. They don't even like to use the phrase "corporate crime" or "corporate crime wave." They prefer to delicately allude to "white-collar crime."

Trillions of dollars are at stake every year, yet neither party holds corporate crime hearings nor proposes an update of the obsolete, weak federal corporate criminal laws.

In some instances, there is no criminal penalty at all for willful and knowing violations of safety regulatory laws (e.g., the auto safety and aviation safety laws). Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) is trying to find just one Republican Senator to co-sponsor the "Hide No Harm Act" that would make it a crime for a corporate officer to knowingly conceal information about a corporate action or product that poses the danger of death or serious physical injury to consumers or workers.

5. Both Parties allow Wall Street's inexhaustibly greedy CEOs to prey on innocents, including small investors. They also do nothing to curb hundreds of billions of dollars in computerized billing fraud, especially in the health care industry. (See, License to Steal by Malcolm K. Sparrow and a GAO Report about thirty years ago).

6. The third leading cause of death in the U.S. is fatalities from preventable problems in hospitals and clinics. According to the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine study in 2015, a conservative estimate is that 250,000 people yearly are dying from preventable conditions. Neither Congress nor the Executive Branch has an effort remotely up to the scale required to reduce this staggering level of mortality and morbidity. Nor is the American Medical Association (AMA) engaging with this avoidable epidemic.

7. Both Parties sped bailout of over $50 billion to the airline industry during Covid-19, after the companies had spent about $45 billion on unproductive stock buybacks over the last few years to raise the metrics used to boost executive pay.

8. Both Parties starve corporate law enforcement budgets in the Justice Department, the regulatory agencies, and such departments as Labor, Agriculture, Interior, Transportation, and Health and Human Services. The Duopoly's view is that there be no additional federal cops on the corporate crime beat.

9. Both Parties prostrate themselves before the bank-funded Federal Reserve. There are no congressional audits, no congressional oversight of the Fed's secret, murky operations, and massive printing of money to juice up Wall Street, while keeping interest rates near zero for trillions of dollars held by over one hundred million small to midsize savers in America.

10. Both Parties are wedded to constant and huge bailouts of the risky declining, uncompetitive (with solar and wind energy) nuclear power industry. This is corporate socialism at its worst. Without your taxpayer and ratepayer dollars, nuclear plants would be closing down faster than is now the case. Bipartisan proposals for more nukes come with large subsidies and guarantees by Uncle Sam.

11. Both Parties hate Third Parties and engage in the political bigotry of obstructing their ballot access (See: Richard Winger's Ballot Access News), with hurdles, harassing lawsuits, and exclusions from public debates. The goal of both parties is to stop a competitive democracy.

12. Both Parties overwhelmingly rubber-stamp whatever the Israeli government wants in the latest U.S. military weaponry, the suppression of Palestinians and illegal occupation of the remaining Palestinian lands, and the periodic slaughter of Gazans with U.S. weapons. The Duopoly also supports the use of the U.S. veto in the UN Security Council to insulate Israel from UN sanctions.

13. Continuing Republican Speaker Newt Gingrich's debilitating internal deforms of congressional infrastructures, the Democrats have gone along with the GOP's shrinking of committee and staff budgets, abolition of the crucial Office of Technology Assessment's (OTA) budget, and concentration of excessive power in the hands of the Speaker and Senate leader. This little noticed immolation reduces further the legislature's ability to oversee the huge sprawling Executive Branch. The erosion of congressional power is furthered by the three-day work week Congress has reserved for itself.

14. Even on what might seem to be healthy partisan differences, the Democrats and the GOP agree not to replace or ease out Trump's Director of the Internal Revenue Service, a former corporate loophole tax lawyer, or the head of the U.S. Postal Service, a former profiteer off the Post Office who will shortly curtail service even more than he did in 2020 (See: First Class: The U.S. Postal Service, Democracy, and the Corporate Threat, by Christopher W Shaw).

Right now, both Parties are readying to give over $50 billion of your tax money to the very profitable under-taxed computer chip industry companies like Intel and Nvidia, so they can make more profit-building plants in the U.S. These companies are loaded with cash. They should invest their own money and stop the stock buyback craze. Isn't that what capitalism is all about?

Both Parties vote as if the American middle-class taxpayer is a sleeping sucker. Politicians from both parties exploit voters who don't do their homework on voting records and let the lawmakers use the people's sovereign power (remember the Constitution's "We the People") against them on behalf of the big corporate bosses.

Sleep on America, you have nothing to lose but your dreams.

(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).

Jared Lafer hit a protester with his car, breaking both of the man's legs. A Tennessee grand jury declined to indict him

You Might Not Think This Guy Is A Criminal. And Neither Did A Tennessee Grand Jury
By Leonard Pitts Jr.

You might think it was a crime, but last week, a grand jury did not.

The reference is to the case of one Jared Lafer. He is a white man in his 20s who, in September of last year, was driving in Johnson City, Tennessee when he came upon a small group of Black Lives Matter protesters in a crosswalk. According to witnesses, Lafer's SUV bumped a man named Johnathon Bowers, whereupon Bowers, standing directly in front of the vehicle, smacked the hood to get Lafer's attention. In response, Lafer allegedly accelerated, plowing through the group and leaving Bowers with two broken legs - all of it captured on cellphone video.

Instead of stopping, Lafer continued home to Bakersville, across the border in North Carolina. There, he hired a lawyer and turned himself in two days later. His level of contrition might be judged from his social-media activity afterward. The Tennessee Holler, a self-described "progressive news site," grabbed a screenshot of a since-deleted posting: a meme of a relieved-looking man with the caption: "When you thought you hit a dog but turns out it was just a looter."

To which someone named "Jared Lafer" responds, "This is GREAT!" with a laughing-till-you-cry emoji. Lafer is also reported to have called Black Lives Matter a "Marxist" group.

Yet the grand jury declined to indict him, determining that - the video and the eyewitnesses notwithstanding - there was insufficient evidence to do so. "This is not a case about racism," defense attorney Mac Meade said. Because of course not. It never is. The attorney, according to WLOS-TVin Asheville, explained that Lafer simply "did what he felt was necessary to get out of a situation that he felt was dangerous to his family."

So, just to make sure we've all got the picture: He's the one who was armed with over two tons of motor vehicle while the protesters were armed with signs, peaceably using a crosswalk. But he's the victim. He's the one who was so threatened he was entitled to use potentially lethal force.

As signs of the times go, this one is neon.

It is impossible to separate this from a spate of laws recently passed or under consideration in Republican fiefdoms to protect motorists who drive through - or over - protesters. But more broadly, what happened here is reflective of what is happening in this country as it abandons the process of seriously grappling with its heritage of racial oppression - and with the effort to repair the damage thereof - that began in the civil-rights years. We have slid from that lofty peak of aspiration and idealism to this marshy ground of delusion and lies where many white people now firmly believe they are the true victims of racial oppression, where it is a matter of controversy just to declare that Black lives matter, where Jared Lafer walks free.

That process has gone on for decades, but it accelerated under the last president, who coddled white supremacy, who gave it a platform and a sheen of respectability it had not enjoyed since the 1950s. Now its theories are promoted on cable news and embraced by Republican lawmakers. The motto of these last years might as well have been "Make Bigotry Great Again," because that's what the GOP did.

And this is the price we pay. A white man with a demonstrated antipathy toward Black Lives Matter protesters drives through them in a crosswalk, injures a man - and flees the scene. You'd think that would be a crime. But this is America in 2021.

So you would be mistaken.

(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.

Your Dog Knows Better Than To Let The GOP 'Fix' Our Postal System

By Jim Hightower

When Donald Trump declared he would fix the US Postal Service, he was using the word "fix" the same way veterinarians do when you bring in your dog.

Trump wasted an inordinate amount of his presidential power and prestige in a failed attempt to neuter an agency that literally delivers for the people. Extraordinary postal workers move our letters and packages by truck, car, airplane, boat, motorbike, mule - and, of course, by foot - to any address across town or across the country. Both essential and effective, it's the most popular federal agency, with 91 percent of the public approving its work. Thus, an uproar of protests killed Trump's attempt to gut it.

When it comes to bad public policy, however, failure is just a way of saying, Let's try the back door. Trump was defeated, but he left behind an undistinguished Postmaster General named Louis DeJoy, who had only two qualifications for the job: He was a Trump mega-donor, and he was a peer of corporate powers that've long wanted to privatize the Postal Service. In March, before the new Biden presidency had taken charge of the postal system, DeJoy popped through the back door with his own "10-year-plan" to fix the agency.

Rhetorically, his plan promised to "achieve service excellence" by making mail delivery more "consistent" and "reliable." How? By consistently cutting service and reliably gouging customers. Specifically, DeJoy proposed to close numerous mail processing facilities, eliminate jobs, reduce Post Office hours of service, and cut the standard of delivering our first-class mail from three days to five. Oh, also: Raise stamp prices.

Delivering lousy service at higher prices is intended to destroy public support for the agency, opening up the mail service to takeover by private profiteers. That's the real DeJoy plan. And who gets joy from that?

(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

President Joe Biden gestures as he delivers remarks on the debt ceiling from the State Dining Room of the White House on October 4, 2021, in Washington, D.C.

Corporate Media Want Us To Think Biden 'Lost' To Progressives On Infrastructure
By William Rivers Pitt

In a scene eerily reminiscent of the Hindenburg disaster of 1937, a tight-knit group of progressive activist socialist Democrats splintered their party's chances of saving their House majority in next year's midterm elections, and all but doomed President Biden's social agenda to defeat. House moderates, whose patience with their far-left colleagues has worn thin, lamented the big setback for the president while reminding reporters that Medicare and drug prescription price reforms are not in line with the priorities of the greatest health care system in the world...

Ha, wait. Sorry, wrong meeting. For a minute there, I thought I was supposed to be writing for the corporate "news" media.

"Splintered Dems," howled The Washington Post's headline last Friday, with The New York Times weighing in with "Big Setback for Biden." Absent the facts, last week's mainstream reporting would have left most with the impression that the Congressional Progressive Caucus had sacked the Capitol Building again, and President Biden was crouched in the Rose Garden rubbing gravel in his hair.

The news site Politico appeared to go well out of its way to present a version of reality as sponsored by the pharmaceutical/medical industry. That same Friday, it ran a story headlined, "Democrats' domestic ambitions slam into reality." Sounds pretty grim, no? Dead center under the headline was a sponsor's graphic for PhRMA, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. The next day, Politico's "Playbook" report, which as of October 3 was still visibly sponsored by the BlueCross BlueShield Association, was headlined, "The strangest thing I've ever seen."

Both reports, along with an avalanche of similar stories throughout the "mainstream" press, made it sound for all the world like the Congressional Progressive Caucus had singlehandedly destroyed the president's entire legislative agenda out of wildly malicious bomb-throwing spite. The truth - which has been slowly revealing itself as it cuts through the fog laid down by lobbyists and the paid-for press - is that the Congressional Progressive Caucus was loyally defending Biden's agenda against an onslaught of corporate-owned conservative Democrats, and it succeeded with his official, in-person blessing.

Another Post article from Friday with a similarly wound-up headline - "The Biden agenda is in peril. Here's the reason it might survive" - actually managed to get the story straight. Greg Sargent reports:

In the through-the-looking-glass media coverage of the Democrats' brutal slog to pass President Biden's agenda, the story has often been that radicalized progressives are threatening to derail the whole thing, because they refuse to accept the "reality" that the final package must be in sync with what the conservative faction of Democrats says is "possible."

But this gets the story wrong. In fact, the progressives' stand on Thursday makes successful passage of Biden's agenda more likely, not less. To be clear, it's very plausible the whole thing could still implode. But if so, that lefty stand won't be why.

By refusing to help pass the infrastructure bill, progressives helped secure more space for negotiations on the reconciliation framework. The reconciliation bill is the Biden and Democratic Party agenda: It's made up of all the climate provisions, economic infrastructure and tax reforms designed to secure our decarbonized future and rebalance our political economy after decades of upward skew. The centrists are the ones who oppose passing this agenda.

When the smoke cleared, the self-imposed artificial deadline for passing the infrastructure bill had been postponed until Halloween; even with a two-week congressional break between now and then, there should be enough time to cool tempers and negotiate a version of the Buy Back Better Act (BBB Act) that can survive the strange, cruel attentions of Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema.

Manchin and Sinema emerged from this process looking damaged and foolish. Sinema in particular proved to all and sundry that there is no functional difference between her and a cardboard cutout of her when it comes to making deals; on Friday, when the rubber finally met the road during these negotiations, she was in Arizona for a personal matter followed by a fundraiser - the latter being a fact Saturday Night Live had a bit of sport with. Even to this hour, nobody knows what Sinema specifically wants from these negotiations. Perhaps she wants nothing at all; she already got $750,000 in campaign donations from pharmaceutical and medical interests. Perhaps she thinks asking for more is just greedy.

As for Manchin, his long obstruction game came toppling down on his head when President Biden showed up on Capitol Hill and sided with the Congressional Progressive Caucus on the coupling of the infrastructure and budget bills. The man who, like his cohort Sinema, refused for many grinding weeks to say what he wanted suddenly announced his demand that the BBB Act price tag come down to $1.5 trillion. This will, of course, become a fight, but at least everyone finally knows what the fight is to be about.

Perhaps more insidiously, Manchin is insisting that the anti-abortion Hyde Amendment remain within the legislation; the members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus have been entirely forthright about their intention to jettison the Hyde Act from the bills. Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal sounded a cautious note even as she laid down her marker. "Let's just wait," she told CNN, "this is a negotiation and we've got to continue to move this forward, but the Hyde Amendment is something that the majority of the country does not support."

Manchin still intends to cause trouble for the BBB Act, but his veneer as the immovable object has been cracked, and the Congressional Progressive Caucus knows it. "That's not going to happen," Jayapal said of Manchin's $1.5 trillion ceiling. "That's too small to get our priorities in. It's going to be somewhere between $1.5 and $3.5, and I think the White House is working on that right now. Remember: What we want to deliver is child care, paid leave, climate change."

While yet another retreat on the vitally necessary money to be spent implementing the BBB Act is dispiriting, the fact remains that nobody knows what the final product will be. The fact that Biden and Pelosi came so conspicuously down on the side of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and that the caucus itself is wide open to negotiation on the final number, seems to indicate the expectation of negotiating down was part of the process from the beginning.

"There's been a lot of talk about needing to compromise, about the progressives' violating the political taboo of making the good the enemy of the perfect, of preferring all of nothing to a lot of something," writes Josh Marshall for Talking Points Memo. "But this has pretty clearly not been the case. Rep. Jayapal publicly and Biden and Pelosi less publicly have been asking Manchin to name his number. They're practically begging to compromise down. What they've been resist[ing] is being dictated to or surrendering all their leverage and getting an unknown reconciliation bill in which they'd be beggars rather than negotiators."

After a little breather, they'll all be back to it soon enough. The senator from West Virginia overplayed his hand, and while he still holds some strong cards, the Congressional Progressive Caucus holds the high ground with the Speaker and the president. I'll bet it was awfully quiet at Manchin's house this weekend. I'm sure it was even quieter at Sinema's; she wasn't even home. Meanwhile, Big Pharma and the medical industry lobbyists must be seething. All that money spent on spin, and all they did was gouge a hole in the lawn.

(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.

Representative Pramila Jaypal talks to members of the media prior to a Democratic caucus meeting at the US Capitol on October 1, 2021.

Pramila Jayapal's Perfect Pitch
The Congressional Progressive Caucus chair is standing firm against Manchin, Sinema, and corporate "centrists," and winning accolades as a master negotiator.
By John Nichols

The New York Times headline on Sunday declared, "Biden Tacks Left," as the newspaper recounted the fact that "when Biden ventured to the Capitol on Friday to help House Democrats out of their thicket, he had to choose sides. He effectively chose the left." That there is a left side for President Joe Biden to choose-clearly defined and prepared to stand its ground-is the real story in this fall's battle royal over infrastructure bills and Democratic budget priorities.

After three decades of building from obscurity to a position of strength within the House Democratic Caucus in particular and the legislative branch in general, the Congressional Progressive Caucus has become more than a faction. It has the potential to be the defining force in the direction of the 117th Congress and a still-new Democratic administration.

Biden recognizes this, which offers an explanation for why he has embraced the argument of the 96-member caucus that legislation to invest in physical infrastructure and human needs must remain linked. But that's not the only reason why Biden and party leaders are turning to the CPC as an essential ally.

The president, Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are Capitol Hill veterans who value political skills when they see them. And during this fight over the Democratic agenda, the striking skills of CPC chair Pramila Jayapal have come to be broadly recognized-even by those who have not always agreed with the Democrat from Seattle.

The first South Asian American woman in the US House of Representatives, Jayapal in just six years has become one of this country's most respected defenders of immigrant rights. She arrived with an agenda that anticipated that of the members of the Squad-Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.)-who would be elected in 2018, and she has welcomed these new members to an expanded and emboldened CPC. Active in the progressive caucus from the start of her congressional career, as a vice chair and a cochair, Jayapal took over as the sole leader of the organization last December. Since then, she has positioned the caucus as a bulwark against the sort of centrist compromises that tripped up the administrations of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

With a clarity that stands in stark contrast to the recalcitrance and dodging of Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), as well as corporate-aligned centrists in the House, Jayapal has pushed back against efforts to downsize the Democratic Party's commitment to achieve transformational change. Asked about Manchin's proposal to slash the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill to $1.5 trillion, the CPC chair said Sunday, "That's not going to happen. That's too small to get our priorities in. It's going to be somewhere between $1.5 and $3.5, and I think the White House is working on that right now because, remember, what we want to deliver is childcare, paid leave, climate change, [and] housing."

Jayapal's approach has excited progressives, such as Ai-jen Poo, the cofounder and executive director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, who on Saturday thanked Jayapal and the CPC for refusing to give ground in the fight to assure that the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill's commitments to expanded Medicare, funding for caregiving, paid leave, and free college are not reduced. "As you #HoldTheLine in DC to secure an equitable recovery that leaves no one behind," she tweeted Friday, "millions of us have your backs."

Accolades for the CPC chair's negotiating skills-and for the many television appearances in which she has staked out the progressive position-are coming not just from traditional allies on the left but also from Democratic strategists and veterans of past administrations.

"Jayapal is providing a master class these last few weeks in how to wield power," Brian Fallon, the national press secretary for Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential bid, now serving as executive director for the advocacy group Demand Justice, told The Seattle Times.

Jennifer Palmieri, who served as White House director of communications from 2013 to 2015, noted last week that Jayapal has "emerged as a major and effective force in House"-adding that the CPC chair was the "only House leader to correctly predict how this week's vote [on the physical infrastructure] would go." Or, as things turned out, did not go.

Last Thursday, Representative Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), a leader of the corporate-aligned "centrist" bloc that has sought to force a vote on the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill before an agreement is reached on the more ambitious social infrastructure bill, declared he was "1,000 percent" certain that the smaller bill would pass before the night was done. Jayapal said that would not happen.

She was right. Pelosi did not bring the measure to a vote because Jayapal and her fellow progressives refused to be rolled.

With the support of enough members of the CPC to prevent passage of the physical infrastructure bill in the closely divided House, Jayapal has kept alive discussions about how to secure the top priorities in the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill, which was crafted by Senate Budget Committee chair Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in cooperation with the Biden White House and Senate majority leader Schumer.

Throughout the fight, Jayapal has delivered two core messages. The first has to do with the responsibility of Democrats to use the power they hold to address economic, social, and racial injustice and to protect the planet. Holding true to the faith that guided her as a human rights activist in Seattle, a state legislator, and a first-time congressional candidate in a spirited 2016 primary fight that laid bare differences in the party, Jayapal has brought both passion and urgency to the current fight.

"Child care can't wait. Paid leave can't wait. Health care can't wait. Climate action can't wait. Affordable housing can't wait. A roadmap to citizenship can't wait," the CPC chair declared last week. "People across America are counting on us to deliver the Build Back Better Act-and they can't wait."

The second involves a deeper argument that it is the progressive caucus that is defending Biden's agenda, and that of a Democratic Party that won control of the White House and the Congress in 2020. In so doing, she has boldly challenged the media narrative that imagines that Manchin, Sinema, and the House centrists represent the president or the mainstream of the party.

"Let's be clear," said Jayapal, "96 percent of Democrats agree on how we deliver the President's entire Build Back Better agenda. A few conservative Democrats are standing in our way of delivering transformational change to families across America."

On cable show after cable show, on Capitol Hill, and at the White House, Jayapal keeps driving that point home. She has taken this struggle to heart, and she is signaling that she and the caucus she leads will neither blink nor back down. "The Build Back Better agenda that progressives are fighting for isn't some fringe wish list. It's the President's agenda, the Democratic agenda, and what we promised the American people," she says. "We're going to invest in roads and bridges, in child care and education, in paid leave and health care, and in climate action and housing. We can do it all-and we must while we have the chance."

(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.

X-Ray Infinity Symbol In The Heart Of The Milky Way
By James Donahue

Something very strange has been discovered in the very heart of the massive black hole located in the center of our galaxy, the Milky Way. Astrophysicists say data from NASA's Fermi Gamma Ray Space Telescope shows two purple disks, about 25,000 light years in diameter, forming an obvious figure eight, or the infinity symbol.

The scientists don't know what to make of it. The two oval parts to the symbol appear to be X-ray energy that is creating separate super bubbles that mirror one another. Because of the distance, the images captured by the telescope show what was present about 30,000 years ago. They were the result of an event that occurred there millions of years before this.

Black holes have long been an enigma to astrologers. It was only in 2008 that the giant black hole in the heart of our own galaxy was confirmed. Now to find an infinity symbol created by some form of X-ray energy in the heart of that black hole, coming from an unknown source is even more befuddling.

Perhaps it is significant that in this time of change for our planet and for humanity, that we have developed the technology to observe something as dynamic as an infinity symbol, so large that it cannot be missed, rising from the mysterious nothingness of a black hole in the very center of our own galaxy of stars.

The infinity sign, or the lazy eight, has long been considered an important image among the divine and spiritual peoples throughout human history. In ancient India and Tibet the symbol represented perfection, dualism and unity between male and female.

In the occult tarot the symbol is linked to magic and represents balance between forces. It is the ouroborus, or the circular serpent biting its tail. Contemporary mathematicians regard the infinity symbol for just what it is called, an unending design of numbers, time and space.

Because of its design, the number "8" best fits the description of infinity because it offers no beginning and no end. The symbol represents repetition and in spiritual thought, signifies the divine eternal.

The Egyptians perceived themselves as living in infinity. When we think about it, they were quite right. When we think of our existence in time, we are always in the nexus point of intersection periods of the past and the future. In the time it took for me to type the first words of this paragraph, or for you to read them, you moved from the present into the past. That moment was lost forever and you are at this instant in yet another nexus. And thus it continues for as long as we exist in this dimension.

In summary we are always living in infinity. Normal human consciousness has difficulty grasping the concept of endlessness. If there is any symbol designed by man to help in this understanding it is the figure eight.

Think of a child's electric train set running on a track layout that crisscrosses itself in a figure eight design. Once the train begins traveling the track, it can continue going forward indefinitely without ever reaching the end of the line.

So what is the significance of this symbol to us? It is a holy symbol. It is a promise of the infinite existence of creation. Everything is in change and motion, but everything has always been and perhaps it will always remain. And if this is true, logic would suggest that our spiritual existence also may be infinite. We will continue on long after the bodies we occupy are abandoned and withered away.

That giant purple infinity symbol in the heart of the galaxy in which our solar system spins is like a sign from the Creator that all is well with the Universe, in spite of the mess we appear to have created in the little world on which we presently live.

(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.

Photo of Kunduz Hospital in Afghanistan via The Intercept.

Can War Be Both Reformed And Abolished?
By David Swanson

A recent article and a recent book have raised this familiar topic anew for me. The article is a super uninformed dud of a hatchet job on Michael Ratner by Samuel Moyn, who accuses Ratner of supporting war by trying to reform and humanize rather than end it. The critique is terribly weak because Ratner tried to prevent wars, end wars, AND reform wars. Ratner was at every antiwar event. Ratner was at every panel on the need to impeach Bush and Cheney for the wars as well as for the torture. I'd never even heard of Samuel Moyn until he wrote this now widely debunked article. I'm glad he wants to end war and hope he can be a better ally in that struggle.

But the question raised, which has been around for centuries, cannot be dismissed as easily as pointing out that Moyn got his facts about Ratner wrong. When I objected to Bush-Cheney-era torture, without ever ceasing for an instant my protests of the wars themselves, plenty of people accused me of supporting the wars, or of diverting resources away from ending the wars. Were they necessarily wrong? Does Moyn want to denounce Ratner for opposing torture even knowing that he also opposed war, because the greater good is most likely achieved by putting everything into ending war entirely? And might that be right, regardless of whether it's Moyn's position?

I think it's important in these considerations to begin by noting where the major problem lies, namely with the warmongers, the war profiteers, the war facilitators, and the vast masses of people not doing a goddamned thing either to halt or to reform the mass slaughters in any way whatsoever. The question is in no way whether to lump war reformers in with that crowd. The questions are, rather, whether war reformers actually reform war, whether those reforms (if any) do significant good, whether those reform efforts help end war or prolong war or neither, whether more good could have been done by focusing on the need to end either particular wars or the entire institution, and whether war abolitionists can accomplish more good by trying to convert the war reformers or by trying to mobilize the inactive uninterested masses.

While some of us have tried both to reform and end war and generally seen the two as complementary (isn't war more, not less, worthy of ending because it includes torture?), there is nonetheless a marked division between reformers and abolishers. This divide is due in part to people's varying beliefs about the likelihood of success in two approaches, each of which has been showing little success and can be criticized on that basis by advocates of the other. It is due in part to personality and attitude. It is due in part to the missions of various organizations. And it is accentuated by the finite nature of resources, the general concept of the limited attention span, and the high regard in which the simplest messages and slogans are held.

This divide parallels the divide we see every year, as in recent days, when the U.S. Congress votes on a military spending bill. Everyone tells each other that in theory one can urge Congress Members both to vote in favor of good amendments that stand hardly a chance of passing in the House (and zero chance of getting through the Senate and the White House) and also to vote against the overall bill (with hardly a chance of blocking and reshaping the bill, but no need of the Senate or President to do so). Yet, all the inside-the-Beltway, follow-the-Congress-Members'-lead groups put at least 99.9% of their efforts into the good amendments, and a handful of outside groups put the same share of their efforts into demanding No votes on the bill. You'll virtually never see anybody do both things evenhandedly. And, again, this divide is within that sliver of the population not pretending the military spending bill doesn't exist in order to obsess over the Two Biggest Spending Bills Ever (which are actually, combined, much smaller than the military spending bill in annual spending).

The book that has raised this topic for me is a new one by Leonard Rubenstein called Perilous Medicine: The Struggle to Protect Health Care from the Violence of War. One might expect from such a title a book on the health threat of war itself, the role it plays as a major cause of death and injury, a major spreader of disease pandemics, the basis for the risk of nuclear apocalypse, the senselessly reckless bioweapons labs, the health struggles of war refugees, and the environmental devastation and deadly pollution created by war and by war preparations. Instead it's a book about the need to manage wars in such a way that doctors and nurses are not attacked, hospitals are not bombed, ambulances are not blown up. The author wants health professionals protected and permitted to treat all parties regardless of their identities or that of the health service providers. We need, Rubenstein rightly contends, an end to fake vaccination scams like the CIA's in Pakistan, an end to prosecuting doctors who testify on evidence of torture, etc. We need to carve out of war a safe, respectful, humanitarian zone for those trying to patch up the fighters to continue killing and being killed.

Who could be against such things? And yet. And yet: one can't help but notice the line that is drawn in this book, as in others like it. The author does not go on to say that we must also stop diverting funding from healthcare into weapons, must stop shooting missiles and guns, must stop war activities that poison the Earth and heat the climate. He stops at the needs of healthcare workers. And one can't help but note the predictable framing of the issue by the author's early, fact-free, unfootnoted assertion that "given the human propensity for cruelty, especially in war, this violence will never entirely cease, any more than war itself and the atrocities that too often accompany it will end." Thus war is something separate from the atrocities that constitute it, and they supposedly do not always "accompany" it but only "often" do. But no reason whatsoever is offered for war never ceasing. Rather, the supposed absurdity of that idea is simply brought up as a comparison to illustrate how certain it is that violence against health providers within wars will also never cease (though it can presumably be reduced and the work to reduce it be justified even if the same resources could have gone into reducing or eliminating war). And the idea on which all these assumptions rest is the supposed propensity for cruelty of "humans," where humans obviously means those human cultures that engage in war, as many human cultures now and in the past have not.

We should pause here just to recognize that war will of course cease entirely. The question is merely whether humanity will do so first. If war does not cease before humanity does, and the current state of nuclear weapons remains uncorrected, there is little question that war will put an end to us before we put an end to it.

Now, I think Perilous Medicine is an excellent book that contributes vital knowledge to the world by expertly chronicling endless attacks on hospitals and ambulances during wars by a wide variety of different wagers of wars over many years. Barring belief in the impossibility of reducing or eliminating war, this is a book that can't help but make one want even more than before to reduce or eliminate war, as well as to reform what remains of it (barring belief in the impossibility of such reform).

The book is also an account that is not grossly biased in favor of a particular nation. Very often war reforming correlates with the pretense that war is waged by nations and groups other than the U.S. government or Western governments, while war abolitionists sometimes overly minimize the role played in war by anyone other than the U.S. government. However, Perilous Medicine leans in the direction of blaming the rest of the world by claiming that the U.S. government is partially reformed, that when it blows up a hospital full of patients it's a big deal precisely because it's so unusual, whereas other governments attack hospitals far more routinely. This claim is, of course, not put into the context of the U.S. role in selling the most weapons, starting the most wars, dropping the most bombs, deploying the most troops, etc., because of the focus on reforming war no matter how much of it.

At times, Rubenstein suggests a great difficulty in reforming war, asserting that until political and military leaders hold troops accountable for attacks on the wounded, those attacks will continue, and concluding that violence against healthcare in war is not a new normal because it's a longstanding normal. But then he claims that there are times when public pressure and the strengthening of norms have prevented attacks on civilians. (Of course, and there are plenty of times when the same factors have prevented entire wars.) But then Rubenstein goes Pinkerish on us, claiming that Western militaries have greatly reduced indiscriminate bombing with the result that "civilian casualties from bombing by Western air forces are mostly measured in the hundreds, not in the tens or hundreds of thousands." Read that a few times. It's not a typo. But what can it mean? What war has a Western air force been engaged in that did not have tens or hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties or even of civilian deaths? Can Rubenstein mean the casualty count from a single bombing run, or a single bomb? But what would be the point of asserting that?

One thing I notice about war reform is that it is sometimes not based purely on a belief that trying to end war is pointless. It's also based on the subtle acceptance of the mindset of war. At first it doesn't seem so. Rubenstein wants doctors to be free to treat soldiers and civilians from all sides, to not be constrained to give aid and comfort only to certain people and not others. This is incredibly admirable and the opposite of a war mindset. Yet the idea that we must be more severely offended when a hospital is attacked than when an army base is attacked rests on the notion that there is something more acceptable in killing armed, uninjured, non-civilian people, and less acceptable in killing unarmed, injured, civilian people. This is a mindset that will seem normal, even inevitable, to many. But a war abolitionist who sees war, not some other nation, as the enemy, will be exactly as horrified by killing troops as by killing patients. Similarly, the war abolitionist will see the killing of troops on both sides as just as horrific as each side sees the killing of the troops on its side. The problem is the murdering of human beings, not which human beings. Encouraging people to think otherwise, for whatever good it may do, also does the harm of normalizing war - does it so darn well in fact that extremely intelligent people may assume that war is somehow built into some unidentified substance called "human nature."

Rubenstein's book frames the important debate, as he sees it, as between the Franz Lieber view that "military necessity" trumps humanitarian restraint in war, and the Henry Dunant view to the contrary. But the view of Lieber's and Dunant's contemporary Charles Sumner that war ought to be abolished is not considered at all. The evolution of that view over many decades is missing entirely.

For some, including myself, the reasons for working to abolish war have come to include prominently the good that could be done with the resources devoted to war. Reforming war, just like reforming murderous and racist police forces, can often involve investing even a bit more resources into the institution. But the lives that could be saved by redirecting even a tiny fraction of military spending out of militarism and into healthcare simply dwarfs the lives that could be saved by making wars 100% respectful of health providers and patients, or even the lives that could be saved by ending wars.

It's the tradeoffs of the monstrous institution that sway the balance toward the need to focus, at least principally, on ending war, not humanizing it. The environmental impact, the impact on the rule of law, the impact on civil rights, the fueling of hatred and bigotry, the spreading of violence to domestic institutions, and the incredible financial investment, as well as the nuclear risk, give us the choices of ending war (whether or not mending it) or ending ourselves.

Lieber wanted to reform lots of wonderful institutions including war, slavery, and prisons. With some of those institutions, we accept the obvious fact that we could choose to end them, and with others we do not. But here's one thing we could do very easily. We could frame war reform as part of an effort to reduce and end war, step by step. We could talk about the particular aspects we want reformed out of existence as reasons for both the proposed reform and for total abolition. Such complex messaging is well within the capacity of the average human brain. One good thing it would accomplish would be putting the reformers and abolitionists on the same team, a team that has often seemed on the edge of victories if it could only have been just a little bit bigger.

(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.

Several cattle standing in a grain field. One is looking directly at camera.

Changing Animal Food Could Solve Big Problems
In the short term, we should strive to reduce some impacts of raising animals for food.
By David Suzuki

The environmental implications of feeding eight billion people are enormous. That's also true for keeping the ever-increasing population of domesticated animals fed, whether pets or livestock.

Just as there are better ways to feed people, there are better ways to feed animals. In some cases, it would be best not to raise or keep the animals at all, but for others, simple solutions could substantially reduce environmental damage.

With farmed animals, including fish, it's about the ways we feed ourselves and the animals we eat. Extensive research shows that raising animals for meat, especially cows and sheep, creates massive environmental problems, from nitrogen runoff into waterways to greenhouse gas emissions, including methane.

A 2019 Lancet review concluded that "a diet rich in plant-based foods and with fewer animal source foods confers both improved health and environmental benefits." It found switching to more plant-based diets and improving food production practices would help reduce negative impacts related to climate change, land system change, freshwater use, nitrogen and phosphorous cycling and biodiversity loss.

In the short term, we should strive to reduce some impacts of raising animals for food. One solution is changing their feed. Methane from livestock manure and "gastroenteric releases" (burps and farts) makes up about 32 per cent of human-caused methane emissions. Although methane remains in the atmosphere for a shorter time than carbon dioxide, it's a deadly pollutant and, over 20 years, up to 80 times more potent as a greenhouse gas.

Researchers are exploring feeds made from or supplemented with everything from seaweed or algae to canola to reduce flatulence in cattle, and at ways to better treat, or even use, manure, such as covering or composting it, or using it to produce biogas. By simply mixing red seaweed into the fattening feed of 20 steers, University of California Davis researchers cut methane emissions by 80 per cent. However, critics point out this doesn't address the far greater volume of emissions from pastured cattle.

Feed is also one area to help resolve a major environmental impact of companion and service animals. Cats and dogs, especially, consume a lot of meat. The estimated 8.2 million pet dogs and 8.3 million cats in Canada and 80 million dogs and 60 million cats in the U.S. often eat relatively high-quality meat products, so the impacts are substantial.

One study found "cats and dogs account for 25 to 30 per cent of the environmental impact of meat consumption in the United States, and are responsible for creating approximately 64 million tons of carbon dioxide each year." They also produce millions of tonnes of poop every year, much of it individually wrapped before being sent to landfill, and some contaminating waterways with bacteria, viruses and parasites.

Finding a good source of protein and other essential nutrients with fewer environmental impacts is one solution. Several companies, including big ones like Nestlé-owned Purina, are marketing pet foods made with insect protein. An Ontario company, Hope, is using a mix of black soldier fly protein, chickpeas, yeast and algae.

I once suggested it would be better to feed farmed salmon insects than other fish. Brad Marchant heard, and founded Enterra (which I invested in). It uses black soldier fly larvae for fish and other animal feed. The larvae are rich in protein, calcium, phosphorous, iron and zinc and are easy to raise. Combining them with the other ingredients results in a pet food that's healthier overall than meat-based products, with far fewer environmental impacts - and it has spinoff benefits, such as diverting waste to feed the insects.

A 2017 Dutch review found insect farming requires much less land and water than livestock, has lower greenhouse gas emissions and high feed conversion efficiencies, and is useful as animal or aqua feed. A U.S. company claims "an acre of land can produce about 192 pounds of beef annually, or 265 pounds of poultry," but can yield "65,000 pounds of cricket or 130,000 pounds of black soldier fly larvae."

Insects are also a healthy protein source for people around the world and may gradually gain greater acceptance here.

The interrelated climate and biodiversity crises are at a point where many solutions are needed. Changing how we feed the animals we keep can make a difference. It might even make our animal companions healthier.

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

The Pandora Papers Are A Rare Moment Where The Money Power Is Visible
But you'll note the American money power is mostly absent-maybe because they're already taxed so low under the law.
By Charles P. Pierce

And speech the herald of the gods put in/and named the maid

Pandora/since all those who hold Olympian homes had given gifts to her/sorrows for hard-working men.

-Hesiod, Works and Days

The money power is rarely visible. At its strongest, it operates unseen and largely unheard. Often, we see only what it produces: an unqualified dumbass gets elected to Congress, a national economy "mysteriously" collapses, a village is destroyed by a chemical spill or a town finds out that its drinking water is a chemistry set. And after we discover that the dumbass is fronting for some Kansas billionaire, or that a congressional committee has allowed the financial-services industry to engage in a crime spree, or that some autocrat prime minister or grasping mayor has been sublet by God knows who. Nothing much happens, and the money power grinds on, unseen and largely unheard.


Over the weekend, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists partnered up with 150 news outlets to drop the results of its study of 11.9 million-with-an-M corporate documents. This tremendous exercise in actual reporting outlined what can legitimately be called a worldwide shadow economy that benefits all manner of autocrats, alleged democrats, and outright criminals.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists obtained the trove of more than 11.9 million confidential files and led a team of more than 600 journalists from 150 news outlets that spent two years sifting through them, tracking down hard-to-find sources and digging into court records and other public documents from dozens of countries.

The leaked records come from 14 offshore services firms from around the world that set up shell companies and other offshore nooks for clients often seeking to keep their financial activities in the shadows. The records include information about the dealings of nearly three times as many current and former country leaders as any previous leak of documents from offshore havens.

It's an economy built on secretive offshore banking, private money-laundering empires, and elaborate schemes to loot entire nations and stash the profits in treasure chests made of pixels, and mattresses made of deceitful paperwork.
The secret documents expose offshore dealings of the King of Jordan, the presidents of Ukraine, Kenya and Ecuador, the prime minister of the Czech Republic and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. The files also detail financial activities of Russian President Vladimir Putin's "unofficial minister of propaganda" and more than 130 billionaires from Russia, the United States, Turkey and other nations. The leaked records reveal that many of the power players who could help bring an end to the offshore system instead benefit from it – stashing assets in covert companies and trusts while their governments do little to slow a global stream of illicit money that enriches criminals and impoverishes nations.
Indeed, in a fashion that would seem comical if it weren't so perverse and destructive, the leak, now called The Pandora Papers, exposes a remarkable number of politicians who got elected on "anti-corruption" platforms who then proceeded to grab things with both hands and a gunnysack as soon as they assumed office.
A $22 million chateau in the French Riviera – replete with a cinema and two swimming pools – purchased through offshore companies by the Czech Republic's populist prime minister, a billionaire who has railed against the corruption of economic and political elites.
Which is not to minimize the purely parasitical.

Three beachfront mansions in Malibu purchased through three offshore companies for $68 million by the King of Jordan in the years after Jordanians filled the streets during Arab Spring to protest joblessness and corruption.

It's here where we note that King Abdullah awards an annual prize for transparency, because words never mean what they say anymore.

King Abdullah of Jordan is a powerful man with powerful friends.

Ah, you may be thinking, what does this have to do with the World's Oldest Democracy? The Pandora Papers have something for us, too. It seems that South Dakota has turned itself into the Cayman Islands with snowplows. From the Washington Post:

The files provide substantial new evidence, for example, that South Dakota now rivals notoriously opaque jurisdictions in Europe and the Caribbean in financial secrecy. Tens of millions of dollars from outside the United States are now sheltered by trust companies in Sioux Falls, some of it tied to people and companies accused of human rights abuses and other wrongdoing.

Perhaps the most troubling revelations for the United States, however, center on its expanding complicity in the offshore economy. South Dakota, Nevada and other states have adopted financial secrecy laws that rival those of offshore jurisdictions. Records show leaders of foreign governments, their relatives and companies moving their private fortunes into U.S.-based trusts. In 2019, for example, family members of the former vice president of the Dominican Republic, who once led one of the largest sugar producers in the country, finalized several trusts in South Dakota. The trusts held personal wealth and shares of the company, which has stood accused of human rights and labor abuses, including illegally bulldozing houses of impoverished families to expand plantations.

OK, considering that if it weren't for shadow ownerships and money-laundering, the history of Nevada would be that of a zinc mine with poisonous snakes, that was no real surprise. But Lord, it's been a tough month for South Dakota. First, the state attorney general kills a guy with his car and pretty much skates. Then Governor Kristi Noem's national ambitions take a hit because the AG got back to his office in time to start looking into how Noem's daughter got a license to be a real-estate appraiser. And now it stands revealed as a place where who knows who can stash their money.

And, finally, here's one of the saddest revelations of all.

The United States' wealthiest citizens - including Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who owns The Washington Post; Tesla founder Elon Musk; Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates; and billionaire investor Warren Buffett - do not appear in the documents.

Financial experts said the uber-rich in the United States tend to pay such low tax rates that they have less incentive to seek offshore havens. But their absence from the files also may mean that very wealthy Americans turn to different offshore jurisdictions - including the Cayman Islands - and different companies than those represented in the Pandora documents.

We can only hope that's true. I'd hate to think that our plutocrats don't need to stash their cash because their tax rates are too low. That's too depressing to contemplate.

(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-

"The American people want to know that when they borrow a book from the library or buy a book, the government won't be looking over their shoulder. Everybody wants to fight terrorism, but we have to do it in away that protects American freedom."
~~~ Bernie Sanders

It Isn't Red COVID, It Is Republican Necrophilia - Creepy Love Of Death
By Juan Cole

Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) - The United States has crossed the threshold of 700,000 Americans dead from COVID-19 according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Some 43 million Americans have contracted the deadly disease, which can have long-term health consequences.

In contrast, the 1918 influenza epidemic killed 675,000 Americans. While this is the absolute number and the per capita deaths were much larger because the US then had a third of its present population, it is also the case that there was no vaccine for influenza and fewer Americans then were educated.

Because Republican Party officials, Fox Cable News, Newsmax and OAN, among others on the political Right, deliberately politicized the issue of masks, social distancing and even vaccinations, they created a party-based health divide in the US.

In short, Republicans are sick.

According to Brookings, some 90% of Democrats have been vaccinated, but only 58% of Republicans have been. There is almost no difference in vaccination rates among the major ethnic groups, but our big political tribes are showing a stark disparity.

It is a sad commentary on the country that we allowed this disease to be as deadly in absolute numbers as an early twentieth-century pandemic that took place when automobiles were still a novelty in much of the country. My maternal grandparents went to their wedding in 1920 in a horse and buggy. My paternal grandmother, my late father told me, used to talk about the 1918 pandemic in awed tones; it had clearly traumatized her. Over a century later, our scientists could advise us on how to avoid serious illness and death, and then last spring President Biden was able to roll out successfully the vaccination of nearly 70% of adults- a mammoth public health achievement. If he could have gotten to 85% it is possible that our current Fifth Wave of the virus would not have taken place. The resistance he got from Republicans was key to our current crisis.

A large percentage of the 700,000 deaths were preventable. If more people had worn masks indoors and had tried to keep three to six feet between them and other people in public spaces, the death toll would certainly have been much lower. Almost all deaths since July were avoidable, since very few vaccinated people die of COVID. The vaccinated who do die of COVID typically have other health problems that were on the verge of killing them.

After a New York Times article by David Leonhardt, people are speaking of Red Covid, i.e., the greater number of cases and deaths in Republican states than in Democratic-leaning ones. I grew up in the Cold War, when the Reds were the Communists and Republicans were black reactionaries, so I have trouble getting used to a term like Red Covid. It brings to my mind images of Stalin lying in bed deathly ill.

GOP COVID, whatever you want to call it, is very real.

A couple of weeks ago, if Mississippi had been a country, it would have had the worst per capita death rate from COVID-19 in the world except for Peru. Jake Tapper had the governor and CNN and could not get him to say he would try to do anything about that. He was, however, suing President Biden over the latter's use of workplace safety regulations (OSHA) to mandate vaccinations for workers.

Deaths per 100K in the past week have been high in GOP states-, which crowd the top of this chart:

Deaths per 100,000: 1.72
Daily average deaths: 12.6

Deaths per 100,000: 1.49
Daily average deaths: 26.7

Deaths per 100,000: 1.46
Daily average deaths: 71.6

South Carolina
Deaths per 100,000: 1.43
Daily average deaths: 73.6

West Virginia
Deaths per 100,000: 1.42
Daily average deaths: 25.4

Deaths per 100,000: 1.27
Daily average deaths: 272

Deaths per 100,000: 1.06
Daily average deaths: 11.3

Deaths per 100,000: 1.01
Daily average deaths: 5.9

Deaths per 100,000: 1
Daily average deaths: 44.7

Deaths per 100,000: 0.98
Daily average deaths: 29.3

Deaths per 100,000: 0.97
Daily average deaths: 103.7

Deaths per 100,000: 0.95
Daily average deaths: 274.9

Deaths per 100,000: 0.84
Daily average deaths: 33.4

Deaths per 100,000: 0.84
Daily average deaths: 57.6

Of these, only Kentucky has a Democratic governor, but the state voted heavily for Trump and Republicans dominate the General Assembly and some other high state offices. The GOP there stopped a school mask mandate.

In contrast, the enormous state of California, with 41 million people, only had a 0.27 per 100K death rate. New York is even lower, at 0.23.

The big difference is that a much bigger percentage of the population in the heavily Democratic states is vaccinated. In addition, state officials have adopted more responsible policies regarding masking and social distancing during the Fifth Wave caused by the Delta variant.

In fact, Gov. Gavin Newsom just announced a vaccination mandate for California schools. Schoolchildren had been a major vector of the Delta variant because they hadn't been vaccinated under the age of 12.

It isn't just a matter of Trump states being sicker than Biden states. Rather it goes down to the county level.

In Washington State, for instance, which President Biden carried, the districts where at least 60% voted for Trump have a COVID death rate of 44.4 per 100K population. The districts where at least 60% voted for Biden have a death toll of 6.8 per 100K. The Republican-leaning districts are dying at a rate 6.5 times higher. So reports Austin Jenkins for the Northwest News Network.

Jenkins adds, "The highest death rates were generally concentrated in the 15 most Republican counties in the state, including Cowlitz County which reported 77.7 COVID-19 deaths per 100,000. It also includes Stevens County which has the lowest 12-and-up vaccination rate in Washington and a death rate of 64.6 per 100,000." In Stevens County people are dying at 10 times the rate they are in the pro-Biden counties.

The 1.27 deaths per 100k in just one week in Florida are the direct fault of Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has attempted to stop school districts and even private businesses from imposing mask mandates, as part of his attempt to become the Republican standard-bearer in the 2024 presidential election.

Apparently DeSantis thinks corpses are attractive to his constituency, that they are necrophiliacs.

Scholars argue about whether Edgar Allan Poe's poem Annabel is about necrophilia, the love of the dead:

And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling-my darling-my life and my bride,
In her sepulchre there by the sea,
In her tomb by the sounding sea.
There is not, however, any doubt that most Republican leaders and their constituents suffer from this pathology.

They are not only killing off other Republicans, they are crowding the rest of us out of Intensive Care Units and are raising our insurance premiums by their irresponsibility.

Since it may be possible for unvaccinated individuals who contract COVID-19 to get it again, as people who have had the flu can fall ill with it again later, there isn't even any guarantee that the anti-vax Republicans will ever achieve enough antibodies to stop their rush to the sepulchres, at our expense.


Bonus Video:

Reuters: "U.S. COVID-19 Death Toll Hits 700,000"

(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.

Remembering My Date With Hillary
By Robert Reich

Last Tuesday, during a Guardian Live interview, Hillary Clinton said the United States remained in a "real battle for our democracy" against pro-Trump forces on the far right who are seeking to entrench minority rule and turn back the clock on women's rights.

"I do believe we are in a struggle for the future of our country," she said, adding that "the January 6 insurrection at our capitol was a terrorist attack."

Her words reminded me of the warning she issued back in September 2016 - that Trump had "lifted up" and "given voice" to the "racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic" parts of America. He had legitimized them, she said, with his "offensive, hateful, mean-spirited rhetoric," and she noted that "their websites that used to only have 11,000 people, now have 11 million."

She was widely criticized at the time for demeaning Trump supporters. I suppose calling them "deplorables" wasn't the best way to earn their affection and votes.

But her overall concern was exactly right. She still views America's central challenge as a battle over hate and intolerance, and she's still right.

I first met Hillary Clinton in the fall of 1966 when she was a college sophomore named Hillary Rodham. (Five years later I introduced her to Bill, but that's another story.) She had long hair and thick glasses, and an infectious laugh. She was president of her class and I was president of mine. We were both interested in reforming American education. I invited her out - not so much for a date as a kind of presidential summit. We went to the Nugget Theater in Hanover, New Hampshire, to watch Antonioni's film "Blow Up." That's all I remember.

Fifty years later, when she ran for president, a reporter from the New York Times phoned me. He had come across some of her letters from college. In one of them she mentioned our "date."

His voice grew serious. "Is there anything you can remember from your date with her that might shed light on how she would perform as President?"

I didn't know how to respond. This was the New York Times, for crying out loud. I told him we had gone to see Antonioni's "Blow Up."

"Anything else?" he asked.

I paused. "I probably shouldn't be saying this..." "What's that?" I could hear the eagerness in his voice.

"She wanted an inordinate amount of butter on her popcorn."

There was a long silence.

"Hello?" I asked, fearing my lame attempt at humor had put him off.

"Still here," he said. "Just writing all this down."

(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

Louise in front of our 1986 boat, the Freedom, in DC

Americans Are Fed Up With Both Corporate & Political Grift: Can the Democrats & Biden Reverse That Trend?
Can the anti-grift Democrats pick up enough energy & votes to save America from a total descent into Trump's GOP-corporate-funded Hungary-style grift?
By Thom Hartmann

We've reached "maximum grift" in America, both in business and politics. We're on the edge of a tipping point.

When Louise and I moved to Washington, DC we bought a Chris Craft Constellation 46-foot motorboat to live aboard (in the same marina where Joe Manchin keeps his much, much larger yacht) for the following seven years. It was built in 1986 and all the appliances were original and still worked, including the washer and dryer, stove, and refrigerator.

Try buying appliances today that will last 35 years: they don't exist. Since we've moved back to Portland, we've gone through four toasters in the past five years, although one of my brothers still has my mom's from the 1950s. And don't get me started on dishwashers.

Largely thanks to Ronald Reagan's suspension of enforcement of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act and other similar legislation, the entire American economy has become one giant 40-year-long grift.

Every company, it seems, is trying to hustle us. Pretending they care about customer service or making/selling quality products as a corporate mission statement has become a rude joke. It's all a grift.

So why should it surprise us that our post-Reagan politics have also been dominated by grifters for 40 years?

As I documented in gruesome detail in The Hidden History of Monopolies: How Big Business Destroyed the American Dream, when Reagan and conservatives on the Supreme Court adopted Robert Bork's idea that monopolies were a sign of economic success rather than a crisis, everything has gotten more consolidated and, thus, more expensive.

Cell phone service that costs $15 a month in France or $12 a month in Australia bills out at an average of $61.85 per month in the United States. High-speed broadband that's a bit over $31 a month in France or $36 in Germany (for higher speeds and better reliability than almost anywhere in the United States) averages nearly $70 per month in the US.

Similar metrics are found with pharmaceuticals, airfares, health insurance and medical costs, among dozens of other product and service categories. They're all grifting us, and getting rich doing it.

The average American family pays around $5,000 a year more for the general necessities of life than the average European, Japanese or Australian family. And things are steadily getting worse as monopolistic corporations and cartels tighten their grip on every American industry from banking to telecom to energy and food.

It's all a grift, making stockholders and executives rich while impoverishing working people.

We pay more for pretty much everything and, as a result (along with stagnant wages for 40 years from Reagan's War On Unions) more than half of America is stuck in something close to (if not deep within) a type of debt-driven poverty from which escape is nearly impossible.

Meanwhile, conservatives on the Supreme Court told us that those same rip-off corporations are "persons with constitutional rights" and their "money is First Amendment-protected free speech."

Thus, businesses and billionaires can now buy and sell politicians as easily as they buy and sell companies. Five conservatives on the Court nailed down this new grift in 2010, over the loud and frankly shocking objections and dissents of their colleagues, with their Citizens United decision.

So now corporations are people, and when they want to talk to politicians or voters they do it with their money. It's a whole new grift.

But when corporations kill people - like PG&E did when they were convicted of burning 84 people to death in 2018 and are now facing charges of murdering 4 more people last year - they don't get the death penalty or even have to send their decision-making executives to prison. They just reduce slightly the payouts to their stockholders to cover the fines so they can keep on making money and, from time to time, killing people.

And we just accept these grifts.

Few California politicians dare stand up to PG&E any more than national politicians are willing to stand up to any other corporation: the resources of even middle-sized national and transnational corporations are more than adequate to destroy - or put and keep in office - any politician from the Town Clerk to the United States Senate. Just ask Joe Manchin or Kyrsten Sinema.

A recent column in The Washington Post asked the question: "Why is Washington so dysfunctional?" The author interviewed two former members of Congress (a Democrat and a Republican) and a reporter whose beat is Congress. Not a single one identified the obvious and simple answer to the question: the giant grift driven by money in politics, adopted by literally every Republican in Congress and more than a handful of Democrats, courtesy of the Supreme Court.

It's as if big-money grifting in politics has become so normalized since Reagan that it just doesn't occur to people inside the beltway that it's at the core of our problems.

This is not complicated and voters are figuring it out.

It's why in Joe Manchin's West Virginia, Bernie Sanders carried all 55 counties in the 2016 primary and almost beat the unbeatable Clinton machine nationally, with the entire weight of the institutional Democratic Party behind it.

It's why Bernie and Elizabeth Warren gave Joe Biden a run for his money in 2020.

It's why a sizeable portion of Bernie's 2016 primary voters pulled the lever for Trump once Sanders was off the ballot, including the half-dozen or so active-duty military folks I knew in DC who voted the same way as over 12 percent of Sanders' primary voters who later went for Trump in the general election.

Both Sanders, Warren and Trump ran on anti-grifting platforms. Although Trump's "drain the swamp" rhetoric was a lie, people were so desperate for a politician who wasn't in somebody else's pocket that they suspended their disbelief and voted for him.

Americans are fed up with both the corporate grift and the political grift.

Not knowing what else to do, many are rebelling "against the system" they know is so corrupt, and that rebellion is showing up in all sorts of weird ways from Covid denialism to violent political polarization.

Sensing the rebellion in the air, the slick front-men and -women of rightwing media and the GOP offer white voters a whole new grift by pointing them to an easy villain: Critical Race Theory and dark-skinned immigrants.

Corrupt Democrats are just slightly more sophisticated: when Oregon Democratic Congressman Kurt Schrader voted to block Medicare from negotiating prescription drug prices a few weeks ago, he said he did so because he had a better way to accomplish the same thing. Increasingly, his own voters aren't buying his grift. Any more than Democrats in Arizona think Kyrsten Sinema is "doing the people's work."

There's a definite movement in American politics to reject the Supreme Court-facilitated grift that's handed our political system over to the same billionaire grifters who got conservatives on that Court via legal grifting groups like the Federalist Society.

I remember doing a fundraising event more than a decade ago for the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the only group of members of Congress who generally refuse to participate in the grift or take corporate PAC money. It was a small affair with a half-dozen politicians (including its then-chair, Rep. Raul Grijalva) and around 100 activists.

Today, because Americans are waking up to and rejecting widespread DC corporate-funded grifts with names like "Problem Solvers" and "No Labels," the Progressive Caucus has grown into one of the largest and most vibrant caucuses in DC.

The Republican Party, meanwhile, has embraced a Trumpian grift Viktor Orban pioneered in Hungary with his crony neofascism (CPAC has said they'll hold next year's convention in Budapest).

In Hungary, virtually all the media and all major industries and businesses are now owned by Orban's buddies, the courts are stacked with his loyalists, and dissent is crushed: I laid it out in detail last month here.

Perhaps because of their embrace of Orbán's grift - or maybe because Americans are repelled by open racism and anti-American attacks on our Capitol and our government - the GOP is shrinking in membership.

Meanwhile, outside of a small handful of outliers, Democrats are moving back to their FDR/LBJ social democracy roots with surprising speed.

All but a tiny handful of grifter Democrats, for example, support President Biden's Build Back Better reconciliation package, which will help out American families and begin the challenging process of stopping climate change.

The question is whether the Democratic Party's anti-grift trend-line can pick up enough energy and votes over the next three years to strengthen their majority in the House and Senate to save America from a total descent into Trump's GOP-corporate-funded Hungary-style grift.

And that depends on us.

Make sure everybody you know is registered to vote, and check your own registration to make sure a Republican Secretary of State hasn't purged you from the rolls (now that, in the 2018 Ohio case, five conservatives on the Supreme Court legalized such purges).

This may, quite literally, be our last chance to rip the grift out of our republic. And if we succeed, we can elect politicians who will do the people's business, and get corporations back to making products that last while restoring the ideal of customer service.

(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
~~~ Scott Stantis ~~~

To End On A Happy Note-

Have You Seen This-

Parting Shots-

Biologist Chases Invasive Moth Species Through Crowded Chinatown Marketplace
By The Onion

NEW YORK-Shoving passersby and street vendors out of the way as he maintained a hot pursuit, biologist Luke Thompkins was reportedly chasing an invasive moth species Friday through a crowded Chinatown marketplace.

"Stop that moth! It's already ravaged dozens of local tree populations!" the Columbia University ecology researcher was heard shouting after spotting the invasive Death's-Head Hawk-Moth lingering on a bubble tea shop's outdoor table and failing to swat it before it raced into the busy marketplace streets.

Sources confirmed that Thompkins then lost sight of the moth, only to discover it fluttering in place in front of a dragon costume in order to blend in. The tenured biology professor then trailed the moth down an alley, ducking under crimson lanterns, where the insect darted through a chain-link fence that he then scaled to continue the chase.

At press time, the biologist had turned around the corner of a neon-lit dim sum restaurant only to discover the moth holding a 9-millimeter pistol pointed directly at his head.

(c) 2021 The Onion

Issues & Alibis Vol 21 # 40 (c) 10/08/2021

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