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In This Edition

Matt Taibbi concludes, "Latest Student Loan Debacle Is Ultimate Example Of Trump's Campaign Con."

Uri Avnery goes, "From Barak To Trump."

Glen Ford considers, "'Russsiagate' And The Collapse Of Obama's War Against Syria."

Dan Rather examines, "This Era Of Moral Rot."

Jim Hightower explores, "The Virtues Of The Egalitarian Internet."

John Nichols reports, "On A Wave Of Votes From Selma, And The Civil-Rights Heartlands Of Alabama, Doug Jones Sweeps To Victory."

James Donahue warns, "Arctic Release Of Methane Now At Deadly Levels."

Norman Solomon tells it like it is, "Battle For Democratic Party: After The Unity Reform Commission."

Heather Digby Parton finds Trump, "Unfit To Clean Toilets In Obama's Presidential Library."

David Suzuki says, "Don't Blame God Or Nature. We're The Culprits."

Charles P. Pierce tells, "What I Saw Inside Roy Moore's Barn Burner."

David Swanson reports, "FAILED: Foreign Policy As We Know It."

William Rivers Pitt gives the, "New Conservative Argument: Climate Change Is So Awesome, You Guys."

Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich discovers, "Slapp Lawsuits: The Biggest Threat To The Resistance You Never Heard Of."

Chris Hedges says it's, "Zero Hour In Palestine."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion finds, "New GOP Tax Plan Requires Welfare Recipients To Apply For Each Individual Piece Of Food" but first Uncle Ernie sez, "Say Goodbye To The Free Internet."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Joel Pett, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Ruben Bolling, Mr. Fish, Raphael Labaca Castro, Evan Vucci, Jim Watson, Chase Dekker, Reuters, Shutterstock, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, HBO, Black Agenda Report, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

The Quotable Quote...
The Vidkun Quisling Award...
The Cartoon Corner...
To End On A Happy Note...
Have You Seen This...
Parting Shots...

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

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Say Goodbye To The Free Internet
By Ernest Stewart

"We're losing a lot of people because of the Internet. We have to go see Bill Gates and a lot of different people that really understand what's happening. We have to talk to them about, maybe in certain areas, closing that Internet up in some way. Somebody will say, 'Oh freedom of speech, freedom of speech.' These are foolish people. We have a lot of foolish people." ~~~ Donald Trump

"We stood there crying - filming with tears rolling down our cheeks. The bear most likely died within hours or days of this moment, and there was nothing we could have done to save him." ~~~ Paul Nicklen ~ Canadian photographer

"I think it was great at a time when families were united, even though we had slavery, they cared for one another. People were strong in the families. Our families were strong, our country had a direction, and we corrected many of the problems." ~~~ Roy Moore

"I don't want to live in the kind of world where we don't look out for each other. Not just the people that are close to us, but anybody who needs a helping hand. I can't change the way anybody else thinks, or what they choose to do, but I can do my bit." ~~~ Charles de Lint

The Federal Communications Commission overturned net neutrality, the regulation ensuring internet service providers such as Comcast AT&T and Verizon treat all website and content equally. The meeting was charged; as if to punctuate the controversy, attendees at the FCC hearing were forced to abruptly clear the room over unspecified security concerns before Chair Ajit Pai cast his vote. Imagine that, the coward didn't have the cajones to face the people when he cut our throats!

The debate before the vote ran along party lines, with the commission's three Republican members, Ajit Pai, appointed chairman by Trump, Michael O'Rielly and Brendan Carr, also appointed by Trump, who all spoke in favor of unraveling the 2015 net neutrality rules. The two Democrats on the commission; Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel, voted against the measure. Remember this come the 2018 elections!

While internet service companies say consumers won't notice a change, they have also lobbied for net neutrality's overturn, arguing that fewer regulations will allow them to innovate and deliver new services to consumers. When in reality it's just another Trump plan to rip off America. Not the type of thing that would Make America Great Again, huh? Net neutrality has become a rallying cry for consumers regardless of political affiliation, with many expressing fears that the end of net neutrality will dampen free speech, create higher costs for consumers and allow ISPs to control what services they use on the internet.

"We will have a Cheshire cat version of net neutrality," said FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, who voted against the measure. "We will be in a world where regulatory substance fades to black and all that is left is a broadband provider's toothy grin."

In her comments, which she called an "eulogy" to net neutrality, she added, "What saddens me the most today is that the agency that is supposed to protect you is actually abandoning you." Steve Bannon strikes again! Remind me again, why Steve's head isn't sitting atop a pike! How can that be, America?

The proposal will not only roll back restrictions that keep broadband providers like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T from blocking or collecting tolls from services they don't like, it would bar states from imposing their own rules. Imagine that! There is no recourse with the Rethuglicans, except to get rid of them and replace them with people who care, like they did down in Alabama! Imagine that, Alabama showing us the way!

In Other News

By now I'm sure you've seen the photo of the starving polar bear. With the traditional ice packs gone the bears have no way to ambush seals and so they either find a new food source or they die!

I see where global warming is driving polar bears south and tourists north. The Alaskan town of Kaktovik has a population of fewer than 250 people, but at this time of year, it receives a wave of visitors, first polar bears, and then tourists.

Located on Barter Island, off the state's northern coast on the Beaufort Sea, Kaktovik isn't used to this kind of attention. Every fall, polar bears wander into the village looking for food, and over the last few years, they've been coming earlier and earlier, the reason, of course, is global warming.

As the sea ice they depend on melts and disappears, the polar bears have been looking for alternate places to feed. One such source is what Kaktovik residents call "the bone pile," an area on the island's shore where generations of whale hunters have left bone carcasses. While the townspeople rely on the whales to survive (they're allowed to hunt three whales per year), the polar bears come for the leftover bones.

The hungry, wandering polar bears are a huge problem for residents, who've created a local patrol to search the streets when the bears typically arrive at dusk. The town has subsequently experienced an unwelcome bout of tourism. Kaktovik is a two-hour flight from Fairbanks and only accessible by small planes; similar to whale-watching, tourists take chartered boats to catch glimpses of the bears. While the residents know how to handle and approach the bears, the visitors do not.

"There are some people that just come on here and try to go out to the bone pile or walk themselves," Kaktovik's mayor Nora Jane Burns told ABC News. "They don't really understand they are wild animals and their demeanor can change just like that. If they get mauled or killed, it is on us."

On the bright side, as the Arctic ice recedes, sea levels are slowly rising. Global warming could spell doom and gloom for life on this planet as we know it. But there does seem to be one benefit coming from all the melting ice, it's bringing internet to a remote Alaskan town. As I've said before there are winners and loser from global warming, if only temporarily.

This receding ice is revealing new passageways that boats can sail through, and a company called Quintillion is using the opportunity to lay down high-speed internet cables with the aim of creating a faster digital connection between Tokyo and London. In the process, it's giving internet access to northern townships. Point Hope, Alaska, is one village benefiting from the endeavor. Just in time, it seems, to get tripled charged by Trump and Ajit Pai, so much for winning global warming, huh?

And Finally

Boy did we ever just dodge a bullet? Roy Moore, who is a little to the right of Darth Vader, a religious bigot, a racist, and a serial molester of children and women lost by a mere 20,000 votes to Democrat Doug Jones, a man who sent Ku Klux Klan baby killers to prison, something that no one else could seem to do in over 50 years! Compare and contrast Mr. Jones and Mr. Moore.

All the jokes, and truths, about Alabama aside, the black folks in Alabama finally stood up to the fascist right and did America a major favor! Now that they felt their power I see a new awakening coming our way, not only in Alabama but throughout the south! Surprisingly 35% of the white folks stood with them against Moore. However all these following companies sent in money to put Moore in the Senate, fully knowing the kind of scum Moore certainly is. Here is the list of those companies and the amounts they gave. Top of this list is Comcast, why am I not surprised?

Comcast Corporation & NBC Universal with at least $100,000.
AT&T Inc with at least $60,000.
Leo A Daly Company with at least $30,000.
AmerisourceBergen Corporation with at least $15,000.
Lockheed Martin Corporation with at least $15,000.
Honeywell International with at least $15,000.
PricewaterhouseCoopers with at least $15,000.
AFLAC with at least $15,000.
Pfizer Inc. with at least $15,000.
Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company with at least $15,000.
Textron Inc. with at least $15,000.
Exelon Corporation with at least $15,000.
The Boeing Company with at least $15,000.
Microsoft Corporation with at least $15,000.
BNSF Railway Company with at least $15,000.

Perhaps you might like to query these companies and ask them why they would support a religious bigot, a racist, and a serial molester of children and women for the US Senate? I know, I will!

Keepin' On

Issues & Alibis needs your help so that we can keep on, keeping on. It takes a lot of effort to stay abreast of the latest, greatest plans for your demise. To get to the truth in a mountain of BS! We've cut our costs to the bone and no one is paid anything for their help. In 17 years, I've never made a dime at this but we do have expenses to pay every year to keep fighting the good fight! In order to continue we need your support!

The good folks who have been supporting us for so many years are, like a growing number of Americans, out of work and can no longer afford to help us. Someone has to step up and take their places. We thank them for their help and hope they come through this in one piece! We've done everything in our power to see that they do. All of those years of weekly "how to" project articles are still in the archives, from how to live off the grid to creating electricity and clean water on the cheap! What to do if it hits the fan!

And thank you for those of you who are stepping up for the first time. Welcome to the good fight, brothers and sisters!

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If enough of you care we'll continue our fight to get our Republic back and protect you from Trumps coming madness! We're running on empty, running out of time!

Ernest Stewart
Issues & Alibis magazine


08-14-1962 ~ 12-07-2017
Thanks for the film!

12-01-1937 ~ 12-10-2017
Thanks for the film!

03-07-1961 ~ 12-13-2017
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So how do you like Trump so far?
And more importantly, what are you planning on doing about it?

Until the next time, Peace!
(c) 2017 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Facebook. and like us when you do. Follow me on Twitter.

President Trump with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, in February.

Latest Student Loan Debacle Is Ultimate Example Of Trump's Campaign Con
The president ran against debt predators, drug makers and big banks - once elected, he immediately got in bed with all of them
By Matt Taibbi

Last October, just about a week after the release of the infamous Access Hollywood "pussy" tape, Donald Trump gave a surprising speech in Columbus, Ohio. While the entire Republican Party was running sideways away from his cratering campaign, Trump was scrambling to find a way back in the race. One of his strategies - and I remember watching this on the trail - was to tack back to the populist themes he'd used to great effect in the Republican primaries.

In Columbus, with Hillary Clinton running away with the election, Trump unveiled what even The Washington Post described as a "pretty radical student debt plan." The basic idea was income-based repayment capped at 12.5 percent, then total loan forgiveness after 15 years of payments.

"Students should not be asked to pay more on the debt than they can afford," Trump said. "And the debt should not be an albatross around their necks for the rest of their lives."

Trump hasn't gone back on that proposal, not exactly, anyway. The 12.5 percent-times-15-years concept was indeed part of a plan he submitted this past summer, at least for undergraduates.

But that same plan proposed a wipeout of five other existing income-based repayment plans, and grad students would be pushed into a harsher program requiring payments for 30 years. Moving forward, Trump and the Republican Party have all but buried the campaign-trail "fairly radical" plan under a series of other student-bashing decisions.

On Monday, Fortune reported that Department of Education head Betsy DeVos is seeking to end a program to cancel the debt of students defrauded by ripoff diploma-mill universities.

This came just as the inspector general of the Department of Education issued a blistering report showing that DeVos had already essentially stopped processing such claims under the existing program.

Trump, pictured in October 2016, floated on the campaign trail what was described at the time as a "pretty radical student debt plan."

The IG report shows that the Trump administration has received 25,991 such claims since Inauguration Day, and approved exactly none of them.

None of this is a surprise. After all, Donald Trump himself ran one of the more notorious higher-education scams, settling a lawsuit for $25 million last year. And DeVos has spent much of her tenure walking back Obama-era initiatives to rein in diploma-mill scams. The latest DeVos move comes in sync with a nasty piece of legislation introduced by House Republicans this month. Billed as a measure to "simplify" the student loan system, HR 4508, a.k.a. the PROSPER Act, would repeal and prevent the re-adoption of the "Borrower Defense" program that DeVos has already stalled.

"The student loan 'swamp' wrote HR 4508," says Alan Collinge of StudentLoanJustice.Org. "Killing the Borrower Defense Rules was high on their wish list. This bill is their Christmas tree."

The PROSPER Act also contains one of the all-time revolting instances of a fine-print legislative atrocity. Way down on page 250, in section 452 of the bill, you'll find this line:

"(C) In no event may the borrower recover amounts previously collected by the Secretary later than 3 years after the misconduct or breach of contract on behalf of the institution takes place that gives rise to the borrower to assert a defense to repayment of the loan."

In other words, under the Republican plan, there's no relief if the application comes three years after the "misconduct" - which is usually a promise of future employment or exposure to dummied-up job stats that you receive in the form of a slimy pitch in the admissions process.

But many students will spend two years (or more) in school before they realize they've been had. So a three-year statute of limitations is essentially a license to steal.

Another monstrosity buried in the bill is in section 422. Titled "LOAN REHABILITATION," the line simply says that loans may now be rehabilitated "two times" instead of once.

Rehabilitation is a practice complained about by many of the former students I spoke with for a recent Rolling Stone piece on the subject. For a lot of borrowers, going into "rehabilitation" is the beginning of a long nightmare. I interviewed one who nearly committed suicide after entering "rehabilitation."

As Collinge explains, rehabilitation "is where a defaulted loan is recycled into a new, much larger loan, and the agents making this happen get a whopping commission of up to 16 percent."

Rehabilitation is usually the first step of borrowers falling into a cycle where they're eventually only paying interest and never touching the principal. The new Republican bill will allow borrowers to double down on such dilemmas.

The PROSPER Act would also exacerbate another major problem with the federal student lending system, by raising caps on borrowing.

Protesters gather outside the Department of Education as Betsy DeVos prepares to deliver remarks to staff on her first day as education secretary.

Students who are dependent on their parents could increase their borrowing by $8,000 under the new plan. "Independent" students would be allowed to borrow $3,000 more, while graduate and medical school students would be allowed to borrow between $10,000-$12,000 more.

This sounds like it's a good thing - increased aid to students. But rising amounts of available credit would more or less instantly inflate tuition costs, making the gains for students questionable.

The combination of making college a near-mandatory prerequisite for all but the most menial work, combined with with a) continually rising levels of student credit and b) the impossibility of discharging the debt, has led to an explosion of tuition costs over the years. Tuition has been outpacing inflation by nearly double the rate for some time.

Under the current system, each successive generation of students enters the already strained workforce saddled with more and more debt, and facing more competition.

The winners are the colleges and universities, who get to charge outlandish prices without having to be accountable to normal market forces.

This leads to a sort of Picture of Dorian Gray situation with unpaid student debt. Because the growing mountain of delinquent payments is obscured in the government guarantee, the catastrophe is hidden away in a kind of macroeconomic attic, mostly undetected by the general population.

Even Goldman Sachs described the $1.3 trillion in outstanding student loan debt as a "bubble" in a research paper earlier this month. But, as the bank cheerily reminded readers, this particular bubble doesn't pose a systemic threat, because most of the debt is fully guaranteed by the U.S. government.

The bank noted that an astonishing 10 percent of all student borrowers are currently at least 90 days behind on their debt, compared to just 1.2 percent of mortgage holders. It's the highest delinquency rate among any form of consumer credit.

Hilariously, while Goldman was coolly describing this growing catastrophe, and saying it saw little reason to invest in most forms of student lending, it still recommended that refis of "super-prime" private graduate loans might be "worth a look."

Always a silver lining to every disaster!

In any case, all of this represents the ultimate perfect storm of bad incentives. Schools get to keep raising tuition, kids are still basically forced to go to college, and the trillion-dollar lump of pain waiting to be released onto the world sits mainly on the shoulders of the taxpayer, and/or ex-students struggling in a tighter workplace.

There is a bill that would fix all of this, HR 2366, the Discharge Student Loans In Bankruptcy Act. Introduced by Maryland Democrat John Delaney and New York Republican John Katko, it would repeal the single line of federal code that makes it impossible to discharge student loans in bankruptcy, like any other form of debt.

Maybe this will get passed someday. But somehow, that feels too obvious - "No, that's just what they'll be expecting us to do!" as Congress might put it.

As a candidate, Donald Trump repeatedly took advantage of genuine frustrations among voters, over everything from high drug prices to exported jobs to predatory Goldman bankers to non-dischargeable student debt.

It's lost among the popular accounts of what happened in 2016, but he mined this territory quite a lot on the trail. This was particularly true in the heat of the primary race, and during his most desperate moments in his scandal-plagued October.

Then he got elected and surrounded himself with so many Goldman bankers that even that even Lloyd Blankfein was embarrassed, nominated an Eli Lilly executive to run the Health and Human Services department, and put for-profit education creeps in charge of the DOE, who are now working with congressional Republicans to ram through this nonsense.

All politicians tack populist pre-election, then cover their promises with bureaucratic sand once elected. Trump just does it more blatantly and offensively than the rest. The man is tacky even when it comes to political cliches.
(c) 2017 Matt Taibbi is Rolling Stone's chief political reporter, Matt Taibbi's predecessors include the likes of journalistic giants Hunter S. Thompson and P.J. O'Rourke. Taibbi's 2004 campaign journal Spanking the Donkey cemented his status as an incisive, irreverent, zero-bullshit reporter. His books include Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History, The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics, and Religion, Smells Like Dead Elephants: Dispatches from a Rotting Empire.

From Barak To Trump
By Uri Avnery

EHUD BARAK has "broken the silence." He has published an article in The New York Times attacking our prime minister in the most abrasive terms. In other words, he has done exactly the same as the group of ex-soldiers who call themselves "Breaking the Silence", who are accused of washing our dirty linen abroad. They expose war crimes to which they have been witnesses, or even participants.

But apart from the attack on Binyamin Netanyahu, Barak has used the article to publish his Peace Plan. A former chief-of-staff of the Israeli army and a former prime minister, Barak is obviously planning a comeback, and his peace plan is part of the effort. There seems to be, anyhow, open season for Peace Plans in our region.

I respect the intelligence of Barak. Many years ago, when he was still the deputy chief-of-staff, he unexpectedly invited me for a talk. We discussed the military history of the 17th century (military history is an old hobby of mine) and I soon realized that he was a real expert. I enjoyed it very much.

On a spring evening In May 1999, I was part of a huge jubilant crowd in Tel-Aviv's Rabin Square after Barak had won the Knesset elections and become prime minister. He promised us "the dawn of a new day." In particular, he promised to make peace with the Palestinians.

Intellectually, Barak is superior to all other politicians on the Israeli scene. Soon enough it appeared that this may be a handicap.

Intelligent people tend to be arrogant. They despise people of lesser mental powers. Knowing that he had all the answers, Barak demanded that President Clinton call a meeting with Yasser Arafat.

On the morrow I spoke with Arafat and found him deeply worried. Nothing has been prepared, no prior exchange of views, nothing. He did not want to go to the meeting which he thought was bound to fail, but could not refuse an invitation from the president of the US.

The result was catastrophe. Barak, sure of himself as usual, presented his peace plan. It was more accommodating than any prior Israeli plan, but still fell far short of the Palestinians' minimum. The meeting broke up.

What does a diplomat do in such circumstances? He announces that "we had a fruitful exchange of views. We have not yet reached total agreement, but the negotiations will go on, and there will be more meetings, until we reach agreement."

Barak did not say that. Neither did he say: "Sorry, I am totally ignorant of the Palestinian point of view, and I shall now study it seriously."

Instead, Barak came home and announced that Israel had proposed the most generous terms ever, that the Palestinians had rejected everything, that the Palestinians want to throw us into the sea, that we have "no partner for peace".

If this had been declared by a right-wing politician, everybody would have shrugged. But coming from the leader of the Peace Camp, it was devastating. Its effects can be felt to this very day.

SO HERE comes Barak, the new Barak, with a brand-new Peace Plan. What does he say? The aim, he writes, is "separation" from the Palestinians. Not peace, not cooperation, just separation. Get rid of them. "Peace" is not popular just now.

How separation? Israel will annex the new Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem and the "settlement blocs" - the clusters of Jewish settlements beyond the Green Line but close to it. He agrees to "land swaps". And then comes the killer: "overall security responsibility in the West Bank will remain in the hands of the Israel Defense Forces as long as necessary."

And the sad conclusion: "Even if it is not possible to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at this stage - and it probably is not..."

If there is one Palestinian who would accept these terms, I shall be surprised. But Barak, then and now, does not care for the views and feelings of the Palestinians. Just like Netanyahu, who at least has the decency not to propose a "Peace Plan". Unlike Trump.

DONALD TRUMP is not a genius like Barak, but he also has a Peace Plan.

A group of right-wing Jews, including his son-in-law (also no genius, he) have been working on this for months. He has proposed it to Mahmoud Abbas, Arafat's successor, to the new Saudi Crown Prince and other Arab princes. It seems to provide for a Palestinian State composed of several small isolated enclaves on the West Bank, without Jerusalem and without an army.

This is sheer lunacy. Not one single Palestinian and not one single other Arab would accept this. Worse, anyone proposing such a caricature of a state betrays utter ignorance.

That's where the real problem lies: it is much worse than just not knowing. It demonstrates abysmal contempt for the Palestinians and for Arabs in general, a basic belief that their feelings, if any, don't matter at all. This is a remnant of colonial times.

Palestinians, and Arabs at large, do have deep feelings and convictions. They are a proud people. They still remember the times when Muslims were incomparably more advanced than the barbarian Europeans. To be treated like dirt by the US president and his Jewish entourage hurts them deeply, and may lead to a disturbance in our region that no Arab prince, hired by the USA, will be able to control.

THIS ESPECIALLY concerns Jerusalem. For Muslims, this is not just a town. It is their third holiest place, the spot from where the Prophet - peace be upon him - ascended to heaven. For a Muslim to give up Jerusalem is inconceivable.

The latest decisions of Trump concerning Jerusalem are - to put it mildly - idiotic. Arabs are furious, Israelis don't really care, America's Arab stooges, princes and all, are deeply worried. If disturbances erupt, they may well be swept away.

And what for? For one evening's headline?

There is no subject in our region, and perhaps in the world - that is more delicate. Jerusalem is holy to three world religions, and one cannot argue with holiness.

In the past I have devoted much thought to this subject. I love Jerusalem (contrary to the founder of Zionism, Theodor Herzl, who was disgusted by it and left it in a hurry after one single night). The early Zionists disliked the city as a symbol of all that is wrong and foul in Judaism.

Some twenty years ago I composed a manifesto, together with my late friend, Feisal al-Husseini, the leader of Jerusalem's Arabs and the scion of its most noble family. Hundreds of Israelis and Palestinians signed it.

Its title was "Our Jerusalem". It started with the words: "Jerusalem is ours, Israelis and Palestinians, Muslims, Christians and Jews." It went on: "Our Jerusalem Is a mosaic of all the cultures, all the religions and all the periods that enriched the city, from earliest antiquity to this very day - Canaanites and Jebusites and Israelites, Jews and Hellenes, Romans and Byzantines, Christians and Muslims, Arabs and Mamelukes, Othmanlis and Britons, Palestinians and Israelis.

"Our Jerusalem must be united, open to all, and belonging to all its inhabitants, without borders and barbed wire in its midst."

And the practical conclusion: "Our Jerusalem must be the capital of the two states that will live side by side in this country - West Jerusalem the capital of the State of Israel and East Jerusalem the capital of the State of Palestine."

I wish I could nail this Manifesto to the doors of the White House.
(c) 2017 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

"Russsiagate" And The Collapse Of Obama's War Against Syria
By Glen Ford

"Russia-gate" is the scream of a wounded U.S. empire - a military colossus that can destroy the planet many times over but was defeated in its war of regime change in Syria, despite killing half a million people and displacing a third of its population. Barack Obama was packaged as a "peace" candidate, but his real objective was to reverse the humiliation of his predecessor's forced withdrawal from Iraq and thus maintain the image and substance of U.S. "primacy" in the world. U.S. public opinion, however, would not tolerate another massive mobilization of American ground forces in the region. Instead, Obama and his secretary of state and would-be successor, Hillary Clinton, partnered with the monarchies of the Persian Gulf, the most backward regimes on the planet, to transform the various flavors of al Qaida into a pro-western foreign legion: foot solders of imperialism.

The nature of the obscene alliance -- although impossible to fully conceal, and rooted in U.S. policy since Jimmy Carter's presidency -- could not be spoken. Americans are conditioned to hate and fear all things Arab and Muslim (and, indeed, all people's not sufficiently "white"). How could a U.S. administration align itself with the same forces that were blamed for 9/11? The same people that the CIA claimed had been harbored by Saddam Hussein? The same madmen that, we are told, want to kill Americans because they hate "our freedoms"? That's way too much boggling for most American minds.

The very insanity of the idea helped to cloak the truth. The corporate media eagerly provided a full-blown counter-reality to suit imperial purposes. When the U.S. and its NATO and royal Arab allies became the air force for regime change in Libya, in 2011, the western press extolled the democratic virtues of the "rebels" on the ground -- even as these heavily jihadist militias lynched and massacred Black Libyans and immigrant African workers by the thousands. (See BAR, "Slavery in Libya a Surprise?"). Lynching was the imperially-sanctioned order of the day, as Hillary Clinton confirmed on news of Muammar Gaddafi's mutilation and murder. "We came, we saw, he died," she said.

Many tens of thousands more Africans would die as captured Libyan arms found their way to jihadists throughout the northern tier of the continent, destabilizing much of the region and providing many future "missions" for the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), established just three years earlier.

Libyan jihadists were already showing up in Syria shortly after the U.S.-NATO bombing campaign ended, in October of 2011, joining other "freedom fighters" from around the world. The eastern part of Aleppo, Syria's largest city, fell to Islamist forces in 2012.

The U.S. and its European, Turkish and royal Arab allies poured so much money and arms into the Syrian cauldron that a faction of al Qaida was empowered to declare a caliphate in the territory it captured from the Syrian army -- just as was predicted in 2012 by analysts of the Defense Intelligence Agency. The DIA memo, revealed three years later, said the emergence of a caliphate -- the Islamic State -- seemed to be "exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime."

The U.S. imperial war machine was on the roll again in the Mideast, with the two al Qaida factions -- al Nusra and the Islamic State -- by far the most effective fighters. This is Barack Obama's grotesque legacy.

Three years later, it was Vladimir Putin who forced the U.S. to deploy its massive bombing power against the "rogue" Islamic State faction of al Qaida when the Russian leader denounced Washington's double-game before the 2015 annual meeting of the United Nations general assembly. "No one but [Syrian] President Assad's forces and Kurdish militia are truly fighting the Islamic state and other terrorist organizations inside Syria," said Putin. The Islamic State's profitable sale of captured Syrian oil to Turkey was conducted in broad daylight, immune to U.S. airpower. ISIS oil tankers traveled freely under open skies. "The motorcade of refueling vehicles stretched for dozens of kilometers, so that from a height of 4,000 to 5,000 meters they stretch beyond the horizon" [to Turkey], said the Russian president, who called for creation of "a genuinely broad international coalition" to bring to defeat the jihadist terrorists and bring peace to Syria.

Putin had exposed the U.S. alliance with al Qaida on the world stage, and intervened with his own air force at the request of the legitimate and recognized Syrian government, in full accordance with international law.

A little over a year later, in late 2016, when Aleppo was liberated from the jihadists, the western corporate media cried and fumed over the terrorists' withdrawal from the city, as if the United States and its allies had been routed - which was, in fact, the case. Washington's alliance with jihadists -- the Obama-Clinton scheme to reverse George Bush's humiliation in Iraq and empower the U.S. to shut the Russians (and Chinese) out of the Middle East - was in ruins.

U.S. imperialism was, indeed, in acute crisis -- worse than when Bush was forced out of Iraq. The eclipse of United States "primacy" in the world was now painfully palpable. Further complicating this historic debacle, the Republican president-elect was an unpredictable outsider who had rhetorically questioned the bipartisan ruling class consensus on regime change, economic warfare ("free trade" treaties, crippling sanctions) and relentless hostility toward Russia. He would have to be contained, co-opted, or neutralized. Fortunately for the War Party -now decisively Democratic -- Trump is eminently demonizable, and truly deserving of almost any insult.

"Russia-gate" was invented, almost out of whole cloth, in near panic and without benefit of evidence, to create the political climate to sustain the military offensive begun by Obama back in 2011. Having lost their jihadist war option in Syria and Iraq -- and with less "soft" power by the day -- U.S. imperialism feels it must now more aggressively deploy its strategic/nuclear throw-weight and its powers of economic strangulation, or lose the ability to dictate global affairs. The U.S. public must be made to see the threat to U.S. global supremacy as existential -- as do the imperialists. Thus, the Russians have invaded "our democracy"; their interventions in U.S. internal affairs amount to a "Pearl Harbor"; or, as Morgan Freeman, the God-poser, intones, "We have been attacked. We are at war."

It follows that anybody that says differently should be silenced or locked up.

"Russia-gate," the howling disinformation machine, is a lie born of many lies -- most immediately, the criminal U.S. partnership with al Qaida in Libya and Syria, perhaps the biggest lie and mass media cover-up of the 21st century: the Mother of all Fake News.
(c) 2017 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

This Era Of Moral Rot
By Dan Rather

When the time comes, and I hope it comes soon, to bury this era of moral rot and the defiling of our communal, social, and democratic norms, the perfect epitaph for the gravestone of this age of unreason should be Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley's already infamous quote:

"I think not having the estate tax recognizes the people that are investing... as opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it's on booze or women or movies."

Grassley's vision of America, quite frankly, is one I do not recognize. I thought the heart of this great nation was not limited to the ranks of the plutocrats who are whisked through life in chauffeured cars and private jets, whose often inherited riches are passed along to children, many of whom no sacrifice or service is asked. I do not begrudge wealth, but it must come with a humility that money never is completely free of luck. And more importantly, wealth can never be a measure of worth.

I have seen the waitress working the overnight shift at a diner to give her children a better life, and yes maybe even take them to a movie once in awhile - and in her, I see America.

I have seen the public school teachers spending extra time with students who need help and who get no extra pay for their efforts, and in them I see America.

I have seen parents sitting around kitchen tables with stacks of pressing bills and wondering if they can afford a Christmas gift for their children, and in them I see America.

I have seen the young diplomat in a distant foreign capital and the young soldier in a battlefield foxhole, and in them I see America.

I have seen the brilliant graduates of the best law schools who forgo the riches of a corporate firm for the often thankless slog of a district attorney or public defender's office, and in them I see America.

I have seen the librarian reshelving books, the firefighter, police officer, and paramedic in service in trying times, the social worker helping the elderly and infirm, the youth sports coaches, the PTA presidents, and in them I see America.

I have seen the immigrants working a cash register at a gas station or trimming hedges in the frost of an early fall morning, or driving a cab through rush hour traffic to make better lives for their families, and in them I see America.

I have seen the science students unlocking the mysteries of life late at night in university laboratories for little or no pay, and in them I see America.

I have seen the families struggling with a cancer diagnosis, or dementia in a parent or spouse. Amid the struggles of mortality and dignity, in them I see America.

These, and so many other Americans, have every bit as much claim to a government working for them as the lobbyists and moneyed classes. And yet, the power brokers in Washington today seem deaf to these voices. It is a national disgrace of historic proportions.

And finally, what is so wrong about those who must worry about the cost of a drink with friends, or a date, or a little entertainment, to rephrase Senator Grassley's demeaning phrasings? Those who can't afford not to worry about food, shelter, healthcare, education for their children, and all the other costs of modern life, surely they too deserve to be able to spend some of their "darn pennies" on the simple joys of life.

Never mind that almost every reputable economist has called this tax bill a sham of handouts for the rich at the expense of the vast majority of Americans and the future economic health of this nation. Never mind that it is filled with loopholes written by lobbyists. Never mind that the wealthiest already speak with the loudest voices in Washington, and always have. Grassley's comments open a window to the soul of the current national Republican Party and it it is not pretty. This is not a view of America that I think President Ronald Reagan let alone President Dwight Eisenhower or Teddy Roosevelt would have recognized. This is unadulterated cynicism and a version of top-down class warfare run amok.
(c) 2017 Dan Rather is an American journalist and the former news anchor for the CBS Evening News. He was most recently managing editor and anchor of the television news magazine Dan Rather Reports on the cable channel AXS TV.

The Virtues Of The Egalitarian Internet
By Jim Hightower

Free and open access to the internet is a virtuous democratic principle known as "net neutrality," meaning the system doesn't care if you're a brand-name corporation or an unknown start-up, a billionaire or a poverty-wage laborer - you are entitled to equal treatment in sending or getting information on the worldwide web. However, corporate executives never let virtue stand in the way of profit.

We're told that access to this information highway is crucial to your and my educational achievement, future prosperity, and ability to be self-governing - as well as being vital to our nation's well-being. Yet, access onto the digital highway is not a public service, but instead is controlled and sold to us by a few for-profit corporations - so few of them that selling internet service has become a non-competitive market, letting service providers extract excess profits from customers. And now they've convinced Donald Trump & Company to dump the idea of net neutrality, viewing its public benefit as an unwarranted obstacle to their desire to grab greater profits. Here's their scheme:

Rather than having one big broadband "freeway" open for transporting everyone's content, the internet service monopolists intend to create a special system of high-speed lanes for the richest producers of content.

This express lane will be made available to those who want to rush their information/viewpoints/programs/etc. to the public, leaving everyone else's content jammed up in the slow lanes.

The internet providers will charge a premium price to those who can afford to have their content channeled into the high-speed toll lanes.
This is Jim Hightower saying... A broad coalition of enraged and net-savvy groups has arisen to defend the internet's democratic essence. You can join them by visiting
(c) 2017 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition. Jim writes The Hightower Lowdown, a monthly newsletter chronicling the ongoing fights by America's ordinary people against rule by plutocratic elites. Sign up at

Democratic candidate for the Senate Doug Jones and his wife, Louise, on stage during an election-night party in Birmingham.

On A Wave Of Votes From Selma, And The Civil-Rights Heartlands Of Alabama, Doug Jones Sweeps To Victory
An overwhelming surge in votes from African-American counties tipped the balance against Roy Moore.
By John Nichols

The moment when the spell was broken came just a little after 10 pm Eastern Standard Time.

Through much of Tuesday night, Republican Roy Moore had led the count in the special election for the Alabama Senate seat that Jeff Sessions vacated to become Donald Trump's attorney general. It was close. Democrat Doug Jones was still in the running. But Democrats were afraid to believe that a honorable man could defeat the scandal-plagued candidate of a scandal-plagued president.

This was Alabama, after all, a state that had disappointed Democrats in every presidential election since 1980, and in every Senate contest since 1996.

Could Alabama do the right thing?

Could the state that gave Donald Trump 62 percent of the vote in 2016 reject Trump's candidate for a critical seat in a closely divided Senate?

Could the state that gave Hillary Clinton just 34 percent of the vote in 2016 defeat a sexist Republican who stood accused of molesting teenage girls?

Could the state of George Wallace and "segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever" elect a candidate who made his name prosecuting the Ku Klux Klan thugs who killed four little girls with the bombing of Birmingham's 16th Street Baptist Church in 1963?

The answer came from Selma, the Alabama city that was central to the long march for civil rights and voting rights in the American South.

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke in 1965 of a civil-rights movement that was on "a mighty walk from Selma, Alabama." It was fitting to recall those words on Tuesday night.

When the votes from Selma and surrounding Dallas County came in just a little after 10 pm, Moore's lead began to evaporate. On CNN, John King announced, "Selma just put Doug Jones back into the race."

A county where African Americans make up 70 percent of the population gave 75 percent of the vote to Doug Jones. That brought the Democrat 7,000 votes closer to victory. And as more votes from more predominately African-American counties came in, Jones moved into the lead. Within a half hour, the networks were announcing that a Democrat had won an Alabama Senate contest for the first time in almost a quarter-century.

African Americans formed 28 percent of the Alabama electorate on Tuesday. Doug Jones won 96 percent of their votes statewide, as compared with 31 percent of the white vote, according to exit polls.

That did not just happen. Jones and his supporters worked hard to mobilize and turn out the African-American vote. The congresswoman who represents Selma, Terri Sewell, argued on the eve of the vote that "[This] election is about the soul of this nation and the soul of Alabama. And, we who have been proud Alabamans know that we have been trying [to] overcome our painful past. And this candidate, Roy Moore, will only take us backwards and harken us back to the days of segregation and Doug Jones will take us forward."

Jones needed all the votes that he got Tuesday. He won by a narrow margin-prevailing by a bit more than 20,000 votes out of roughly 1.3 million cast. But he could not have gotten near the finish line without the overwhelming support that he received from Alabama's African-American voters in general, and from African-American women voters in particular.

"We have come so far," Doug Jones said in his victory speech.

Everyone knew what he meant.

Just as everyone knew what it meant when Selma put Doug Jones into the race.
(c) 2017 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. His book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, is published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

Arctic Release Of Methane Now At Deadly Levels
By James Donahue

During the years when scientists were warning us about the "greenhouse effect" of carbon dioxide from the mass burning of carbon based fuels, it was also theorized that if the heating Earth caused the Arctic ice to melt there would also be a huge release of methane gas entrapped in the ice that would intensify the problem.

While the media has rarely been reporting it, the worst scenario imaginable is now happening as the Arctic ice is, indeed, disappearing at an alarming rate. The methane which has been trapped in that ice and deep below the ocean for millions of years was found to be releasing at "a staggering rate" in 2013 according to Arctic News. This has world scientists and researchers alarmed, but to date, except for a short video titled "Last Hours," the danger has not been making headlines.

Why are scientists and the media staying silent about this looming catastrophe? Writer Dorsi Lynn Diaz, in a report in the on-line publication Examiner said: "At this point, and the critical state we are in, I think they know we are in such a major crisis that they really can't make this headline news. They are dancing around the subject trying to figure out what to do and how to proceed with a situation that is blowing all their projections out of the water."

Diaz also wrote that this is "something that is so huge, so frightening and so mind boggling that if people were to wrap their minds around this there would be a mass uprising and mass panic. So we are left in the dark about the potential extinction of our species because certain special interest groups want to continue to profit from the use of fossil fuels and certain governing agencies do not want to create mass panic."

Dennis Hayes, founder of Earth Day Network said: "As Last Hours makes clear, humankind must choose to rein in its carbon emissions now, or Nature will rein them in for us.",p. In an apparent effort to curtail any public alarm, some news reports by alleged "reliable researchers" are suggesting that the danger has been exaggerated and that all of this methane is not really escaping into the atmosphere. If this is true, where else is it going?

Why is the release of so much methane considered dangerous? A report in Arctic Times notes that methane has an immediate global warming potential of 120 times that of carbon dioxide. Thus 20 picograms of methane would have an initial greenhouse effect equaling over 2,400 picograms of carbon dioxide.

Once methane gas gets into the atmosphere, it slowly begins to break down into carbon dioxide but the report says that a large release, like that occurring in portions of the Arctic region, "could cause hydroxyl depletion in the atmosphere, extending the lifetime of methane to decades."

A pictogram, which measures this gas at the rate of a portion of one-trillionth of a gram, seems to be such a small amount that it should not concern us. But there already exists a certain level of methane gas in the world's atmosphere, and much more is being steadily released from the Earth each day. Environmental researchers at Columbia University estimate that a release 1,250 parts per billion per day is a "livable level." But the USGS readings show that the release now occurring in the Arctic is now above 1,950 parts per billion daily.

So how will all of this additional methane affect our world and our lives? A report in Above Top Secret noted: "The seas, lakes and oceans are now pluming deadly hydrogen sulfide and suffocating methane. Hydrogen sulfide is a highly toxic water-soluble heavier-than-air gas and will accumulate in low-lying areas. Methane is slightly more buoyant than normal air so it will tend to contaminate our atmosphere from the top down.

"These gases are sickening and killing oxygen-using life all around the world, including human life, as our atmosphere is increasingly poisoned. Because both gases are highly flammable and because our entire civilization is built around fire and flammable fuels, this is leading to more fires and explosions."

The writer suggested in a series of articles that the increased mixture of methane in the air may be the cause of the unexplained "booms," large balls of lights and explosions occurring in the sky at various places around the world, sinkholes, increased volcanism, increased heat waves and increasingly intense storms. Could the latest rash of violent forest fires be linked as well?
(c) 2017 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.

Tom Perez (right) was elected Democratic National Committee Chairman during party
elections earlier this year, along with Rep. Keith Ellison, who was named deputy chairman.

Battle For Democratic Party: After The Unity Reform Commission
DNC Chairman Perez and allied power brokers keep showing that they're afraid of the party's progressive base. No amount of appealing rhetoric changes that reality.
By Norman Solomon

DNC Chairman Perez and allied power brokers keep showing that they're afraid of the With the Democratic Party's "Unity Reform Commission" now history, major political forces are entering a new stage of contention over the future of the party. Seven months after the commission's first meeting- and nine months after Hillary Clinton backer Tom Perez won a close election over Bernie Sanders supporter Keith Ellison to become chair of the Democratic National Committee-the battle lines are coming into focus for next year.

The commission's final meeting adjourned on Saturday after a few steps toward democratizing the party had won approval-due to the grassroots strength of progressives. But the recommendations from the commission will go to the Rules and Bylaws Committee, which was one of the DNC decision-making bodies that Perez subjected to a purge two months ago. Now, in the words of Jim Zogby (who was removed from the Executive Committee by Perez), "There are virtually no Bernie supporters on the Rules and Bylaws Committee."

When the latest Unity Reform Commission meeting got underway, Perez talked a lot about unity. But kicking Sanders supporters off of key DNC committees is the ugly underside of an ongoing dual discourse. (Are we supposed to believe Perez's soothing words or our own eyes?) And party unity behind a failed approach-internally undemocratic and politically hitched to corporate wagons-would hardly be auspicious.

"Emerging sectors of the electorate are compelling the Democratic Party to come to terms with adamant grassroots rejection of economic injustice, institutionalized racism, gender inequality, environmental destruction and corporate domination," says the recent report "Autopsy: The Democratic Party in Crisis" (which I co-authored). The report adds: "Siding with the people who constitute the base isn't truly possible when party leaders seem to be afraid of them."

DNC Chairman Perez and allied power brokers keep showing that they're afraid of the party's progressive base. No amount of appealing rhetoric changes that reality.

"We pride ourselves on being inclusive and welcoming to all," the Democratic National Committee proclaimed anew at the start of this month, touting the commission meeting as "open to the public." Yet the DNC delayed and obscured information about the meeting, never replying to those who filled out an online RSVP form-thus leaving them in the dark about the times of the meeting. In short, the DNC went out of its way to suppress public turnout rather than facilitate it.

One member of the task force that wrote the Autopsy, Karen Bernal, is the chair of the Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party. After traveling across the country and sitting in the sparse audience during the first day of the Unity Reform Commission meeting, she took the liberty of speaking up as the second day got underway. Bernal provided a firm rebuke of the DNC's efforts to suppress public attendance.

"For all of the talk about wanting to improve and reform and make this party more transparent, the exact opposite has happened," Bernal told the commission. (Her intervention, which lasted a little more than two minutes, aired in full on C-SPAN.)

On Sunday, a mass email from Zogby via Our Revolution summed up: "We are fighting for racial, social, economic, and environmental justice. The Democratic Party needs everyone, regardless of their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, ability, country of origin, language, or socioeconomic status, to be deeply involved in order to change the course of this country."

For those reasons, he added, "we are calling for an end to superdelegates, open primaries and caucuses, same-day registration, and more transparent, fair, and accountable leadership at the helm of the DNC."

Overall, the commission approved some recommendations that were partial victories for progressives. Among the most notable: It called for reducing the number of notoriously undemocratic superdelegates to the national convention from 712 to about 300, while the only democratic number would be zero. It somewhat improved transparency for often-dubious DNC contracts with high-paid consultants and vendors, while defeating sensible amendments by commission member Nomiki Konst -- who spoke with notable clarity about the need to clamp down on financial conflicts of interest among DNC decision-makers.

The eight Sanders appointees-Konst, Zogby, Larry Cohen, Lucy Flores, Jane Kleeb, Gus Newport, Nina Turner and Jeff Weaver-put up a good fight as members of the Unity Reform Commission. They were outnumbered, and on key issues were often outvoted, by the 13 who'd been selected by Clinton or Perez. Next year, the odds to overcome will be much worse.

With the purged Rules and Bylaws Committee now overwhelmingly stacked against progressives, only massive pressure from the grassroots will be able to sustain momentum toward a democratic Democratic Party. Meanwhile, corporate forces will do all they can to prevent the Democratic Party from living up to its first name.
(c) 2017 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."

Unfit To Clean Toilets In Obama's Presidential Library
By Heather Digby Parton

Let's give a round of applause for #themtoo for the satisfying win last night in Alabama. I'm talking about the women who came forward to let people know about the true character of Judge Roy Moore. I'm sure it wasn't easy. They didn't seem as if they were having any fun. But it was brave and it was necessary.

Look at the latest hysterical screed from Daily Kos on this issue.

Oh wait, it's USA Today's editorial board. USA Today: A president who'd all but call a senator a whore is unfit to clean toilets in Obama's presidential library or to shine George W. Bush's shoes: Our view.

With his latest tweet, clearly implying that a United States senator would trade sexual favors for campaign cash, President Trump has shown he is not fit for office. Rock bottom is no impediment for a president who can always find room for a new low.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Tuesday dismissed the president's smear as a misunderstanding because he used similar language about men. Of course, words used about men and women are different. When candidate Trump said a journalist was bleeding from her "wherever," he didn't mean her nose.

And as is the case with all of Trump's digital provocations, the president's words were deliberate. He pours the gasoline of sexist language and lights the match gleefully knowing how it will burst into flame in a country reeling from the #MeToo moment.

A president who would all but call Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand a whore is not fit to clean the toilets in the Barack Obama Presidential Library or to shine the shoes of George W. Bush.

This isn't about the policy differences we have with all presidents or our disappointment in some of their decisions. Obama and Bush both failed in many ways. They broke promises and told untruths, but the basic decency of each man was never in doubt.

Donald Trump, the man, on the other hand, is uniquely awful. His sickening behavior is corrosive to the enterprise of a shared governance based on common values and the consent of the governed.

It should surprise no one how low he went with Gillibrand. When accused during the campaign of sexually harassing or molesting women in the past, Trump's response was to belittle the looks of his accusers. Last October, Trump suggested that he never would have groped Jessica Leeds on an airplane decades ago: "Believe me, she would not be my first choice, that I can tell you." Trump mocked another accuser, former People reporter Natasha Stoynoff, "Check out her Facebook, you'll understand." Other celebrities and politicians have denied accusations, but none has stooped as low as suggesting that their accusers weren't attractive enough to be honored with their gropes.

If recent history is any guide, the unique awfulness of the Trump era in U.S. politics is only going to get worse. Trump's utter lack of morality, ethics and simple humanity has been underscored during his 11 months in office. Let us count the ways:

He is enthusiastically supporting Alabama's Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, who has been accused of pursuing - and in one case molesting and in another assaulting - teenagers as young as 14 when Moore was a county prosecutor in his 30s. On Tuesday, Trump summed up his willingness to support a man accused of criminal conduct: "Roy Moore will always vote with us."
Trump apparently is going for some sort of record for lying while in office. As of mid-November, he had made 1,628 misleading or false statements in 298 days in office. That's 5.5 false claims per day, according to a count kept by The Washington Post's fact-checkers.

Trump takes advantage of any occasion - even Monday's failed terrorist attack in New York - to stir racial, religious or ethnic strife. Congress "must end chain migration," he said Monday, because the terror suspect "entered our country through extended-family chain migration, which is incompatible with national security." So because one man - 27-year-old Akayed Ullah, a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. who came from Bangladesh on a family immigrant visa in 2011 - is accused of attacking America, all immigrants brought to this country by family are suspect? Trump might have some credibility if his criticism of immigrants was solely about terrorists. It isn't. It makes no difference to him if an immigrant is a terrorist or a federal judge. He once smeared an Indiana-born judge whose parents emigrated from Mexico. It's all the same to this president.

A man who clearly wants to put his stamp on the government, Trump hasn't even done his job when it comes to filling key government positions that require Senate confirmation. As of last week, Trump had failed to nominate anyone for 60% of 1,200 key positions he can fill to keep the government running smoothly.

Trump has shown contempt for ethical strictures that have bound every president in recent memory. He has refused to release his tax returns, with the absurd excuse that it's because he is under audit. He has refused to put his multibillion dollar business interests in a blind trust and peddles the fiction that putting them in the hands of his sons does the same thing.

Not to mention calling white supremacists"very fine people," pardoning a lawless sheriff, firing a respected FBI director, and pushing the Justice Department to investigate his political foes.

It is a shock that only six Democratic senators are calling for our unstable president to resign.

The nation doesn't seek nor expect perfect presidents, and some have certainly been deeply flawed. But a president who shows such disrespect for the truth, for ethics, for the basic duties of the job and for decency toward others fails at the very essence of what has always made America great.
(c) 2017 Heather Digby Parton, also known as "Digby," is a contributing writer to Salon. She was the winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.

A storm approaches downtown Toronto.

Don't Blame God Or Nature. We're The Culprits
By David Suzuki

Traditionally, we've labelled events over which we have no influence or control "acts of God" or "natural disasters." But what's "natural" about climate-induced disasters today? Scientists call the interval since the Industrial Revolution the "Anthropocene," a period when our species has become the major factor altering the biological, physical and chemical properties of the planet on a geological scale. Empowered by fossil fuel-driven technologies, a rapidly growing human population and an insatiable demand for constant growth in consumption and the global economy, our species is responsible for the calamitous consequences.

We now know that the weight of water behind large dams and injecting pressurized water into the earth for fracking induce earthquakes. Clearing large swathes of forests, draining wetlands, depleting water for industrial agriculture, polluting marine and freshwater ecosystems with nitrogen, plastics and pesticides from farmland and cities, expanding urban areas and employing ecologically destructive fishing practices such as drift nets and trawling all combine to produce species extinction on a scale not seen since the mega-extinction of dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

But we use language to deflect blame from ourselves. Not long ago, wolves, seals and basking sharks were called "pests" or "vermin," regarded as nuisances to be killed for bounties. Insects are the most numerous, diverse and important group of animals in ecosystems, yet all are affected by insecticides applied to eliminate the handful that attack commercial crops. One egregious class of pesticide is neonicotinoids, nerve toxins to which bees - important pollinators - are especially sensitive. Ancient forests are called "wild" or "decadent" while plantations that replace them after clear cutting are termed "normal."

One of the rarest ecosystems on Earth is the temperate rainforest stretching between Alaska and northern California, pinched between the Pacific Ocean and coastal mountains. The huge trees there have been decimated in the U.S. Fewer than 10 per cent remain. Yet environmentalists who called for the entire remnant to be protected from logging were branded as "greedy."

Former B.C. Premier Glen Clark famously labelled environmentalists like me "enemies of B.C." Former federal Finance Minister Joe Oliver called us "foreign-funded radicals" while others said we were "eco-terrorists." The real enemies, radicals and eco-terrorists are those who rush to destroy forests, watersheds or the atmosphere without regard to ecological consequences.

Recently defeated B.C. Premier Christy Clark called opponents of pipelines or LNG plants "forces of no." We who want to protect what we all need to survive would more accurately be called "forces of know" who say "yes" to a future of clean, renewable energy and a rich environment.

We seem to have forgotten that the word economy, like ecology, is based on the Greek oikos, meaning "domain" or "household." Because of our ability to find ways to exploit our surroundings, humans are not confined to a specific habitat or ecosystem. We've found ways to live almost everywhere - in deserts, the Arctic, jungles, wetlands and mountains. Ecologists seek the principles, rules and laws that enable species to flourish sustainably. Economists are charged with "managing" our activity within the biosphere, our domain.

Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper decreed it was impossible to act to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to avoid climate change because it would destroy the economy. To people like him, the economy is more important than the air that provides weather and climate and enables us to live. At the same time, many "fiscal conservatives" rail against an effective market solution to climate change - carbon pricing - ignoring the example of Sweden, which imposed a carbon tax of about $35 a tonne in 1991, grew its economy by 60 per cent by 2012 while reducing emissions by 25 per cent, then raised the tax to more than $160 in 2014.

We know climate change is caused primarily by human use of fossil fuels. It's influencing the frequency and intensity of such events as monstrous wildfires (Kelowna, Fort McMurray), floods (Calgary, Toronto), hurricanes (Katrina, Sandy), drought (California, Alberta), and loss of glaciers and ice sheets. There's no longer anything "natural" about them. We must acknowledge the human imprint. If we're the cause of the problems, then we must stop blaming "nature" or "God." We have to take responsibility and tackle them with the urgency they require.
(c) 2017 Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.

What I Saw Inside Roy Moore's Barn Burner
The message made zero sense. People lapped it up.
By Charles P. Pierce

"One of our attorneys is a Jew." - Kayla Moore, for the defense.

MIDLAND CITY, ALABAMA-Down here, they call this southern part of the state "the Wiregrass," Alabama's slice of an ecological anomaly that also covers parts of the Florida Panhandle and southern Georgia. Up off County Road 59 is a lovely little facility called Jordan's Activity Barn. It is the venue of choice for high-end functions for people from all over Dale County. Its pale brown pine walls have appeared in hundreds of local wedding albums. On Monday night, however, it played host of one of the most incredible displays of weaponized absurdity that it has been my privilege to witness. On the other hand, the fiddle player was quite good.

You try. Seriously, you do. You give the benefit of the doubt to people because, what the hell, they're the same species as you are, and they have the right to their opinions, and they can certainly vote into office whomever the hell they want. But sometimes, there is absolutely no way to keep faith with the truth and with your readers without pointing out that circumstances have led you into a hall of funhouse mirrors.

On Monday night, in Jordan's Activity Barn, they had the last rally on behalf of Judge Roy Moore, the Republican candidate in Tuesday's special election to replace Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III in the United States Senate. The whole event was lousy with pestiferous Bible-banging. Both reality and American history were fed into individual woodchippers. The theme of the night's devotions was that Nobody Comes Into Alabama And Tells Us How To Vote. This theme was emphasized by the night's roster of speakers, which included: a carbuncled vandal from Virginia (Steve Bannon); a failed congressional candidate from Wisconsin (Paul Nehlen); a disgraced sheriff from Wisconsin (David Clarke, Jr.), and a sitting congressman from Texas (Louie Gohmert). They all took turns bashing all the rank outsiders who came into Alabama to campaign for Doug Jones, the Democratic nominee.

Up was down. Down was up. Thomas Paine, of all people, was enlisted in the cause of an out-and-out theocrat, and the person who did so quoted him from the wrong pamphlet anyway. Abraham Lincoln was invoked repeatedly on behalf of a neo-Confederate who speculated that the Constitution might be improved by removing the amendments passed immediately after the Civil War. Moore was defended against the allegations of child molestation by an old Army buddy who told a story about how they all were taken to a brothel in Vietnam one night and Moore refused to pay for sex with prostitutes who may have been underage. Res ipse loquitur, y'all, and the adoring crowd drank it all down like so much apple brandy.

Lord, as the late Guy Clark once put it, you'd think there's less fools in this world.


At the risk of sounding like every liberal Yankee bogeyman flitting through the minds of the assembled, this event was completely nuts. It was a naked appeal to unreason. It was the Rose Parade of empowered ignorance. It was the Royal Wedding of Stupid and Mean. It was the Celebration of the Lizard Brain. The Id was in the saddle, and it was riding the crowd, and the barker at this particular carnival of fools was quite happy to bring all the suckers in out of the Alabama dark and into the freak show he'd created.

This was the first time I'd ever seen the Steve Bannon Show in person, and I was struck by how completely full of painfully obvious horseshit he is. A rootless cosmopolitan, a former investment banker at Goldman Sachs, a former producer who worked in godless Hollywood, a man who wouldn't have a public career at all had he not latched onto a lunatic wingnut zillionaire from the proletarian enclaves of the Hamptons, Bannon came down to Midland City like a combination of Elmer Gantry and an aluminum siding salesman, unspooling angry banalities about the contempt other people have for the "working class," about how he is one with all the old white folks gathered in the activity barn because they all share a fealty to a pussy-grabbing casino bankrupt who's coherent for about 20 minutes in the morning. This is the oldest scam in American politics. I thought better of Bannon, at least in terms of his material.

At bottom, Bannon's entire spiel is an endless bluff against his own barely concealed hypocrisy. He came down here, he maintained, to defend Moore, who lost his job as chief justice of the Alabama supreme court twice for attempting to nullify decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court, against what Bannon referred to as The Nullification Project. But at no point was Bannon, the last heir to House Harkonnen, more transparently lacking in shame as when he identified himself with the military families in the audience. The man sells tinhorn empathy like a payday lender. He told the crowd that the "elites," who are not Steve Bannon, start wars because "they know that it won't be their kids who die."

It's your sons and daughters who are over there. Our most precious resource, squandered by the elites in this country. You know why? It's not their sons and daughters over there. They want you to pay for it. They want your kids to enforce it. Under Donald Trump, that deal's changed.

This, of course, in the service of a president* who skipped Vietnam because his feet hurt. Nobody in that president*'s family ever has served in the military, although the Klan-curious paterfamilias once fought bravely in the battle against black people living in his buildings. Eventually, you grow tired of this grubby hucksterism. You grow tired of the people who cheer for it. You grow tired of it all, and exhausted in the attempt to make sense of human beings so obviously jonesing for the kind of illusions in which a former investment banker in a camo jacket and 31 dress shirts is really one of them, and in which a judge who has been credibly accused of sexual misconduct with teenage girls is really as close a friend to Jesus as they are.

Make no mistake. Bannon had his work cut out for him with Roy Moore, a grim, nasty, Bible-banging old crank with the stage presence of an end table and the rhetorical style of an Old Testament prophet whose ravings didn't make the cut for the Bible. He is stiff and unpleasant. He couldn't keep the pages of his prepared text together; occasionally, a sheet or three would fall to his feet, and he would fill the void with long quotations from Samuel Adams, selections from the Breitbart Hymnal for the Permanently Aggrieved, and some of his original work.

Our children cannot pray, as they are taught evolution

Will they learn the fear of god is the only true solution?

And so on.

His speech rambled. He was utterly lost when he strayed a syllable distant from the devotional. He wants to repeal Obamacare, but plainly has no idea what it is. He wants the federal government out of Alabama schools, but plainly has no education policy beyond the early chapters of Leviticus. But once he found his way back to his safe space and readjusted his halo, Moore was so emboldened that he had the audacity to quote FDR, and then to recite extensively from the Gettysburg Address, leaving the shades of Roosevelt and Lincoln to spin swiftly under the sod before they both threw up.

I'll tell you something. In this country, we have explored the temples built by the Democrat and Republican parties and found that they have idols that do not see us and do not hear us. We need to move forward with a vision to recognize God, to recognize he's on his throne, and he is, and cares for this country.

You grow exhausted from the effort it takes to keep mockery at bay long enough to explain that what Moore and Bannon are selling is a dangerous blend of religious extremism and McCarthyite bombast, Roy Cohn in Torquemada drag. You grow exhausted by the effort it takes, over and over again, to remind yourself that there are good people in the crowd cheering this river of sludge and nonsense.

Finally, you give up. Roy Moore is a vehicle for collecting suckers, for liberating them from their responsibility as citizens in a self-governing republic, and anybody who thinks this waterheaded theocrat belongs in the United States Senate is a dupe and a fool.

Finally, you don't care if the people behind Roy Moore, and the people in the crowd in front of him, believe you are a member of the coastal elite or an agent of Lucifer.

Finally, you grow weary of the smug condescension of religious bigots.

Finally, you decide to put down the twin burdens of excusing deliberate ignorance and respecting the opinions of people who want to light the world on fire to kill their imaginary enemies. And you give up and tell the truth.

These people deserve what they get.
(c) 2017 Charles P. Pierce has been a working journalist since 1976. He is the author of four books, most recently 'Idiot America.' He lives near Boston with his wife but no longer his three children.

The Quotable Quote...

"The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth becomes the greatest enemy of the State."
~~~ Dr. Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Propaganda Minister

FAILED: Foreign Policy As We Know It
By David Swanson

The Stop the War Coalition has just published a short summary of what's wrong with foreign policy, going through a partial list of current wars one by one. Of course this is a British organization with a British perspective, but it's the closest thing to what a well-funded U.S. anti-war organization might produce, and it ought to be considered by people everywhere, as it impacts us all.

I confess that I have throughout the terror-producing "war on terror" envied and identified with the British peace movement. Here's a country with a capital of nearly 13 times the population of Washington D.C., big rally and march locations, the rest of the country no farther away than an American will drive for a really good concert, and (not coincidentally, I think) peace as part of the political conversation. Plus, of course, Parliament's opposition to bombing Syria in 2013 was a huge help in delaying U.S. bombing.

When I see people here in the United States cheerfully campaigning for presidential or Congressional candidates as if they actually like them and share a world view with them, I of course feel left out. I want to disarm and transition away from militarism to peaceful sustainable societies. I want to denounce the wars and the weapons dealing as harmful and endangering and environmentally destructive, rather than defensive or necessary or heroic. I don't share these views with anyone on CNN or MSNBC.

But when people accuse me of somehow choosing to be a radical as if it were a personality trait rather than a result of how far public policy is from what I consider reasonable or decent, I can prove them all wrong by simply pointing across the pond. Let Jeremy Corbyn run for office in Virginia and I'll run around knocking on doors and littering yards with signs as much as the next guy - more, I bet.

And while I know we don't have this kind of time to work with, I think I secretly fantasize, somewhere in the back of my tragedy-saturated skull, that as Britain pushed the world toward ending slavery it could, over the coming century, push the world toward ending war.

Stop the War's analysis of foreign policy failure points out, in general and case-by-case, how "fighting terrorism" by bombing and invading has had exactly the opposite effect. In various countries where Britain has joined with the United States in wars, just about every type of war has been tried, often more than once, and Trump is in most cases simply escalating the least successful approaches.

In Afghanistan, Chris Nineham predicts that the U.S.-backed government will soon control just Kabul. I predict it will have a hard time even with that, as the population explodes with people fleeing the countryside, as the water is depleted, as the trash and sewage pile up, and as those who can recall anything resembling peace die off.

In Yemen, Daniel Jakopovich makes the same demands of the British government that we make of the U.S., namely stop selling Saudi Arabia weapons, stop participating in the war, and advocate for peace.

In Iraq, Shabbir Lakha recounts the counterproductive creation of groups like ISIS now being compounded by repeating the same murderous approaches to saving places by destroying them. I do wish Lakha hadn't written that alternatives to war had not been exhausted when the U.S.-and-friends attacked in 2003, because it implies that in some theoretical case such alternatives could be exhausted.

In Syria, the Stop the War authors thread the needle of endless disagreements about this sad and ruined land by opposing overthrow without supporting the Syrian government. Stop the bombing, they say, aid the refugees, cut off support for Saudi Arabia's crimes, and support a peace process without preconditions. Yes, exactly right. But quite disappointing that Stop the War Coalition calls Russian war making legal, even while opposing it. Legal because invited by the Syrian government? But who gave the Syrian government the right to commit the crime of war? Who gets to declare what's a real nation and what is not, so that wars fought against non-real nations don't count as real wars?

Stop the War claims Britain is now the second leading weapons dealer on earth, and that NATO members spend 70% of world spending on militarism, not counting NATO allies like Saudi Arabia, Japan, Australia, and South Korea. This, too, is a very useful perspective for us to take up in the United States and everywhere. It's not just that the U.S. dwarfs all other militaries in its pursuit of global domination. It's also that over three-quarters of militarism on earth is all on one team in desperate search of worthy opponents and customers, which it will manufacture if necessary.
(c) 2017 David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of and campaign coordinator for Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at and He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015 and 2016 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.

New Conservative Argument: Climate Change Is So Awesome, You Guys
By William Rivers Pitt

In my worst post-apocalyptic imaginings, there is a place in my mind where a ravenous sea has encroached over every surface, ankle to knee to thigh to belly to throat. On a lone and desolate promontory clings one last living human who shrieks into the maelstrom a final defiance even as the pitiless rain clogs his throat: "In the church of climate alarmism, there may be no heresy more dangerous than the idea that the world will benefit from warming."

His name is Jeff.

Not "may benefit," mind you. "Will benefit." The power of positive thinking meets the end of everything. And in conservative circles, many of the denials that climate disruption is really happening are now being seamlessly replaced with guarantees of coming greatness.

It gets better.

"Polar melting may cause dislocation for those who live in low-lying coastal areas, but it will also lead to safe commercial shipping in formerly inhospitable northern seas," says Jeff Jacoby in his Boston Globe article titled, "There Are Benefits to Climate Change."

Istanbul. San Francisco. Helsinki. Philadelphia. Dublin. New Orleans. Venice. Perth. Bangkok. Edinburgh. Honolulu. New York. Oslo. Lisbon. Los Angeles. San Diego. Hong Kong. Miami. Tokyo. Sydney. Washington. Copenhagen. Vancouver. Barcelona. Mumbai. Nagoya. Tampa. Shenzen. Guayaquil. Khulna. Palembang. Tampa. Kochi. Abidjan. Boston.

Low-lying coastal areas, all.

Cities, housing hundreds of millions of people, home to countless architectural wonders, each in itself a living history in mortar and stone and stucco and steel, wreathed in treasure and art of infinite value and absolutely, positively not waterproofed ... all happy fodder before the prospect of new commercial shipping lanes.

One must ask: Shipping to whom? From where? All the places to park the ships will be underwater. When all those cities fall to the sea, there will be no commerce because civilization itself will be crumbling. In its stead, there will be starving wet survivors on the run to high ground and Jeff Jacoby's boats happily puttering along plying their wares to people who died below the water line before the good news about climate change could properly cheer them.

"Shifts in climate are like shifts in the economy," writes Jeff, as if he has seen such seismic shifts before. "They invariably spell good news for some and bad news for others." According to him, all the new warm weather will keep people from freezing to death, which is a good thing.

Yet Jacoby somehow missed the explosion of diseases that will come with widespread excessive heat. He missed the massive ecological die-offs on land and in the ocean that will be caused by high heat. He missed the crop disasters that will be caused by high heat. He missed the population displacement that will make our current refugee crisis seem like a longer than usual walk in the park by comparison. And then there is the methane bomb waiting to detonate once the northern permafrost finally melts from all this fortunate heat. "The effects of climate change," concludes Jacoby, "range from the obvious (lower heating bills) to the subtle (more habitat for moose and endangered sharks). Territory formerly deemed too forbiddingly cold will grow more temperate -- and valuable. Delicacies from lobster to blueberries may become more plentiful. Bottom line? Global warming will bring gains as well as losses, upsides no less than downsides. Climate science isn't a good-and-evil morality tale. Climate discourse shouldn't be either."

There it is, folks. The bridge from climate change denial to acceptance, long deemed unpassable, has been traversed by none other than Boston's own mini-Rush Limbaugh. Mr. Jacoby has dutifully hauled water for every bad conservative idea since the Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act, but here, he is road-testing what to do when denial and obfuscation are no longer viable tactics. It's as if he's deploying an evil version of the "Stages of Grief." Last comes acceptance ... but with a catch.

One can go on only so long denying the obvious before something has to give. Here, Jacoby accepts the premise that climate change is upon us, but rather than face the grim and dangerous reality of it, he chooses instead to look on the bright side. Sure, Republicans colluded with the energy industry for decades to deny the threat of climate change so their friends could get rich and now we're all going to suffer for it, but blueberries! Heat bills! Lobster, so you can pretend to be rich!

Jacoby and other conservatives who now accept climate change have opened a window into our future. He and the people he represents will fight as hard as they can to get what they want -- which is the loot, always the loot, the loot every single time -- until the moment comes when they sound foolish even to themselves. When that happens, they will turn on a dime and begin talking up the advantages to be found in the disasters they have created. Jacoby shows them the way by moving from "it's not real" to "no big deal" in one sideways shuffle, locating the financial upside -- valuable new land! -- and managing to sound like a scold all at once.

When the harrowing effects of the GOP tax plan begin bleeding all over Main Street, when the true nature of Donald Trump's relationship with Russia is revealed, when the attacks on Medicare and Social Security wreak havoc on the lives of elderly Americans, when all the lies no longer have a place to hide, this will be the new gospel, preached from the promontory by the likes of Jeff and his friends.

God help us all.
(c) 2017 William Rivers Pitt is a senior editor and lead columnist at Truthout. He is also a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of three books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know, The Greatest Sedition Is Silence and House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation. His fourth book, The Mass Destruction of Iraq: Why It Is Happening, and Who Is Responsible, co-written with Dahr Jamail, is available now on Amazon. He lives and works in New Hampshire.

The Dead Letter Office...

Niki gives the corporate salute.

Heil Trump,

Dear Botschafter Haley,

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 helping us start WWIII in Iran, Yemen, Syria, Iran and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Republican Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Trump at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 12-31-2017. We salute you Frau Haley, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Pence

Heil Trump

Slapp Lawsuits: The Biggest Threat To The Resistance You Never Heard Of
By Robert Reich

Have you heard of SLAPP lawsuits? You soon will.

SLAPP stands for "Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation." It is a lawsuit brought by big corporations intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by burdening them with the overwhelming costs of a legal defense until they're forced to abandon their criticism or opposition. And it may be the biggest threat to the resistance you've never heard of.

Here's an example: Resolute Forest Products, one of Canada's largest logging and paper companies, has sued, in a U.S. court, environmental groups that have been campaigning to save Canada's boreal forest.

Resolute based its lawsuit on a U.S. conspiracy and racketeering law (RICO) intended to ensnare mobsters. Resolute alleged that the environmental groups have been illegally conspiring to extort the company's customers and to defraud their own donors.

The suit wasn't designed to win in court. It was designed to distract and silence critics. This is punishment for speaking out. Thankfully, a federal court agrees and a judge just dismissed Resolute's claims. But other corporate bullies are still trying to use this playbook.

Here's another example: Remember the indigenous led movement at Standing Rock, when hundreds of nations and their allies came together and stood up against the destructive Dakota Access Pipeline?

In August, Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind that pipeline, filed a similar RICO case against Greenpeace entities and two other defendants over Standing Rock. The suit accuses them of participating in a sprawling criminal conspiracy to disrupt business and defraud donors. The lawsuit even alleges they support eco-terrorism and engage in drug trafficking.

The lawsuit claims Greenpeace cost the company $300 million. Since RICO claims entitle plaintiffs to recover triple damages, the case potentially could cost Greenpeace $900 million. That would be the end of Greenpeace.

But, again, winning isn't necessarily the goal of SLAPP suits. Just by filing the suits, Energy Transfer Partners and Resolute are trying to drain environmental groups of time, energy, and resources they need, so they can't continue to fight to protect the environment.

Connect the dots, and consider the chilling effect SLAPP suits are having on any group seeking to protect public health, worker's rights, and even our democracy.

Who's behind all of this? Both the lawsuits I just mentioned were filed by Michael Bowe. He is also a member of Donald Trump's personal legal team. Bowe has publicly stated that he's in conversations with other corporations considering filing their own SLAPP lawsuits.

If the goal is to silence public-interest groups, the rest of us must speak out. Wealthy corporations must know they can't SLAPP the public into silence.
(c) 2017 Robert B. Reich has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. His latest book is "Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few." His website is

Zero Hour In Palestine
By Chris Hedges

Wednesday's announcement by President Trump, who finds a soul mate in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, that he will move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem solidifies our status, along with Israel, as a rogue state and an international pariah. The United States long ago lost credibility as an honest broker in any Mideast peace agreement. We have provided $38 billion in military aid to Israel over the last decade despite Israel's flagrant disregard for international law and its well-documented war crimes. We do nothing to halt the expropriation of Palestinian land. We give unequivocal support to Israeli attacks on Palestinians, including the bombardment of largely defenseless civilians in Gaza, that have left thousands of dead and destroyed whole neighborhoods.

The Trump decision sends a message to those who demand justice for the Palestinian people: Our only hope is to strengthen the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement to isolate and cripple Israel. This would involve a robust boycott of Israeli cultural and academic institutions. It demands divestment from companies with financial interests in Israel. And it seeks to impose international sanctions on the Jewish state. The goal of the BDS movement is to end the Israeli occupation in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, achieve equal rights for Palestinian citizens of Israel and ensure the right of return for all Palestinian refugees in the diaspora. If we fail to act we must accept our complicity in the slow-motion genocide of the Palestinian people.

"The current xenophobic, racist U.S. administration is smashing international law as fast as it is smashing its own mask of respect for human rights and with it whatever credibility it still has around the world," said Omar Barghouti, the Palestinian human rights activist and co-founder of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel. He commented after I reached him by email.

"By trying to bestow legitimacy on Israel's patently illegitimate annexation of occupied Jerusalem, the U.S. administration, whose own legitimacy is contested by millions of Americans, is throwing a flame onto a haystack in a midsummer day," he said. "If we turn this deliberate act of mega-arson into an opportunity to further build the BDS movement to isolate Israel's regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid, we can advance the struggle for freedom, justice and equality."

The United States is the only nation, with the exception of Israel, to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Trump's decision will enrage Muslims throughout the world. Palestinians in Gaza City, Bethlehem and Rafah have already marched through the streets chanting "Death to America," "Death to Israel" and "Down with Trump." They burned American and Israeli flags and photos of Trump. The Palestinian Islamic group Hamas is calling for "a day of rage."

"Trump's extensive reference to Israel's far-right policies of ethnic profiling, militarized walls and extreme racial violence as a model for his own fanatic policies in the U.S. and around the world confirms Israel's status today as a senior member of the xenophobic-mostly anti-Semitic-far-right club that is growing in the U.S., Europe, India and elsewhere," Barghouti said.

The Trump move, along with Israel's naked theft of East Jerusalem, will give rise to spontaneous acts of resistance such as that which took place last July when Israel tried to restrict Palestinian access to the Al-Aqsa mosque, the third-holiest site in Islam, in Jerusalem. Thousands of Palestinians demonstrated at the site until Israel removed barriers, metal detectors and security cameras introduced after three Israeli Arabs killed two Israeli police officers at an entrance to the compound July 14.

Wednesday's announcement is one more indignity visited on a people who have known nothing but abuse, humiliation and violence since the creation of the Israeli state in 1948. It says to all of the dispossessed of the earth that their rights and aspirations are meaningless. It is a public declaration of contempt for the oppressed. And the oppressed, filled with rage, unable to use the industrial weapons that rain death and destruction on Palestinians, Iraqis, Afghans and Yemenis, will employ cruder instruments of death to fight back. The state terrorists in Israel and Washington will use those attacks to justify an escalation of violence in a never-ending cycle of hate that we, the oppressors, initiated.

"Jerusalem lies at the heart of Palestinian identity and is a unique spiritual, cultural and symbolic center for Palestinian life," Barghouti said. "It is also sacred for monotheistic religions, including about 1.5 billion Muslims. No state in the world [had recognized] Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem. So, by recognizing it as Israel's capital, the Trump administration is not only isolating itself and trashing decades of U.S. policy and international law. It is deliberately inciting a global wave of protest against Israel's illegal control over the city and against the exceptionally reckless U.S. policy. I cannot see how this can serve U.S. interests, even if defined as the interests of the '1 percent.' It therefore indicates the administration's adoption of an Israel-first agenda that appeals to a small yet very influential part of its constituency-fanatic Christian fundamentalists and the Islamophobic, anti-Palestinian far-right Jewish establishment. As the prominent South African jurist and former U.N. special rapporteur John Dugard once said, Palestine today has become the litmus test for the West's respect for human rights-just as South Africa once was. If the West fails to end its fatal collusion with Israel's regime of apartheid and colonialism it will lose all credibility around the world, especially in the Global South."

This is zero hour for the Palestinian people. Saudi Arabia, which has built a de facto alliance with Israel in its effort to launch a war against Iran, has signaled its willingness to sacrifice the Palestinians by proposing a "peace agreement" that Israel will embrace. The agreement, proposed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, traps Palestinians within Israeli-controlled borders, transfers East Jerusalem, where the Palestinian population in the city resides, to Israel, permits Jewish settlements to remain on Palestinian land, slices up sections of the West Bank to prevent contiguous Palestinian control and sovereignty, and prevents from returning to their homes the Palestinians who were "ethnically cleansed" from land Israel controls. The Saudi plan mirrors the agreement offered in 2000 to Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) leader Yasser Arafat by President Bill Clinton, an agreement no Palestinian could accept and Arafat rightly rejected. The Muslim world has long paid lip service to Palestinian rights while quietly backing the Israeli occupation. Egypt, for example, seals the southern border of Gaza to assist Israel in maintaining the world's largest open-air prison. But now the Saudi regime is public in its effort to sell out the Palestinians. This gives to the BDS movement-and a separate BDS movement should be launched against Saudi Arabia-a new urgency.

The Palestinian Authority, a puppet regime put in place by Israel and the United States that has little support among Palestinians, will be further discredited and reviled as the U.S. Embassy is moved. Its loss of authority will weaken the last vestiges of Palestinian civil institutions. Trump's decision is also likely to accelerate Israel's destruction of Palestinian homes, evictions, expropriations, revocation of residency permits and colonization of the city by Jewish settlers. It will tighten the barrier set up by Israel to prevent Palestinians in the West Bank from traveling to East Jerusalem. It will continue to see the steady reduction of the Palestinian population as East Jerusalem, piece by piece, is handed over to Israeli Jews.

U.N. Resolution 476, adopted in 1980, declared Israel's annexation of East Jerusalem "null and void," called it "a flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War" and said it "constituted a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East." But this resolution and others have routinely been ignored and defied by Israel and the United States. Israel since occupying East Jerusalem after the 1967 war has stripped more than 14,000 Palestinians of their right to live in the city. It routinely denies Palestinians new building permits, demolishes Palestinian homes and olive groves and builds huge, fortress-like housing complexes for Jewish settlers that surround the dwindling Palestinian neighborhoods. Israeli police patrol the streets of East Jerusalem, engaging in acts of open brutality and violence, including the killing of unarmed demonstrators. Basic municipal services, including education, have been degraded.

"Moshe Dayan [the onetime Israeli defense minister] once said that Israel must act like a mad dog so no one in the international community will bother it," Barghouti said. "His prophecy has come true like never before with the current extremely racist and dangerous Israeli government. With its influence in the White House finally matching its influence in Congress, Israel is drunk with power and, as a result, recklessly undermining the very legitimacy of its decades-long regime of oppression against the Palestinians. This is a key factor behind the impressive growth of the BDS movement for Palestinian rights worldwide."

"People of conscience worldwide are now called upon to stop the 'mad dog' before its unconstrained madness spills over to the rest of the world," Barghouti went on. "The most effective way of doing that is by supporting BDS campaigns to continue building this peaceful justice movement until serious sanctions are imposed on Israel's regime. In the U.S., the strong connection between U.S. support for Israel's wars of aggression and policies of apartheid and ethnic cleansing on the one hand and severe cuts in social, health and educational services in the U.S. on the other must be exposed and acted upon. Exploring the intersectionality of our struggle for liberation with struggles for racial, economic, social, gender and climate justice in the U.S. and beyond is crucial in this respect."

Israel and the United States have amply demonstrated their intentions. Israel uses intimidation, fear and violence to subdue and crush the Palestinian people. We must build an international movement to pit power against power. We must press on until all economic trade, military aid and cooperation with Israel are ended. If we succeed, Israel will be faced with the prospect of losing its own viability. This is the only way left to achieve justice and the rule of law.

"No one should dismiss Palestinians yet," Barghouti concluded. "At the darkest moments of Palestinian dejection and despair and at the height of Israel's delusional triumphalism over us, our people has always risen like a phoenix to tell the world that we shall overcome, we shall never accept slavery as fate, and we shall persistently resist and insist on a life that is worth living, as [poet] Mahmoud Darwish says, and that is a life of justice, peace and dignity."
(c) 2017 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. Keep up with Chris Hedges' latest columns, interviews, tour dates and more at

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Joel Pett ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

New GOP Tax Plan Requires Welfare Recipients To Apply For Each Individual Piece Of Food
By The Onion

WASHINGTON-As part of their effort to rein in government spending through entitlement reform, GOP congressional leaders announced Friday that their new tax plan will require welfare recipients to apply for each individual piece of food they receive.

"Mandating that all Americans on food stamps submit a separate application for every morsel they want to buy ensures that they get the nutrition they need without wasting taxpayer dollars," said House Speaker Paul Ryan, explaining that the new bill would significantly reduce the costs of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program by requiring low-income Americans to make a case for each piece of fruit, slice of bread, or grain of rice they plan to purchase.

"Putting more onus on welfare recipients to justify why they need to buy something like a potato chip, a dollop of mayonnaise, or a pinch of salt with taxpayer money will help increase personal responsibility and reduce waste. In addition, parents will be required to fill out separate forms itemizing each mouthful taken by their children, which will enable them to be adequately nourished while not indulging in superfluous calories at government expense."

Ryan added that the bill also included work-requirement reform mandating that all food stamp recipients submit daily paperwork to their SNAP office with a valid explanation for each minute they weren't working.
(c) 2017 The Onion

The Gross National Debt

Iraq Deaths Estimator

The Animal Rescue Site

Issues & Alibis Vol 17 # 50 (c) 12/15/2017

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