The Evening Blues - 11-14-18
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features New Orleans r&b songwriter and singer Larry Williams. Enjoy!
Larry Williams - Bony Moronie
"The purpose of torture is not getting information. It's spreading fear."
-- Eduardo Galeano
News and Opinion
"First, to do no harm."
CIA doctors considered using 'truth serum' on terror suspects - Medical staff was key to waterboarding and other interrogations
The proposal to use the drug in a programme codenamed “Project Medication” was revealed in a 90-page report by a senior CIA medical officer, which was released on a judge’s order to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), after a prolonged legal battle. The ACLU published the report by the unnamed officer on Tuesday.
The idea of using drugs on US captives in the “war on terror” was recommended as “probably worth a try” by the CIA’s office of medical services but dropped after the agency’s counter-terrorism centre decided not to ask the Department of Justice in George W Bush’s administration for a legal ruling. The department had previously provided legal memos justifying the use of torture like waterboarding and confinement in small boxes.
In the case of Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, the al-Qaida mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks who was waterboarded 140 times, the CIA medical officer said that the torture, which simulates the experience of drowning, “provided periodic relief from his standing sleep deprivation” In the case of case of another senior al-Qaida member, a Saudi-born Palestinian known as Abu Zubaydah, his confinement in boxes as small as 30in by 21in by 30in was deemed to “serve as an escape from more severe measures”. ...
The Abu Zubaydah interrogation led to discussion of a medical “disinhibitor” and led to a CIA review of the use of “truth serums” which looked at past US, Russian and Chinese experiments. At the end of the 2003 review, informally called Project Medication, the preferred drug recommended was a recently developed form of a barbiturate called benzodiazepine also known as Versed. Under international law, there is a prohibition against medical experimentation on prisoners and a ban on the use of “mind-altering drugs”. ...
“Without the doctors’ participation none of this would have happened,” said Dror Ladin, an attorney on the ACLU’s national security project. “They were essential participants and completely complicit.”
An excellent article, worth a full read:
You would hardly know it from reading the U.S. press, but a summit of considerable significance took place late last month. German, French, Russian, and Turkish leaders convened in Istanbul Oct. 27 to create a comprehensive plan to end the seven-year war in Syria. On the agenda: increase humanitarian aid, rebuild ruined towns and cities, assist returning refugees, draft a new constitution and arrange internationally supervised elections. All this will take time, but the Syria story is evolving from one of conflict to one of reconciliation and reconstruction. ... The four nations are not all fast friends, to put it mildly. But they drew together to find common interests in resolving what may count as the worst crisis since the Cold War’s end. Second, there was a conspicuous absence at the Istanbul gathering symbolized by an empty chair. Despite its prominent role in the Syrian conflict for at least the past six years, if not longer, the United States wanted no part of a many-sided summit dedicated to resolving it via negotiation. ...
At this point, three things are clear about the Trump administration’s approach to global affairs.
No. 1: Team Trump’s foreign policies are easily the most incoherent of any administration in recent memory. The United States does or does not want to settle the Korean question. It does or does not have an even-handed plan for peace in the Mideast. It has or has not abandoned its campaign to depose the Assad government in Damascus. What appears so on Monday appears otherwise by midweek.
No 2: Time and again, this administration overplays its hand. In case after case it acts on its own, expecting other nations to follow, only to discover that few or none do. Since Trump took office, misjudging U.S. prerogatives may be among the only consistent feature of his foreign policy.
No. 3: “America First” begins to shape up as “America Last” on the foreign policy side. We are a long way from “the indispensable nation,” the phrase that Madeleine Albright used for the United States during her time as secretary of state in the Clinton administration. Two years into Trump’s presidency, Albright’s assertion—which was never more than U.S. hubris at its purest—looks like it might be headed to a museum.
Donald Trump’s boorishness and stupidity always ruffle feathers but almost always for the wrong reasons. Such was the case with his decision to skip one of the World War I commemoration ceremonies held in France. A very public spat with French president Emmanuel Macron may have been the precipitating factor but the tempest is a teachable moment. Focusing on Trumpian mood swings is no substitute for a study of history. ...
So what exactly is so terrible about Trump missing this mashup of foolishness? Of course every other American president would have dutifully attended, regardless of any disagreements with others. But Trump’s tantrums are opportunities to think and perhaps disregard what we have been told about world history. The nations promoted as the good and benevolent are anything but. “Our” allies in Europe are certainly no allies of the people. They all promote austerity and warfare, just like their American counterparts. After years of struggle they relinquished colonies in Africa and Asia but kept them dependent through a variety of means. One hundred years after the first war for empire they still control most of the world’s wealth and make decisions that impact the rest of humanity.
The break up of the Euro American alliance would be a good thing for the world. It is fraying around the edges as the Brexit vote proved but the European Union and NATO still demand unnecessary defense spending and austerity from their members. They are all corrupt and smash any efforts at independence for any country that dares to make the attempt. The United Kingdom recentlyrejected Venezuela’s request to return gold that actually belongs to Venezuela. American and European elites create poverty everywhere. Their corporations are destroying the planet. The sooner this power block is brought down, the better.
Let us end this foolish reverence of the world’s bad actors. The people we are told Trump insulted are themselves an insult. The dominance of the United States and European nations must come to an end. One hundred years is enough time to learn lessons. Macron and Angela Merkel and Theresa May and Justin Trudeau are the errand boys and girls of empire along with Donald Trump. Their rifts and quarrels are to be applauded. One hundred years is too long to believe in fairy tales.
Israel’s hawkish defence minister, Avigdor Lieberman, has announced he is resigning from the rightwing coalition government led by Benjamin Netanyahu in protest at a Gaza truce. Announcing his decision, Lieberman called Tuesday’s Egyptian-mediated deal with the Palestinian militant group Hamas “a capitulation to terror” and called for elections. “What happened yesterday – the truce combined with the process with Hamas – is a capitulation to terror. It has no other meaning,” Lieberman told journalists. “What we’re doing now as a state is buying short-term quiet, with the price being severe long-term damage to national security.”
Lieberman has long demanded a more aggressive Israeli policy in Gaza, and his announcement follows the most intense round of fighting since the war in 2014. The two-day bout of violence erupted after Israeli special forces engaged in a deadly firefight with gunmen on Sunday in what appeared to have been an intelligence mission deep inside the coastal enclave that was exposed when they passed a Hamas checkpoint.
Hamas and Israel have traded frequent rocket fire and airstrikes for months, often as tensions spike over the bloodshed at regular Palestinian protests along the frontier. Israeli soldiers have killed about 170 demonstrators and injured thousands more. On Wednesday, officials in Gaza said Israeli forces had killed a 20-year-old Palestinian fisherman as he was working near the strip’s north. Israel’s military said its troops had opened fire on man in the same area after he approached the fence.
Despite Famine, Khashoggi, and School Bus Massacre, House GOP Moves Swiftly to Keep US Involved in Saudi-Led War on Yemen
Anti-war groups have been cautiously hopefully in recent weeks that the U.S. would withdraw support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen following widespread outcry over Saudi Arabia's murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi—but those hopes were dashed late Tuesday when House Republicans moved to stop a long-planned-for vote from going to the floor.
In their final weeks in control of the House Rules Committee, Republicans adopted a rule to de-prioritize Rep. Ro Khanna's (D-Calif.) bill invoking the War Powers Resolution (H.R. 138), which argues that U.S. participation in the assault on Yemen is illegal because Congress never voted to approve it. The move ensured that Republicans can avoid voting on the bill—a vote in which they would have to choose between standing up against a war that has killed more than 15,000 civilians or angering President Donald Trump.
Ro Khanna tried to end the US involvement in the Yemen massacre
Pro-life Republicans blocked it https://t.co/YvTfEDw3Xu
— jordan (@JordanUhl) November 14, 2018
The Republican maneuver was denounced as "disgraceful" by the anti-war group Peace Action.
"Apparently, neither Saudi Arabia's brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi nor its mid-summer bombing of a school bus packed full of children were enough to break the ice surrounding House Majority Leader Paul Ryan's heart," said Kevin Martin, president of the group, in a statement.
"Millions of people in Yemen are on the verge of starvation, a crisis brought on by Saudi tactics in the war, yet in the face of a maelstrom of condemnation of Saudi Arabia from the national and international community, House leadership would still rather prevent Congress from voting on whether or not to end U.S. support for Saudi Arabia's starvation campaign in Yemen than risk interfering with arms industry profits," he added.
Prime Minister Theresa May finally agreed to a draft deal with Brussels late Tuesday on the terms of Britain’s exit from the European Union — more than two years after the divisive referendum. That was probably the easy part. Now she has to convince her divided Cabinet to back it.
May will convene an emergency Cabinet meeting at 2 p.m. (9 a.m. ET) Wednesday, where she will attempt to win support from senior ministers. However, some in her government are so opposed to the deal they say they will resign over it. If enough quit, May’s time in Downing Street will be up.
There is also a ticking clock. The PM is hustling to get the deal approved by Parliament — where her government doesn’t command a majority — before Britain officially leaves the bloc on March 29, 2019. If Britain does not agree to a deal before that date, it will crash out of the EU with potentially catastrophic economic consequences.
Hardline Brexiters (those bent on leaving Europe whatever the cost) have already complained that the draft deal does not give them enough, while some Remainers (those opposed to leaving the EU) have also called on the Cabinet to reject it. The Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party, which props up May’s minority government, have warned that the agreement has the potential to breakup the United Kingdom, and a vocal group, including members of her own party, are holding out hope for a second referendum to potentially scupper Brexit altogether.
Fears for the health of the eurozone economy have intensified after Germany, the single currency’s powerhouse, suffered its first contraction in more than three years.
Tough emission tests affecting the country’s strategically important automotive industry, lower consumer spending, and weaker exports triggered by rising global protectionism resulted in the economy shrinking by 0.2% in the third quarter of 2018.
Germany’s first period of falling output since the first three months of 2015, and its worst performance since early 2013, helped drag eurozone growth from 0.6% to 0.2% in the three months ending in September, highlighting the vulnerability of the eurozone to a disorderly Brexit.
After a morning plagued by delays and issues with the jury, the trial of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán began Tuesday in Brooklyn with an explosive round of opening statements, including allegations from the defense that the current and former presidents of Mexico took “hundreds of millions in bribes” from a Sinaloa cartel leader named Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada. On one hand, federal prosecutors alleged that El Chapo controlled a “vast global narco-empire” worth billions of dollars for more than 30 years. Prosecutor Adam Fels said that El Chapo shipped tons of cocaine and other drugs to the U.S., and was the “hands-on” boss who personally pulled the trigger on multiple murders.
In response, El Chapo’s lawyer Jeffrey Lichtman essentially alleged that El Chapo had been framed by El Mayo, another Mexican drug kingpin who prosecutors say partnered with El Chapo to run the Sinaloa cartel. Lichtman said El Mayo was the true leader of the cartel. “While the world focuses on this mythical Chapo figure,” Lichtman said, “the world is not focusing on Mayo Zambada.” Lichtman went on to claim that El Mayo put a spotlight on El Chapo by corrupting members of the Mexican government and working with the DEA. El Mayo is under indictment in the United States and one of the most wanted fugitives, but Lichtman claims the U.S. only “pretends to want him.”
“He bribes the entire government of Mexico, including up to the very top, the current president of Mexico,” Lichtman said of El Mayo. He added that El Mayo’s brother and two sons are cooperating with the U.S. government, and alleged that “they work together when it suits them, Mayo and the U.S. government.”
The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have hidden an undisclosed number of covert surveillance cameras inside streetlights around the country, federal contracting documents reveal. According to government procurement data, the DEA has paid a Houston, Texas company called Cowboy Streetlight Concealments LLC roughly $22,000 since June 2018 for “video recording and reproducing equipment.” ICE paid out about $28,000 to Cowboy Streetlight Concealments over the same period of time.
It’s unclear where the DEA and ICE streetlight cameras have been installed, or where the next deployments will take place. ... Christie Crawford, who owns Cowboy Streetlight Concealments with her husband, a Houston police officer, said she was not at liberty to discuss the company’s federal contracts in detail. “We do streetlight concealments and camera enclosures,” Crawford told Quartz. “Basically, there’s businesses out there that will build concealments for the government and that’s what we do. They specify what’s best for them, and we make it. And that’s about all I can probably say.” However, she added: “I can tell you this—things are always being watched. It doesn’t matter if you’re driving down the street or visiting a friend, if government or law enforcement has a reason to set up surveillance, there’s great technology out there to do it.” ...
Chad Marlow, a senior advocacy and policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties, says efforts to put cameras in street lights have been proposed before by local law enforcement, typically as part of a “smart” LED street light system. “It basically has the ability to turn every streetlight into a surveillance device, which is very Orwellian to say the least,” Marlow told Quartz. “In most jurisdictions, the local police or department of public works are authorized to make these decisions unilaterally and in secret. There’s no public debate or oversight.”
While business-friendly politicians applauded Amazon's decision to establish two new headquarters in New York and just outside Washington DC, local officials, residents, and critics of the "race to the bottom" the $800 billion corporation held in its search for new office locations denounced the move on Tuesday, decrying the effects the new headquarters will likely have on the chosen cities. After a 14-month-long process in which Amazon pitted cities against one another in a competition to see who would offer the company the most enticing tax incentives and other perks, the neighborhoods of Long Island City in Queens, New York and Crystal City in Arlington, Virginia were named as Amazon's new second and third homes.
Using the hashtag #HQ2Scam, journalists and critics condemned New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio, and Virginia Governor Ralph Northam—all Democrats—for their desperate attempts to woo Amazon with tax breaks at the expense of their constituents. New York offered more than $1.5 billion in "performance-based" tax breaks to the company, while Virginia offered $573 million, with officials from both states applauding the company's promise to bring jobs to both states.
New York City Council members were among those who asked why Amazon—headed by the world's richest man, Jeff Bezos—is in need of tax incentives at all from a state where 5.5 million daily commuters face frequent delays due to the city's decaying subway system and the lack of affordable housing has reached a "crisis point."
"I also don't understand why a company as rich as Amazon would need nearly $2 billion in public money for its expansion plans at a time when New York desperately needs money for affordable housing, transportation, infrastructure, and education," Speaker Corey Johnson said in a statement.
President Trump’s appointment of Matthew Whitaker as Acting Attorney General not only threatens the fate of Bob Mueller’s Russia probe, it may imperil everything Whitaker touches at the Department of Justice, legal experts told VICE News. On Tuesday, Maryland launched a legal assault on Whitaker, asking a federal judge to boot the acting AG out of the job on constitutional grounds. A half-dozen legal experts called the state’s effort unprecedented, but so too is Whitaker’s appointment, they added.
The challenge is just the opening salvo of a prolonged legal battle that could put Whitaker on the defensive for the entirety of his tenure atop the DOJ. Some experts said that if Whitaker’s appointment is ultimately deemed void, then anything he does in the post may be ruled invalid as well — a ruling that could spark chaos in the American legal system, especially if he’s already spent months on the job. That could include anyone charged this week in the Russia probe led by special counsel Robert Mueller. The mere threat of such an outcome illustrates the unprecedented challenges Trump has thrust upon the American legal system, forcing lawyers and judges to grapple with exotic hypotheticals once only entertained in classrooms.
“Anything that Whitaker’s got his hands on could be challenged,” said Rebecca Roiphe, a former prosecutor and expert on prosecutorial ethics at New York Law School. “It’s totally insane, but what we’re really seeing is the natural result of Trump’s sustained attack on the Department of Justice.”
Maryland’s attempt to remove Trump’s AG appointee has no obvious historical precedent, according to a half-dozen legal and constitutional experts who spoke to VICE News. While states frequently challenge federal decisions, they don’t typically try to get the AG fired. And it’s far from clear that the novel angle of attack will even succeed. “Maryland might be right that the appointment was unconstitutional or unlawful, but even if it was, that doesn’t mean Maryland has standing to make that claim,” said Peter Smith, an expert on Constitutional law at George Washington University. “Courts can’t just opine on any issue. You need to have a plaintiff that’s been somehow injured in the case.”
A lame duck session of Congress opens today with Democrats signaling that they wish to reach agreement with the Trump White House on a range of budget and policy issues in order to “clear the decks” before the new Democratic-controlled House of Representatives takes office in January. The Senate and House must pass seven of 12 separate appropriations bills by December 8 to avoid a partial shutdown of the federal government, with the most contentious bill involving funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The House version of the bill, passed by the outgoing Republican majority, provided $5 billion for Trump’s wall along the US-Mexico border. The Senate version provides only $1.6 billion and it is not specifically earmarked for a wall.
House-Senate talks on the DHS budget reportedly involve a deal to provide some initial funding for the wall in exchange for a limited restoration of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program established by President Obama through an executive order and rescinded by Trump using the same method last year. ... “On the general issue of border security, we’ve had great discussions in the appropriations process. They’ve been bipartisan,” Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer told reporters. “And I would hope that the President wouldn't interfere and we could get something good done.” On the House side, Representative Nita Lowey of New York, who is expected to become chair of the powerful Appropriations Committee in January, urged a deal on the DHS budget that would include partial funding of the wall. ...
A spokesman for Lowey told the Wall Street Journal the Democrats would like to complete the negotiations on the wall for DACA deal this year, rather than carry it over into next year when they will control the House. ...
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, who is likely to become Speaker in the new Congress, insisted throughout the fall campaign that Democratic candidates for the House should not “take the bait” of making public declarations of opposition to Trump’s brutal persecution of immigrants, including the forced separation of parents and children, the deployment of thousands of heavily armed regular troops to the border, the fear-mongering about caravans of Central American immigrants traveling north through Mexico towards the US border, and the threat to revoke “birthright citizenship,” guaranteed for the past 150 years under the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution.
The statements by Schumer and Lowey demonstrate that the refusal to oppose Trump’s anti-immigrant policies was not merely a campaign tactic—as reactionary as that would be—but reflected a broader willingness by the Democratic leadership to accommodate Trump’s policies and share responsibility for them.
Your tax dollars at work:
It's been unseasonably cold, and wet, at this site of a new U.S. base camp that's now home to several hundred active-duty U.S. Army soldiers. They’re part of the more than 5,000 troops Donald Trump deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border ahead of the midterms to ward off the so-called caravan of migrants headed north from Central America.
Democratic leaders have demanded that Donald Trump “stop bullying, harassing and lying” about election recounts in Florida before American democracy is put at risk. Chuck Schumer, the top Democrat in the Senate, called on Republican governor Rick Scott to recuse himself from overseeing his US Senate race against incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson.
The Senate minority leader’s stand came as Trump, Scott and Republicans pursue a scorched earth strategy in Florida, deploying battalions of lawyers and throwing out baseless claims of fraud.
Troubled recounts in Senate and gubernatorial elections in Florida are now barreling towards a Thursday deadline amid an increasingly acrimonious fight that has echoes of the famous 2000 presidential recount. The White House – in the form of Trump’s Twitter feed and public comments – has also plunged into the fray. ...
Trump and Scott have been backed by far-right media and other conservative figures in sowing mistrust about the electoral process. The president’s son, Donald Trump Jr, used Twitter to share a headline that read: “Nearly 200,000 Florida Voters May Not Be Citizens.” He did not mention the article, regarding voter rolls, was published more than six years ago. The source, NBCMiami.com, subsequently attached an update that made clear the initial list of 180,000 names was whittled to 2,625 and then 85.
The state elections department and the Florida department of law enforcement, which are run by Republican appointees, have said they have seen no evidence of voter fraud. A Broward county judge challenged anyone who has evidence of fraud to file a report.
Heh, bookmark this article and make a note to read it in 6 months to a year to see how it holds up.
At Freshman Orientation, Young and Growing Progressive Caucus Makes Clear It Will 'Fight Like Hell' for Bold Democratic Agenda
As some members of the House Democratic leadership quickly pivoted to centrist talk of bipartisanship and compromise with the Trumpian Republican Party in the aftermath of last week's midterm elections, the young, diverse, and rapidly growing Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) used its freshman member orientation on Monday to make clear that it has no intention of watering down its demands for a living wage, Medicare for All, bold climate action, and other ambitious solutions to pressing problems.
"A number of members [of Congress] prefer to spend their life in the fetal position, rocking in the corner of a room," declared CPC co-chair Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), who led Tuesday's meeting at the AFL-CIO's headquarters in Washington, D.C. "We don't do that. We're the folks out there trying to advocate for big change. We're going to fight like hell to get those things done, and that's what we're going to expect out of leadership, as well."
As the orientation unfolded, incoming progressives like Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota posted photos to Instagram using hashtags like #DreamTeam and #ChangeCantWait to signal their plans to start fighting for an ambitious progressive agenda as soon as the new Congress convenes in January.
The addition of around 20 newly elected members to the CPC brings total membership of the caucus to over 90 and moves its ideological center of gravity significantly leftward, given that many members were elected on unabashedly left-wing platforms that called for transformative climate action and robust economic measures to stem soaring inequality. Given that Democrats are likely to end up with 16-seat advantage in the House, at most, the CPC will have tremendous leverage to shape the party's leadership, policy agenda, and ideological trajectory in the months and years to come.
It was a moment of the kind that changes lives. At a press conference held by climate activists Extinction Rebellion last week, two of us journalists pressed the organisers on whether their aims were realistic. They have called, for example, for UK carbon emissions to be reduced to net zero by 2025. Wouldn’t it be better, we asked, to pursue some intermediate aims? A young woman called Lizia Woolf stepped forward. She hadn’t spoken before, but the passion, grief and fury of her response was utterly compelling.
“What is it that you are asking me as a 20-year-old to face and to accept about my future and my life? … This is an emergency. We are facing extinction. When you ask questions like that, what is it you want me to feel?” We had no answer. Softer aims might be politically realistic, but they are physically unrealistic. Only shifts commensurate with the scale of our existential crises have any prospect of averting them. Hopeless realism, tinkering at the edges of the problem, got us into this mess. It will not get us out.
Public figures talk and act as if environmental change will be linear and gradual. But the Earth’s systems are highly complex, and complex systems do not respond to pressure in linear ways. When these systems interact (because the world’s atmosphere, oceans, land surface and lifeforms do not sit placidly within the boxes that make study more convenient), their reactions to change become highly unpredictable. Small perturbations can ramify wildly. Tipping points are likely to remain invisible until we have passed them. We could see changes of state so abrupt and profound that no continuity can be safely assumed. Only one of the many life support systems on which we depend – soils, aquifers, rainfall, ice, the pattern of winds and currents, pollinators, biological abundance and diversity – need fail for everything to slide. ...
The problem is political. A fascinating analysis by the social science professor Kevin MacKay contends that oligarchy has been a more fundamental cause of the collapse of civilisations than social complexity or energy demand. Control by oligarchs, he argues, thwarts rational decision-making, because the short-term interests of the elite are radically different to the long-term interests of society. This explains why past civilisations have collapsed “despite possessing the cultural and technological know-how needed to resolve their crises”. Economic elites, which benefit from social dysfunction, block the necessary solutions. The oligarchic control of wealth, politics, media and public discourse explains the comprehensive institutional failure now pushing us towards disaster.
Two tasks need to be performed simultaneously: throwing ourselves at the possibility of averting collapse, as Extinction Rebellion is doing, slight though this possibility may appear; and preparing ourselves for the likely failure of these efforts, terrifying as this prospect is. ... Because we cannot save ourselves without contesting oligarchic control, the fight for democracy and justice and the fight against environmental breakdown are one and the same.
A U.S. distict court in Montana last week ordered a halt to all work on the Keystone XL pipeline, the fossil fuel project that inspired a revival of direct action protest tactics across the U.S. The decision came at the end of an election week in which Democrats took control of the U.S. House of Representatives, promising in the short term to hold climate hearings and in the long term to work toward a “Green New Deal.” Meanwhile, pipeline opponents made electoral gains of their own in local races in South Dakota and Nebraska. But the unwieldy scale of the climate crisis hung heavily over the election results and the limited possibilities they opened up for legislative action. The Keystone XL ruling represented a concrete blow to the fossil fuel industry driving the crisis.
The effort to stop the pipeline has become a touchstone for the U.S. environmental movement, with the fate of the project carrying considerable symbolic and material weight. ...
The court decision declared illegal one of Donald Trump’s first executive orders, issued days after his inauguration as a signal to fossil fuel opponents and the oil industry that America was moving full speed ahead on oil and gas extraction. ... In his decision, Judge Brian Morris, who was appointed by Obama, emphasized that Trump “simply discarded prior factual findings related to climate change to support its course reversal.” He added, “An agency cannot simply disregard contrary or inconvenient factual determinations that it made in the past.” In response, Trump told reporters, “It was a political decision made by a judge. I think it’s a disgrace.” He speculated that the case would go to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. “We’re slowly putting new judges in the 9th Circuit,” he said.
Individuals from all sorts of progressive grassroots movements made unprecedented efforts to win elected office this year, and pipeline fighters were no exception. ... One of the most high-profile wins for progressives was that of Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez from New York. ... South Dakota, one of three states through which KXL passes, saw numerous anti-pipeline organizers run for local office, and some won. Julian Bear Runner, a 33-year-old who was arrested at Standing Rock, was elected president of Pine Ridge reservation’s Oglala Sioux Tribe. A state Senate seat was won by Red Dawn Foster, the sister of Red Fawn Fallis, the Dakota Access Pipeline opponent who received the most serious prison sentence among those charged during the fight, after a gun Fallis had been carrying fired when police tackled her.
In Nebraska, home to another arm of the Keystone XL pipeline resistance, Democrats gained three seats in the state legislature, which could boost an effort to pass eminent domain laws meant to complicate plans to plow through the land of property of owners who don’t want a pipeline.
Climate change worsened the most destructive hurricanes of recent years, including Katrina, Irma and Maria, by intensifying rainfall by as much as 10%, new research has found. High-resolution climate simulations of 15 tropical cyclones in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans found that warming in the ocean and atmosphere increased rainfall by between 5% and 10%, although wind speeds remained largely unchanged.
This situation is set to worsen under future anticipated warming, however. Researchers found that if little is done to constrain greenhouse gas emissions and the world warms by 3C to 4C this century then hurricane rainfall could increase by a third, while wind speeds would be boosted by as much as 25 knots.
“Climate change has exacerbated rainfall and is set to enhance the wind speed,” said Christina Patricola, who undertook the study with her Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory colleague Michael Wehner. ... The research, published in the journal Nature, used climate models to see how factors such as air and ocean temperatures have influenced hurricanes. Projections into the future were then made, based upon various levels of planetary warming.
The findings suggest that enormously destructive storms have already been bolstered by climate change and similar events in the future are on course to be cataclysmic.
Landowners in Louisiana’s Atchafalaya Basin have filed suit against the company building the controversial Bayou Bridge pipeline for trespassing and property damage, claiming that it did not obtain legal authority before running stretches of the nearly completed pipeline through their property. It’s the latest legal skirmish in a long battle between Louisiana activists and Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), which is also behind the the more well-known Keystone XL pipeline, and one that advocates hope might shutter the nearly completed 160-mile stretch of pipe before it goes live.
“I’m outraged that private individuals have trespassed on this land and have destroyed it – a private company who acts as though they are above the law,” said Katherine Aaslestad, one of three landowners named in the suit. “My objective is to be a steward of the land, to protect it from the devastation caused by pipeline development … and to encourage other landowners to stand up for their rights.” According to landowners, the pipeline construction involved the cutting down of numerous trees and the accumulations of sediment left over from digging the trench where the pipeline runs.
The company was in the process of trying to use the controversial doctrine of eminent domain to “expropriate” the land, which allows the government to seize land for the public good. But according to the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), the company never actually finished the legal process of having the land turned over before starting to build. Construction in the 38 acres owned by landowners in the suit occurred over this summer. “The corporation didn’t even wait for permission from the court to construct the property. They didn’t even wait to get compensation [for], or written permission from all the co-owners,” said CCR attorney Bill Quigley. “They trespassed onto this property and constructed this pipeline without legal authority to do so,” he continued.
Anne Rolfes, founding director of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, which is fighting the pipeline, said ETP’s strategy was to make minimal, “feeble” attempts to find and contact land owners, because when they cannot be found, it initiates a much more favorable negotiation process with the state. Their claims are scheduled to be heard by a state judge on Friday, who could theoretically order ETP to deconstruct stretches of pipeline built illegally, but advocates concede this is unlikely.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Larry Williams - She Said Yeah
Larry Williams - Let Me Tell You, Baby
Larry Williams - Hootchy Koo
Larry Williams - Took A Trip
Larry Williams - Heeby Jeebies
Larry Williams - Slow Down
Larry Williams - Bad Boy
Larry Williams - Peaches And Cream
Larry Williams - You Bug Me Baby
Larry Williams - Jockamo (Iko Iko)
Larry Williams - The Dummy