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In This Edition

Norman Solomon warns, "Beware, Pete Buttigieg Is A Sharp Corporate Tool."

Ralph Nader asks, "Where Are The Influentials Who Find Trump Despicable?"

Glen Ford returns with a must read, "Nobody Gets Liberated Until The Defeat Of The Plutocrats."

Jim Hightower examines, "Suspending Our Right To Protest Destructive Corporate Greed."

Juan Cole says, "No, Trump Isn't Bringing US Troops Home."

John Nichols remembers, "When Scott Walker Lied To Congress, Elijah Cummings Raised The Alarm."

James Donahue foresees, "A Creeping Enslavement Of The People."

William Rivers Pitt asks, "Mitch McConnell Controls Trump's Fate. Will He Waver?"

David Suzuki concludes, "We Owe Greta And The Youth More Than A Nobel Prize."

Charles P. Pierce says, "If This Mossack Fonseca Investigation Is Real, I Wonder What Will Turn Up In Russia."

David Swanson wonders, "What Does The U.S. Public Think Of Its Government Arming And Bombing The World?"

Billionaire Jeff Bezos wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich wonders, "Should The Supreme Court Be Reformed?"

Jane Stllwater explores, "Ecuador's Revolting Situation."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Nate White explains, "Why Do Some British People Not Like Donald Trump?" but first Uncle Ernie sez, "Trump Says He's Being Lynched."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Marshall Ramsey, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Ruben Bolling, Tom Tomorrow, DonkeyHotey, Scott Applewhite, Dees Illustrations, Mark Wilson, Delil Souleiman, Gage Skidmore, Monty Python, Mathieu Morin, 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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Trump Says He's Being Lynched
Then I say "Hang'em High!"
By Ernest Stewart

"Emmett Till was a 14-year-old boy boy who was falsely accused of sexual harassment by a white woman in Mississippi and then brutally lynched. That's what a lynching looks like without due process. His mother held an open casket funeral to show the world what American racism is." ~~~ Eugene Gu ~ MD

"This one has to succeed. It is not just that the youth climate strike, now building worldwide with tremendous speed, is our best (and possibly our last) hope of avoiding catastrophe." ~~~ George Monbiot

"Jeff Bezos, the richest man in America, gets to decide on a whim whether Washington Post employees get to see a doctor or not." ~~~ Kenneth Zinn, political director at National Nurses United

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

Have you heard the latest from Lying Donald? He thinks he's being lynched. Here it is straight from the horse's ass, er, I suppose I mean, mouth...

Are you having a deja vu too, or is it just me? I guess Lying Donald doesn't remember "Slick Willies" impeachment. You may recall Clinton got impeached for a 'blow job' and for telling a single lie. (Unlike Lying Donalds whose told at least 14,000, and counting, lies) And like Clinton's attempted impeachment, Lying Donald's impeachment will die in the Senate too. Just remember those Rethuglican Sinators who voted against impeachment when it becomes election day!

You may recall that Lying Donald called for a lynching of the Central Park 5 for rape and paid the New York Times to publicly call for their "brutal executions."" You may also recall that the Central Park Five were eventually found not guilty unlike Lying Donald! Needless to say, a lot of Congressional black folks have little sympathy for Lying Donald and know far more about real lynchings than he! But lynching is a key word for his fascist base, and as you know, he loves to play to their stupidity!

Oh and as I've said many times before you can't keep up with Lying Donald's lies. The day after I finished this, this came out...

Oh my!

In Other News

I see where the Alaska Federation of Natives has declared a state of emergency on climate change.

On Saturday, delegates considered dozens of resolutions, including one that would see AFN form a climate change task force. Canadian tribes are doing the same thing.

The resolution was drafted at the earlier Elders and Youth Conference and was presented to AFN by two high school students. Like my generation fight to end the war in Viet Nam today's young people are definitely leading the way on global warming. Of course, not to be undone by the kids one of my favorite people Jane Fonda is protesting global warmings pledging with other of my generation to get arrested every Friday. Not a comfortable thing to do at age 81!

Debate on whether to adopt the resolution became a proxy fight for how to combat global warming and whether there could be a risk that outside interests would try to prevent development of Alaska Native lands. You know, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice... Indians like Blacks are very hard to fool twice!

15-year-old Nanieezh Peter of Arctic Village emotionally presented the resolution to hundreds of delegates. She urged AFN to declare a state of emergency on climate change, saying its threats have to be tackled now!

"We shouldn't have to tell those in charge that we want to survive," she said.

One-by-one delegates stood to support the resolution. All praised the two young women who drafted the resolution.

Crawford Paktokak, chairman of the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation board of directors, argued forcefully that environmentalists were using climate regulations to tell Alaska Natives how to hunt and to halt resource development. Can you say, "corporate goon" boys and girls?

Fortunately, who Paktokak offered an amendment that would have specifically mentioned the importance of development went down in flames.

The sometimes-heated debate saw 17-year-old Quannah Chasing Horse, a member of the Gwich' in Youth Council, tearfully urge action to curb climate change.

"We are here to fight with you, not to fight you," she said. Like youth everywhere they have no problem to standing up to the forces of corporate evil!

Victor Joseph, President of the Tanana Chiefs Conference, joined a chorus of people urging support for the resolution.

In a speech met with rapturous applause, Joseph said the young women had spoken eloquently and that AFN should support the proposed action.

After an hour of debate, the resolution was adopted by AFN. Chasing Horse and Peter shared a hug as the crowd cheered. The children shall lead us, indeed!

And Finally

Jeff Bezos has decided that the staff over at the Washington Post don't need their current insurance policys as they are too good for the likes of them. So he's decided to replace their current coverage with a much cheaper policy that will cause some of his employees not to be able to see a doctor if need be. Jeff moves his staff toward high-deductible health insurance plans that shift significant costs and risks onto employees. By doing this he saves about $50 million annually. Did I mention that this money is less than 2 hours pay for Jeff who makes about $275 million dollars a day, every day. What a guy, huh?

This is the same Bozo, oops Bezos, that makes workers at one of his Amazon warehouses lose their minds trying to fill orders at a madening pace that causes some workers to have broken bones in appalling working conditions that is you did it to a dog you would be arrested! All for $15 an hour that he had to be shamed into giving them up from their former minimum wage.

Ergo you know what I did, right? All of you who said Jeff wins this week's Vidkun Quidling Award may stay after class and clean the erasers, with chocolate almond milk and graham crackers to follow!

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!


03-26-1922 ~ 10-18-2019
Burn baby Burn!


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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.

Pete Buttigieg, aka Mayor Pete, is the mayor of South Bend, Indiana. Buttigieg is a
candidate for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States in 2020.

Beware, Pete Buttigieg Is A Sharp Corporate Tool
With the mutual alignment of Buttigieg and his corporate healthcare-industry donors, Mayor Pete's approach seems to be a case of a flimflamming candidate who poses as a forthright leader.
By Norman Solomon

Pete Buttigieg burst on the national scene early this year as a new sort of presidential candidate. But it turns out he's a very old kind-a glib ally of corporate America posing as an advocate for working people and their families. That has become apparent this fall as Buttigieg escalates his offensive against Medicare for All.

A not-funny thing has happened to Buttigieg on the campaign trail. As he kept collecting big checks from corporate executives and wealthy donors, he went from being "all for" a single-payer Medicare for All system in January to trashing it in the debate last week as a plan that would kick "150 million Americans off of their insurance in four short years." The demagoguery won praise from corporate media outlets.

Those outlets have often lauded Buttigieg for his fundraising totals this year without scrutiny of the funding sources. They skew toward the wealthy-and toward donors with a vested interest in protecting the status quo.

"Of course, from a voter's point of view, what really matters is not how much financial support a candidate is getting, but who they're getting it from-because those supporters may not have the same interests as the voter," Jim Naureckas at the media watchdog FAIR pointed out this summer. "In the case of Buttigieg, the two main sources of funds seem to be the tech industry . . . and the financial industry, that traditional source of funds for corporate-oriented Democrats."

So far this year, Buttigieg has reported $27 million in contributions of $200 and above-accounting for 52.5 percent of his total dollars raised. Compare that to Elizabeth Warren at 29.6 percent and Bernie Sanders at 24.9 percent.

And major sources of Buttigieg's funding are in harmony with his recent hostility toward Medicare for All. "Pharmaceutical, health insurance, and hospital industry donors have flocked to Mayor Pete all year," journalist Alex Kotch reported last week. "As of mid-2019, he was second only to Donald Trump in overall campaign cash from donors in the health sector. Among Democratic candidates, he was second to former Vice President Joe Biden in terms of pharmaceutical and health insurance donations."

Reporting for the investigative website Sludge, Kotch wrote: "Over 100 individuals in leadership, legal, consulting, or financing roles in health sector donated $200 or more to Pete for America between July and September. These donors include pharmaceutical industry leaders such as the chief corporate affairs officer at drugmaker Pfizer, the president of Astex Pharmaceuticals, a state lobbyist for Biogen, a vice president of public policy at Novartis, and the deputy vice president at the nation's largest pharmaceutical trade association, PhRMA, as well as attorneys for AbbVie, Johnson & Johnson, and Merck."

Buttigieg's reversal of avowed support for Medicare for All is classic opportunism. In early 2018, he was unequivocal via Twitter: "I, Pete Buttigieg, politician, do henceforth and forthwith declare, most affirmatively and indubitably, unto the ages, that I do favor Medicare for All."

Eight months ago, as The Hill noted, "Buttigieg also appeared to defend single-payer [Medicare for All] health insurance in a February 2019 interview on MSNBC's 'Morning Joe.'" But now, on its website, the Buttigieg campaign is engaged in a herculean pretzel effort at doubletalk, declaring that his "affordable public plan will incentivize private insurers to compete on price and bring down costs. If private insurers are not able to offer something dramatically better, this public plan will create a natural glide-path to Medicare for All."

Left unexplained is how Buttigieg is providing any sort of "glide-path" to Medicare for All by now deploying insurance-industry talking points to denounce Medicare for All. Buttigieg is trying to poison the well by conjuring up an effort to precipitously dump people off of health coverage and deprive them of "choice"-deliberately confusing the current "choice" of predatory for-profit insurance plans with the genuine full choice of healthcare providers that enhanced Medicare for everyone would provide.

"The efficiencies of a single-payer system would make universal coverage affordable and give everyone in the United States their free choice of doctors and hospitals," David Himmelstein and Steffie Woolhandler wrote this month in The Nation. "But that goal will remain out of reach if private insurers are allowed to continue gaming the system."

Himmelstein and Woolhandler, who are professors of public health and cofounders of Physicians for a National Health Program, assessed the healthcare scenarios being touted by the two most prominent candidates now attacking Warren and Sanders: "Some proposals, including those by Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg, would offer a Medicare-like public plan for sale alongside private plans on the insurance exchanges now available under the Affordable Care Act. These buy-in reforms would minimize the need for new taxes, since most enrollees would be charged premiums. But tens of millions would remain uninsured or with coverage so skimpy, they still couldn't afford care."

The sordid story of Buttigieg's about-face on Medicare for All was well-documented and deftly analyzed days ago by Jezebel writer Esther Wang under the headline "A Brief History of Pete Buttigieg Faking It on Medicare for All." She observed:

Buttigieg is not the only Democratic presidential candidate who has switched positions on supporting Medicare for All, or is just generally using the public and political confusion around the issue to undermine real efforts to move to a universal system. Kamala Harris, who co-sponsored Bernie Sanders' Senate bill, has consistently waffled, and has settled on a plan that continues to let private insurers play a role. But Buttigieg is the only candidate who is now making opposition to the Sanders- and Warren-backed Medicare for All a central focus of his campaign.
With the mutual alignment of Buttigieg and his corporate healthcare-industry donors, Mayor Pete's approach seems to be a case of a flimflamming candidate who poses as a forthright leader. For the general public, instead of "Mayor Pete," a more apt nickname might be "Mayor Elite."

As for Buttigieg's slippery slogan of "Medicare for all who want it," Rep. Ro Khanna pointed out that such a setup "won't bring the administrative costs down of private insurers or maximize negotiation with Big Pharma and hospitals." And: "This means higher premiums, higher drug costs, higher deductibles, and more denied claims for the middle class."

An in-depth report from the Political Economy Research Institute-"Economic Analysis of Medicare for All"-concluded that "Medicare for All has the potential to achieve major cost savings in its operations relative to the existing U.S. health care system. We estimate that, through implementation of Medicare for All, overall U.S. health care costs could fall by about 19 percent relative to the existing system."

Yet Buttigieg has joined with Joe Biden to open up a well-funded, double-barreled assault on Medicare for All.

"I am tired of seeing Democrats defend a dysfunctional healthcare system where 87 million people are uninsured or underinsured and 30,000 people die every year because they lack adequate coverage," Bernie Sanders wrote last Friday in an email to supporters. "So I was disappointed this week to see that Joe Biden used the talking points of the health insurance industry to attack Medicare for All and our campaign."

While Buttigieg is not strong in national polls right now, he's polling notably well in Iowa, where the first voting for the Democratic presidential nomination will occur in early-February caucuses. And with $23.4 million in the bank, he's got much more money in hand than Biden ($9 million). The only rivals with more money than Buttigieg are the two he's assailing for their resolute support of Medicare for All-Sanders ($33.7 million) and Warren ($25.7 million).

While I personally support Sanders, I'm equally appalled by Buttigieg's attacks on Warren. As part of a campaign strategy that aims to undermine both of his progressive opponents, the mayor continues to falsely characterize Medicare for All-no matter how much confusion and disinformation he creates along the way.

Whether or not Pete Buttigieg can win the nomination, he has certainly emerged as a sharp corporate tool.

(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."

Donald Trump speaking with supporters at a campaign rally in Phoenix, Arizona. June 18, 2016.

Where Are The Influentials Who Find Trump Despicable?
"Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing."
By Ralph Nader

The British political philosopher, John Stuart Mill, was a man of many pithy phrases. Possibly his most widely quoted assertion is that "Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing."

This quote fits the Trump age perfectly. Where are you, Barack Obama? Obama is still polling higher than any other politician, active or retired. Instead of speaking out, he is making movies, maybe writing another book, and otherwise really enjoying himself.

Where are you Condoleezza Rice? She encouraged Rex Tillerson to be Trump's Secretary of State, but Tillerson was cast aside in 2018 by a sneering Trump, who pronounced him "dumb as a rock." Condoleezza is collecting honors and large speech fees and teaching at Stanford University (keep in mind that Rice was on the inside during the criminal Bush/Cheney war in Iraq, which she supported and defended).

Where are you General Colin Powell? Powell is another former disgusted high official still high in the polls. He thinks he is hated by the White House. He needs to speak up, as his formidable former Chief of Staff, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, has repeatedly done.

The list could go on and on. The former high officials or elected politicians, now retired, who do want to speak up, complain that they can't get any media attention. If that is true, they should organize into a collective force, with some staff, to help push for media attention. I'm sure they will be able to attract some enlightened large donors.

Not all former officials are AWOL. Some former officials write prominent op-eds in newspapers like The New York Times and The Washington Post. Some former Obama-era public servants started a podcast called Pod Save America. These efforts are, sadly, not enough to compete with Trump's onslaught.

It is imperative that these political figures speak out, stand tall, and push back against Trump's worsening outrages. Trump's brazen lies obscure his administration's secrecy and cover-ups; for his abysmal betrayals of workers, patients, consumers, communities; and for Trump's false pledges that he would help create a safe, healthy environment. Remember his nonsensical rhetoric about clean air, clean water, and beautiful, clean coal.

He still thinks evidence about climate disruption is a "Chinese hoax."

In his mass rallies - that screen out critical citizens - Trump knowingly lies with reckless abandon. For example, at his recent Dallas rally, Trump said that he has brought the "largest decline in drug prices in over 51 years." Actually, drug prices are soaring as deprived patients, insurance company executives, and Medicare officials know so well. So what does Trump add? He tells his believers that the reason they don't know about lower drug prices is that the media, which he calls "crooked," "corrupt," and "fake," isn't telling Americans the truth.

That Trump has lied over ten thousand times to the American people is itself, given their many ramifications, a "violation of the public trust," which Alexander Hamilton described as an impeachable offense. Trump lies more in a month than other presidents do during their entire four year term.

Many of the influential people who are silent about Trump's abuses have no economic worries. They are sufficiently or extravagantly well-off. They have no concerns over the need for future jobs, being in their sixties or seventies. Retired lawyers who see Trump trampling on our constitutional and legal frameworks should be particularly incensed.

If some billionaire would fund the creation of a Secretariat to promote the views of Trump's critics, a small experienced staff and these influential people together could create a whole that is much greater than the sum of its parts.

Former lawmakers and executive officials, when acting together and assisted by a support staff, can multiply their efforts. Former Senators Lowell Wiecker and Gary Hart; former EPA chiefs, such as William Ruckelshaus; and former governors of New Jersey, Thomas Keane and Christine Todd Whitman are all critical of Trump's misbehavior. Trump ravages people and lies about a variety of serious matters without rebuttal. As we know from history, an unchallenged lie, repeated over and over again begins to sink in. It is imperative that accomplished people who challenge Trump's lies gain public credibility. Just consider the "nicknames" Trump assigns to his adversaries, without any nicknames being successfully applied to him. "Crooked Donald," "Decadent Donald," "Draft-dodging Donald," "Disgraceful Donald," "Lying Donald," and so forth. He has used such monikers, and worse, to slander opponents and these insults have been repeated by the mass media. Trump's victims are not afforded a chance to respond to his invectives.

A few media critics, notably Margaret Sullivan from The Washington Post, have chided their editors for allowing such defamatory Trumpian soliloquies. To avoid being his bullhorn, Sullivan argues, the media should not report such abuses. At a minimum, those who are attacked by Trump should be offered the chance to respond. Rebutting bullies is the first step in balancing the public stage. This would be particularly effective for a nasty, thin-skinned bully like Donald Trump.

(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).

Nobody Gets Liberated Until The Defeat Of The Plutocrats
Glen Ford

The Lords of Capital commission their politicians and media servants to spin lies all day long, because every fact of capitalist life demands the overthrow of the system.

Late stage capitalism is eating US society alive, dissolving all bonds between peoples and savaging every human right that has not already been put on the "market" and made buyable. The rule of the super-rich makes all the rest of us super-small. Relations among individuals, classes and even workers doing exactly the same job on the assembly line are distorted and deformed to further enrich the likes of Jeff Bezos ($114 billion), Bill Gates ($106 billion) and Warren Buffett ($80.8 billion), who have grasped more wealth in their personal clutches than is held by the entire bottom half of the U.S. population. One out of five Americans owe more than they own, rendering them negative beings in U.S. society.

The pace of plutocratic reordering of society quickens with each passing year, as the rich deploy their wealth-power to erase every impediment to the absolute dictatorship of the moneyed class. They control the only two political parties that are allowed to govern, and every means of communication among those who are subject to that government. Thus, every attempt at insurgency against the plutocrats is organized through the various spectrums of plutocrat-owned media, and overheard by their Deep State apparatus. The plutocracy's hegemony is so pervasive, even brand-name Black Lives Matter activists depend on them for funding, and constrain their politics accordingly. The revolution will not be subsidized.

The ethnic whiteness of this plutocrat class (in the U.S.) is both historically inevitable, given the racialized nature of the rise of capitalism - and politically immaterial, since the very existence of this class smashes all claims to humanity for the rest of us. A theoretical "diversification" of the plutocracy -- peppering it with Black and brown billionaires and sweetening the mix with women -- will make no difference whatsoever in the system's social consequences, except to further delude the many-hued and -gendered classes and peoples at the bottom.

The plutocrats and their minions have stolen the people's language, to facilitate the theft of everything else. Thus, the things we fight for - "jobs," "freedom," "security," "homeland" - have been redefined to the point of nullification. What is a "job"? In the plutocrat-ruled USA, employment no longer entails any obligation of the business owner to the worker. These "gig," "contract" and variable part-time arrangements are not "jobs" at all, in the previously understood sense. Yet Google, the premier corporation of the high-tech capitalist sector that, we are told, is creating the infrastructure of the future, has a workforce that is 54 percent "gig" workers -- temporary, contract and part-time employees.

Ninety-five percent of the "jobs" created under President Obama in the post-meltdown period were gig "shit-jobs," transforming the United State into a "shit-hole" country. The new, reorganized General Motors, bailed out by federal funds and union give-backs in the post-meltdown era, introduced four "tiers" of "jobs" that entail exactly the same sweat and toil but with widely varying pay, workdays, and pension and employment security - with devastating effect on worker and union solidarity, as is playing out in the current strike. The corporation, headed by a $22 million a year CEO, insists on retaining "flexibility" to shut down plants, export jobs and shuffle the surviving workers for maximum profit to shareholders. Workers rights, and the very definition of employment, itself, must therefore be "flexibly" defined out existence. This is the real stuff of capitalist restructuring.

Chicago, like every other U.S. city, restructures itself according to the dictates of its resident ruling class - the same guys that made Barack Obama a viable Democratic presidential contender. And, as in every other American metropolis, restructuring means creating an urban environment hostile to Black life. Heroic teacher union activists transformed their union to meet the corporate onslaught, with Black teachers in the lead. Striking teachers and support staff propose a people's version of restructuring, funded by higher taxes on the rich and corporations, that allows the Black and brown populations to continue to live in the city while providing their children a quality education. This requires an affirmation of RIGHTS: to housing, to be free of police repression and the classroom-to-prison pipeline, and decent wages and working conditions for school personnel. On that, there can be no "flexibility," because these are human rights. The fact that these rights are antithetical to the plutocratic capitalist order, simply means that capitalism must go, and that the struggle for Black self-determination and dignity is inseparable from the fight to defeat the Lords of Capital.

The plutocrats and their servants are not super-smart -- the billionaire buffoon in the White House has shown the whole world that some oligarchs are idiots - but they have vast powers of obfuscation and have given their official and media agents full license to lie as a matter of daily course. As the contradictions of their roller-coaster rule multiply, the corporate narrative of unfolding events becomes more and more fantastical, divorced almost wholly from facts and history. An almost comic example is the corporate Democrats' insistence that Medicare for All will "take away" people's private health insurance - as if folks are losing anything but a huge monthly bill that fattens a totally unproductive, parasitical industry. An extremely unfunny lie, is the universal corporate narrative on Syria and Libya that erases Washington's longtime alliance with al Qaeda. U.S. aggression against Haiti has always been shielded by a wall of corporate lies. The corporate media don't tell too many lies about the U.S. military occupation of Africa, or the six million dead Congolese victims of U.S. Africa policy, because corporate media seldom report on Africa. On foreign affairs, truth is almost never on the corporate menu.

Russiagate is the "Game of Thrones" of lies, a never-ending CIA-signature saga.

It is beyond the people's capacity to correct the daily avalanche of corporate lies - although publications like BAR do try, and are punished with rigged Google algorithms for our efforts. The people must make their own facts on the ground, in confrontation with the oligarchs, and then build a body of knowledge and a fighting culture on those struggles. The system will implode of its own contradictions at unknown future junctures, but if people are not organized and aware of the causes of collapse, the consequences will be far more deadly.

Black liberation/self-determination, by any definition, is wholly incompatible with the emerging imperial nightmare order, and can only be forged in a struggle for socialism - with or without effective white U.S. allies. The climate crisis makes every argument for socialism much more urgent. For the first time in human history, there is a deadline for the people's victory - the creation of species-saving energy production and use structures for global humanity - which cannot possibly occur under the current dictatorship of capital.

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

Suspending Our Right To Protest Destructive Corporate Greed
By Jim Hightower

As George Bernard Shaw noted, "You don't make progress by standing on guard, but by attacking, and getting well-hammered yourself."

That certainly has been true of progressives in our country. It has been audacious American rebels who've incrementally advanced our democratic possibilities by defying the repressive laws of the authoritarian order. That's what the revolutionaries of 1776 did, and so have subsequent generations of abolitionists, suffragists, unionists, populists, and other grassroots activists.

Now, add to them a team of bold environmental advocates. On September 12, to confront the looming global crisis of industrially induced climate change, 11 members of Greenpeace were suspended on static lines a couple hundred feet above the water from a huge bridge that spans the Houston Ship Channel, temporarily shutting down Big Oil's largest US outlet for climate destroying petrochemicals.

Unfortunately, they quickly found themselves suspended in an even more precarious way. Their Constitutional freedoms of speech and assembly were suspended by a new, little-known law passed at the behest of the very same corporate powers they had dared to protest. Unbeknownst to the general public, oil giants and other multinational corporations have quietly been colluding with state officials to pass a series of autocratic laws that criminalize our right to protest at the sites of what corporations call "critical infrastructure."

Each of the 11 Greenpeace activists involved in the ship channel protest, along with 20 others that were also arrested, now face years in prison and a permanent criminal record for "interrupting" Big Oil's operations for 18 hours. So rather than protecting our fragile environment and Constitutional rights, America's power elites are defending corporations... from us!

(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

A US soldier stands in an armoured personnel carrier as the US forces pull out of their
base in the Northern Syrian town of Tal Tamr, on October 20, 2019. - US forces withdrew
from a key base in northern Syria today, a monitor said, two days before the end of a US-brokered
truce to stem a Turkish attack on Kurdish forces in the region.

No, Trump Isn't Bringing US Troops Home
Not those in Syria and not any of the 60,000 soldiers spread across the Mideast
By Juan Cole

Although Trump keeps talking about bringing the troops home from the Middle East, that isn't what he is doing.

There are some 60,000 US troops in and around the Middle East. There is no prospect of any significant number of them "coming home" any time soon.

In fact, Trump just sent nearly 2,000 troops to Saudi Arabia after the attack, attributed by many to Iran, on the Abqaiq oil processing facility.

I guess the difference between Syrian Kurds, whom he abandoned, and Saudi Arabia, to which he's sending more troops, is about 9 million barrels a day of oil.

Moreover, Trump implies that there are cost savings to bringing the troops home, but he put up spending on the Department of Defense $130 billion a year. The 2015 Defense budget was $586 billion and that in 2019 was $716 billion. Trump wants to go on up to $750 billion. So there is no peace dividend, no extra investment in American infrastructure or bringing factory jobs back. There is just squandering of money on the military. Money invested in the Defense Department produces relatively few jobs compared to what would happen if you invested it in something useful.

So Trump hasn't saved any money on the military and he hasn't brought troops home.

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, or Esperanto as Trump calls him, has announced that all the 1,000 US special operations personnel who had been embedded with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces will go to Iraq.

Initially the plan had apparently been to send them to the Incirlik Air Force Base in Turkey, but since Turkey was targeting them with artillery, I suppose someone in Washington figured out that getting them through Turkish lines in the north and then basing them at Incirlik would be extremely awkward. Moreover, since Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan has shown almost no interest in fighting ISIL, Turkey would not be a very welcoming home for US troops so tasked.

In contrast, the Shiite government of Baghdad is extremely worried about a recrudescence of cultic ultra-right Muslim terrorism now that the US is mostly getting out of Syria.

So special operations forces will be able to strike from Iraq into eastern Syria to hit any resurgent ISIL cells. In fact, the Iraqi government has considered doing this itself, and actually launched some such strikes last November.

Just to sum up: 60,000 US troops in the Middle East, with no prospect of the number being reduced or units "brought home" except on ordinary rotations. The 1,000 troops in Syria will mostly relocate to Iraq, not to the United States. More troops have been sent to Saudi Arabia. A $750 billion Defense budget in the offing.

Not coming home. Not saving money. Not creating jobs.

(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.

As chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Congressman Elijah Cummings played a pivotal role in
laying the groundwork for impeaching President Donald Trump. Cummings died Oct. 17 from complications of longtime health problems.

When Scott Walker Lied To Congress, Elijah Cummings Raised The Alarm
By John Nichols

Congressman Elijah Cummings, a Democrat from Maryland who died Thursday morning at age 68, will be remembered for the clarity of his opposition to Donald Trump's miserable excuse for a presidency. It was Cummings who, after Trump attacked the congressman and his hometown of Baltimore in vile terms, responded with a rebuke steeped in moral terms. "Those at the highest levels of the government must stop invoking fear, using racist language and encouraging reprehensible behavior. It only creates more division among us, and severely limits our ability to work together for the common good," Cummings declared in an Aug. 7 speech at the National Press Club. "As a country," he said, "we finally must say that enough is enough - that we are done with the hateful rhetoric."

Trump was not capable of hearing, let alone accepting, the invitation that Cummings offered, an invitation to be a better man and a better president. This is one of the many reasons why Trump will have to be impeached. And when he is impeached, it will be recalled that Cummings, who was chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, played a pivotal role in laying the groundwork for that accountability moment.

But Wisconsinites have another reason to remember Cummings.

In the spring of 2011, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker appeared before the House's oversight committee at a time when Walker was attacking public employee unions in the state and crusading nationally against organized labor. Walker said in his formal statement that his frenzied efforts to undermine the collective-bargaining rights of workers and their unions - including moves to prevent them from collecting dues, maintaining ongoing representation of members, and engaging effectively in political campaigns - had nothing to do with politics.

Congressman Gerry Connolly, D-Va., pressed Walker on the matter of his political intentions. "Have you ever had a conversation with respect to your actions in Wisconsin and using them to punish members of the opposition party and their (union) donor base?"

asked Connolly.

"No," replied Walker.

"Never had such a conversation?" asked Connolly.

"No," said Walker.

A year after Walker testified to the committee, video surfaced showing Walker saying the opposite to Diane Hendricks, a Beloit billionaire who would eventually give his campaign more than $500,000. Captured in January 2011 by a documentary filmmaker who was trailing Hendricks, the conversation provided rare insight into the governor's long-term strategy for dividing Wisconsin. That strategy was entirely political.

In the video, Walker is shown meeting with Hendricks before an economic development session at the headquarters of a firm Hendricks owns, ABC Supply Inc., in Beloit. After Walker kisses Henricks, she asks: "Any chance we'll ever get to be a completely red (Republican) state and work on these unions?"

"Oh, yeah!" says Walker.

Then, referencing anti-labor legislation favored by Republican strategists who seek to weaken private-sector unions, Hendricks asks: "And become a right-to-work (state)?"

Walker replies: "Well, we're going to start in a couple weeks with our budget adjustment bill. The first step is we're going to deal with collective bargaining for all public employee unions, because you use divide and conquer."

With that explanation, Walker tells the woman who had just asked him about making Wisconsin a "completely red state": "That opens the door once we do that."

After the video surfaced in May 2012, I wrote an article headlined, "Did Scott Walker lie under oath to Congress?" The subhead read, "He says no. Video says yes." A week later, Cummings and Democratic members of the committee dispatched a copy of the article and a pointed letter to the Republican chair of the committee, Californian Darrell Issa, demanding an answer to the question. They then wrote Walker, earning headlines in Washington and Wisconsin.

The Republicans resisted that accountability moment, but Cummings had made his point. And he would continue to do so, again and again, when issues of worker rights were at stake.

The representative's work on impeachment has been vital, and he should be remembered for it. But he should also be remembered for the fights that were perhaps not so well noted but that spoke to his passion for worker rights in places like Wisconsin.

Just a few weeks before his death, Cummings observed, "Unfortunately, too many Americans have been left behind in the modern economy. Every month working families scrimp and save, only to struggle to afford child care; women work hard to only - on average - earn 80 cents for every dollar a man makes; and across the country, labor unions are being attacked and are losing their right to organize."

The representative concluded, "These hardworking men and women are not forgotten."

Throughout his service in the House, Elijah Cummings made sure that they were never forgotten and that workers had a voice on Capitol Hill.

(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.

A Creeping Enslavement Of The People
By James Donahue

There appears to have been a master plan underway to destroy access to knowledge and turn the masses of humanity into illiterate surfs to the bankers and corporate bosses who have seized even more control of the wealth. This shift from a time when Americans enjoyed a strong, union-driven middle class life style to the harsh living standards doled out today was a slow process that can be traced to historical events over the last 50 years.

The Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling on Citizen's United in 2010 became the trigger leading to a total takeover of federal, state and many local governments. That ruling, hinging on long-standing efforts to pack the high court with a majority of judicial voices loyal to big money interests, has helped to fog over fairness in the democratic election process. It gave corporations and big money interests the freedom to spend unlimited amounts for advertising and other political tools and push favored political candidates into key offices on every level of government.

Driving the people into a mental state where they might believe the political propaganda has been a three-pronged attack on the acquisition of knowledge. This involved the destruction of the nation's great education system, control of the media and finally the control of the Internet.

The slide into corporate control of the nation's great colleges and universities was among the early stages of this move into a mental breakdown of creative thought. When I attended college in the late 1950s I was able to earn enough money working summer jobs and then doing odd jobs in and around the university to cover the cost of my tuition, books and off-campus rent. I left college debt free. By 1973, according to a recent report in the Atlantic Monthly, the average cost for tuition and fees at a private nonprofit college had risen to nearly $11,000. After this the costs have tripled, climbing to over $30,000. This does not include the price of room rent and food, plus other costs associated with attended college. College graduates now leave school steeped in massive debt that they cannot escape from, even through bankruptcy.

College debts are so massive, and potential earnings for college graduates are so relatively low, that students will be spending most of their working years attempting to pay off that debt. Consequently, many bright potential students are choosing to avoid college rather than get on that ugly treadmill. Graduates find themselves reluctant to go further in debt to buy homes, cars, get married or have children.

How did this happen? The advent of federal student loans has strangely been the catalyst for the big cost increases behind attending college. With the government offering the banks a guaranteed return for their money, lenders are freely dispensing credit to students. And with this release of student loan money, the colleges have been turned into for-profit institutions. They are building new and more lavish facilities, raising staff wages and raising tuition rates accordingly. By 2011 the presidents of 180 private colleges in the United States earned over $500,000 a year according to a report in the Atlantic Monthly.

Public education took a severe hit after George W. Bush entered the White House. He brought the concept of "no child left behind" into the field of using federal money to force students to hit arbitrary scores on standardized tests. This forced teachers to abandon normal instruction and concentrate, instead, on forcing students to prepare for these tests. Student failures then reflected on the teacher's ability in the classroom. High school graduates today are often shown to have an inability to list basic information like the names of the 50 states, the names of the presidents, know general history and the functions of the government, or get correct answers to simple mathematics questions.

Federal control of the public schools remained in effect until late in 2015 when President Barack Obama signed into law an updated version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act that returned power to states and local districts to decide how to fix the troubled schools. This act never quite got off the ground, however, after Donald Trump took office a month later. Among his first acts was to name Betsy DeVos to head the Department of Education. This woman, a devout Christian, appears to be working hard to divert federal education dollars from public to private charter schools that put emphasis on the Bible as part of the curriculum. Parents also must pay tuition to enroll their children in charter schools.

The control of the media involved a series of buy-outs by big corporations at a time when newspaper and television stations were in tough competition with each other and the Internet. Consequently these long established news outlets were suddenly under the direction of corporate bosses who determined the political leanings of the news content. Even worse they determined what the general public was allowed to know. Rupert Murdock's Fox News channel was among the more flagrant outlets for slanted news. Under pressure to compete, the other networks and large newspaper chains have been quick to fall into lock step.

To confuse the public even further, President Trump has re-invented the concept of "fake news," a label he has been quick to place on any story that criticized his presidency. There have been so many accusations of fake news stories in recent months that most people express confusion as to what they can or cannot believe. It was a simple trick used successfully by Adolf Hitler in fascist Germany, and it appears to be just as effective today in Trump's America.

The latest news reports suggest that Mr. Trump has threatened to call for the revocation of licenses for television broadcast journalists that report uncomplimentary stories about him. Federal Communication Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, however, said the First Amendment does not give his office the right to revoke any reporter's license based upon specific news stories.

Finally, we come to the international effort to destroy the Internet. This amazing electronic system of open world communication and seeking valuable news sources has been a bane to world political leaders who like to control the news and hide their misdeeds. Communist China was successful at putting blocks on certain news and information outlets. Other world leaders followed suit.

In late 2017 the Federal Communication Commission voted to repeal the strong net neutrality rules that were maintaining an open and fair internet for everyone. The U.S. Senate voted to overturn the FCC decision, but the House failed to act. Thus the change went into effect on June 11, 2018. From this date on there are no longer restrictions on providers from blocking or slowing content of Internet sites, or giving special treatment to users willing to pay a higher price.

While this quiet assault on Internet freedom has been going on in the U.S., there has been a similar action occurring throughout Europe. There the European Union's parliament legal affairs committee voted this month for legislation that would require a "link tax" on Internet web sites that wish to quote copyrighted materials, and force big information providers like Google and Microsoft to install filters to block users from uploading these materials.

While this appears at first blush to be a law that will affect only European Internet users, think again. The Internet is such an International phenomenon anything that is controlling users in one part of the world could hit Internet users everywhere. Thus the free exchange of news and information throughout the world now appears to be seriously threatened.

As explained by one critic: "The European Commission would require websites to utilize automated content-filtering technology that costs millions of dollars and thousands of manpower hours, likely decimating small online businesses and startups.

"The proposal also makes it impossible to opt out of charging for content, meaning that sites can't share their information for free even if they want to. This law is an attack on the free press and the open Internet."

A privately owned and controlled website like this one, for example, could eventually be blocked from using any of the material collected for this story, for example.

(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.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks to the media after attending the
Republican weekly policy luncheon on Capitol Hill, September 17, 2019, in Washington, D.C.

Mitch McConnell Controls Trump's Fate. Will He Waver?
By William Rivers Pitt


No, of course he didn't actually tweet that... but I think we're getting there. Honestly, would you be surprised if he did? Would anyone at this point? There is gaslighting, there is throwing mud to see what sticks, and there are the strange noises Trump has been making after what was probably the worst week of his whole scurvy, feckless political life.

"We've had tremendous success I think over the last couple of days," said Trump last Friday as the full scope of his Turkey debacle came into vivid focus. "We've taken control of the oil in the Middle East." The Associated Press set a new bellwether for understatement by describing Trump's quantifiably bizarre Middle East oil statement as "a claim that seemed disconnected from any known development there." You think?

Trump's "tremendous success" isn't resounding with Turkey's authoritarian president, Recep Tayyip Erdo─čan, despite the fact that Erdogan is currently rolling up northern Syria like a window shade (thanks to Trump) in defiance of a weak U.S.-brokered "ceasefire." After Trump transmitted a letter to Erdogan so utterly farcical it should have been written in crayon, the Turkish leader clapped back in ominous if opaque tones. "We will not forget this lack of respect," said Erdogan of the Trump letter. "When the time comes, the necessary thing will be done."

On Sunday, The New York Times reported that Erdogan wants to acquire missiles with nuclear warheads, and furthermore believes he can do so after discovering how easy it is to push around the president of the United States. Chafing at the fact that Western governments have prevented Turkey from acquiring such weapons even though "some countries" have them, he told a meeting of his governing party, "This, I cannot accept."

Speaking of clapping back, the House of Representatives voted to rebuke Trump's Syria withdrawal last Wednesday by the titanically bipartisan margin of 354-60. That same day, Trump voluntarily shared his spiffy Erdogan letter with a congressional delegation when they came to the White House in an attempt to figure out what the hell he's up to.

Trump's self-satisfaction lasted exactly as long as it took House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to hand him his own ass in an eggcup. "All roads with you lead to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin," she told him during the meeting, causing him to unspool a nonsensical diatribe about Democrats liking ISIS because ISIS is communist, or something. The meeting, to the astonishment of none, did not last much longer after that. Fred twelve purple nerf, indeed.

Pelosi and the House Democrats are only the leading edge of Trump's problems. The ongoing investigation into his self-serving Ukraine dealings has pulled in, and pulled down, a number of people who believed their dry run through the raindrops would last forever. The idea that Trump and his cohorts have been playing some game of multidimensional chess has evaporated.

Until very recently, the Trump administration was like the Mafia before the advent of wiretaps and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) statutes. Like the pre-RICO Mafia, they had the local authorities in their pocket and could act with impunity - Nice aid package you got there, Mr. Ukraine, shame if something happened to it. That tableau has fallen to dust, and in its place stands the rock-bottom fact that these are small-minded men committing simple crimes. Like the mob, they only got away with it for so long because there were no guardrails to hinder their behavior. That's over now; the House has the wiretaps, and RICO is on the books.

Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney stands as the most vivid example of this phenomenon. Like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Mulvaney represents the triumph of Tea Party dunderheads failing upward into a running buzzsaw.

When Mulvaney stood before the press corps last Thursday and gleefully admitted the Trump administration had withheld Ukraine aid until that country agreed to help smear Democrats, any illusion of competence audibly shattered right there on live television. His astonishing admission, followed by a laughable series of failed walk-backs, have combined to put his job in deep peril. Yes, Virginia, these people are all fools.

Because of this, the sound you're hearing is the soft scratching of claws as the rats start jumping into the lifeboats. "In interviews with more than 20 GOP lawmakers and congressional aides in the past 48 hours," reported The Washington Post on Friday, "many said they were repulsed by Trump's decision to host an international summit at his own resort and incensed by acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney's admission - later withdrawn - that U.S. aid to Ukraine was withheld for political reasons. Others expressed anger over the president's abandonment of Kurdish allies in Syria."

GOP Rep. Francis Rooney of the blood red 19th congressional district in Florida let it be known that he would definitely consider voting to impeach Trump, likening the current imbroglio to Watergate. John Kasich, the former Republican presidential candidate and governor of Ohio, is now fully aboard the impeachment train. Sen. Mitt Romney denounced Trump over Syria in vigorous tones, motivating Trump to attack Romney in a tweet that makes Christmas bananas for the rutabaga scooter sound like Shakespeare in the Round.

Even Sen. Lindsey Graham, Trump's most unflappably shameless defender, is beginning to show the strain. "If you could show me that, you know, Trump actually was engaging in a quid pro quo, outside the phone call, that would be very disturbing," he told Jonathan Swan of Axios on HBO.

Time will tell whether Rooney, Kasich and Romney are outliers or part of a real trend. The true yardstick for Trump's political safety remains Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell; if Mitch holds firm, Trump may yet weather this thing. But is Mitch holding firm?

"It was only a few weeks ago that the top Senate Republican was hinting that his chamber would make short work of impeachment," reports The New York Times. "But this week, Senator Mitch McConnell sat his colleagues down over lunch in the Capitol and warned them to prepare for an extended impeachment trial of President Trump." Salting the wound, McConnell penned a scathing rebuke of Trump's Syria withdrawal in a Friday Post op-ed. "Predictably," he wrote, "our adversaries seem to be relishing these developments."

The longer all this goes on, the harder it will be for Republicans to stand by their man. This is not about fealty or morality but political expediency. Republicans will abandon Trump en masse exactly one half-second after they realize it is no longer in their best interests to do so. To quote Heath Ledger's Joker, we're about to find out how loyal a hungry dog really is. In the meantime, enjoy the show. Shaky bubblegum squid pants, any day now.

(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.

Greta with Montreal youth at Sept. 27 Climate StrikeGreta and the young people worldwide
urging adults to care about their future don't need a Nobel. They need grownups
to take them seriously and heed the scientific evidence about global warming.

We Owe Greta And The Youth More Than A Nobel Prize
By David Suzuki

Many people, including me, expected Greta Thunberg to win this year's Nobel Peace Prize. Instead, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali was deservedly awarded for ending more than 20 years of conflict with neighbouring Eritrea.

Greta and the young people worldwide urging adults to care about their future don't need a Nobel. They need grownups to take them seriously and heed the scientific evidence about global warming.

From her solitary school strike in Sweden last year to massive worldwide climate strikes in late September, Thunberg has rallied millions of young people and adults to demand change. She and the youth who have joined her cause understand the world offers all we need, if we don't destroy the natural systems that make our health and well-being possible. They also know it isn't a lack of solutions holding us back, but a lack of political will.

And they know, as scientists worldwide have warned through the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, that we have little time to address the crisis we're creating by wastefully burning excessive amounts of fossil fuels and destroying ecosystems at an alarming rate.

Most of them understand, too, that it's about more than protecting humanity from climate chaos; it's also about human rights and justice, about changing systems that have spawned massive inequality and a greedy race to rapidly exploit Earth's resources, simply to earn money for shareholders and CEOs.

Sioux youth Tokata Iron Eyes invited Greta to Standing Rock, North Dakota, where the Sioux and their allies tried for years to block construction of a pipeline that now carries fracked Bakken shale oil to an Illinois refinery, saying it puts water, rights and climate at risk. She said she and Greta shouldn't have to do this. "No 16-year-old should have to travel the world in the first place sharing a message about having something as simple as clean water and fresh air to breathe," she told the Guardian.

But those racing to extract as much of Earth's limited fossil fuel supplies as possible before markets fall in the face of better, less-expensive alternatives and an accelerating climate crisis don't seem to care about clean air, water and land. Politicians see fossil fuels as a way to boost short-term economic growth, often blinded to any vision extending beyond the next election. Industry heads see massive profits and continuation of privilege.

All offer token responses to climate disruption. Politicians say they're doing their best but change won't happen overnight (an excuse they've been using over many nights, days, week, months, years...) and that more fossil fuel infrastructure designed to last decades, including pipelines, is needed when the world's scientists say we must leave most remaining fossil fuels buried.

Fossil fuel executives say they're reducing emissions from their operations but ignore emissions from burning their products. They also fund campaigns to sow doubt about the scientific evidence for global warming and its consequences.

Some people feel so threatened by a young woman's truth that they stoop to vicious personal attacks, logical fallacies and insults rather than addressing the science she speaks so clearly about.

But Greta's message is indisputable: If we fail to reduce emissions quickly, we face increasing consequences: extreme weather events; droughts and floods leading to food insecurity; health impacts including insect-spread diseases, respiratory issues and heat-related deaths and illness; damage to oceans, which supply food and half the world's oxygen; massive refugee movements as parts of the world become unsuitable for agriculture or human life; extinction crises; growing global conflict; and more.

Every day we fail to act on the climate crisis is a day stolen from young people and those not yet born. We owe Greta and all young people a debt of gratitude for holding a mirror to our actions. More than anything, we owe them a future, and that means getting serious about changes needed to resolve this crisis.

Young people like Greta are drawing attention to an issue that has too long been downplayed or ignored for political or economic reasons. The best prize we can give them is recognition of our need to live within our means on this small, blue planet. This is not a left-right issue. We're all in this together.

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

If This Mossack Fonseca Investigation Is Real, I Wonder What Will Turn Up In Russia
According to the original Panama Papers leak, the law firm's business was lousy with money from Russian oligarchs with ties to Vladimir Putin, and with money from Putin himself.
By Charles P. Pierce

Before we dive into the algae-coated chaos that is Camp Runamuck, we should pay some attention to a couple of other interesting developments. Right now, Netflix is running a film called The Laundromat, a Steven Soderburgh work that traces the massive-and allegedly criminal-operations of an offshore law firm called Mossack Fonseca, whose extraordinarily vast alleged money-laundering and asset-hiding empire was revealed through a huge leak of the firm's documents in 2016 that came to be known as The Panama Papers.

The movie was released despite a Hail Mary defamation suit filed by the two men who ran Mossack Fonseca, played in the film by Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas, respectively. The suit sought to prevent Netflix from releasing the film. (It clearly failed since I watched it last night.) But, in the court filings in support of the suit, Mossack Fonseca's lawyers maintained that the firm is currently being investigated by the FBI. From the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

The pair, partners in the offshore law firm whose confidential files were exposed in the Panama Papers, are suing Netflix for defamation over the film, in which they are played respectively by Antonio Banderas and Gary Oldman. Private investigator Arthur Ventura Jr states in an affidavit to the Connecticut District Court that "in his opinion" Mossack and Fonseca are not only targets of a federal investigation" but are also subject to U.S. prosecutors' positions "that both men serve a sentence of incarceration."
In case you've forgotten...
The 2016 Panama Papers investigation centered on 11.5 million records leaked from Mossack Fonseca that revealed how politicians, business leaders, celebrities and criminals operated through hard-to-trace shell companies in tax havens. The investigation, a collaboration of almost 400 journalists from 80 countries, led to the resignation of prime ministers, criminal charges in Latin America and Europe and to governments from Australia to Iceland recovering more than $1.2 billion in unpaid taxes and penalties.
If the FBI really is pursuing Messrs. Mossack and Fonseca, it will be interesting to see what happens when and if the investigators run up against some of the Trump Organization's pals in Russia. According to the original Panama Papers leak, the law firm's business was lousy with money from Russian oligarchs with ties to Vladimir Putin, and with money from Putin himself. From the Guardian:
These assets are only part of a series of linked financial schemes revealed in the documents that revolve round Bank Rossiya. The bank is headed by Yuri Kovalchuk. The US alleges he is the "personal banker" for many senior Russian government officials including Putin. The Panama Papers disclose that Kovalchuk and Bank Rossiya achieved the transfer of at least $1bn to a specially created offshore entity called Sandalwood Continental. These funds came from a series of enormous unsecured loans from the state-controlled Russian Commercial Bank (RCB) located in Cyprus and other state banks. There is no explanation in the files of why the banks agreed to extend such unorthodox credit lines.

Some of the cash obtained from RCB was also lent back onshore in Russia at extremely high interest rates, with the resulting profits siphoned off to secret Swiss accounts. A $6m yacht was purchased by Sandalwood and shipped to a port near St Petersburg. Cash was also handed over directly to the Putin circle, this time in the form of very cheap loans, made with no security and with interest rates as low as 1%. It is not clear whether any loans have been repaid.

(Not for nothing, but are there any Russian oligarchs any more who don't "have ties" to Vladimir Putin? Living ones, I mean.)

Also on this episode of Crimestyles Of The Rich and Famous, in New York, the first civil trial in connection with how the energy companies have lied about the climate crisis gets underway this week. The defendant is Exxon. From Inside Climate News:

Exxon is accused of disclosing one set of these projected carbon costs to investors while planners used an entirely different set internally for evaluating investments. The public set was more conservative and projected that climate policies would be more stringent, while the internal one assumed more modest attempts to limit emissions. The effect of using these dueling estimates, the attorney general says, was that Exxon hid tens of billions of dollars in potential costs, downplaying the risk to investors and inflating the company's value.

Applying a lower estimate for carbon costs made high-polluting projects look more financially attractive, and it undermined the investment case for any project that would reduce emissions. Nowhere is this clearer than in Exxon's tremendous investments in Canada's oil sands, a vast expanse of low-grade hydrocarbons that now make up about 30 percent of the company's oil reserves. "The oil sands crystallizes, at least from my perspective, everything about this issue that is concerning with Exxon," said Andrew Logan, who runs the oil and gas program at Ceres, a nonprofit that works with investors to push for more sustainable business practices. "Oil sands tick all the boxes when it comes to a carbon-risky asset."

Laundered money and dirty energy. Modern capitalism summed up in two commodities.

(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-

"Liberalism is to freedom as anarchism is to anarchy."
~~~ Ernst Junger

What Does The U.S. Public Think Of Its Government Arming And Bombing The World?
By David Swanson

Data for Progress for quite a while appeared to be yet another U.S. PEP group (Progressive Except for Peace). They were producing useful polling reports on all sorts of topics as if 96% of humanity didn't exist. Foreign policy just couldn't be found. They told me they were just getting around to it. You still can't find it from the homepage of their website (or at least it's beyond my navigational skills), but Data for Progress has now published a report called "Voters Want to See a Progressive Overhaul of American Foreign Policy."

They used "1,009 interviews of self-identified registered voters, conducted by YouGov on the internet. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, education, US Census region, and 2016 presidential vote choice. Respondents were selected from YouGov's panel to be representative of registered voters." This was a question:

"According to the Congressional Budget Office, the United States is expected to spend $738 billion on its military in 2020. That's more than the next seven countries combined and more than the U.S. budget for education, federal courts, affordable housing, local economic development, and the State Department combined. Some say that maintaining a dominant global military footprint is necessary to keep us safe, and is worth the cost. Others say that money could be better spent on domestic needs like health care, education, or protecting the environment. Based on what you've just read, would you support or oppose reallocating money from the Pentagon budget to other priorities?"
A majority of 52% supported or "strongly supported" that idea (29% strongly supported it), while 32% opposed (20% strongly). If the sentence beginning "That's more than . . . " was left out, 51% supported the idea (30% strongly), while 36% opposed (19% strongly).

Of course there's a major problem with the common pretense that the Pentagon budget is the military budget, namely the hundreds of billions of dollars going to "Homeland Security," and the nukes in the "energy" department, and all the secretive spy-and-war agencies, and the military spending by the State Department, and the Veterans Administration, and so forth adding up to $1.25 trillion per year, not $738 billion. There's a problem with opposing the State Department's budget to the military budget when much of what the State Department does is in the service of militarism. There's a problem with suggesting that money be moved to healthcare, namely that people in the United States already spend twice what they need to on healthcare; it's just spent wastefully on sickness profiteers. There's a problem with the choice being militarism or domestic spending. Why not militarism or peaceful spending? Both imperialists and humanists believe that the United States should share its wealth with the world in some ways other than militarism. "Protecting the environment" is hardly a "domestic need" - it's a global project. The idea of militarism keeping people safe is best opposed not only to other priorities but also to the awareness that it actually makes people less safe. Etc.

Nonetheless, this is finally some U.S. polling data that is helpful in the project of ending war. That it accurately uses the term "military" rather than "defense" and that it asks about moving the money to useful things is a cut above the usual corporate polling, rare as even that is, on whether so-called defense spending should go up or down.

That the one sentence that was aimed at informing people of the extent of the trade-offs had limited impact is probably not because it was a bad idea but because it was only one sentence. As I noted eight years ago, we have polls showing that only 25% in the U.S. think their government should spend three times as much on militarism as the next most militarized nation, but only 32% (not 75%) think it currently spends too much. U.S. military spending across multiple governmental departments far exceeds three times Chinese military spending. A bill in Congress to restrict US military spending to three times the next most militarized nation might carry big popular support, but Congress would never pass it in the absence of intense public pressure, because it would require major cuts to the U.S. military that could trigger a reverse arms race.

When the University of Maryland, years ago, sat people down and showed them the federal budget in a pie chart (a more significant education than a single sentence) the results were dramatic, with a strong majority wanting to move serious money out of militarism and into human and environmental needs. Among other details revealed, the U.S. public would cut foreign aid to dictatorships but increase humanitarian assistance abroad.

Data for Progress also asked this question: "The United States currently spends more than half of its discretionary budget on military spending, which is considerably more than it spends on other foreign policy tools such as diplomacy and economic development programs. Some argue that maintaining U.S. military superiority should be the top foreign policy goal, and we should continue spending levels as they are. Others argue that rather than pouring money into war we should invest in preventing wars before they happen. Do you support or oppose a proposal to spend at least ten cents on non-military war prevention tools for every dollar we spend on the Pentagon?"

This question gets the percentage of the discretionary budget right and offers a progressive alternative. And the finding is that the U.S. public strongly prefers the progressive alternative: "A clear majority of voters support the 'dime for a dollar' policy, with 57 percent somewhat or strongly supporting and just 21 percent opposing the policy. This includes a plurality of Republican voters, 49 percent of whom support and just 30 percent of whom oppose the policy. The dime for a dollar policy is overwhelmingly popular among Independents and Democrats. A net +28 percent of Independents and a net +57 percent of Democrats support the dime for a dollar policy."

I wish Data for Progress had asked about foreign military bases. I think a majority would be in favor of shutting some of them down, and that bits of education would raise that number. But they did ask about some important topics. For example, a plurality (and a strong majority among Democrats) want to withhold free weapons from Israel to curb its human rights abuses against Palestinians. A strong majority wants a no-first-use nuclear policy. A strong majority wants more humanitarian aid to Latin America. A strong majority wants to ban all use of torture. (We should properly say "re-ban" given how many times torture has been banned and re-banned.) Notably, the U.S. public, by a significant majority, wants a peace agreement with North Korea, but the group that wants it the most is Republicans. Obviously, that last fact tells us more about partisanship and presidential powers than about views on war and peace. But the collection of views listed here tells us that the U.S. public is far better on foreign policy than the U.S. corporate media will tell it, or than the U.S. government ever acts on.

Data for Progress also found that huge majorities want to end the endless U.S. wars in Afghanistan and across the Middle East. Those who support continuing these wars are a tiny fringe group, plus the U.S. corporate media, plus the U.S. Congress, President, and military. Overall we're talking about 16% of the U.S. public. Among Democrats it's 7%. Look at the deference that 7% receives from the numerous presidential candidates who have not declared that they will immediately end all of those wars. I'm not aware of any candidate for U.S. president in the history of the United States producing a basic pie-chart or outline of even the roughest sketch of a desirable discretionary budget. Try listing the current candidates for U.S. president in order by what they think military spending should be. How could anyone do it? How could anyone even get anyone to even ask one of them that question? Maybe this data will help.

Bernie hinted at it on Saturday in Queens, and the crowd started yelling "End the wars!" Perhaps the more some of the candidates begin hinting at it, the more they will recognize how strong the secret public opinion is on these matters.

Data for Progress also found a strong majority against allowing U.S. weapons sales to governments that abuse human rights. Public opinion is crystal clear. Total U.S. government refusal to act is as well. Much less clear is the concept of a government that buys deadly weapons and uses them for something other than abusing human rights - nobody ever explains what that can possibly mean.

Data for Progress reports on three other questions they asked. One opposed isolationism to engagement, but they don't tell us the words they used. They just describe what sort of question it was. I'm not sure why any pollster, knowing how much depends on the words, would report something that way, especially when the result was a near-even split.

Another was a question about U.S. exceptionalism, which - again - they don't give us the wording of. We just know that 53% agreed with "a statement recognizing that the US has strengths and weaknesses like any other country and has in fact caused harm in the world" as opposed to an exceptionalist statement. We also know that the 53% dropped to 23% among Republicans.

Finally, Data for Progress found that a plurality in the U.S. said that the United States faces primarily non-military threats. Some things are of course so painfully obvious that it's painful to realize that they really do need to be polled on in hopes of getting them reported on. Now, how many would say that militarism is itself a threat and the primary generator of military threats and of the risk of nuclear apocalypse? And where does nuclear apocalypse rank in the list of threats? There is polling yet to be done.

(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-

Heil Trump,

Dear Geschaftsfuhrer Bezos,

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 designs to bring your workers under your heel by making your workers all but slaves, 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 "Corporate 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 Bezos, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

Should The Supreme Court Be Reformed?
By Robert Reich

In recent years the legitimacy of the Supreme Court has come under question as Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, and Senate Republicans have bent the nomination process for their own political gain.

At the same time, the Court has rewritten the rules of our democracy. In just the last few years, it has rolled back the Voting Rights Act, given corporations even greater power over their workers and consumers, and given the green light to partisan gerrymandering.

Many Americans - including several presidential candidates - have begun asking whether the Supreme Court should be reformed.

Here are 5 possibilities for strengthening the Court and rebuilding public trust:

1. Impose term-limits. The Constitution doesn't specify the length of service of a Supreme Court Justice. A fixed term would make the court more reflective of the times, and prevent justices from accumulating too much political power over the course of their tenure.

2. Reinforce ethics standards on the Court. Currently, almost all federal judges sign on to some form of code of conduct - except for Supreme Court justices. These standards emphasize independence, integrity, and the avoidance of outside political activity. The Supreme Court should adopt the same standards. The Court should also institute a better system to recuse justices when conflicts of interest arise.

3. Require justices to regularly disclose their finances online, including their stock holdings. Currently, justices are not required to submit the same financial information as other government officials or members of Congress. The public should know whether members of the Court have a financial stake in the cases before them.

4. Add more seats to the Court. Under one proposal, the court would be expanded from 9 justices to 15. 10 justices would be selected through the existing process, and evenly split between Democratic and Republican appointees. Those 10 justices would then select 5 judges from lower courts for the Supreme Court to serve with them for a year. This solution would make the confirmation process less partisan and insulate the Court from politics.

5. Alternatively, the Supreme Court could be comprised of a rotating panel of appeals court judges, who would cycle through the Supreme Court on a scheduled basis. Federal judges already serve on rotating panels on lower courts. Doing the same for the Supreme Court would eliminate the current high-stakes nomination process, and make the Supreme Court less partisan.

The Supreme Court derives its strength not from the use of force or political power, but from its integrity as an impartial adjudicator. In an era of increasing political polarization, we should rethink how the Court is organized in order to rebuild public trust

With neither the sword nor the purse, trust is all it has.

(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

Ecuador's Revolting Situation
Why that can't happen here
By Jane Stillwater

Thank goodness for FaceTime. Thank goodness for Skype. And even Twitter, YouTube and Instagram aren't really all that bad if you want to get the real news about what is really going on in this world.

My friend Gabriella just Skyped me from Quito, Ecuador. "What the freak is going on down there," I asked her. Ecuadorians have staged massive protests there for the last 14 days.

"People here in my country are just sick and tired of being ripped off by international bankers, corrupt presidents and global corporations out to make a huge profit at our expense." Hmmm. Sounds like what is happening here in the USA too -- only with one big exception. Salt-of-the-earth Americans never seem to mind getting ripped off.

All you gotta do here in my country is tell the American "common man" that he's just a victimized down-trodden victim of "latte-drinking liberals" and they will instantly allow you to commit any economic horror on them that you can think of -- fleece their paychecks, rob them blind, steal their homes and even turn their children into mindless numb robots and set their grandmothers afloat on icebergs.

Yet nobody here in America even seems to notice that they are being screwed royally by the neo-con country-club set -- let alone actually protest. Not only that but America spends billions, trillions of dollars trying to defeat countries that oppose its shoddy American empire -- yet won't spend hardly a penny to help those truly in need such as women without access to healthcare in Alabama or victims of home repossession in Ohio or hurricane victims in Florida and Puerto Rico.

"No one in Ecuador," said my friend, "ever trusts the local news -- which lies through its teeth, falsely reporting that all us thousands of protestors are taking to the streets in support of the corrupt president, the bankers and the IMF, not against them."

Boy does that sound familiar. Didn't something similar to that just happen in our own mainstream media with regard to protests in Venezuela, Syria, Egypt, Yemen, Palestine, et cetera? Where protestors in these countries all support the working class but the press here in America reports that the protesters are supporting banksters instead? Or that banksters and crass invaders are actually the good guys?

But, trust me, something like the current Ecuadorian protest won't ever happen here. There will never be any mass protests by working-class heroes against corrupt banksters here. Sometimes I think that America's working class is totally composed of masochists.

"They are shooting rubber bullets at protestors," continued my friend, "aiming straight for their eyes. The indigenous people are suffering the brunt of these attacks. But still we keep protesting despite the danger because all of the people down here are really pissed off. Correa was an exception, but now Moreno is trying to side with the IMF, choosing money over country. We've seen far too many of our presidents just take the money and run." That happens here too. George Bush for instance. But nobody here in America never seems to remember or even to mind that we Americans are constantly being victimized and scalped by shady politicians, war-profiteers and banksters. The Average Joe here just wants to have a beer with Bush or shake hands with Clinton or go to a Trump rally or fondly reminisce about Reagan or Obama. Or even about Nixon! Although nobody ever wanted to have a beer with Nixon.

"We are stockpiling food here," said my new on-the-ground citizen-reporter in Quito. "I have enough food for three days." That sounds just like what recently happened in northern California when PG&E cut off electricity to 3,000,000 people -- and once again, even in NorCal, nobody seemed to object or to even mind.

"What do you expect the results of all this will be?" I asked my friend.

"There are negotiations going on now. We're getting the 'austerity measures' ended. All these protests are actually working!" Good. People power saves the day! Banksters, carpetbaggers and grifters of Equator, be gone before someone drops a casa on you as well! Ecuador protests end after deal struck with indigenous leaders.

Ah, if only we had that kind of people power here in the United States too....

Every single working man and woman in all 50 of our so-called united states should be out on the picket lines supporting General Motors strikers. But they are not. Let's do something about that!

(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
~~~ Marshall Ramsey ~~~

To End On A Happy Note-

Have You Seen This-

Parting Shots-

Why Do Some British People Not Like Donald Trump?
By Nate White

A few things spring to mind. Trump lacks certain qualities which the British traditionally esteem. For instance, he has no class, no charm, no coolness, no credibility, no compassion, no wit, no warmth, no wisdom, no subtlety, no sensitivity, no self-awareness, no humility, no honour and no grace - all qualities, funnily enough, with which his predecessor Mr. Obama was generously blessed.

So for us, the stark contrast does rather throw Trump's limitations into embarrassingly sharp relief.

Plus, we like a laugh. And while Trump may be laughable, he has never once said anything wry, witty or even faintly amusing - not once, ever.

I don't say that rhetorically, I mean it quite literally: not once, not ever. And that fact is particularly disturbing to the British sensibility - for us, to lack humour is almost inhuman.

But with Trump, it's a fact. He doesn't even seem to understand what a joke is - his idea of a joke is a crass comment, an illiterate insult, a casual act of cruelty.

Trump is a troll. And like all trolls, he is never funny and he never laughs; he only crows or jeers.

And scarily, he doesn't just talk in crude, witless insults - he actually thinks in them. His mind is a simple bot-like algorithm of petty prejudices and knee-jerk nastiness.

There is never any under-layer of irony, complexity, nuance or depth. It's all surface.

Some Americans might see this as refreshingly upfront.

Well, we don't. We see it as having no inner world, no soul.

And in Britain we traditionally side with David, not Goliath. All our heroes are plucky underdogs: Robin Hood, Dick Whittington, Oliver Twist.

Trump is neither plucky, nor an underdog. He is the exact opposite of that.

He's not even a spoiled rich-boy, or a greedy fat-cat.

He's more a fat white slug. A Jabba the Hutt of privilege.

And worse, he is that most unforgivable of all things to the British: a bully. That is, except when he is among bullies; then he suddenly transforms into a snivelling sidekick instead.

There are unspoken rules to this stuff - the Queensberry rules of basic decency - and he breaks them all. He punches downwards - which a gentleman should, would, could never do - and every blow he aims is below the belt. He particularly likes to kick the vulnerable or voiceless - and he kicks them when they are down.

So the fact that a significant minority - perhaps a third - of Americans look at what he does, listen to what he says, and then think "Yeah, he seems like my kind of guy' is a matter of some confusion and no little distress to British people, given that:

* Americans are supposed to be nicer than us, and mostly are.

* You don't need a particularly keen eye for detail to spot a few flaws in the man.

This last point is what especially confuses and dismays British people, and many other people too; his faults seem pretty bloody hard to miss.

After all, it's impossible to read a single tweet, or hear him speak a sentence or two, without staring deep into the abyss. He turns being artless into an art form; he is a Picasso of pettiness; a Shakespeare of shit. His faults are fractal: even his flaws have flaws, and so on ad infinitum.

God knows there have always been stupid people in the world, and plenty of nasty people too. But rarely has stupidity been so nasty, or nastiness so stupid.

He makes Nixon look trustworthy and George W look smart.

In fact, if Frankenstein decided to make a monster assembled entirely from human flaws - he would make a Trump.

And a remorseful Doctor Frankenstein would clutch out big clumpfuls of hair and scream in anguish:

"My God... what... have... I... created?

If being a twat was a TV show, Trump would be the boxed set.

(c) 2019 Nate White

The Gross National Debt

The Animal Rescue Site

Issues & Alibis Vol 19 # 41 (c) 10/25/2019

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