The Evening Blues - 12-3-18
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features Kansas City blues shouter Big Joe Turner. Enjoy!
Big Joe Turner - Feeling Happy
“In my travels, which have been wider than ever man yet accomplished, I have seen many, many wild beasts of Arabia and India; but this beast, that is commonly called a Tyrant, I know not how many heads it has, nor if it be crooked of claw, and armed with horrible fangs.”
-- Apollonius of Tyana
News and Opinion
A trip down memory lane:
In the age of Donald Trump, it isn’t difficult for hagiographers of the late President George H.W. Bush to paint a picture of him as a great patriot and pragmatist; a president who governed with “class” and “integrity.” It is true that the former president refused to vote for Trump in 2016, calling him a “blowhard,” and that he eschewed the white nationalist, “alt-right,” conspiratorial politics that has come to define the modern Republican Party. He helped end the Cold War without, as Obama said, “firing a shot.” He spent his life serving his country — from the military to Congress to the United Nations to the CIA to the White House. And, by all accounts, he was also a beloved grandfather and great-grandfather to his 17 grandkids and eight great-grandkids. Nevertheless, he was a public, not a private, figure — one of only 44 men to have ever served as president of the United States. We cannot, therefore, allow his actual record in office to be beautified in such a brazen way. ...
He ran a racist election campaign. The name of Willie Horton should forever be associated with Bush’s 1988 presidential bid. ... As Bush campaign director Lee Atwater bragged, “By the time we’re finished, they’re going to wonder whether Willie Horton is Dukakis’s running mate.” Bush himself was quick to dismiss accusations of racism as “absolutely ridiculous,” yet it was clear at the time — even to right-wing Republican operatives such as Roger Stone, now a close ally of Trump — that the ad had crossed a line. “You and George Bush will wear that to your grave,” Stone complained to Atwater. “It’s a racist ad. … You’re going to regret it.” Stone was right about Atwater, who on his deathbed apologized for using Horton against Dukakis. But Bush never did.
He made a dishonest case for war. Thirteen years before George W. Bush lied about weapons of mass destruction to justify his invasion and occupation of Iraq, his father made his own set of false claims to justify the aerial bombardment of that same country. The first Gulf War, as an investigation by journalist Joshua Holland concluded, “was sold on a mountain of war propaganda.” He committed war crimes. Under Bush Sr., the U.S. dropped a whopping 88,500 tons of bombs on Iraq and Iraqi-occupied Kuwait, many of which resulted in horrific civilian casualties. ... U.S. bombs also destroyed essential Iraqi civilian infrastructure — from electricity-generating and water-treatment facilities to food-processing plants and flour mills. This was no accident. As Barton Gellman of the Washington Post reported in June 1991: “Some targets, especially late in the war, were bombed primarily to create postwar leverage over Iraq, not to influence the course of the conflict itself. Planners now say their intent was to destroy or damage valuable facilities that Baghdad could not repair without foreign assistance. … Because of these goals, damage to civilian structures and interests, invariably described by briefers during the war as ‘collateral’ and unintended, was sometimes neither.” Got that? The Bush administration deliberately targeted civilian infrastructure for “leverage” over Saddam Hussein. How is this not terrorism? ...
He refused to cooperate with a special counsel. The Iran-Contra affair, in which the United States traded missiles for Americans hostages in Iran, and used the proceeds of those arms sales to fund Contra rebels in Nicaragua, did much to undermine the presidency of Ronald Reagan. Yet his vice president’s involvement in that controversial affair has garnered far less attention. “The criminal investigation of Bush was regrettably incomplete,” wrote Special Counsel Lawrence Walsh, a former deputy attorney general in the Eisenhower administration, in his final report on the Iran-Contra affair in August 1993.
Why? Because Bush, who was “fully aware of the Iran arms sale,” according to the special counsel, failed to hand over a diary “containing contemporaneous notes relevant to Iran/contra” and refused to be interviewed in the later stages of the investigation. In the final days of his presidency, Bush even issued pardons to six defendants in the Iran-Contra affair, including former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger — on the eve of Weinberger’s trial for perjury and obstruction of justice. “The Weinberger pardon,” Walsh pointedly noted, “marked the first time a president ever pardoned someone in whose trial he might have been called as a witness, because the president was knowledgeable of factual events underlying the case.” An angry Walsh accused Bush of “misconduct” and helping to complete “the Iran-contra cover-up.” Sounds like a Trumpian case of obstruction of justice, doesn’t it?
[Considerably more detail at the link. - js]
Michael Cohen’s guilty plea Thursday is bringing back among the progressive wing of the Democratic party a topic that its senior leaders would wish it would forget: impeachment. While the Democratic leadership has largely stifled overt calls for impeachment, revelations that Donald Trump was working on a potential Moscow business deal while the Kremlin was actively trying to tilt the presidential election his way is bringing the calls back, once again revealing divisions between the progressive and centrist wings of the party. ...
Earlier this year, over the protest of now Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Al Green (D-TX) forced a vote on the House floor over articles of impeachment, and 66 Democrats supported it. That was roughly one-third of the party before voters sent 66 new, more progressive Democrats to Washington this fall.
Democrats were coached by Pelosi, veteran lawmakers and Washington political consultants to avoid discussing impeachment on the trail (in fact, Republicans largely raised its specter more than they did), but many signaled a willingness to go down that path and their base wants it. Exit polls revealed that 77 percent of Democratic voters support impeaching Trump.
Now that Democrats will soon control the gavels in the House, the calculus has changed for some members who already supported that impeachment resolution. “That was a message that someone has to hold this administration accountable,” Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) told VICE News just off the House floor. Grijalva’s a former chair of the House Progressive Caucus, and he’s trying to temper the incoming wave of progressives who are anxious to dislodge Trump. “This is a delicate and serious thing that the Congress should undertake; ideally bipartisan,” Grijalva said.
France’s most violent urban riot in a decade engulfed central Paris on Saturday as “yellow jacket” activists torched cars, smashed windows, looted stores and tagged the Arc de Triomphe with multi-colored graffiti. Protesters angry about rising taxes and the high cost of living clashed with French riot police, who closed off some of the city’s most popular tourist areas and fired tear gas and water cannon as they tried to quell the mayhem in the streets.
French President Emmanuel Macron denounced the violence from the G-20 summit in Argentina, saying those who attacked police and vandalized the Arc de Triomphe will be “held responsible for their acts.” He said he will hold an emergency government meeting Sunday on the protests.
“(Violence) has nothing to do with the peaceful expression of a legitimate anger” and “no cause justifies” attacks on police or pillaging stores and burning buildings, Macron said in Buenos Aires. He refused to answer any questions from journalists about the situation in Paris.
It was the third straight weekend of clashes in Paris with activists dressed in the fluorescent yellow vests of a new protest movement and the worst urban violence since at least 2005. The scene contrasted sharply with other protests in France, where demonstrations and road blockades elsewhere on Saturday were largely peaceful. ...
In addition to rising taxes, the demonstrators are furious about Macron’s leadership, saying that his government does not care about the problems of ordinary people. The grassroots protests began with motorists upset over a fuel tax hike, but now involve a broad range of demands related to France’s high cost of living.
The French president, Emmanuel Macron, has instructed his prime minister to hold talks with protest groups after anti-government demonstrations led to the worst violence in central Paris in a decade, with more than 100 people injured as cars and buildings were set alight. Macron is facing his biggest crisis since taking office 18 months ago after the violence erupted on Saturday following weeks of street protests that began against fuel taxes and have turned into an anti-government movement.
The Élysée and key ministers appeared to rule out imposing any kind of state of emergency after thousands of masked protesters from the gilets jaunes – named for their fluorescent yellow jackets – fought running battles with riot police, torched cars, set fire to banks and houses and burned makeshift barricades. A presidential source told Reuters that the meeting discussed how to adapt security forces and tactics to contain future protests.
Macron, who had said he would “never accept violence”, instructed the prime minister, Édouard Philippe, to meet what he has called legitimate protest groups and opposition politicians this week in an effort to calm tensions and stop “professional” rioters from infiltrating street demonstrations. The Paris prosecutor Remy Heitz said 378 people were in custody, including 33 under the age of 18. He said many of those arrested in battles with police were men aged between 30 and 40, often from regions far from Paris, who had “come to fight police while claiming to be part of the gilets jaunes movement”. ...
Macron flew back from the G20 summit in Argentina on Sunday and went straight to inspect damage at the Arc de Triomphe. Graffiti all over the base of the 19-century monument read: “We’ve chopped off heads for less than this” and “Topple the Bourgeoisie.” Scores of used teargas canisters filled the gutters. Near the Champs Élysées there were splashes of paint on buildings after protesters had paint-bombed police. Used bottles of eye-drops on the ground indicated that some protesters – many of whom wore ski-masks and breathing equipment – stood their ground despite the teargas fired from rows of police behind shields.
The French prime minister, Edouard Philippe, has met opposition party leaders as nationwide protests continue to spread across France, with students blockading about 100 schools. After thousands of masked protesters fought running battles with police and burned cars, buildings and barricades in the most affluent areas of Paris on Saturday, the gilets jaunes – or yellow vests – citizens’ protest movement continued on Monday with peaceful anti-government demonstrations at barricades on roads and at fuel depots across France.
High-school students – who have been protesting against changes to colleges and the university system – also seized on the mood of protest and stepped up their blockades. About 100 high schools were fully or partially blockaded around the country, including in the southern city of Toulouse and in Créteil in the Paris area. Seven teenagers were arrested after riot police were called to the Jean-Pierre Timbaud high school in Aubervilliers in the northern Paris suburbs where a car was overturned and bins were set alight. French authorities traditionally fear high school students joining protests because their demonstrations often spread fast. An official at the education authority in Créteil said: “Pretexts are clearly being used to commit urban violence.” ...
An opinion poll for Harris Interactive taken after Saturday’s violence in Paris found 72% of French people still supported the protest movement that began last month in response to a rise in environmental taxes on fuel and has morphed into opposition to the government of the centrist president, Emmanuel Macron, amid a sense that the tax system is unfair and favours the rich.
The prime minister is expected to meet protesters’ representatives on Tuesday, but the grassroots movement, which emerged on social media, has no leadership nor a defined structure. One Paris representative said he had received death threats warning him not to meet the government. Jacline Mouraud, one of the protest movement’s prime instigators, said scrapping the fuel tax was a “prerequisite for any discussion” with the government.
'It Is Time for Progressives of the World to Unite': Sanders-Varoufakis Issue Open Call for New Global Movement
With fascist movements on the rise and controlling the levers of power in the United States and across the world, the U.S.-based Sanders Institute and Europe's DiEM25—the groups founded by Jane Sanders and former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, respectively—announced the launch of Progressive International on Friday with the goal of beating back right-wing forces with an organized "grassroots movement for global justice."
"There is a global war being waged against workers, against our environment, against democracy, against decency," declares the Progressive International's open call to join the movement, which was unveiled Friday evening by Varoufakis and Sanders, wife of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), during The Sanders Institute Gathering in Burlington, Vermont.
"A network of right-wing factions is collaborating across borders to erode human rights, silence dissent, and promote intolerance. Not since the 1930 has humanity faced such an existential threat," the call continues. "To defeat them, we cannot simply go back to the failed status quo of the last few decades. Unfettered globalization promised peace and prosperity. But it delivered financial crisis, needless war, and disastrous climate change, instead."
Hmmm... perhaps Corbyn will not be able to overcome the nasty infestation of Blairites in Labour.
This should be the moment for Corbyn’s Labour. They face a divided, incompetent Tory Government. A party that has lost nine Cabinet ministers in the last year, which has no domestic agenda to speak of, and is not even bothering with the pretence of a Queen’s Speech. The Government has no direction or purpose, no credo beyond continuing limpet-like in existence, clinging onto office and pursuing the project of Brexit. And yet at this moment of decision, when Labour should be harrying this government and holding them to account on Brexit and more, despite everything it is the Tories who consistently lead Labour in the opinion polls, rather than the other way round.
As profoundly, the intellectual climate has turned against mainstream Conservatism, as well as moderate social democracy, opening up the terrain for Corbyn’s Labour. The zeitgeist of the age has finally turned against the assumptions that have dominated British politics for so long. The assertions that markets should be left unfettered, that deregulation is a good thing, that government and the state should just get out of the way of private initiative and believe in the super-rich, that making things doesn’t matter, and that ownership is ultimately just an irrelevance, have all been shown to be bogus. Such dogmas were taken to breaking point, with no area of British public life left unchallenged by it. It resulted in such ridiculous ideas becoming government policy as the belief that it does not matter who owns the key strategic assets of your country – whether nuclear power, nuclear weapon research establishments (Aldermaston), the electricity grid, water in England and Wales, and much more.
It took a long while for such a grotesque set of ideas to finally fall apart. It did so on results. After decades of pursuing this dogma modern Britain has been made in its image: the fawning of the super-rich, huge inequalities socially and regionally, average living standards stalling over the last decade, and the trashing of public sector values and ethos. To give an example on the last point the expansion of the university sector on the back of student tuition fees in England, Wales and Northern Ireland has dramatically changed higher education. It has made life good for a new class of super-remunerated Vice-Chancellors, but in England less than half the extra monies have been reinvested in student resources, while UK university borrowing has risen to £12 billion since the financial crash, not withstanding the £105 billion student debt which the state will end up writing off.
The evolving Corbyn project has captured some of the anger, rage and discontent which has flowed from this. The party is the largest in Western Europe in membership; it has energy, dynamism and sense of possibility in its younger activists. The party has also disrupted the complacent cosy elite order which emerged post-Thatcherism: the Blair, Brown, Cameron (BBC) consensus which explicitly said this is the way things have to be: that little people outside of the elites have no choice but to knuckle down and show deference at the altar of the market and finance capitalism. ...
Yet for all the advantages that Labour has going for it: Tory troubles, the political climate of ideas changing, the bankruptcy of the economic orthodoxies of recent decades, and a mass membership party, something critical is clearly missing in Labour. With the wind blowing in Labour’s sails, what is the nascent Corbyn programme for revitalising Britain – economically, socially and democratically? On the economy, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell talks a radical talk, and occasionally the odd revolutionary soundbite, dreaming of overthrowing capitalism. Reality is somewhat different. McDonnell has supported Tory tax cuts and welfare cuts for the poor. And there is at the core of this – Labour’s economic prospectus – there sits a vacuum.
The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, insisted on Saturday that “no direct evidence” linked the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, to the death of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Pompeo is a former director of the CIA, which has reportedly concluded that Prince Mohammed ordered the murder.
On Saturday, the Wall Street Journal reported that according to the CIA, Prince Mohammed “sent at least 11 messages to his closest adviser, who oversaw the team that killed … Khashoggi, in the hours before and after the journalist’s death”. ...
Pompeo spoke to CNN on Saturday, on the sidelines of a G20 summit in Buenos Aires beset by diplomatic embarrassment over the presence of the prince. ... Pompeo said he would not comment on “intelligence matters or CIA conclusions” and said “reports in the media … often are untrue”.
But he added: “I have read every piece of intelligence that is in the possession of the United States government, and when it is done, when you complete that analysis, there’s no direct evidence linking [Prince Mohammed] to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. That is an accurate statement, it is an important statement, and it is the statement that we are making publicly today.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo doubled down on continued U.S. support for Saudi Arabia to continue its devastating war on Yemen.
Pompeo's comments to CNN on Saturday come days after the U.S. Senate advanced legislation to bring an end to U.S. involvement in the 3-year war, as a United Nations official warned that "Yemen is on the brink of a major catastrophe," and as the Wall Street Journal reports on a CIA assessment strongly implicating Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Speaking to Wolf Blitzer on the sidelines of the G20 summit, Pompeo said the administration was intent on keeping "the strategic relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia."
Asked by Blitzer about dwindling support within Congress for participation in the war and whether the U.S. would continue to support the kingdom's bombing campaign of Yemen, Pompeo replied, "The program that we're involved in today we intend to continue."
Israeli police have recommended indicting Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister, on bribery charges related to a corruption case implicating the country’s telecom giant, prompting immediate calls for his resignation. On Sunday police said their investigation had established an evidentiary foundation to charge Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, with accepting bribes, fraud and breach of trust.
The case revolves around suspicions that confidants of Netanyahu promoted regulations worth hundreds of millions of dollars to the Bezeq telecom company in exchange for positive coverage of the prime minister on Bezeq’s subsidiary news website, Walla.
Police have already recommended indicting Netanyahu on corruption charges in two other cases. One involves accepting gifts from billionaire friends, and the second revolves around alleged offers of advantageous legislation for a newspaper in return for positive coverage.
The prime minister has denied any wrongdoing, dismissing the accusations as a witch-hunt orchestrated by the media.
A far-right party has won seats in a Spanish regional parliament for the first time since the country returned to democracy following the death of longtime dictator Francisco Franco in 1975. With 99% of the votes counted in Andalucía, the small Vox party took 12 seats in the 109-member regional parliament.
The Socialists won the election, but saw their support plummet to just 33 seats, compared to 47 in 2015 – far from the majority of 55 seats needed to govern. The result means that Vox, which opposes illegal immigration and Catalan independence, has exceeded even the most optimistic poll predictions which had forecast a possible five seat win. The party’s platform includes restricting abortion and rolling back domestic violence laws. ...
Andalucía has been a Socialist bastion for 36 years, but the party could lose control of the government if parties on the right join forces to oust regional leader Susana Diaz, though that would require that they join forces with Vox. “Despite winning the election it is a sad night for the Socialist Party,” Diaz said. “There has been a real loss of ground for the Left. But the worst thing is that the extreme right, a phenomenon that has appeared in the rest of Europe, has arrived here.”
US President Donald Trump’s trip to the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina has been accompanied by an outpouring of jingoism throughout the US political establishment, targeting not just Russia, but with ever-greater belligerence, China. The summit takes place after Russian forces fired upon and captured three Ukrainian Navy ships that had entered waters claimed by Russia in a deliberate provocation likely to have been coordinated with Washington. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has begun massing troops on the Ukrainian border and has declared martial law in substantial sections of the country.
At the beginning of the week, the US press was filled with denunciations of Russia, whose response to the Ukrainian incursion was condemned as a violation of international law. This media campaign, combined with the aptly-timed release of supposedly damaging information about Trump’s personal ties to Russia, led the president to backtrack on his plans to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. This was a partial concession to dominant factions within the American state that have demanded he take a more aggressive anti-Russian stance.
After Trump’s announcement on Thursday, the US media turned to demanding that Trump continue and intensify his hardline stance against China. Summing up the growth of anti-Chinese sentiment throughout the entire US political establishment, the Washington Post wrote in an editorial published Friday, “Where there was once a bipartisan consensus in favor of broad engagement with China, now there is almost equally widely shared disappointment with China’s failure to reciprocate as expected.” While the Post calls for a “temporary truce,” underlying the newspaper’s belligerence is the fact that China has emerged as a competitor to the United States in the fields of high-value manufacturing, directly competing for a shrinking pool of global profits with American companies. The Post continues, “Mr. Trump’s bluntly hostile approach to China represents only an extreme manifestation” of “emerging national sentiment.”
“Risky as it is,” the newspaper declares, Trump’s policy “at least puts China fully on notice that U.S. tolerance for its mercantilist policies… has run out.” ... Trump’s trade war with China is now lauded by even his most bitter factional opponents as not merely “normal,” but rational and even democratic. As the Post writes, “Chinese policymakers must understand that he won the presidency in large part because of American dismay—especially in the industrial heartland—with the results of China’s behavior, and what the public perceived as a failure of U.S. leadership to check it.”
These words are a confirmation, from one of the house organs of the Democratic Party, that Trump’s trade war measures are not the ravings of a madman but represent the efforts of the American ruling class to secure US global hegemony through military threats and trade war.
Donald Trump tweeted late Sunday that China has agreed to “reduce and remove” tariffs on U.S. cars exported to China — but Beijing refused to confirm the president’s claims. The tweet gave no details of the supposed car deal, apparently struck at the G20 Summit in Argentina over the weekend, during which Trump and President Xi Jinping agreed to a 90-day pause in the trade war to allow for further talks. ...
China has agreed to reduce and remove tariffs on cars coming into China from the U.S. Currently the tariff is 40%.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 3, 2018
He followed up with another Tweet Monday morning hailing an “extraordinary” meeting that will help relations with China take “a BIG leap forward!”
He even suggested that he and Xi could work with Russian President Vladimir Putin to halt "what has become a major and uncontrollable Arms Race."
I am certain that, at some time in the future, President Xi and I, together with President Putin of Russia, will start talking about a meaningful halt to what has become a major and uncontrollable Arms Race. The U.S. spent 716 Billion Dollars this year. Crazy!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 3, 2018
When asked about Trump’s comment Monday, China’s foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang declined to comment.
Rejecting Israel Lobby’s Influence Over Congress, Rashida Tlaib Plans to Lead Delegation to Palestine
Rashida Tlaib, a Democratic representative-elect from Michigan, belongs to a cohort of incoming members of Congress who’ve vowed to upend the status quo — even on third-rail issues in Washington like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. To that end, Tlaib is planning to lead a congressional delegation to the Israeli-occupied West Bank, she told The Intercept. Her planned trip is a swift rebuke of a decades-old tradition for newly elected members: a junket to Israel sponsored by the education arm of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, known as AIPAC, the powerful pro-Israel lobby group. The AIPAC trips are among the lesser-known traditions for freshman members of Congress. They’re typically scheduled during the first August recess in every legislative session and feature a weeklong tour of Israel and meetings with leading Israeli figures in business, government, and the military. ...
Tlaib, who is the first Palestinian-American woman to be elected to Congress, hopes to draw on her roots in the region to offer her fellow incoming representatives an alternative introduction to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She said her group will focus on issues like Israel’s detention of Palestinian children, education, access to clean water, and poverty. She may even take them to Beit Ur al-Foqa, the village where Tlaib’s grandmother lives, in the northern West Bank.
It is unclear who will join Tlaib on the trip. She is still working out the details of when it will take place and what advocacy organizations she will partner with to fund the delegation. But Tlaib is clear about one thing: She wants her delegation to humanize Palestinians, provide an alternative perspective to the one AIPAC pushes, and highlight the inherent inequality of Israel’s system of military occupation in Palestinian territories, which Tlaib likens to what African-Americans in the United States endured in the Jim Crow era. She is not planning any meetings with the Palestinian Authority or with Israeli government officials, a mainstay of the AIPAC trips.
“I want us to see that segregation and how that has really harmed us being able to achieve real peace in that region,” Tlaib said in an interview. “I don’t think AIPAC provides a real, fair lens into this issue. It’s one-sided. … [They] have these lavish trips to Israel, but they don’t show the side that I know is real, which is what’s happening to my grandmother and what’s happening to my family there.” Tlaib’s challenge to AIPAC isn’t limited to leading a separate trip to the region. In her interview with The Intercept, she for the first time came out in support of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions, the movement known as BDS that seeks to punish Israel over its human rights abuses.
Chicago teachers are planning to walk out on Tuesday in what’s believed to be the country’s first major charter school teacher strike. Teachers and their union argue the independent schools are overcrowded and underfunded and have been used to create a “second tier in the teaching profession”. The strike comes as negotiations for higher wages, more resources and smaller class sizes have hit an impasse.
Caroline Rutherford, who has worked at Donald J Marquez Elementary in Chicago said the charter schools were struggling to retain staff. Her school is run by the for-profit charter operator Acero Schools, one of Chicago’s largest charter networks. “We’ve had turnover at the teacher, apprentice and administration level. So I’ve had six or seven different principals since I’ve started, and I’ve had nine master teachers, a new one every year,” Rutherford said.
A study published in the Social Science Journal in September 2018 found teachers at for-profit charter schools are 38% more likely to leave the teaching profession than teachers at regular charter schools, and even teachers at not-for-profit charter schools are leaving the profession at higher rates than public schools.
“It’s a practice for the charters to hire really young, inexperienced teachers and work them like crazy, pack as many kids as they can in front of them, in my school it’s 32 a class, and not give them a lot of tools to work,” said Rutherford. “After a couple years, they’re burnt out from either the charter system or the teaching practice altogether.” ...
The threatened walkout comes as the Chicago Teachers Union and charter school operators appear deadlocked over new contract negotiations. The union and charter school operators were unable to come to an agreement on a new contract during several bargaining sessions over the past week. The strike is the first against a charter school operator in the United States and was authorized in a union membership vote by 98% of members.
The first bill Democrats plan to move in January when they take control of the House will mark a major step forward on a longstanding progressive goal: public financing of congressional campaigns. The provision is a largely overlooked part of a sweeping anti-corruption bill Democrats plan to start the year with and will be bestowed with the symbolic designation of HR1. The program, based on Maryland Rep. John Sarbanes’s “Government By the People Act of 2017,” would offer subsidies for individuals who want to make small contributions to political candidates. And eligible candidates would qualify for matching contributions that vary based on a candidate’s agreement to restrictions on how they finance their campaigns.
Combined with the broad surge of small-dollar contributions — Democrats alone raised more than $1 billion that way in 2018 — the public financing system would dramatically reshape the political economy of federal politics. Of course, it stands no chance of being passed by a Senate controlled by Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, but it sets the stage for potential passage in 2021 if Democrats retake control of Congress and the White House.
HR 1, led in large part by Sarbanes, would revamp for the first time since the 1970s the Watergate-era model for public financing of presidential campaigns and establish a national pilot program to fund congressional campaigns. The measure intensifies pressure to stop rewarding candidates with the most money from large donors and corporate PACs, or outside dark-money groups propping them up, the status quo in a post-Citizens United electoral system. The idea driving HR 1 is to fight and end the dominance of big money in politics.
Interview: Bernie Sanders on Ending Yemen War, Medicare for All, Green New Deal & the Stop BEZOS Act
The UN climate change summit begins on Monday with a warning that today’s generation is the last that can prevent catastrophic global warming, as well as the first to be suffering its impacts. Almost 200 nations were set to meet in Poland for two weeks, aiming to hammer out a vital agreement to turn the carbon-cutting vision set in Paris in 2015 into reality. Moves to rapidly ramp up action would be another key goal, with current pledges leaving the world on track for a disastrous 3C of warming. ...
The political backdrop contains challenges as well, with climate change denial from the US president, Donald Trump, and attacks on the UN process from Brazil’s incoming Bolsonaro administration. The hosting of the summit by a coal-friendly Polish government further worries some observers. But the EU’s new intention to become climate neutral and the plummeting cost of renewable energy have been positives, while a year of extreme weather was anticipated to focus minds.
“We are clearly the last generation that can change the course of climate change, but we are also the first generation with its consequences,” said Kristalina Georgieva, the CEO of the World Bank. The bank announced on Monday that its record $100bn (£78bn) of climate funding from 2021-2025 would for the first time be split equally between projects to cut emissions and those protecting people from the floods, storms and droughts that global warming is making worse. In recent years, just 5% of global funding has gone on protection, but 2018 has seen climate impacts hit hard, with heatwaves and wildfires in Europe and California and huge floods in India, Japan and east Africa. “We are already seeing the devastating impact of climate change,” Georgieva told the Guardian. “We strongly believe that action ought to go both on mitigation and on adaptation.”
“Climate extremes are the new normal,” said Prof Patrick Verkooijen, the CEO of the Global Center on Adaptation, in the Netherlands. “The climate debate can no longer only be about the causes – it also needs to focus on how billions of people at risk can rapidly adapt.
The collapse of civilisation and the natural world is on the horizon, Sir David Attenborough has told the UN climate change summit in Poland. The naturalist was chosen to represent the world’s people in addressing delegates of almost 200 nations who are in Katowice to negotiate how to turn pledges made in the 2015 Paris climate deal into reality.
As part of the UN’s people’s seat initiative, messages were gathered from all over the world to inform Attenborough’s address on Monday. “Right now we are facing a manmade disaster of global scale, our greatest threat in thousands of years: climate change,” he said. “If we don’t take action, the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.”
“Do you not see what is going on around you?” asks one young man in a video message played as part of a montage to the delegates. “We are already seeing increased impacts of climate change in China,” says a young woman. Another woman, standing outside a building burned down by a wildfire, says: “This used to be my home.”
Attenborough said: “The world’s people have spoken. Time is running out. They want you, the decision-makers, to act now. Leaders of the world, you must lead. The continuation of civilisations and the natural world upon which we depend is in your hands.”
Incoming Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., is troubled by the prospect of West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a staunch ally of the fossil fuel industry, becoming the top Democrat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “I have concerns, and that’s why I say that our issues are not just left and right, but that they’re top and down,” Ocasio-Cortez said at a Friday press conference held outside the Capitol. “I have concerns over the senator’s chairmanship just because I do not believe that we should be financed by the industries that we are supposed to be legislating and regulating and touching with our legislation.”
Ocasio-Cortez added that the vast majority of Americans agree that lawmakers should not be taking money from the industries they regulate, and the fact that they continue to do so contributes to the disconnect between everyday people and Washington. “But in D.C., that’s a controversial opinion,” she said. “I don’t believe it’s just a party issue. It’s really about an issue of independence, it’s really about an issue of objectivity in our legislation,” she continued.
Manchin has the inside track to take over the ranking member slot, currently held by Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell, but liberal and environmental groups are horrified and would like “anyone but Manchin” to get the position, Politico reported this week. ... According to OpenSecrets.org, Manchin’s 2018 re-election campaign received $156,240 from the oil and gas industries. Manchin also reports earnings each year from Enersystems Inc., a coal brokerage company he helped run before entering politics, in his Senate financial disclosures.
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