The Evening Blues - 5-22-18


The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: Pops Staples

Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features gospel and blues musician Pops Staples. Enjoy!

Pops Staples & The Staple Singers - This May Be The Last Time

"Terrorism is in good part an effective government propaganda; it serves to deflect attention from governmental abuse toward a mostly imagined, highly dangerous outside enemy."

-- Mark Poster

News and Opinion

The Skripal Case Is Being Pushed Down The Memory Hole With Libya And Aleppo

On the fourth of March, in the sleepy British cathedral town of Salisbury, an ex-spy named Sergei Skripal was poisoned by an assassin with the most deadly nerve agent known to man. ... Two months after his earth-shattering assassination, as the world stared spellbound at the weekend’s immensely popular PR spectacle of a royal wedding, Sergei Skripal was quietly discharged from the hospital he’d been staying at. The BBC reports that he is walking and approaching complete recovery. ... And now both Sergei and Yulia Skripal, alleged victims of a poisoning by highly trained assassins using the deadliest nerve agent ever created, are doing fine. But you’re still supposed to fear and hate Russia. Just don’t think too hard about it or remember too much.

Remember Aleppo? I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t; corporate media outlets hardly ever talk about it anymore. It’s almost like they want us to forget the horror stories they told us about how the city that had been occupied by good, noble freedom fighters was about to be taken by an army of depraved psychopaths who wanted to rape women, burn children alive, and shoot civilians in their homes. Back at the tail end of 2016, though, it was all you ever heard about. The “fall of Aleppo”, they called it. If the west didn’t intervene to stop Damascus and Moscow from retaking East Aleppo from the good-hearted rebels, everyone there would be raped, tortured, and butchered by the soulless army of the Syrian government.

Well, Moscow and Damascus did recapture East Aleppo, and it turns out that everything we were told about it was a lie. The atrocities the Syrian Arab Army were accused of intending to commit proved to be completely unfounded, those “freedom fighters” were predominantly cruel Al Qaeda affiliates, and the city is now thriving and bustling with busy marketplaces. But after all the constant apocalyptic alarmism, the mass media outlets who’d been warning of all the horrific crimes against humanity which would surely be committed after the “fall of Aleppo” forgot all about the city once they were proven completely wrong about everything. Aleppo was pushed down the memory hole.

How about Libya? Remember Libya? Libya’s that country that got pushed down the memory hole the second the western empire got the regime change it was after. Before Muammar Gaddafi was mutilated in the streets to the sadistic cackles of Hillary Clinton, we were all told with increasing urgency that humanitarian interventionism was needed because Gaddafi’s troops are doing evil things like taking Viagra to help them commit mass rapes against Libyan civilians. ... Where are all those cries for humanitarian interventionism in Libya now? Now that the nation is infinitely worse off than it was under Gaddafi?

Doesn’t matter. Memory hole. And now a very suspicious and possibly Christopher Steele-related silence has descended on the matter of the Skripals, to the point where Sergei himself can walk out of the hospital and barely cause a blip in the news, and nobody can talk to either of them but everyone pretends that’s perfectly normal. This case which points very clearly to a mountain of lies and cover-ups by the British government and its affiliates is now being shuffled out of the news cycle and replaced with vapid nonsense about Meghan’s dress and Trump’s latest obnoxious tweet.

'Weird, odd, a dumpster fire': Trump's North Korea summit coin ridiculed

Stony faced, Donald Trump stares down a smiling Kim Jong-un in a high-stakes scene, unfolding entirely on the surface of a coin. The commemorative piece was minted by the White House Military Office, which typically designs coins for Trump’s trips abroad, before an expected summit between the two leaders in Singapore on 12 June. The coin describes the meeting as “peace talks”, in English and Korean.

Trump has reportedly been focusing on the pageantry of the summit rather than immersing himself in detailed briefings on the complex issue of North Korea’s nuclear program. He has been particularly interested in suspense-filled announcements that could come out of the meeting, according to the Associated Press.

Moon Jae-In visits Washigton to discuss meeting between Trump and Kim Jong Un

North Korea is angry at the world again — especially the “murderous U.S.”

After several months of measured engagement with the world, North Korea reverted to its pompous toddler bluster Monday, amid growing uncertainty around next month’s summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un. Pyongyang lashed out at the South Korea–U.S. military exercises currently underway, as well as the claims in Washington that Trump’s high-pressure tactics forced North Korea to the table.

State-run newspaper Rodong Sinmun published eight articles in Monday’s edition rebuking Trump and his administration, including one poetically entitled: “Boiling the Heart’s Blood with Endless Revenge.”

“Our hearts burn with the blood of endless revenge toward the murderous U.S. imperialist and class enemy man-eaters who enjoy the slaughter of human beings,” the piece mused. “Any illusion about the enemy will lead to death.” Another claimed: “The U.S. is provoking an arms race. It is using the plausible but fallacious concept of ‘peace through power’ to start a war to dominate the world.”

The criticism comes amid reports that Trump is wavering on the June 12 meeting in Singapore, with The New York Times reporting that Trump is worried the event will turn into a political embarrassment.

Pompeo Threatens Iran With Strongest Sanctions in History, Speeding U.S. March Toward War

Iranian Commander Issues Reminder That US Is the World's "Top Criminal with Regard to Missiles"

A top Iranian military commander responded on Tuesday to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's demand that Iran end its domestic nuclear energy development, with a stern reminder that the United States has shown itself as the world's most dangerous and violent military and nuclear power.

"Who are you and America to tell us to limit the range of ballistic missiles?" Ismail Kowsari, deputy commander of the Sarollah Revolutionary Guards base in Tehran, asked Pompeo in a statement. "History has shown that with the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, America is the top criminal with regard to missiles."

The Trump administration has spent much of the past year and a half demanding that other countries, including Iran and North Korea, end their respective nuclear programs, despite the fact that the U.S. and Russia hold more than 90 percent of the world's nuclear weapons.

Mike Pompeo claims Iran carrying out 'assassination operations' in Europe

Mike Pompeo’s claim that the Iran’s Revolutionary Guard is carrying out “assassination operations in the heart of Europe” has bewildered security experts and Iranian exiles, who say they are not aware of any evidence for the allegation.

The new US secretary of state referred to the alleged assassinations in his first major speech on Monday, but devoted just a single line to it amid a litany of criticisms of Iranian behaviour, giving no further details. “Today, the Iranian Quds Force conducts covert assassination operations in the heart of Europe,” Pompeo said, referring to the external operations arm of the Islamic revolutionary guards corps (IRGC).

When asked for clarification, the state department said it would look into the matter, but provided no further information. US diplomats specialising in Iran were taken by surprise by Pompeo’s allegations.

'World no longer accepts US deciding for them', Iran's Rouhani says

American Foreign Policy Infuriates Everyone

American foreign policy seems to be designed to infuriate everyone, friend and foe alike, though we realise the word “friend” is a euphemism for “useful for American interests.” In a futile attempt to reassert its world hegemony the American ruling class has ripped up or is forcing changes to, free trade agreements with Canada and Mexico, with the EU and Pacific nations, ignores the World Trade Organisation rules, has reneged on the agreement it forced down Iran’s throat at the point of a gun with regard to a supposed nuclear weapons development, imposed economic blockades on Iran and Russia that also hurt the interests of its “friends’ in the EU, imposed tariffs on Chinese goods and European steel, flirts with Taiwan, moved the US embassy to Jerusalem, encouraged Israel to attack Syria and to shoot down unarmed Palestinians en masse protesting the illegal occupation of their own land and shot itself in the head with respect to North Korea with all the chest pounding idiocy and bragging of a bullying teenager hopped up on crack surprised when he’s told he’s not welcome to the party because he’s an insulting jerk.

With respect to North Korea, the insults thrown at the North Koreans since John Bolton arrived on the scene can be put down to the psychopathology of that particular man and his contemptuous attitude to everyone and about whom the North Koreans said, “We shed light on the quality of Bolton already in the past, and we do not hide our feeling of repugnance towards him.” But the American press were quick to denounce North Korea’s objections to American bullying as a return to “their old behavior” to try to escape the blame for the fiasco they have created in the Korea-US negotiations. ... An opportunity for peace in Korea is being thrown away because of the personal crudeness and barbarity of these people but they are the “in your face” face of American capital; the lieutenants of capital prepared to commit every crime to serve and protect their bosses interests. ...

Yet, while American capital expends vast sums of money on armaments and wars that return it nothing its people continue to suffer a rapid degradation of their conditions. On the 17th of May it was reported by the United Way that nearly 51 million households don’t earn enough to afford a monthly budget that includes housing, food, child care, health care, transportation and a cell phone. That’s 43% of households in the United States. This is the country that Mike Pompeo, the new US foreign minister, bragged was “going to rebuild North Korea.” More like North Korea needs to rebuild America. But this is how out of touch with reality these people are in the American leadership, bankrupt of ideas, ignorant of the world and history, locked into an economic system that cannot provide for even the basic the needs of its working people and without a functioning democratic system for the necessary changes to take place. And what is the result of all this but yet more war and so more war we will have as the collapse of American society accelerates.

Palestinian minister delivers Israel 'war crimes' referral to ICC

The Palestinian foreign minister has called on the international criminal court to immediately open an investigation into alleged Israeli war crimes, crimes against humanity, and apartheid. Riyad al-Maliki met the ICC’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, at the tribunal on Tuesday in The Hague and referred the case, calling it an “important and historic step towards justice for the Palestinian people who continue to suffer ongoing, widespread and systematic crimes”.

He said the move was “due to the intensity and the rate and the severity of the crimes against our people” including the targeting of “unarmed protestors in the Gaza Strip”.

Israel is not a signatory to the ICC, and its foreign ministry said the country took “a severe view” of what it called an absurd and politicised referral, which it described as a cynical step. “[T]he ICC lacks jurisdiction over the Israeli-Palestinian issue, since Israel is not a member of the court and because the Palestinian Authority is not a state,” it said in a statement.

Palestine gained UN observer state status five years ago and later joined the ICC, which has jurisdiction to prosecute individuals. While Israel has not signed the Rome statute that established the court, if Israeli citizens commit international crimes they may fall under the tribunal’s authority. ... The ICC considers itself a court of last resort, authorised to take on cases when authorities are unable or unwilling to launch prosecutions.

'You Are Not Welcome in Palestine': US Delegation Egged in Occupied West Bank

A delegation of U.S. officials on their way to an event in the occupied West Bank on Monday were most certainly not welcome as their convoy was met with a volley of eggs and Palestinians holding signs while entering the town of Beit Jala, outside Bethlehem.

According to a photographer at the scene, the angered residents held up signs that read: "US government you are not welcome in Palestine" and "Hey Trump, Jerusalem is not the capital of Zion."

The display of animus towards the delegation came exactly one week after the Trump administration officially moved the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem—a move seen as a direct assault on the so-called "peace process" and the demand that East Jerusalem ultimately become the future capital of an independent Palestinian state.

Both the Israeli government and its U.S. backers are under fire by human rights organizations and the international legal community for the ongoing occupation as well as the killing of more than 60 people by IDF soldiers who opened fire on demonstrators in Gaza, also last Monday.

How Buying Baby Powder Helps Fund the Taliban and Islamic State in Afghanistan

Lucrative mining sites in Afghanistan are under the control of Taliban and Islamic State Khorasan Province, or ISKP, militants, who are making millions from the export of minerals, according to a new report by the conflict monitoring organization Global Witness. The report, titled “At Any Price We Will Take the Mines,” documents how the trade in minerals like talc, marble, and lapis lazuli is generating revenue for insurgent groups and helping to fuel a deadly cycle of violence in the country.

While control over resources has long been a driver of conflict in Afghanistan, this dynamic has become more acute in recent years. Since the end of 2017, tens of thousands of people have been displaced by fierce battles between Taliban and ISKP factions in eastern Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province, battles that have been linked to the control of lucrative mineral deposits.

“What we’ve found from our sources is that the ongoing conflict between the Taliban and Islamic State in Nangarhar is very much linked to the control of resources. And when you look at the revenues that armed groups get from these mines, it’s not surprising that they’d be willing to fight to hold onto them,” said Nick Donovan, a campaign director for Global Witness who specializes in conflict finance and corruption in natural resources. “The involvement of armed groups in illegal mining is hugely damaging to the country. It costs the Afghan government massive losses in revenue, while empowering many local strongmen and fueling armed conflict. Control of these resources is an issue of national security for Afghanistan and for all the countries involved in the conflict.”

According to the report, consumer goods purchasers in the United States, Europe, and Asia are helping to fuel these insurgencies. Talc mined in Afghanistan and exported through Pakistan often ends up incorporated into ordinary consumer products sold in the U.S., particularly since Pakistan is the single biggest source of talc sold in the America. Through their ordinary consumption, the report notes, Westerners buying products made with materials that originate in Afghanistan “are almost certainly unwittingly helping to fund the insurgency.” Talc is commonly found in baby powder, as well as in many ceramics, paint, paper, plastics, rubber, and insecticide products.

US anti-tank missiles found at former Al-Nusra facility in Syria

US-made TOW anti-tank missiles, along with other weapons, have been found in facilities once controlled by Al-Nusra militants in Syria’s Homs province, the Russian Defense Ministry said.

The trove was located in a former observation point of the Al-Nusra Front terrorist group in the liberated Zaafaran settlement in Homs province, the Russian Center for Reconciliation in Syria said on Monday. “[We] can see here a large number of gas masks, weapons produced abroad, for example, TOW-2 anti-tank guided missiles. The facilities are very well-equipped,” Andrey Nekipelov, an official at the center, stated. ...

Hundreds of the missiles have fallen into the hands of various rebel factions during the Syrian conflict. The US-made TOW was reportedly used in an attack on an RT crew in Syria back in 2015.

De Blasio to NYPD: stop arresting New Yorkers smoking marijuana on street

Bill de Blasio often boasts of being the mayor that stopped people getting arrested for low-level marijuana possession. Yet there were 17,880 arrests last year for personal marijuana consumption, nearly all of them for smoking in public rather than for having marijuana on their person. The number is considerably lower than under Michael Bloomberg, the previous mayor, but the racial disparity of those arrested is shocking: 86% of those arrested were people of colour. In Manhattan, the figures are even more stark: a New York Times investigation found black people were 15 times more likely to be arrested for possession than white people.

Those figures have pushed De Blasio to go further, instructing the NYPD to stop arresting people caught smoking in public, and to issue a summons instead. De Blasio is not able to immediately change NYPD policy, but his statement is likely to influence a review of marijuana procedures currently taking place. It also comes just days after the Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance announced he would be ending prosecution in all marijuana possession and smoking cases after 1 August.

'User Manual for Authoritarian Surveillance': ACLU Red Alert as Amazon Peddles Facial Recognition Tool to Police

After internal emails (pdf) published by the ACLU on Tuesday revealed that Amazon has been aggressively selling its facial recognition product to law enforcement agencies throughout the U.S., privacy advocates and civil libertarians raised grave concerns that the retailer is effectively handing out a "user manual for authoritarian surveillance" that could be deployed by governments to track protesters, spy on immigrants and minorities, and crush dissent.

"We know that putting this technology into the hands of already brutal and unaccountable law enforcement agencies places both democracy and dissidence at great risk," Malkia Cyril, executive director of the Center for Media Justice, said in a statement in response to the ACLU's findings. "Amazon should never be in the business of aiding and abetting racial discrimination and xenophobia—but that's exactly what Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is doing." First unveiled in 2016, "Rekognition" was explicitly marketed by Amazon as a tool for "tracking people," and it has already been put to use by law enforcement agencies in Florida and Oregon.

While Amazon suggests in its marketing materials that Rekognition can be used to track down "people of interest" in criminal cases, ACLU and dozens of pro-privacy groups argued in a letter (pdf) to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on Tuesday that the product is "primed for abuse in the hands of governments" and poses a "grave threat" to marginalized groups and dissidents.

Highlighting "the possibility that those labeled suspicious by governments—such as undocumented immigrants or black activists—will be targeted for Rekognition surveillance," the coalition of advocacy groups urged Amazon to "act swiftly to stand up for civil rights and civil liberties, including those of its own customers, and take Rekognition off the table for governments." "People should be free to walk down the street without being watched by the government," the groups concluded. "Facial recognition in American communities threatens this freedom. In overpoliced communities of color, it could effectively eliminate it."

The ACLU investigation found that Amazon has not been content to simply market and sell Rekognition to law enforcement agencies—it is also offering "company resources to help government agencies deploy" the tool.

'This could be bad': Video of police tasing Milwaukee Bucks rookie worries mayor

Milwaukee’s mayor, Tom Barrett, said he is concerned about public backlash that could emerge when a video of police officers tasing Bucks guard Sterling Brown, who did not “appear to be provocative at all” according to local reports, is released to the public this week.

“I’m going to let the release of that speak for itself, but yes, I definitely have concerns after watching that video,” Barrett told reporters on Monday, adding that police chief Alfonso Morales felt similarly.

In the body-camera video, which could be released as soon as Wednesday, NBA player Brown “doesn’t appear to be provocative at all” before officers use a stun gun on him, a source told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The source added, “this could be bad.”

Brown, then 22 and now 23, was arrested on 26 January after police used a taser while Brown was being questioned by officers over a parking violation in a Walgreens pharmacy parking lot. Brown was cited for a parking violation but not charged following his arrest. The officers involved are currently under internal investigation, the status of which is unclear.

Neo-Nazi who beat a black man with a 2-by-4 in Charlottesville pleads guilty

A third man involved in the brutal beating of a black man in a parking garage during the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville last August has been convicted.

Daniel Borden is seen in footage circulated widely after the rally in the Virginia college town, beating DeAndre Harris with a two-by-four, among a group of six white men attacking him with slabs of wood and metal pipes. They left him with a head laceration that required multiple staples, a broken wrist, a chipped tooth, and other injuries. The photos and footage of the assault, which quickly went viral, were used to identify the men involved. Nineteen-year-old Borden, from Ohio, took a type of plea Tuesday in which he didn’t admit guilt but confessed that prosecutors have enough evidence to convict him. His case had been set to go to trial next month. ...

Two of the other men who injured Harris, Alex Ramos and Jacob Goodwin, have already been found guilty of malicious wounding, a charge that carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Borden pleaded to the same charge. A fourth man, Tyler Davis, is awaiting trial. ...

Borden will be sentenced on Oct. 1. And he’s not the only white supremacist facing charges after the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. James Alex Fields Jr., who drove his car into a crowd of anti-fascist protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer, is facing charges of second-degree murder. And Richard Preston, a KKK leader from Maryland, was convicted of firing a gun near a school during the rally earlier this month.

A very satisfying read, worth clicking the link for:

'Elitist den of hate': Silicon Valley pastor decries hypocrisy of area's rich liberals

A Silicon Valley pastor has resigned from his church after calling the city of Palo Alto an “elitist shit den of hate” and criticizing the hypocrisy of “social justice” activism in the region. Gregory Stevens confirmed on Monday that he had stepped down from the First Baptist church of Palo Alto, an LGBT-inclusive congregation, after his personal tweets calling out the contradictions of wealthy liberals in northern California surfaced at a recent council hearing.

In emails to the Guardian, the 28-year-old minister detailed his “exasperation” with Palo Alto, a city in the heart of the technology industry, surrounded by severe income inequality and poverty. “I believe Palo Alto is a ghetto of wealth, power, and elitist liberalism by proxy, meaning that many community members claim to want to fight for social justice issues, but that desire doesn’t translate into action,” Stevens wrote, lamenting that it was impossible for low-income people to live in the city. “The insane wealth inequality and the ignorance toward actual social justice is absolutely terrifying.”

He later added: “The tech industry is motivated by endless profit, elite status, rampant greed, and the myth that their technologies are somehow always improving the world.” Local headlines about Stevens, who has faced intense backlash from residents and city leaders, labeled his tweets “nasty”, “vile”, “unsavory” and “unholy”, highlighting posts in which he called Palo Alto “disgusting” and said: “I hate ‘social justice’ in Palo Alto. What a fucking joke.”

Local critics had brought up Stevens’ tweets while opposing an effort by the church to get permits to allow new community activities in the space. His old tweets were geared to “small group of progressive ministers and leftist political activists”, he said, adding that he had vented his frustrations in “an unprofessional and often hurtful way” and was resigning to “minimize the negativity” facing the church. But, he later added, “I think rage and anger toward oppression and injustice is a biblical calling on our lives.” ...

He argued that the church’s rich neighbors could afford to “feed and house” all the homeless people in Palo Alto and surrounding cities, but instead focused on passing laws that further criminalized this population, encouraging police to harass those sleeping outside or in cars. The city had also made it hard for the church to provide meals for the homeless by requiring costly permits, he said.

the horse race

Deep in Trump Country, a Democratic Populist Is Facing Off Against a Country Club Republican

A big part of Carol Miller’s campaign to represent West Virginia’s 3rd Congressional District in Washington was to present herself to voters as carbon copy of President Donald Trump. ... The pro-Trump rhetoric helped Miller clinch the May 8 primary for the congressional seat, emerging victorious from a field of seven candidates by a slim 1,616-vote margin. Under normal circumstances, the political chattering classes might consider the race over: Miller, the GOP majority leader in the lower chamber of the state legislature, should be a shoo-in for the November general election.

Yet Miller faces a strong challenger in state Sen. Richard Ojeda of Logan County, the Democratic nominee for the congressional district who has generated a recent wave of profiles in national publications. Ojeda is, by national Democratic Party standards, not much of a traditional candidate. Ojeda is an Army veteran. Ojeda won his first race and quickly made a name for himself as a crusader for working-class interests. He frequently appears at union picket lines across the state and took to the floor of the legislature in January, the first to warn of a looming teacher strike. When the work stoppage later came to pass, Ojeda joined demonstrators to demand a pay raise for all public employees funded through a tax on energy companies. His signature legislative accomplishment in his only term in office is the state medical marijuana law, which he championed as a cheaper alternative to pharmaceuticals.

The pride Ojeda takes in his rifle and military service will be familiar among conservative Democrats, but his disquisitions on American history sound more like Howard Zinn than many progressives on the coasts. He refers to West Virginia as an internal colony used for resource extraction, one that has been exploited by outside capitalist interests at the expense of workers, an environment made possible by corrupt local politicians. “Our coal was being pulled from our mountains, shipped to Pittsburgh to make steel, and then used to build Manhattan, while our people had to travel dirt roads and could barely afford to survive,” Ojeda has said. In an interview, he reiterated this view: “We are a colony, not a state.” ...

Ojeda has hit the road, organizing public employees, mine workers, and disaffected voters from around the district to build a grassroots network for the upcoming campaign. Along the way, his colorful speeches and campaign tactics have inspired a particularly dedicated following. ... “The reason the Democratic Party fell from grace,” Ojeda said, “is because a lot of them absolutely forgot what the Democratic Party was about, which was taking care of the working-class citizens and helping our veterans, our elderly, and creating opportunities for people to elevate themselves out of poverty. And that’s exactly what I stand for. And I think if I start doing that, it’ll wake up a lot of people out there who are good Democrats who agree with what I’m doing.”

Progressive Victor! Now Running For CA Lt. Governor

the evening greens

Journalists barred from EPA summit on harmful water contaminants

Journalists from national news organizations were barred from a summit in Washington on harmful water contaminants on Tuesday, convened by the embattled environmental protection agency (EPA) chief, Scott Pruitt. One reporter was manhandled out of the building. Pruitt is already engulfed in a scandal over his use of taxpayer money and closeness to lobbyists, actions he has been obliged to defend in a string of congressional hearings in recent weeks, amid calls for him to quit or be fired. ...

On Tuesday Pruitt told a national summit on water quality that dealing with contaminants is “a national priority”. But the Associated Press (AP) news agency, TV cable news giant CNN and the environmental-focused news organization E&E were barred by the EPA from attending the event, the AP reported. An EPA spokesman, Jahan Wilcox, told the barred organizations they were not invited and there was no space for them, but gave no indication of why they specifically were barred, the AP said on Tuesday.

Guards barred an AP reporter from passing through a security checkpoint inside the event premises. When the reporter asked to speak to an EPA public affairs representative, the security guards grabbed the reporter by the shoulders and shoved her forcibly out of the EPA building, the AP said. It was the latest incident to dog Pruitt’s time as head of the EPA in the Trump administration.

Trump administration plan to scrap hunting rules condemned as 'new low'

The Trump administration is attempting to repeal a rule that bans the shooting of bear cubs, use of dogs and bait to hunt bears, and killing caribou from motorboats in Alaska’s federal wildlife refuges. The proposal would scrap a 2015 regulation by the National Park Service that restricts controversial hunting and trapping practices on about 20m acres of federal land in Alaska.

Under the rule, hunters cannot target female bears with cubs, nor the cubs themselves. They are also prohibited from killing wolves and coyotes during the summer denning season, shooting caribou while the animals swim, or shooting at caribou from a motorboat. Using dogs or artificial lights to find bears, or luring bears with bait – doughnuts have previously been used for this purpose – is also ruled out.

During Barack Obama’s presidency, the National Park Service stressed the rule was necessary to avoid artificially reducing predators and allowing prey numbers to increase, thereby destabilizing the Alaskan ecosystems. The Trump administration has taken a different view, with the proposed repeal stating the rule is “inconsistent” with Alaska’s state-level hunting regulations, which have been geared around the contentious idea that culling bears and wolves will increase the number of caribou available to hunters.

The Alaska state government and the state’s congressman Don Young, who has said he was once paid to kill wolves in their dens, have strongly opposed the federal rule, with Young claiming it “destroys a cooperative relationship between Alaska and the federal government”. Conservation groups have reacted in horror, however. “If the administration has its way, it will be perfectly legal for sport hunters to lure bears with greased doughnut bait piles to kill them,” said Theresa Pierno, president of the National Parks Conservation Association. “Or to crawl into bear dens to kill hibernating females and their cubs. This activity is cruel and has no place on America’s national park lands.” Jamie Rappaport Clark, chief executive of Defenders of Wildlife, added: “The Trump administration has somehow reached a new low in protecting wildlife."

Landmark lawsuit claims Monsanto hid cancer danger of weedkiller for decades

At the age of 46, DeWayne Johnson is not ready to die. But with cancer spread through most of his body, doctors say he probably has just months to live. Now Johnson, a husband and father of three in California, hopes to survive long enough to make Monsanto take the blame for his fate. On 18 June, Johnson will become the first person to take the global seed and chemical company to trial on allegations that it has spent decades hiding the cancer-causing dangers of its popular Roundup herbicide products – and his case has just received a major boost.

Last week Judge Curtis Karnow issued an order clearing the way for jurors to consider not just scientific evidence related to what caused Johnson’s cancer, but allegations that Monsanto suppressed evidence of the risks of its weed killing products. Karnow ruled that the trial will proceed and a jury would be allowed to consider possible punitive damages.

“The internal correspondence noted by Johnson could support a jury finding that Monsanto has long been aware of the risk that its glyphosate-based herbicides are carcinogenic … but has continuously sought to influence the scientific literature to prevent its internal concerns from reaching the public sphere and to bolster its defenses in products liability actions,” Karnow wrote. “Thus there are triable issues of material fact.”

Johnson’s case, filed in San Francisco county superior court in California, is at the forefront of a legal fight against Monsanto. Some 4,000 plaintiffs have sued Monsanto alleging exposure to Roundup caused them, or their loved ones, to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). Another case is scheduled for trial in October, in Monsanto’s home town of St Louis, Missouri. ...

Monsanto “championed falsified data and attacked legitimate studies” that revealed dangers of its herbicides, and led a “prolonged campaign of misinformation” to convince government agencies, farmers and consumers that Roundup was safe, according to Johnson’s lawsuit. “We look forward to exposing how Monsanto hid the risk of cancer and polluted the science,” said Michael Miller, Johnson’s attorney. “Monsanto does not want the truth about Roundup and cancer to become public.”

Also of Interest

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

Venezuela’s Highly Unusual Presidential Election

Why speaking Spanish is becoming dangerous in America

How Long Will We Pretend Palestinians Aren’t People?

The Crown Prince of Riyadh vs. the Crown Prince of Jihad: Al-Qaeda Responds to Mohammed Bin Salman’s Reforms

With Medal of Honor, SEAL Team 6 Rewards a Culture of War Crimes

A Primary Against the Machine: A Bronx Activist Looks to Dethrone Joseph Crowley, the King Of Queens

Shell investors revolt over pay and maintain pressure over climate change

A Little Night Music

Pops Staples & The Staple Singers - Why Am I Treated So Bad

The Staple Singers - You're Gonna Make Me Cry

The Staple Singers - We The People

Pops Staples - Down In Mississippi

The Staple Singers - When Will We Be Paid

Pop Staples - Trying Times

The Staple Singers - Respect Yourself

Pop Staples - World In Motion

Pop Staples - Hope In A Hopeless World

Pops Staples Tribute, "Don't Lose This"

15 users have voted.


Raggedy Ann's picture

My mom used to speak to my sister and I in Spanish out in public. The woman was born in New Mexico in 1908 and it was her first language, so most comfortable and familiar for her. My sister used to admonish her and tell her to speak English so that people wouldn't think she was talking about them. I always resented that and wished I had command of the language to converse with her. I've always understood the language, because it's always been spoken to me by my family, but my parents refused to teach it to us because of the stigma - speaking Spanish in school was taboo and could get you sent home. I'm sick and tired of this crap.

Iran is speaking truth to power. Kim Jung Un called us out on our own shenanigans. America is losing status in the world - finally. Perhaps our fall is being sped up with the likes of Herr Drumpf and crew and won't be the painful "death-by-bleedout" it would have been with HRC.

We finally got a nice rainstorm yesterday. My skin and hair are happier today.

Have a beautiful evening, folks! Pleasantry

14 users have voted.

"The herd management intent is simply to get you into one of the corrals. Nobody is right, if everybody is wrong.
I am a free range DFH."

@Raggedy Ann Spanish or understand it, I personally have never felt like people speaking Spanish in front of me are talking about me. That bit in that article with the woman being at work, I could see some of the people in my office, which I blessedly don't go into anymore, thinking that way. Just wow. Narcissist much?

I also grew up in So Cal and wish I HAD learned to speak Spanish. So many advantages in being bi-lingual, only stupid ass Murkans would think that's a bad thing. I wish my ancestors had passed down the German and Swedish quite frankly and I have to say I admire the immigrants who come here and retain some their own culture.

9 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@Raggedy Ann

heh, my mom and grandmother spoke several languages between them, and would not teach us kids any of them. in their younger lives, there was an intense pressure to fit in and conform and even a hint of a foreign accent was apparently enough to trigger the prejudices of other americans.

it's really kind of sad, but that's the way america works. prejudice is an integral part of the justification of the cheap labor and brutality that our economy thrives on.

heh, we got a huge rainstorm here this morning, it woke me up. on the other hand, ms shikspack's garden was quite appreciative.

have a great evening!

7 users have voted.
mimi's picture

@joe shikspack
In my little tiny household, when my son was in between 3 years to 14 years old, we spoke five languages among each other (German, French, English, family-in-law's dialect, and some Italian). Each of us could not understand more than three of them and speak more than two or three of them sufficiently well to use them professionally.

I remember how horrible it was for me (and my kid) to try to teach him reading and writing in a language that was not my mother tongue.

Because my son picked up all the languages and spoke them WITHOUT an accent, the Americans never believed me that "he could possibly have academically difficulties", because they were not understanding, that speaking a language without an accent doesn't mean you read and write those languages without difficulties. So, mom was put down as 'overprotective' and ridiculed until they told me "oh we regret your son can't make it up to our academic standards" and I had to search for another school.

I dunno... it's the toughest issue I struggled and despaired over and I hate 'smart pants, who think mothers are stupid when it comes to their own kids' especially if it's cross-cultural, cross racial in addition to just being frigging arrogant.

Ok, now I said it. WTF.

5 users have voted.

Love is all we have to give.

@Raggedy Ann

becoming unpopular everywhere. Thanks, Trump! It's appreciated!

Once Americans take back their government, they'll quickly begin to earn back global trust, having a sane government and all.

82% of Germans believe US is unreliable partner – poll
Published time: 22 May, 2018 02:18
Edited time: 22 May, 2018 10:02

The vast majority of Germans believe the US is not a reliable partner for Berlin when it comes to political cooperation, according to a new poll. It comes after Chancellor Merkel said that Europe can no longer rely on Washington.

The survey, commissioned by public service TV provider ZDF, found that 82 percent of Germans believe the US is not a reliable partner, with only 14 percent believing it is. The remaining four percent were unsure.

It comes after German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated earlier this month that Europe "needs to take its fate into its own hands," noting that "it's no longer the case that the United States will simply just protect us."

Merkel's statement came after US President Donald Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal, despite Germany, the UK, and France urging him to remain part of the accord.

However, the majority (65%) of Germans are still optimistic that the remaining signatories of the Iran deal – the UK, France, Germany, China, and Russia – will be successful at keeping with the agreement. Twenty-eight percent, though, are skeptical that it can continue without Washington.

Meanwhile, the survey participants were also asked about whether Russia is a reliable partner, with more people (36%) viewing Moscow as trustworthy than Washington. ...

2 users have voted.

Psychopathy is not a political position, whether labeled 'conservatism', 'centrism' or 'left'.

A tin labeled 'coffee' may be a can of worms or pathology identified by a lack of empathy/willingness to harm others to achieve personal desires.

detroitmechworks's picture

that they pulled under Bush. "NOBODY CAN CONTROL HIM! For God's Sake, do what he wants!"

Just ugh. And the reaction of what remains of Northern California to being called out on their privilege and false piety of social activism is fucking hilarious. When their first step to helping a Homeless person is to separate the family, their actions show their real motivations.

I starting to find that concept I came up with last year more and more appealing. I may have to get back to it.

9 users have voted.

I do not pretend I know what I do not know.

joe shikspack's picture


yeah, trump's been working that madman thing for a while, but i don't think that he can out madman kim jong un. sadly, the rest of the world will have to watch pretty much helplessly as these two have their madman pissing contest.

i thoroughly enjoyed that article about the palo alto preacher calling out his heartless (america in miniature) wealthy community.

4 users have voted.
mimi's picture

@joe shikspack
I hear them every day through the phone from my son. If he wouldn't be destroyed as a human being for his words by those who won't understand the truth in them, I could enjoy them too...

Lot's of Palo Alto-style IT rich folks investors who kill poor people's spirit over here (ie Hawaii). It's no enjoyment if it's your own baby that gets crushed.

Just saying ... I just am helpless and have my little silent
Help letters sent up to somewhere over the mountains.

3 users have voted.

Love is all we have to give.


is to cede control over oneself to an uncontrollable madman.

Maintaining distance until he can be taken down makes sense.

2 users have voted.

Psychopathy is not a political position, whether labeled 'conservatism', 'centrism' or 'left'.

A tin labeled 'coffee' may be a can of worms or pathology identified by a lack of empathy/willingness to harm others to achieve personal desires.

QMS's picture

Thanks for the round-up Joe. Will be interesting to see how the Monsanto legal thugs avoid judgement.

9 users have voted.

Listen to your higher mind.

@QMS there are thousands of chemicals that have not had necessary testing

and we make new chemicals, like plastics, which are not naturally occurring and many do not have natural ways to decompose

and reporters barred from EPA meeting that is considering, among other things, chemicals used in fire fighting and other places PFOA & PFOS. I recall that they are now in the body of 98% of Americans and they show up in babies at birth.

so many industries need so much protection and so little time to change the rules and hide the discovery of what they do to humans, non humans and the earth

6 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


3 users have voted.
mimi's picture

@joe shikspack @joe shikspack
spots that result in spontaneous reactions I would rather have not.

What an irony of my life is it that I am educated as a chemist from TU Berlin, was pregnant in my last organic chemistry lab classes, when I was exposed to highly cancer causing fumes due to a malfunctioning exhaust fan in the lab. I decided then to just deal with "theoretical chemistry" (lots of math, no lab work anymore involved). Never forgot that. Also never believed I would be able to find a job with that 'theoretical specialty'.

Even worse: my poor son thinks he should learn some chemistry and can't understand why I think that would be a bad idea.

Man, what is it that everything in today's EB is getting on my nerves...

Sigh, can't live without the EB, can't live with it ...

And this voice in the video you posted, reminds me of all the propaganda American voices in movie or news previews played in German movie theaters before the main movie started. Can't stand it. Sorry, completely unfair, but it gives me a reflex reaction of the kind I would rather not live with.

"Nichts für Ungut".

3 users have voted.

Love is all we have to give.

joe shikspack's picture


heh, sorry to push your buttons. it wasn't intentional.

i hope later editions of the eb suit you better. Smile

1 user has voted.
joe shikspack's picture


it will be interesting, but it will undoubtedly be a long-running drama. with legal wrangling and appeals, monsanto will probably drag this out for decades and then declare bankruptcy.

3 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

He argued that the church’s rich neighbors could afford to “feed and house” all the homeless people in Palo Alto and surrounding cities, but instead focused on passing laws that further criminalized this population, encouraging police to harass those sleeping outside or in cars. The city had also made it hard for the church to provide meals for the homeless by requiring costly permits, he said.

In what sane world does this make sense?

Bezos is the most sociopathic and greediest f*cker on the planet. Not putting air conditioners in his warehouses to save money even though he is worth $120 billion (this week) should have OSHA fining his ass until he makes them safe for workers, but of course that will never happen because people like him own the regulatory agencies that are supposed to be protecting us.

Congress and state governments continue to give tax breaks and subsidies to the corporations who don't need them while making it harder for people who rely on social programs and gutting their funding! This makes me absolutely livid! This country needs to bring the tax rate back to where it was during FDRs administration, the banks should be allowed to fall if they screw up the economy again and then prosecuted for their fraud. The day I become Queen of this country that is what is going to happen!

And what the utter f*ck is this?

Chastain, who won two World Cups with USA, inducted into the Bay Area Hall of Fame – but a tribute to her achievements has … provoked debate.

Ya think?


5 users have voted.

America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
- strife delivery

enhydra lutris's picture


4 users have voted.

That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

joe shikspack's picture

@enhydra lutris

jimmy's brother billy. Smile

5 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


The day I become Queen of this country that is what is going to happen!

heh, i will fix this, too, when i become king of america. Smile

4 users have voted.

@joe shikspack

for supporting the notion of a new monarchy.

2 users have voted.

Psychopathy is not a political position, whether labeled 'conservatism', 'centrism' or 'left'.

A tin labeled 'coffee' may be a can of worms or pathology identified by a lack of empathy/willingness to harm others to achieve personal desires.

enhydra lutris's picture

Brown was being questioned by officers over a parking violation in a Walgreens pharmacy parking lot. Brown was cited for a parking violation but not charged following his arrest.

We'll start with jurisdiction, as in WTF? Was this the city or town or county of Walgreens? Or does parking while black trump such petty concerns?

6 users have voted.

That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

joe shikspack's picture

@enhydra lutris

perhaps he was waiting for a friend and didn't make a purchase quickly enough.

4 users have voted.

you know the drill of the steps during the NAZI regime which took on another group, normalized it and then moved on and on and murdered millions of Jews and others

well, the main stream journalists and organizations have not stood up for Wikileaks and ... like the Zionists who try out their weapons on the Palestinians and show results and then market them to the world,

Virtually Everything the Government Did to WikiLeaks is Now Being Done to Mainstream US Reporters

6 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


4 users have voted.
Amanda Matthews's picture


EDIT: added ‘be’

3 users have voted.

I'm tired of this back-slapping "Isn't humanity neat?" bullshit. We're a virus with shoes, okay? That's all we are. - Bill Hicks

Politics is the entertainment branch of industry. - Frank Zappa

Fuck the NFL. I hope people boycott the shit out of that MIC propaganda league next season.

Players forbidden from kneeling

2 users have voted.

Beware the bullshit factories.


not only Parking While Black but Breathing While Black! A Repeat Criminal While Black, then, as well!

Edit: not to mention the obvious, that he was making a drug buy at the drugstore.

2 users have voted.

Psychopathy is not a political position, whether labeled 'conservatism', 'centrism' or 'left'.

A tin labeled 'coffee' may be a can of worms or pathology identified by a lack of empathy/willingness to harm others to achieve personal desires.