The Evening Blues - 3-20-17



eb1pt12



The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: James Cotton RIP



Hey! Good Evening!


This evening's music features one of the great blues harmonica players, James Cotton. (Note: tomorrow evening EB will feature the also recently departed Chuck Berry.) Enjoy!



James Cotton - Just To Be With You

“The theologian Meric Casaubon argued—in his 1668 book, Of Credulity and Incredulity — that witches must exist because, after all, everyone believes in them. Anything that a large number of people believe must be true.”

-- Carl Sagan


News and Opinion


Trump-Russia collusion is being investigated by FBI, Comey confirms

The FBI director, James Comey, has confirmed for the first time that the agency is investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow to influence the outcome of the presidential election.

Comey had previously refused to comment on the existence of any such investigation but addressing the House intelligence committee, Comey reversed course and said he had been authorised to depart from that policy.

“In unusual circumstances where it is in the public interest it may be appropriate to do so,” the FBI director said. “This is one of those occasions. I have been authorised by the Department of Justice to confirm that the FBI, as part of our counter-intelligence mission, is investigating the Russian government’s attempts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.”

Comey said that the investigation included the possibility that criminal acts had been committed.

“I cannot say more about what we are doing and whose conduct we are examining,” Comey said, adding that he would provide more details to the committee behind closed doors.

Comey confirmed that the FBI began the counter-intelligence investigation in late July 2016, remarking that for such an inquiry that was “a relatively short period of time”. He said it was “impossible to say” when it would end.

James Comey confirms investigating links between Trump campaign and Russia



NYT’s ‘Tinfoil Hat’ Conspiracy Theory

On Saturday, the Times devoted most of its op-ed page to the Times’ favorite conspiracy theory, that Trump is Vladimir Putin’s “Manchurian candidate” though evidence continues to be lacking. The op-ed package combined a “What to Ask About Russian Hacking” article by Louise Mensch, a former Conservative member of the British Parliament who now works for Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, and a connect-the-dots graphic that when filled out shows the Kremlin sitting atop the White House. But the featured article actually revealed how flimsy and wacky the Times’ conspiracy theory is. ...

After introducing herself as someone who has “followed the Russian hacking story closely,” Mensch lists 25 people by name, including various Trump advisers as well as Internet moguls Mark Zuckerberg and Peter Thiel, who should be hauled before the House Intelligence Committee for interrogation along with unnamed executives of several corporations and banks.

“There are many more who need to be called but these would be a first step,” Mensch wrote. In reviewing Mensch’s long article, it’s unclear if she’s proposing only a “fishing expedition” or would prefer a full-fledged “witch hunt.” At one point earlier in this process, I wrote an article warning that the “investigation” could become something of a “did-you-talk-to-a-Russian” inquisition. Some readers probably felt I was going too far, but that now appears to be exactly what is happening.

Many of Mensch’s suggestions pertain to people associated with the Trump campaign who gave speeches in Moscow or otherwise communicated with Russians. It appears any contact with a Russian, any discussion of disagreements between the U.S. and Russia, or any political comment that in any way echoes what some Russian may have said becomes “evidence” of collusion and treason. ...

Yet, what is perhaps most shocking about Mensch’s op-ed and its prominent placement by the Times is that the story has all the elements of a “tinfoil-hat” conspiracy. It’s the sort of wild-eyed smearing of American citizens that the Times would normally deride as an offensive fantasy that would be mentioned only to mock the conspiracists. ... While there are many valid reasons to protest Trump and his policies, this descent into a New McCarthyism is both grotesque (because it impugns the patriotism of Americans without evidence, only breathless questions) and dangerous (because it escalates the New Cold War with Russia, a confrontation that could stumble into a nuclear holocaust).

Russia did not change vote tallies in swing states – intelligence chiefs

Nunes asks Rogers, citing 6 January 2017 intelligence report that found Russia did not attack systems involved in vote tallying, whether:

Did Russia change vote totals in Michigan? Wow.

Pennsylvania?

Wisconsin?

Florida?

North Carolina?

Ohio?

All “No, Sirs” from Rogers.

No intelligence that suggests any votes were changed?

No.

Comey also says no.

WikiLeaks probe started under Obama widened to include latest CIA leaks: Report

A grand jury investigation convened following WikiLeaks‘ publication of classified U.S. government material in 2010 has been broadened to encompass its recent receipt of CIA hacking documents, Reuters reported Friday.

Federal prosecutors in the Eastern District of Virginia have widened their long-running WikiLeaks probe in the aftermath of the website’s release this month of documents detailing the intelligence agency’s previously unreported hacking prowess, a source familiar with the investigation told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

While the CIA has refused to confirm the authenticity of the documents, multiple security and law enforcement officials said investigators in Alexandria are actively attempting to identify the source of the leak and whether an intelligence contractor was responsible as some have suggested, Reuters reported. ...

U.S. officials have occasionally acknowledged that WikiLeaks remains the subject of an ongoing federal investigation, and snippets and leaks in the intervening years have revealed sparse but significant details concerning the probe.

When The Establishment Fails To Prove Trump-Russia Election Collusion, The Progressive Takeover Begins

The House Intelligence Committee begins public hearings for its investigation into the possibility of collusion between Donald Trump and the Russian government to win the 2016 election today. It is guaranteed to be a McCarthyist dog and pony show, in which high-profile witnesses will be trotted out and many absurd allegations will be made in authoritative-sounding tones by authoritative-sounding voices insisting that this is not the most ridiculous thing that anyone has ever seen. It is also guaranteed to turn up nothing that will lead to Trump's impeachment or arrest. When that happens, progressive rebels need to begin loudly pointing and laughing at what spectacular asses the neocons and establishment Democrats have made of themselves, and we must never stop reminding everyone of how the corporate media lied to them.

And mark my words, no tangible evidence of such collusion will be found. Establishment officials are already trying to caution the public not to get their hopes up about finding anything of the sort, because they have realized that they’ve painted themselves into a corner. ... After months and months of gaslighting through Rachel Maddow’s conspiratorial tirades and anonymous CIA leaks through the Washington Post, rank-and-file Democrats are about to realize that they’ve been had, and journalists all around the country are about to realize they’ve bet their reputation on a lie.

When this happens, we will pounce. The only thing that’s been holding this insane corporatist political system in place is the corporate media which is owned and operated by the same band of plutocrats who own the corporatist politicians. That’s the only reason the American people keep voting for politicians who don’t help them and keep settling for a system which uses their tax dollars for drone bombs instead of for giving them the same basic standards of living accorded to everyone else in every other major country. If we can help break their trust in the mainstream media and the political establishment, we can change the way Americans think and vote. That trust is the only thing keeping them anchored to the establishment narrative.

There is no "Professor Plum in the conservatory with a lead pipe," to be had here - just a snivelling Adam Schiff doing his best to insinuate that something awful has been done by his political opponents.

Language indicating that the Dems are on a fishing expedition

From the transcript of the House Oxymoron Intelligence Committee hearing on Russian influence on the 2016 election (emphasis, comments added) :

We do not yet know whether the Russians have the help of U.S. citizens including people associated with the Trump campaign. Many of the Trump's campaign personnel, including the president himself, have ties to Russia and Russian interests. This is of course no crime. On the other hand, if the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it aided or abetted the Russians, it would not only be a serious crime, it would also represent one of the most shocking betrayals of democracy in history.

[Really? Perhaps Mr. Schiff is unaware of Richard Nixon's election-related sabotage of LBJ's peacemaking attempts in Vietnam, or perhaps the Reagan administration's "October Surprise." - js]

...

Is it possible that all of these events and reports are completely unrelated and nothing more than an entirely unhappy coincidence? Yes, it is possible. But it is also possible, maybe more than possible, that they are not coincidental, not disconnected and not unrelated and that the Russians use the same techniques to corrupt U.S. persons that they employed in Europe and elsewhere. We simply don't know, not yet. And we owe it to the country to find out.

Russia orders check of American media in the country in retaliation for U.S. bill

The Russian parliament has ordered a check of U.S. media outlets operating in the country, in retaliation for what it said was an attack on Russian media in the United States.

The parliament's lower house, the State Duma, called for its information and telecoms committee to examine whether the activity of CNN, Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, and other U.S. outlets is "in accordance with Russian legislation," a press release published on the body's website read.

The announcement didn't specify which other outlets could be targeted. Voice of America is a federal government broadcaster, while Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty is a private non-profit, funded by a Congressional grant. Both were set up to combat Soviet propaganda during the Cold War.

Russia summons Israeli ambassador to explain air raids in Syria

Russia summoned the Israeli ambassador to demand an explanation for Israel’s air raids in Syria last week, Moscow has confirmed, as an Israeli drone was blamed for the targeted killing of a senior pro-Assad fighter in a second reported incident.

The summons, made on Friday, was confirmed by Russia’s foreign ministry which said the Israeli ambassador to Moscow, Gary Koren, had been asked to explain an exchange of fire with Syrian government forces in which anti-aircraft missiles were fired at Israeli jets.

According to Israel’s Channel 2, the Israeli strike hit close to Russian troops.

Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Mikhail Bogdanov, said Russia had “expressed concern”. The diplomatic intervention marks the first apparent fracture in the secretive deconfliction arrangement between the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, and Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, over where, when and who Israeli jets can strike in Syria. ...

The sharp uptick in tensions on Israel’s northern border has resulted in increased rhetoric by senior Israeli political and military officials, with the hardline defence minister, Avigdor Lieberman, warning that Israel would not hesitate to “destroy” Syria’s air defence system if it fired on Israeli jets again.

Amid Spike in Civilian Deaths from U.S. Strikes, Trump Requests Lifting Policy Limiting Casualties



German defense minister responds to Trump charges about NATO


On Sunday, German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen attempted to set Trump straight.

“There is no debt account at NATO,” von der Leyen said in a statement. She pointed out that NATO’s goal for every member state to spend 2 percent of GDP on defense by 2024 didn’t mean spending all of that money on NATO per se.

“Defense spending also goes into UN peacekeeping missions, into our European missions and into our contribution to the fight against IS terrorism,” she said.

Trump Administration Ousts U.N. Official to Protect Israel From Criticism

On Wednesday, a U.N. agency published a report noting that “Israel has established an apartheid regime that dominates the Palestinian people as a whole.” Yesterday, the author of that report, who has served as executive secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UNESCWA) since 2010, Rima Khalef, resigned after the Trump administration, working in conjunction with Israel, pressured the U.N. secretary-general to demand that she withdraw the report.

Khalef, a Jordanian national who has served in multiple high government positions, refused the demand to repudiate her own report, instead choosing to resign. The report — which was co-authored by the Jewish American Princeton professor and former U.N. official Richard Falk, a longtime critic of Israeli occupation — has now been removed from the UNESCWA website. ...

Since his inauguration, all signs indicate Trump will be an inflammatory fanatic when it comes to U.S. support for Israeli aggression, even at the expense of U.S. interests. ... Trump’s own Pentagon chief has previously warned that exactly this kind of mentality — defending Israeli aggression and expansion — is directly harmful to the U.S. At the Aspen Security Forum in 2013, Gen. James Mattis said:

"I paid a military security price every day as the commander of CentCom because the Americans were seen as biased in support of Israel, and that moderates all the moderate Arabs who want to be with us, because they can’t come out publicly in support of people who don’t show respect for the Arab Palestinians."

Trump convinced millions of people to vote for him by promising to prioritize American interests over those of other nations. Yet what Trump is doing at the U.N., and in the Middle East more broadly, is exactly the opposite. He is empowering exactly the ideologues who have long venerated a defense of the Israeli government over all other considerations — not just the human and political rights of Palestinians but also the concrete security interests of the U.S.

What if the EU-Turkey migrant deal collapses?



C.I.A. Torture Left Scars on Guantánamo Prisoner’s Psyche for Years

Nearly a decade after C.I.A. interrogators tortured a Saudi man suspected of involvement in Al Qaeda’s bombing of the American destroyer Cole in 2000, the prisoner continued to experience lingering psychological consequences, including “nightmares that invoked being chained, naked and waterboarded,” newly declassified documents show.

The detainee, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, is facing the death penalty over charges before a military commission at Guantánamo Bay that he helped plot the Cole attack, which killed 17 sailors, as well as an attack on a French-flagged oil tanker in 2002 that killed a Bulgarian man. The newly declassified documents are part of a petition in a related case his lawyers are filing with the Supreme Court.

The new details add to the growing public understanding of what American officials, desperate to get information out of Mr. Nashiri that they hoped would stop terrorist attacks, did to the prisoner. They also show how that treatment created long-term consequences. When Bush administration lawyers authorized the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques in 2002, one of their premises was that the program they enabled would inflict no lasting damage to the prisoners. ...

Among the newly disclosed details, the court filing showed that Mr. Nashiri was locked inside a coffin-like box for days. While it was known that confinement in cramped spaces was one of the torture techniques the C.I.A. had approval to use at its black-site prisons, it was not previously known that Mr. Nashiri was among the detainees subjected to it. ...

And government censors left unredacted details from a classified psychological examination of Mr. Nashiri that was conducted in 2012 as part of the commission case against him. It showed that his mental breakdown in response to the torture had long-term effects, including his continuing nightmares and other signs of post-traumatic stress.

Palantir Enables Immigration Agents to Access Information From the CIA

As The Intercept reported on March 2, Palantir is building a $41 million data platform called Investigative Case Management that allows ICE agents, including those in the agency’s primary deportation force, the Enforcement and Removal Office, to query information across several large government databases simultaneously. Documents newly obtained by The Intercept state that Palantir software also permits ICE agents to access information from the Central Intelligence Agency.

Investigative Case Management makes available to its users a separate ICE system, also built by Palantir, called FALCON. This system was created for ICE’s office of Homeland Security Investigations, which is generally tasked with pursuing serious cross-border crimes like drug trafficking, child pornography, and terrorism, but has also been behind some of the most controversial deportation actions under Trump and Obama. ...

According to a set of FALCON funding documents from 2013 that were obtained by The Intercept, immigration officials can also use FALCON to access data held by agencies that possess highly classified intelligence, including the CIA and the National Counterterrorism Center. ...

Jay Stanley, a privacy expert at the American Civil Liberties Union, worries that this type of data sharing, even if justifiable in certain circumstances, could potentially be repurposed to support ICE’s daily immigration policing. “It seems like there could be very reasonable purposes for which the CIA would exchange information with ICE,” said Stanley. “These kind of information exchanges are often initially based on particular, hair-raising scenarios, but then the routine tool is created and ends up being used for all kinds of everyday petty enforcement.”

Theresa May to trigger Brexit article 50 on 29 March

Theresa May will trigger article 50, the formal mechanism for starting negotiations for Britain to leave the European Union, on Wednesday 29 March, the prime minister’s spokesman has confirmed.

The UK’s permanent representative to the European Union, Sir Tim Barrow, notified the EU on Monday morning that a letter should be expected on that date. The move will put the UK on course to leave the EU on the same date in 2019.

May, who was visiting Wales on Monday, intended to visit Northern Ireland and Scotland before the formal notification was sent by letter, Downing Street said.

Empire Files: Abby Martin Exposes Steve Bannon



The Pentagon has never been audited. That's astonishing

On Thursday, Donald Trump released a preliminary budget proposal that calls for a $52bn spike in military spending. But just last December, a Washington Post investigation found that the Pentagon had buried a report that outlines $125bn in waste at the Department of Defense. That gap between lawmakers’ calls to blindly increase spending at DoD versus those of internal auditors to curtail its waste isn’t a new problem, and it’s one that, without pressure, won’t be resolved any time soon.

That’s because although it’s required to by law, the DoD has never had an audit, something every American person, every company and every other government agency is subject to. The result is an astounding $10tn in taxpayer money that has gone unaccounted for since 1996.

“Over the last 20 years, the Pentagon has broken every promise to Congress about when an audit would be completed,” the director of the Audit the Pentagon coalition Rafael DeGennaro told the Guardian. “Meanwhile, Congress has more than doubled the Pentagon’s budget.” ...

In the meantime, the GAO and Office of the Inspector General (IG) have published an endless stream of reports documenting financial mismanagement: $500m in aid to Yemen lost here, $5.8bn in supplies lost there, $8,000 spent on helicopter gears that really cost $500.

Trump's Budget Director Mick Mulvaney Insists Cutting Meals for Poor Seniors is Compassionate



White House Budget Bombs on Front Pages of Red State Newspapers

The White House Budget proposal released on Thursday produced harsh, highly critical headlines in local newspapers based in states that President Trump carried in his election in November. Papers highlighted the cuts to spending on infrastructure, the environment, the impoverished, and arts and culture.

The Columbus Dispatch — based in Ohio where Trump won 51.3 percent of the vote — ran a front page story on Friday titled “Unkind Cuts to Ohio?” The story noted that the budget eliminated funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, “a $300 million undertaking to clean up and keep invasive species from the world’s largest single source of fresh surface water,” which “directly benefits the same upper industrial Midwestern states — Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin — that elevated Trump to the presidency in November.”

Trump’s budget slams West Virginia,” was splashed across the front page of the Charleston Gazette-Mail on Friday. The paper noted the cuts to education spending and the Appalachian Regional Commission, which supports infrastructure in the state. The state gave Trump 68.7 percent of the vote.

[See article for many more examples. - js]

Trump's followers are ready for Medicare-for-all. Too bad the Democrats aren't.

Trump country divided over health care

CANTON, North Carolina — Marina Hitson McCuen took Donald Trump at his word last fall when he promised to repeal and replace Obamacare with “something terrific“ that would bring down costs. That couldn’t come soon enough for McCuen, a 53-year-old Trump supporter who works behind the counter at Celebrity’s Hotdogs in nearby Asheville. McCuen can’t afford health insurance, and she’s blunt about what happens if she gets sick: “I’m shit out of luck.” ...

The divide over health care among Republicans in this area of North Carolina is much wider and more fundamental than the current divide in Washington. It’s especially stark among Republicans in this working-class congressional district represented by Mark Meadows, the chairman of the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus, which is opposing the Republican bill because it doesn’t scale back government enough. ... In two dozen interviews here with supporters of Trump and Meadows in the rural towns across his district, a dozen Republicans said they are so desperate for help that a government expansion in health care would be welcome, even if it would amount to the largest government entitlement in American history. ...

McCuen at Celebrity’s Hotdogs agreed that even as a lifelong Republican who volunteered for campaigns going back to George H.W. Bush, she was now skeptical that a traditional free market solution would be sufficient on healthcare, pointing to examples like Martin Shkreli’s pharmaceutical company that unilaterally jacked up the price of a pill 5,000 percent in 2015. ...

Conservative allies of Trump have begun sensing this split in the Republican base as well. Breitbart News, where Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon was recently the executive chairman, published a story on March 10 titled “7 Reasons Why Obamacare 2.0 Is All But Guaranteed to Impose Crushing Costs on Voters, Hurt Trump’s Base, and Hand Power Back to the Democrats.” Reason No. 1 was “The bill’s provisions increase healthcare costs for Trump voters in critical states.”

Meals on Wheels donations surge after Trump suggests budget cuts

Donations to Meals on Wheels, a nationwide network of organizations that provide home delivery services to the elderly, have soared since news broke of massive funding cuts in President Donald Trump’s proposed budget. ...

Although the proposed elimination of the grant program would negatively affect housing programs more than food services, the threat to Meals on Wheels in particular has become a rallying point for opponents of the cuts. White House budget director Mick Mulvaney was pilloried on social media for allegedly saying at a press conference that Meals on Wheels is “not showing results.”

In reality, however, he was commenting on the block grant program in general. Meals on Wheels “sounds great,” he said, adding that it would be up to states to continue to fund it if they so choose. But the reality is that states would almost certainly have to make significant cuts to programs that help the poor under Trump’s proposed budget.

It calls for a 17.9 percent budget cut to the Department of Health and Human Services, but it doesn’t specify how the Administration for Community Living, the sub-agency that allocates funding to Meals on Wheels, would be affected. Nor does it address the Older Americans Act, which provides many local Meals on Wheels organizations with much of their funding.

Oil And Gas States Forced To Cut Education Spending

The oil price slump has put pressure on the budgets of the U.S. oil and coal states that have been struggling with lower energy tax revenues and difficult decisions about which public-sector financing they should reduce. Higher budget deficits have led to cuts across the board, and education has been one of the sectors on the chopping block.

This week, Wyoming became the latest in a series of oil and coal producing states that have cut funds from education. Oklahoma, North Dakota and Alaska had already lowered some of the funding for various education programs throughout last year, when the sting of the low oil prices was most painful to monthly tax collections.

Last year, six of the top eight oil-pumping U.S. states slipped into recession, S&P Global Ratings said in a report in January. Alaska, Louisiana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Wyoming saw their economies shrink in 2016, while Texas and Montana had GDP growth much smaller than in 2015, estimates in the report show. ...

While the oil price crash was affecting drilling and consequently, oil revenues of the states, U.S. coal production was also dropping. In the first quarter of 2016, U.S. coal output hit its lowest quarterly level since a major coal strike in the second quarter of 1981, the EIA said last June, with coal production from the Powder River Basin in Montana and Wyoming declining the most in tonnage and percentage since the previous quarter.

Supreme Court Pick Neil Gorsuch "Sides with Big Business, Big Donors & Big Bosses"



Democrats will seek to tie Gorsuch to Trump as a judge soft on big business

Senate Democrats will seek to tar Neil Gorsuch with the same brush as Donald Trump when his supreme court confirmation hearing begins on Monday, branding him a pro-big business judge who favours special interests over ordinary workers.

The minority party has chosen to focus on this line of attack rather than where the conservative Gorsuch stands on touchtone issues such abortion, gay rights and gun ownership. Analysts say this is an indication that they will use the hearing to hammer Trump – and are ultimately resigned to his nominee’s confirmation.

“Democrats need to figure out how they want to lose it,” said Ed Whelan, president of the Ethics & Public Policy Center, speaking on a panel at Georgetown University Law Center last week. “It’s actually a very important strategic decision and I think they’re struggling with this now.” ...

While Democrats are likely to engage in sabre rattling to assuage activists, they are not expected to fight to the death. Republicans control the Senate 52-48. Democrats can seek to use a procedural maneuver, a filibuster, to block a confirmation vote if Gorsuch’s supporters cannot muster 60 votes, although Republicans could respond by changing the Senate rules – the so-called “nuclear option” that would make it easier for Trump to ram through future nominees.



the horse race



The Scariest Thing About Trump Is That We’ve Still Got No Way Of Replacing Him In 2020

The Democratic establishment has been working overtime to keep its progressive base staring at the propaganda screen with Clockwork Orange-style confinement so they won’t notice the very blatantly obvious fact that they have every intention of repeating their exact same 2016 strategy in 2020. The Democratic party’s primary goal is not to take back power from the Republicans. That goal is secondary at best. No, the number one priority of the Democratic party’s ruling elites is to keep real progressives from taking control of the United States government.

Under Trump’s Republican party, the plutocrats who currently own both of America’s major political parties are sitting far more comfortably than they would ever be in the event of a progressive takeover. It is still the case that ordinary American voters have essentially zero influence over what legislation gets passed on Capitol Hill, as shown by a 2014 Princeton University study. It is still the case that the interests of multinational corporations and banks are being placed above the interests of the American citizen. It is still the case that taxpayer money is being funneled into the military industrial complex instead of providing those taxpayers with the same basic standards of living possessed by everyone else in every other major country in the world. This is why the Democratic establishment was willing to risk handing Trump the election in order to sabotage the campaign of the only progressive in their primaries, and it’s why they’re doing everything they can to ensure that they can run another warmongering corporatist rainbow flag neocon in 2020.

There are many scary things about the current administration, but by far the scariest is that all major paths to replace him with an acceptable candidate in 2020 are being actively obstructed by the self-proclaimed people’s party. It wasn’t an “oopsie, silly me” mistake when the DNC killed Sanders’ campaign, it wasn’t an “oopsie, silly me” mistake when the DNC installed establishment extremist Tom Perez over the compromise candidate Keith Ellison, and it’s not an “oopsie, silly me” mistake that the Perez transition committee is virtually devoid of Sanders-wing progressives. House minority leader/Tim Burton claymation figure Nancy Pelosi told us the whole story when she said she didn’t think Democrats want their party to change— they’re not going to. Why would they? They’ve built their entire careers on propping up the oligarchy; it’s all they know and it’s all they’ve got.

So they’ll either let the Republicans stay in control, or they’ll replace them with something even worse.





the evening greens


Global Carbon Emissions Remained Flat in 2016

Global carbon emissions have now stayed flat for the third year in a row, prompting environmental experts to say they’re “cautiously optimistic” about the future.

Carbon dioxide, or CO2, is a major contributor to climate change. The amount emitted has tended to flatten or even fall when the global economy was suffering through recessions, but in 2016, even as the world’s economy grew, the rate of CO2 output didn’t, according to an International Energy Agency report released Friday. The United States played a huge role in keeping that rate flat, as the country’s CO2 emissions fell by 3 percent while the economy grew by 1.6 percent.

That drop is thanks largely to the use of natural gas and renewable energy’s increasing affordability, said Jeff Deyette, who heads state policy and analysis for the nonprofit Union of Concerned Scientists’ climate and energy program.

“In the U.S., it’s definitely due to market forces that are driving particularly coal generation here down,” he said, adding that both coal plants and mines are shuttering across the country as other energy sources become cheaper. “They just no longer can compete with newer, cleaner alternatives.”

Architect of Federal Fracking Loophole May Head Trump Environmental Council

Confidential sources have told Politico that Bill Cooper — current congressional staffer and former fossil fuel industry lobbyist and attorney — is under consideration to head President Donald Trump's White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ).

CEQ works to coordinate various federal agencies dealing with environmental and energy public policy issues and oversees the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review process for proposed infrastructure projects.

Cooper served as legal counsel for the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee on what is today known as the “Halliburton Loophole,” a clause which exempts hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) enforcement of the Safe Drinking Water Act. The Halliburton Loophole was slipped into the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and became law under President George W. Bush.

A 2005 newsletter published by the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC) credits Cooper specifically for his work in getting the clause inserted into the bill.

Well, they recognize there's a problem. Of course the solution can't get in the way of bidness, they want, "meaningful action to address these threats in a manner that doesn’t constrain the American economy." Good luck with that, Republicans.

19 House Republicans call on their party to do something about climate change

Last week, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Congressman Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), and Congressman Ryan Costello (R-PA) led a group of 17 House Republicans in introducing a resolution that calls on Congress to develop policies to tackle climate change. ...

Eleven of the Resolution’s signatories are also members of the Climate Solutions Caucus, as are Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Lee Zeldin (R-NY), who have not yet signed the Resolution. The Climate Solutions Caucus is a bipartisan group in the US House of Representatives – currently comprised of 13 Republicans and 13 Democrats – that explores policy options to address climate change. ...

Altogether, this makes 19 Republican members of the House of Representatives calling for or developing policies to tackle climate change.



Also of Interest

Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.

Pentagon Denies Bombing Syrian Mosque, But Its Own Photo May Prove That It Did

For Donald Trump, a Terror Attack Will Be an Opportunity Not a Curse

Chris Hedges: A Last Chance for Resistance

Trump's Yemen Policy Serves Saudi Royals Better Than Americans

Trump Adviser Is Betting Millions of Dollars That Trump Will Take His Advice

Outrage Over Donald Trump Is Spurring Activism in Silicon Valley

Fed Chair Yellen Repeats “Alternative Facts” from New York Times on Financial Crash

Will Amazon Destroy More US Jobs Than China?

Green energy in a coal state: the struggle to bring solar jobs to West Virginia

Tears of Solidarity


A Little Night Music


James Cotton, Blues Harmonica Legend, Dies at 81

James Cotton - My Baby

James Cotton - Straighten Up Baby

James Cotton - Hold Me In Your Arms

James Cotton, Muddy Waters & Otis Spann - One More Mile To Go

James Cotton - Turn On Your Love Light

James Cotton & Slam Allen - Heard You're Getting Married, Blues For Koko, Sad Sad Day

James Cotton - Diggin` My Potatoes

James Cotton - World Cafe WXPN Studio Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 2013

James Cotton - Feel Like Going Home



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divineorder's picture

Heh. Manchin.

Pushing back on Trumpcare attempt:

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A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

joe shikspack's picture

@divineorder

i can't think of a single democratic senator who more richly deserves a swift kick in the pants for screwing his constituents than manchin. i know that my west virginia friends will be all over a primary challenge by a progressive should one arise.

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I listened to more than I watched, but I am emphasizing watching.

Blinking is a body language "tell" for deception.

https://www.truthaboutdeception.com/lying-and-deception/detecting-decept...

http://www.customerexpressions.com/cex/cexweb.nsf/(GetPages2)/Eye-Contact-Myth

Today's witnesses did an awful lot of blinking while testifying.

Clapper lied to Congress under oath. Why do we assume no one else who works for government will do the same?

And, if Trump was under investigation, as Comey said, is it really so far fetched to say as well that Trump's phone was being tapped?

Meanwhile, the nonsense that releasing emails equals interfering with an election nauseates me. I even heard to day that it was an invasion of the US by Russia from one !@#%# and, from another, that it was an act of war by Russia. W.T.F. They're both dishonest and scary!

About the music, I never realized it until just now, but Sun Records had a relatively distinctive sound. I once saw a PBS program about Sun Records and it all started coming back to me when I heard tonight's songs. BTW, on the PBS program, Jerry Lee Lewis played piano to accompany Kid Rock. Incredibly, Kid Rock seemed to have no idea who Lewis was.

I hate to say it, but they did a great job together. Gave me an appreciation for each of them as musicians. Emphasis on "as musicians."

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joe shikspack's picture

@HenryWallace

i'm sure that there was a lot of what you or i might call lying going on on the witness stand. however, whether it was the kind of lying that can get somebody thrown in jail for perjury... well, i sort of doubt it. with apologies in advance to on the cusp, i'm certain that lawyers constructed a lot of artful ways not to tell the plain truth without perjuring themselves.

Meanwhile, the nonsense that releasing emails equals interfering with an election nauseates me.

heh, tempting journalists with actual facts is an act of war! what amazes me is how few journalists were interested in the truth.

Sun Records had a relatively distinctive sound.

i think that sun records had a very distinctive sound. there are a bunch of things that went into that sound, not limited to the fact that there was one room (which had it's own acoustic signature), one producer who had very particular ideas about how things should sound, and in the early days, all of the musicians were regional, knew each other's sound, influenced each other and in some cases played on each other's recordings.

many of the same things were true about motown's unique, early sound.

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OLinda's picture

@joe shikspack

i'm certain that lawyers constructed a lot of artful ways not to tell the plain truth without perjuring themselves.

Joe, I don't think they need to be that artful. Lies just aren't prosecuted. It's expected and accepted that the CIA, NSA, FBI are going to lie. It's part of their jobs.

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joe shikspack's picture

@OLinda

now that you mention it, comey doesn't sound like the artful type and rogers just sounds like a weasel. Smile

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@joe shikspack

Nothing happened to him. He didn't even seem embarrassed when he later said he had given the least untruthful reply--or whatever argle bargle term he used. If you're being deceptive about something the right people want you to be deceptive about, you're as safe as Clapper was. But, that doesn't mean Clapper was not intentionally deceptive. He was.

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Azazello's picture

Evening everybody, this edition of the Keiser Report is worth a look, both halves.

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joe shikspack's picture

@Azazello

imagine that, rachel maddow is economically illiterate and democratic message strategists are clueless. surprise!

thanks, great show!

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OLinda's picture

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joe shikspack's picture

@OLinda

now there's a surprise. (not)

i wonder if any of the complainers were among those who leaked (probably misleading) information on the trump campaign to journalists.

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Unabashed Liberal's picture

to say 'hi,' and thanks for tonight's excellent roundup of News & Blues!

Starting about 11:30 CST, heard much of the Comey hearing (in between trips to take 'the B' out), and, I must say, it was a surreal experience. Several Dems on the Committee actually stated that we are 'at war' with Russia, or something to that effect. Whew!

One of the Dem lawmakers mentioned that Tillerson (I think) received the Order Of Friendship Award from Putin. Well, even if it's true, I heard former CIA Director James Woolsey, about 6-8 weeks ago on a Sunday show, say that folks are misinterpreting the meaning of that--IOW, it would be no different from George Bush having presented a Medal Of Freedom to Nelle Harper Lee in 2007.

I'll be very curious to see how well this serves Dems during the midterms next year. Apparently, Comey couldn't state that they have solid evidence of malfeasance of anyone connected with DT's campaign (yet). I suppose that Dems are just hoping that something turns up that they can use. And, more misdirection tactics. Go figure.

We're enjoying beautiful weather for most of this week, so we're going to try to make the most of it, and get some outside chores taken care of.

Hey, Everyone have a nice evening!

Bye

Mollie


"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went."--Will Rogers

“When the narrative at the heart of a system of rule falls apart, when the flow of history runs counter to the story told by those in power, then we know the entire edifice is crumbling under the weight of its own contradictions.

The political crisis arrives when the people sense that the prevailing order is built on a foundation of oppressions and lies. The rulers panic, scrambling to reweave the matrix of fables and myths that justify their waning supremacy. At such points in history, the truth is up for grabs – and a change of regime is in the offing.”

____Glen Ford, Black Agenda Report

[my italics]

Taro
Taro, SOSD

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"The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it."
--George Bernard Shaw, Irish Dramatist & Socialist
"We [corporations] are the government!" Actor John Colicos (1978)

joe shikspack's picture

@Unabashed Liberal

i couldn't bear to listen to the whining after adam schiff's opening statement. he stated clearly enough that the democrats had nothing and comey made it clear that he wasn't going to tell them anything, but that didn't stop them from going on for 5 hours. what a time-waster!

i hope you, mr m and the b enjoy the good weather!

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Wink's picture

literally lives within walking distance of her seat in the House (less than a half mile), sadly is a congress critter representing my district. When we lost to her in 2014 the regional Dem Rep who worked the campaign here said, "she'll be your Cong. Rep for decades," after viewing the last tv ad of her campaign. I agreed, my jaw practically on the floor, one of THE best political tv ads ever. Ever. She will be tough to beat, and if we don't beat her in 2018 she will be the Rep here for decades. Unless she runs for Senate. Or Prez. [sigh]

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On the radio at netrootsradio.com On Twitter @winkradio. All about building progressive media.

eyo's picture

@Wink thanks I looked her up. Is Elise Stefanik the future of the GOP?

When the new Congress is sworn in Tuesday, it will include the most diverse group in history, with a record number of minorities and women.

Elise Stefanik, a Republican from northern New York becomes the youngest woman ever to serve.

"It's very exciting. It's a humbling feeling. And I'm just excited to add an additional crack to the glass ceiling," Stefanik told "CBS This Morning" co-host Norah O'Donnell. ...

aand scene! lol

"Women, often times, their comments are different, whether it's about appearance, attire, it's just different than male candidates," she said.

Some even made comments about the patterned tights Stefanik wore.

"I mean, they're not that fashion-forward, if you look around, for example, the halls in Congress, there are lots of staff members who wear patterned tights. They're very tasteful. But, it's just part of being a young new candidate," Stefanik said. ...

I know it was TV, but c'mon. Brain Slug Party could do better I think.

Peace & Love

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On a blog.

Shockwave's picture

About Rachel Maddow

I think Rachel Maddow is very good and many people seem to agree;

Rachel Maddow Wins 2nd Week in a Row in the Demo

We don't have to agree on everything.

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The political revolution continues

eyo's picture

@Shockwave hi there, I know it didn't need "fixing" but this sentence sounds more accurate:

"I think Rachel Maddow is very good and many people TV watchers seem to agree:"

"We don't have to agree on everything." Agreed. Biggrin

First, know your audience. That's my unsolicited advice. Thanks.

Peace & Love

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On a blog.

joe shikspack's picture

@Shockwave

i am pleased to agree to amicably disagree. Smile

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