Category: Donald Trump (page 1 of 2)

Trump’s Assault on Solar Masks an Epic Crisis in the Nuclear Industry

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by Harvey “Sluggo” Wasserman

Originally published at Progressive.org on January 25, 2018

As Donald Trump launches his latest assault on renewable energy—imposing a 30 percent tariff on solar panels imported from China—a major crisis in the nuclear power industry is threatening to shut four high-profile reactors, with more shutdowns to come. These closures could pave the way for thousands of new jobs in wind and solar, offsetting at least some of the losses from Trump’s attack.

Like nearly everything else Trump does, the hike in duties makes no rational sense. Bill McKibben summed it up, tweeting: “Trump imposes 30% tariff on imported solar panels—one more effort to try and slow renewable energy, one more favor for the status quo.”

The administration’s public excuse for imposing these tariffs is to “defend American workers,” and foster the production of panels here at home. The political impetus came primarily from two manufacturers—Suniva and SolarWorld—that manufacture in the United States, but are principally owned by foreigners. Ironically, a majority of Suniva is actually owned by Chinese investors, and the company is currently involved in a tortuous debt dispute that has clouded its future.

SolarWorld’s parent company, based in Bonn, Germany, has been involved in bankruptcy proceedings that prompted its owners at one point to try to sell the company’s American holdings, primarily a manufacturing facility in Oregon.

China’s record on renewable energy is mixed. The nation has long been committed to nuclear energy, and currently has thirty-eight reactors in operation. After the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan, China staged a major re-examination of its new reactor projects, but has since committed to building another twenty.

But China has also poured immense resources into leading the world in photovoltaic cell production. It flooded the field with below-cost, government subsidized panels that helped drive the photovoltaics giant Solyndra into bankruptcy. Solyndra defaulted on a $500 million Obama loan, prompting a high-profile assault on renewables from fossil and nuclear advocates.

In 2011, then-U.S. Senator Sander Levin of Michigan charged the Chinese with unfair trade practices, saying in a statement, “China is systematically deploying an arsenal of trade distorting policies to corner the global market in green technology products, whether it be electric cars, wind turbines or solar products.’’

But in the years since, the burgeoning U.S. market for cheap Chinese panels has birthed a very large industry. More than a quarter-million Americans now work in photovoltaics, with most of the jobs in building desert arrays or perching the panels on rooftops. Except for the very marginal pressure from Suniva and SolarWorld, solar advocates have focussed on the rapid spread of low-cost panels, even if they come from China.

Powered largely by Chinese product, the cost of a solar-generated watt of power has dropped from $6.00 in the late 1990s to around $0.72 in 2016. Further drops are considered inevitable. At that price, there is virtually no economic margin for any other new energy production construction except wind and natural gas. Even gas—with its uncertain long-term supply—is on the cusp of being priced out.

Thus, the industry’s reaction to Trump’s solar panel tariff has been fierce.

“We are not happy with this decision,” Abigail Ross Hopper, president of the American Solar Energy Association, told Reuters. “It’s just basic economics—if you raise the price of a product, it’s going to decrease demand for that product.” Trump’s move is predicted to drop upcoming solar installations by 10 to 15 percent and cost some 23,000 jobs.

Sustainable energy professor Scott Sklar, in an email to The Progressive,estimated that Trump’s 30 percent tariff will, after four years, “retard the solar market by 9 percent, cause the loss of thousands of U.S. jobs, and not save the two companies that brought the anti-competitive tariff request initially. The tariff was a political statement to China rather than specifically addressing the health of the U.S. solar industry and increasing U.S. solar jobs.”


Two major developments in the nuclear power industry further illustrate the absurdity of Trump’s decision.

In California, the Public Utilities Commission has gutted a major agreement that would have kept two mammoth reactors at Diablo Canyon operating for several more years. The landmark deal—cut between Pacific Gas & Electric, the host communities around San Luis Obispo, the reactors’ union workers and two environmental groups—called for PG&E to collect some $1.3 billion from ratepayers.

But the California commission cut PG&E’s take to about $300 million. To continue running the two fast-deteriorating old reactors would require massive capital repairs. The company also has admitted that all of Diablo’s power can be otherwise produced with zero- and low-carbon green technologies.

While Trump’s tariffs may slightly alter the math, they’re not expected to make photovoltaics, wind, geothermal, or increased efficiency more expensive than the power Diablo might generate in the coming seven years. Thus, Diablo opponents like Linda Sealey of the San Luis-based Mothers for Peace are extremely hopeful for early shutdowns.

“We think this makes it likely they’ll shut as early as 2020,” she told me January 18 on California Solartopia at KPFK radio in Los Angeles. “They just can’t compete.”

A parallel fate may soon overtake Ohio’s ancient Perry and Davis-Besse reactors on Lake Erie. Because the increasingly decrepit nuclear plants have been priced out of the market and face huge capital repairs, their owner FirstEnergy has been desperately begging the Ohio legislature for massive bailouts, which it has so far resisted. As a result FirstEnergy is poised to go bankrupt, and may soon be bought out by financiers expected to insist the two reactors finally shut. A decision is expected in April.

The shutdown of four more major reactors would be a huge blow to the downwardly spiraling atomic energy industry.

The shutdown of four more major reactors would be a huge blow to the downwardly spiraling atomic energy industry. California’s booming solar business employs more than 100,000 Americans, more than are currently digging coal nationwide. The void left by Diablo’s shutdown would generate thousands of Golden State jobs and billions in renewable revenue.

In northern Ohio, massive wind potential is also poised to create far more jobs than are currently in place at the two reactors, with energy to be generated far more cheaply. Overall, the closure of these four high-profile plants would thus accelerate the already rapid run away from nuclear power toward renewable sources, regardless of any attempt by the Trump Administration to alter the course.

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Harvey “Sluggo” Wasserman’s “California Solartopia Show” is broadcast at KPFK-Pacifica 90.7FM in Los Angeles. His “Green Power & Wellness Show” is podcast at prn.fm. His History of the US and Solartopia! are atwww.solartopia.org, which will publish his America at the Brink of Rebirthlater this year.

Are the Supremes About to Give Trump a Second Term?

By Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman

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The US Supreme Court may be about to make a second Trump term inevitable.

 

The nine “Justices” have just heard oral arguments in an Ohio voter registration case. If their decision goes with Secretary of State Jon Husted, it would mean Republicans like him throughout the United States will be able to scrub from the voter rolls millions of citizens merely because they are suspected of wishing to vote Democrat.

 

In Ohio alone, millions of Ohio voters have tried to vote on Election Day over the past four presidential elections, only to find their names were erased from the pollbooks.

What’s technically at stake is whether the federal government has the right to demand fairness in purging voter registration rolls. Or will the secretaries of the various states be free to purge whomever they want.

In other words, it’s supposedly a “state’s rights” case.

But this is a country where an Attorney-General who fought for state’s rights to avoid accepting racial integration is now overriding the explicit choice of some thirty states to enjoy legal marijuana.

 

In Ohio, secretary Husted has become infamous for his extremely aggressive partisan purges. The state has roughly 5.5 million voters. GOP secretaries of state have become experts at the selective purging game.

 

In 2004, then-Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, stripped some 309,000 voters from the rolls and nearly all came from heavily Democratic cities – Cleveland, Cincinnati and Toledo. In Cleveland, nearly a quarter, 24.96% of all voters were removed from the voting rolls.

 

Blackwell simultaneously served as co-chair for the state campaign to re-elect Bush/Cheney. Despite the obvious conflict of interest, Blackwell was officially in charge of running that election. The election was decided by less than 119,000 votes, giving George W. Bush a victory over John Kerry, who never said a word.

 

As many as 300,000 of those votes were flipped on electronic “push and pray” machines by a Bush family consigliere operating on an unbid state contract with a bank of servers in Tennessee between 12:20am and 2am election night.
Between the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections, an extensive study conducted by the Free Press examining all of the voter registration rolls in the state’s 88 counties found that 1.25 million had been scrubbed from the rolls. Again, these purged voters were overwhelming from Democratic precincts.

 

The latest Husted tactic is to mail letters to citizens who have not voted in the last two elections. He demands they write him back to confirm where they live. Husted’s letters do not contain return envelopes.

 

The now-defunct welfare rights organization ACORN and the Obama campaign had to engage in a massive project to re-register the voters before Election Day.

In the run up to the 2012 presidential election, the Free Press exposed the fact that 1.1 million voters had been purged, according to public records. The purges were highest in poor, minority and urban precincts.

The rural county boards of elections that are overwhelmingly Republican rarely strip any voters from the voting rolls.

 

In other words, if you receive junk mail from the Secretary of State, along with all the other junk mail you get, it’s not enough that it got to you without bouncing back. Husted instead demands a personal response, or else he will void your right to vote.

 

Part of his public excuse is that citizens who have died may remain on the voter rolls. But the obvious solution would be to link directly with the state’s coroner offices and integrate death notices into the management of the voter rolls.

 

Husted is also notorious for seizing on minuscule miscues to pitch ballots. An omitted middle initial, a name that has changed, forgetting to write your birthdate on an absentee ballot, or putting something on the wrong line….all are fair game for Husted to make sure you don’t cast a ballot, or that if you do it’s a provisional which he will then pitch in the trash depending on your age, skin color or social class.

 

In the 2016 election, Husted’s office failed to send absentee ballots to more than a million citizens, again virtually all in urban areas.

 

What can’t be explained is why, in a computer age with unlimited hard drives in a state that requires voters to show ID at the polls, you would strip any registered voters unless you knew they had died or you had evidence they no longer lived in the county.

 

Should the Court allow this to continue, GOP Secretaries of State around the US can be counted on to purge voter rolls deep and wide enough to swing almost any election.

 

The White House recently established a national commission to move the stripping to a new level. Blackwell was a charter member. So was Kris Kobach of Kansas (KKK) who pioneered the use of the Crosscheck computer program to strip the rolls in some thirty GOP-controlled states.

 

Last month Trump suddenly, without explanation, abolished the commission. But as investigative reported Greg Palast has shown, the registration stripping has been moved into the Department of Homeland Security. Where Kobach’s commission was opaque, now the partisan purge process with be essentially invisible. State officials who refused to provide critical information to Kobach may now have no choice with DHS.

 

In other words, America’s Trump-run FBI/KGB/Savak apparatus may now have the power to silently and invisibly remove enough potential voters to elect and re-elect whoever it wants.

 

That might include not only Trump, but Husted, who is running to become Ohio’s lieutenant-governor, and Kobach, who wants to be governor of Kansas.

 

This and much else could turn on the Supremes’ decision on the Ohio case. Should Husted’s right to purge whoever he wants from the voter rolls be confirmed by the Court, our sham elections will become an even bigger charade.

 

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Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman have co-written The Strip & Flip Disaster of America’s Stolen Elections: Five Jim Crows & Electronic Election Theft, available at www.freepress.org along with The Fitrakis Files, at Harvey’s www.solartopia.org, his History of the US can be had.

 

Is Puerto Rico Being ‘Ethnically Cleansed’ for the Superrich?

by Harvey Wasserman

originally published  by TruthDig on November 21, 2017

 


A woman shows her pendant featuring a Puerto Rican flag. She lives in a school-turned-shelter after Hurricane Maria destroyed her home. (Ramon Espinosa / AP)

Two months after the Sept. 20 landfall of Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico—like the nearby Virgin Islands—is still in a state of horrifying devastation. The help being offered by the Trump administration is thin to the point of being cruel and unusual.

At this point one must ask: Is Trump’s astonishing lack of aid part of a larger plan to cleanse the islands of their native populations, drive down real estate values and create a billionaire’s luxury hotel-casino-prostitution playground à la Cuba before the revolution?

In other words: ethnic cleansing for the superrich.

There is just one piece of good news: Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., has joined Rep. Stacey Plaskett of the Virgin Islands in proposing that Puerto Rico’s electric grid be rebuilt with wind, solar and a network of micro-grids. More than half the original electric grid is still not functioning, with frequent blackouts occurring in areas where the grid is operational.

Amid a widespread green campaign (more on that later), Lieu and Plaskett have asked the public to cosign their letter to the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency to “invest in a more resilient energy infrastructure focused on renewable energy technology and distributed generation.”

One major wind farm on Puerto Rico’s south shore did survive Maria intact, as did the solar array of a local greenhouse business. Elon Musk has revived a children’s hospital by shipping in a solar/battery array that is sustaining the few medical facilities in San Juan with reliable power.

But overall, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are in such horrific shape that it’s hard to dismiss the idea that the weak recovery effort might be by design. Consider this:

● Throughout the islands, U.S. citizens are dying due to lack of clean water. Tens of thousands are still without food, clothing, medical care or even basic shelter.

● A CNN survey of Puerto Rico’s burial services found a minimum of 499 deaths in the wake of the storm. That number cannot begin to cover the entire scope of the casualties, as many of the corpses have never made it to funeral homes. The official government death toll is about 65. When Trump visited the island he proudly put it at 16, complimenting FEMA for keeping it so “low.”

● Despite enormous resources available, the Trump administration has failed to deliver even sufficient tarps to cover rooftops that have been shattered or blown away altogether.

● North Carolina activist Ana Blackburn reported on prn.fm radio’sGreen Power & Wellness Show” that her mother, who lives in central Puerto Rico, is feeding more than 100 people per day at a church kitchen that can barely scrap together enough food for everyone.

● She also confirmed widespread reports that FEMA workers are delivering small quantities of bottled water, but nowhere near enough to prevent desperately thirsty locals from drinking contaminated water from polluted streams and even from designated SuperFund sites (hazardous waste dumps), resulting in widespread sickness and death.

● FEMA has been responding to requests for help by handing people without phone service or electricity a flier with a phone number to call and a website on which to fill out an application.

● Many in Puerto Rico have died because most of the island’s hospitals have no power and cannot provide surgery, dialysis and other basic life-saving services. Insulin and other medicines have spoiled due to lack of refrigeration.

● Because so many businesses were destroyed, unemployment is rampant, and the numbers are impossible to accurately estimate, according to the island’s governor. With so many hotels and other attractions wiped out, revenue from the island’s core tourist industry has disappeared.

● Those who do have work restoring power and providing other emergency services return home at night to homes or apartments with no electric power, no air conditioning, no refrigerated food, no means to cook what they have and partial roofs that leak during the frequent rains.

● A New York Times report estimates that at least 168,000 of Puerto Rico’s 3.5 million pre-storm residents have already come to Florida, about half to the Orlando area, and thousands more may be trying to flee. Uncounted numbers of Puerto Ricans have fled to other states. Many, many more are expected to follow.

● Just prior to Hurricane Maria, Hurricane Irma had grazed Puerto Rico and left some 80,000 people without power. They were still blacked out when Maria hit.

● Puerto Rico’s notoriously corrupt public-owned utility soon gave a $300 million contract to a two-year-old, two-person firm based in Whitefish, Mont., to restore a centralized grid. Whitefish is the hometown of Trump’s interior secretary, Ryan Zinke. His son has previously worked for the firm.

● On the ground in Puerto Rico, local workers were ignored in the hiring process. The line workers Whitefish brought in at huge expense were massively overpaid, with high commissions added to their salaries. They were soon showered with rocks and bottles thrown by angry Puerto Ricans. The Whitefish contract was finally cancelled, and the utility chief in Puerto Rico who signed it was forced to resign.

● When Irma and Hurricane Harvey devastated large swaths of Florida and Texas, federal aid and resources poured in with reasonable efficiency. As part of a trans-utility agreement, thousands of trucks and line workers rushed into both regions to restore water and power. Many Texans and Floridians still suffer, but the FEMA response has made a major difference.

● Immediately after Irma ravaged the Caribbean, Trump harped on debts owed by Puerto Rico to Wall Street; critics say this was a pretext for not sending aid.

● Trump also attacked San Juan’s Latina mayor for being allegedly ungrateful and incompetent.

● When he finally visited the island, Trump staged a public meeting at which he tossed packages of paper towels at desperate survivors. He then flew home ahead of schedule.

Trump’s “discovery” that Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are surrounded by water did, of course, complicate his administration’s response.

Critics have inevitably raised the issues of race and poverty—along with a possible ulterior motive. On KPFK-Pacifica’s “California Solartopia” Show, longtime activist Joel Segal, a former congressional aide, discussed with me the widespread efforts by independent, safe energy activists that he has helped organize to see the islands’ electric grid be rebuilt with solar, wind and micro-grids.

These, says Segal, would not feed the global warming that will make future storms so powerful. They also would give the islands a reliable electric system at far cheaper prices than the old fossil burners that powered the islands before Irma and Maria.

But in confronting Trump’s non-response to the humanitarian crisis now gripping the islands, Segal also addresses the possibility that the neglect is deliberate.

“There is ethnic cleansing in PR, not enough food, water, medicine, and medical care. People dying in hospitals,” Segal said. “Why? Because they are black and brown people who speak another language. They are not white, therefore, why care about their well-being?”

Segal speculates that while the proposed GOP tax plan would give the rich a $1.5 trillion tax cut, Republicans in Congress do not want to spend $90 billion rebuilding the Caribbean.

In an email to me, Segal added that the hurricane response also might be about stripping the islands of their inconvenient natives and converting them into yet another billionaire’s paradise filled with Trump-type hotels, casinos and sex trade centers.

Even if they are, as Trump complains, surrounded by water.

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A No Nukes Nation to Trump: RESIGN!!!

By Harvey Wasserman

In the shadow of Santa Monica’s legendary “Chain Reaction” monument, a clear message was sent to the unelected interloper in the White House: RESIGN!!!

Yesterday was the 72d anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki, and the 43d of the resignation of Richard Nixon. Nixon was the last president to seriously threaten the use of nuclear weapons. Amidst the debacle of the Vietnam war, Nixon told then top advisor Daniel Ellsberg that he wanted to drop atomic bombs on Southeast Asia, but that he feared the response of the global anti-war movement.

While peace activists gathered yesterday across the street from Santa Monica’s Rand Corporation, where Ellsberg once worked, Dan himself addressed a parallel crowd at the Lawrence-Livermore Laboratory in the San Francisco Bay, where atomic research still proceeds.

In Santa Monica, investigative reporter Greg Palast, actor/activist Mimi Kennedy, and many more mourned the mass slaughter in Nagasaki and urged the departure of the most recent White House psychopath to threaten the planet with atomic annihilation.

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In a 90-minute rally soon to be broadcast on KPFK-Pacifica, speakers such as legendary activist Blasé Bonpane, Denise Duffield of Physicians for Social Responsibility, peace campaigner Jerry Rubin and many more mourned the nightmare of having an irresponsible madman like Trump with his finger on the nuclear button.

In combination with the apparently unhinged leadership of North Korean, Trump has brought the world to the brink of atomic suicide. The clock ticking on the likelihood of a nuclear apocalypse has leapt toward midnight with Trump’s inflammatory, adolescent school-bully rantings.

The atomic “fiery fury” Trump has promised is terrifying the world. During the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, President John F. Kennedy stood up to a room full of crazed generals ready to obliterate the planet. Today we have a spoiled child in the White House who lacks even the simplest understanding of what’s involved with nuclear war….or with the basics of civilized diplomacy.

resign!

The Santa Monica rally was framed by the 26-foot-high “Chain Reaction” mushroom cloud that stands as a monument to peace activism. The monument was saved through a multi-year campaign to preserve and protect it.

 

In its shadow and elsewhere, the human species is now engaged in a vital campaign to stop both nuclear war and the ecological destruction wrecked by nuclear power plants and so many other polluters.

 

The madness of Donald Trump, like that of Richard Nixon, threatens to kill us all—-in the short term with nuclear weapons, and in the bigger picture with ecological, economic and spiritual ruin.

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But with the kind of grassroots social activism welcomed and enshrined in rallies like those yesterday, we know that peace…and people…and the planet really do have a chance.

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Harvey Wasserman was among those marching to end the Vietnam war….and all others!

 

 

 

 

 

Orange Is the New Orange: Why Trump Must Resign by Nagasaki/Nixon Day

by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman

Originally posted on August 27, 2012 at Reader Supported News

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ngst, fear, and loathing are the overwhelming emotions six months into the disastrous Trump presidency. Just exactly who or what do we have at the helm of the United States Ship of State, and the little red button that could end life as we know it?

The planet and its leaders are watching in horror as the ship appears to be capsizing. Trump and his fools enrich themselves, all the while gleefully decimating domestic social programs, dooming the environment, and destroying our nation’s relationships around the world.

Simply put, what we have is an international criminal hell-bent on continuing his crime spree within and without his corrupt administration. Making the world safe for oligarchy.

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Casinos, luxury hotels: Money laundering

Let’s see, casinos, pricey real estate, the Russian mob, the U.S. mafia … hmmm. One plus one plus one equals money laundering.

The notorious meeting between Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, and assorted Russian operatives spawned new allegations and suspicions that the Trump family colluded with Russian intelligence to try to gain electoral victory over Hillary Clinton. The details remain murky but the truth is likely more diabolical.

Not that Clinton wasn’t busy demonizing the Russians and using the Clinton Foundation for political payoffs.

The meetings with Putin’s comrades and Trump’s entourage may indicate the president may merely be a bagman and money washer for the Russian mafia.

This perception is magnified by Trump’s unprecedented refusal to release his tax forms, which may indicate his net worth to be largely in rubles.

Trump has a long history of involvement with the Russian government. Trump’s first visit to Russia was in 1987 at Soviet ambassador Yuri Dubin’s invitation.

Craig Unger’s New Republic article, “Trump’s Russian Laundromat,” essentially argues that Trump’s money laundering for Russian mobsters is what propelled his worldwide real estate empire.

Trump’s closely-held private real estate holdings, according to Unger, provide the perfect resources for illegal money laundering. Unger cites “a flow of highly suspicious money from Russia.” He points out, “Over the past three decades at least 13 people with known or alleged links to Russian mobsters or oligarchs have owned, lived in, and even run criminal activities out of the Trump Tower and other Trump properties. Many used his apartments and casinos to launder untold millions in dirty money.”

Business Insider noted that U.S. attorney general Jeff Sessions and the Department of Justice recently settled a major money-laundering case involving a real estate company owned by the son of powerful Russian government official Pyotr Katsyz, former vice governor of the Moscow region. Katsyz’s son Dennis owns the real estate company Prebezon, which was accused of laundering millions of dollars through New York City real estate when the case was “unexpectedly settled two days before going to trial in May,” according to Business Insider.

The attorney representing the Katsyz family was none other than Natalia Beselnitskaya, who met with Donald Trump Jr. on June 9, 2016, to allegedly disclose damaging information concerning Hillary Clinton. She was described as a “Russian government attorney” in Trump Junior’s emails. Democratic House Judiciary Committee members sent a letter to Sessions inquiring about Beselnitskaya’s involvement in the settlement.

Also in attendance on June 9 was Renat Akhmetshin, described by CNN as “a U.S. citizen lobbyist promoting Russian interests and a former Soviet military officer,” and Aras Agalarov, owner of the Crocus Group, a Moscow-based property company.

The mystery man, or the 8th person who emerged at Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with Russians, turned out to be Irakly “Ike” Kaveladze, a Crocus Group vice president accused of laundering more than $1.4 billion into the U.S. from Eastern Europe. Kaveladze allegedly used 2,000 shell companies to launder money into the U.S.

Essentially, Trump Jr.’s meeting was a perfect Russian triumvirate representing an alleged money launderer, the Russian military, and a pro-Putin oligarch.

If Trump is to be impeached and his clumsy cover-up of Russian ties revealed, it will be because the laundered money was easy to follow from the election tampering to Putin meddling.

Forget about the Russians, Trump supports American-made election riggers

While Trump’s apparent law-breaking focuses on the Russians, his primary anti-American assault is his bogus Election Integrity Commission led by Kris Kobach, whose Crosscheck program stripped countless non-millionaire citizens from the voter rolls in at least 30 states, critical to putting Trump in the White House. The man who rigged Ohio’s 2004 election, Ken Blackwell, also serves on the Commission.

As Americans, we cannot allow this high-tech Jim Crow destruction of the electoral process to lead to a permanent, one-party dictatorship.

This official lynch mob must be replaced by a national commission to promote universal hand-counted paper ballots and universal automatic voter registration, with legally protected, transparent voter rolls.

At least now the media and establishment have to admit U.S. election systems can be and have been hacked — a fact the Free Press has investigated and reported for over 15 years.

Resign or be convicted

All of this raises the blackmail issue. Which foreign entities, including crime syndicates, have information to compromise Trump and his close personal entourage?

It’s not just the Russian connections we should be investigating. As The New Yorker pointed out, “Throughout the Presidential campaign, Trump was in business with someone that his company knew was likely a partner with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.”

Trump’s “Trump Tower Baku” was a failed luxury hotel project in Azerbaijan, considered one of the world’s most corrupt nations. His partner was Zaya Mammadov, a billionaire oligarch tied to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, who worked as the Azerbaijan Transportation Minister for $12,000 a year.

The Guardian reported in mid-June that “Donald Trump – like Richard Nixon” is now “under investigation for obstruction of justice.” There is already speculation that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is also investigating Trump’s alleged money laundering.

Trump has questioned Mueller’s impartiality regarding the Russian investigation and has contemplated firing Mueller in perhaps his own version of the infamous “Saturday Night Massacre,” when Nixon fired Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox.

Donald Trump must resign the presidency by August 9, the anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki and the resignation of Richard Nixon.

In Trump’s brief tenure, he’s already fired James Comey, the FBI Director, for failing to pledge personal loyalty. Trump went on to try to intimidate Comey by suggesting he might have “tapes” of their conversations. The Washington Post reported that Trump then tried to get CIA director Mike Pompeo and Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats to kill the FBI investigation into Trump’s Russian connections.

Trump’s coverups must stop. If by August 9 he hasn’t resigned, he needs to be convicted, perp-walked, and removed.

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Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman are co-authors of THE STRIP & FLIP DISASTER OF AMERICA’S STOLEN ELECTIONS (www.freepress.org) where Bob’s FITRAKIS FILES are also available. Harvey’s SOLARTOPIA! is at www.solartopia.org, along with HARVEY WASSERMAN’S HISTORY OF THE US.

Donald Trump & Andrew Cuomo Are Brothers in Reactor Disaster

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By Harvey Wasserman

Originally published at Reader Supported News

08 June 17

onald Trump and New York governor Andrew Cuomo have joined forces in destroying our economy and environment.

While Trump wages global war on the climate, Cuomo demands a statewide bailout meant to keep failed nuke reactors on line until they melt and/or explode, Fukushima-style.

Trump and Cuomo are both are apostles of radioactive obsolescence.

The global climate treaty Trump wants to break has been signed by every nation on Earth except Syria and Nicaragua (which wants stronger terms).

Trump is globalizing the US legacy of breaking 800 treaties with indigenous peoples.

Like America’s indigenous tribes, the nations of the world will never trust us again.

Trump has shredded our global standing, as Germany’s Angela Merkel (CEO of the world’s #4 economy) has pronounced us an unreliable trading partner and China (#2) moves to partner directly with the European Union.

As Trump sabotages the dollar, watch him blame our economic death spiral on Muslims, commies, immigrants, and people of color.

Trump’s wedge between the US and Germany is a dream come true for Putin’s petro-mafia.

So is his attack on climate science as he hands our techno-future to King CONG (Coal, Oil, Nukes and Gas), the obsolete monster of a failed 20th century past.

Trump’s hatred of Solartopian technologies — solar, wind, tidal, wave, ocean thermal, geothermal, LED, efficiency, electric and hydrogen cars, advanced batteries, etc. — leaves the US out of the biggest job-creating transition in human history.

Through it all, Trump tweets his “love” for nuclear power.

With him on that is the alleged “liberal,” New York governor Andrew Cuomo.

Cuomo wants New York ratepayers to pay $7.6 billion in raised electric rates to feed collapsing upstate nukes that could soon melt and/or explode.

The rate hikes would force New Yorkers as far away as Long Island to pay for uncompetitive loser nukes that supply them zero electricity.

In part because of a deal cut by Cuomo’s father Mario, Long Island still suffers from $7 billion wasted on the defunct Shoreham reactor.

None of the four upstate reactors Cuomo2 wants to bail out can compete with new wind or solar, which create far more jobs.

Tesla’s “Buffalo Billion” solar shingle factory will create 500 permanent jobs in northwestern New York, plus some 1400 spin-offs.

Ten such plants would create some 5,000 direct jobs, double those at Cuomo’s four loser nukes, with thousands more in spin-offs from cheap green power.

While Germany, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Iceland, Denmark, South Korea and others head to 100% post-nuke Solartopian futures, China is investing $360 billion in renewables, and India is following suit.

Trump attacks such investments here while Cuomo’s bailout cripples them in New York.

The final four US nukes under construction (in Georgia and South Carolina) have bankrupted Westinghouse, maybe Toshiba, and may soon be cancelled.

The 99 licensed loser US reactors all teeter at the brink of economic/ecological catastrophe.

But Cuomo’s New York bailout is a model for owners to gouge billions from ratepayers to keep them open.

Cuomo says he’ll shut two reactors at Indian Point, near New York City, but still wants that Trump-style public handout.

No commercial reactor has liability insurance, so the next melt-down/explosion could bankrupt us all, with none of Trump/Cuomo’s industry cronies held responsible.

Cuomo’s bailout is being challenged in court. Trump’s legal challenges are legion.

Together, these brothers in reactor disaster are the ultimate radioactive Luddites.


Harvey Wasserman’s Solartopia! Our Green-powered Earth is right here at www.solartopia.org along with Harvey’s History of the United States. The Strip & Flip Disaster of America’s Stolen Elections, written with Bob Fitrakis, is at www.freepress.org.

Global Hackers and the Russians Have Made Hand-Counted Paper Ballots an Issue of Urgent National Security

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By Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman, The Columbus Free Press & Reader Supported News

15 May 17

e have no evidence at this point that the Russians, or global hackers, hacked our electronic voting machines to put Donald Trump in the White House.

But we are 100% certain our electronic voting machines have been hacked by many many others, and could be in the future by virtually anybody with entry-level computing capabilities. As the New York Times and others have reported, cyberattacks have now become an integral part of the modern landscape. A tool stolen from the very National Security Agency meant to protect us has been used to perpetrate more than 75,000 recent hacks—-and those are just the ones being reported.

The evidence that our electronics-based election system is particularly vulnerable to such attacks has long been well-established. It ranges from a wide range of public vote flipping demonstrations to a computing professor using a voting machine to play the University of Michigan fight song.

But, why would you need to hack the machines if you are one of the private, for-profit partisan corporations that secretly program the computerized voting machines and tabulators with secret proprietary software? The lack of transparency with our “black box voting” means that none of our elections are truly verifiable.

In 2016 some 80 percent of America’s ballots were cast and/or counted on such machines and tabulators. Many touchscreen voting machines provide no usable paper trail and render vote counts that cannot be independently verified. Scanners of paper ballots can be rigged to render dishonest counts that go undetected if the ballots are never manually audited.

Though we have no evidence of Russian hacking on our electronic voting machines in 2016, there is no doubt that they or any other hacker with an interest in the outcome could have done so if they wanted to.

Or, the private companies could have simply programmed the results

So that leaves us with one inescapable conclusion: to protect the integrity of our future elections, our entire electoral system must convert to universal hand-counted paper ballots.

It has become an issue of national security.

The entire nation is now in an uproar over Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey. We know he was investigating possible Russian involvement in our election. The Russians clearly wanted Trump to win.

During the campaign, Trump very publicly asked the Russians to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails. The Russians did, in fact, hack the Democratic National Committee, releasing documentation showing the DNC hierarchy worked actively against the nomination of Bernie Sanders.

We don’t yet know what else the Russians actually did or did not do, if anything, to help shape our choice of presidents in 2016.

We know further that someone hacked into the recent French elections on behalf of Marine LePen.

In an electronic era, election theft has now become a matter of a few keystrokes.

Indeed, election theft in the United States is very much a home-grown industry. As we explain in our new STRIP & FLIP DISASTER OF AMERICA’S STOLEN ELECTIONS (www.freepress.org / www.solartopia.org) electronic machines are perfectly designed to steal elections. As Bev Harris has shown, they are black boxes that give local election officials virtually unlimited power to shape the outcome however they like.

Thus we document clear instances of electronic vote theft in the 1988 New Hampshire Republican primaries won by George H.W. Bush, and in the general presidential elections won by George W. Bush in Florida 2000 and Ohio 2004.

Along the way we have encountered likely electronic hacks in numerous other local, state and federal elections. In Ohio 2006 a series of statewide election reform referenda were defeated with swings of more than 30% from pre-election polls to official outcome, a virtual statistical impossibility. In 2014 and 2016, Republicans claimed six US Senate seats in elections where they lost in the exit polls by significant margins. That six such vote counts would all go in the same direction is also a virtual statistical impossibility.

In 2016, the Electoral College was decided by five states—-Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin—-where Trump lost the exit polls but won the official vote count. That all five states would go in the same direction is, once again, a virtual statistical impossibility.

In Michigan, more than 75,000 ballots were counted in heavily Democratic Flint and Detroit metropolitan area without presidential preferences being registered. This presumes that some 75,000 citizens took the trouble to vote (often waiting hours in line) but failed to choose a president. In Wisconsin, electronic anomalies also abounded. In Wisconsin, a suspicious anomaly was uncovered across several voting precincts where the last number in Trump and Clinton’s vote totals appeared not to be randomly distributed in regards to zeros and fives. In these precincts, over half of Trump and Clinton’s total numbers ended with a zero or a five.

Meanwhile, countless black, Hispanic, Asia-American, Muslim and other non-millionaire citizens were stripped from registration rolls by some 29 GOP secretaries of state. As shown in Greg Palast’s “Best Democracy Money Can Buy,” the far-right secretary of state from Kansas, Kris Kobach, spread the Crosscheck program around the country with the clear intent to strip as many likely Democrats from the voter rolls as possible. Trump has just appointed Kobach to head his special commission on voter fraud, aimed at “proving” that millions of illegal voters cost Trump a majority in the popular vote.

Additional mass disenfranchisement has been done throughout the US through demands for photo ID, short-changing of precincts and voting machines, deliberate misinformation and much more.

There is little doubt that between stripping the voter rolls and flipping the electronic vote count, our electoral system is in shambles. The Russians are clearly NOT at the root of the problem. Election theft can be and has been repeatedly perpetrated right here, by Americans.

But the Russians could have done so. In coming elections, they, other foreign powers and a veritable army of domestic hackers can deliver pretty much whatever outcome they want.

Our private voting machine companies like ES&S and the now-defunct Diebold have long had this power.

The solution is obvious: we must secure our voting system entirely off-line. with outcomes that can be certified in real time, by real people. We need universal automatic voter registration; a four-day natonal holiday for voting; universal hand-counted paper ballots; an end to gerrymandering and the Electoral College; and a ban on corporate campaign spending.

As we now know from this past presidential election, whether flipped by the Russians or not, it has become an issue of national security…and the future of our democracy.


Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman have co-written seven books on election integrity, including the new STRIP & FLIP DISASTER OF AMERICA’S STOLEN ELECTIONS (www.freepress.org / www.solartopia.org).

RESTORE SANITY: A Mass Nonviolent Satyagraha Campaign to Remove Donald Trump

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By Lila Garrett, David Swanson, Suzanne Patzer, Bob Fitrakis, Ruthie Sakheim, Harvey Wasserman and many more …

(originally published on Reader Supported News on April 17, 2017)

he unthinkable is upon us.

A president of the United States poses a clear and present danger to our global survival. It’s become our duty to remove him soon, beyond the electoral system, and strictly without violence.

Syria:

President Trump’s random missile attack is the predictable martial diversion for a failing regime. Had Barack Obama done it the entire right wing would be screaming for impeachment.

To justify an impetuous fling, Trump summoned images of chemical weapons killing helpless children. But had those kids been refugees trying to come here, Trump might well have barred them, and derided their parents.

This chaotic regime’s military adventures have already killed innumerable innocents in Yemen and elsewhere for no apparent reason. Had this attack targeted North Korea, or another nuclear-armed nation, mushroom clouds might now be ending human life on Earth.

Meanwhile:

This regime is cynically assaulting our global ecosystems, the rising green infrastructure on which our ecological and economic future depends, as well as women, people of color, the poor, the elderly, the infirm. Trump has polluted the White House with an outrageous culture of personal gain at public expense.

Donald Trump lost the 2016 election by at least 2.8 million popular votes. He lost the exit polls in the five states that swung the Electoral College. GOP secretaries of state used Crosscheck and other computer programs to disenfranchise countless citizens of color. They may well have flipped the electronic voting machines on which 80% of the nation’s ballots were cast or counted.

Without a legitimate electoral process, and saddled with a timid corporatist Democratic Party, how do we respond?

Two US presidents have been impeached but not removed. Richard Nixon resigned in the face of a massive popular upheaval. By his own admission, that uprising prevented him from using nuclear weapons in Vietnam.

Donald Trump is the corporatist response to a rising social fervor that speaks for the soul of this nation. Bernie Sanders remains America’s most popular politician. Even in the face of a totally corrupted governmental structure, we must never underestimate our larger power.

As with Nixon, the madness of today’s White House demands a whole new level of organizing, resistance and overthrow, of “satyagraha” – focused peaceful action – pioneered by the American independence, abolitionist, suffragette and labor movements, by Mahatma Gandhi’s Quit India campaign, Dr. Martin Luther King’s work for civil rights, the nonviolent resistance that helped bring down the Soviet Union, Nelson Mandala’s victory against South African apartheid, the Otpor campaign against Serbia’s Milosevic dictatorship, the global feminist, No Nukes, LGBTQ+, Occupy, Black Lives Matter, Sandernista campaigns, and many more.

Today there are no simple answers, except to be civil in our disobedience. Any violence must be assumed to come from those who want us to fail.

Our way forward might include mass rallies, marches, boycotts, strikes, non-cooperation, tax resistance, guerrilla theater, door-to-door conversation, and much more we may not yet envision.

The great nonviolent strategist Gene Sharp lists some 200 such tactics at his legendary Einstein Institute. Mark and Paul Engler beautifully explore nonviolent activism in their “This Is an Uprising” (www.nationbooks.org). Jim Hightower has gracefully mentioned some longer-term solutions in his latest column.

As with Nixon, we suspect that somewhere in the corrupt chaos of Trump’s towering arrogance, we will find the critical overreach.

And somewhere in the mix of our own relentless activism, there will be the power to make that matter.

Our nation was born of an impossible campaign that overthrew a tyrant.

To RESTORE SANITY in today’s nuclear age we may need even more creativity, imagination and good faith.

But we had damn well better win fast, before this madman kills us all.

____________

To join in, go to www.restoresanity.us or www.Solartopia.org, where hats, bumper stickers, etc. are available.

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Trump’s Budget Assault on the Environment Packs a Wallop

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by

Originally published at The Progressive on March 17, 2017

Donald Trump’s first budget makes his antipathy to the environment clear—and his love for fossil fuels and nuclear power even clearer.

In addition to slashing funding to the Environmental Protection Agency, he also announced this week that he wants massive rollbacks in automotive fuel efficiency standards and billions in new investments in nuclear weapons and storage for commercial nuclear waste.

The administration’s budget cuts $2.4 billion from the EPA’s operating funds—roughly 31 percent—taking the agency’s annual budget from $8.1 billion to $5.7 billion, the smallest since it was formed in 1970. These cuts will cripple regulation of air and water quality, strip oversight of a wide range of land management programs, and loosen restrictions on chemical emissions from industrial facilities.

Much of this money would be shifted directly over to the military, which the Trump Administration wants to bolster with an additional $54 billion over the final Obama allocations.

As Wenona Hauter, Executive Director of Food and Water Watch told Amy Goodman on Democracy Now, the cuts would lower staff to about 11,800, in an agency that employed 17,000 in 2010 and, according to the Washington Post, about 15,000 today.“We should be clear that 90 percent of EPA programs are run by state agencies,” Hauter says.“Half that staff is located in regional offices.

The cuts, says Hauter, would cripple the states’ ability to protect clean air and water across the country.

Following through on his campaign promise to reduce the EPA to “little tidbits,” Trump’s budget defunds more than 50 programs. These include infrastructure improvement on Indian reservations, major projects to clean up Puget Sound, Chesapeake Bay and the Great Lakes, a wide range of renewable energy development and energy efficiency programs, numerous climate change research programs, national heritage sites, environmental justice programs, oceanographic research and preservation, and much more. Gina McCarthy, a former EPA official under Obama,described it as “a scorched earth budget that represents an all-out assault on clean air, water and land.”

Some of the immediate opposition has crossed party lines. Ohio’s recently re-elected Republican Senator Rob Portman, a close associate of former President George W. Bush, strongly opposed cuts to the $300 million Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Bill Becker of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies warned, “if such cuts are realized, many more people will die prematurely and get sick unnecessarily due to air, water and waste pollution.”

Among the programs affected will be popular Energy Star campaigns that set efficiency standards for household and other appliances. The program is well-established and popular among large manufacturers seeking marketing tools in a highly competitive global business. “It’s alarming and bewildering to see the Trump Administration propose cuts to critical government programs that support clean energy innovation, helped create thousands of new jobs, and saved Americans millions on their utility bills,” says Amit Ronen, Director of George Washington University’s Solar Institute.

Scott Sklar, head of the Stella Group, a D.C.-based environmental consulting firm, and chair of the steering committee of the Sustainable Energy Coalition adds that the EPA cuts come in tandem with assaults on programs at the Department of Energy critical to advances in LED light bulbs, advanced batteries, electric trucks, biofuels and other cutting-edge green power projects. Overall, says Sklar, the cuts could cripple some seventeen national laboratories whose innovative technical work spans the horizon from windmills and solar panels to advanced batteries and accelerated efficiency.

In addition, says Ronen, “Trump and his cronies can fundamentally change how EPA does its job by rolling back carbon and air regulations and not enforcing current law.”

A deadly dose of that medicine is now being  administered in Detroit, where Trump has moved to slash motor vehicle efficiency requirements and emissions standards.

At the behest of auto company executives, Trump is exploiting a legal loophole in Obama-era requirements to gut fleet fuel-economy capabilities. Complaining about technical challenges, the industry may soon slouch back to lower emissions standards feeding higher short-term profits. Detroit will once again race to the bottom in a global transportation industry increasingly dominated by Germany, China, and Japan.

The trends are being further exploited with shifts at the state as well as federal levels to slash tax breaks and incentives for electric cars and solar panels. Guided by handouts from the Koch brothers’ fossil fuel empire, “free market” legislators in states like Ohio, Oklahoma, and Arizona have partnered with the American Legislative Exchange Council to impose debilitating taxes and regulatory barriers against electric cars, green power production, advanced efficiency, mass transit and more. The trend has been underscored by Trump’s quick approval of the Keystone and Dakota pipelines, and relaxed rules governing fracking on public lands.

Meanwhile, Illinois and New York are moving toward massive subsidies for uncompetitive, dangerously dilapidated old nuclear reactors in a marketplace where renewables are coming in far cheaper and creating thousands more jobs. In Ohio and other states, owners of money-losing reactors are advocating for massive handouts to block cheaper, job-creating renewables and efficiency from getting into the marketplace.

Adding insult to injury, Trump wants to add $120 million to the long-dead Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump. Despite fierce local opposition, the Department of Energy has blown some $13.5 billion since 2002 digging a giant tunnel through the dormant volcano eighty miles outside Las Vegas to store radioactive waste. Then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, got President Obama to cancel Yucca in 2011. Yucca could ultimately cost more than $90 billion by some estimates, and take decades.  A $2 billion 2014 explosion shut America’s sole state-of-the-art radioactive-waste repository, at Carlsbad, New Mexico, casting a long shadow over underground burial.

Trump Is Our Imperial Vulture Come Home to Roost – We Must Repent

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By Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman

Cross-posted from Reader Supported News

13 February 17

 

s the nightmare reality of Donald Trump sinks in, we need to put our resistance in a larger perspective.

There’s no need here to list what he is doing and is prepared to do to what remains of our rights, freedoms, economy, ecology, human dignity, sense of justice, the future of our children and much, much more. Donald Trump appears at this point to be our worst national nightmare.

For many of us, it will be the challenge of a lifetime to solve this problem. Millions of words will be written about it in the months to come.

But we might start by comparing him to the kinds of leaders our nation has forced on other countries, and by making some kind of amends. Trump is, in fact, our own imperial vulture come home to roost.

Indeed, he’s actually (so far) a moderate compared to scores of murderous dictators the US has installed in other countries throughout the world. Especially since World War II, our imperial apparatus has constantly subverted legitimate attempts by good people to elect decent leaders.

In all such cases, people no different from most of us have suffered terrible, tangible consequences. No matter how much pain we may now feel in America, it pales before the horrors we’ve imposed with Trump-style dictators in other nations.

To get them installed, the Central Intelligence Agency and other imperial organs have often merely subverted elections. As was done here in 2016 and for countless elections before (and perhaps to come), substantial portions of the population have been systematically stripped of their right to vote. Where that’s proven insufficient, vote counts have been flipped by electronic and other means to guarantee a secure corporate outcome.

But where even that’s not been enough, our imperial minions have simply exiled, killed outright, invaded, employed mass violence, concocted civil wars and done whatever else necessary to remove those popular leaders that have not suited the American corporate interest.

One recent instance has been in Honduras, where the elected president, Manuel Zelaya Rosales, was ousted in a U.S.-backed coup and the military took over from 2009 to 2013. Honduras became the most violent non-war zone on Earth in those years.

Here is a partial list of other duly elected leaders the United States has had removed, disappeared and/or killed to make way for authoritarian pro-corporate regimes. In each case, their demise resulted in death, denial of democratic rights and massive suffering to individuals within those countries who stood in the way of America’s imperial agenda:

Lumumba, Congo; Allende, Chile; Aristide, Haiti; Mossadegh, Iran; Arbenz, Guatemala; President Joao Goulart, Brazil; Prime Minister Georgios Papandreou, Greece; Sukarno, Indonesia; Tecumseh, John Ross, Sitting Bull, Chief Joseph, Sealth and countless other indigenous Americans; and too many more.

Taken in sum, the horrors these coups have imposed on innocent people throughout the planet comprise a terrible karmic debt our nation owes the rest of humankind.

The idea that such retribution would come home to roost may have been best stated by our 16th president. It is chiseled on the wall of the Lincoln Memorial in our nation’s capital, for all to see.

At the end of the Civil War, in his Second Inaugural Address, Abraham Lincoln mourned that this “terrible war,” which killed more than 620,000 Americans, had come “as the woe due to those by whom the offense came.”

The offense, of course was slavery. To pay for it, Lincoln warned, we would see the war “continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword.”

Are we, as modern Americans, now being called to pay for the blood drawn and the pain imposed by our imperial armies? And for all the wealth and comfort and dignity unjustly stolen from innocent peoples around the world?

As we squirm and mourn and march and organize, we might keep in mind the image of Donald Trump as imperial payback.

We might remember that as we work to overcome this homegrown vulture of our own making we must make right what we’ve imposed on so many others.

And that the restoration of sanity, dignity, and democracy to this nation can only come with a genuine sense of perspective … and with the resolve to never again impose any such suffering anywhere else in this world.


Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman are co-authors of THE STRIP & FLIP SELECTION OF 2016: FIVE JIM CROWS & ELECTRONIC ELECTION THEFT at www.freepress.org, where Bob’sFITRAKIS FILES are available. Harvey’s SOLARTOPIA! OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH is at www.solartopia.org.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.

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