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In This Edition

Noam Chomsky returns with, "The 'Axis Of Evil,' Revisited."

Uri Avnery explores, "The Debacle."

Glen Ford studies, "Lynching As A Misdemeanor."

Amy Goodman sees, "Poverty Wages In The Land Of Plenty."

Jim Hightower explains, "Coke's Conspiracy Against Tap Water."

David Swanson asks, "What Does Latest Dead Afghan 2-Year-Old Have In Common With Paul Robeson, John Wayne, Ernest Hemingway, Bob Marley, the Kennedys?"

James Donahue examines the tea baggers in, "Are The Neanderthals Still Among Us?"

John Nichols watches, "The Pope Versus Unfettered Capitalism."

Chris Hedges remembers, "The Saboteurs."

Norman Solomon concludes, "Under The Global Shadow Of Big Brother, Journalism Must Light Up The Political Sky."

Paul Krugman says we, "Better Pay Now."

Thom Hartmann reveals, "What The Media Isn't Telling You About Detroit's Bankruptcy."

William Rivers Pitt foresees, "The Last Dead Nazi."

District Attorney Jeff Rosen wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich gives, "The True Price Of Great Holiday Deals."

David Cay Johnston joins us with, "A Hard Lesson from Motown: They Will Steal Your Pension."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion reports, "42 Million Dead In Bloodiest Black Friday Weekend On Record" but first Uncle Ernie sez, "The Banksters Win And We All Lose, Again."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Jeff Stahler, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Derf, Larry Wright, Randy Bish, Max Rossi, Rebecca Cook, Pete Souza, Rahmatullah Nikzad, Za Rodinu, Eric Seals, Anthropocene Man, Detroit Regional Chamber, Flickr, Detroit Free Press, Reuters, AP, Black Agenda Report, You Tube.Com and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

The Quotable Quote...
The Dead Letter Office...
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."

Snyder puppet Kevin Orr explains why he does what he does. It's because his tiny Johnson is only so big!

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The Banksters Win And We All Lose, Again
By Ernest Stewart

"Pension benefits are a contractual obligation of a municipality and not entitled to any heightened protection in bankruptcy." ~~~ Judge Steven Rhodes

"Yesterday, December 7th, 1941-a date which will live in infamy-the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan." ~~~ Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"While we understand the outrage of those calling for even stiffer charges in this case, the charges are not a reflection of the degree of their racism. The charges are a reflection of their criminal conduct." ~~~ District Attorney Jeff Rosen

"You can give without loving, but you can never love without giving." ~~~ Robert Louis Stevenson

As I'm sure you know by now, the banksters with the help of the seditious traitors, Michigan governor Snyder and his appointed-puppet Kevin Orr, and now Federal Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes, have managed to steal billions from innocent people to line the pockets of the banksters from New York to London with the retirement funds of folks who had absolutely nothing to do with Detroit's financial problems, problems caused in the most part by the very banksters who will soon profit from the blood, sweat, and tears of those policemen and firemen and their surviving widows and widowers, as well. This comes on the heels of Snyder busting the unions, like the good little Koch brothers puppet that he truly is! So you know what I did, right? I wrote Judge Rhodes the follow note...

Dear Judge Rhodes,

I wasn't in the least surprised by your decision in the Detroit Bankruptcy case. It was a foregone conclusion that the banksters would win, and you would side with the seditious traitors Snyder and Orr, and their bankster pals, making their crimes against the people, your crimes, as well! I had no doubt that you would end up stealing money from innocents and destroying countless lives with folks that had nothing to do with the banksters' crimes. Firemen and Policemen, who spent decades putting their lives on the line, every day, to protect us, to protect you, even now, when those folks you're stealing from come for a pound of flesh from you. Wouldn't it be funny if the cops looked the other way? I'm also guessing that you won't be giving up your big golden parachute and eating nothing but Ramen Noodles for the rest of your life like they will have to, thanks to your ruling!

So here's the question, your honor, "how do you look yourself in the mirror in the morning while shaving, without cutting your worthless throat?" Please tell my readership how that could be? After all, with the death and destruction that this will cause, an honorable man would fall on his sword, will you?

Ernest Stewart
Managing Editor
Issues & Alibis Magazine

So I'm sure ya'll will understand if I suddenly disappear to one of those new Happy Camps, never to be heard from again. But have no fear, I know enough to stay out of that line for the "showers!"

In Other News

It's that time of the year again. The time when some great government agency tries to cover up the facts about Pearl Harbor and its false flag properties. The TV wastelands have been all over Pearl Harbor recently, but never mention the facts that it was a Japanese set up to get us into the war, in order to save Britain from the Germans.

This time, it's that ultra-trustworthy source of madness and mayhem, the NSA. It trots out a little song and dance to assure us that all is right with the world and not to worry. Roll over and go back to sleep, America!

This latest song and dance concerns: "who heard or saw a transcript of a Tokyo shortwave radio news broadcast that was interrupted by a prearranged coded weather report? The weather bulletin signaled Japanese diplomats around the world to destroy confidential documents and codes because war with the United States, the Soviet Union or Britain was beginning.

In testimony for government inquiries, witnesses said that the "winds execute" message was intercepted as early as Dec. 4, three days before the attack.

The NSA assures us that all who heard or saw the transcript were mistaken. Not that I think that it is; but for the sake of argument let's say that this is true; everyone concerned was mistaken; and we didn't know by this intercept that the carrier battle groups were on the way! Trouble is, the aforementioned aside, we knew they were coming in so many other ways.

Several Naval and governmental communiques were discovered in the 1990s that showed we knew well in advance what was going to happen.

First and foremost, Pearl Harbor was designed as a trap for the Japanese. We sent a group of outdated, and, for the most part, useless battleships, as bait and put them in a harbor where their keels were, at most, a couple of yards above the bottom. Even if they were all sunk they'd be ready for battle in a couple of months time. Consider that the only ship we lost was the battleship Arizona which got her keel broken. Built before 1914, she was of such an early design and only about the size of a modern-day destroyer, that they just took her 15 inch guns off, removed her superstructure, and let her sit.

The rest of the sunken battleships were quickly refloated, fitted out with radar and other updates and were soon bombarding Japanese positions and destroying the Japanese navy!

Oh, and let's not forget, the British had broken the Japanese Naval code in March of 1941 and passed it along to us in May of 1941. Therefore, we were reading their messages for about seven months before December 7th. Funny how the NSA didn't mention those facts, eh? Must have been an oversight?

FDR wanted to get us in the war, a very unpopular war, and so Pearl Harbor was our Reich Stag fire or, more to the point our modern day "Remember the Maine!" You may recall the American battleship Maine, which blew up in Havana Harbor on February 15, 1898 due to a fire in her in her coalbunkers that set off an adjacent powder magazine. The Maine's sinking was used as an excuse for America to take on Spain who was blamed for the Maine's destruction. America could steal Spain's empire and have its first corpo-rat sponsored world war, the Spanish-American War of 1898! WWII was started by similar means with similar goals in mind! 9/11 was a similar false flag venture, that killed more Americans than did Pearl Harbor.

If I were you, America, I'd be on the lookout for the next Pearl Harbor; 9/11 changed everything! Remember The Maine!

And Finally

If you've read Glen Ford's column this week, then you know all about what happened at San Jose State University between four rednecks and a black student and how nothing was done about it at all until the campus erupted in protest, and how it's been all but covered up by the local papers and CNN. What got me was the prosecutor, District Attorney Jeff Rosen, who, like the college did nothing about the crimes until all hell broke lose and then charged them with a slap on the wrist and then defended that. So, guess what I did? I sent Jeff the following and then posted something similar on his Facebook page...

Hey Jeff,

Boy, did you screw up, huh? So let me get this straight, Jeff. Assault, kidnapping and terrorism are all misdemeanor charges in your mind, huh? I wonder what would have happened if it were four black students assaulting a white girl? I wonder what your charges would be then? They all ought to go up the river for no less than 20 years, not a slap on the wrist with a wink in your eye! Still, congratulations are in order, Jeff, as you've just won this week's Vidkun Quisling Award, the magazine's weekly award for the biggest traitor in the country. I bet your mama's real proud of her little bigot!

Ernest Stewart
Managing Editor
Issues & Alibis Magazine

If you'd like to add your thoughts to Jeff, then go here.

And here on facebook:

Tell him Uncle Ernie sent ya!

Keepin' On

Got that empty cupboard syndrome again, just when we have no time to lose. We're about at that point, the same point we were in in May 2009 when we were forced to shut down, at that time for three weeks due to lack of funds and we're fast approaching the same kind of deadline January 5th where we either pay up or shut up.

As the "best French Kisser" in all of Chile Verde once said, "Life Senior, she is a bitch!" and so is raising money in this day and age! Fortunately, some of you have responded and have put us on the path to our goal but most of you have not! On what we need for a year's operation most other magazines couldn't run for a week! What we lack to pay our bills for this year is $450, not $45,000 for a quarter but $450 for the year.

On next Thursday, December 12, we'll begin our 14th year of operation; you'll recall that was the day that the Extreme Court overthrew the elected government of Al Gore in a judicial coup d'etat and replaced it with Smirky the Wonder Chimp -- at his daddy's insistence. If you can help us to keep fighting the good fight for you and yours, please send us what you can, whenever you can and we'll be there for you in the future when you may really need to know the truth!


09-12-1973 ~ 11-30-2013
Thanks for the film!

07-18-1918 ~ 12-05-2013
Thanks for everything!


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


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

Until the next time, Peace!
(c) 2013 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and for the last 12 years managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Facebook. Visit the Magazine's page on Facebook and like us when you do. Follow me on Twitter.

Obama Oval Office

The "Axis Of Evil," Revisited
By Noam Chomsky

An interim agreement on Iran's nuclear policies that will provide a six-month period for substantive negotiations was announced on Nov. 24.

Michael Gordon, a reporter for The New York Times, wrote, "It was the first time in nearly a decade, American officials said, that an international agreement had been reached to halt much of Iran's nuclear program and roll some elements of it back."

The United States moved at once to impose severe penalties on a Swiss firm that had violated U.S.-imposed sanctions. "The timing of the announcement seemed to be partly intended to send a signal that the Obama administration still considers Iran subject to economic isolation," Rick Gladstone explained in The Times.

The "landmark accord" indeed includes significant Iranian concessions - though nothing comparable from the United States, which merely agreed to temporarily limit its punishment of Iran.

It's easy to imagine possible U.S. concessions. To mention just one: The United States is the only country directly violating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (and more severely, the United Nations Charter) by maintaining its threat of force against Iran. The United States could also insist that its Israeli client refrain from this severe violation of international law - which is just one of many.

In mainstream discourse, it is considered natural that Iran alone should make concessions. After all, the United States is the White Knight, leading the international community in its efforts to contain Iran - which is held to be the gravest threat to world peace - and to compel it to refrain from its aggression, terror and other crimes.

There is a different perspective, little heard, though it might be worth at least a mention. It begins by rejecting the American assertion that the accord breaks 10 years of unwillingness on Iran's part to address this alleged nuclear threat.

Ten years ago Iran offered to resolve its differences with the United States over nuclear programs, along with all other issues. The Bush administration rejected the offer angrily and reprimanded the Swiss diplomat who conveyed it.

The European Union and Iran then sought an arrangement under which Iran would suspend uranium enrichment while the EU would provide assurances that the U.S. would not attack. As Selig Harrison reported in the Financial Times, "the EU, held back by the U.S. ... refused to discuss security issues," and the effort died.

In 2010, Iran accepted a proposal by Turkey and Brazil to ship its enriched uranium to Turkey for storage. In return, the West would provide isotopes for Iran's medical research reactors. President Obama furiously denounced Brazil and Turkey for breaking ranks, and quickly imposed harsher sanctions. Irritated, Brazil released a letter from Obama in which he had proposed this arrangement, presumably assuming that Iran would reject it. The incident quickly disappeared from view.

Also in 2010, the NPT members called for an international conference to carry forward a long-standing Arab initiative to establish a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the region, to be held in Helsinki in December 2012. Israel refused to attend. Iran agreed to do so, unconditionally.

The U.S. then announced that the conference was canceled, reiterating Israel's objections. The Arab states, the European Parliament and Russia called for a rapid reconvening of the conference, while the U.N. General Assembly voted 174-6 to call on Israel to join the NPT and open its facilities to inspection. Voting "no" were the United States, Israel, Canada, Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau - a result that suggests another possible U.S. concession today.

Such isolation of the United States in the international arena is quite normal, on a wide range of issues.

In contrast, the non-aligned movement (most of the world), at its meeting last year in Tehran, once again vigorously supported Iran's right, as a signer of the NPT, to enrich uranium. The U.S. rejects that argument, claiming that the right is conditional on a clean bill of health from inspectors, but there is no such wording in the treaty.

A large majority of Arabs support Iran's right to pursue its nuclear program. Arabs are hostile to Iran, but overwhelmingly regard the United States and Israel as the primary threats they face, as Shibley Telhami reported again in his recent comprehensive review of Arab opinion.

"Western officials appear flummoxed" by Iran's refusal to abandon the right to enrich uranium, Frank Rose observes in The New York Times, offering a psychological explanation. Others come to mind if we step slightly out of the box.

The United States can be held to lead the international community only if that community is defined as the U.S. and whoever happens to go along with it, often through intimidation, as is sometimes tacitly conceded.

Critics of the new accord, as David E. Sanger and Jodi Rudoren report in The New York Times, warn that "wily middlemen, Chinese eager for energy sources and Europeans looking for a way back to the old days, when Iran was a major source of trade, will see their chance to leap the barriers." In short, they currently accept American orders only because of fear. And in fact China, India and many others have sought their own ways to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran.

The alternative perspective challenges the rest of the standard U.S. version. It does not overlook the fact that for 60 years, without a break, the United States has been torturing Iranians. That punishment began in 1953 with the CIA-run coup that overthrew Iran's parliamentary government and installed the Shah, a tyrant who regularly compiled one of the worst human rights records in the world as an American ally.

When the Shah was himself overthrown in 1979, the U.S. turned at once to supporting Saddam Hussein's murderous invasion of Iran, finally joining directly by reflagging Iraq ally Kuwait's ships so that they could break an Iranian blockade. In 1988 a U.S. naval vessel also shot down an Iranian airliner in commercial airspace, killing 290 people, then received presidential honors upon returning home.

After Iran was forced to capitulate, the United States renewed its support for its friend Saddam, even inviting Iraqi nuclear engineers to the U.S. for advanced training in weapons production. The Clinton administration then imposed sanctions on Iran, which have become much harsher in recent years.

There are in fact two rogue states operating in the region, resorting to aggression and terror and violating international law at will: the United States and its Israeli client. Iran has indeed carried out an act of aggression: conquering three Arab islands under the U.S.-backed Shah. But any terror credibly attributed to Iran pales in comparison with that of the rogue states.

It is understandable that those rogue states should strenuously object to a deterrent in the region, and should lead a campaign to free themselves from any such constraints.

Just how far will the lesser rogue state go to eliminate the feared deterrent on the pretext of an "existential threat"? Some fear that it will go very far. Micah Zenko of the Council on Foreign Relations warns in Foreign Policy that Israel might resort to nuclear war. Foreign policy analyst Zbigniew Brzezinski urges Washington to make it clear to Israel that the U.S. Air Force will stop them if they try to bomb.

Which of these conflicting perspectives is closer to reality? To answer the question is more than just a useful exercise. Significant global consequences turn on the answer.
(c) 2013 Noam Chomsky is emeritus professor of linguistics and philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is co- author, with Gilbert Achcar, of Perilous Power: The Middle East & U.S. Foreign Policy: Dialogues on Terror, Democracy, War, and Justice. His most recent book is Power Systems: Conversations on Global Democratic Uprisings and the New Challenges to U.S. Empire.

The Debacle
By Uri Avnery

THE GREATEST danger to Israel is not the putative Iranian nuclear bomb. The greatest danger is the stupidity of our leaders.

This is not a uniquely Israeli phenomenon. A great many of the world's leaders are plain stupid, and always have been. Enough to look at what happened in Europe in July 1914, when an incredible accumulation of stupid politicians and incompetent generals plunged humanity into World War I.

But lately, Binyamin Netanyahu and almost the entire Israeli political establishment have achieved a new record in foolishness.

LET US start from the end.

Iran is the great victor. It has been warmly welcomed back into the family of civilized nations. Its currency, the rial, is jumping. Its prestige and influence in the region has become paramount. Its enemies in the Muslim world, Saudi Arabia and its gulf satellites, have been humiliated. Any military strike against it by anyone, including Israel, has become unthinkable.

The image of Iran as a nation of crazy ayatollahs, fostered by Netanyahu and Ahmadinejad, has disappeared. Iran now looks like a responsible country, led by sober and shrewd leaders.

Israel is the great loser. It has maneuvered itself into a position of total isolation. Its demands have been ignored, its traditional friends have distanced themselves. But above everything else, its relations with the US have been seriously damaged.

What Netanyahu and Co. are doing is almost unbelievable. Sitting on a very high branch, they are diligently sawing through it.

Much has been said about the total dependence of Israel on the US in almost all fields. But to grasp the immensity of the folly, one aspect in particular must be mentioned. Israel controls, in effect, the access to the US centers of power.

All nations, especially the smaller and poorer ones, know that to enter the halls of the American Sultan, in order to get aid and support, they have to bribe the doorkeeper. The bribe may be political (privileges from their ruler), economic (raw materials). diplomatic (votes in the UN), military (a base or intelligence "cooperation"), or whatever. If it is big enough, AIPAC will help to gain support from Congress.

This unparalleled asset rests solely on the perception of Israel's unique position in the US. Netanyahu's unmitigated defeat on US relations with Iran has badly damaged, if not destroyed, this perception. The loss is incalculable.

ISRAELI POLITICIANS, like most of their colleagues elsewhere, are not well versed in world history. They are party hacks who spend their lives in political intrigues. If they had studied history, they would not have built for themselves the trap into which they have now fallen.

I am tempted to boast that more than two years ago I wrote that any military attack on Iran, either by Israel or the US, is impossible But it was not prophesy, inspired by some unknown deity. It was not even very clever. It was just the result of a simple look at the map. The Strait of Hormuz.

Any military action against Iran was bound to lead to a major war, something in the category of Vietnam, in addition to the collapse of world oil supplies. Even if the US public had not been so war weary, in order to start such an adventure one would not only have to be a fool, but practically mad. The military option is not "off the table" - it never was "on the table". It was an empty pistol, and the Iranians knew this well.

The loaded weapon was the sanctions regime. It hurt the people. It convinced the supreme leader, Ali Husseini Khamenei, to completely change the regime and install a new and very different president.

The Americans realized this, and acted accordingly. Netanyahu, obsessed with the bomb, did not. Worse, he still does not.

If it is a symptom of madness to keep trying something that has failed again and again, we should start to worry about "King Bibi."

TO SAVE itself from the image of utter failure, AIPAC has started to order its senators and congressmen to work out new sanctions to be instituted in some indefinite future.

The new leitmotif of the Israeli propaganda machine is that Iran is cheating. The Iranians just can't do otherwise. Cheating is in their nature.

This might be effective, because it is based on deeply rooted racism. Bazaar is a Persian word, associated in the European mind with haggling and deception.

But the Israeli conviction that the Iranians are cheating is based on a more robust foundation: our own behavior. When Israel started in the 1950s to build up its own nuclear program, with the help of France, it had to deceive the whole world and did so with stunning effect.

By sheer coincidence - or perhaps not - Israel's Channel 2 TV aired a very revealing story about this last Monday (just two days after the signing of the Geneva accord!) Its most prestigious program, "Fact", interviewed the Israeli Hollywood producer, Arnon Milchan, a billionaire and Israeli patriot.

In the program, Milchan boasted of his work for Lakam, the Israeli intelligence agency which handled Jonathan Pollard. (Since then it has been dismantled). Lakam specialized in scientific espionage, and Milchan did invaluable service in procuring in secret and under false pretences the materials needed for the nuclear program which produced the Israeli bombs.

Milchan hinted at his admiration for the South African apartheid regime and at Israel's nuclear cooperation with it. At the time, a possible nuclear explosion in the Indian Ocean near South Africa mystified American scientists, and there were theories (repeated only in whispers) about an Israeli-South African nuclear device.

A third party was the Shah of Iran, who also had nuclear ambitions. It is an irony of history that Israel helped Iran to take its first atomic steps.

Israeli leaders and scientists went to very great length to hide their nuclear activities. The Dimona reactor building was disguised as a textile factory. Foreigners brought to tour Dimona were deceived by false walls, hidden floors and such.

Therefore, when our leaders speak of deception, cheating and misleading, they know what they are talking about. They respect the Persian ability to do the same, and are quite convinced that this will happen. So are practically all Israelis, and especially the media commentators.

ONE OF the more bizarre aspects of the American-Israeli crisis is the Israeli complaint that the US has had a secret diplomatic channel with Iran "behind our back."

If there were an international prize for chutzpah, this would be a strong contender.

The "world's only superpower" had secret communications with an important country, and only belatedly informed Israel about it. What cheek! How dare they?!

The real agreement, so it seems, was not hammered out in the many hours of negotiation in Geneva, but in these secret contacts.

Our government, by the way, did not omit to boast that it knew about this all the time from its own intelligence sources. It hinted that these were Saudi. I would rather suspect that it came from one of our numerous informants inside the US administration.

Be that as it may, the assumption is that the US is obliged to inform Israel in advance about every step it takes in the Middle East. Interesting.

PRESIDENT OBAMA has obviously decided that sanctions and military threats can only go so far. I think he is right.

A proud nation does not submit to open threats. Faced with such a challenge, a nation tends to draw together in patriotic fervor and support its leaders, disliked as they may be. We Israelis would. So would any other nation.

Obama is banking on the Iranian regime-change that has already started. A new generation, which sees on the social media what is happening around the world, wants to take part in the good life. Revolutionary fervor and ideological orthodoxy fade with time, as we Israelis know only too well. It happened in our kibbutzim, it happened in the Soviet Union, it happens in China and Cuba. Now it is also happening in Iran.

SO WHAT should we do? My advice would simply be: if you can't beat them, join them.

Stop the Netanyahu obsession. Embrace the Geneva deal (because it is good for Israel). Call off the AIPAC bloodhounds from Capitol Hill. Support Obama. Mend the relations with the US administration. And, most importantly, send out feelers to Iran to change, ever so slowly, our mutual relations.

History shows that yesterday's friends may be today's enemies, and today's enemies can be tomorrow's allies. It already happened once between Iran and us. Apart from ideology, there is no real clash of interests between the two nations.

We need a change of leadership, like the one Iran has begun to embark on. Unfortunately, all Israeli politicians, left and right, have joined the March of Fools. Not a single establishment voice has been raised against it. The new Labor Party leader, Yitzhak Herzog, is part of it as much as Ya'ir Lapid and Tzipi Livni.

As they say in Yiddish: The fools would have been amusing, if they had not been our fools.
(c) 2013 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Lynching As A Misdemeanor
By Glen Ford

A 17-year-old Black student is set upon by four white males that inhabit the same suite of rooms on a college campus. Over a period of almost two months, his tormentors force him into a closet and twice fasten a "U" shaped bicycle lock around his neck, once chaining him for at least ten minutes and bruising his lip in the attack. The whole time, the perpetrators prominently display a Confederate flag, a board scrawled with the word "nigger," and a photo of Adolph Hitler, the mass exterminator of "lesser species" of humanity, while verbally assaulting the victim with racial slurs, calling him "three-fifths" and "fraction" to dramatize their view that he is nothing but a slave to whites. The victim would sometimes barricade himself in his room to escape the assaults.

The initial police report describes the assaults as "hazing." CNN insists on calling the prolonged attacks a form of "bullying." Journalists refer to "three-fifths" and "fraction" as the victim's "nicknames." Ultimately, the four whites are charged only with a misdemeanor hate crime and simple battery, for which they face a maximum of one year in county jail and possible fines.

The criminal offenses committed against the unnamed victim at San Jose State University should, under California and federal law, constitute felonious battery, terroristic threats (which, under California Penal Code section 422, can be charged whether or not the person making the threat has the ability to carry out the threat or even intended to carry out the threat), and, if the police were serious about deterring such atrocities, kidnapping. If vigorously prosecuted in the penal dystopia that California has become, the four white boys would emerge from prison as middle-aged men, covered in Aryan Nation tattoos. But that's not going to happen, because these are the children of a white society that is incapable of acknowledging - or even perceiving, on the cognitive level - the violence that it daily perpetrates against Blacks.

Black students and the local NAACP made the same point in a demonstration beneath the 22-foot statue commemorating Tommie Smith and John Carlos' "Black Power" salute at the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games. "The community will not stand idly by and allow for any student of color to be terrorized simply due to the color of his skin," said the Rev. Jethroe Moore II, president of the San Jose/Silicon Valley NAACP. But, there is no Black Power on San Jose State's campus. At just three percent of the student body, there is hardly a Black presence.

African American enrollment was reduced by one back in 2008, when Gregory Johnson's body was discovered in the basement of the Sigma Chi fraternity house. The police ruled it a suicide by hanging, despite the wound in the back of his head. "He died like a dog," said Johnson's tearful mother, Denise, holding pictures of her son as students consoled her at the demonstration.

University President Mohammad Qayoumi, who had initially failed to even suspend the white supremacist assailants, presented words of contrition for his cognitive dysfunction. "By failing to recognize the meaning of a Confederate flag, intervene earlier to stop the abuse, or impose sanctions as soon as the gravity of the behavior became clear, we failed him. I failed him."

Born in Kabul, Afghanistan, Qayoumi has assimilated the values of his adopted country. White supremacy oozes from the digital pores of Atlanta-based CNN, which peppered its coverage of the San Jose assault with links from an article on "bullying" that featured a photo of young white actresses from the 2004 movie Mean Girls: Are we too quick to cry 'bully'?, When friends become bullies and Bullying among boys easily dismissed? For CNN, racist assaults and threats of lynching are nothing more than white rites of adolescent passage - like "hazing," the term used by Raw Story, the Los Angeles Times ("NAACP seeks harsher charges in San Jose racial hazing case") and the San Jose police, themselves, to describe the crime.

White America invented lynching as a broad category of practices inextricably entwined with the peculiar institutions of U.S. chattel slavery and Jim Crow. There are as many variations on the tree-and-rope motif as racist minds can imagine. Lynching is not a punishment for any defined infraction other than the race of the victim. It is a weapon of racist oppression, which can be unleashed for the most whimsical of reasons, or for no purpose other than to terrify the targeted population. Lynching is white supremacist violence, in all its purposeful manifestations - judicial and extrajudicial. It is endemic to the white supremacist USA.

The United States has never defined lynching, much less outlawed it - although the U.S. Senate apologized by voice vote, in 2005, for failing to pass an anti-lynching law "when it was most needed."

Legal definitions of crime are rooted in the intent of the perpetrator. George Zimmerman lynched Trayvon Martin as part of his effort to maintain the racist social order. The police did not, initially, charge him because they shared Zimmerman's motives. A jury eventually agreed that no lynching occurred, because Zimmerman "meant well." They, too, were invested in preserving the racist social order.

The prosecutor in the San Jose case defended his decision to charge the four white students with misdemeanor crimes. "While we understand the outrage of those calling for even stiffer charges in this case, the charges are not a reflection of the degree of their racism," said District Attorney Jeff Rosen. "The charges are a reflection of their criminal conduct."

Anybody who lives in the ghetto knows that police and prosecutors routinely pile on layers of escalating charges, all stemming from one discreet crime (and often charge defendants with every unsolved crime in the neighborhood). In the San Jose case, nearly two months of daily crimes that can easily and reasonably be charged as felonies were stripped down to the barest misdemeanors. The DA claims he is not allowed to prosecute people simply for being racist - which is true. But racism was the obvious motive for the white supremacist students' physical assaults, terrorist threats, and kidnapping of the Black victim from August 20 through October 13 of this year. It is central to the crime. When the larger society dismisses or diminishes racism as an element of the crimes committed against Black people, it exposes us to an infinity of assaults.

That's why we have the right and duty of collective self-defense.
(c) 2013 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

Poverty Wages In The Land Of Plenty
By Amy Goodman

The holiday season is upon us. Sadly, the big retailers are Scrooges when it comes to paying their staffs. Undergirding the sale prices is an army of workers earning the minimum wage or a fraction above it, living check to check on their meager pay and benefits. The dark secret that the retail giants like Wal-Mart don't want you to know is that many of these workers subsist below the poverty line, and rely on programs like food stamps and Medicaid just to get by. This holiday season, though, low-wage workers from Wal-Mart to fast-food restaurants are standing up and fighting back.

"Wal-Mart was put in an uncomfortable spotlight on what should be the happiest day of the year for the retailer," Josh Eidelson told me, reporting on the coordinated Black Friday protests. "These were the largest protests we've seen against Wal-Mart ... you had 1,500 stores involved; you had over a hundred people arrested." Wal-Mart is the world's largest retailer, with 2.2 million employees, 1.3 million of whom are in the U.S. It reported close to $120 billion in gross profit for 2012. Just six members of the Walton family, whose patriarch, Sam Walton, founded the retail giant, have amassed an estimated combined fortune of between $115 billion-$144 billion. These six individuals have more wealth than the combined financial assets of the poorest 40 percent of the U.S. population.

Wal-Mart workers have been organizing under the banner of OUR Walmart, a worker initiative supported by the United Food and Commercial Workers union. Workers have taken courageous stands, protesting their employer and engaging in short-term strikes. Wal-Mart has retaliated, firing many who participated. One of those fired was Barbara Collins, who worked for eight years at the Wal-Mart in Placerville, Calif.

"I was terminated for speaking out," Collins told us on "Democracy Now!" On Nov. 18, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled that the strikes were protected worker actions. Collins, who was speaking to us from Bentonville, Ark., where she was protesting Wal-Mart at its world headquarters, told us: "The NLRB ruling is just overwhelming. We are really excited that they found that we're telling the truth, that they broke the law, and we want to be reinstated."

The public-policy think tank Demos issued a report, "A Higher Wage is Possible: How Walmart Can Invest in Its Workforce Without Costing Customers a Dime." Demos analyzed a growing demand from the Wal-Mart worker movement for a guaranteed base salary for full-time workers of $25,000 per year. "We found talking to Wal-Mart workers over and over again that their wages give them just enough to meet their basic needs, and at the end of every month, they're making critical trade-off decisions," Catherine Ruetschlin, one of the report's co-authors, told us. "Determining whether they're going to get medicine or pay their school fees or put food on the table or keep their electricity on." The report explains that "if Walmart redirected the $7.6 billion it spends annually on repurchases of its own company stock, these funds could be used to give Walmart's low-paid workers a raise of $5.83 an hour," meeting the salary goal of the workers.

Parallel to the Wal-Mart campaign is a drive for higher wages in the fast-food industry. In more than 100 cities, workers are organizing protests and strikes ... and winning. In SeaTac, the Washington state municipality where the Seattle-Tacoma Airport is located, voters approved a local minimum wage of $15 an hour. As with Wal-Mart workers, fast-food giants like McDonald's and Yum Brands (which owns KFC and Taco Bell) all feast from the public trough: Their workers, earning poverty wages, depend on public-assistance programs like food stamps and Medicaid, while their enormous CEO benefit packages qualify for corporate tax deductions, as reported by the Institute for Policy Studies this week.

The current federal minimum wage is $7.25, equivalent to an annual income of $15,080 for a full-time worker. If the minimum wage had kept up with inflation since 1968, it would be $10.74, enough to lift a family of three above the poverty line. If the wage had grown at the same pace as worker productivity (since each worker per hour produces much more now than in decades past), it would be $18.72 per hour. And if the minimum wage had skyrocketed at the same pace as wages for the top 1 percent, it would be $28.34. These figures from the Economic Policy Institute explain why President Barack Obama is pushing for an increase in the minimum wage.

Progress on the minimum wage, and on workers' rights at Wal-Mart, McDonald's and the other multinational corporations that depend on public subsidies for their workers, will come not from a stroke of the president's pen, but from the concerted efforts of workers and their allies, from the streets to the voting booths.
(c) 2013 Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now!," a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 750 stations in North America. She is the co- author of "Standing Up to the Madness: Ordinary Heroes in Extraordinary Times," recently released in paperback and "Breaking The Sound Barrier."

Coke's Conspiracy Against Tap Water

Coca-Cola is running a stealth advertising campaign.

Stealth? Why would a corporation as ad-dependent as Coke spend big bucks on advertising that it doesn't want consumers to notice? Shhhh - because the campaign is a surreptitious ploy to enlist restaurants in a marketing conspiracy that targets you, your children, and - of course - your wallet.

Coke calls its covert gambit "Cap the Tap," urging restaurateurs to stop offering plain old tap water to customers: "Every time your business fills a cup or glass with tap water, it pours potential profits down the drain." Cap the Tap can put a stop to that, says Coke, "by teaching [your] crew members or waitstaff suggestive selling techniques to convert requests for tap water into orders for revenue-generating beverages."

The program provides a guide for restaurant managers who would direct Coke's customer assault, a backroom poster to remind waitstaff "when and how to suggestively sell beverages," and a participant's guide to put "suggestive selling" foremost in mind as staff confronts the enemy... uh, I mean customers. Tactics include outflanking those recalcitrant customers who insist on water. Just switch the sales pitch to bottled water - remember, Coca-Cola also owns Dasani, one of the top-selling brands of bottled water in the US.

Early in its Cap the Tap scheme, the beverage behemoth offered two incentive programs for waitstaff: "Suggest More and Score" and "Get Your Fill." Both were competitions to spur servers to push more Coke on American restaurant-goers.

Coke's CEO has declared that "obesity is today's most challenging health issue," and solving it requires all of us "doing our part." Really - by selling more Coke? That's proof that hypocrisy is now the official rocket fuel of corporate profits.
(c) 2013 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.

What Does Latest Dead Afghan 2-Year-Old Have In Common With Paul Robeson, John Wayne, Ernest Hemingway, Bob Marley, the Kennedys?
By David Swanson

This is the season of death, when we celebrate the dying of the sun with an orgiastic burst of consumption and environmental destruction. This is the season of rebirth when we spend time with loved ones and reach out to help others we don't know.

Now would be an appropriate time to come to grips with public murder and make a public investment in peace. If I were summoning back ghosts of governments past for a press conference at the National Press Club, my first inclination -- lasting only a split second -- would be to bring the Filipinos, the Vietnamese, the Native Americans, the Laotians, the Mexicans, the Cambodians, the Iraqis, the Guatemalans, the Japanese, the Afghans, the Germans, the Yemenis, and all the peoples of the world dead by our indifference or malevolence and by our sacred tax dollars. Pacific Islanders killed by weapons testing would join children killed by drug testing, and prisoners both innocent and guilty killed by electric chairs and injections, standing side-by-side with the resurrected bodies of men tortured to death by the CIA, kids melted with white phosphorous, and presidents -- both foreign and domestic -- cut down by assassins spreading freedom and joy.

My second inclination would be to line up a handful of press-worthy celebrities whose celebrity might motivate a bit of our national press corpse [sic] to hop an elevator for the long commute to the press club despite the fact that these particular celebrities were murdered by our government. First might be Paul Robeson. Here's a wikipedia summary for those unfamiliar with this great man. Here's a taste of Robeson's voice. And here's audio of a discussion with Robeson's son and others of how the CIA drugged him and then electroshocked him, effectively debilitating and silencing a voice that had never before faltered, a voice that had gone so far as to denounce the House Un-American Activities Committee as un-Americans to their faces. This article sums up this crime. This more recent article looks back.

Next to Robeson before the cameras might stand John Wayne. In 1955, movie star John Wayne, who avoided participating in World War II by opting instead to make movies glorifying war, decided that he had to play Genghis Khan. The Conqueror was filmed in Utah, and the conqueror was conquered. Of the 220 people who worked on the film, by the early 1980s 91 of them had contracted cancer and 46 had died of it, including John Wayne, Susan Hayward, Agnes Moorehead, and director Dick Powell. Statistics suggest that 30 of the 220 might ordinarily have gotten cancer, not 91. In 1953 the military had tested 11 atomic bombs nearby in Nevada, and by the 1980s half the residents of St. George, Utah, where the film was shot, had cancer. You can run from war, but you can't hide. Imagine that comment in John Wayne's voice as he stands, newly restored to life, speaking at a podium surrounded by handsome hacks who play journalists on TV.

Beside Robeson and Wayne at the best-attended-ever press conference we might line up Ernest Hemingway. When I was first told that Hemingway had killed himself, it was explained to me that he didn't want to live as an old man incapable of hunting lions. And yet this was the author of The Old Man and the Sea. Make sense of that if you can. Now we learn from Hemingway's friend and collaborator over the last 13 years of his life that the FBI's surveillance of Hemingway "substantially contributed to his anguish and his suicide." Hemingway's close friend didn't take Hemingway's complaints about the FBI seriously until his FBI file was finally released, confirming the surveillance. "It's the worst hell," Hemingway had said. "The goddamnedest hell. They've bugged everything. That's why we're using [a friend]'s car. Mine's bugged. Everything's bugged. Can't use the phone. Mail intercepted." I wonder how many high school English classes will mention this.

Next to Hemingway, let's bring out Bob Marley. The CIA's files on him are being kept secret for your protection, but the death and destruction the CIA was bringing to his country is undisputed, the CIA's responsibility for the failed assassination attempt against him is very likely, and it appears that in the end the CIA got him by a manner that sounds insanely bizarre if you haven't heard about giving an entire French town LSD or targeting a single intended victim (Fidel Castro) with a poisoned diving suit, an exploding cigar, a ballpoint-pen syringe, an exploding conch shell, and dozens of other crackpot schemes that sound less comical when they work.

Some surprise guests at the press club might include John and Robert Kennedy. Others might include, after all, the millions of nameless forgotten dead, the victims of the industrial-scale "signature strikes" that have been our biggest public investment. Not that the reporters would all see the point of cramming so many resurrected bodies into their club, but because some of the celebrity victims might more clearly grasp and articulate the purpose of the event. Sooner or later we are going to have to stop killing people and start loving people, or the rebirth of life after winter won't keep repeating.
(c) 2013 David Swanson is the author of "War Is A Lie."

Are The Neanderthals Still Among Us?
By James Donahue

One of the big mysteries among archaeologists has been what caused the extinction of Neanderthal man after successfully existing on Earth for nearly 100,000 years.

This big-boned, coarse primate demonstrated some degree of awareness in that he used primitive tools, buried and even left flowers at the graves of the dead, and developed some degree of social life.

Evidence of the Neanderthals died out about 27,000 years ago at about the time it is believed modern man arrived on the scene.

The big questions have been where the Homo sapiens came from so suddenly in the historical record and why the Neanderthals disappeared so soon after we arrived. Did we have something to do with the demise of the Neanderthal?

Now an Austrian-led team of researchers, working on a famous site of 31,000-year-old humanoid bones found in the Mladec Caves in the Czech Republic, suggest in an article in Nature that the bones show evidence of interbreeding.

The bones of six individuals found in the caves are generally regarded as "modern" but some of the skulls show Neanderthal features including heavy brow ridges and a protruding bone in the back of the head. Yet the skeletal remains are found with stone and bone tools, ornaments and other artifacts showing aesthetic artful design, something the primitive Neanderthal did not do.

"These characteristics could be explained by interbreeding, or seen as Neanderthal ancestry," team leader Eva Maria Wild of the University of Vienna was quoted as saying in one article.

Some people would apparently like to reject the idea of modern humans having sex with hairy, smelly and animal-brained humanoids that may have seemed more like apes than humans.

But team member Erik Trinkaus of Washington University, St. Louis, suggests it should not be written off.

"Either there's been an evolutionary leveling, or there has been some level of interbreeding, and we will never know how much," Trinkaus said. "My answer is, why not? They were all dirty and smelly, and didn't have much opportunity for social activity."

Indeed, contemporary humans are known to have sex with the animal world. It is a common joke among folks in rural farming communities that certain men are sometimes caught in the barn having sex with sheep, cows and even chickens.

One theory as to the origin of the AIDS epidemic is that it sprang from a human that had sexual contact with an ape somewhere on this planet.

If some humans can stoop to these levels in their quest for sexual gratification in modern times, why should we think that early Homo sapiens saw themselves as so high on the social ladder they could not be sexually attracted to other humanoid types that looked almost like them? Wouldn't it be somewhat akin to racial mixing in contemporary society?

There is an ancient story half in and half removed from the Book of Genesis about Adam's first wife, Lilith, who he turned away from. It was said that Adam preferred Eve, who was fair. Is this not a picture of the changes going on among the humans at that time. Lilith was an ape, while Eve was hairless. In the story, Adam was attracted to the hairless woman.

The new genetic line appears then to have been mixed with the old in the most natural way possible, through interbreeding of the new with the old.
(c) 2013 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. He currently produces daily articles for this web site.

The Pope Versus Unfettered Capitalism
By John Nichols

Remember when the Occupy movement demanded that issues like income inequality, race-to-the-bottom globalization and the failures of the free market be placed on the agenda?

Remember the silly critique of Occupy that said the movement's necessary challenge to austerity lacked specifics?

Problem solved.

The pope has gotten specific.

Condemning the "new tyranny" of unfettered capitalism and the "idolatry of money," Pope Francis argues in a newly circulated apostolic exhortation that "as long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world's problems or, for that matter, to any problems."

The pope has taken a side, not just in his manifesto but in interviews, warning: "Today we are living in an unjust international system in which 'King Money' is at the center."

He is encouraging resistance to "the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation" that creates "a throwaway culture that discards young people as well as its older people."

"What I would tell the youth is to worry about looking after one another and to be conscious of this and to not allow themselves to be thrown away," he told a television audience in his native Argentina. "So that throwaway culture does not continue, so that a culture of inclusion is achieved." The reference to a "culture of exclusion" is not casual.

In his manifesto, the pope decries the current "economy of exclusion and inequality."

"Such an economy kills," he explains. "How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality. Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape."

What makes the contribution from Pope Francis to the emerging global dialogue about the next economy so significant is his explicit rejection of the basic underpinnings of the broken economic models that have created the current crisis-of the failed ideas that, remarkably, continue to be promoted by fiscal fabulists like House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan.

"Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world," writes the new pope in his manifesto. "This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting. To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed."

As a global figure with a significant following and an ability to speak to the political and corporate elites, Pope Francis' voice may be heard where others are dismissed. And the fact that he is embracing a critique of capitalism that has come from the streets-rather than the apologias issued from the suites-has the potential to move the debate. The point here is not to suggest that the dictates of any religious leader will be followed by Wall Street or Washington-nor that pronouncements from the Vatican are going to guide the economic and social discourse of secular society.

The point is to recognize that an alternative argument has taken shape. And new voices are being added to the chorus of complaint about an austerity agenda that would undermine universal guarantees such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, cut food stamps, and barter off basic services such as the Post Office, while at the same time restructuring tax and regulatory policies in order to redistribute wealth upward.

The world is in the midst of a rapidly evolving-and absolutely vital-debate about "the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose."

On one side are the billionaires and their political pawns, angling for more of the income inequality that has so benefited them.

On the other side are labor unions, anti-poverty campaigners, Occupy activists-and a pope who argues that "money must serve, not rule!"
(c) 2013 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. His new book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, has just been published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

A protester raises a fist during a rally against hydraulic fracturing of
natural gas wells at the Legislative Office Building in Albany, N.Y., in 2012.

The Saboteurs
By Chris Hedges

CALGARY, Canada-Oil and natural gas drilling in the province of Alberta has turned Calgary into a boomtown. Glittering skyscrapers, monuments to the obscene profits amassed by a fossil fuel industry that is exploiting the tar sands and the vast oil and natural gas fields in Alberta, have transformed Calgary into a mecca for money, dirty politics, greed and industry jobs. The city is as soulless and sterile as Houston. The death of the planet, for a few, is very good for business.

The man who waged North America's first significant war against hydraulic fracturing was from Alberta, an eccentric, messianic Christian preacher named Wiebo Ludwig who died last year. He, with his small Christian community in the remote north of the province, sabotaged at least one wellhead by pouring cement down its shaft and blew up others. The Canadian authorities, along with the oil and gas barons, demonize Ludwig as an ecoterrorist, an odd charge given that they are the ones responsible for systematically destroying the environment and the planet. And as the ecosystem deteriorates-and the drive by corporations to extract the last remaining natural resources from the earth, even if it kills us all, becomes more and more relentless-the resistance of Wiebo Ludwig is worth remembering.

"Wiebo felt that our society was in a spiritual crisis, rather than an environmental or an economic crisis," David York, whose film "Wiebo's War" is a nuanced portrayal of Ludwig and his fight with the oil and gas industry, told me when I reached him in Toronto by email. "He felt that our addiction to fossil fuels, rampant consumerism and materialism, addictions, breakdown of family units were all symptoms of a society that has lost its root connection to God. Further, he felt that we are in a kind of end times state, where the forces of good are in a terrible struggle with the forces of evil. He wasn't so crass as to put a timetable on it, but in his view 'any fool can see the times.'"

That one of our era's most effective figures of resistance against the oil and gas industry was a devout Christian is perhaps not coincidental. I do not share Ludwig's Christian fundamentalism-his community was a rigid patriarchy-but I do share his belief that when human law comes into conflict with God's law, human law must be defied. Ludwig grasped the moral decadence of the consumer society, its unchecked hedonism, worship of money and deadening cult of the self. He retreated in 1985 with his small band of followers into the remoteness of northern Alberta. His community, called Trickle Creek, was equipped with its own biodiesel refinery, windmills and solar panels-which permitted it to produce its own power-a greenhouse and a mill. Its members, who grew their own food, severed themselves from the contaminants of consumer culture. But like the struggle of Axel Heyst, the protagonist in Joseph Conrad's novel "Victory," Ludwig's flight from evil only ensured that evil came to him.

Ludwig's farm happened to be atop one of the largest oil and gas reserves in the world. In Canada when you own land you own only the top six inches of soil; the mineral rights below it belong to the state and can be sold without the knowledge or acquiescence of the landowner. Beneath Ludwig's farm lay a fossil fuel known as sour gas, a neurotoxin that if released from within the earth can, even in small amounts, poison livestock, water tables and people.

"Wherever a man goes, men will pursue and paw him with their dirty institutions," wrote Henry David Thoreau. And this is what happened to Ludwig.

The oil and gas companies soon began a massive drilling effort. At first, like many other reformers and activists, Ludwig used legal and political channels to push back against the companies, which were drilling on the edge of his 160-acre farm. He spent the first five years attending hearings with civil regulators, writing letters-he even wrote to Jane Fonda-and appealing in vain to elected officials, government agencies, the press, environmentalists and first nations groups. His family-he had 11 children-posted a sign in 1990 that decried "the ruthless interruption and cessation" of privacy; "the relentless greedy grabbing of Creational resources"; "the caloused [sic] disregard for the sanctity of the Lord's Day"; the legislation of land and mineral ownership policy "that does violence to the God-given 'right to property.'" Ludwig then presented the offending oil company, Ranchmen's, with a bill for the sign.

"He was primarily motivated by his love for his family and a strong sense of justice," said Andrew Nikiforuk, the author of a good book on Ludwig called "Saboteurs: Wiebo Ludwig's War Against Big Oil." I had dinner with Nikiforuk last week in Calgary. He told me: "It did not seem right to him that the oil industry could park a drilling well for sour gas in view of his family's communal dining room. 'Is a man not even master in his own house, let alone his own land, on matters like these?'"

"His war against industry illustrated the cost of our addiction to hydrocarbons: Our materialistic way of life is based on the destruction of groundwater, the devaluing of rural property, the invasion of rural communities, the poisoning of skies with carcinogens, the fragmentation of landscapes," Nikiforuk said. "Urban people do not understand the sacrifices now being imposed on rural people."

Ludwig's first acts of sabotage were minor. He laid down nail beds on roads. He smashed solar panels. He blocked roads by downing trees. He disabled vehicles and drilling equipment. But after two leaks of hydrogen sulfide sour gas from nearby wells-which forced everyone on the farm to evacuate and saw numerous farm animals giving birth to deformed or stillborn offspring, as well as five human miscarriages or stillbirths within Ludwig's community-and after the destruction of two of his water wells, he declared open war on the oil and gas industry. He began to blow up oil and gas facilities. He said he had to fight back to "protect his children."

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, accompanied by private security agents hired by the oil companies, spent millions to investigate and attempt to halt the sabotage. Ludwig's farm was occupied by police five times and searched for incriminating evidence. The police and Encana Corp. infiltrated Ludwig's tight community with an agent provocateur who, to prove he could be trusted, blew up a well owned by what was then Alberta Energy Corp., now Encana. The explosion, although orchestrated by the police and Encana, was publicly blamed on Ludwig. The oil company also brought in a "terrorism expert" from Toronto to speak at local town hall gatherings-York captures one of those talks in his film-and the expert warned residents of the rising "terrorism" of religious cults led by fanatic, charismatic leaders.

Ludwig was undeterred. "People are talking here that maybe someone should be shooting guys in pinstripe suits to get them to stop," he said.

Ludwig, whose knowledge of the terrain allowed him to outfox hundreds of police officers, was never caught in an act of sabotage, but he probably had a hand in damage at hundreds of remote well sites estimated at $12 million. The federal government in Ottawa, in desperation, considered sending in the army. Ludwig was finally arrested in 2000 on five counts of property damage and possession of explosives and imprisoned for 18 months. He spent his time in prison reading a treatise in Dutch on the nature of hell.

Ludwig referred to the biblical story of David and Goliath in justifying his struggle against colossal forces, saying "the war is won before it is fought." He believed that if you fought for righteousness you always were ensured spiritual victory, even if you were defeated in the eyes of the world. "It's not size," he said. "It's whether a man is right or not. The fight is won on principle." In his home he kept a poster of activist and journalist Ken Saro-Wiwa, a Nigerian hanged in 1995 after he campaigned against Shell Oil's exploitation of his country. The poster read: "The environment is man's first right. Without a clean environment man cannot exist to claim other rights be they political, social or economic."

Ludwig once invited visiting civil servants who worked for oil and gas regulators to dinner. He fed them homemade cheeses, preserves, jams and wild cranberry wine. The piece de resistance, which Ludwig unveiled with his usual flair, was the skull of a horse killed by sour gas. "It's just a symbol of all the death we've had around here," he informed his startled guests.

On another occasion he dumped noxious sour crude on the carpet in the office of local regulators to see if it "bothered" them.

The sabotage did not end with Ludwig's 2012 death. There are reports of ongoing sabotage along the path of the XL pipeline and in the Alberta oil fields.

"I'd also say that sabotage in the oil patch is one of the oil and gas industry's dirty little secrets," York said. "It is widespread, and to many landowners it is a natural consequence of the industry's attitudes and behavior to those whose land they are occupying. The industry doesn't make a big fuss because they don't want to encourage the response."

But violence begets violence. And the more Ludwig blew up facilities the harsher became the intrusion of the state.

"Meeting industrial violence against livestock and families with more industrial violence against oil and gas installations is not the answer," said Nikiforuk. "It is an act of frustration as well as a reflection of the captured state of regulators. And it submits an entire community to a reign of industry- and state-sanctioned terror. A second war broke out in the bush in the 2000s during an intense period of hydraulic fracking. Six bombings occurred at Encana well sites in northern British Columbia just 50 kilometers from Ludwig's farm. The government sent in 250 officers to investigate. They treated rural citizens like members of the Taliban. The campaign ended as mysteriously as it began and had all the earmarks of Ludwig. It did not change industry practices."

Ludwig's gravest mistake was his decision, or the decision of someone in his small community, to fire on two trucks carrying rowdy teenagers. The sons and daughters of oil and gas workers roared through the group's compound at about 4 a.m. on June 20, 1999. Karman Willis, a 16-year-old girl, was fatally shot by someone on the farm, and a second teenager survived a wound. York in his film shows Ludwig family members repeating like automatons that they thought they were under attack because the backfiring of the vehicles sounded like gunshots. No one on the farm took responsibility for the shooting, and no one was charged. The killing of the girl saw the neighboring communities cut off Ludwig and his band in revulsion. Local businesses put up signs that read: "No Service for Ludwigs."

Ludwig, before he died at age 71 after refusing chemotherapy for esophageal cancer, turned away from violence. The renunciation came a year or two after his final bombing campaign. He would read, with his family, Jacques Ellul's 1969 book "Violence: Reflections From a Christian Perspective." Ellul, like Ludwig's Dutch father, had fought in the resistance against the Nazis in World War II.

"What constantly marked the life of Jesus was not nonviolence but in every situation the choice not to use power," he wrote. "This is infinitely different."

"The Christian should participate in social and political efforts in order to have an influence in the work, not with the hope of making a paradise (of the earth), but simply to make it more tolerable-not to diminish the opposition between this world and the Kingdom of God, but simply to modify the opposition between the disorder of this world and the order of preservation that God wants it to have-not to bring in the Kingdom of God, but so that the Gospel might be proclaimed in order that all men might truly hear the good news," Ellul wrote.

Ludwig said: "We feel weak in all the things we are fighting. I think the match is very unequal. But it's all right. Instead of griping about it, we might as well give ourselves to it."
(c) 2013 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. He is the author of War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. His latest book is, ""Death Of The Liberal Class."

Under The Global Shadow Of Big Brother, Journalism Must Light Up The Political Sky
By Norman Solomon

Every new revelation about the global reach of the National Security Agency underscores that the extremism of the surveillance state has reached gargantuan proportions. The Washington Post just reported that the NSA "is gathering nearly 5 billion records a day on the whereabouts of cellphones around the world."" Documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden have forced top officials in Washington to admit the indefensible while defending it. One of the main obstacles to further expansion of their Orwellian empire is real journalism.

Real journalism is "subversive" of deception that can't stand the light of day. This is a huge problem for the Obama administration and the many surveillance-state flunkies of both parties in Congress. What they want is fake journalism, deferring to government storylines and respectful of authority even when it is illegitimate.

In motion now, on both sides of the Atlantic, are top-down efforts to quash real journalism when and how it matters most. In the two English-speaking countries that have done the most preaching to the world about "Western values" like freedom of the press, the governments led by President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron are overseeing assaults on real journalism.

They're striving to further normalize fake journalism-largely confined to stenographic services for corporate power, war industries and surveillance agencies. A parallel goal is to harass, intimidate and destroy real journalism. The quest is to maximize the uninformed consent of the governed.

In direct contrast, those willing to fight for truly independent journalism-including whistleblowers, political activists and journalists themselves-are struggling to provide our world with vital light, fueled by comprehension that real journalism must be willing to challenge entrenched power.

From incessant war and arming the world, to climate change and coddling fossil fuel industries, to anti-democratic governance and enabling vast NSA surveillance, the U.S. power structure -- with epicenters along Wall Street and Pennsylvania Avenue -- continues to dominate. That power structure is a clear, present and horrendous threat to human survival, the natural world of this planet and the possibilities for authentic democracy.

Against such dire, highly institutionalized assaults on the present and the future, we desperately need a wide range of nonviolent, principled and unrelenting insurgencies. In that context, government efforts to crush real journalism can be understood as methodical counterinsurgency.

Smashing Guardian hard drives and hauling the newspaper's editor in front of an inquisitional parliamentary committee are aspects of the British government's counterinsurgency program against real journalism. In the United States, the counterinsurgency includes numerous prosecutions of whistleblowers and wide-ranging surveillance of journalists' workaday communications. These assaults aren't episodic. They've become routine.

Journalism is at a momentous crossroads. The alternative to unrelenting independence is sheepism, and that's not journalism; it's a professionalized baseline of bowing to government and corporate pressure even before it has been overtly exerted.

For journalists, and for the rest of us, silence is not neutrality; it ends up as acceptance of autocratic rule, a present festooned with pretty-sounding names like "anti-terrorism" and "national security."

As the most powerful institutions run amuck, their main functionaries are "leaders" who keep leading us farther and farther away from a world we could possibly be proud of leaving for the next generations. Pushing back against the ominous momentum will require fighting for real journalism. No one can plausibly say that reversing course will be easy or probable-only imperative.
(c) 2013 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."

Better Pay Now
By Paul Krugman

'Tis the season to be jolly - or, at any rate, to spend a lot of time in shopping malls. It is also, traditionally, a time to reflect on the plight of those less fortunate than oneself - for example, the person on the other side of that cash register.

The last few decades have been tough for many American workers, but especially hard on those employed in retail trade - a category that includes both the sales clerks at your local Walmart and the staff at your local McDonald's. Despite the lingering effects of the financial crisis, America is a much richer country than it was 40 years ago. But the inflation-adjusted wages of nonsupervisory workers in retail trade - who weren't particularly well paid to begin with - have fallen almost 30 percent since 1973.

So can anything be done to help these workers, many of whom depend on food stamps - if they can get them - to feed their families, and who depend on Medicaid - again, if they can get it - to provide essential health care? Yes. We can preserve and expand food stamps, not slash the program the way Republicans want. We can make health reform work, despite right-wing efforts to undermine the program.

And we can raise the minimum wage.

First, a few facts. Although the national minimum wage was raised a few years ago, it's still very low by historical standards, having consistently lagged behind both inflation and average wage levels. Who gets paid this low minimum? By and large, it's the man or woman behind the cash register: almost 60 percent of U.S. minimum-wage workers are in either food service or sales. This means, by the way, that one argument often invoked against any attempt to raise wages - the threat of foreign competition - won't wash here: Americans won't drive to China to pick up their burgers and fries.

Still, even if international competition isn't an issue, can we really help workers simply by legislating a higher wage? Doesn't that violate the law of supply and demand? Won't the market gods smite us with their invisible hand? The answer is that we have a lot of evidence on what happens when you raise the minimum wage. And the evidence is overwhelmingly positive: hiking the minimum wage has little or no adverse effect on employment, while significantly increasing workers' earnings.,P. It's important to understand how good this evidence is. Normally, economic analysis is handicapped by the absence of controlled experiments. For example, we can look at what happened to the U.S. economy after the Obama stimulus went into effect, but we can't observe an alternative universe in which there was no stimulus, and compare the results.

When it comes to the minimum wage, however, we have a number of cases in which a state raised its own minimum wage while a neighboring state did not. If there were anything to the notion that minimum wage increases have big negative effects on employment, that result should show up in state-to-state comparisons. It doesn't.

So a minimum-wage increase would help low-paid workers, with few adverse side effects. And we're talking about a lot of people. Early this year the Economic Policy Institute estimated that an increase in the national minimum wage to $10.10 from its current $7.25 would benefit 30 million workers. Most would benefit directly, because they are currently earning less than $10.10 an hour, but others would benefit indirectly, because their pay is in effect pegged to the minimum - for example, fast-food store managers who are paid slightly (but only slightly) more than the workers they manage.

Now, many economists have a visceral dislike of anything that sounds like price-fixing, even if the evidence strongly indicates that it would have positive effects. Some of these skeptics oppose doing anything to help low-wage workers. Others argue that we should subsidize, not regulate - in particular, that we should expand the Earned Income Tax Credit (E.I.T.C.), an existing program that does indeed provide significant aid to low-income working families. And for the record, I'm all for an expanded E.I.T.C.

But there are, it turns out, good technical reasons to regard the minimum wage and the E.I.T.C. as complements - mutually supportive policies, not substitutes. Both should be increased. Unfortunately, given the political realities, there is no chance whatsoever that a bill increasing aid to the working poor would pass Congress.

An increase in the minimum wage, on the other hand, just might happen, thanks to overwhelming public support. This support doesn't come just from Democrats or even independents; strong majorities of Republicans (57 percent) and self-identified conservatives (59 percent) favor an increase.

In short, raising the minimum wage would help many Americans, and might actually be politically possible. Let's give it a try.
(c) 2013 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

The Quotable Quote...

"Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won't come in."
~~~ Isaac Asimov

Emperor Snyder

What The Media Isn't Telling You About Detroit's Bankruptcy
By Thom Hartmann

By now you've probably heard the news: Michigan Governor Rick Snyder is now free to rob Detroit workers of their hard-earned pensions.

On Tuesday morning, Judge Steven Rhodes ruled that because federal law trumps state law, Michigan's constitutional protections for public employee pensions don't apply in federal court.

It's pretty much official now: Detroit is going bankrupt.

The death of a great American city is one of the biggest - if not the biggest - news story of the week. But the mainstream media has yet to tell the real story behind the Motor City's decline.

Bankruptcy law is a complicated topic, so it'd be one thing if the major networks avoided all the nitty-gritty details of the past few months' legal battles. But they haven't. In fact, that's all the mainstream media has focused on. They've made it seem like Detroit's troubles magically began back in July when the city's Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr first filed bankruptcy papers.

And while those legal battles are interesting in their own right, they're really only part of a much bigger story: the destruction of Detroit by America's bankster-billionaire class.

The media isn't telling that story. And it needs to be heard.

At one point in time, Detroit was ground-zero for the American dream. The Motor City really was the Motor City. It was the fifth biggest metropolitan area in the country and its economy was booming as a result of the success of the big three automakers: Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler.

The car industry's unionized workforce took home good middle-class salaries, in turn bolstering the city's tax revenues.

But over the past 30-plus years Detroit has been hit hard by the three-headed monster of the new American fire economy: free trade, union-busting, and bankster-run Ponzi schemes.

From the Washington administration to the Reagan Revolution of the 1980s, our trade system was based around a system of protectionist tariffs that encouraged doing business in American and discouraged doing business abroad.

But towards the end of the 20th century, both Republican and Democratic lawmakers began to embrace a new form of free-market extremism: free trade. Free trade opened up the economy to foreign competition and outsourced jobs once done by American workers to workers overseas.

Detroit was hit especially hard as foreign car companies like Toyota took advantage of lax trade policies to sell their products to American consumers. This decimated Detroit's industrial core. The Motor City's manufacturing workforce stood at 200,000 in 1950. Today, it's 20,000.

But any possibility that those foreign companies would help provide new jobs to Detroit's now unemployed autoworkers was stopped dead in its tracks by right-to-work-for-less states in the South using their anti-worker laws to attract foreign manufacturers like Volkswagen and Toyota.

And with its jobs gone and poverty rampant, Detroit, like so many other deindustrializing cities across America, then became the target for banksters looking to make a quick buck with rip-off mortgage schemes. As a result, the financial crisis hit the Motor City especially hard.

But to make matters worse, after evicting thousands of Detroiters from their homes, the big banks didn't bother going through with the normal foreclosure process. Instead, they left the houses abandoned in an attempt to avoid paying taxes on them. Their scheme worked: Detroit's army of abandoned houses costs the city millions every year in unpaid taxes.

The Motor City, once ground zero for the American dream, is now ground zero for the worst policies of the post-Reagan economy. Its industrial heart has been shredded in the name of free trade. Its workforce has been decimated by glorified union-busting schemes. And in the final insult to injury, its impoverished population has been ripped off by predator banksters.

Of course, you can't expect the media to focus on that, right?

With so much money to be made, it's far easier to focus on the short term and blame greedy retirees, who, by the way, have been doing their part to fund pension plans while the state government has avoided living up to its end of the bargain.

But if we really want to save the rest of the country from devastation, we need to take a good hard look at the lesson of Detroit.

Because if we continue on the path we've been on for the past 30 years, Detroit's decline won't be just a sad story, it will be America's story.
(c) 2013 Thom Hartmann is a New York Times bestselling Project Censored Award winning author and host of a nationally syndicated progressive radio talk show. You can learn more about Thom Hartmann at his website and find out what stations broadcast his radio program. He also now has a daily independent television program, The Big Picture, syndicated by FreeSpeech TV, RT TV, and 200 community TV stations. You can also listen or watch Thom over the Internet.

American soldiers with captured Nazi flag, WWII.

The Last Dead Nazi
By William Rivers Pitt

A piece of history died on Monday.

Heinrich Boere was 92 years old when he passed away in a prison facility in Froendenberg, Germany, where he was being treated for dementia. At the time of his death, he was the state's oldest prisoner, and perhaps its most notorious. After all, some 68 years removed from the end of World War II, how many living Nazis from the days of Hitler's Reich can there be left?

Boere was one such.

Boere was born in Germany to a German mother and a Dutch father, but moved to Maastricht in the Netherlands when he was two. When the Nazis invaded the Netherlands in 1940, he recalled seeing Stuka dive-bombers flying overhead, and remembered his parents being elated instead of afraid. At the time, his mother said, "They're coming, now things will be better." Many years later, during testimony he gave at his own trial in Germany, Boere said, "It was better."

Not long after seeing those Stukas flying above his adopted country, Heinrich Boere became a Nazi himself, wore the uniform, and fought for the Reich on the Russian front. Later, he volunteered for the Waffen SS, the para-military muscle of the Nazi Party that was the brainchild of Heinrich Himmler. By 1943, Boere was part of a hit squad targeting members of the Dutch resistance and anyone else harboring anti-German sentiments. He killed three people by his own admission, and aided in the killing of many more.

After the war ended, he evaded justice for some 60 years, fought the law once he was cornered, and was finally convicted for his crimes. On Monday, he died behind bars, lost in dementia. Only the orderlies, nurses and doctors know what demons were loosed from his mouth once his mind was gone, what confessions he made. He knew what he had done was wrong in the end, or at least he knew others thought he had done wrong; during his trial, he explained why he had never married: "I always had to consider that my past might catch up with me. I didn't want to inflict that upon a woman."

Heinrich Boere, known Nazi, known murderer, known collaborator with the filthiest tide to ever wash up on the human shore, is dead. He was not the worst of them, but he was willingly one of them. He did not die free, but in fetters on a prison bed without even his own mind left to him. More than some would say it was a better death than he deserved. Most would say that justice, at least to some degree, was finally served.

But what of us, the children and grand-children and great-grand-children of this awesome and terrible history?

Certainly, the planet is improved by the fact that Heinrich Boere no longer resides on the skin of this Earth, but is buried beneath it. He was not the last living Nazi of Hitler's Reich, but he is among the last. Very soon now - certainly within the next ten years - the sun will rise upon a world without a single living soul who saw what happened, who participated either directly or by way of tacit approval in the formation and defense of the so-called "Thousand Year Reich."

In my own way, I mourn the passing of Heinrich Boere. Not because of what he believed or what he did; were I able, I would spit on his grave...and then light a candle, and stand a vigil, because Heinrich Boere is important to us all. When men like Heinrich Boere die, we are one step closer to forgetting that men like him lived at all, one step closer to forgetting that party-sponsored murder gangs like the Waffen SS ever existed, one step closer to forgetting that hate-fueled thuggery thrives in economic chaos, can take over, and can wreak bloody havoc.

When men like Heinrich Boere die, we are one step closer to having men like Heinrich Boere among us again, because we forget what they did when they are gone, and by forgetting, we allow them to live again. Sooner or later, inevitably, they rise when we forget.

General Dwight D. Eisenhower, after visiting Auschwitz at the end of the war, said, "The things I saw beggar description. The visual evidence and the verbal testimony of starvation, cruelty and bestiality were so overpowering as to leave me a bit sick. In one room, where they were piled up twenty or thirty naked men, killed by starvation, George Patton would not even enter. He said he would get sick if he did so. I made the visit deliberately, in order to be in position to give first-hand evidence of these things if ever, in the future, there develops the tendency to charge these allegations merely to 'propaganda.'"

Eisenhower was a witness. So was Boere. Both men are dead now, and all they saw and knew is lost.

It was George Santayana who said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Heinrich Boere is dead. Long live Heinrich Boere.

Do not forget him. If we do, we will have to do him all over again. And again. And again.

And again.
(c) 2013 William Rivers Pitt is a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of three books: "War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know" and "The Greatest Sedition Is Silence." His newest book, "House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation." He lives and works in Boston.

The Dead Letter Office...

Jeff gives the Corpo-rat salute

Heil Obama,

Dear der Bezirksstaatsanwalt Rosen,

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 giving white on black crime a slap on the wrist, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, 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 "judicial 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 Iron Cross, first class, presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Obama at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 12-31-2013. We salute you Heir Rosen, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

The True Price Of Great Holiday Deals
By Robert Reich

The most important website last weekend and in weeks to come - on which the hopes and fears of countless Americans are focused (and the President's poll-ratings depend) - is not It's

Even if and when works perfectly, relatively few Americans will be affected by it. Only 5 percent of us are in the private health-insurance market to begin with. But almost half of Americans are now shopping for great holiday deals online, and many will be profoundly affected - not because they get great deals, but because their jobs and incomes are at stake.

Online retailing is the future. Amazon is the main online shopping portal this holiday season but traditional retailers are moving online as fast as they can. Online sales are already up 20 percent over last year, and the pace will only accelerate. Target and many other bricks-and-mortar outlets plan to spend more on technology next year than on building and upgrading new stores.

Americans are getting great deals online, and they like the convenience. But there's a hidden price. With the growth of online retailing, fewer Americans will have jobs in bricks-and-mortar retail stores.

Amazon announced last summer it would add 5,000 new jobs to the 20,000 it already has. But not even 25,000 Amazon jobs come near to replacing the hundreds of thousands of retail jobs Amazon has already wiped out, and the hundreds of thousands more it will eliminate in the future.

To put this in some perspective you need to know that retail jobs have been the fastest growing of all job categories since the recession ended in 2009. But given the rapid growth of online retailing, that trend can't possibly last. What will Americans do when online sales take over?

Add to this the fact that most of what's being sold this holiday season - online and off-line - is no longer made by Americans. Vast shipping containers of gadgets, garments, and other goodies are fabricated or assembled or sewed together in Asia for the American market.

Online retailers are facilitating this move by having these goods shipped directly from Asian factories to distribution centers in America and then to our homes, without ever having to go to an American retail store or even a wholesaler. This means even lower prices and better deals. But it also means fewer jobs and lower pay for many Americans.

Some manufacturing is coming back to America, to be sure, but not the assembly-line jobs that used to be the core of manufacturing employment. Computerized machine tools and robots are doing an increasing portion of the work - which is why many companies can afford to bring their factories back here.

Get it? Technology and globalization are driving the good deals American consumers are getting this holiday season. But the same forces are keeping wages down, and are even on the verge of eliminating many of the low-wage retail and related service jobs many Americans now need to make ends meet.

To put it another way, American consumers getting great shopping deals are also American workers on the losing end of those same deals.

The biggest reason holiday shopping is especially frenzied this season is so many Americans are already stretched to the breaking point that they're more desperate than ever for bargains. Sixty-five percent of today's shoppers are living paycheck-to-paycheck. That's up from 61 percent last year, according to consumer research by Booz and Company.

Median household income in America continues to drop, adjusted for inflation, because low-wage jobs are the major ones available. Lower-wage occupations accounted for only 21 percent of job losses during the Great Recession. They've accounted for 58 percent of all job growth since then.

The President's dropping poll-ratings are only partly due to the bumbling roll-out of the Affordable Care Act. The computer glitches at aren't the most important reason why Americans are grumpy this holiday season. The bigger problem is the economy remains lousy for most people.

Technology and globalization are taking over more and more American jobs. There's no easy fix for this, and it's hardly the President's fault. But the sobering reality is the United States has no national strategy for creating more good jobs in America. Until we do, more and more Americans will be chasing great deals that come largely at their own expense.
(c) 2013 Robert Reich is Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written twelve books, including The Work of Nations, Locked in the Cabinet, and his most recent book, "Beyond Outrage," is now out in paperback. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine and chairman of Common Cause. His new film, "Inequality for All," will be out September 27.

Like Detroit firemen and policemen who paid their full pension dues,
many Americans will be rewarded in old age by poverty.

A Hard Lesson from Motown: They Will Steal Your Pension
By David Cay Johnston

Anyone in a public-sector job looking forward to retiring in comfort should look carefully at what is going on in Detroit and Springfield, Ill. Sherlock Holmes would call it, "The case of the missing pension money."

News leaking out this week from the Motor City tells how the enormous gap between the pensions workers earned and the money set aside to pay for them will be closed. By stealing from the workers.

Courts, legislatures, and corporations are all working in concert not to pay the full benefits owed. For decades, political and business leaders failed to set aside the right amount of money each payday to cover the pensions workers earned and, in some cases, covered up the mismanagement of pension fund investments.

This is nothing short of theft, as pensions are simply deferred wages, that is, money that workers could have taken as cash in their regular paychecks had they not opted to set it aside.

In Detroit, a federal bankruptcy judge handling the city's Chapter 9 case held Tuesday decided he could safely ignore a Michigan Constitution provision barring any reduction in pension benefits to already retired public sector workers. Judge Steven W. Rhodes went beyond asserting the supremacy of federal law over state regulations, ruling that the pensions workers earned were a mere "contractual obligation," no different from any other bill the city owes but lacks the money to pay.

The result will mean even worse poverty in the sputtering Motown, where a once robust industrial tax base has withered away, the starkest example of the economic devastation wrought by government policies that for decades have encouraged companies to move manufacturing offshore.

Financial mismanagement in Detroit under every mayor in the past six decades also contributed to the disaster. The result: Public worker pensions averaging $19,000 a year will be cut to the bone. That is sure to increase demands for federally funded food stamps, a program which Congress has just cut, and other welfare to make up for some of pensions workers earned but will not collect.

Norman Stein, a Drexel University law professor who is an expert on pensions, said that if the Detroit order stands it will become standard practice to slash benefits.

"It would be a human catastrophe of the first order if pensions of vulnerable older workers can be cut whenever a local government goes to bankruptcy court," Stein said. "We will be consigning firemen and policemen, who did nothing wrong other than protecting the city and depending on the city's promise, into old-age poverty."

In Illinois, legislators have agreed to cut future public employees' retirement benefits by $160 billion over the next three decades. That 43 percent reduction will be achieved gradually, unlike the draconian Detroit ruling where most of the loss will be borne by current workers.

For decades, Illinois failed to invest the necessary funds each year to support the pensions it was promising. In effect, they were stealing from the workers today with a feeble promise to somehow make it up later.

If workers got only 90 cents on the dollar owed in their paychecks they would soon notice and kick up a fuss. But money not paid over to the pension plan rarely shows up on pay stubs.

Properly funded and invested, traditional defined benefit pensions are the most economical way to save for old age, combining contributions in a large pool to absorb short-term swings and the vagaries of professional investment management. They also have much lower costs than 401(K) plans. And they require a much smaller reserve against an unexpectedly long life, where the actuarial risk is concentrated in one person who must save too much or risk dire straits late in life.

But, as millions of workers are learning, the laws requiring that money be set aside and prudently invested are more loophole than safety net. This is producing not just misery for those left broke and helpless in old age, as seems about to happen in Detroit, but it is eroding trust in democratic government and the rule of law.

According to Government Accountability Office research, public employees across America may be cheated out of almost a trillion dollars, nearly half the benefits they have already earned, but not yet collected.

Private-sector workers are at risk of losing almost as much, about $840 billion, although at the moment Congress guarantees a portion of company pensions so actual losses could be much smaller.

Failing to turn money over to pension plans each pay period has become commonplace for states and local governments in the past three decades. When Republican Christie Todd Whitman became governor of New Jersey in 1994, she financed a tax cut by not funding the state employee pension plan, fulfilling her promise to that blue state's voters.

What Whitman really did was force future tax hikes or cuts in government services, but they would not come due until long after she left office in 2001 - another kind of reckless cheating on ordinary folks.

Politicians in both parties have employed similar short-funding strategies across the country. In New Orleans, bankrupt Stockton, Calif., and 3,000 other local government districts, shortfalls have been met by taking on more debt. Instead of investing money and earning interest, these feckless administrators borrowed and paid interest, magnifying taxpayer costs, Boston College researchers found.

Private-sector corporations that surreptitiously shorted worker pay by not setting aside enough money in pension plans have long found ways to cheat workers out of the benefits they earned as well as reneging on a federal guarantee that the money due in old age would be there. Even worse, Congress and the courts have approved these deals, either tacitly or directly.

One technique used to chisel workers is to replace the pension with a private annuity. If the insurer issuing the annuity goes broke, the workers collect next to nothing, as happened to textile workers in the South.

Another strategy is to convert a single-employer plan to a multi-employer plan. That reduces the federal guarantee from more than $1,000 per week to a quarter of that sum while wiping out a great deal and sometimes all of a shortfall.

Almost four decades after Congress passed the Employee Retirement Income Security Act in 1974, corporate pension plans are short by more than $800 billion worth of assets. Fifty of these plans, out of 26,000, are short by more than $450 billion.

Among the 1,475 multiemployer plans commonly used by trucking and construction companies, the shortfall is about $390 billion and 50 plans account for more than half the missing money.

When US Airways and United Airlines sought refuge in bankruptcy a decade ago they stuck the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation with about $9 billion of obligations. Those bankruptcies came after executives took enormous salaries, even by the already bloated standards of big companies, and pocketed their pension money in lump-sum payments.

As long as a company does not file for bankruptcy within a year, executives are allowed to keep their pension money even as more humble workers are forced to take cuts. The cuts were especially hard on pilots: Federal pension law only insures pensions at age 65 and pilots, by a law in effect at that time, had to retire at age 60, meaning they got less than 60 percent of the pension benefits they earned.

It's not as if this problem came out of nowhere. Congress and state legislatures have known about the failure to properly fund pensions since at least the 1964 collapse of Studebaker. Workers for the South Bend, Ind., carmaker who retired on a Friday that year got their pensions; those retiring the following Monday and later got nothing.

A decade later, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act became law, setting standards for how much money had to be set aside in private-sector pension plans. Before the ink from President Gerald Ford's pen had barely dried, however, corporate America started working to reduce the funding requirements.

One arcane rule after another was enacted by Congress or written into regulations that allowed companies to invest less than sound financing required.

At the insistence of Democrats, the amounts that could be put into pension plans were limited. The maximum salary that can be covered by a pension this year is $255,000.

That leaves out most of the pay to the top 1 percent of workers, who just happen to include the top executives who set the compensation for everyone below them.

Once a CEO's pension benefits became disconnected from the office worker, factory hand, and janitor, companies began emphasizing executive retirement plans that were lavishly funded. Some executives built billion-dollar fortunes tax-free.

In theory, these executive plans were risky because they lacked a PBGC guarantee. But when companies collapsed, the rank-and-file were shortchanged and sometimes wiped out of their retirement money, while executives walked away with every penny and in some cases got their retirement money doubled.

Congress did nothing to address this or subsequent reports by others, notably Ellen Schultz, whose incisive coverage of pension thievery was abruptly stopped by The Wall Street Journal just as the trend was taking off. Instead, Congress has gradually weakened worker pension protections.

Congress required companies to put away less money for many workers than good financing required because of the way the maximum salary qualifying for a pension is calculated.

A worker whose pay at the age of 30 shows that at 65 she would likely be making twice the maximum has only about half the necessary money set aside. The result is that for workers who leave an employer before age 65, too little money is set aside to cover the benefits they earned, making the overall pension pool too shallow.

Yet this scandal in the way pensions are inadequately funded is not a hot political issue. Neither party appears interested in what is of key importance to all older Americans - and should be of interest to younger ones too.

The number of hearings held by Congress this year on protecting pensions? Zero.
(c) 2013 David Cay Johnston, a Pulitzer Prize winner, is the author of The Fine Print: How Big Companies Use "Plain English" to Rob You Blind. He is president of the journalism organization Investigative Reporters & Editors Inc. and teaches at Syracuse University College of Law. His other bestsellers are Perfectly Legal and Free Lunch.

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Jeff Stahler ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

42 Million Dead In Bloodiest Black Friday Weekend On Record

NEW YORK-According to emergency personnel, early estimates indicate that more than 42 million Americans were killed this past weekend in what is now believed to be the bloodiest Black Friday shopping event in history.

First responders reporting from retail stores all across the nation said the record-breaking post-Thanksgiving shopping spree carnage began as early as midnight on Friday, when 13 million shoppers were reportedly trampled, pummeled, burned, stabbed, shot, lanced, and brutally beaten to death while attempting to participate in early holiday sales events.

Law enforcement officials said the bloodbath only escalated throughout the weekend as hordes of savage holiday shoppers began murdering customers at Wal-Mart, Sears, and JCPenney locations nationwide, leaving piles of dismembered and mutilated corpses in their wake.

"The level of bloodshed this year was almost beyond imagination-no prior Black Friday could have prepared us for this," said National Guard commander Frank Grass, talking to reporters in front of the still-smoldering remains of a local Best Buy that was burned to the ground Saturday. "We had fire trucks, police cruisers, and guardsmen stationed at multiple locations, but it was useless. At the moment, hundreds of thousands of American shoppers are still unaccounted for, and we expect $2 billion in damage has been wrought upon our cities."

"The stench of death is unbearable," a tearful Grass added. "Simply unbearable."

As the weekend of sales drew to a close, ambulances could be seen circling the now empty and completely ravaged shopping complexes as they searched for signs of life, while clean-up crews worked to clear the rubble, overturned cars, and large pools of blood from local Kohl's and Macy's parking lots.

The White House issued an official response, stating, "We mourn the deaths of those 42 million American shoppers who tragically lost their lives this Black Friday."

Survivors of the deadly holiday sales event said that while the weekend began as a chance to "get in on some unbeatable post-Thanksgiving deals," it quickly escalated into a merciless, no-hold-barred fight to the death.

"At some point in time we all stopped caring about the deals and the holiday shopping and were pretty much just out for blood," said Dana Marshall, 37, a Target shopper who suffered seven broken ribs and a cracked sternum while fighting two other customers for a discounted Nikon digital camera. "I remember just sitting on top of a woman and smacking her head with a DVD player until her face was completely unrecognizable. I felt nothing. Absolutely nothing." The Onion will continue to publish a running list of the Black Friday dead throughout the week.
(c) 2013 The Onion

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In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include:

(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;
(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors."