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In This Edition

Norman Solomon considers, "Bernie's Heart. And Ours."

Ralph Nader finds, "Shame Of The Nation: The 1% Rules And The 99% Lets Them."

Glen Ford reports, "The CIA Goes HBCU."

Jim Hightower reminds us, "To Make Democracy Work, We Have To Work It."

Juan Cole reports, "Iraqi Government Teeters As Protest Death Toll Rises To 100, With 4,000 Wounded."

John Nichols explains, "It's Not A Coup, It's The Constitution."

James Donahue examines why, "Our Food Is Laced With Deadly Dioxin."

William Rivers Pitt finds, "GOP "Never Trumpers" Just Think He's Bad For The Brand."

David Suzuki warns of, "The Alarming Links Between Climate, Ocean And Cryosphere."

Charles P. Pierce reports, "President* Trump Abandons The Kurds In Syria Overnight ."

David Swanson says, "Italy Should Make Friends With The U.S. Public And The World By Kicking Out The U.S. Military."

Sinator Moscow Mitch McConnell wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich explains why, "Why 2020 Won't Be Won By Centrists."

Jane Stllwater is the, "Union Maid."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion reports, "Justin Trudeau Explains Deep Spiritual Significance Of Oil Pipelines Through Indigenous Lands," but first Uncle Ernie sez, "Our Great And Powerful Oz."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Milt Priggee, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Ruben Bolling, Tom Tomorrow, Scott Eisen, Jonathan Ernst, No Ho Damon, Sean Gallup, Ahmad al-Rubaye, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Jane Stillwater, AFP, 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 Vidkun Quisling Award-
The Cartoon Corner-
To End On A Happy Note-
Have You Seen This-
Parting Shots-

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

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Our Great And Powerful Oz
By Ernest Stewart

"...if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the economy of Turkey (I've done before!)." ~~~ Donald Trump, 10/7/19

"Ranchers know what's happening, they know that things are shifting, but they're afraid the policy will shift in a way that they will carry the burden of the change. Since they have most of the water, they fear they will have to give up the most, and that it won't be equitable," ~~~ Heidi Steltzer, a biologist at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado.

"Nancy Pelosi's in the clutches of a left-wing mob. They finally convinced her to impeach the president. All of you know your Constitution. The way that impeachment stops is a Senate majority with me as majority leader." ~~~ Mitch McConnell

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

Just when you think that Lying Donald couldn't possibly say anything more about himself that could blow your mind, even more than it's already been blown he says " great and unmatched wisdom!" I'm going to repeat that again, for those of you on drugs...


I've seen better heads than what Lying Donald posses on beers! He's got all the wisdom of a duck! And after saying that, I must make a deep and sincere apology to all the members of duckdom!

Lying Donald said that after announcing he was bringing out all the American troops in Syria along the Turkish border, thus allowing Recep Tayyip Erdogan to attack the Kurds who have been dying in their thousands to destroy ISIS so American troops aren't dying in their thousands to do the same job that the Kurds did. When pointed out to Lying Donald that abandoning our ally the Kurds, to the tender mercy of Erdogan who is ready, willing and able to kill every Kurdish man, woman and child; by not only the Democrats, but by many Rethuglicans too, was a very stupid thing to do. Lying Donald said, "...if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the economy of Turkey (I've done before!)."

I don't know if he winkled when he said it, but we all know he will do no such thing! Don't you wonder what effect this will have on our other allies, both now and in the future? I know I do!

Besides as Lying Donald explained: "And as somebody wrote in a very, very powerful article today, they didn't help us in the second World War, they didn't help us with Normandy as an example." Yeah, I know, WTF!

In Other News

I see where the Colorado mountain snowpack is shrinking and melting earlier in the spring. Warmer and longer summers dry out vegetation and increase the threat of wildfires in western mountain forests, where the fire season has lengthened by at least a month since 1979.

I remember training, when I was at Ft Carson, Colorado, to fight wildfires and got called out by the sergeant for making a silly remark and asked to teach the class if I knew so much, and much to his surprise, and mine, I did. Ft Carson sits outside of Colorado Springs at the foot of Cheyenne mountain and Pikes Peak. This was back about 1967, if memories serves, and even then wild fires were a problem.

Todays growing wildfire risk is just part of an accelerating cycle of global warming impacts in the world's mountain regions, according to a new Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report that includes a section focused on mountains for the first time in more than 20 years.

"Snow cover duration has declined in nearly all regions, especially at lower elevations, on average by five days per decade," the mountain chapter of the IPCC report says. On average across Western North America, the European Alps and High Mountain Asia, temperatures are warming by 0.54 degrees Fahrenheit per decade.

The result is that melting glaciers and changing mountain river flows, disrupting plants and wildlife, and increasing the risk of extreme rockslides, avalanches and mountain floods caused by rain falling on snow.

"Taken together, global warming impacts represent an existential threat to millions of people in the Andes, the Himalaya, the European Alps, and the U.S. Mountain West including Alaska," said Heidi Steltzer, a biologist at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado, and a lead author of the mountain chapter.

"Shrinking glaciers and snow harm Indigenous Peoples and rural communities greatly. Concern, commitment and action on climate change should not depend on which places, species or people are impacted. Instead, they should be motivated by compassion," Steltzer said.

In Crested Butte, about 100 miles southwest of Leadville, hydrologist and physicist Rosemary Carroll studies how disruptions to the water cycle will affect local ranchers and ski areas, as well as drinking and agricultural water supplies hundreds of miles away.

The IPCC assessment found that "global warming will change the timing and amount of runoff, affecting water storage and delivery infrastructure around the world," a finding backed by research focusing on the West.

A 2016 study in six Western mountain ranges showed rising temperatures will shift the snow accumulation zone and runoff timing enough to have significant impacts on water cycles. And some towns in the Rockies and Sierra Nevada are at risk from dangerous flash floods as global warming brings rain, rather than snow, to some mountain regions.

Carroll pointed out her living room window to a craggy ridgeline where she measures how water from melted snow trickles through rocks and meadows down to the East River, on to the Gunnison River and finally into the mighty Colorado.

"The new normal is that the snowpack is melting earlier and we have earlier runoff, and that's a fact. There's going to be less water for a given snowpack. Even in average snowfall years, global warming is reducing the amount of available water for irrigation and storage," she said.

As I've said so many times before, all you folks out in the west should move to the Great Lakes states if you want to have any water to drink, as it's only going to get worse!

And Finally

When Moscow Mitch said the other day, "Nancy Pelosi's in the clutches of a left-wing mob. They finally convinced her to impeach the president. All of you know your Constitution. The way that impeachment stops is a Senate majority with me as majority leader." So Moscow Mitch won't let Lying Donald be impeached, was anybody surprised? I certainly wasn't.

I knew from the get go that impeachment was dead in the water as soon as it arrived in the Senate but I supported impeachment anyway. Trying to impeach Lying Donald does two positive things. First we had to impeach him or else he would feel free to do any act of treason that crossed his mind, and without the impeachment the case could be made that we support his crimes! Second anyone in the Senate that votes with Moscow Mitch will be saying they support Lying Donald's crimes and will be open to being removed from office as their opponents will certainly use their vote against them come November of 2020.

My only question is "are the people of Kentucky that stupid and traitorous to reelect Moscow Mitch?" They must be, as they keep electing the bastard! Be that as it may, this week's winner of the Vidkun Quisling Award is Moscow Mitch (the bitch) McConnell.

Keepin' On

If you think that what we do is important and would like to see us keep on, keeping on, please send us whatever you can, whenever you can, and we'll keep telling you the truth!


07-17-1935 ~ 10-04-2019
Thanks for the film!

08-19-1939 ~ 10-06-2019
Thanks for the music!

01-13-1935 ~ 10-06-2019
Thanks for the laughs!

08-24-1945 ~ 10-08-2019
Thanks for the music!


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So please help us if you can-?

****** We've Moved The Forum Back *******

For late breaking news and views visit The Forum. Find all the news you'll otherwise miss. We publish three times the amount of material there than what is in the magazine. Look for the latest Activist Alerts. Updated constantly, please feel free to post an article we may have missed.


So how do you like Trump so far?
And more importantly, what are you planning on doing about it?

Until the next time, Peace!

(c) 2019 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Facebook. and like us when you do. Follow me on Twitter.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) shakes hands with supporters following an event
at Plymouth State University on September 29, 2019 in Plymouth, New Hampshire.

Bernie's Heart. And Ours.
Bernie has a huge and eternally healthy heart, filled with the lifeblood of empathy and dedication. In essence, that's what the 2020 Sanders campaign is all about. Not him. Us.
By Norman Solomon

Along with being where all blood goes, the heart is an enduring metaphor. As Bernie Sanders recovers from a heart attack, now might be a good time to consider some literal and symbolic meanings.

Bernie immediately used his heart trouble to advance a central mission. From the hospital, he tweeted: "I'm fortunate to have good healthcare and great doctors and nurses helping me to recover. None of us know when a medical emergency might affect us. And no one should fear going bankrupt if it occurs. Medicare for All!"

That's the kind of being "on message" we so badly need. It's fully consistent with Bernie's campaign and his public life. ("Not me. Us.") He has never been a glad-hander or much of a showman. He's always been much more interested in ending people's pain than proclaiming that he feels it.

About 10 years ago, I was lucky enough to dialogue with Bernie during an "in conversation with" event in San Francisco, where several hundred people filled the room. Before we went on stage, there was a gathering in a makeshift green room that raised a small amount of money for his senatorial campaign coffers. "I've never been good at raising money," he told me.

I thought about that comment when the news broke a few days ago that the Bernie 2020 campaign raised a whopping $25.3 million during the last quarter, with donations averaging just $18. Bernie never went after money. It went after him; from the grassroots.

From the middle of this decade onward, as the popularity of Bernie and his political agenda has grown, so has the hostility from corporate media. The actual Bernie campaign is in sharp contrast with cable TV coverage as well as press narratives.

The campaign looks set to fully resume soon. When Bernie left the hospital on Friday, NBC News quoted the chief of cardiology at the UC San Diego School of Medicine, Ehtisham Mahmud, who said that the three-day length of hospitalization indicates the senator "probably had a small heart attack"-and "they require really a very short recovery time."

So, from all indications, Bernie will soon be back on the campaign trail-once again hammering on grim realities that are evaded or excused by the political and media establishment, like the fact that just three individuals (Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett, and Bill Gates) have as much wealth as the bottom half of the entire U.S. population.

Last month, in an interview about his proposal to greatly increase taxes on the extremely rich, Bernie said: "What we are trying to do is demand and implement a policy which significantly reduces income and wealth inequality in America by telling the wealthiest families in this country they cannot have so much wealth." Such concentrations of wealth-and the political power that goes with it-are antithetical to genuine democracy.

For his entire adult life, Bernie Sanders has been part of social movements intent on challenging such profit-mad industries as corporate healthcare, financial services, mass incarceration, and the military-industrial complex that cause so much opulence for the few and so much suffering for the many. The enormous inequalities of wealth and power are systemic and ruthless-with devastating effects on vast numbers of people.

That's where the heart as metaphor is apt. Bernie has a huge and eternally healthy heart, filled with the lifeblood of empathy and dedication. In essence, that's what the Bernie 2020 campaign is all about. As he has been the first to say, it's not about him, it's about us. How much compassion and commitment can we find in our hearts?

(c) 2019 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."

Never has the drug industry accumulated more profits and government
subsidies, yet so many patients cannot begin to afford lifesaving medicines.

Shame Of The Nation: The 1% Rules And The 99% Lets Them
There has never been so much but so little for the majority.
By Ralph Nader

There has never been more access to food-domestic and imported-yet hunger is an ongoing problem everywhere. In the U.S. alone, 16.5 million children go to bed hungry and 20% of community college students are experiencing "food insecurity."

Never have there been more communications technologies, yet it is harder to get through to people personally than fifty years ago.

Never have people been able to use their right to free speech so unencumbered, yet a torrent of lies are now spread so freely and are often unchallenged.

Never have there been higher corporate profits, yet staggering amounts of poverty and near poverty remain along with stagnant wages.

Never have there been more medicines to alleviate pain, yet far too many of these pain killers have caused massive fatalities and addictions.

Never has there been more liquid corporate capital piled up, yet corporate investment is proportionately lower than before. Instead, CEO's have burned over 7 trillion dollars in unproductive stock buybacks in the past decade.

Never have there been more exercise outlets, exercise machines and apps, yet obesity is still rampant.

Never have there been more tax breaks for big businesses, yet big businesses use so little of the windfalls for productive investments, good jobs and shoring up pensions.

Never has there been more free access to information, yet so little retained knowledge.

Never have there been more impressive muckraking film documentaries and books that expose corporate and government crimes, yet this media attention produces less impact and reform.

Never have there been more ongoing impeachable offenses and statutory violations by a president, yet the opposing Party in Congress have been reluctant to move on the many articles of impeachment. Remember how fast the unified House of Republicans moved to impeach Bill Clinton in 1998 for perjury and obstruction of justice?

Never have there been more trainers, sports physicians, protective equipment and guards for professional athletes, yet there are far more injuries and days lost by players than was the case sixty years ago. Now there are helmets, gloves, pads, cushioned walls, better shoes etc. Why?

Never has there been more to read, yet there are so few readers reading. Historically, we have gone from illiteracy to literacy to aliteracy!

Never before has technology made it so easy for heads of government to meet, yet fewer international treaties are made. (Eg. Cyber, water, environment, consumer, labor etc.)

Never has there been such an outrageous corporate crime wave, yet law enforcement budgets have decreased! The more big CEO's are paid, the worse is their management. (Eg. The big banks twelve years ago, General Electric for years.)

Never before have there been so many wrongful injuries, yet the court budgets are becoming tighter and the law of torts is being restricted. Without the defense of and use of our civil justice system, wrongful injury cases cannot go to court with a trial by jury.

Never before has there been more corporate fraud, yet agencies tasked with bringing this fraud to justice have smaller budgets and more limitations. The budget of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is a third of one day's worth of health care billing fraud, which is estimated this year to be $350 billion, according to Harvard's national expert on the subject, Professor Malcolm Sparrow. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has been straitjacketed by the evil corporate crime abettor Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House Chief of Staff for corrupt Donald.

Never has the drug industry accumulated more profits and government subsidies, yet so many patients cannot begin to afford lifesaving medicines.

Never have the under-taxed super-rich been so rich, yet on average give a smaller proportion of their money to "good works." Actually, middle and lower income people give more proportionally than do the ultra-wealthy.

I could go on and on. Pick up the pace, readers. Senator Elizabeth Warren has correctly called for "big structural changes."

(c) 2019 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).

By Glen Ford

The world's most prolific assassins, regime changers and disinformation specialists have been given free rein to recruit and shape curriculum at the largest Black higher education system in the nation.

The Southern University System has opened its arms to the CIA with an agreement to allow the agency to recruit operatives and shape classroom workshops and curriculum on the system's five historically Black campuses in Louisiana. According to a press release featuring the smiling faces of Southern University president-chancellor Ray Belton and agency operatives, the super-spooks hope to "foster ongoing relationships with key university staff and personnel" and gain access to "a qualified and diverse applicant pool." University chief Benton -- the "Spook Who Opened the Door," not to be confused with "The Spook Who Sat by the Door," the Black insurrectionary novel and movie - said the CIA connection enhances Southern's "public-private partnerships portfolio." He praised the "reputable stature" of the CIA as "an asset to the university, students and faculty."

The Southern University-CIA collaboration is a gift from President Trump, the first of many in-plain-sight CIA infiltrations of Black higher education envisioned under his White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Defenders of hard-pressed HBCUs will doubtless offer an "any port in a storm" excuse for subjecting young Black minds and underpaid faculty to the enticements of global Murder Incorporated - the assassins of Patrice Lumumba and countless other freedom fighters, as well as the planet's most accomplished psychological warfare specialists. Some Negroes are capable of excusing anything - and do.

The White House initiative to foist the CIA on Black colleges pre-dated revelations that a CIA agent assigned to the executive mansion fingered Trump as attempting to coerce the Ukrainian government into reopening an investigation of Democratic Party presidential contender Joe Biden's son's suspicious dealings in that country. The Democrats hope to make the charge the basis of impeachment proceedings, having failed to make the case for collusion between Trump, "the Russians" and Wikileaks in the public airing of Democratic National Committee dirty linen during the 2016 campaign. "Russiagate" was the Democratic Party's excuse for losing to the Republican who they thought was the easiest to beat. But the CIA is the chief conspirator, the guiding hand in the still-active mass psychological warfare operation against a president considered by the Deep State to be far too undependable to manage the Empire (for example, Trump's repeated, but clumsy and partially stymied efforts to disengage from the CIA-directed jihadist war against Syria). The CIA agent detailed to the White House is now hailed by Democrats and their corporate media as a "whistleblower," when the only CIA agents that can be considered whistleblowers are those that blow the whistle on their own agency. Meanwhile, as Danny Haiphong writes in this issue of BAR, the real whistleblowers, "Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, and Edward Snowden remain in prison or exile as enemies of the state."

But Trump is too stupid to bar the scorpions from his White House, no matter how many times they sting him. Maybe he thought the spooks would be gratefully distracted by a White House-initiated entre to historically Black colleges and universities. But then, nothing stays in Trump's fevered brain for more than an instant, and then poof! -- on to another tweetable subject.

The main source of the CIA's newfound acceptability in Black America is the Democratic Party, whose Black minions have insanely embraced the agency as part of the "resistance" to Trump's raging racism. The saddest example is Los Angeles Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who in the Nineties indicted the CIA for facilitating the crack cocaine invasion of Black communities as part of its terrorist war against Nicaragua. Waters was in her right mind back then. The CIA distributes drug franchises as payment for collaboration in its dirty wars around the world, thus avoiding the need to go to Congress to finance its machinations. It is no coincidence that the current capitals of the heroin trade (Afghanistan) and cocaine (Colombia) are centers of CIA intrigue, as was Southeast Asia (heroin) two generations ago. Now Waters believes every word the agency says about Russian plots to elevate Trump and subvert American "democracy" - and for one reason: the Russiagate story purports to implicate Trump, the Racist Orange Menace. Such Negroes are no defense against either Trump's old style, cracker fascism or the CIA's 21st century playbook for global US corporate police state fascism.

The old Maxine Waters would be rallying Congressional Black Caucus colleagues to block the CIA from infesting HBCU campuses. But she's in too deep, as is the rest of the Caucus - the most pitiful actors in the CIA's Russiagate scheme -- captured by the world's biggest organized crime machine.

(c) 2019 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

To Make Democracy Work, We Have To Work It
By Jim Hightower

The awful truth about the corporate and governmental power elites in our democratic society is that they really don't like democracy at all. They prefer to rule by buying lawmakers, hiring lobbyists, running Orwellian PR campaigns, and relying on authoritarian police power to control The People.

They pay lip service to our right to protest, but they mean we should send emails, letters, and phone calls to our congress critters - about as effective as screaming "stop it" at a category 5 hurricane. But Americans are innately rebellious, so ultimately they push back against the stupidity and avarice of elites. Witness the 31 members of Greenpeace who dared to exercise their First Amendment rights to assemble and speak out forcefully against the fossil-fuel industry's destruction of humanity's living environment. To be heard, these stalwarts amplified their voice with a creative, direct-action protest: They teamed up to dangle 11 of their members from a massive 440-foot-high bridge spanning the Houston Ship Channel, the largest petrochemical waterway in the US.

The idea was to momentarily stop the 700,000 barrels of climate-altering oil that Exxon, Chevron, Shell and others ship out under this one bridge every day, thus dramatizing the destructive scale of fossil fuel use. It worked. For some 18 hours, the activists stayed suspended and no tankers moved through the channel.

But the larger political message was that if just 11 inveterate democracy protesters can stall the Big Oil colossus, the great majority of people who want to stop climate destruction for good can do it by rising up in force. As one of the bridge climbers put it: "I want to show people that we have power to pressure our politicians and change our system. We know there's a better world out there, but we have to demand it."

(c) 2019 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

Iraqi protesters during clashes amid a demonstration against state corruption, failing
public services, and unemployment in the Iraqi capital Baghdad on October 5, 2019.

Iraqi Government Teeters As Protest Death Toll Rises To 100, With 4,000 Wounded
Youth protesters are upset about the spoils system in the Iraqi government. They are upset about the government's inability to deliver basic services or sufficient jobs. They are exercised about severe corruption.
By Juan Cole

Protests broke out again in Baghdad on Saturday, leaving 15 dead. The government had shut down the internet a few days ago in a bid to quell the widespread rallies, but returned partial service yesterday, which allowed activists to call for further protests.

The Neoconservatives and the Bush administration pledged that if America invaded Iraq and reshaped its politics, it would become a shining beacon on a hill. Then it turned out that the Neoconservatives and the Bush administration could not find their asses with both hands, and left Iraq an enormous mess. (They also left the US an enormous mess by 2008 and our current crisis is rooted in their failures).

The government of Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi vastly over-reacted to the protests, using live fire in an attempt to disperse the crowds and wounding thousands of people. These tactics were intended to cow the protesters but had the opposite effect.

Abdul-Mahdi is in substantial trouble since on Friday Muqtada al-Sadr, the head of the largest party in parliament, the Sairun, joined the protesters in demanding that the prime minister step down. Al-Sadr, whose constituency lies in the Shiite slums of Baghdad and Iraq's southern cities, had backed Abdul-Mahdi for prime minister despite his being from a party, the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI), which has splintered and which did not do well in the elections.

There is a provision in the Iraqi constitution for a vote of no-confidence that can be initiated by a petition of 50 members of parliament. Without the Sadrists, it is not clear that Abdul-Mahdi could survive such a vote. On Saturday, an attempt to hold a parliamentary session to respond to the crisis was thwarted when Al-Sadr's party, Sairun, boycotted, and no quorum could be reached.

Abdul-Mahdi had been a Communist in his youth and then later on joined the Khomeinist ISCI. In the past 15 years he mellowed and became known as a pragmatist, even toward the United States. But he and his cabinet are still from the parties that came to power under Bush, and Iraqis are turning on them.

Popular discontent may have been artificially quelled in 2014-2018 because of the fight against ISIL, which wanted to kill as many Shiites as it could. But now that the terrorist organization is a shadow of its former self, discontents have come to the fore.

The current round of anti-corruption actions differs from anti-corruption drives of two and three years ago, which were organized in part by the Iraqi Communist Party and the Sadrists (fundamentalist working-class and poor Shiites who follow cleric Muqtada al-Sadr).

In contrast, these protests are actually targeting the major political parties that have dominated Iraqi politics since 2005 in the wake of the Bush administration's 2003 invasion.

In the city of Nasiriyah and elsewhere in Dhi Qar province, crowds set fire to the offices of nine political parties and militia organizations, including those of the Communist Party of Iraq, the Badr Corps (a pro-Iranian militia-party), and the house of the member of parliament from Nasiriyah from the Da'wa Party, one of the stalwarts of the government.

The protests were set off last week when the government gave a desk job in the Ministry of Defense to popular war hero Abdul-Wahhab al-Saadi, who had been the number two man in the Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service (ICTS). Al-Saadi had played a key role in defeating ISIL (the cult organization that styled itself the "Islamic State group"), and was known to avoid collaborating with Iran-backed Shiite militias. Al-Saadi is himself a Shiite, born in Sadr City and with roots in the Shiite south of the country. He simply is an Iraqi nationalist who did not want to be beholden to Iran or its Iraqi proxies. Likewise, Dhi Qar Governorate is almost entirely Shiite, but the crowds targeted Shiite parties and militias.

The youth protesters are upset about the spoils system in the Iraqi government, whereby the parties with the most seats are given cabinet ministries in which they hire party members. They are upset about the government's inability to deliver basic services or sufficient jobs. They are exercised about severe corruption.

It has been estimated that between 2006 and 2014, $500 billion of oil sales receipts and foreign aid disappeared through some of the most massive corruption in history. Despite raising its oil production to 4.5 million barrels a day at a time when oil prices have firmed up, the government appears to be broke. Other oil states have sovereign wealth funds of hundreds of billions of dollars, and often hold similar amounts in foreign currency reserves.

The Iraqi government has zero zilch nada. I visited Baghdad in 2013 and it was like watching "Back to the Future" and going to 1985. In contrast to Doha, Dubai and Kuwait City, the Iraqi capital was almost devoid of new buildings and seemed worn down and dowdy, as though no investment had been made in its infrastructure or building stock in three decades. You had to wonder where all that oil money went. Saddam Hussein wasted a lot of it on ruinous wars with Iran and Kuwait. But after 2003 enormous sums came in, and it must all be in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

One report I read said that recently the price of tomatoes has jumped by 300 percent. Ordinary Iraqis are finding it difficult to make ends meet. The local leaders of political parties and their foot soldiers in contrast are living well at the public trough, which is why the crowds burned their headquarters.

(c) 2019 Juan R.I. Cole 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.

Donald Trump pats his bicep and pumps at an August 2019 rally.

It's Not A Coup, It's The Constitution
Trump's exploitation of his position and its authority is precisely what presidents are supposed to be impeached for.
By John Nichols

There is always a good debate to be had about whether Donald Trump is lying or just ignorant. But the discussion gets even more interesting when the president's ignorance informs his lies.

Trump reached this intersection last week when he tweeted: "As I learn more and more each day, I am coming to the conclusion that what is taking place is not an impeachment, it is a COUP, intended to take away the Power of the People, their vote, their freedoms..."

That's rich coming from a guy who lost the popular vote in 2016 by 2.9 million ballots and only scraped into the Oval Office with an Electoral College majority that relied on narrows wins in three states (Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin) where most voters backed candidates other than Trump for the presidency.

What Trump does not seem to understand is that it was not the voters of the United States that made him president, it was a constitutional construct. The founders established a federal system of governance that was so bent on empowering the states that it allowed popular-vote losers to claim the nation's highest office.

Trump didn't used to like this construct-on Election Day in 2012, he tweeted, "The electoral college is a disaster for a democracy...."-but he has learned to appreciate it.

What he must now appreciate is that the same founders who in 1787 established the route by which Trump attained the presidency also put in place the procedures for checking and balancing his abuses of that presidency.

Impeachment is not a legal mechanism. It is a political power, written into the Constitution by people who-having recently fought a revolution against the madness of King George III-wanted to guard against the accumulation of power by autocrats who might abuse their authority to enrich themselves or to warp foreign and domestic relations in order to extend their tenures. The founders feared the prospect that a president chosen using the arcane processes they had established for filling the post might choose to make himself "a king for four years" or an "elected despot."

"No point is of more importance than that the right of impeachment should be continued," George Mason told the Constitutional Convention in 1787. It was, Mason suggested, the essential answer to the question: "Shall any man be above justice?"

Now, Trump seeks to avoid the justice that might extend from the impeachment inquiry that has been launched by the House of Representatives. He wants his Twitter followers to imagine accountability as "a coup." In fact, this inquiry is a necessary response to precisely the sort of abuse that caused the founders to fret: an unpopular president using his position to pressure a foreign country to dig up dirt on the man who might be his opponent in an upcoming election.

The strongarm tactics the president employed to get Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to agree to an investigation targeting Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden meet the classic definition of an impeachable offense. The same goes for Trump's public hectoring of China to investigate the man Democrat who beats him in most 2020 match-up polls. As Senator Mitt Romney noted after Trump's "brazen and unprecedented...wrong and appalling" outburst on Thursday: "When the only American citizen President Trump singles out for China's investigation is his political opponent in the midst of the Democratic nomination process, it strains credulity to suggest that it is anything other than politically motivated."

Trump's surrender to that political motivation to exploit his position and its authority is what presidents are supposed to be impeached for.

The founders intentionally employed the catch-all phrase "high crimes and misdemeanors" to give the guardians of the American experiment who would come after them leeway necessary to hold presidents to account for "brazen and unprecedented...wrong and appalling" behavior. There was no requirement that a specific violation of statute be identified-though in Trump's case it would not be difficult to name a few. An impeached official is not charged by a prosecutor and tried in the courts; nor is he or she jailed or fined if found guilty. An impeached official is charged by the House of Representatives, tried by the Senate, and removed from office if convicted.

This is a sufficient remedy, as the point of impeachment is to protect the republic, preserve the rule of law, maintain proper checks and balances, and respect the US Constitution. The president may imagine that he faces a coup. In fact, he faces a reckoning with the requirements of a document that he swore an oath "to preserve, protect and defend."

No one is going to accuse Donald Trump of being a constitutional scholar. It may be that he has never even read the document. But its impeachment standard still is constant. It remains what Representative Barbara Jordan, understood it to be when she described for the House Judiciary Committee during the Watergate inquiry of 1974, "an essential check in the hands of the body of the Legislature against and upon the encroachments of the Executive."

Impeachment is not "a coup" against democracy and the rule of law. It is the proper and necessary response to a president who threatens democracy and the rule of law.

(c) 2019 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.

Our Food Is Laced With Deadly Dioxin
By James Donahue

Among the long list of evil things getting into the human food chain is a common chemical by-product from industrial, commercial and residential burning that goes by a general term: dioxin.

The name dioxin describes a group of hundreds of chemicals and various chemical compounds created from the burning of chlorine with hydrocarbons. It is produced in many industrial processes; most commonly in plastic plants, the bleaching process in pulp and paper mills, chemical and pesticide manufacturing, and waste incineration. Because these plants exist in almost every corner of the United States, and people still insist on burning trash in home burners or even those burn barrels in their back yards, you can find dioxin in the soil, our water, our food, and worst of all, in our bodies.

If you are thinking ho-hum, here we go again with another food scare, consider this.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization, determines that the most potent form of dioxin is a class one carcinogen. That means it causes cancer in humans. It is mostly linked to cancers that form in the fatty areas of the body like the breast and male prostate.

Small minute amounts of dioxin are known to cause nervous disorders and a variety of health problems linked to the human reproductive system. It also is linked to heart attacks and a wide variety of other health problems.

A report by the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency states that there appears to be "no safe level of exposure to dioxin," that even trace amounts of this compound can be linked to adverse health effects. Not only is it a cancer causing agent, exposure to dioxin can "cause severe reproductive and developmental problems," and "cause immune system damage and interfere with regulatory hormones."

The EPA study also found that the general U.S. population is "carrying around levels of dioxin that are probably causing, or will cause adverse health effects."

Here are some statistics that might make you sit up and take notice.

Since the chemical plants began producing dioxins in large amounts about 50 years ago, the sperm count in men worldwide has dropped to 50 percent of what it was then.

The incidence of testicular cancer has tripled and prostate cancer has doubled.

Endometriosis, the painful growth outside the uterus of cells that normally line the uterus, once a rare condition, not afflicts 5 million American women.

In 1960, a woman's chance of developing breast cancer during her lifetime was one in 20. Now it is one in eight.

Dioxins collect in the human body, mostly in the fat cells. Men have no way to get rid of dioxins. Pregnant women, on the other hand, can pass it on to their babies while they are in the womb, and later feed it to the children in fatty breast milk. Thus breast-fed babies, especially from non-vegetarian mothers, are ingesting large quantities of this deadly chemical before they can even walk.

One of the big culprits in this horror story has been our love for fast food, meat and fatty dairy products. Government studies show that dioxins also collect in the fat in farm animals, and are passed on to humans who consume these animals or their by-products that include milk, cheese, and eggs. Another high-risk food is fish, especially the fish from inland lakes and streams where dioxin levels are high.

Arnold Schecter, an international medical expert on dioxins and an advisor to the World Health Organization, said the only way for people in industrialized countries to avoid the intake of dioxins is to eat food that is low in fat. And in the United States that means our diet should be restricted mostly to fruit, grains and vegetables.

While dioxins are clearly shown to be highly toxic and a certain threat to public health and safety, world governments are doing little if anything to protect the public, according to advocacy groups like the American Public Health Association (APHA).

In the U.S., for example, no agency is monitoring dioxin levels in foods, or even looking at the health effects of dioxin and other synthetic chemicals that end up in our food. Yet the threat of dioxin, and its presence, has been known for several years.

I suspect that the reason for this is that the cost of cleaning up this particular industrial mess is so overwhelming nobody wants to take a serious look at it. Like so many other evil things we do that are affecting our environment, the production and consumption of dioxin is something neither our industrial leaders nor our government want to deal with.

The policy seems to be to continue business as usual

(c) 2019 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.

GOP "Never Trumpers" Just Think He's Bad For The Brand
By William Rivers Pitt

Colin Powell - retired four-star general, national security adviser to Ronald Reagan, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff under George H.W. Bush and secretary of state under George W. Bush - had some mildly scolding words for Donald Trump and the Republicans, and for some reason this is supposed to be a big deal.

Speaking alongside fellow former Secretary of State Madeline Albright on October 1 at the New Albany Community Foundation in Ohio, an event hosted by CNN's Fareed Zakaria, Powell was gently walked toward an opportunity to criticize both Trump and the party he has so thoroughly subsumed. Powell reared back mightily and lashed out with kitten paws.

"The Republican Party has got to get a grip on itself," Powell said. "Right now, the Republican leaders and members of the Congress, both in the Senate and the House, are holding back because they are terrified of what will happen to any one of them if they speak out. Will they lose a primary? I don't know why that's such a disaster, but will they lose a primary? And so, they need to get a grip, and when they see things that are not right, they need to say something about it."

Word of Powell's gentle reprimand first emerged on Sunday, and by Monday morning the news wires were thrumming with seeming import. After all, this is Colin Powell, Respected Man. Corporate news media outlets, still clinging to the idea that the GOP is something other than the bloody mayhem factory it is, love any opportunity to roll Powell out as some sort of last-gasp example of "responsible Republican leadership." After all, everything was so much better when men like Powell were in government, right?


Powell's penchant for playing footsie with atrocity dates back more than 50 years. His ability to look the other way when doing otherwise might hamper his career began with the massacre at My Lai, when he whistled past reports of civilians being slaughtered by U.S. forces in Vietnam without tarnishing his own brass-to-be. Powell was up to his eyeballs in the Iran/Contra scandal but again emerged unscathed, despite having served as top deputy to Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, who was indicted for his role in the scandal but later pardoned by George H.W. Bush. Powell played out the last bit of the Reagan administration as national security adviser before moving on to the next Republican administration.

While serving as chairman of the joint chiefs, Powell's endorsement of a more active U.S. military engagement in Somalia toward the end of the first Bush's lone term led directly to the shootdown of two Blackhawk helicopters in Mogadishu in the summer of 1993. Responsibility for this debacle, later chronicled in the book and film Blackhawk Down, fell squarely on then-President Bill Clinton, who was not pleased at being left holding the bag for the prior administration's policies in that country.

"Some of [Clinton's] anger was privately aimed at Colin Powell in a personal pique," wrote historian David Halberstam in his book War in a Time of Peace. "Talking with reporters in later years, Clinton would often harp on Powell's role in Somalia, that he had signed on to the partial escalation and yet had accepted none of the blame."

As chairman of the joint chiefs under the first President Bush, Powell first gained public gravitas as a military man during the 1990 invasion of Panama, which took the lives of thousands of civilians. He went on to famously preside over the first Gulf War, which we are still fighting in various forms some 28 years later. After spending the Clinton administration on the shelf, Powell was welcomed back into the circles of Republican power when he became secretary of state under George W. Bush.

It was at this juncture that Powell's talent for running through the raindrops without getting wet was most sorely tested. In voluntarily becoming the diplomatic face for the intentions of war-bent neoconservatives like Dick Cheney and Paul Rumsfeld, Powell became complicit in one of the most outrageous crimes in U.S. history.

In point of fact, that crime - the invasion, occupation and plunder of Iraq - was profoundly enabled when Powell lent his Respected Man aura to the fiction that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. In the 16 years since he lied to the United Nations and the world about those weapons, millions of people have been killed, maimed or displaced by the war he helped unleash.

My most vivid personal memory of Colin Powell is of that U.N. presentation. Five months earlier, I had come out with a book that thoroughly debunked the Bush administration's WMD argument for war in Iraq. On that day in February 2003 when Powell addressed the U.N., I was still teaching high school. Finding some time between classes, I rolled the TV cart out into the common room so I could watch his presentation.

Students gathered around me as I watched Powell lie through his teeth on that screen. They were all wide-eyed and fearful, because the last time they had seen the TV cart was at the beginning of the prior school year, on September 11. "Is it another attack?" they kept asking me. "No," I replied, "but it is probably war."

The attack known as "Shock and Awe" came the following month, thanks in large part to Powell's imprimatur of legitimacy. Powell has largely escaped censure for his part in the Iraq debacle; once again, it wasn't his fault, according to him. His face that day, and the frightened faces of my students as they watched him, will be with me forever. Those kids were watching their futures change for the worse, right there on live television.

This is not merely the story of Colin Powell, one man whose ruthless careerism placed him at the center of power during three Republican presidential administrations. This is also the story of those administrations, and all the lawless Republicans who flowed through them, looting and destroying as they went.

When Colin Powell says, "The Republican Party has got to get a grip on itself," he is clearly inferring that the Trump administration, abetted by the largesse of congressional Republicans and opinionmakers, is some sort of aberration. This is the pleasant fiction he represents, as if the GOP was some sort of masterpiece society that only became sullied when the bad man from New York City came to town.

Stuff and nonsense. Donald Trump has blown the GOP's cover. His brutal actions have upended their mythology and exposed the party for what it really is: A greed machine in service to a racist white Wall Street/war power structure whose core blood-soaked morality has not changed in 400 years.

Powell, like so many other Republican "Never Trumpers," doesn't criticize Trump for his policies, which are mostly in line with what has been mainstream Republican thinking since Barry Goldwater's time. Powell doesn't like Trump because he is bad for the Republican brand, period.

Colin Powell has been living in a glass house since 1968. It's high time someone shattered it, if only to spare the rest of us the image of yet another Republican war criminal being treated like a Respected Man on television. One Henry Kissinger is enough.

(c) 2019 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.

In every scenario the IPCC examined, it found extreme sea level events that previously
occurred every 100 years will likely happen every year by 2050 at many locations.

The Alarming Links Between Climate, Ocean And Cryosphere
By David Suzuki

We've been dumping oil, plastic, toxic chemicals, radioactive sludge, sewage and fishing gear into the ocean for decades.

We depend on oceans for so much, including half the oxygen that keeps us alive! They're a source of protein for many people worldwide, and they absorb much of the rising heat from our indiscriminate fossil fuel burning. So, why do we treat them so badly?

An alarming new Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report makes clear the link between climate, ocean and the cryosphere (places where water is in solid form, as ice or snow, including the Arctic and Antarctic, glaciers, permafrost, ice shelves, icebergs and sea ice).

The "Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate" concludes that unnaturally rapid, human-caused global warming is altering oceans and the cryosphere faster and at a much larger scale than predicted earlier. When ice and snow cover shrink under higher global temperatures, we can expect increasing landslides, avalanches, floods, wildfires and risks to water availability and quality. We'll also feel impacts on "recreational activities, tourism, and cultural assets."

The ocean is talking the brunt of the excess heating, about 90 per cent. Without serious action to address the crisis, severe impacts will continue to increase.

The IPCC notes greenhouse gas emissions and other human activity have already warmed the planet 1 C above pre-industrial levels. "There is overwhelming evidence that this is resulting in profound consequences for ecosystems and people. The ocean is warmer, more acidic and less productive. Melting glaciers and ice sheets are causing sea level rise, and coastal extreme events are becoming more severe."

The report - by more than 100 authors from 36 countries who referenced about 7,000 scientific publications - found that, because greenhouse gases remain in the atmosphere for many years, already occurring trends will likely accelerate, including diminishing marine life, increasing storms, melting permafrost and shrinking ice caps. If we fail to reduce emissions and take other measures to slow global heating, the consequences will be far worse.

The IPCC has projected sea level rise by 2100 to be 10 centimetres more than it predicted in 2014 - between 61 and 110 centimetres - mainly because Antarctic ice is melting faster than expected. The IPCC tends to be conservative in its estimates. Others predict sea levels could rise by as much as 238 centimetres if we don't get emissions under control.

The researchers say that, even if warming is kept below 2 C, we can expect trillions of dollars in coastal damage every year and millions of migrants fleeing from coasts, now home to about two billion people.

In every scenario the IPCC examined, it found extreme sea level events that previously occurred every 100 years will likely happen every year by 2050 at many locations. These include more intense, frequent tropical storms with stronger winds and more rainfall, increasing harm to kelp forests and other important ecosystems, coral reef destruction, declining food fisheries and increased flooding from rising sea levels. Loss of ice and snow cover also causes feedback loops that speed up warming, as snow and ice reflect heat while dark surfaces absorb it.

A OneOcean initiative news release points out that three of the most serious impacts of climate breakdown on the ocean - acidification, heating and deoxygenation - have been present in every mass extinction in Earth's history. This severity means controlling other stressors is critical. "Overfishing, pollution, destruction of habitats, ecosystems and biodiversity are all stressors that can be stopped in order to support the resilience of the ocean to withstand the climate crisis," the release says.

As with all climate-related problems, there's no shortage of solutions; we just need the political will to implement them.

OneOcean recommends protecting under international law the two-thirds of ocean that makes up the high seas (those areas outside national jurisdictions), curtailing overfishing and pollution, strengthening biodiversity targets and tackling climate disruption in every way possible.

Our profligate burning of fossil fuels and destruction of water and land areas that absorb excess carbon have already set unavoidable consequences in motion, but it's not too late to avoid the most dire costs of climate disruption. We all need to heed the science and get on with solutions.

(c) 2019 Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co_founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.

President Trump Departs White House For Walter Reed National Military Medical Center

President* Trump Abandons The Kurds In Syria Overnight
This is a nightmare only a twisted, compromised mind could concoct.
By Charles P. Pierce

You get the feeling now that, with time running out on El Caudillo del Mar-a-Lago and his retinue of crooks and mountebanks, all the dark debts he owes to people for their help in getting elected are coming due, the debts to Vladimir Putin and the Volga Bagmen first among them. There was the extortion plot aimed at a newly elected president of Ukraine whose country already was in what is at the very least a warm war with Russia. Now, in a decision announced in the dark of a Sunday night, the administration has decided essentially to green-light a potential slaughter of the Kurdish fighters who did so much to dislodge ISIS in Iraq.

Even accepting that every presidential administration of recent vintage has sold out the Kurds in one way or another, this is a monumental betrayal and without question the single major foreign policy blunder perpetrated by Camp Runamuck in the White House. Here's the official statement, which dropped just as Patrick Mahomes was dropping (again) in Kansas City Sunday night. Here's the official bill of sale for another piece of the American soul.

Trump huddles with his buddy Erdogan at the
2018 NATO Summit in Brussels, Belgium.

So Erdogan, another authoritarian yahoo whom the president* admires, now has our permission to enter northern Syria and do what he will to the two million Kurds who live there. This is cutting and running at its most embarrassingly idiotic. There is no telling what will become of the ISIS prisoners, and there is horrible precedent as to what will happen to the Kurds. They lost some 13,000 fighters winning the victory over ISIS that the president* who will watch them be slaughtered has the audacity to claim as his own. Russia will have a field day in Syria as well.

You will note the customary note of petulance in the White House release, which reads like something an angry high-school junior would write after a particularly unsuccessful prom date. "The United States government has pressed France, Germany, and other European nations, from which many captured ISIS fighters came, to take them back, but they did not want them and refused. The United States will not hold them for what could be many years and great cost to the American taxpayer." Well, he certainly showed them, didn't he? This is a nightmare that only a twisted, compromised mind could concoct. God help us cope with whatever comes next.

(c) 2019 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-

"Never try to discourage thinking, for you are sure to succeed."
~~~ Bertrand Russell

Italy Should Make Friends With The U.S. Public And The World By Kicking Out The U.S. Military
By David Swanson

In the late 1980s when I was a teenager and an exchange student in Bassano del Grappa I loved Italy for the same reasons I've loved it ever since, reasons that include natural and human-created and human beauty. I found Italians on average to be friendly, kind, generous, loving, fun-loving, humble, self-critical, and intelligent. It may have also helped a little that when I told other young people that I was from the U.S. they typically thought that was super cool. Older people told me that the United States had saved Italy from Nazism.

I didn't know enough to point out that the U.S. government and U.S. elites had fueled the rise of Nazism which had drawn on Wall Street funding, U.S. segregation laws, U.S. eugenics programs, U.S. camps for Native Americans, and the support of the U.S. government. I didn't know enough to point out that the notion of the United States as savior was being kept alive by the failure of the U.S. troops to ever leave Italy, but that they were in Italy for the purpose of aggressively attacking other countries for reasons that were anything but rescuing people from Nazism. I didn't know that the U.S. government had considered Russia a threat to extreme wealth, inequality, and global domination, and had viewed the Soviet Union as the primary enemy right through the rise of Nazism and Fascism, right through the war, and following.

I didn't know the U.S. left troops and saboteurs and spies behind, interfered in Italian politics, and viewed Italy from Day 1 (day 1 in U.S. culture is Pearl Harbor Day) as a piece of an empire to be imposed in the name of anti-imperialism.

I had no clue that there was more than one way for a people to be saved or to save itself. I had attended the best schools the United States had to offer, and nobody had told me that nonviolent campaigns had overthrown tyranny and even foreign occupations more successfully than violent campaigns. If Italy had been saved in some ancient time that I knew nothing of, and if that somehow explained why it was normal for there to be U.S. troops in Vicenza, who was I to question?

I made friends with one of those U.S. troops, skipped school, and went skiing with him. He was quite a nice guy, nothing violent about him. Nobody told me what the U.S. military did, that it illegally kept nuclear weapons in Italy, that it poisoned Sardinia practicing mass murder, that flying airplanes into ski lifts was not a price to be paid for something necessary but a price to be paid for something sociopathic. Italians told me that the most offensive thing U.S. troops did was wear blue jeans to go skiing.

I'd never heard of Evian, France, not far from Italy and the site of one of the conferences at which the governments of the world publicly and shamelessly decided not to accept the Jews out of Germany.

I'd never heard of Veterans For Peace or one of the heroes of that group, Smedley Butler. Here was the most decorated U.S. Marine there had ever been, a famous model general, a hero to all war lovers and all veterans, who was imprisoned for having publicly stated that Benito Mussolini ran over a little girl with his car and made some casual remark about only looking forward as he sped on. Speaking badly of Mussolini was bad for U.S.-Italian relations. The U.S. government loved Mussolini. So, Smedley was locked up. But later, the wealthiest people in the United States tried to hire Smedley to lead a fascist coup against President Roosevelt. Historians think it might have succeeded, except that Smedley went to Congress and exposed the plot. He also denounced war and his own career as a criminal racket.

Years later, when I did know a tiny bit of what I should have, I visited Vicenza to participate in protests against base expansion. I also met with U.S. Congress members in Washington together with Cinzia Bottene and Thea Valentina Garbellin, two of the leaders of the No Dal Molin resistance to the bases. I remember the Congress members and staffers wanting only to ask one question: If not in Vicenza, then where should we put a base? And Thea and Cinzia, to their eternal credit, answered: Nowhere! - which was far more polite than where I wanted to tell them to stick it.

U.S. and NATO bases are not helping Italy. They're not protecting Italy from . . . well, from what? They have no enemy. The United States spends half of the world's military spending. The other NATO nations are badgered by Donald Trump into spending another quarter. That's three-quarters of world military spending. NATO nations also account for some three-quarters of foreign weapons sales. The regions of the globe with most of the wars manufacture almost no weapons. The United States sells weapons to 73% of the nations that it considers dictatorships, and trains most of them. U.S. and NATO wars generate enemies. And yet, when you watch U.S. officials try to explain to Congress why they need over $1 trillion to fight their enemies, the results are comical. Russia spends a few percent of what NATO does on war. A recent drone attack on a Saudi oil plant, which was apparently far more serious than the bombing of human beings in Yemen, cost less than the student debt of a single U.S. college student, and could not have happened without the U.S.-led creation of drone wars and the U.S.-backed genocidal assault on Yemen.

So, Congress members shamelessly claim that expanding NATO to Russia's border is a jobs program for weapons jobs in the United States. Jack Matlock said this to Vladimir Putin who looked at him like he was crazy. And U.S. military officials anonymously admit to U.S. newspapers that the whole new cold war is driven by the desire to keep NATO and the Army rolling along and weapons profits flowing, even though economists will tell you that war spending is the worst possible thing for an economy.

NATO has now illegally and disastrously bombed Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Serbia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Libya, exacerbated tensions with Russia, and increased the risk of nuclear apocalypse. But U.S. media tells us NATO is a way to cooperate with our friends in Europe, as if there are no nonviolent ways to cooperate with anyone - and that NATO is a way to legalize wars, as if a crime is not a crime when you get a gang together for it. And the mental disease called militarism has taken such root in Europe that plans are developing for a European military. The solution to NATO is not to clone it.

The case that we make at World BEYOND War is that, not only can no war be justified on its own, but no war can achieve the infinitely higher mark of justifying the existence of the institution of war. Three percent of U.S. military spending could end starvation globally; a little over 1 percent could end the lack of clean drinking water. A bit larger slice of military spending could put up a serious, and hardly dreamed of, effort to reduce the environmental catastrophe we are facing. Tiny bits of the military budget in humanitarian aid could make a nation loved and honored around the world rather than resented. War is a top cause of environmental destruction, of refugee crises, of the erosion of civil liberties, of the militarization of police and culture, of racism and xenophobia, of the risk of nuclear apocalypse.

By building a coalition that takes on war and all of the other evils it contributes to, we can find the numbers and the power to change things. This is why many of us risked arrest to shut down Washington for the climate on September 23rd.

World BEYOND War is working on three areas. One is education. We talk to college classes, and in less than an hour virtually every student is moved to drop the common belief that sometimes war is justified. Another is divestment. We're getting local governments and universities and investment funds to take money out of weapons. The third is closing bases.

I believe that Italy should make friends with the U.S. public and the people of the world by kicking U.S. bases out. I recommend showing widely the video by CNGNN called "Italy is One Big U.S./NATO Military Base." Second, let everyone in the United States know how much they're paying for the bases, troops, weapons, and related wars. Tell them you want to save them money. They love money. Third, do everything you can to annoy Donald Trump and push him to demand that Italy pay higher fees for the privilege of being occupied by U.S. bases. Fourth, investigate the poisoning of drinking water near each U.S. base for carcinogenic permanent chemicals that kill forever, and which have sickened and killed people around U.S. bases all over the world. These chemicals are found in foam used to practice putting out fires, and much of the world uses safe alternatives. Fifth, make sure every person in Italy knows what they are paying, and knows that the United States can fight its wars without Italian bases or any foreign bases because it has airplanes, and knows that the United States views Italy as a colony, and knows that the United States builds its bases and poisons the environment without conceding any rights to Italians, and knows that Donald Trump thinks they are idiots, and knows that millions of people in the United States would be thrilled if Italy declared itself a peaceful and neutral nation.

By the way, a law passed by the U.S. House but not yet by the Senate would require that every foreign U.S. base be justified as somehow making the United States safer. So please start preparing reports on every base that does NOT make the U.S. more "secure."

I'm on my way this week to World BEYOND War's annual conference which is in Ireland this year near an airport that the U.S. military sends troops and weapons through purely in order to involve Ireland in its wars. We're working to end that practice and establish Ireland as a model of neutrality.

I'm going to pass around a two-sentence pledge to help end all war that has been signed in 175 countries and is found at Please sign it if you agree with it. Perhaps one of these years we can have our conference and rally in Italy.

(c) 2019 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.

The Dead Letter Office-

Moscow Mitch in happier days.

Heil Trump,

Dear Uberfuhrer McConnell,

Congratulations, you have just been awarded the "Vidkun Quisling Award!" Your name will now live throughout history with such past award winners as Marcus Junius Brutus, Judas Iscariot, Benedict Arnold, George Stephanopoulos, George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, Prescott Bush, Sam Bush, Fredo Bush, Kate Bush, Kyle Busch, Anheuser Busch, Vidkun Quisling, and last year's winner Volksjudge John (the enforcer) Roberts.

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your pledge not to impeach Lying Donald no matter what the evidence shows, Yemen, Syria, Iran and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Republican Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Trump at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 11-23-2019. We salute you Herr McConnell, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

Why 2020 Won't Be Won By Centrists
By Robert Reich

I keep hearing that the Democratic primary is coming down to someone who's "electable" versus someone who has "ideas."

This is pure nonsense. Beating Donald Trump requires getting out the vote. And in order to get people to turn out and vote, a presidential candidate has to be inspiring. Which means big ideas, a vision of an America that could become a reality if we all got behind it, a sense of where we need to be heading.

Don't be fooled. This primary is not a contest between someone who's electable and someone who has big ideas. Big ideas are essential in order to be electable.

Something else I'm hearing is that the contest is between someone who's a moderate and a candidate who's on the left.

Well, that's rubbish. All the babble about moderate or left assumes we're back in the old politics where the central question was the size of government.

But today the real contest is between the people and the powerful - the vast majority of Americans versus an oligarchy that's amassed most of the nation's wealth and power.

That small group of hugely wealthy and powerful people got a giant $2 trillion tax cut from Trump and his Republican enablers, and they want to pay for it by trashing Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act.

The oligarchy would rather we fight among ourselves for the scraps they've left behind than see what's really happening. Divide and conquer: Middle class against poor, white against black, native-born American against immigrant, Christian against Muslim. That way we don't see that they've been looting America.

Trump's followers don't see he's really a tool of the oligarchy, doing their bidding, reorganizing America so they accumulate even more wealth and power. And as long as we fight among ourselves, we don't join together and reclaim our economy and our democracy.

One final thing I've been hearing is that we should go back to the way it was before Trump. That's baloney.

The way it was before Trump brought us Trump. The way it was before Trump was an economy rigged for the benefit of the few, stagnant wages, socialism for the rich and harsh capitalism for everyone else, a health care system whose co-payments and deductibles were out of control and still didn't cover 30 million Americans, and big money controlling our politics.

No, we don't want to go back to the way it was before Trump. We have to go forward.

So don't accept false choices about who's electable versus who has ideas, who's moderate versus who's on the left, or whether we need to go back to the way it was before Trump.

In reality, what's going to beat Trump are new ideas that mobilize America, that let Americans see what the wealthy and powerful who bankroll Trump have done to this nation, and get us looking forward to what America should be rather than backward to an America that was never as good as it could be.

(c) 2019 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

Union Maid
My wonderful visit with President Assad
By Jane Stillwater

The phone rang in my hotel room in Damascus the other day. "Get yourself down to the lobby ASAP!" said someone, not sure who. I dashed out the door, flew to the elevator, ran to the buffet table, grabbed up some tomatoes, feta cheese, hummus and tea. I was ready for anything!

And guess what I was ready for? Get outta town! Apparently President Assad himself was going to meet with us today -- trade-union representatives from all over the world. Holy cow! This is some heavy-duty shite.

"He will shake your hand," said the person next to me. "There will be high levels of security involved. In fact, an Israeli drone could even blow us all up!" What a hot story that would be for my blog -- except that it won't happen because a fortune-teller told me years ago that I'm not spozed to die for another nine years.

I just hope that I don't blubber and drool.

And then suddenly we were all on the move. Out the front door of the conference center. Herded through security screening. Boarded onto a bus. Driven down the mountainside to downtown Damascus. Dropped off in front of Syria's answer to the White House West Wing. Nice carpet. "There he is!" And then here's me, actually shaking hands with President Assad. "Thank you for saving Syria!" I exuded like some star-struck school-girl Beatles fan. And then the President of Syria spoke to our group.

"The conflicts here are unreal," he said. "Not that they don't exist but they are unreal in that they don't express the real interests of the working people of the world's countries. We here in Syria try to express the real interests of working people. That's why I'm happy to meet with you today -- because skilled workers represent the veins and the arteries of every society. If the working class is okay, the society is okay." Except of course in America where they are treated like disposable peons and peasants.

"War is the most important challenge for us now. We're trying to express the interests of the Syrian people -- and for this we are paying a great price. And all through the rest of the world as well, even including conflicts in Ukraine and the South China Sea, the same foundation is represented -- the conflict between workers and the wealthy. All the wars are linked to this conflict. All are interconnected."

Sad but true. From Vietnam in the 1960s to Iraq, Ferguson, Venezuela, Yemen, Afghanistan, Palestine, Detroit, Flint and Honduras today, working people are getting screwed by the wealthy. Woodie Guthrie was right.

"State presidents have become more like CEOs, working for corporations. And if they don't pay the corporations, they will no longer be president. In one night alone, 250 million dollars of weaponry was fired on Syria." Who profited from that? Trump had his marching orders for sure.

"And regarding France's President Macon? The same thing happened. He gave the order to attack Syria and suddenly he is a hero! Elections are focused on financial interests alone. In countries across the world, there have been campaigns to weaken trade unions -- so that the only ideology that remains is brutal globalization." President Assad has been badly maligned by the Western media -- solely because he refused to go along with this program.

"For every ten dollars in profit, one study said that eight dollars goes to the world's wealthy. This is a great failure because workers are not partners. CEOs get millions, hundreds of millions of dollars at the end of the year. The gap between producers and owners has widened." No one in their right mind can deny this.

"In the 1970s, the workers' role in politics widened and they played a major role here in Syria. And then we got sanctioned and blockaded. We here in Syria have never been extremists. But everybody else was going toward privatization throughout the world and conditions for workers elsewhere got worse and worse."

1970s? That reminds me. I owe President Assad an apology. I had believed that his father was a tyrant -- but here in Syria I've been schooled with the truth. America hated Assad's father because Hafez Assad also supported the working class. WTF? Even I had fallen for that cheesy American propaganda. Sorry about that.

"We currently have a vibrant private sector here in Syria but the workers also have a big role. We no longer have tourists or exports [due to America's proxy dirty "war" on Syria] but you can see that employees still get salaries. Education is free here, and so is healthcare." Wow! I coulda had a free root canal on my sore tooth!

"People die for their country here because they are partners in this country -- but we don't think this [proxy invasion] will end any time soon, however, due to globalization processes." If some strong-arm entity invaded America, would Americans drop all their petty differences, unite together and fight against the invader? Hard to say. We've already let global corporations invade us -- gave up without a fight. But the Syrian people obviously have all joined forces and fought back. Good for them.

"When workers become real partners in governing, then our work is done. There are no conflicting interests when public interests become everyone's interests. Terrorists and proxy terrorists will no longer exist." Then President Assad thanked us for visiting Syria during these difficult times. "Any questions? Please feel safe to speak freely." What an opportunity! But then a lot of trade-union reps blew it by not asking actual questions but just describing themselves or making pretty speeches using diplomatic protocol. C'mon, guys! Ask a freaking question! President Assad is knowledgeable, friendly, amiable and approachable. Don't pass up this magical chance! Don't make me stand up and ask those questions myself!

Finally the union rep from Germany asked a question. "What about the international banking system? How does Syria find a role outside of that? Perhaps with the many other countries now being sanctioned?" Good question, German guy.

"We're working on it. The United States is now also blockading itself." Yep, that's us -- happily shooting ourselves in the foot by declaring economic war on so many other countries, spreading ourselves too thin by declaring yet another stupid "war" that, even though it is harming Syrians now, will in the long run hurt America more. In the future, nobody on the entire planet is gonna want to "friend" America.

"Most of the products we used to import from America, we now import from other countries. 20 years ago we would have been in trouble -- but not now. It is a whole different world. A network of new relations and new systems. Russia is working on a new banking system for instance. With every country we trade with there is a different agreement with credit lines."

I've run worn out at least two ballpoint pens in the past 24 hours alone. This is interesting stuff.

More union reps spoke. No more questions, however. Mostly just rhetorical stuff. But then Max Blumenthal stepped up to the plate. Oooh, this is gonna be good. "Why has the Syrian military not hit back after all the Israeli attacks?" Wow. He actually went there.

"There is a plan -- America, France, Israel, etc. have cost us almost 50% of our army. We have done much but we still have significant steps. We need more deterrent capabilities. We did not have significant capabilities. They had material and capabilities but we have a long-range plan." Yeah what! The American bullies picked on Syria just because they could -- but at great cost Syria has actually fought back. American schoolyard bullies and their ISIS proxies weren't expecting that. Humph.

And an Iranian union rep finally came up with a good question too. "What's happening in Idlib and what about sanctions? How do you face sanctions?"

"We will liberate every part of Syria," the president answered. "The stages of our plan will continue to liberate us all. As for the U.S. airstrikes, they said that they attacked al Qaeda but they actually made attacks against us. Some Syrians have acted against their own country but most are highly patriotic. We can talk about a real victory, however, only when we can make independent decisions -- but at this point the American financial powers are greater than in Europe so America is still the policy decider. As for sanctions, the U.S. still has a monopoly on technology. 10% of Air Bus parts are American."

Syrians clearly love Syria under President Assad. For instance, over 390,000 Syrian refugees and some 1.3 million internally displaced persons have returned back home just since last year. They don't want to hang out in Europe or Jordan or even Lebanon. They want to be safely back home with President Assad. They vote with their feet.

"The next step should be restoring Syria's infrastructure. We have a common vision. We can't wait, can't change anything by criticism...." I missed what President Assad said next because my translation transmitter just turned off. New transmitter. Problem solved.

"Workers' unions are very active in Syria. They act as advocates. They are financially organized and cover all of the country even to the remotest village. They have excellent pension plans and give workers vacations and healthcare."

In fact, before being cruelly invaded by American, Zionist and Saudi proxies, Syria was well on its way to being one of the most advanced countries in the world. I read somewhere that before America and its terrorist proxies invaded it, Syria was ranked number ten worldwide in something or other. Healthcare? Education? Good stuff like that.

Hell, the main reason that America demanded "regime change" in Syria seems to be that all those green-eyed monsters in DC simply got too jealous for their own good. "What's mine is mine -- and what's yours is mine too." It's okay for toddlers think like that -- but shouldn't we expect more from our national leaders? Right now, President Assad is looking more and more like the kind of guy that we would like to have as a president. Not an "evil dictator" at all, President Assad actually is the working-class hero that Trump pretends to be.

And in another comparison, the U.S. House of Representatives is currently considering impeaching Donald Trump for some dumb-arse thing that he said in a phone call. But what about all the horrible and barbaric murders he committed in Syria? Or even his many deplorable crimes against America workers? How come no one is impeaching him for that?

PS: While I was shaking hands with the honestly-elected President of Syria, someone took a photo of us. So. If anyone has a copy of said photo, pleeze let me know. Gotta hang it on my wall. Gotta put it on my FaceBook page!

(c) 2019 Jane Stillwater. Stop Wall Street and War Street from destroying our world. And while you're at it, please buy my books!

The Cartoon Corner-

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Milt Priggee ~~~

To End On A Happy Note-

Have You Seen This-

Parting Shots-

Justin Trudeau Explains Deep Spiritual Significance Of Oil Pipelines Through Indigenous Lands
By The Onion

EDMONTON, CANADA-Responding to criticism of the Trans Mountain oil pipeline during a visit to Alberta, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau told reporters Thursday that pumping nearly a million barrels of oil a day through indigenous lands would be a ritual of deep spiritual significance to his people.

"These pipes are a sacred tradition handed down by my ancestors, a reminder of our connection to the land and the riches it can provide," said Trudeau, who described his participation in age-old rites in which his family and friends would prostrate themselves before pipelines, praying for the safe passage of the petroleum within.

"Just as the smokestack rises from the ground, so too must the pipe go beneath the earth. The Creator has imbued the sands of this province with great bounty, and with the proper offerings of oil company subsidies and construction grants, we may be so blessed as to profit from its gifts."

At press time, Trudeau had concluded his remarks by inviting members of the press to join him in a traditional pipeline-blessing ceremony, beginning with the ritual application of refined black oil all over one's face and body.

(c) 2019 The Onion

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Issues & Alibis Vol 19 # 39 (c) 10/11/2019

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