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In This Edition

Medea Benjamin reports, "Yes, There Were 10 Good Things About 2021."

Ralph Nader gives, "Ralph Nader's Holiday Season Top Reading Recommendations."

Jelani Cobb joins us with, "Justice For Ahmaud Arbery."

Jim Hightower remembers, "Daddy's Philosophy."

William Rivers Pitt thinks, "Two Years Of COVID Have Forced Us To Recalibrate Our Concept Of Hope."

John Nichols says, "2021: The Year Ron Johnson Replaced Joe McCarthy As Wisconsin's Worst Senator."

James Donahue wonders, "Do We Dare To Welcome 2022?"

David Swanson considers, "Surveillance Concerns: The Good, The Bad, And The Xenophobic."

Justin Worland asks, "Did We Just Blow Our Last, Best Chance To Tackle Climate Change?"

Charles P. Pierce says, "For Christmas, We Received A Hopeful Week."

Juan Cole remembers, "Desmond Tutu, The Nonviolent Foe Of Two Apartheids - South Africa And Israel-Palestine."

Robert Reich tells, "The True Meaning Of 6 January."

Thom Hartmann examines, "Why The Very Worst People Really Don't Want Us To Look Up."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion reports, "Congress To Investigate Events Of Jan. 6 Until Group Of Patriotic Americans Brave Enough To Stop Them," but first, Uncle Ernie exclaims, "Himalayan Glaciers Are Melting At An Exceptional Rate!"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Jeff Koterba, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Ruben Bolling, Scott Olson, Jame Gilbert, Alex Camara, NurPhoto, Shannon Stapleton, Angelos Tzortzinis, Jeff J. Mitchell, Anthony Devlin, Hollie Adams, Oscar Wong, J Scott Applewhite, Jim Hightower, Pexels, AFP, Unsplash, Shutterstock, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, Black Agenda Report, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments -

The Quotable Quote -
The 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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Himalayan Glaciers Are Melting At An Exceptional Rate!
Global warming strikes again!
By Ernest Stewart

Help me if you can, I'm feeling down
And I do appreciate you being round
Help me get my feet back on the ground
Won't you please, please help me
Help ~~~ The Beatles

I see where glaciers in the Himalayas are melting at an "exceptional" rate because of global warming, threatening the water supply of millions of people in Asia, a study published Monday said.

The study revealed that Himalayan glaciers are shrinking far more rapidly than glaciers in other parts of the world.

"Our findings clearly show that ice is now being lost from Himalayan glaciers at a rate that is at least 10 times higher than the average rate over past centuries," the study's lead author, Jonathan Carrivick of the University of Leeds, said in a statement. "This acceleration in the rate of loss has only emerged within the last few decades and coincides with human-induced climate change."

Researchers calculated that Himalayan glaciers have lost roughly 40% of their area in the past several hundred years.

The glaciers are a critical source of water for about 250 million people in the mountains and an additional 1.65 billion who live in the river valleys below, according to a report in 2019. These rivers include the Ganges, Indus and Brahmaputra.

The Himalayan mountain range is home to the world's third-largest amount of glacier ice, after Antarctica and the Arctic. The region is often referred to as the world's "Third Pole" for its huge store of ice, and it is home to Mount Everest, K2 and other iconic peaks.

Though the mountains are tens of millions of years old, their glaciers are extremely sensitive to the changing climate. Since the 1970s, when global warming first set in, these huge masses of ice have steadily thinned and retreated.

Man-made climate change is caused by the burning of fossil fuels such as gas, coal and oil, which release greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane into the atmosphere. This extra CO2 causes temperatures of the atmosphere and oceans to rise to levels that scientists say can't be explained by natural causes.

"We must act urgently to reduce and mitigate the impact of human-made climate change on the glaciers," Carrivick said.

Study co-author Simon Cook of the University of Dundee said "people in the region are already seeing changes that are beyond anything witnessed for centuries. "This research is just the latest confirmation that those changes are accelerating and that they will have a significant impact on entire nations and regions," Cook said.

Meanwhile down in Antarctica, the collapse of a Florida-size chunk of ice is about to happen, which will in turn, raise sea levels and threaten coastal cities through out the world!


12-04-1968 ~ 12-25-2021
Thanks for the laughs!

10-07-1931 ~ 12-26-2021
Thanks for fighting the good fight!

10-13-1952 ~ 12-28-2021
Thanks for the adventuret!

12-02-1939 ~ 12-28-2021
Burn baby burn!


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


Until the next time, Peace!

(c) 2021 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, philosopher, author, stand -up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Facebook. and like us when you do. Follow me on Twitter.

Workers picket outside of John Deere Harvester Works facility on October 14, 2021 in East Moline, Illinois. More than 10,000 Deere employees represented by the UAW walked off the job
at midnight after failing to agree to term of a new contract. About 1,400 workers walked off the job at the Harvester Works plant where the company builds combines.

Yes, There Were 10 Good Things About 2021
It was, indeed, a disastrous year, but we do have some reasons to cheer
By Medea Benjamin

This year, 2021, began with a huge sense of relief as Trump left office. We hoped to emerge from the ravages of COVID, pass a hefty Build Back Better (BBB) bill, and make significant cuts to the Pentagon budget. But, alas, we faced a January 6 white nationalist insurrection, two new COVID mutations, a sliced-and-diced BBB bill that didn't pass, and a Pentagon budget that actually INCREASED!

It was, indeed, a disastrous year, but we do have some reasons to cheer:

1. The U.S. survived its first major coup plot on January 6 and key right-wing groups are on the wane. With participants in the insurrection being charged and some facing significant jail time, new efforts to mobilize-including September's "Justice for J6" rally-fizzled. As for Trump, let's remember that in early 2021, he was impeached again, he lost his main mouthpiece, Twitter, and his attempt to build a rival social media service seems to have stalled. QAnon is in decline-its major hashtags have evaporated and Twitter shut down some 70,000 Q accounts. We may still see a resurgence (including another Trump attempt to take the White House), but so far the insurrection seems to have peaked and is being rolled back.

2. Latin America is undergoing a massive shift toward progressive governments. Gabriel Boric, a young Chilean progressive who campaigned for broad reforms, including universal healthcare and a higher minimum wage, won a landslide victory in December. His victory follows the victories of Xiomara Castro in Honduras in November, Pedro Castillo in Peru in June, and Luis Arce in Bolivia in October 2020. In Brazil, former president Lula da Silva may soon return to the presidency via next year's elections. All of this bodes well for policies that benefit the people of Latin America and for greater solidarity with Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua and other nations in the U.S. crosshairs.

3. The struggle for racial justice and accountability saw some major wins in 2021. Former police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty on all 3 charges related to the murder of George Floyd and has pled guilty in the federal civil rights version of the case. The three Georgia men who killed Ahmaud Arbery for the crime of going out for a jog were also convicted. Progressive District Attorneys in cities and counties across this country are fighting to end cash bail and no-knock warrants, mass incarceration, and mandatory sentencing minimums. We see a backlash against these DAs, such as in Los Angeles and San Francisco, but they have strong community support.

4. U.S. troops left Afghanistan, winding down a deadly 20-year intervention. Some of us were against this U.S. invasion to begin with, and pushed for 20 years for our troops to leave. The exit was carried out in the same shameful, chaotic way as the 20 years of war, and the U.S. is once again targeting the Afghan people by freezing the billions of dollars of Afghan money held in overseas banks. That's why we have joined the effort to #UnfreezeAfghanistan. But we do recognize that the U.S. troop withdrawal was necessary to give Afghans the chance to shape their own future, to stop spending $300 million a day on a failed war, and to roll back U.S. militarism.

5. COVID has returned with a vengeance, but we have been winning battles against other deadly diseases. Malaria, which kills half a million people a year, mostly in Africa, might be vanquished thanks to a groundbreaking vaccine, the first ever for a parasitic disease. On the HIV front, a new vaccine has shown a 97% response rate in Phase I clinical trials. Almost 40 million people were living with HIV in 2020, and hundreds of thousands of people die from AIDS-related illnesses each year. While the vaccine is still in Phase I trials, it is an extremely hopeful sign for 2022.

6. The U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, adopted in 2017, went into effect this year after fulfilling the requirement that it be ratified by at least 50 countries. The U.S. and the world's other nuclear powers have not signed the treaty and it has no enforcement mechanism but, for the first time in history, nuclear weapons are illegal under international law. With 86 signatories so far, the treaty helps to delegitimize nuclear weapons and reinforce global norms against their use. At a time when the outcome of the nuclear talks with Iran are uncertain, and when conflicts with Russia and China regarding Ukraine and Taiwan are intensifying, such a reminder is critical.

7. In the U.S., workers are actually gaining power amidst the ravages of COVID. Wages are going up and unions are starting to re-emerge. With millions of workers quitting their jobs from burnout or re-evaluation of life goals (dubbed the "Great Resignation"), the resulting labor shortage has given workers more space to push for better wages, benefits and working conditions. There were over 300 strikes from hospitals to coal plants to universities-many of them successful. Starbucks workers in Buffalo, New York, succeeded in forming the first union at a Starbucks store in the US. Amazon workers in Bessemer, Alabama, lost their attempt to form the first Amazon union, but the National Labor Relations Board has ordered a new election due to management's improper conduct. So 2022 may well be a banner year for worker's rights and unions.

8. While not nearly enough, there were some key environmental gains, with Biden starting his term by re-entering the Paris Climate Accords. The COP26 meeting put a spotlight on the urgent need for revved up environmental action, with environmental activists worldwide pressuring their own governments to step up. Some 44 nations are now committed to ending the use of coal, and the G7 countries vowed not to fund coal plants any more. Here in the U.S., thanks to sustained environmental activism, the Keystone XL and PennEast pipelines were officially canceled and the Biden administration nixed oil and gas drilling on federal land. Renewable energy installations are at an all-time high and wind farms are planned along the entire U.S. coastline. Another major polluter, China, is building the largest energy installation in history, a whopping 100 gigawatts of wind and solar power (the entire capacity, as of 2021, of U.S. solar energy), and plans to plant a Belgium-sized area of forest every year going forward.

9. Yes, there have actually been some advances for women's choice this year. When we look beyond the outrageous anti-abortion law in Texas that empowers private citizens to sue abortion providers, we see that many countries in the rest of the world are moving in the opposite direction. In 2021, abortion was legalized in South Korea, Thailand, and Argentina, while safe access increased in New Zealand, Ecuador, and Uruguay. A major victory in a very Catholic country came in September, when Mexico's Supreme Court decriminalized it. Isn't it ironic that, prior to Roe v. Wade, thousands of women from U.S. states along the Mexican border would cross into Mexico to get (illegal) abortions? Now, they might again be going, and this time for legal abortions.

10. Another reason to celebrate: 2021 is over. And 2022 may actually be the year we conquer COVID and move forward on a full agenda of pressing issues, including pushing Congress to pass a version of the Build Back Better bill; pressing for passage of the voting rights legislation that will stop the outrageous statewide voter suppression; mobilizing against the far right-and a return of Trump or Trump-lite; stopping the Cold War with China; preventing a military conflict with Russia in Ukraine; and cutting the outrageous Pentagon budget to invest in the health of our people and planet.

If we could make gains in a year as bad as 2021, just think what we can accomplish in 2022.

(c) 2021 Medea Benjamin, co-founder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK: Women for Peace, is the author of the new book, Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the U.S.-Saudi Connection. Her previous books include: Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control; Don't Be Afraid Gringo: A Honduran Woman Speaks from the Heart, and (with Jodie Evans) Stop the Next War Now (Inner Ocean Action Guide). Follow her on Twitter: @medeabenjamin

Ralph Nader's Holiday Season Top Reading Recommendations
By Ralph Nader

The most important books exposing real injustices are often the least read. Nearly all of the hundreds of thousands of neighborhood book clubs insist on only reading and discussing works of fiction. They don't want hard feelings over disagreements.

Major book awards and prizes rarely select books addressing corporate crimes and what to do about them.

Not surprisingly, you rarely read about these books or see or hear about them on television and radio shows, including PBS and NPR. Corporate funders prefer convenient alternatives such as art, culture, history, and entertainment.

The following recent books connect us to the grim reality, pulling us back from myths and virtual reality escapes to the societal mirror we all must face for the common good of today and tomorrow.

1. Dirty Work: Essential Jobs and the Hidden Toll of Inequality in America by Eyal Press, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2021. Someone has to do the dirty work for society's survival. But these workers get paid too little and are unprotected so they become casualties.

2. The Hidden History of American Oligarchy: Reclaiming Our Democracy from the Ruling Class by Thom Hartmann, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2021. No one presents the forgotten history of evil corporate power more concisely and relevantly than the erudite daily radio talk show host, Thom Hartmann. Try him and see.

3.> Power to the People: A Young People's Guide to Fighting for Our Rights as Citizens and Consumers by Richard Panchyk, Seven Stories Press, 2021. Give an eye-opening gift for teens and for those a little older. Surprise them.

4. The Profit Paradox: How Thriving Firms Threaten the Future of Work by Jan Eeckhout, Princeton University Press, 2021. The author demonstrates how the unbridled market power of giant corporations has "suffocated the world of work," which could lead to disastrous market corrections and political turmoil.

5. Unsettled: How the Purdue Pharma Bankruptcy Failed the Victims of the American Overdose Crisis by Ryan Hampton, St. Martin's Press, 2021. Ryan Hampton - a victim himself - shows what must be done to hold these dangerous corporate hucksters accountable and help prevent the human casualties of such avaricious profiteering.

6. Flying Blind: The 737 MAX Tragedy and the Fall of Boeing by Peter Robison, Doubleday, 2021. Robison takes you inside the Boeing company and its decaying monetized culture. He reaches inside the manslaughtering stealth software that took over the planes from their pilots and drove one new 737 MAX on a death trip into the Java Sea and another 737 MAX deep into Ethiopian farmland.

7. First Class: The U.S. Postal Service, Democracy, and the Corporate Threat by Christopher W. Shaw, City Lights, 2021. Shaw showcases the magnificent historical contributions of Benjamin Franklin's grand idea as background to the struggle between a people's post office and the grasping corporate supremacists. Shaw shows ways for the people to prevail.

8. Twelve Ways to Save Democracy in Wisconsin by Matthew Rothschild, University of Wisconsin Press, 2021. Learn practical steps to shift political and electoral power to all the people, not just Wisconsinites, from a long-time progressive activist and writer.

9. 100% Democracy: The Case for Universal Voting by E.J. Dionne Jr., and Miles Rapoport, The New Press, 2022. They make the case for voting as a legal, civic duty which can dissolve all the proliferating obstacles to and the current suppression of voting. Universal voting is a one-stop antidote to massive corruption of our elections and the billions of bigoted, commercial dollars infesting the corrupters with impunity.

10. Un-American: A Soldier's Reckoning of Our Longest War by Erik Edstrom, a West Point graduate, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2020. This galvanizing call to our country makes a broad and deep case against militarism, boomeranging empire, and its devouring of America. You'll want to read this declaration of conscience, facts, and reason - twice!

11. Our Class: Trauma and Transformation in an American Prison by Chris Hedges, Simon & Schuster, 2021. Hedges exposes the problems that plague our society's criminal injustice system. He is a truth-teller and thinker who knows our country has to do better.

12. Closing Death's Door: Legal Innovations to End the Epidemic of Healthcare Harm by Michael J. Saks and Stephan Landsman, Oxford University Press, 2021. The third leading cause of death in the U.S., after heart disease and cancer, is from avoidable errors by the healthcare industry. The authors carefully calculate the loss from health harm is about 400,000 lives every year plus more avoidable injuries and diseases afflicting survivors. Federal and state governments do almost nothing about this preventable toll.

Special Recommendation:

13. Old Growth: The Best Writing About Trees From Orion, Orion Magazine, 2021. Trees will look very different to you after reading this collection of essays about their intelligence, resiliency, offerings, necessity, and adversaries. Don't be surprised if on your walks soon, you find yourself hugging them.

(c) 2021 Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His latest book is The Seventeen Solutions: Bold Ideas for Our American Future. Other recent books include, The Seventeen Traditions: Lessons from an American Childhood, Getting Steamed to Overcome Corporatism: Build It Together to Win, and "Only The Super -Rich Can Save Us" (a novel).

Ahmaud Arbery's mother spoke, on Wednesday, after the three men who pursued and killed her unarmed son were found guilty of felony homicide and related charges.

Justice For Ahmaud Arbery
Were it not for a graphic video and intense pressure from activists, the killers of an unarmed Black man in Georgia might have been acquitted.
By Jelani Cobb

One consequence of living in our current era of absurdities is that you are cured of a belief in foregone conclusions. Anything can happen, and the most surreal possibility is no more distant than the most mundane. In the moments before his death, in February of 2020, Ahmaud Arbery was pursued by three white men in two pickup trucks as he jogged through the leafy, bucolic streets of a suburban subdivision called Satilla Shores, near Brunswick, Georgia. One of those men, Travis McMichael, acting on a belief that Arbery, who was twenty-five, looked suspicious, confronted him with a shotgun and fired the weapon three times. Arbery was unarmed, but the gunman sought to declare that he had acted in self-defense. The fact that a jury, on Wednesday, convicted all three men-McMichael and his father, Gregory McMichael, and their neighbor William Bryan-for their actions in this murderous safari is less significant than the fact that this outcome was never a certainty. It might not have even been a probability.

This skepticism is anchored in both the far reaches of American history-more than four hundred Black people were lynched in Georgia between 1882 and 1930-and the most current of events. Perspectives on potential outcomes in this case were freighted with lingering anger and disillusionment stemming from a verdict last week, in a case tried a thousand miles away. On November 19th, a Wisconsin jury acquitted the eighteen-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse for shooting three men, two of them fatally, during protests in Kenosha following the police shooting of Jacob Blake, in August of 2020. Rittenhouse successfully claimed self-defense despite having ended the lives of two unarmed men with an AR-15-style rifle. The theme animating both the Rittenhouse and Arbery cases was a question of what exactly constitutes self-defense. Over the past several decades, the enactment of reactionary, N.R.A.-backed gun legislation has elevated the old football dictum of "the best defense is a good offense" to the level of actual public policy.

It has been nearly a decade since the unarmed Trayvon Martin died at the hands of the armed vigilante George Zimmerman, and eight years since a Florida jury acquitted Zimmerman of all charges in Martin's death. For these reasons, it was not entirely shocking when George Barnhill, the local prosecutor in Brunswick, Georgia, initially suggested that there were no crimes the McMichaels and Bryan could be charged with. Their pursuit of Arbery, Barnhill reasoned, was justified by the state's Civil War-era citizen's-arrest statute (which was repealed last May), and killing him was legal because Travis McMichael had stated that he had feared for his life in the seconds before he fired the fatal rounds. Barnhill's position became inscrutable when it was revealed that Bryan told investigators that one of the men used a racial epithet as Arbery lay dying-a point that will likely become central when the men are tried on federal hate-crime charges.

That charges were ultimately brought against the men is a direct result of the pressure the Arbery family and activists had placed on the local authorities, which resulted in two prosecutors recusing themselves from the case owing to ties to the McMichaels, the elder of whom is a former police officer. Ultimately, a Department of Justice review of the case and a Georgia Bureau of Investigation examination supported the filing of felony homicide and related charges. As with the death of George Floyd, video of Ahmaud Arbery's final moments proved central to achieving a legal outcome that otherwise might not have been possible. The graphic video, which shows Arbery running through Satilla Shores as the men's vehicles box him in, and the horrific, indelible scene of him falling to the ground, mortally wounded, ricocheted around the Internet in May of last year. Two days after the footage became public, charges were filed against the McMichaels. Bryan's arrest soon followed. And, as with the death of George Floyd, the case's outcome cannot necessarily be taken as evidence that anything fundamental has changed about our skewed judicial system. The point is not whether justice was achieved in this case. It's the overwhelming, uncommon circumstances under which it occurred, and the scale of the effort that was required to bring it.

(c) 2021 Jelani Cobb, a staff writer at The New Yorker, teaches in the journalism program at Columbia University. He co-edited "The Essential Kerner Commission Report" and "The Matter of Black Lives," an anthology of writing from The New Yorker.

Daddy's Philosophy

By Jim Hightower

This holiday season got me to thinking about America's spirit of giving, and I don't mean this overdone business of Christmas, Hanukkah and other holiday gifts. I mean our true spirit of giving - giving of ourselves.

Yes, we are a country of rugged individualists, yet there's also a deep, community-minded streak in each of us. We're a people who believe in the notion that we're all in this together, that we can make our individual lives better by contributing to the common good.

The establishment media pay little attention to grassroots generosity, focusing instead on the occasional showy donation by what it calls "philanthropists" - big tycoons who give a little piece of their billions to some university or museum in exchange for getting a building named after them. But in my mind, the real philanthropists are the millions of you ordinary folks who have precious little money to give, but consistently give of themselves, and do it without demanding that their name be engraved on a granite wall.

My own Daddy, rest his soul, was a fine example of this. With half a dozen other guys in Denison, Texas, he started the Little League baseball program volunteering to build the park, sponsor and coach the teams, run the squawking P.A. system, etc. etc. Even after I graduated from Little League, Daddy stayed working at it, because his involvement was not merely for his kids . . . but for all. He felt the same way about being taxed to build a public library in town. I don't recall him ever going in that building, much less checking-out a book, but he wanted it to be there for the community and he was happy to pay his part. Not that he was a do-good liberal, for God's sake - indeed, he called himself a conservative.

My Daddy didn't even know he had a political philosophy, but he did, and it's the best I've ever heard. He would often say to me, "Everybody does better when everybody does better." If only our leaders in Washington and on Wall Street would begin practicing this true American Philosophy.

(c) 2021 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates,"is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition. Jim writes The Hightower Lowdown, a monthly newsletter chronicling the ongoing fights by America's ordinary people against rule by plutocratic elites. Sign up at

A boy with a face mask looks the Christmas lights during the winter in Granada, Spain, amid the coronavirus pandemic on December 20, 2021.

Two Years Of COVID Have Forced Us To Recalibrate Our Concept Of Hope
By William Rivers Pitt

"I wish it was over for good or ill," laments J.R.R. Tolkien's over-curious hobbit, Pippin, on the eve of Sauron's siege at Minas Tirith. "I am no warrior at all and dislike any thought of battle; but waiting on the edge of one that I can't escape is worst of all. What a long day it seems already!"

A long day indeed. Waiting on the edge is what many of us have been doing for nearly two years now, and not only is there no end in sight, there is yet another unavoidable battle waiting for us out there beyond the torchlight. Omicron is rising, even in my tiny little corner of New England. If it isn't everywhere already - how can we know, given the shabby testing infrastructure we're still saddled with? - it will be soon.

My mother canceled the annual Christmas gathering at her house this year for fear of this thing. She was very matter-of-fact about it - and altogether certain it was the responsible thing to do (I agree, for the record) - but I could hear the sadness in her voice nonetheless. Our family has never been Currier and Ives when it comes to this season, but it remains a beloved touchstone, especially now that she is the grandmother of a genuinely astonishing 8-year-old. Another book of memories stolen before they could be made.

My family remains among the fortunate in this slow-grinding ordeal. According to a mid-December New York Times report, COVID-19 has killed one out of every 100 people over the age of 65 in the U.S. That age group makes up a staggering 75 percent majority of the more than 800,000 who have died since all this began. That amounts to some 600,000 families who have lost an elder, leaving an empty seat at the Christmas dinner table.

Gloomy times all around. A small part of me envies those who have convinced themselves this is all a big nothing noise, or have just decided they are so over it, you guys. A fair portion of them might be sick or dead by springtime, especially those who remain willfully unvaccinated, but in this moment such flat denialism must be invigorating.

To not feel like this anymore is deeply tempting, a harlequin abandonment of worries and doubts, until I realize I would rather be lonely and alive than an iconoclastic dying person in an overcrowded ICU, tube down my windpipe in service to lungs now made of ash, begging for the vaccine that can't help me anymore. A double-vaxxed friend who caught the Delta variant said it felt like her bones were on fire. Yeah, no, , "I'll be alone, dancin', you know it baby..."

The hardest part is the change in perspective I need to make, if I want to keep my head on straight. That change? I have to stop believing this is all going to end someday soon, because it isn't. A huge swath of the world remains unvaccinated, a dilemma that most Global North leaders don't seem to be in any rush to address, and every one of those people is a potential petri dish for the next variant, and the next, and the next. Now comes Omicron, still a mystery but a confirmed fast-mover. There is a growing body of evidence to suggest Omicron's symptoms are "mild," but compared to what? A bear mauling? "Mild" still sounds pretty damn bad, and worse if you are older and/or unvaccinated.

How does it end, then? I have no idea. Maybe it really doesn't. All I do know is that these last two years, and the years I suspect are coming, have once again forced me to recalibrate my concept of hope. Hope for me used to be results-based: I hope for something, and it happens or it doesn't. COVID, the climate collapse and the generalized awful that is modern American politics, broke that mold.

Hope, now, is for me an exercise to see if I still have it in me to hope, despite all the reasons not to that are staring me in the face. The effort of hoping yields its own rewards, no matter the outcome and as intangible as they may sometimes seem. I sound like the last line from Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption ("I hope."), but it's the truth. Right now, it's all we've got as we stand like Pippin waiting for the next battle, hoping to have hope.

(c) 2021 William Rivers Pitt is a senior editor and lead columnist at Truthout. He is also a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of three books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know, The Greatest Sedition Is Silence and House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation. His fourth book, The Mass Destruction of Iraq: Why It Is Happening, and Who Is Responsible, co_written with Dahr Jamail, is available now on Amazon. He lives and works in New Hampshire.

Sen. Ron Johnson's penchant for false accusations, misinformation and ineptitude has allowed him to edge out Joe McCarthy as Wisconsin's worst-ever senator.

2021: The Year Ron Johnson Replaced Joe McCarthy As Wisconsin's Worst Senator
By John Nichols

The Capital Times devoted more than a decade - roughly 10% of its long history - to the battle against Joe McCarthy and the ism to which he leant his name. The fight during the late 1940s and early 1950s went beyond partisanship and ideology. It addressed existential questions about political impunity and the fundamentals of democracy.

Even before McCarthy's election to the U.S. Senate in 1946, it was clear that he was a man who would say and do just about anything to advance his unprincipled politics. When his career hit a rough spot, the junior senator from Wisconsin began to accuse those he disliked and disagreed with of being communists. Instinctually dishonest and reckless in the extreme, McCarthy claimed to have lists of "reds" and "fellow travelers" in the State Department, the Pentagon, Hollywood, the news media, the labor movement, the civil rights movement and the circles of liberal Republicans and Democrats that dared to oppose him.

McCarthy was a liar. But as a flamboyant politician who had recognized the power of the new medium of television, he knew how to earn headlines. And he knew how to intimidate bureaucrats, diplomats, editors and his fellow senators. But this newspaper proudly joined its voice with those brave souls who battled the charlatan, and we celebrated his downfall.

It seemed to William T. Evjue and the editors of the Cap Times that there would never be a senator so miserable, and so destructive, as Joe McCarthy.

Surely, there were senators from Wisconsin that The Capital Times disagreed with. But this newspaper never imagined that there would be one who would outdo McCarthy.

But we were wrong.

This year, Ron Johnson outdid his predecessor.

There were many measures of Johnson's infamy. He spread misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic and contributed to the vaccine hesitancy that has so imperiled efforts to save lives and get back to some semblance of normalcy. He embraced defeated former President Donald Trump's "Big Lies" about elections results. And, of course, he abused his position to try and upend the legislative agenda of the duly elected president, Joe Biden.

But Johnson went full McCarthy in June of 2021 when he appeared in Fox News for a discussion with Sean Hannity about the president's foreign policy stances. As usual, Johnson struggled to keep up with the conversation. Exasperated, he accused the president of being "weak" and announced, "Do not ask me to get into the mind of a liberal, progressive socialist, Marxist like President Biden."


Joe Biden campaigned for and won the presidency as a very mainstream Democrat who, it should be noted, defeated more liberal and progressive candidates for the party's 2020 nomination - including a popular democratic socialist, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Biden has governed as a mainstream Democrat with ambitions to renew the legacy of the party's great presidents of the 20th century, including Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry Truman and Lyndon Johnson.

As difficult as the past year has been, Biden has had considerable success, securing the passage of monumental pieces of legislation such as the American Relief Act and the bipartisan infrastructure bill; making impressive appointments to Cabinet posts, regulatory commissions and the judiciary; and restoring a measure of dignity and stability to the governance of a country that was so destabilized by the Trump interregnum.

But Johnson would have us believe that Biden is a devoted follower of Karl Marx, a devotee of the Communist Manifesto who has infiltrated the federal government in order - with the acquiescence of Marxist majorities in the U.S. Congress - to "enact all these crazy socialist policies."

As Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin observes of Johnson, "Since the election, he has cynically supported election conspiracies he knows to be false, but what's the harm in playacting for the masses when you think Biden is one step from a socialist takeover?"

Does Johnson really think a communist takeover is imminent? Don't be silly.

Like McCarthy, the senator from Oshkosh thinks that making wild and unsupported charges about opponents will distract voters from his own ineptitude and, perhaps, save his political skin.

What's striking is Johnson's willingness to go to extremes that McCarthy avoided.

As dishonest as he was, McCarthy never seriously suggested that Harry Truman - the Democratic president at the time "McCarthyism" was gaining traction - was a Marxist. Only the absolute lunatics on the fringe that even the junior senator from Wisconsin avoided dared go to such extremes.

But Johnson goes there regularly. And he does so for purposes every bit as cynical as those that motivated McCarthy.

Truman put it best in 1952, when he explained the tactics of McCarthy and his kind:

"Socialism is a scare word they have hurled at every advance the people have made in the last 20 years. Socialism is what they called public power. Socialism is what they called Social Security. ... Socialism is their name for almost anything that helps all the people."

"When the Republican candidate inscribes the slogan 'Down With Socialism' on the banner of his 'great crusade,' that is really not what he means at all," concluded Truman, "What he really means is 'Down with Progress - down with Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal,' and 'down with Harry Truman's Fair Deal.' That's all he means."

It is unfortunate that Truman's counsel must be updated to explain the false statements of another senator from Wisconsin. But that's what Ron Johnson requires of us.

The Capital Times never hesitated to call McCarthy out as a political con man of the worst order - a mountebank who employed misinformation for the most contemptuous objectives.

Now The Capital Times calls out Johnson with the same understanding - and with a recognition that his lies are motivated not by sincere concern for the fate of the nation but by an opposition to progress that is even more disingenuous than that of Joe McCarthy.

(c) 2021 John Nichols writes about politics for The Capitol Times. His book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, is published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

Do We Dare To Welcome 2022?
By James Donahue

It is tradition for Americans to welcome in every new year on our calendar. People celebrate on the street, they make "New Year's" resolutions and generally celebrate what they hope will be changed for the better.

But if there is a change this looming year, it probably will not be anything we will welcome. Our future prospects appear extremely dark.

The great storms, extreme heat, droughts, floods, and melting ice caps that ravaged our world in 2021 will not be going away this year. World leaders have come to an understanding about this horror, have attempted to collectively meet and agree to try to do something about it, without much success. The cost of changing the way we live . . . our dependence upon coal, natural gas and oil to fuel our homes, offices, cars, trucks, ships and aircraft, appears to be too high a price to pay to stop the disaster our news outlets have dubbed "climate change."

The fast-melting ice caps are heating our oceans, causing changes in the natural currents and consequently triggering the events now affecting all life on the planet. Earth's oceans are not merely home to most of Earth's life, but they also function like heaters and coolers for the entire planet. This means that they are crucial to survival of all life, not just the flora and fauna that happen to live underwater.

Both sea and land creatures are moving north into what remains to be the cooler climates. We are experiencing dangerous and biting insects and animals as they move away from the extreme heat of the equator. The onset of new and deadly diseases like COVID-19 and now Omicron are ravaging the human population everywhere. Humans are migrating to escape the terrible heat, and this is causing border wars as the human tides move north.

Many of the creatures of the Earth are going extinct. The birds that once welcomed each new day have disappeared. Farmers can't feed their livestock so the animals are being slaughtered for meat.

Farmers everywhere are unable to cope with the extreme weather changes and this is already causing food shortages. The loss of popular foods from the warmer areas like coffee beans, bananas, peanuts is already affecting our food supply and things are destined to get costly as the heat builds.

Some researchers are now saying this problem is now out of control. Efforts by the Biden Administration to shift to natural green energy sources is meeting extreme obstacle sources in the halls of Congress. What should be a collective effort to save ourselves remains in a stand-still.

Indeed, the celebration of this new year is not something many of us will participate in. The looming dark days ahead will be affecting us all.

(c) 2021 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles.

Surveillance Concerns: The Good, The Bad, And The Xenophobic
By David Swanson

Thom Hartmann has written an enormous number of great books, and the latest is no exception. It's called The Hidden History of Big Brother in America: How the Death of Privacy and the Rise of Surveillance Threaten Us and Our Democracy. Thom is not the least bit xenophobic, paranoid, or war-inclined. He dishes out criticism - most of it clearly well-merited - to numerous governments including the one in Washington, D.C. Yet I think this new book provides a useful example of a problem deeply rooted in U.S. culture. If you happen not to identify with 4% of humanity or believe that it possesses anything resembling a democracy, as the book's title wants you to do, you may come at the topic of surveillance from an angle that sees harm as well as good in the way in which U.S. liberals often object to surveillance.

Big Brother in America contains brilliant passages on familiar themes for Hartmann readers: racism, slavery, monopoly, the "war" on drugs, etc. And it properly focuses concerns on the spying done by governments, corporations, and such devices as home alarms, baby monitors, cell phones, games, TVs, fitness watches, talking Barbie dolls, etc., on corporations making less desirable customers wait on hold longer, on websites changing the prices for products to match what they expect someone will pay, on medical devices feeding data to insurance companies, on facial recognition profiling, on social media pushing users toward ever more extreme views, and on the question of what impact it has on people's behavior to know or fear they are under surveillance.

But somewhere along the way, protecting people from the abuse of power by corrupt governments and corporations is merged with protecting a corrupt government from imaginary or exaggerated foreign threats. And this merger seems to facilitate a forgetting of the fact that an over-abundance of government secrecy is at least as big a problem as a shortage of privacy. Hartmann worries what President Donald Trump's careless use of a cell phone may have revealed to foreign governments. I worry what it may have concealed from the U.S. public. Hartmann writes that "[t]here isn't a government in the world that doesn't have secrets that, if revealed, would damage the national security of that country." Yet, nowhere does he define "national security" or explain why we should care about it. He merely says: "Be it military, trade, or political, governments routinely conceal information for reasons both bad and good." Yet some governments have no militaries, some view a governmental merger with "trade" as fascistic, and some are built on the idea that politics is the last thing that should be kept secret (what does it even mean to keep politics secret?). What would be a good reason for any of this secrecy?

Of course, Hartmann believes (page 93, completely sans argument or footnotes, as is the norm) that Russian President Vladimir Putin helped Trump win the 2016 election - not even that Putin wanted to help or tried to help but that he helped, a claim for which there exists no evidence, which may be why none is ever offered. In fact, Hartmann believes that the Russian government "may" have locked in a still-existing "years-long Russian presence inside our systems." This deep fear that someone from the wrong part of the planet might find out what the U.S. government is doing reads to most good liberals as reason for hostility toward Russia or even as reason for tough laws on cyber-attacks - though never, ever, ever awareness of the fact that Russia has proposed banning cyber attacks for years and been rejected by the U.S. government. To me, in contrast, this problem suggests a need to make a government's doings public, to make government transparent to the people supposedly in charge of a so-called democracy. Even the story of how the Democratic Party was cheating Senator Bernie Sanders out of a fair shot at a nomination - the story that Russiagate was concocted to distract from - was a reason for less secrecy, not more. We should have known what was going on, been grateful to whoever told us what was going on, and tried to remember and even do something about what was going on.

Hartmann goes on to tell the story of the 2014 coup in Ukraine with the obligatory absence of any mention of the coup. Hartmann seems less than careful with the facts, exaggerating what's new and different about technology today, including by suggesting that only through the use of the latest technology can anyone get the facts wrong. "Incitement of racial hatred, for example, would land most people in jail, but is allowed to proliferate on Facebook . . . " No, it wouldn't. Outlandish claims about Chinese abuse of Uighurs are included based on quoting a Guardian report that "it's believed . . . that." Slavery is a "natural outgrowth" of agriculture, despite the lack of correlation between the two in world history and pre-history. And how do we test the claim that Frederick Douglass would not have learned to read if his owners had possessed today's surveillance tools?

The gravest danger and greatest focus of the book is Trump-campaign, micro-targeted Facebook ads, with all sorts of conclusions drawn, even though "it's impossible to know how consequential they were." Among the conclusions is that the targeting of Facebook ads makes "any sort of psychological resistance nearly impossible" despite the fact that this is claimed by numerous authors expounding on why and how we must resist Facebook ads, which I and most people I ask have generally or entirely ignored - even though that's nearly impossible.

Hartmann quotes a Facebook employee claiming that Facebook was responsible for electing Trump. But the Trump election was extremely narrow. A great many things made the difference. It looks very likely that sexism made the difference, that voters in two key states viewing Hillary Clinton as too war-prone made the difference, that Trump lying and keeping a number of nasty secrets made the difference, that giving Bernie Sanders' supporters the shaft made the difference, that the electoral college made the difference, that the reprehensible long public career of Hillary Clinton made the difference, that the corporate media's taste for Trump-created ratings made the difference. Any one of these things (and many more) making the difference doesn't suggest that all the others didn't also make the difference. So, let's not give too much weight to what Facebook supposedly did. Let's ask, however, for some evidence that it did it.

Hartmann tries to suggest that events announced on Facebook by Russian trolls made the difference, without any actual evidence, and later in the book admitting that "[n]obody's sure to this day (other, probably, than Facebook)" who announced certain non-existent "Black Antifa" events. Hartmann offers little to no evidence for the repeated claim that foreign governments are responsible in some meaningful way for the spread of crackpot conspiracy fantasies on U.S. social media - even though the crackpot fantasies don't have any less proof behind them than do the claims about who has spread them.

Hartmann recounts the U.S.-Israeli "Stuxnet" cyber-attack on Iran as the first major such attack. He describes it as stimulating a huge Iranian investment in similar cyber-attack tools, and blames/credits Iran, Russia, and China for various attacks asserted by the U.S. government. We're all expected to choose which bits of the claims of which of these lying scheming governments is true. I know two true things here:

> 1) My interest in personal privacy and the ability to freely assemble and protest is very different from a government's right to keep what it's doing in my name with my money secret.

2) The arrival of cyberwar does not erase other forms of war. Hartmann writes that "The risk/reward calculation for cyberwar is so much better than for nuclear war that it's probable that nuclear warfare has become an anachronism." Sorry, but nuclear warfare never made rational sense. Ever. And investment in it and preparations for it are rising swiftly.

It seems to me that we should talk about the surveillance of people separately from talking about international cyber-attacks and militarism. Everyone seems to do a much better job at the former. When the latter gets mixed in, the patriotism seems to pervert the priorities. Do we want to disempower the surveillance state or further empower it? Do we want to bust up big tech or give it funding to help it fend off the evil foreigners? Governments that want to abuse their people without protest simply adore foreign enemies. You don't have to adore them, but should at least realize what purpose they are serving.

(c) 2021 David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of and campaign coordinator for Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at and He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015 and 2016 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.

A woman holds a dog in her arms as forest fires approach the village of Pefki on Evia (Euboea) island, Greece's second largest island, on August 8, 2021.

Did We Just Blow Our Last, Best Chance To Tackle Climate Change?
By Justin Worland

In mid-2020, after the pandemic had settled in, I wrote in a TIME cover story that the stars had aligned to make 2020 and 2021 the "last, best chance" to keep the world from experiencing the worst impacts of climate change. Temperatures have risen more than 1.1 degreres C since the Industrial Revolution, and the COVID-19 pandemic had unexpectedly opened up new pathways to rethink the global economy to help the world avoid the 1.5 degrees C of temperature rise, long seen as a marker of when the planet will start to experience the catastrophic and irreversible effects of climate change.

Now, 18 months later, the world seems poised to blow it. Governments across the globe have failed to spend big on a green economic recovery. Political leaders from the world's largest economies have made lofty promises to eliminate their carbon footprints but failed to offer concrete policies to get there. And President Joe Biden's ambitions for bold climate legislation have been stymied in Congress.

"We're sort of standing on the precipice," says Rob Jackson, an earth system science professor at Stanford University and the chair of the Global Carbon Project. "I am loath to say it, but I'm deeply skeptical that we will reduce emissions fast enough to keep global temperatures from rising 1.5 degrees."

So with two landmark years for the planet-not to mention everyone who lives on it-in the rearview mirror, it's worth looking at the missed opportunities. But it's just as important to consider what comes next: missed chances cannot be viewed as an excuse to give up.

The most obvious-and perhaps easiest-opportunity to turn the COVID-19 pandemic into progress in the fight against climate change boiled down to dollars and cents. COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdowns shocked the economy, requiring governments to spend trillions to keep the wheels turning. Quickly hard-nosed analysts and idealistic activists alike said governments should focus that spending on initiatives that would foster clean energy and push polluting industries to transform.

This message caught on quickly, and a "green recovery" became a key talking point for heads of government from countries large and small. But, as the pandemic wore on, most of those policies failed to materialize. Only around 3% of the nearly $17 trillion countries have spent on recovery measures have been allocated to clean energy and sustainable recovery, according to an October report from the International Energy Agency. The challenge is particularly stark in developing countries where finding financing for clean energy can be difficult. Other analyses have been more optimistic-but only slightly so. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development found in April that 17% of recovery spending would provide environmental benefits while another 17% was negative or mixed. The rest of it was neither, in effect meaning it propped up business as usual.

These numbers present huge challenges for progress on climate. First, building new fossil fuel-based infrastructure locks in a future for oil, gas and coal for decades to come. Countries are unlikely to spend millions on, say, a pipeline only to turn around and shut it down a few years later. Moreover, spending money on infrastructure is for many countries a zero sum game. Once the money is spent, it's gone, and the opportunity to spend big again may not come back again for years or decades. "We've spent a lot of money very quickly," says Jackson. "We won't get that money back."

Climate protestors gather for the Global Day of Action for Climate Justice march in Glasgow, Scotland, on Nov. 6, 2021.


Even before the pandemic, 2020 was meant to be a big year for action on climate change. Because of a cycle laid out in the 2015 Paris Agreement, countries were supposed to produce new climate commitments ahead of a key conference in Glasgow, Scotland, known informally as COP26.

Organizers of the summit-originally scheduled for the fall of 2020 and held a year later as a result of the pandemic-planned the talks with the hope that, when the summit concluded, country commitments would leave the world with a clear and viable pathway to keep temperature rise to 1.5° degrees. Two heated weeks of negotiations led to a complicated outcome. If you extrapolate from countries' promises to eliminate their carbon footprints, temperature rise might be limited to around 1.8 degreesC, according to an analysis from Climate Action Tracker.

Countries committed to "phasing down" coal and eliminating "inefficient" fossil fuel subsidies. Perhaps more importantly, countries said they would return next year once again with new policies to bring the world even closer to the 1.5 degrees C. "Despite what I would describe as a fractured international politics more generally, we did have consensus," says Alok Sharma, the British minister who served as COP26's president.

But promises don't mean much without policies to make them possible. Any leader can promise to, say, eliminate its carbon footprint by 2050. But to do so requires concrete policies like deploying clean energy or transitioning to electric vehicles. And, if you add up the real policies that drive enacted by countries by the middle of COP26, temperatures are expected to rise 2.7 degrees C-a big gap from the 1.8 degrees C suggested by the vague promises.

The outcome was better than many expected, but it seems fair to say that much work remains to be done to really put the world on a 1.5 degrees C trajectory. "Is [the agreement] enough to hold global warming to 1.5 degrees?" James Shaw, New Zealand's climate minister, asked his counterparts at the end of the conference. "I honestly can't say that I think that it does, but we must never, ever give up."

Political change

The U.S. is the world's largest economy and second largest greenhouse gas emitter after China, and so what happens in Washington matters a great deal for global efforts to cut emissions. As president, Donald Trump took the U.S. backward, slashing climate rules and taking the country out of the Paris Agreement, and slowed the rest of the world down at the same time. Biden came to office promising to recommit the U.S. to climate action. He put the issue at the forefront of his domestic and international agendas, and, in April, he made a key promise: to slash emissions by at least 50% by 2030 compared to 2005 levels.

The Biden Administration has described its strategy as an "all of government" approach, meaning every agency and official needs to consider how their work can help address the issue. But, despite a swathe of new rules and regulations targeting emissions, the Administration has hinged much of its agenda on a key piece of legislation dubbed Build Back Better.

The spending plan, which passed the House of Representatives in November, contains more than $550 billion in clean energy and climate investment that would promote the adoption of electric vehicles, invest in conservation efforts and provide tax incentives for clean energy. At a macro level, that kind of investment would be transformational. Several independent analyses have shown that when combined with other measures, like tighter efficiency rules for automobiles and another key infrastructure package which Biden signed into law earlier this year, the investment would allow the U.S. to meet Biden's 2030 target.

Without it, or something of equal scale, the target remains an empty promise. "It's impossible to get from here to there without these investments," says John Podesta, the former advisor to Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama who now works on climate issues, of the role Build Back Better bill plays in meeting Biden's goal.

But on Dec. 19, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin told Fox News that he would not support the current version of the bill. Because the legislation needs support from every Democratic member of the Senate to pass, Manchin's statement undermined both Biden's climate agenda and global climate efforts more broadly. "If we don't pass this, we basically have lost the war," Sean Casten, a member of the House of Representatives from Illinois, told me earlier in December. "This is how we actually make sure that the fires, the floods don't get worse every year."

What comes next

If all of this sounds depressing, it is. While keeping temperature rise to 1.5 degrees C may still be technically possible, it becomes harder and harder to imagine leaders finding the political will to do so with each passing year. That means an increasing likelihood that we may soon trigger a tipping point that leads to non-linear changes-think of the melting of Arctic permafrost that releases huge quantities of methane, for example, that in turn leads to even faster warming.

Many who work on climate issues are hesitant to admit that critical threshold may already be behind us. Acknowledging that reality is often seen as tantamount to giving up.

But there's another way to look at it. On a recent panel I moderated, Michael Greenstone, a University of Chicago economics professor who served as the chief economist on Obama's Council of Economic Advisors, ran through his calculations of the damage done by each ton of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere. His conclusion was simple: "Every ton matters." No matter how close we are to hitting 1.5 degrees C of warming-or by how much we've passed it-every ton of carbon matters, as does every new effort the world makes in reducing the harm being done. The world came up short in 2020 and 2021. In 2022, leaders need to go back to the drawing board.

(c) 2021 Justin Worland. Write to Justin Worland at

For Christmas, We Received A Hopeful Week
Science has done all it can. Now it's up to us to rediscover our common humanity.
By Charles P. Pierce

This has been a bit of a hopeful week as weeks go these days. The U.S. Army seems to be closing in on a vaccine that will work against all variants of coronavirus-not just COVID, but SARS, as well. There are now not one, but two antiviral pills aimed at treating the virus in affected individuals and moderating its effects. And studies indicate the new Omicron variant of the virus, while highly contagious, results in a milder form of the disease than that produced by either the original strain or the Delta variant.

Science is reaching the point at which it's done all it can. The rest of the fight against the pandemic depends on how much every one of us cares about our fellow human beings. This has been the obvious answer from the start, but it's also been something at which the country has bridled over the past two years, a reaction that, as nearly as I can tell, is unprecedented in American history. I'm old enough to remember the unequivocal joy with which the Salk vaccine against polio was received. (Kids, of course, were equally overjoyed at the arrival of the Sabin vaccine. No more shots!) My mother had been confined for weeks in an iron lung after contracting polio as a young woman. It left her with a lasting medico-phobia that she transferred to me, thereby making sure polio affected our lives long after the vaccine had eradicated it. But even she insisted that I be immunized as soon as the vaccine became available. She didn't believe in doctors, but she believed in that vaccine.

I believe we have it in us to be better than we have been. I believe we have it in us to be better than we are. I believe we can rediscover our common humanity if we just look for it. There are all kinds of things we knew and loved once that we've forgotten. There are better parts of ourselves that have lain dormant for far too long. Rediscovery can be as exciting as discovery was in the first place.

Let's find our common humanity again.

Is it a good Christmas for dinosaur news, BBC? It's always a good day for dinosaur news!

It is believed to be a toothless theropod dinosaur, or oviraptorosaur, and has been named Baby Yingliang. Researcher Dr Fion Waisum Ma said it is "the best dinosaur embryo ever found in history." The discovery has also given researchers a greater understanding of the link between dinosaurs and modern birds. The fossil shows the embryo was in a curled position known as "tucking", which is a behaviour seen in birds shortly before they hatch. "This indicates that such behaviour in modern birds first evolved and originated among their dinosaur ancestors," Dr Ma told the AFP news agency.

The egg was first uncovered in 2000, but put into storage for 10 years. It was only when construction work began on the museum and old fossils were being sorted through that researchers turned their attention to the egg, which they suspected was holding an embryo inside.

In other words, the fossil embryo was discovered twice: once in the rocks of China, and again on the back shelves of the museum. There's something about this fossil that wants the world to know that it was here in the world once. There's a Christmas story in the details here somewhere. You can find it yourselves if you look hard enough. Rediscovery can be as exciting as discovery was in the first place.

Every year at this time, I publish the rejoinder delivered by Ebenezer Scrooge's nephew, Fred, the first time his uncle has dropped the "Humbug!" In response, Fred appeals to those parts of his uncle that have atrophied through many years of greed and contempt. Those are the first things that are summoned in the story. The ghosts come second. Lost humanity must be rediscovered first.

"There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say. Christmas among the rest. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round-apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that-as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creature bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!"
And so say we all, amen.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from all of us in the shebeen. And god bless us all, everyone.

(c) 2021 Charles P. Pierce has been a working journalist since 1976. He is the author of four books, most recently 'Idiot America.' He lives near Boston with his wife but no longer his three children.

The Quotable Quote -

"Well, I think he's going to have a lot of explaining to do to the people of West Virginia, to tell him why he doesn't have the guts to take on the drug companies to lower the cost of prescription drugs. West Virginia is one of the poorest states in this country. You got elderly people and disabled people who would like to stay at home. He's going to have to tell the people of West Virginia why he doesn't want to expand Medicare to cover dental hearing and eyeglasses."
~~~ Bernie Sanders

Desmond Tutu, The Nonviolent Foe Of Two Apartheids - South Africa And Israel-Palestine
By Juan Cole

Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) - Ofeiba Quist-Arcton reports at NPR that Desmond Tutu has died in Cape Town, South Africa. He was 90.

Tutu was an amazingly courageous voice against the white nationalist Apartheid system in South Africa, which segregated Blacks and deprived them of a good education and economic opportunities, and which attempted to create reservations for them in which the state stripped them of their citizenship.

Tutu spoke out against South African systematic racial exclusion, making bold demands, given the Apartheid police state's repressive apparatus. The Nobel Prize committee wrote in 1984:

'Desmond Tutu has formulated his objective as "a democratic and just society without racial divisions", and has set forward the following points as minimum demands:

1. equal civil rights for all
2. the abolition of South Africa's passport laws
3. a common system of education
4. the cessation of forced deportation from South Africa to the so-called "homelands" '

The last point referred to the government's carving out of "Bantustans" or statelets it declared to be not South Africa, the residents of which would not have citizenship. The white Afrikaners behind this policy hoped to decrease the demographic weight of Blacks in South Africa over time, making it a white country, by expelling Blacks to these Bantustans.

For these reasons (and American television will strictly not tell you this), Tutu spoke out equally courageously and eloquently about Palestinian rights. In a 2002 op-ed for The Guardian, Tutu wrote,

"In our struggle against apartheid, the great supporters were Jewish people. They almost instinctively had to be on the side of the disenfranchised, of the voiceless ones, fighting injustice, oppression and evil. I have continued to feel strongly with the Jews. I am patron of a Holocaust centre in South Africa. I believe Israel has a right to secure borders.

What is not so understandable, not justified, is what it did to another people to guarantee its existence. I've been very deeply distressed in my visit to the Holy Land; it reminded me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa. I have seen the humiliation of the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like us when young white police officers prevented us from moving about."

He spoke of the dispossession of Palestinians from their homes by Israelis, who took their land. He continued,
"Israel will never get true security and safety through oppressing another people. A true peace can ultimately be built only on justice. We condemn the violence of suicide bombers, and we condemn the corruption of young minds taught hatred; but we also condemn the violence of military incursions in the occupied lands, and the inhumanity that won't let ambulances reach the injured."
Tutu called for a peaceful resolution of Apartheid in Occupied Palestine, such as occurred in South Africa.

He also complained that in the United States to bring up the Israeli colonial project in the Palestinian territories was immediately to attract charges of anti-Semitism. With his gentle humor, he riposted that to voice such criticism of Israeli policy "is to be immediately dubbed anti-semitic, as if the Palestinians were not semitic. I am not even anti-white, despite the madness of that group. And how did it come about that Israel was collaborating with the apartheid government on security measures?"

In 2014 he wrote for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz about a pro-Palestinian rally he attended:

'I asked the crowd to chant with me: "We are opposed to the injustice of the illegal occupation of Palestine. We are opposed to the indiscriminate killing in Gaza. We are opposed to the indignity meted out to Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks. We are opposed to violence perpetrated by all parties. But we are not opposed to Jews.'
He added,
"Over the past few weeks, more than 1.6 million people across the world have signed onto this movement by joining an Avaaz campaign calling on corporations profiting from the Israeli occupation and/or implicated in the abuse and repression of Palestinians to pull out. The campaign specifically targets Dutch pension fund ABP; Barclays Bank; security systems supplier G4S; French transport company Veolia; computer company Hewlett-Packard; and bulldozer supplier Caterpillar. Last month, 17 EU governments urged their citizens to avoid doing business in or investing in illegal Israeli settlements."
He urged that the movement be nonviolent, and condemned Hamas's rockets. But he wasn't afraid to be called a terrorist (the Apartheid regime branded all its opponents 'terrorists' as well). His goal here, as elsewhere in his rich life, was peace, love and forgiveness. Especially forgiveness.

There is no point in celebrating Archbishop Tutu's brave stand against Apartheid in South Africa if you are afraid to bring up his brave stand against Israeli Apartheid practices against Occupied, stateless Palestinians.

His life was epic, and full of love of others (including many dear Jewish friends who also worked against Apartheid alongside him).

In 1986, Tutu had become the first Black archbishop of the Anglican Church in Cape Town.

Tutu was born in Kerksdorp, a Gold Rush town in the North West Province. His father became an elementary school principal and his mother cooked and cleaned at a school for the blind. Already in 1913, the newly independent South African government began making Blacks live on reservations and usurping their property. After World War II, in 1948, the white nationalist National Party came to power. Starting in 1949, when he was 19, the Afrikaner-dominated government began passing Apartheid laws forbidding inter-racial marriage and imposing an even stricter segregation, which resembled the Jim Crow laws passed by Southern white legislators in the late nineteenth century to deprive African-Americans of the vote and to segregate them from whites.

Tutu was initially a high school teacher, but gained a sense that religious leaders were best placed to challenge racial inequality. In 1953, an Apartheid law lowered the standards for the education of Black children, trying to ensure that they learned only enough to be docile laborers. Tutu became an ordained Anglican priest (Americans would say Episcopalian) and studied theology in Johannesburg. Then he went off to London for an MA in theology, which he received from King's College in 1966. On his return he rose quickly through the Anglican church hierarchy. In 1976 he became bishop of Lesotho, a former British colony that had become an independent kingdom in 1966. It is completely surrounded by South Africa.

From there, Tutu began speaking out against Apartheid, and continued even when he returned to South Africa, as an official of the Council of Churches. These were liberal Protestant denominations and the Council was the South African national sub-group of the World Council of Churches. The Afrikaner Calvinist churches withdrew from it because of its opposition to Apartheid.

After the Apartheid government collapsed and Nelson Mandela became president in the early 1990s, he appointed Archbishop Tutu to head the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which investigated the crimes of the Apartheid regime. These included torture, unlawful imprisonment and unlawful killing, among others.

Tutu's commission adopted the rule that a public and detailed confession of wrongdoing was sufficient punishment, and so elicited from some former Afrikaner war criminals a full picture of their activities, but then pardoned them. Many South Africans were angry about this leniency, but Tutu's philosophy was that unless the country, including the Afrikaaners, fully faced the history and documented it, they would never be able to get past it. The war criminals after all would hardly have confessed at such length if they had simply been tried and imprisoned, where a conviction could even have been gotten.

The Israeli press is churlishly lambasting Tutu as an "enemy" of Israel, which I think I've shown he was not. Indeed, Israel's continued and blatant war crimes are destroying the country, and its true friends owe it frankness and tough love. Tutu didn't hate anyone, but he loved justice.

(c) 2021 Juan R.I. Cole is the founder and chief editor of Informed Comment. He is the Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. He has written extensively on modern Islamic movements in Egypt, the Persian Gulf and South Asia and has given numerous media interviews on the war on terrorism and the Iraq War. He lived in various parts of the Muslim world for nearly 10 years and continues to travel widely there. He speaks Arabic, Farsi and Urdu.

Trump told the crowd at the 6 January rally: 'We will never give up. We will never concede.'

The True Meaning Of 6 January
We must answer Trump's neofascism with hope
By Robert Reich

As the first anniversary of the Capitol attack nears, all decent Americans must commit to deprogram this Republican cult. Doing so will mean paying attention to those we left behind.

6 January will be the first anniversary one of the most shameful days in American history. On that date in 2021, the United States Capitol was attacked by thousands of armed loyalists to Donald Trump, some intent on killing members of Congress. About 140 officers were injured. Five people died.

Even now, almost a year later, Americans remain confused and divided about the significance of what occurred. Let me offer four basic truths:

1. Trump incited the attack on the Capitol

For weeks before the attack, Trump urged supporters to come to Washington for a "Save America March" on 6 January, when Congress was to ceremonially count the electoral votes of Joe Biden's win.

"Big protest in DC on 6 January. Be there, will be wild!" he tweeted on 19 December. Then on 26 December: "See you in Washington DC on 6 January. Don't miss it. Information to follow." On 30 December: "JANUARY SIXTH, SEE YOU IN DC!" On 1 January: "The BIG Protest Rally in Washington DC will take place at 11am on 6 January. Locational details to follow. StopTheSteal!"

At a rally just before the violence, Trump repeated his falsehoods about how the election was stolen.

"We will never give up," he said. "We will never concede. It will never happen. You don't concede when there's theft involved. Our country has had enough. We will not take it anymore."

He told the crowd Republicans were constantly fighting like a boxer with his hands tied behind his back, respectful of everyone - "including bad people."

But, he said, "we're going to have to fight much harder … We're going to walk down to the Capitol, and we're going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women, and we're probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them, because you'll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong … We fight like hell. And if you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore."

He then told the crowd that "different rules" applied to them.

"When you catch somebody in a fraud, you are allowed to go by very different rules. So I hope Mike [Pence] has the courage to do what he has to do, and I hope he doesn't listen to the Rinos [Republicans in Name Only] and the stupid people that he's listening to."

Then he dispatched the crowd to the Capitol as the electoral count was about to start. The attack came immediately after.

2. The events of 6 January capped two months during which Trump sought to reverse the outcome of the election

Shortly after the election, Trump summoned to the White House Republican lawmakers from Pennsylvania and Michigan, to inquire about how they might alter election results. He even called two local canvassing board officials in Wayne county, Michigan's most populous county and one that overwhelmingly favored Biden.

He asked Georgia's Republican secretary of state to "find 11,780 votes," according to a recording of that conversation, adding: "The people of Georgia are angry, the people of the country are angry. And there's nothing wrong with saying that, you know, um, that you've recalculated."

He suggested that the secretary of state would be criminally prosecuted if he did not do as Trump told him: "You know what they did and you're not reporting it. You know, that's a criminal - that's a criminal offense. And you know, you can't let that happen. That's a big risk to you and to Ryan, your lawyer. That's a big risk."

He pressed the acting US attorney general and deputy attorney general to declare the election fraudulent. When the deputy said the department had found no evidence of widespread fraud and warned that it had no power to change the outcome of the election, Trump replied: "Just say that the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me" and his congressional allies.

Trump and those allies continued to harangue the attorney general and top justice department officials nearly every day until 6 January. Trump plotted with an assistant attorney general to oust the acting attorney general and pressure lawmakers in Georgia to overturn election results. But Trump ultimately decided against it, after department leaders pledged to resign en masse.

Presumably, more details of Trump's attempted coup will emerge after the House select committee on 6 January gathers more evidence and deposes more witnesses.

Bennie Thompson, Liz Cheney, Stephanie Murphy, Adam Schiff, Zoe Lofgren, Adam Kinzinger and Jamie Raskin at a hearing of the 6 January House select committee.

3. Trump's attempted coup continues

Trump still refuses to concede the election and continues to say it was stolen. He presides over a network of loyalists and allies who have sought to overturn the election (and erode public confidence in it) by mounting partisan state "audits" and escalating attacks on state election officials. When asked recently about the fraudulent claims and increasingly incendiary rhetoric, a Trump spokesperson said the former president "supports any patriotic American who dedicates their time and effort to exposing the rigged 2020 presidential election."

Last week, Trump announced he will be hosting a news conference at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida on 6 January.

"Remember," he said, "the insurrection took place on 3 November. It was the completely unarmed protest of the rigged election that took place on 6 January." (Reminder: they were armed.)

Trump could not get as far without deepening anger and despair in a substantial portion of the population

He then referred to the House investigation: "Why isn't the Unselect Committee of highly partisan political hacks investigating the CAUSE of the 6 January protest, which was the rigged presidential election of 2020?"

He went on to castigate "Rinos", presumably referring to his opponents within the party, such as representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, who sit on the 6 January committee. "In many ways a Rino is worse than a Radical Left Democrat," Trump said, "because you don't know where they are coming from and you have no idea how bad they really are for our country."

He added: "The good news is there are fewer and fewer Rinos left as we elect strong patriots who love America."

Trump has endorsed a primary challenger to Cheney, while Kinzinger will leave Congress at the next election. Trump and other Republicans have also moved to punish 13 House Republicans who bucked party leadership and voted for a bipartisan infrastructure bill in November.

4. All of this exposes a deeper problem with which America must deal

Trump and his co-conspirators must be held accountable, of course. Hopefully, the select committee's report will be used by the justice department in criminal prosecutions of Trump and his accomplices.

But this in itself will not solve the underlying problem: a belligerent and narcissistic authoritarian has gained a powerful hold over a large portion of America. As many as 60% of Republican voters continue to believe his lies. Many remain intensely loyal. The Republican party is close to becoming a cult whose central animating idea is that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump.

Trump has had help, of course. Fox News hosts and Facebook groups have promoted and amplified his ravings for their own purposes. Republicans in Congress and in the states have played along.

But Trump's attempted coup could not get as far as it has without a deepening anger and despair in a substantial portion of the population that has made such Americans susceptible to his swagger and lies.

It is too simplistic to attribute this anger solely to racism or xenophobia. America has harbored white supremacist and anti-immigrant sentiments since its founding. The anger Trump has channeled is more closely connected to a profound loss of identity, dignity and purpose, especially among Americans who have been left behind - without college degrees, without good jobs, in places that have been hollowed out, economically abandoned, and disdained by much of the rest of the country.

Trump filled a void in a part of America that continues to yearn for a strongman who will deliver it from despair. A similar void haunts other nations where democracy is imperiled. The challenge ahead for the US as elsewhere is to fill that void with hope rather than neofascism. This is the real meaning of 6 January.

(c) 2021 Robert B. Reich has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. His latest book is "Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few." His web site is

Republican governors don't want their citizens to look up at how they continue to use racist tropes and dog-whistle appeals to frighten and thus hang onto a majority of the white vote.

Why The Very Worst People Really Don't Want Us To Look Up
There's never been a more important time to look up, wake up, and get active.
By Thom Hartmann

On Christmas Eve, Louise and I watched on Netflix the brilliant Don't Look Up! starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence, written and produced by Adam McKay and David Sirota.

It's being lauded as a metaphor for how we're dealing with climate change in the face of petrobillionaire- and corporate-funded disinformation campaigns, but it's so much more than that:

"Conservatives" on the Supreme Court don't want Americans to look up at how they legalized political bribery with their 1970s Buckley and Bellotti and 2010 Citizens United decisions that have turned politicians into shills for the same billionaires and giant industries that spent millions putting them on the Court.
"Small government" freaks don't want you to look up at how trust in our government has fallen from over 80% in the 1960s to fewer than 30% today, or how that's the direct result of Reagan's "government is not the solution to your problems, it is the problem" hustle that led to Trumpism and is today tearing America apart.

Republican governors don't want their citizens to look up at how they continue to use racist tropes and dog-whistle appeals to frighten and thus hang onto a majority of the white vote.

Those governors and legislators don't want you to look up at how they're rewriting history and threatening teachers, passing laws that either outright ban teaching the actual history of race relations, slavery, and the Civil War, or, as in Florida, empower parents to sue teachers who mention a word about race.

Giant monopolistic corporations don't want you to look up and realize the average American family pays $5000 a year, on average, more than Canadians or Europeans for everything from cell phone and internet service to airfare and drugs-all because Reagan stopped enforcing the anti-trust laws in 1983 and no president since has brought them back.

Big Ag doesn't want you to look up and see that you and your children are being poisoned by chemicals ranging from pesticides and herbicides to hormone-bending plasticizers used in food packaging, thousands of them outlawed in Europe.

Republicans don't want Americans to look up at how they gifted a handful of billionaires and GOP-donor corporations $2 trillion in tax cuts in 2017 at the same time that America is the only country in the developed world where young people carry almost $2 trillion in student debt.

The NRA doesn't want you to look up at how, over just the past two years, 17 million more people-including 5 more million children-now have easy access to guns in their own homes as the result of a Trump-driven explosion of weapons purchases.

They don't want you to look up at how, as a consequence, our US homicide rate went from 6 per 100,000 to 7.8 per 100K during that same short period of time, what CNN labeled "the highest increase recorded in modern history" beating records going all the way back to 1904 when we started keeping them.

Coal baron legislators don't want us to look up at the poverty across America as they drive their Maseratis and tell us that young West Virginia families will use the child tax credit to "buy crack."

Big pharma executives don't want us to look up at how they rip us off, as Americans struggle to pay $500 for the same insulin that Canadians can buy for $25

The Sakler family of drug pushers don't want us to look up at how they just walked away with billions and not a single person in the family went to jail over the death of 600,000 Americans from opioids.

Republican secretaries of state don't want us to look up at how they've purged over 17 million people, more than 10 percent of all of America's active voters, off the voting rolls just between 2016 and 2018.

North Carolina's GOP doesn't want you looking up at how, immediately after five "conservatives" on the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, they permanently closed 158 polling places in the 40 counties with the most African American voters just before the 2016 election, producing a 16 percent drop in the Black vote in that state.

Trump and his Trump-humping toadies in Congress don't want America to look up at the treason they incited their followers to commit on January 6th, invading the Capitol with Confederate flags and Christian fascist crosses while trying to assassinate Vice President Pence and Speaker Pelosi.

Giant "health insurance" banksters don't want seniors to look up at how they've already privatized over 40% of Medicare through the "Medicare Advantage" scam George W. Bush gifted them, increasing their profits by tens of billions.

Billionaires don't want Americans to look up at how they're paying less than 3% in income taxes while the rest of us foot the bill for the country.

Religious hustlers don't want us to look up at their mansions and private jets as they run ads for "prayer lines" on TV and push parishioners to vote for politicians who will help them keep their rich lifestyles going as they break the law with no taxes or oversight.

And, of course, the fossil fuel industry doesn't want us to look up at the remote but very real possibility that the global warming they are causing could free ancient methane trapped in permafrost and undersea clathrate beds and trigger a mass extinction event (as DiCaprio and I pointed out in this short video):

DiCaprio, Lawrence, McKay and Sirota's new Don't Look Up! movie is funny, entertaining, and sure to provoke useful conversations with friends and family.

It accomplishes this by cleverly satirizing a crisis turned into a disaster by the corrupt power of big money bribing government, amplified by the banality of the infotainment "news" culture Reagan gifted us when he destroyed the Fairness Doctrine as the Murdoch clan came to town.

If ever there was a time when we all need to look up, it's now!

(c) 2021 Thom Hartmann is a talk-show host and the author of "The Hidden History of Monopolies: How Big Business Destroyed the American Dream" (2020); "The Hidden History of the Supreme Court and the Betrayal of America" (2019); and more than 25 other books in print.

The Cartoon Corner -

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

To End On A Happy Note -

Have You Seen This -

Parting Shots -

Congress To Investigate Events Of Jan. 6 Until Group Of Patriotic Americans Brave Enough To Stop Them
By The Onion

WASHINGTON-Emphasizing that force was the only thing that would stymie the House inquiry into the insurrection, members of Congress stated Friday that the work of the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol would continue until a group of patriotic Americans was brave enough to stop it.

"We will not rest in our pursuit of the truth until a violent band of fed-up, freedom-loving citizens takes it upon themselves to come up here on the Hill and make us," said select committee chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS), warning that if anyone attempted to impede the lawmakers' investigation, they had better be true red-blooded American heroes who weren't afraid to get their hands dirty.

"As long as the citizens of this country are too cowardly to arm themselves and storm the halls of Congress in an attempt to either take us hostage or kill us, we will continue this process of holding former President Trump and his associates accountable. Rest assured, justice will be served unless someone has the courage to be immortalized as a revolutionary freedom fighter in the vein of our Founding Fathers."

Thompson added that the select committee was getting closer to wrapping up its work, so now's your last chance.

(c) 2021 The Onion


Issues & Alibis Vol 21 # 52 (c) 12/31/2021

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