“Let Them Eat GDP Reports”:
44 Million Americans Are Food Insecure

by Jessica Corbett

A U.S. anti-hunger group marked April Fools’ Day on Monday with a snarky statement suggesting that hungry Americans “can eat positive economic statistics about the soaring stock market or the growing gross domestic product.”

“Let them eat GDP reports,” Hunger Free America declared of the 44 million Americans—including 13 million children—who live in food insecure households, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

GDP is the market value of all the finished goods and services produced in a country over a certain time period. Critics have long argued against using it as the premier indicator of how a nation is doing.

“The old school way of the elites fighting hunger was to say, ‘let them eat cake,’” said Hunger Free America CEO Joel Berg. “But the more modern approach is to say, ‘let them eat a report of the nation’s growing GDP, although the report offers empty calories.’”

“By focusing mostly on economic statistics that benefit mostly the wealthy—like stock indices—the nation’s political and media elites blithely overlook hard evidence that the economy is still structurally unsound for large swaths of the public, and then those same elites are flummoxed as to why the public tells pollsters they are still not satisfied with the economy,” Berg explained.

“But the good news is that, none of that matters now, because truckloads of positive economic reports are being shipped to food banks, soup kitchens, and food pantries nationwide, and the country’s impoverished multitudes can now get all they can eat—assuming they can digest paper report pages and cardboard report covers, and don’t mind a bit of poisonous ink,” he quipped.

While inflation has eased in the United States over the past two years in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, corporations have engaged in price gouging that has kept costs high for Americans, everywhere from gas pumps to grocery stores to fast food restaurants.

“It’s one thing for corporations to pass reasonable increased costs to consumers. It’s another for them to line their coffers by exploiting Americans who are just trying to get by,” the Groundwork Collaborative’s Liz Pancotti said in January, as the group released a related report. “It’s time to rein in corporate price gouging—or families will continue to pay the price.”

Data released last month by the Federal Reserve show that the top one percent of Americans are the richest they have ever been, with a collective $44.6 trillion in wealth, a record largely driven by the stock market. President Joe Biden and some progressive Democratic lawmakers recently renewed calls for wealth taxes, but such proposals are not expected to pass the divided Congress.

Meanwhile, the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, and has been so since 2009. Although state policymakers have taken action to raise pay for some or all workers, national legislation to boost wages also has not been able to get through Congress.


Jessica Corbett is a senior editor and staff writer for Common Dreams. This work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.


GOP’s Latest ‘Clear Call to Genocide:’ Rep. Calls for Nuclear Bombing of Gaza

by Julia Conley

U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg became the latest Republican lawmaker to openly call for the genocide of Palestinian people in Gaza, saying at a town hall that instead of sending humanitarian aid to starving civilians there, the U.S. should “get it over quick” by dropping a nuclear bomb on the besieged enclave.

The Michigan Republican was asked by a voter why taxpayer money was being spent to build a port off the coast of Gaza at an event in the town of Dundee, in a video that was apparently recorded on March 25th and posted to social media on Saturday.

“We shouldn’t be spending a dime on humanitarian aid. It should be like Nagasaki and Hiroshima,” said Walberg, referring to the two Japanese cities where the U.S. detonated two atomic bombs in 1945, killing an estimated 214,000 people and leaving survivors with the effects of radiation, including chronic and deadly diseases.

Walberg’s comments were made public a day after it was reported that the Biden administration had approved the transfer of new weapons to the Israel Defense Forces, including 2,000-pound bombs like those that have already made Israel’s bombardment one of the deadliest and most destructive in modern history.

The White House has called on Israel to allow more humanitarian aid into Gaza, where at least 31 people—including 27 children—have already died of starvation as a result of Israel’s near-total blockade on aid since October. Parts of northern Gaza are now experiencing famine, according to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification global initiative (IPC), after months of warnings from experts that a man-made famine would eventually take hold unless humanitarian aid increased significantly.

The Israel Defense Forces’ U.S.-backed bombardment of the enclave has killed at least 32,705 Palestinians so far.

Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said Walberg’s “clear call to genocide… should be condemned by all Americans who value human life and international law.”

“To so casually call for what would result in the killing of every human being in Gaza sends the chilling message that Palestinian lives have no value,” said Walid. “It is this dehumanization of the Palestinian people that has resulted in the ongoing slaughter and suffering we see every day in Gaza and the West Bank.”

Mitchell Rivard, chief of staff to Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.), said Walberg’s comments illustrate “the Republican position on Gaza.”

Earlier this month, Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-Tenn.) told a group of Palestinian rights advocates, “Goodbye to Palestine”—leading Rep. Becca Balint (D-Vt.) to say he had called “for the genocide of the Palestinian people.”

Rep. Andy Ogles (R-Tenn.) in February told an activist, “I think we should kill ‘em all,” when asked about Palestinian children who have been killed by Israel with U.S. military support, while Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) called for Israel to “level the place” soon after the war started.


Julia Conley is a staff writer for Common Dreams. This work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.


New Video Details Billionaire Trump Donors Bankrolling RFK Jr.’s Run

by Brett Wilkins

A video published March 26th by More Perfect Union sheds light on the ultrawealthy Republican donors to presumptive GOP nominee and former President Donald Trump’s campaign coffers who are also financing Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s independent White House run—which many observers see as a potential spoiler for President Joe Biden’s reelection bid.

The video—which came as Kennedy announced that California lawyer and philanthropist Nicole Shanahan is his running mate—underscores that the conspiracy theorist and former Democrat’s biggest campaign contributor was also Trump’s top donor in 2020.

“Who exactly is bankrolling RFK Jr.’s presidential push?” asked Brian Tyler Cohen, who narrates the seven-minute video. “It turns out the answer has a lot more to do with Trump than putting a Kennedy back in the White House.”

Kennedy said that he had nothing to do with the multimillion-dollar ad supporting his campaign that aired during the Super Bowl last month.

“American Values 2024, a super political action committee (PAC) backing Kennedy, dropped a cool 7 million bucks for the spot, which about 124 million people saw,” Cohen said. “And propping up American Values 2024 is a large group of big donors… a bunch of millionaires and billionaires who are driven by one goal: to get RFK Jr. on the ballot in all key states across the country.”

“Doing a majority of the legwork here is the super PAC’s biggest donor, Timothy Mellon,” the video notes. “More than half of the $38 million raised by American Values this cycle has come from Timothy Mellon alone.” *

The video continues:

Mellon, who hails from the 34th-richest family in America, and likened anti-poverty programs to slavery, has long been a significant Republican donor. He’s given tens of millions to Republican congressional super PACs. He’s generously funded Trump’s super PAC, Make America Great Again Inc., to the tune of $16.5 million over the span of just two years. He was even Trump’s top donor in 2020, and it doesn’t look like he’s going to stop tossing money at Trump anytime soon. His last donation of $5 million to the pro-Trump PAC came on January 30, 2024. Just 22 days prior, he sent the same amount to the pro-Kennedy PAC, making it pretty clear that Timothy Mellon doesn’t want Kennedy, he knows Kennedy can spoil a Biden win, so he’s keeping him afloat.

Boston Globe reporter Lissandra Villa de Petrzelka noted earlier this month that Mellon’s donation record “is not linear.”

“He has supported Democrats such as Sen. Joe Manchin, a centrist from West Virginia; progressive Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York; and former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, both Democrats before they left the party.”

“But overwhelmingly, Mellon’s money has funded conservative causes,” she wrote. “According to The Texas Tribune, he donated millions in stock to Texas for a fundraising effort for a border wall. The Wall Street Journal reported he also donated more than a million dollars to a legal defense fund set up by Jan Brewer, then-governor of Arizona, for an immigration crackdown law that received national backlash and was partially struck down in the courts.”

Mellon isn’t the only GOP megadonor funding Kennedy’s campaign. According to the video, billionaire security specialist and author Gavin de Becker has donated more money to Kennedy—$10 million, so far—than to any other cause he’s ever supported. Kennedy’s campaign has paid de Becker’s security firm $1.9 million for services and travel expenses during the 2024 run.

Cohen said that “one of the more mysterious sources of funding” for American Values 2024 is Planeta Management LLC,” which has given the super PAC $4 million.”

Because there is no listed name for the organization’s leader on its filing papers, “we have no idea who the third-biggest donor to Kennedy’ bid is,” the video states.

“We do know his fourth-biggest donor, though,” Cohen said. Leila Centner—who has supported Trump and disgraced former New York Republican Congressman George Santos—has given $1 million to Kennedy’s campaign.

The video notes that Centner is the co-founder and CEO of Centner Academy, a private school with a policy of “trying to keep teachers and staff from getting lifesaving Covid vaccinations” because she believes that “tens of thousands of women all over the world have had adverse effects including hemorrhaging and miscarriages just by being near someone who had the vaccine.”

Perhaps the nation’s most prominent vaccine skeptic, Kennedy told Fox News last year that he still believes the thoroughly debunked theory that vaccines cause autism. A 2019 measles epidemic in Samoa that killed scores of people, most of them children, has been linked to a prior visit by Kennedy in which he, his wife Cheryl Hines, and anti-vaccine activists spread deadly misinformation.

The DNC has a dubious history of crushing third-party and independent challengers.

The new video notes that “all of these pro-Kennedy donations have so far been bearing fruit in a big way.”

“With the help of American Values 2024, Kennedy has gotten on ballots in key states like Nevada and New Hampshire,” Cohen said. “Additionally, he’ll appear on the ballot in Hawaii and Utah… and Georgia, Arizona, and Michigan, three critical swing states with razor-thin margins.”

“Kennedy’s donors know that he’ll never step foot in the White House, but that was never their goal,” he added. “Their goal is to ensure that Trump does.”


Brett Wilkins is a staff writer for Common Dreams. This work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.


Portsmouth in the Civil War

Local historian Dick Adams will give a talk on Portsmouth in the Civil War at the next meeting of the Civil War Roundtable of New Hampshire on April 19th. The public is invited.

Topics to be covered will include the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, the Portsmouth-built USS Kearsarge and its famous battle against the CSS Alabama, a local draft riot, and the Portsmouth-born husband of Confederate spy Belle Boyd.

This meeting of the Civil War Roundtable of New Hampshire will take place at the Harvey-Mitchell Library, 151 Main Street, Epping, N.H. Doors will open at 6:45pm, the talk will begin at 7:15 p.m. For more information visit the website www.cwrt-nh.org or call Bill at (978) 994-4717.


Container Ship That Destroyed Baltimore Bridge Has Troubled History

by Brett Wilkins

The mega-container ship that lost propulsion before toppling Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge was involved in a previous crash, and was cited last year for propulsion-related problems.

Newsweek reported that the Maersk Line Limited-chartered MV Dali collided with a wall in the harbor at Antwerp, Belgium in 2016. The accident, which was reported by Vessel Finder and other outlets at the time, was attributed to errors made by the ship’s master and pilot.

The 9-year-old Dali was also detained by port officials in San Antonio, Chile last June after inspectors discovered a problem related to the vessel’s “propulsion and auxiliary machinery,” according to The Washington Post, which cited records from the intergovernmental shipping regulator Tokyo MOU.

The ship’s owner, Grace Ocean Private Ltd., and operator, Synergy Marine, “have been sued at least four times in U.S. federal court on allegations of negligence and other claims tied to worker injuries on other ships owned and operated by the Singapore-based companies,” according toThe Associated Press.

Maersk was also sanctioned last year by the U.S. Labor Department for allegedly stopping employees from reporting safety concerns, documents published by The Lever revealed.

According to a July 14, 2023 Labor Department letter to Maersk regarding an Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigation, the Danish company “suspended and then terminated” a worker “in retaliation for reporting unsafe conditions and contacting the U.S. Coast Guard.”

The fired employee “engaged in numerous protected activities” including reporting a leak and the need for repairs to a ship’s cargo hold bilge system, alcohol use aboard the vessel by crew members, and inoperable equipment including an emergency fire pump and lifeboat block and releasing gear.


Brett Wilkins is a staff writer for Common Dreams. This work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.


RiverRun Bookstore Recommends:

The Fourth Monkey, by J.D. Barker.

Set in Chicago, this creepy thriller by a local author is reminiscent of Silence of the Lambs, but Barker goes one further by really delving into the mind of the killer through a series of diary entries. It’s a dark, gruesome, fast-paced ride with sparks of wit spread throughout. You will immediately want to read the sequel, The Fifth to Die, so you might as well grab that, too. — Tom Holbrook


Ports. Dem. Roundtable on April 9th

Portsmouth Democrats hold a roundtable at a local restaurant on the 2nd Tuesday of every month. The next will be on April 9th from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. It’s an opportunity for new residents and old friends to socialize without any agenda or rigid structure. New residents can meet those involved in the Portsmouth Democrats and learn of opportunities to get involved, suggest new ideas, or be supportive of planned initiatives. For location and other information contact Peter Somssich at (603) 436-5382 (No Texts Please) or email peter.somssich@gmail.com.


This Fortnight in 1892

Mooney on the War-Path

William Mooney of the Creek district went on the war-path Thursday evening and raised Cain generally. Officer Foote attempted to arrest him but he got a pitchfork and showed fight, and assistance was summoned from the police station and officer Hennessey was despatched to the seat of war. Mooney was captured after a desperate resistance. During the melee Officer Hennessey received a slight wound from the pitchfork and a kick in the face. Mooney was arraigned before Judge Batchelder Friday morning, charged with assault upon an officer, and was held in default of $200 for the jury.

– New Hampshire Gazette, April 14, 1892, pg 5.

Republican Election Thefts

Beer baron and ex-Congressman Frank Jones, asked by a New York reporter if likely Democratic presidential candidate Grover Cleveland will carry New Hampshire, replies, “Why we’ve been carrying it for the the last dozen years, and the Republicans have been stealing it from us just as regularly.”

– New Hampshire Gazette, April 14, 1892, pg 3.

Depradations at Point of Graves

The attention of the city authorities is called to the desecrations and depradations in the old cemetery at Point of Graves on Mechanic Street. The walls are used as fish flakes by some of the people living near, and boys are defacing the headstones daily by throwing stones at them. The beautiful Vaughan monument is suffering with the rest and is apparently used as a dancing platform by some of the hoodlums of the vicinity. Something ought to be done to save this oldest graveyard in the city from further abuse.

– New Hampshire Gazette, April 14, 1892, pg 5.

Wholesale Bribery

The tales of wholesale attempts at bribery in New Jersey should prompt Governor [Leon] Abbett to veto the bill legalizing the Reading Railroad deal, for there is no possible doubt that the coal roads have spent money like water in their successful effort to influence the legislature of that state.

– New Hampshire Gazette, April 7, 1892, pg 4.

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