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In This Edition

Greg Palast returns with, "Roger Waters: Hey, Judge, Leave Donziger Alone."

Ralph Nader explores, "Solar Energy On The Frontlines And Old-Fashioned Clotheslines."

Leonard Pitts Jr. asks, "They Wanted To Lynch You At The Capitol, Mr. Pence. But That's The Media's Fault?"

Jim Hightower explains, "Why Corporations Pay Millions For Executive Mediocrity."

William Rivers Pitt says, "To Understand The Debt Ceiling Crisis, Observe The Far Right Clown Show In Idaho."

John Nichols reports, "Trump's Coup Attempt Is Far From Finished."

James Donahue concludes, "Denying Bad News Makes Us Feel Good."

David Swanson considers, "Harry Potter And The Secret Of COP26."

Bill McKibben wonders, "When Will We Have The Last Oil Spill?"

Charles P. Pierce says, "The Whole World Is A Castaway Ship These Days."

Juan Cole reports, "Wahhabi Saudi Arabia Has A More Rational Vaccine Mandate Than The US Republican Party."

Robert Reich explains, "How Trump Might Save The Democrats."

Thom Hartmann finds, "The Newest Big Pharma Scam Exposed."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Waterford Whispers News reports, "Pandora Papers Prove It's Never Been More Important To Crack Down On Dole Cheats," but first, Uncle Ernie sez it, "Could Be Bad News For The Redwoods And Torrey Pines?"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Christopher Weyant, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Ruben Bolling, Catherine Watters, Zach D. Robert, Scott Olson, Samuel Corum, Nathan Howard, Chris Madden, Septimiu Balica, Suriyapong Thongsawang, Allen J. Schaben, Los Angeles Times, Palast Investigative Fund, Robert Reich, Jim Hightower, Pexels, AFP, Unsplash, Shutterstock, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments-

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Could Be Bad News For The Redwoods And Torrey Pines?
Global warming strikes again!
By Ernest Stewart

"The fog comes on little cat feet. It sits looking over harbor and city on silent haunches and then moves on." ~~~ Carl Sandburg

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

On the many trips I took flying up from Los Angeles to San Francisco about 45 minutes out of when we landed there was a thick coat of fog obscuring the land from the air. It has been the defining factor of why the redwood forrests haven't burnt to the ground like much of California has.

Fog is a defining element of summer in Santa Cruz, obscuring the view of day trippers descending the hills to the coast and prompting kids to bundle up to hop on their bikes for summer adventures. Its fingerprints are visible in the vast coastal forests, even when it isn't hanging in the air. The redwood trees towering in a clear blue sky soak up moisture from the fog on gray days. It is often their only source of water for months at a time.

Fog is essential for plants and animals, agriculture and human health, not only in California but in coastal zones around the world. But many scientists believe that fog is declining, another casualty of global warming.

Throughout California and the Western United States, some shifts driven by global warming are easy to see: increasing temperatures, shifting wind patterns and changing ocean currents. Fog trends, on the other hand, are as hard to grasp as the mist itself.

"It's an incredibly sensitive point between water being vapor, and water being liquid," said Alicia Torregrosa, a project scientist at the U.S. Geological Survey and director of the Pacific Coastal Fog Project. "And that transformation, that transition, [is] driven by more things than you can even count," she said.

Fog's most noticeable human impact is on transportation, because delays to shipping, road traffic, air travel and freight cost billions of dollars per year. Unusually persistent fog can blight important food crops, but it is beneficial to others, including the huge fields of artichokes and pumpkins along the Central Coast of California that thrive in just the right combination of light, temperature and moisture delivered, in large part, by coastal fog belts. And water harvested from fog is becoming increasingly important for people in arid, subtropical areas that are drying out with global warming.

Yet evidence is starting to mount supporting what has for years been anecdotally reported by shoreline residents and scientists-fog is vanishing from many shoreline zones, including the California coast and Santa Cruz region. While the reasons for the decline are hard to decipher, solving the mystery is crucial to understanding the future of fog and whether it will continue to grace our coastlines, nourish crops and sustain the redwoods.

California has already warmed between 1 and 2 degrees Fahrenheit since 1900. Even if greenhouse gas emissions slow dramatically, the state's most recent climate assessment projects that by 2080, Santa Cruz will have a climate like Goleta, 200 miles to the south, which is currently 2.3 degrees Fahrenheit warmer and 31 percent drier.

In a 2010 paper, Todd Dawson, a professor of integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley, and James A. Johnstone, a graduate student, collected airport flight-control records along the entire West Coast, from Baja to British Columbia, dating back to 1951. Their analysis, the most comprehensive data on fog patterns along the Pacific coast, showed that on average, fog has decreased about 30 percent in the past 60 years.

"In the '50s, coastal California, Santa Cruz included, was getting about 12 hours of fog every fog season, per day," Dawson said. "Now it's gone to about nine hours a day. So, shorter duration per day, and also per season-the fog season is actually shorter, too." Historically, the fog season would last from June to October, but more recently, Dawson said, it often doesn't start until July.

Dawson, whose research largely focuses on coastal redwoods, said he's already seeing the impacts of lessened fog on the ancient giants. Their range will gradually shrink, he said, as areas on the edge of the misty zone, like Big Sur, become too warm and dry, and fog disappears. Small redwood trees are already dying there, and larger trees are showing signs of distress.

"Growth is compromised in some of the older trees," he said. "They're not growing as much each year, they're thinning their canopies."

Dawson added, "That's kind of a telltale sign that the southern end is drying out to a point where eventually the redwoods are not going to be able to sustain themselves; they're just not going to make it." Whether that happens in 10 years or 100 years is uncertain, but the change is obvious. "I've been studying redwoods for 25 years, and I've seen it happen over the time that I've been studying them," Dawson said. "I'm alarmed by what the future looks like." And so am I!


03-21-1963 ~ 10-10-2021
Thanks for the film!

07-04-1956 ~ 10-11-2021
Thanks for the music!


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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.

Greg Palast and Roger Waters in front of the federal courthouse in Manhattan on Oct 1, 2021 following the sentencing of human rights lawyer Steven Donziger.

Roger Waters: Hey, Judge, Leave Donziger Alone
By Greg Palast

Roger Waters of Pink Floyd fame attended the trial and persecution of Steven Donziger, the human rights lawyer who defended the Cofan indigenous people of the Amazon against Chevron Oil.

Waters actually sat through several days of the trials, horrified at the brain-damaged political hacks that pass for judges in the United States. Unlike in his native Britain and other advanced nations, US judges are picked by politicians.

And since the politicians are picked by corporate powers, well.... It would not have surprised us if the judge came in wearing the Chevron logo on her robes. Waters wrote the judge a note, but realized it would not impress the Republican Torquemada: She don't need no dark sarcasm in the courtroom.

"This choir will sing at the top of its lungs until we get justice."

~ Roger Waters speaks at the post-sentencing Free Donziger rally on Oct 1, 2021.

Donziger was sentenced to 6 months in jail for Contempt of Court in a Manhattan courtroom on Friday, October 1, 2021. It was the maximum sentence for the Class B misdemeanor, and a uniquely onerous one for a technical violation by an officer of the court (a charge Donziger is appealing) that is usually punished by a slap on the proverbial wrist. Instead, Judge Preska, who presided over the contempt case and denied Donziger a jury trial, said she was giving him "the proverbial 2 X 4 between the eyes."

Waters, who attended the hearing, spoke at the post-sentencing "Free Donziger" rally outside the courthouse, lambasting the Judge. "Preska today kept reiterating what happened in the RICO trial. I was sitting there...desperate to stand up, call her a liar in court," said Waters.

"The RICO trial... I was there. I watched it. It was a complete put-up job... When it went to trial... to appeal in the Second Circuit, I've never been able to understand why the appellate judges were not allowed to hear the testimony that said that the chief witness for Chevron in the RICO trial was a man called Guerra, who lied through his teeth. He was paid $2 million by Chevron to lie in court."

"And it's super important. It shows that that was a kangaroo court. And this is a kangaroo court as well. But we're not going anywhere. This choir will sing at the top of its lungs until we get justice, not just for Steven Donziger, but for the people of Ecuador whose lives have been destroyed."

(c) 2021 Greg Palast is author of the New York Times bestseller, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, Armed Madhouse and the highly acclaimed Vultures' Picnic, named Book of the Year 2012 on BBC Newsnight Review.

Solar Energy On The Frontlines And Old-Fashioned Clotheslines
By Ralph Nader

Solar energy comes to Earthlings in many ways. Ancient Persians used passive solar architecture. East Africans about the same time funneled cool ocean wind through tunnels to cool themselves.

Now at long last, solar energy is outpacing new fossil fuel and nuclear facilities on price, environmental safety, and speed of installation.

One use of solar that has not received enough attention is drying clothes with clotheslines or clothes racks. Before global warming and our climate crisis became a public concern, some local governments banned backyard clotheslines as community eyesores. Fortunately, 20 states have passed "Right to Dry Laws" that allow people to use this simple low-tech and appropriate technology to reduce fuel consumption.

A big booster of hang-drying your laundry is environmentalist Joe Wachunas from Portland, Oregon. Twenty years ago, while traveling as an exchange student in Italy, he learned that only three percent of Italian households owned a dryer. Italians, he noticed, dried their clothes on clotheslines, high-rise balconies, or in open windows catching sun and cross breezes.

Wachunas has competed against dryers, taking only eight minutes longer to hang up a load of clothes than it takes to load a dryer, (not to mention a trip to and from a laundromat). Also, by line-drying, he estimates a savings of $600 a year per family, and your air-dried materials will last longer and shrink less.

As you might think, the great majority of people in the US use a clothes dryer. About 80 percent of Americans use dryers that gobble up more electricity in a household than other appliances (except for refrigerators). These folks will find moving to clean and green drying has many benefits.

Last March, Mary Marlowe Leverette wrote a piece on the Top 10 Reasons to Line Dry Laundry. You can save money, promote energy conservation, give your clothes more freshness, less wear and tear, increase your physical activity, help whiten and disinfect laundry, reduce fire risks (clothes dryer fires number around 15,000 structure fires, 15 deaths, and 400 injuries annually in the U.S. with property losses estimated at $99 million).

There is also the intangible value of peacefulness and harmony with nature when you spend some ten minutes to enjoy the weather. When the weather does not permit, indoor line drying increases humidity in a home during dry winter weather.

Finally, you feel you are making a small difference to protect the environment and set an example in your neighborhood or apartment building. Who knows what good things can spontaneously emerge while chatting with the neighbor or having backyard conversations, uninterrupted by iPhone distractions. The venerable clothesline makes common sense.

Also consider rejecting the crazy leaf blower (See: Shut off the leaf blowers and restore peace to suburbia, by Peter Bahouth) and the noisy gas powered lawn mower - two contributions to pollution and obesity in America. Maybe a gaze at a fluttering clothesline in the sun will persuade some users of these belching technologies on small lawns to pick up a rake and start using the old fuel-free push lawn mower. Such personal choices often lead people to become advocates for broader solar systems.

Rivulets, brooks, and streams make possible the mighty Mississippi River. Billions of people can do their part to usher in the use of more of the sun to help save the Earth from the man-made climate crisis/catastrophe.

Clothespins, anyone?

(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).

Rioters at the Capitol on Jan. 6 chanted "Hang Mike Pence." The then-vice president was going to certify that Joe Biden, not President Trump, had won the 2020 election.

They Wanted To Lynch You At The Capitol, Mr. Pence. But That's The Media's Fault?
By Leonard Pitts Jr.

Dear Mike Pence: Most of them are fervid adherents of bizarre conspiracy theories and fascist dogmas that might yet burn this country down.

Many of them spew a noxious slurry of racial, religious and sexual hatreds that defame the principles we purport to hold dear.

And on Jan. 6 of this year, a mob of them broke into the U.S. Capitol. They injured police officers. They drove Congress from its own house. They looted government property. They called for federal officials - including you - to be lynched. They smeared feces on the walls.

But you say it's "the media" who are demeaning the supporters of that Florida man who used to be president?

That, at least, was your claim last week on Fox "News." You told Sean Hannity, "I know the media wants to distract from the Biden administration's failed agenda by focusing on one day in January. They want to use that one day to try and demean the character and intentions of 74 million Americans who believed we could be strong again and prosperous again and supported our administration in 2016 and 2020."

So in your telling, the dreaded "media" are conniving to keep people from noticing President Biden's challenges? This would be the same " media" that have exhaustively reported on the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan and the mistreatment of Haitians at the border?

With apologies to Spock: fascinating. But not at all surprising. Because it is increasingly true that what characterizes the political right is not its policy proposals - it has none - but its cognitive dissonance, its inability to engage with reality.

Bad enough a right-wing horde smashes into the citadel of American democracy because they didn't like the outcome of the election. What's infinitely worse - what's flat-out pathetic - is all the alleged conservatives downplaying, blame-shifting - and even lionizing - that act of insurrection.

Like Devin Nunes, who thinks Nancy Pelosi shares the blame. Or Marjorie Taylor Greene, who calls the jailed rioters political prisoners. Or Tucker Carlson, who says there was no insurrection. Now here you come, former vice president of the United States, no less, crowding into the clown car with them. Really, sir, have you no shame? Is there no low to which you will not stoop?

Colin Kaepernick took a knee in quiet protest of police brutality, and you people acted like he'd made a drop cloth of the Constitution.

Rioters in Minneapolis torched a Target store after George Floyd's murder - a lamentable act, yes, but you people acted like they'd wiped themselves with the American flag.

Yet a mob rampages through the very seat of government, and it's just "one day in January?" Seriously?

One has to wonder: Did you people ever really love this country or was that just something you said back when folks like you were the only ones in charge, nobody else had a voice and you thought it would be that way always?

Look, the Florida man lost a fair election. And, your "74 million Americans" notwithstanding, it wasn't even close; 81 million voted for Biden. This was settled almost a year ago, yet the right still can't come to terms with it, still embarrasses itself and this country on a daily basis with its inability to face what is. Even to the point - it bears repeating - of smearing its feces on the wall!

Now you say media are out to "demean" you all? Why would media bother? You've done an excellent job of demeaning yourselves.

(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.

Why Corporations Pay Millions for Executive Mediocrity

By Jim Hightower

Most people believe the American economy is being rigged by and for bankers, CEOs, and other superrich elites, because... well, because it is!

With their hired armies of lawmakers, lobbyists, lawyers, and the like, they fix the economic rules so even-more of society's money and power flows uphill to them. Take corporate CEOs. While 2020 was somewhere between a downer and devastating for most people, the CEO class made out like bandits, with each of the three top paid corporate honchos pocketing as much as a billion dollars in personal pay!

Are they geniuses, or what? What. All three of their corporations ended 2020 with big financial losses and declining value. So how can such mediocrity produce such lavish rewards? Simple - rig the pay machine.

Today's corporate system of setting compensation for top executives is a flimflam disguised as a model of management rectitude. On its face, it sounds good - "Pay for performance," it's called, meaning the CEO does well if the company does well.

But who defines "doing well?" The scam at most major corporations is that the standard of corporate performance that the chief must meet to quality for a huge payday is set by each corporation's board of directors. Guess who they are? Commonly, board members are the CEO's handpicked brothers-in-law, golfing buddies, and corporate cronies. So, they set the bar for winning multimillion-dollar executive paychecks so low that a sack of concrete could jump over it.

Well, insist these flimflammers, corporate shareholders are the ultimate stopgap against CEO greed. These "owners" can just vote "no" on any executive pay they consider excessive. However, even "shareholder democracy" is rigged - corporate rules decree that votes by shareholders are merely "advisory," meaning top executives can simply ignore them, grab the money, and run. This system is fixed... and we need to break it!

(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

Idaho Lieutenant Gov. Janice McGeachin speaks during a mask burning event at the Idaho Statehouse on March 6, 2021, in Boise, Idaho.

To Understand The Debt Ceiling Crisis, Observe The Far Right Clown Show In Idaho
By William Rivers Pitt

The debt ceiling crisis has been temporarily settled - momentary relief to be followed almost certainly by at least some degree of mayhem just when Santa is warming up the sled - and almost nobody is satisfied with the outcome. The jangled confusion of today's "resolution" is the essence of what happens when Republicans try to govern Republicans in the age of Donald Trump.

At first blush, the idea of confusion within the GOP ranks seems incongruous; they are, if anything, more adept at marching in step than the Marine Corps Brass Band. Look closer, though, and understand where they're marching to: "No masks! No mandates! Trump is the president!" This is the far right being shoved by the far-far right, and the lot of them inevitably wind up going over a cliff together, inevitably taking the rest of us with them.

A perfect microcosm of this phenomenon has been unspooling itself in Idaho this week. The Gem State is no stranger to hard-right politics; there is currently a movement to have Idaho absorb five conservative Oregon counties and refashion itself as, I don't know, Super Trump Idaho or something. The senior senator from Idaho is Mike Crapo, who famously un-endorsed Trump after the "grab her by the p--y" video came to light at the end of the 2016 presidential campaign. After the roof caved in on him, Crapo scrapped his un-endorsement and stapled himself to Trump for all time.

So, yeah, it can get pretty weird in Idaho, but this story is another thing entirely. The state's Republican governor, Brad Little, took a trip on Tuesday to the southern border in Texas, where he was joined by ten other Republican governors to grandstand about President Biden's immigration policies.

The moment his plane disappeared into the sky, his lieutenant governor - one Janice McGeachin, among the hardest of the hard righties in that state and an assumed candidate for Little's job next time it comes up - initiated what amounted to a palace coup in order to shove a wad of far right nonsense into the daylight.

First, McGeachin attempted to call up the Idaho National Guard and send it to the Texas/Mexico border, presumably near where Little already was, in order to fight the "invasion" of the country. She was stonily rebuffed by Maj. Gen. Michael J. Garshak, commander of the Guard, who reminded her, "As you are aware, the Idaho National Guard is not a law enforcement agency."

McGeachin wasn't finished. Assuming the powers of the governorship, the lieutenant governor signed a number of executive orders banning vaccine requirements for all K-12 schools and universities, even though no such requirements existed to begin with; she banned stuff that wasn't there. From Texas, Little rescinded her executive orders and National Guard call-up, and scolded her actions as "an affront to the Idaho constitution."

It is likely Little was not gibbering with astonishment at this bizarre turn of events. After all, McGeachin pulled this same number back in May when Little left town for a conference of the Republican Governors Association. After he left, McGeachin barred all local officials and state schools from requiring masks, even though, again, no such requirement existed. Little reversed her again, reprimanded her again, and will likely have to deal with her when he runs for reelection. These little insurrections were McGeachin's first campaign commercials, and they have put Little in a bind.

Little, who is far right, gets shoved by the far-far right McGeachin, all because of Donald Trump's ongoing gravitational pull within the Republican Party. Little put no mask or vaccine mandates in place - a fact his state is suffering for - but McGeachin has painted a portrait of Little The Lefty crushing everyone's freedom while she alone acted in defense of liberty. Little can try to explain himself, but all McGeachin has to do is howl "Tyranny!" and she's won the exchange... so Little will be forced to tack even further to the right to defend his flank.

As it goes with Idaho, so it goes in Washington, D.C. The country came to this place with the debt ceiling because Minority Leader Mitch McConnell wanted to throw sand in the gears of President Biden's domestic agenda but was not intentionally destructive enough to appease his own far-far right flank. He and Little should compare notes.

The handiest hostage in McConnell's initial effort was the threat of defaulting on the nation's debt, an act that would have clobbered an already precarious global economy. As the October 18 deadline drew closer, Democrats could not be sure if McConnell was truly enough of a nihilist to follow through on his threat, and they began scrambling for ways to go around him. That got weird in a hurry; ideas like minting a trillion-dollar coin were floated and dismissed.

Meanwhile, McConnell started getting an earful from banks and business interests, asking him to kindly refrain from destroying the world. Overtures were made by McConnell to the Democrats regarding potential resolutions, at which point the far-far right within McConnell's caucus began to shove. What deal? they asked. I thought we were doing this. We have to do this!

Then it got better: "Looks like Mitch McConnell is folding to the Democrats, again," Trump whaargarbld from Florida. "He's got all of the cards with the debt ceiling, it's time to play the hand. Don't let them destroy our country!"

Not to be outdone even by his lord and master, Sean Hannity of Fox News weighed in. "Radical Democrats on Capitol Hill have a brand new hero," he seethed, "with their multitrillion-dollar socialist agenda now stalled in Congress, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is throwing them a lifeline. In a backroom deal, McConnell agreed to raise the debt ceiling, giving Democrats more time to use a process known as 'reconciliation' to ram through their socialist agenda." Hannity concluded his aria by demanding that McConnell "stop being a Washington swamp-creature and start acting like a conservative."

Despite this outraged yowling, the deal came together before noon on Thursday. "Top Senate Democrats and Republicans said on Thursday that they had struck a deal to allow the debt ceiling to be raised through early December," reports The New York Times, "temporarily staving off the threat of a first-ever default on the national debt after the GOP agreed to temporarily drop its blockade of an increase."

The problem - of course there's a problem, there's always a problem - is that the McConnell "resolution" accepted by the Democrats does not fully meet the amount required to meet the country's debt, and it will all have to be re-litigated in December, smack-dab in the middle of the holiday season and right when the next government shutdown confrontation is set to take place. While McConnell may enjoy the chaos this will inevitably cause, the fact remains that what came out of his oven on this was half a loaf, and half-baked at that, because of the shouting from his own right flank.

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer took the deal because it averts an imminent economic apocalypse, and also gives his caucus a couple of months to hammer out the details of President Biden's Build Back Better Act. All for the good, sure, but also a damn mess, one created by an intramural shoving match between Republican politicians seeking to out-Trump each other in time for next year's midterms. Just another day of Republican politics, Idaho-style.

(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.

Former president Donald Trump arrives at the Iowa State Fairgrounds on October 9, 2021 for his first rally in the state since the 2020 election.

Trump's Coup Attempt Is Far From Finished
Trump is preparing to run in 2024, but a new Senate report detailing his sedition gives officials the evidence they need to disqualify him from completing the coup.
By John Nichols

"Subverting Justice," the 394-page report released last week by the Senate Judiciary Committee on disgraced former president Donald Trump's machinations to overturn the results of the 2020 election, outlines the details of a coup plot that only narrowly failed.

That's a fact that cannot be lost on any of us, as Trump continues to spin his big lies about the last presidential election, and as he sends ever-more-ominous signals about his intention to run in the next one. The facts of the former president's sedition, which are now more fully detailed than ever before, should inspire members of Congress and state election officials to act-according to the dictates of the Constitution-to bar Trump from ever again holding public office.

There was a vibrant conversation after Trump incited the deadly insurrection on January 6 about holding him to account based on Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which was enacted after the Civil War in order to address the treason of former Confederates. That section of the Constitution states that anyone who, "having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United support the Constitution of the United States, [and then] shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof," is prohibited from holding office.

The conversation faded as Congress focused on an impeachment process that, while it drew bipartisan support, ultimately failed to win the 67 Senate votes required to convict the former president. This new Senate report, with its dramatic additional evidence of Trump's sedition, more than justifies renewing the discussion of utilizing the 14th Amendment to disqualify him.

A 14th Amendment strategy is not a radical concept. Indeed, US Representative Jamie Raskin, the Maryland Democrat who was the lead impeachment manager for the House, has said, with regard to those who are disqualified under the 14th Amendment standard, "Donald Trump is right in...the bullseye middle of that group."

Raskin has argued that there "conceivably could be an affirmative statement by state legislators, by Congress, by other institutions" to make this point.

"So we'd have to figure it out and do some more research about all of that," added Raskin, a constitutional law professor before his election to Congress. "But the point is that the constitutional purpose is clear, to keep people exactly like Donald Trump and other traitors to the union from holding public office."

This is the time to refocus on the 14th Amendment, particularly as former Trump National Security Council official Fiona Hill has noted that the ex-president "is mulling again a return to what he sees more as a crown than the presidency in 2024." Her dire warning, in a recent Politico interview, holds that "if he makes a successful return to the presidency in 2024, democracy's done."

What We Know Now About Trump's Sedition

After the Senate Judiciary Committee focused for eight months on a specific aspect of Trump's multifaceted efforts to overturn the 2020 election results-his "relentless, direct pressure" on officials at the US Department of Justice to facilitate the defeated candidate's "election subversion scheme"-we now know that Trump abused his position by orchestrating at least nine calls and meetings to pressure DOJ officials to facilitate his efforts to overturn the election, and that he forced the resignation of at least one US Attorney-Georgia's BJay Pak-"because he believed Pak was not doing enough to support his false claims of election fraud in Georgia." We also know that, when Acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen told the president that the department "can't and won't just flip a switch and change the election," Trump replied that the DOJ simply needed to announce that the election was corrupt. Then, said Trump, "leave the rest to me and the [GOP] Congressmen."

The committee concluded that "we were only a half-step away from a full blown constitutional crisis as President Donald Trump and his loyalists threatened a wholesale takeover of the Department of Justice (DOJ)."

Those revelations from the report connect to all that we have already learned about Trump's role in the January 6 election, which led to a bipartisan vote by the House for his impeachment and a bipartisan vote by 57 senators-the most substantial in the history of presidential impeachments-for his conviction.

While that did not amount to the supermajority required to convict Trump under one section of the Constitution, the numbers are more than sufficient to bar him, under another section of the same document, from ever again using the office of the presidency to subvert justice, overturn elections, and engage in coup plotting to thwart the will of the people and the law of the land.

The wrongdoings detailed in the Senate report cannot be neglected.

Attempting to overturn an election, even if that attempt is unsuccessful, is a coup. Some coups succeed. Some fail. But they all are rooted in an assault on the rule of law that must be addressed by federal and state lawmakers if there is to be any hope of preventing the degeneration of the American experiment into the sort of anti-constitutional impunity that destroys republics.

So the first duty is to call a coup a coup, as many of the most thoughtful monitors of Trump's rampant wrongdoing did after reviewing the Judiciary Committee's conclusions.

"This report confirms that there were actually two different coups happening, sort of parallel to one another. They were not just talk. They were not just fluff. This was a very real concerted, coordinated effort," said Elie Honig, former assistant US Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

"One coup was Donald Trump trying to steal the election. The other coup was happening inside DOJ, as Jeffrey Clark, who's a real villain in this story, tried to take over as [attorney general] so he could weaponize DOJ to help Trump take over the election. This is a real scandal, and it's more than that. Merrick Garland, DOJ, needs to get involved here. Congress has done its part. It's time for DOJ to take a look."

Trump's Disqualification

Honig-a CNN legal analyst who has long brought attention to Trump's attempts to overturn the election, including the former president's January 6 call to insurrection-is right that Attorney General Garland and his team should investigate Clark for engaging in federal crimes. Among other things, Clark drafted a letter fraudulently claiming that federal investigators had identified election concerns serious enough to overturn Georgia's presidential election results. But it is not quite true, as Honig suggests, that Congress has done all it can do. Congress, even in its divided and frequently dysfunctional current form, can and should affirm that Trump has, according to the standards set by the US Constitution, engaged in actions that disqualify him from ever again seeking the presidency.

Indeed, some members of Congress have recognized that, including US Representative Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), who said, "The Senate report solidifies what many of us here thought: that Donald Trump's activities clearly disqualify him from running for office again." Pocan's office explored seeking congressional action to confirm Trump's disqualification in January, before the impeachment vote. At the same time, US Representative Cori Bush (D-Mo.) proposed an inquiry into whether members of the House who had supported Trump's efforts to overturn the election should be investigated and potentially expelled under the 14th Amendment, Section 3, standard.

For the members of Congress who might have been reluctant about voting for a resolution affirming Trump's disqualification, the "Subverting Justice" report provides a clear and compelling argument for congressional action. The same goes for state election officials, who, attorney John Bonifaz and the group Free Speech for People point out, "have the authority and responsibility to determine, as part of the state ballot qualification process, that Mr. Trump is ineligible to appear on a presidential ballot because, 'having previously taken an support the Constitution of the United States,' he then proceeded to 'engage in insurrection or rebellion against the same.'"

Bonifaz tells me, "If he runs in 2024, we will go into court and argue that he has disqualified himself."

There can be no honest debate about whether Trump has engaged in insurrectionary activities that meet the amendment's standards. Nor can there be much doubt that the former president, who made a high-profile visit to the first-caucus state of Iowa over the weekend, intends to seek the presidency in 2024. When Trump says, "We're going to take America back," as he's making the rounds of states that will decide the next presidential election, there is every evidence that Bill Maher is right when he said, "the slow moving still moving."

The threat is staring America in the face. So, too, is the appropriate response.

(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.

Denying Bad News Makes Us Feel Good
By James Donahue

Sometimes it seems hard to believe that national leaders like former Presidents Bush, Trump and many of their staffers would deny global warming even though the evidence around us is becoming so overwhelming even the average Joe on the street senses that something is really wrong.

Indeed, the recent onset of extreme weather patterns, hurricanes, tornado clusters, floods and drought, not only in the United States but all over the world, should be jarring us all out of the strange sleep that has left us numb for way too long.

And why would other world leaders and influential people, like the former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, say that the Nazi slaughter and suffering of Jews did not happen when there are many survivors of those World War II concentration camps still living today who tell the story? The embellishment of the death camp story is another matter.

Why, for that matter, did the world turn its back on the horrors more recently occurring in places like Darfur, Africa, where the Sudanese Government conducted mass genocide on hundreds of thousands and over a million people have been driven from their homes?

Dr. Drew Weston, in a published paper noted that a research study conducted at Emory University in Atlanta indicates that the brain responds to bad news in a unique way. The research shows that "there are flares of activity in the brain's pleasure centers when unwelcome information is being rejected."

The study of brain mapping techniques reveals that "we derive pleasure from irrationally sticking with beliefs against evidence," Weston wrote.

The study suggests that most people internalize a system of beliefs and that changing those beliefs in the form of new and compelling information can bring psychological and social pain. But when a person allows the brain to find a way to deny this new evidence and thus maintain old beliefs he or she experiences immediate biochemical pleasure.

The Weston study helps us understand why so many people throughout the world remain in denial that our planet is dying from overpopulation, extreme exploitation of natural resources, and irresponsible polluting of our land, seas and air. There is a widespread unwillingness to believe some recent scientific reports that suggest that we may have less than 50 years before the planet will no longer support life.

It is shocking to note that within hours after this report made the news, it strangely disappeared. No matter where we searched, the story was erased. Who and why was this done? The order to pull this story appears to have originated in high places.

Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey said two federal agencies, the inspectors general for the Commerce Department and NASA conducted sweeping investigations of the Bush Administration's censorship and suppression of research into global warming.

Lautenberg said he believed the investigations "will uncover internal documents and agency correspondence that may expose widespread misconduct." What was the result of this investigation? Was it ever completed?

It did not make headlines, but numerous technical journals and books emerged from this study. Among the most important publications were the books The Republican War on Science by Chris Mooney and Undermining Science by Seth Shulman. They concluded that the Bush Administration used the power of limiting government financial support in an effort to prevent researchers and especially government scientists from expressing their views about global climate change.

The study found that administration officials also wrote slanted Environmental Protection Agency reports about global warming for political purposes.

The Bush cover--up was subtle, but it occurred.

The Trump approach was much less subtle. He just told his followers that Global Warming (now called Climate Change) isn't real. He said this while forests were aflame, coastal towns were flooded and damaged from severe storms and farmers were struggling for lack of, or too much rain.

What we find even more shocking was the lapdog nature of the national media to go right along with the federal program of denial. As a retired journalist, this writer finds it difficult to understand why responsible media would ignore the most important and critical news story in history . . . the threatened extinction of the human race.

The Weston study might have given us some insight into the full spectrum of issues associated with individual opinions and mass-mindedness. If the story is too dire, we just do not want to hear it. Thus we allow our brains to play tricks on us, and let us go on believing that all is well when we should know better.

(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.

Harry Potter And The Secret Of COP26
By David Swanson

"Blimey, Harry!" exclaimed Ronald Weasley, his face pressed to the window, peering out at the swiftly passing countryside as the glistening red Hogwarts Express belched coal smoke into the sky on its way north to Glasgow for the COP26 climate conference. "If the secret that you have to find is both known and unknown to all Muggles, then it follows that it's known to a lot of us too. And it also follows" - Ron turned to face his friend seated across the small train compartment - "that we can let the Muggles worry about it themselves."

"Merlin's pants!" Hermione Granger broke in, closing The Complete List of Inscrutable Contradictions in Magical Fiction with a look of unbearable frustration. "If the Muggles are holding another conference to put up a feable pretense of forestalling the destruction of all life on earth, and it's the 26th one, and the 25 previous ones have had the opposite result of what was needed, then it actually follows," - Hermione spoke slowly and clearly as if to a three-year-old - "that we can't just let the Muggles worry about it, and it just might have some relevance to our future too, no matter what sort of imbecilic prats we decide to act like."

Harry knew he needed to say something, but before he could, Ron was mumbling, with a mouth full of chocolate frogs, something about how he was sure Viktor Krum probably had the answer, considering how many oil wells his family owned.

"Enough!" said Harry, looking Hermione back into her seat, as she seemed ready to find some other compartment to sit in. "Let's go over what we know, even if we've done it a hundred times before. At least we'll be able to tell our children we tried, right?"

Ron grunted and nodded, and Hermione said quietly, "I'm not sure I'd bring children into a world full of people who couldn't find their own posterior with two hands and an illuminated wand." Harry took that as the most encouragement he was likely to get and proceeded.

"We know," said Harry, "that the Muggles make these weak agreements and fail to keep them, right? And we've been through every possible way that they could strengthen them or abide by them, right?"

"Exausting all possibilities," said Hermione, "is never a certain claim, if you consider the five principles of Snufalargin the Snooty, first established in fiteen twenty . . . "

"I know," said Harry. "I mean, I don't know, but just hear me out, OK? What if this secret, the secret that we were specifically instructed to find, both by the message in Hagrid's sandwich and in the Morse Code sounds of the Knight Bus's smashing of lampposts, is known and unknown because it's not a way of strengthening the stupid climate agreements as they are but of adding something to them that's missing, something so obvious that nobody can think of it."

"A purloined letter," said Hermione. "Yes, I thought of that and . . . "

"A pearled what?" asked Ron, and Hermione ignored him.

"I thought of that," said Hermione, "but what is left out of the agreements that would naturally be in them? I mean it has to be something enormous. It can't be somebody's little camp fire or gas station. It can't be some little industry that got a special waiver. It has to be big enough to be worth a major bother, something worth all the fighting we've been through just to get this far, not to mention Ron's . . . "

Hermione hesitated, and Ron finished her sentence for her. "Right, not to mention my hair." Ron slid back his hood and tipped his shiny bald head down at his friends."

"I like it that way," said Hermione.

Ron smiled. "I don't mind," he said. "I mean if it's that important, I'd gladly give up my saggy left . . ."

"Right," broke in Harry. "Let's get back to fighting."

Ron and Hermione looked at him as if he'd lost his mind.

"No," said Harry. "I don't mean we should fight with each other. I mean, let's think about the concept of fighting. We do it with little twigs in our hands. We consider 12 friends and a dog to be a major army. But how do the Muggles do it?"

"Merlin's socks, Harry," responded Hermione excitedly, "you might be onto something that's been known and unknown even to us. We're such superior beings in our imagination, yet we unquestioningly build an assumption of irredeemably evil others into everything, to the point where violence is so essentially normalized that we can't actually observe it."

"Excuse me," said Ron, "could you please say that again in Parseltounge, because it would be easier to understand that way?"

"Right," said Harry, ignoring Ron, "we declare Voldemort eternally and irredeemably evil and accept that I have no choice but to murder him, or at least get implausibly lucky and have him technically murder himself while I'm trying to do it, because we believe in prophecies and the categorizing of some beings as Dark and others as Light. But Muggles are all, I mean they're all just Muggles, aren't they? The best ones can do evil and the worst ones good. And yet they think the way we do even though they have no basis to do it."

"And so" continued Hermione, "they needn't fight if they choose not to fight, and the key to all of this is the question you asked before: How do they fight?"

"Oh," said Ron, "I know this one. Lamely. I mean, pathetically actually. No disrespect to your parents, Hermione, but my grandmother's grandmother's pet slug could fight better than . . . "

"Exactly," Harry said to Hermione, continuing to ignore Ron. "They don't fight with wands or as individuals. They fight with an enormous industry, one of the most profitable, one of the most destructive, one of the greatest consumers of petroleum and polluters of air and water and soil, a permanent machinery of endless war preparation so huge that its own momentum creates fighting, and so huge that it fades into the wallpaper."

"And what," Hermione almost shouted triumphantly, "has been quietly left out of all the climate agreements, all the Muggle plans for halting the destruction of the climate? One of the biggest ways that they destroy the climate: militaries! Some of the Muggles are paid to keep militaries out of the agreements, of course. And some of them honestly think wars are more important than preserving life on the planet. Some of them think there's nothing really to worry about anyway. And most of them haven't noticed what's going on."

"Wait," said Ron, "are you two hyped-up hippies proposing that we become peace activists?"

Harry and Hermione looked at each other and then said in unison, "Yes!"

"Well, OK," said Ron. "That's the first good thing you've said since we got on this train. And look what I just found on my phone:"

(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.

The response of Southern California's recent oil spill is less shock than resignation, but there's a
difference this time: the spill comes as the oil industry's reputation crumbles and its power wanes.

When Will We Have The Last Oil Spill?
The latest incident comes as the fossil-fuel industry heads into a terminal decline.
By Bill McKibben

Perhaps the first serious shadow to fall on the oil age came in the winter of 1969, after a blowout on a well, six miles off the coast of Santa Barbara. At least two million gallons of crude coated beaches and killed everything, from gulls to sea lions, and the resulting uproar fuelled the first Earth Day, in 1970, and also the first broad environmental laws in the United States, which were soon copied around the world.

Half a century later, oil has again coated the beaches of Southern California, this time from a ruptured pipeline near Newport Beach. Fortunately, the quantities aren't as large-current estimates are some hundred thousand gallons-but beaches have been shut to millions of people, and a wetland conservancy that is a refuge for dozens of bird species may take decades to recover. (And the inability of the oil industry to monitor its equipment is maddening-the damage may have been caused as long as a year ago by an anchor hitting the pipe.) The response is less shock than resignation, since we've seen so many of these debacles in the past fifty years, including the Exxon Valdez spill and the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico. But there's a difference this time: the spill comes as the oil industry heads into a terminal decline, its reputation wrecked and its power starting to wane. Responding to a call from indigenous groups, environmentalists from around the country are descending on Washington, D.C., this week for a series of "People vs. Fossil Fuels" civil-disobedience actions outside the White House, Congress, and the Army Corps of Engineers; for the moment they're being arrested, but in the long run they clearly have momentum on their side. The only questions now are how long the industry can hang on and how much more damage it will do.

As events of the past few weeks have made clear, long-term investors are running away from the fossil-fuel sector. So far, institutions have divested nearly fifteen trillion dollars' worth of portfolios and endowments away from fossil fuels. Last month, Harvard announced that it will wind down its remaining investments. Other prestigious parts of the establishment followed. The MacArthur Foundation announced that it would move its $8.2-billion endowment away from fossil fuels. On Friday, Dartmouth University joined the list, leaving only three of eight Ivies-Yale, Princeton, and Penn-to make the move. More will follow; divestment campaigners are planning big announcements for October 26th, in the lead-up to the 2021 Glasgow climate summit. (I have helped with the divestment effort.) Those talks can't come soon enough, because the existential climate threat gets more apparent every day. Earlier this month, Genoa saw the heaviest rainfall ever measured in Europe, with around thirty-five inches-a typical yearly total for Seattle-falling in a single day. The rain came down twice as fast as September's epic and terrifying deluge in New York.

Meanwhile, scientists have been zeroing in on the health hazards that fossil fuels pose to humans. As Sammy Roth points out in the Los Angeles Times, the economic benefits of getting off fossil fuels in the U.S. alone, "in terms of lives saved, hospital visits avoided and workdays not lost due to illness or deaths-would exceed $700 billion per year, higher than published estimates of the costs of weaning the economy off fossil fuels." And a spate of data has been making it increasingly clear that there's no long-term cost to leaving fossil fuels behind. Indeed, the latest research indicates that the faster you transition the more money you save. If the first famous California oil spill was a Greek tragedy fated by our dependence on fossil fuels, this most recent one-and the endless daily spill of carbon and smoke into the air-is a tragedy of a different, more venal kind.

Along the way, there will be transitional bumps of all kinds. At the moment, the price of oil is rising, because there's a worldwide commodity boom and the pandemic depressed drilling. But if that helps oil companies for a quarter, or three, it hurts it in the long term: gas is about $3.25 a gallon right now, and that means that anyone thinking about, say, a new pickup truck has one more reason to choose the electric Ford F-150, with the car company already taking preorders for spring delivery. Got solar panels on your roof and an E.V. in the garage? You're your own filling station, insulated from oil's decline.

Really, the only asset the fossil-fuel industry has left is political clout, and that, too, is waning. Joe Biden, in the last debate of the 2020 campaign, said that it was time to "transition away from the oil industry," and his Build Back Better plan does precisely that, with serious money behind a push to use penalties and tax credits to spur utilities toward clean energy. He's got forty-eight Democratic senators-representing well more than half of the American population-lined up behind it. Only the oil industry's death grip on the G.O.P. and the craven opportunism of West Virginia's Joe Manchin and Arizona's Kyrsten Sinema hold back the future. On Friday, Sinema (who began her political life in the misbegotten adventure of Ralph Nader's 2000 Green Party run) enigmatically demanded that a hundred billion dollars be cut from the climate funding in the Build Back Better bill.

That political cloud and the delay it can produce present an enormous challenge; if we haven't cut emissions in half by 2030, climatologists warn, we'll miss our chance to hit the climate targets we set in Paris, with all the attendant chaos that will follow. On that long list of things at stake in the fight, the sands of California are perhaps not the most vital, but they make clear the possible outcomes. Those beaches-and Hollywood's depiction of them-came to help define the image of an idyll. If the sea level keeps rising, however, two-thirds of Southern California's beaches could vanish. And if we keep pumping oil, some of it will inevitably keep spilling. On the other hand, solar spills hit Santa Barbara two hundred and eighty-three days in an average year. That could be the future.

(c) 2021 Bill McKibben is a founder of the grassroots climate campaign and a contributing writer to The New Yorker. He writes The Climate Crisis, The New Yorker's newsletter on the environment.

The Whole World Is A Castaway Ship These Days
Plus: are mullets still banned in North Korea?
By Charles P. Pierce

I spent the weekend sweating out baseball games-It was a good call, Tampa. Get over it.-and searching for an answer to a very important geopolitical issue.

Are mullets still banned in North Korea?

All I can say is Dear Leader has a lot of damn gall to lecture people about hairstyles, since, to paraphrase the immortal Sweet Dick Willie, he should be lecturing the goddamn barber that fcked up his head.

One of the stories we all ought to know more about is the ongoing traffic jam of huge ships off the California coast, and stretching out to sea for an estimated 100 miles, as a result of the massive oil spill. Its impact on the supply chains is already rippling across the entire country. The spill is believed to have been caused when a ship's anchor split an old underwater pipeline, because pipelines leak. Some of the ships in queue are suspects in the event. A German ship called the Rotterdam Express seems to be of particular interest to the Coast Guard and other investigators. Meanwhile, the supply chains are a mess as we come into the holidays. From the New York Times:

Sixty-one vessels were anchored offshore on Thursday waiting to unload cargo, down from a record 73 on Sunday, said Capt. J. Kipling Louttit, the executive director of the Marine Exchange of Southern California, a nonprofit that works in partnership with the Coast Guard to provide data on maritime commerce. In addition to the anchored ships, 29 were adrift up to 20 miles offshore, meaning they were so far from the coast that their anchors could not reach the ocean floor. That's down from a record of 37 set on Monday, Captain Louttit said, but the traffic is not abating.
I'm no expert on maritime issues, and I haven't even played one at the shebeen before, and the Pacific is a pretty big ocean, but 29 huge ships being "adrift" somewhere out in the blue sounds like a pretty dangerous situation. And the consequences have become enormous.

The delay in getting the container ships to port comes as the easing of pandemic restrictions and an increase in consumer spending have ramped up demand. As a result, manufacturers are struggling to keep pace, and shortages of some products, like semiconductors, have caused slowdowns in production. The problem has been exacerbated by the rise of the Delta variant of the coronavirus, which is causing labor shortages as workers are quarantined.
Maritime trade is generally a mess right now, due in large part to the pandemic, which has caused labor and equipment shortages. Ports around the world are jammed up, and not just with ships but with their unloaded cargo, a situation growing critical at the port of Savannah. From the NYT:
It has come to this in the Great Supply Chain Disruption: They are running out of places to put things at one of the largest ports in the United States. As major ports contend with a staggering pileup of cargo, what once seemed like a temporary phenomenon - a traffic jam that would eventually dissipate - is increasingly viewed as a new reality that could require a substantial refashioning of the world's shipping infrastructure. As the Savannah port works through the backlog, Mr. Lynch has reluctantly forced ships to wait at sea for more than nine days. On a recent afternoon, more than 20 ships were stuck in the queue, anchored up to 17 miles off the coast in the Atlantic.
And, most grotesque of all, over a thousand crew members are marooned on what are being called "castaway ships," stranded at sea because their employers refuse to pay their wages, or their transportation home. From the International Shipping News:
Off the coast of Somalia, a crew awaiting pay languishes on a pirate-trawled stretch of the Indian Ocean while their ship slowly takes on water. Another 14 seafarers, stuck on a cargo ship off the coast of Iran, have run out of food and fuel. Some contemplated suicide. "We cannot survive here," said an engineer aboard the MV Aizdihar, abandoned off the Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas. "Please help us." He spoke via video earlier this year, his face drawn...In the United Arab Emirates, one shipping company abandoned seven container ships in recent months, leaving behind dozens of crew members, each owed a year's wages.

A five-man crew marooned next to a Dubai tourist resort, living off little more than rice for 10 months, recently ended a four-year ordeal. Last year, a mostly Egyptian crew was abandoned in Sudan. The ship was then sold and manned by a mostly Sudanese crew who also were abandoned in Egypt. Three of them are still aboard, floating off the Suez Canal in their ninth month without pay.

The whole world seems like a castaway ship these days. What the hell, old-fashioned Christmases can be fun, too.

(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-

"Let us wage a moral and political war against war itself so that we can cut military spending and use that money for human needs."
~~~ Bernie Sanders

Wahhabi Saudi Arabia Has A More Rational Vaccine Mandate Than The US Republican Party
By Juan Cole

Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) - Republicans, among all Americans, are the most Islamophobic or Muslim-hating, with 72% holding that Muslims are more likely than members of other religions to encourage violence by their community. Republican TV idol Tucker Carlson called Iraqis "monkeys" and "illiterate" and maintains that "white men" invented civilization. That is, Muslims in his view are uncivilized, an opinion widely shared in Republican circles.

I pointed out to Mr. Carlson that actually it was the Iraqis who invented much of what we now call civilization. But here is another kicker: Saudi Arabia, the bastion of a peculiar kind of Wahhabism or ultra-fundamentalist form of Islam, is putting in a whole range of vaccine mandates. Its religious and state officials now say that anyone who comes on pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca must have two doses of a WHO-approved vaccine.

Ramadan El Sherbini at Gulf News reported on Thursday,

"the Saudi Interior Ministry said that starting from October 10, obtaining two doses of vaccines approved in Saudi Arabia will be a condition for attending any economic, commercial, academic, cultural, entertainment, sports or tourism event in the country. The inoculation will also be compulsory for entering government or private institutions, using public transport and boarding planes."
The Interior Minister, Abdulaziz bin Saud Al Saud, is a younger prince of the royal family with a modern education, and he clearly knows something serious about public health policy.

The contrast with the US Republican Party, which is like Saudi Arabia in hewing to a Religious Right program, could not be more stark. In eight states, Republican lawmakers have legislated, or Republican governors have issued executive orders, banning vaccine mandates by employers. Those laws and regulations have put them in direct conflict with President Joe Biden's order that employers who don't implement vaccine mandates for their employees will be denied federal funding.

Republican states have not hesitated to require vaccinations against other diseases such as polio, so it is not clear why they are so opposed to the safe and effective vaccinations against Sars-Cov-2, which have been given to billions of people without significant adverse effects (and what minuscule such effects have been observed are far less serious than the impact of the disease itself).

Florida governor Ron DeSantis has threatened to cut off state funds from institutions such as schools and from state contractors who implement vaccine mandates, saying "We are not going to let people get fired because of the vaccine mandate. You don't just cast aside people who have been serving faithfully over this issue, over what's basically a personal choice over their individual health."

This statement is of course terminally stupid, since spreading around a deadly virus is not a personal choice but is rather one individual making a choice of how healthy his or her entire community will be. The R-naught of the Delta variant is between 5 and 9, which means that each person who contracts it typically spreads it to 5-9 other people. In the unvaccinated population, that would give you a progression at the upper level of 9, 81, 729, 6,561, so that in just a few days one carrier of the Delta variant could spread it to six and a half thousand other people.

That is not, Mr. DeSantis, "a personal choice over their individual health."

Some of the opposition to vaccine mandates is fueled by evangelical Christian preachers and leaders, who have an outsized influence on the Republican Party.

In contrast, Saudi authorities have put in vaccine mandates regardless of any religious hesitancy. It is hardly alone in the Muslim world. The premier Sunni Muslim university and seminary, al-Azhar in Egypt, is requiring students and faculty to be vaccinated. Egypt is receiving 25 million Johnson & Johnson one-shot vaccines over the next four months, which would bring the percentage of its population that is vaccinated up to about 35 percent. Al Jazeera reports that among the only countries to mandate that all citizens over 18 be vaccinated are Muslim-majority Takikistan and Uzbekistan. Muslim-majority Kazakhstan requires state employees in contact with the public to be vaccinated.

Those uncivilized Muslims!


Bonus video:

Saudi Arabia: No COVID-19 vaccine, no Mecca tells government| Coronavirus | Latest World News | WION

(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.

How Trump Might Save The Democrats
By Robert Reich

The unofficial kickoff of the former guy's presidential campaign was a rally Saturday night in Des Moines. Unfortunately for the GOP, Trump's speech focused on his Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen rather than on Joe Biden, whose approval ratings keep sliding because of the Delta variant's continuing impact as well as fumbles at the border and in exiting Afghanistan.

All indications are that Trump is going to cast the midterm elections as a referendum on himself rather than on Biden. That's hardly surprising, given Trump's sociopathic ego. He cast his entire presidency as a referendum on himself.

What's surprising is how quickly the rest of the Republican Party is falling prey to this. We've already observed it at the state level: Trump's Big Lie has moved 18 Republican-dominated states to enact 33 laws suppressing the votes of likely Democratic voters, on the false pretext of eliminating "voter fraud" that doesn't exist. Several of these state laws will also let Republican legislatures ignore future electoral results they dislike. Under the same pretext, Republican states have undertaken bogus "audits" of the 2020 election.

But for a brief time it seemed as if senior Republicans in Washington would try to move the party away from Trump. They now appear to have given up. Several who in January criticized him for provoking the Capitol insurrection are now defending him and minimizing the attempted coup - including, notably, Senator Chuck Grassley, who showed up at Saturday's Des Moines rally, and former vice president Michael Pence, who is now minimizing and excusing the riot.

For Trump to make the midterm elections into a referendum on himself and his Big Lie is useful for the Democrats. It takes the focus off Biden, reminds Americans how vile the former president is, and forces Republicans to try to defend him. If you watched Fox News Sunday, you might have seen Chris Wallace repeatedly ask House Minority Whip Steve Scalise whether he thought the 2020 election was stolen, and Scalise repeatedly squirm to avoid answering the question.

Scalise also refused to say whether he would vote to hold in contempt of Congress Trump advisers, such as Steve Bannon, who are resisting subpoenas issued by the January 6 Committee. Bannon is invoking executive privilege, at Trump's request - an absurd position because by the 2020 election Bannon hadn't worked in the White House for years.

January 6 Committee Chair Bennie Thompson and Vice Chair Liz Cheney say they "will not allow any witness to defy a lawful subpoena or attempt to run out the clock, and we will swiftly consider advancing a criminal contempt of Congress referral."

This means even more of an ongoing focus on Trump and his attempted coup. Before Congress can refer a criminal contempt to the Justice Department for prosecution, the full House has to vote on it. So you can expect a near party-line vote, which will put Republicans further on record as supporting Trump and, by implication, others who instigated the insurrection.

The criminal contempt of Congress statute, enacted in 1857 and only slightly modified since, provides that any person who willfully fails to comply with a properly issued committee subpoena for testimony or documents is punishable by a substantial fine and imprisonment for up to one year. Once the House votes in favor of criminal contempt, the Speaker is required to report it to the Department of Justice, which then determines whether to prosecute. (Unfortunately, Attorney General Merrick Garland so far has not distinguished himself for holding Trump or his cronies accountable for anything.)

House Republicans could soon find themselves in an even more awkward position as the January 6 Committee investigates the roles several of them played in the insurrection. Senate Judiciary Chair Dick Durbin has asked the committee to investigate the help Rep. Scott Perry gave Trump in pressuring the Justice Department to overturn the election, as well as Rep. Jim Jordan's contacts with the White House before and during the insurrection. (You may remember that in the 2016 presidential election, Jordan, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, dug into allegations of impropriety at the FBI and Justice Department, and defended the power of the subpoena to compel testimony from executive-branch officials.)

The January 6 Committee also issued a subpoena last week to Ali Alexander, the leader of the pro-Trump "Stop the Steal" organization, who has claimed he worked on the pre-insurrection rally with several GOP lawmakers, including Reps. Paul Gosar, Mo Brooks, and Andy Biggs.

Trump's speech in Iowa Saturday night suggests we're already in the gravitational field of the 2024 midterms. But in making that speech mostly about himself, Trump may have given Democrats more leeway to do what Americans - including most Trump supporters - need them to do.

(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

The Newest Big Pharma Scam Exposed
Big Pharma's obscenely-priced drugs developed w/tax dollars will continue to drain working people of income, savings, and - ultimately - their health until America recognizes healthcare as a right
By Thom Hartmann

Molnupiravir is the new pill that's been all over the news recently because it can cut hospitalizations and deaths of unvaccinated Covid-infected people by as much as half and doesn't require folks to go to the hospital or an infusion center, like the monoclonal antibody treatment. Just take a pill every day for five days and you're good.

It was originally developed by Emory University to treat horses infected with Venezuelan equine encephalitis with a $10 million grant from the Department of Defense and $19 million from the National Institutes of Health. In other words, its invention was paid for with your tax dollars.

Emory University passed along the patent on molnupiravir to a small company, Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, which in turn passed it along to the pharmaceutical giant Merck.

Manufacturing cost for molnupiravir, according to a report from researchers with the Harvard School of Public Health, is around $17.74 for a 5-day course of treatment.

Merck just signed a contract with the federal government to sell 1.7 million treatment courses for the government to distribute to infected people for ... wait for it ... $712.00 each.

This price-gouging hustle was both made possible - and, ironically, perhaps made illegal - by a piece of legislation passed back in 1980 that gave universities the ability to sell patents to inventions funded with federal money to non-profit organizations and small businesses...but not to major corporations. Since then, small businesses like Ridgeback have served as middlemen handing off profitable pharmaceuticals developed with our tax dollars to giant corporations like Merck.

Back in 1980, Senators Birch Bayh and Bob Dole got passed, over then-President Jimmy Carter's objections (it was first shot down and only passed during the lame duck session by being attached to must-pass legislation) the Patent and Trademark Law Amendments Act, now usually referred to as Bayh-Dole. Industry and trade groups loudly sing its praises, although they're worried about a provision of the law (that's apparently never been used) called "March-in Authority." "March-in" allows the federal government to say, essentially, "We paid to develop this drug so you have to sell it to us at a reasonable price; we think you're ripping us off right now so we're going to claw back that patent from you and assign it to somebody else."

As professors Peter Arno and Michael Davis wrote in The Washington Post:

"Bayh-Dole is a provision of U.S. patent law that states that practically any new drug invented wholly or in part with federal funds will be made available to the public at a reasonable price. If it is not, then the government can insist that the drug be licensed to more reasonable manufacturers, and, if refused, license it to third parties that will make the drug available at a reasonable cost."
So Big Pharma called up their lobbyists and Trump's billionaire Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross (who Forbes magazine said "could rank among the biggest grifters in American history"), jumped into the act.

In the last year of the Trump administration, Ross's Commerce Department began the process of stripping "March-in" out of Bayh-Dole so Big Pharma could rip off the US government as much as it wanted, whenever it wanted. In the Federal Register it was phrased this way:

"(7) Clarify § 401.6 to include a provision that march-in rights shall not be exercised by an agency exclusively on the basis of business decisions of a contractor regarding the pricing of commercial goods and services arising from the practical application of the invention."
The issue is still live before the Biden Commerce Department, so watch this space.

Meanwhile, big Pharma is buying off members of Congress to encourage an end to "March-in" and block any efforts to regulate the cost of drugs or let Medicare negotiate prices. ,P> That little provision draining billions every month from the Medicare fund, along with the privatization of Medicare through the Medicare Advantage Scam, came to us courtesy of the George W. Bush administration, after Bush tried and failed to entirely privatize both Social Security and Medicare.

Most recently, when legislation was before the House of Representatives to allow Medicare to radically cut their expenses by negotiating drug prices (just like the VA and major insurers do), it was shot down in committee by every single Republican joined by three paid-off "Problem Solver" Democrats: Scott Peters of California, Kathleen Rice of New York and Oregon's Kurt Schrader.

Drugs have become a huge rip-off of the American people, making Big Pharma's executives and shareholders fabulously rich and generating a huge pot of money that 5 conservatives on the Supreme Court ruled, in Citizens United, drug companies are welcome to use to corrupt politicians. A recent study found:

"For 17 of the 20 top-selling drugs worldwide, drugmakers made more money from U.S. sales than from sales to all other countries in the rest of the world combined.

"For 11 of the 20 top-selling drugs worldwide, U.S. sales revenue was double or more the revenue for sales in the rest of the world."

We are, uniquely in the world, being robbed.

As Congressman Ro Khanna told The Daily Poster, "The pharmaceutical lobby is very savvy. They pick the one or two people they need to block things, on the relevant committees or at the relevant time." And this time, they've "picked" Senator Kyrsten Sinema, pouring a flood of cash into her pockets so she will block any efforts to control drug prices in Biden's reconciliation Build Back Better legislation.

As I lay out in my new book, The Hidden History of American Healthcare: Why Sickness Bankrupts You and Makes Others Insanely Rich, until America joins the rest of the developed world in considering healthcare a right rather than a privilege, these giant, multi-billion-dollar-a-year scams like Medicare Advantage and obscenely-priced drugs developed with our own tax dollars will continue to drain working people of their income, savings, and - ultimately - their health.

(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
~~~ Cristopher Weyant ~~~

To End On A Happy Note-

Have You Seen This-

Parting Shots-

Pandora Papers Prove It's Never Been More Important To Crack Down On Dole Cheats
By The Waterford Whispers News

SHOCKED by the Pandora Papers leaks, the world's rich, among them political leaders, have taken stock of the hoarding of wealth and significant tax evasion they've been caught partaking in yet again and vowed to do their best to crack down on anyone claiming one cent more than they're entitled to in welfare.

"I suppose the big takeaway here from this news that elites are engaged in rampant money laundering and tax evasion is that we need to do more to crack down on the little guy, the true villain in all this" confirmed politicians in charge of their countries' financial and tax regulations.

As a result of the Pandora Papers revelations leading businesses and CEOs have increased their 'we're all in this together' and 'hey, maybe your neighbour is stealing from you' marketing budgets.

"This news hurts hard. We could pay for preventing climate change and all but erasing poverty if we just hound the most heinously selfish and monstrously evil individuals in the world today; the guy who accidentally claimed an extra 50 quid in welfare once," confirmed a who's who of those identified in the Pandora Papers.

Elsewhere, a number of a wealthy millionaires and billionaires have called their accountants in fits of rage, asking why they weren't in the Pandora Papers.

Meanwhile, individuals embarrassed by being outed in the leaks have confirmed they have yet to decide which journalist will be assassinated in a car bomb attack for their part in reporting the news this time around.

(c) 2021 The Waterford Whispers News

Issues & Alibis Vol 21 # 41 (c) 10/15/2021

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