The Evening Blues - 12-4-18



eb1pt12



The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: Little Willie Anderson



Hey! Good Evening!


This evening's music features Chicago blues harmonica player Little Willie Anderson. Enjoy!



Little Willie Anderson - Come Here Mama

"Policy is no longer being written by politicians accountable to the American public. Instead, policies concerning the defense budget, deregulation, health care, public transportation, job training programs, and a host of other crucial areas are now largely written by lobbyists who represent mega corporations."

-- Henry Giroux


News and Opinion


Activists Demand Sanders Take Stand Against Militarism

Changing tune: Trump bashes ‘crazy’ spending on arms – months after increasing it

CIA chief Haspel to brief US Senate leaders on Khashoggi's death

CIA Director Gina Haspel will give a closed briefing to leaders of several US Senate committees on Tuesday on the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, according to two sources familiar with the planned meeting. ...

At last week’s briefing, the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo and the defense secretary, Jim Mattis, said there was no hard evidence the crown prince was behind the killing and urged senators not to downgrade ties with Saudi Arabia over the incident.

Haspel will brief the Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations, Armed Services and Appropriations committees, the source said, adding that the Senate Intelligence Committee already had been briefed by the CIA chief.

US senators: we're certain Saudi crown prince ordered Khashoggi's murder

Senators have emerged from a classified briefing by the CIA director, Gina Haspel, saying they are certain that the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, ordered the murder of the Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

“If the crown prince went in front of a jury he would be convicted in 30 minutes,” Bob Corker, the Republican chair of the Senate foreign relations committee told journalists immediately after the Haspel meeting.

A handful of leading senators from both parties attended the secure briefing from Haspel, who flew to Turkey to hear tapes of the 2 October killing from Turkish intelligence intercepts. The senators were not allowed to disclose details of what they were told, but their reaction reinforced reports that the CIA had accumulated substantial evidence that the crown prince (widely known by his initials MBS) was behind the murder.

The Trump administration has said that there is no “direct evidence” of the prince’s culpability, with the defence secretary, James Mattis, insisting there was no “smoking gun”, but Corker said you would have to be “willfully blind” not to see the evidence. “There is no way anyone with a straight face could say they didn’t know what happened,” he said.

After Tuesday’s Haspel briefing, the Republican senator Lindsey Graham said: “There’s not a smoking gun, there’s a smoking saw.”

George H.W. Bush Is Alive in His Many Victims Across the Globe

French Prime Minister Holds Talks After Violent Protests in Paris

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe met with political rivals Monday in a bid to ease protesters’ anger after facing widespread criticism following violent anti-government protests that rocked Paris. ... French President Emmanuel Macron, just back from the Group of 20 summit in Argentina, held an emergency meeting Sunday on security and the government hasn’t ruled out the possibility of imposing a state of emergency. ...

Philippe and Macron have been lambasted for their handling of the crisis. After meeting with the prime minister, Socialist leader Olivier Faure urged Philippe to drop the tax hikes and to restore a wealth tax that was slashed by the centrist government. “We want a change in the method. One needs to come down from Mount Olympus,” Faure said, referring to Macron’s Greek god nickname of Jupiter. Laurent Wauquiez, head of center-right Les Republicains party, urged Macron to hold a referendum to end the crisis but did not say what its topic should be. ...

Philippe will try to defuse tensions this week before more possible protests this weekend, speaking with yellow vest representatives on Tuesday. Members of the National Assembly will also hold talks on France’s social crisis later this week.

The folks at the World Socialist Web Site are excited for the global working class and the struggle in France.

The mass protests in France: A new stage in the international class struggle

On Saturday, 100,000 people took part in a series of mass “yellow vest” demonstrations throughout France against President Emmanuel Macron’s anti-worker fuel tax hike, in the most significant mass protests in the country since the May-June 1968 general strike.

These events are a critical turning point not just for France and Europe, but for the entire world. Suppressed for decades, the eruption of social protest proclaims the reentry of the working class onto the stage of world history. The class struggle is again asserting itself as the driving force of historical progress. The explosive character of the events in France testifies to the enormous social contradictions that have accumulated over the nearly three decades since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, and, particularly, over the decade since the crash of 2008. The intense hatred of capitalism and the conditions it has created in France and throughout the world—the staggering level of social inequality, the endless accumulation of wealth within a small percentage of the population, the ever-greater levels of poverty and suffering—is now bursting onto the surface of political life.

In Macron, the ruling elite has its true representative—a justly despised and farcical figure, the investment banker turned president, who is nothing more than the puppet of the European stock exchanges. In the face of anger and outrage, Macron has made clear that he intends to go ahead with his anti-working-class policies, if need be through police-state means and the declaration of a state of emergency. The moment the masses challenge the economic demands of the ruling elite, it turns to violence and repression.

What is driving developments in France are not essentially national, but global conditions. What Macron can do, how he can respond, is determined by the demands of international capital. He is carrying out his attack on workers in France as the American bourgeoisie is implementing a new round of cost-cutting, epitomized in the mass layoffs announced at General Motors. Amid growing signs of a renewed economic slump, the ruling elite is going on the offensive in every country.

On the other side is the working class, which is showing itself to be not just an oppressed class, but a revolutionary class. Beneath the surface of bourgeois order and stability a civil war is brewing.

The French Yellow Jacket Protests

So, there are major protests across France, protesting Macron’s policies. Macron has raised fuel taxes and removed worker protections, among other things. He is a neoliberal’s neoliberal, who believes in free labor markets (a.k.a. markets where workers can be easily fired, made to work overtime, and so on.)

His popularity rating is 20 percent, there is no chance that he will be re-elected, and he is unlikely to give in to any protests–both because he is a true believer and because his future is assured if he pushes through as much destruction of France’s social state as possible. He will be rewarded by the rich. ...

While it seems unlikely, it wouldn’t bother me if the current French state was overthrown. More likely, what will matter is whether La Pen or Melenchon (who is a real left-winger) wins the next election. Hopefully the French are not so stupid as to vote for another pretty neoliberal. Little that has been done by Macron, or other neoliberal twats, cannot be undone if a government is elected with a mandate to do so.

Macron just backed down to the yellow vest protesters

The French government is backing down from its planned fuel tax hike that sparked violent protests in Paris, according to multiple reports published Tuesday.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe will announce the suspension of the tax, which was due to come into force on Jan. 1, local and international media reported, citing government sources. Stopping the tax, which the government said was to fund green initiatives, was a core demand of the so-called “yellow vest” protest movement.

The concession would be the first major policy U-turn for President Emmanuel Macron since coming to power last year, and a major back down from his tough talk in previous days.

“The perpetrators of this violence do not want change, they don’t want any improvement, they want chaos,” he said on Saturday as the protests erupted. But after meeting with opposition leaders Monday, Macron made the call to suspend the tax hikes, according to reports. With yellow vests calling for repeat demonstrations on Saturday, he faced an urgent deadline to address their grievances. ...

The sprawling, leaderless movement, which drew national support from across the political spectrum, called for Macron to abolish the fuel tax, boost the minimum wage, and reinstate a wealth tax on high-earners his government scrapped last year.

Philippe had been scheduled to meet with a delegation of the protesters on Tuesday afternoon, but the talks were cancelled after some of the yellow vests received threats of violence from hardliners in the movement warning them not to deal with the government.

Yellow Vests unimpressed with proposal to delay fuel tax

Iran missile tests may breach UN resolution, France and UK warn

France and the UK have echoed warnings by Donald Trump’s administration that Iran may be in breach of United Nations obligations by testing medium-range ballistic missiles capable of carrying multiple warheads. The remarks from Paris and London will be seen by the US government as the first sign that its key European partners may yet be persuaded to view Iran’s broader behaviour as so dangerous that their support for the 2015 Iran nuclear deal can no longer be justified.

The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, criticised Iran’s missile programme at the weekend and will be at a Nato foreign ministers’ meeting in Brussels over the next two days to underline his message about the threat to Middle East stability posed by Iran. He is also due to meet the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, in Brussels.

In a statement issued on Saturday, Pompeo said Iran had tested a medium-range ballistic missile, violating a UN resolution. The missile, according to Pompeo, is capable of carrying multiple warheads and “has a range that allows it to strike parts of Europe and anywhere in the Middle East”. He added: “This test violates UN security council resolution 2231 that bans Iran from undertaking ‘any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology’.”

Pompeo has been pressing Germany, France and the UK to join the US in withdrawing from the Iran nuclear accord signed during the presidency of Barack Obama in 2015. Trump unilaterally pulled out of the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), in May, reimposing broad economic sanctions, with some exemptions, on any country or company that seeks to trade with Iran.

Chris Hedges: The Film the Israel Lobby Does Not Want You to See

The Lobby,” the four-part Al-Jazeera documentary that was blocked under heavy Israeli pressure shortly before its release, has been leaked online by the Chicago-based website Electronic Intifada, the French website Orient XXI and the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar.

The series is an inside look over five months by an undercover reporter, armed with a hidden camera, at how the government and intelligence agencies of Israel work with U.S. domestic Jewish groups such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), The Israel Project and StandWithUs to spy on, smear and attack critics, especially American university students who support the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. It shows how the Israel lobby uses huge cash donations, often far above the U.S. legal limit, and flies hundreds of members of Congress to Israel for lavish and unpaid vacations at Israeli seaside resorts, bribing the American lawmakers to do Israel’s bidding, including providing military aid such as the $38 billion (over 10 years) that was approved by Congress in 2016. It uncovers Israel’s sleazy character assassination of academics, activists and journalists, its well-funded fake grassroots activism, its manipulation of press coverage, and its ham-fisted attempts to destroy marriages, personal relationships and careers. The film highlights the efforts to discredit liberal Jews and Jewish organizations as tools of radical jihadists, referring, for example, to Jewish Voice for Peace as “Jewish Voice for Hamas” and claiming that many members of the organization are not actually Jewish. Israel recruits black South Africans into an Israeli front group called Stop Stealing My Apartheid, in a desperate effort to counter the reality of the apartheid state that Israel has constructed. The series documents Israel’s repeated and multifaceted interference in the internal affairs of the United States, including elections; efforts to discredit progressive groups such as Black Lives Matter that express sympathy for the Palestinians; and routine employment of Americans to spy on other Americans. Israel’s behavior is unethical and perhaps illegal. But don’t expect anyone in the establishment or either of the two ruling political parties to do anything about it. It is abundantly clear by the end of the series that they have been intimidated, discredited or bought off. ...

Those of us who denounce and expose the Israeli crimes committed against Palestinians are intimately familiar with the sordid and nefarious tactics of the Israel lobby. The power of the film series is that in dealing with the reporter—a young Oxford postgraduate, James Anthony Kleinfeld, who goes by the name Tony in the film and poses as a pro-Israel student—major figures within the Israel lobby candidly explain and expose their massive covert campaign in the United States. There is no plausible deniability. And this is why Israel worked so hard to stop the film from being broadcast.

Senators Working to Slip Israel Anti-Boycott Law Through in Lame Duck

Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin is making a behind-the-scenes push to slip an anti-boycott law into a last-minute spending bill being finalized during the lame-duck session, according to four sources familiar with the negotiations.

The measure, known as the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, was shelved earlier amid concerns about the infringement of free speech, after civil liberties groups argued that the original version would have allowed criminal penalties for Americans who participate in a political boycott of Israel. Some of the more aggressive elements of the provision have been removed under pressure, but the American Civil Liberties Union, which spearheaded the initial opposition to the bill, is still strongly opposed.

In a letter to Congress, the ACLU warned that the amended version still creates unconstitutional restrictions on free speech. “We understand the Senate is considering attaching a revised version of S. 720 to the end-of-the-year omnibus spending bill, and we urge you to oppose its inclusion,” reads a letter dated December 3. ...

The Senate measure, which has a House companion, is part of a broad push to undermine support of BDS in both the U.S. and Europe, often conflating the boycott with anti-Semitism. According to the activist group Palestine Legal, which monitors anti-BDS legislation across the country, as of June 2018, 25 states had enacted laws punishing businesses that choose to boycott Israel. In 2017, one city in Texas even required businesses to certify that they would not boycott Israel before receiving hurricane aid.

George H.W. Bush’s 1989 Invasion of Panama Set the Stage for U.S. Wars to Come

Stocks plummet as unraveling US-China trade truce rattles investors

US stock markets fell sharply on Tuesday as investors lost faith in a trade truce between the US and China that had been negotiated by Donald Trump at last week’s G20 summit of world leaders. The Dow Jones industrial average plummeted 786 points in early afternoon trading, a drop of 2.9%. Other market indexes also fell sharply with the S&P 500 losing 2.5% and the Nasdaq dropping 3%.

Stock markets had rallied on Monday after Trump tweeted: “Relations with China have taken a BIG leap forward!”

Trump and China’s president, Xi Jingping, reached a 90-day trade truce after a dinner at the G20 summit in Argentina on Saturday. But differing reports on the terms of the truce from Chinese and US officials rattled investors fearful of a full-on trade war between the two economic superpowers.

After the meeting Trump told reporters: “It’s an incredible deal. If it goes down, certainly, if it happens, it goes down as one of the largest deals ever made.” But details of the deal have since unravelled. White House officials have struggled to explain, for example, whether China has actually agreed to drop its 40% tariffs on US autos.

Keiser Report: Not Free to Choose


Charlottesville trial: activist was 'pulseless' after being hit by car, court hears

A jury in Charlottesville heard testimony on Monday from a first responder who said activist Heather Heyer was “pulseless”, with no heartbeat or breath, when he came upon her after she was struck by a vehicle driven by James Fields in the aftermath of the Unite the Right rally in the Virginia city.

Nick Barrell, a fire captain and paramedic, tried to save Heyer’s life after 21-year-old Fields drove his Dodge Challenger into a crowd of counter-protesters on 12 August 2017, killing Heyer, 31, a local paralegal and civil rights activist, and injuring dozens of others.

The trial of Fields, who is charged with murder, entered its second week on Monday, nearly 15 months after the white nationalist rally erupted into violence and sparked a national controversy about the far right after Donald Trump weighed in to blame “both sides”.

On Monday, Melissa Elliott, another eyewitness to the carnage wreaked by Fields, said that she ducked into the alcove of a store when heard the crash and the “screaming and yelling” that ensued. She then saw the car quickly reverse and then drive away “out of sight”. Over the last three days of the trial in Charlottesville, several people who were in the crowd during the time of the attack have described the tragedy that unfolded.

Alabama police shot black man they mistook for a mall shooter 3 times from behind, autopsy finds

When police opened fire on 21-year-old Emantic “EJ” Bradford Jr., on Thanksgiving at a suburban mall in Alabama, he was facing away from them, according to the autopsy released by the family’s lawyer on Monday. In total, three bullets struck the young black man, whom police said they mistook as an armed shooter. The gunfire hit Bradford in the back of his head, neck, and lower back — any of which could have killed him, according to the family’s Attorney Benjamin Crump. The findings shed light on what truly happened during a shooting for which the Hoover Police Department has changed its story numerous times.

The situation started on Thanksgiving night around 9.30 p.m local time, when police responded to reports of a physical altercation at the Riverchase Galleria Mall that escalated to gunfire and left a 12-year old girl and an 18-year-old boy injured. What exactly happened next has so far remained a mystery. Bradford, who police initially identified as the suspected shooter, ended up dead, while the real suspected gunman, Erron Brown, was apprehended and arrested days later. Brown’s gun was recovered in Santa’s Village in the mall. Police said Bradford also had a gun on him, but his parents called their son, a licensed gun owner, a “good guy with a gun” who was likely trying to protect the victims.



the horse race



Oh looky! The Demorats gave Barbara Lee a consolation prize.

Barbara Lee Named to Key Leadership Position That Could Help Progressives Build Power in the House

Barbara Lee suffered a narrow loss to Hakeem Jeffries in the leadership race for Democratic Caucus chair last week, but the campaign to get her elected bore fruit regardless. Late last Friday, Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi made room for Lee on a key committee that has a primary role in building progressive power in the House. ...

After a one-on-one meeting, Pelosi named Lee as a third co-chair on the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee. (Technically, Pelosi recommended Lee for the position, but the Steering and Policy Committee votes on the recommendations, and Pelosi herself is the chair, so this is in the bag.) Pelosi added a co-chair to make room for Lee; current co-chairs Reps. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., and Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., will stay on as well. Lee, DeLauro, and Swalwell are all close Pelosi allies. ...

The Steering and Policy Committee has a few different duties, but by far the biggest is determining committee assignments for Democratic members. This has taken on new importance since the election, when the blue wave and numerous retirements created an unusually large incoming freshman class and lots of slots to fill on committees.

Last month, the Congressional Progressive Caucus engineered a power play to get representation proportional to its membership on several key “money” committees. The final stop in that quest is the Steering and Policy Committee, which ultimately lays out the chart of committee assignments for each of the 235 Democrats in the caucus. The money committees, through which nearly all vital domestic legislation flows, include the Ways and Means Committee, the Energy and Commerce Committee, the Appropriations Committee, as well as the Financial Services Committee.

Lee’s presence on the Steering and Policy Committee adds another Progressive Caucus member and could influence the final result. Pelosi, the chair of the committee, will certainly have the first and last word on committee assignments. But having Lee in the room as key decisions are being made can only assist the Progressive Caucus in its bid for influence.

Ocasio-Cortez Gunning for Powerful Committee, Setting Up Showdown With Long Island Democrat

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is making a push for a seat on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, according to people familiar with her decision. It’s a panel whose jurisdiction over taxes and revenue puts most of the economy within its mandate. For that reason, freshmen are almost never given spots on the panel, but the midterm elections upset the balance of power in the House. Sixty-three new representatives have joined the Democratic caucus, and some 43 Republicans either lost their seats or retired — so there is an unusually large number of vacancies to fill.

By custom, New York City effectively has at least one reserved seat on Ways and Means, and Ocasio-Cortez is looking to claim it. Its former occupant was Rep. Joe Crowley, whom Ocasio-Cortez beat in a primary election.

Any major piece of legislation — whether it’s “Medicare for All,” a “Green New Deal,” or free public college — would involve some level of revenue, putting it squarely in the domain of Ways and Means, which makes it a key spot for a legislator looking to have an impact. Ocasio-Cortez is routinely asked how she plans to pay for her aggressive economic agenda, and the first answer begins with securing a spot on the House’s key tax-writing committee.

Traditionally, the seat is sought after for its fundraising potential, as every industry in the country is concerned with federal tax policy, meaning that members of the committee are more likely to get their fundraising calls returned. That makes the decision of who to give the seat to a tricky one for incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has the final say on committee assignments. Placing a lawmaker who refuses corporate PAC contributions on the Ways and Means Committee could be seen by some elements of the party as leaving money on the table.

But giving it to the other New York applicant presents its own problems. Ocasio-Cortez is competing with Rep. Tom Suozzi, who represents the North Shore of Long Island, a district not far from Ocasio-Cortez’s Bronx and Queens — but a world away in terms of wealth and privilege. He would no doubt make efficient fundraising use of the seat, but he also took part in a recent assault on Pelosi’s power as speaker. ... Suozzi is a vice chair of the Problem Solvers Caucus, as well as a member of the New Democrat Coalition, a bloc of Wall Street-friendly Democrats that dramatically expanded its membership with the 2018 elections.





the evening greens


The Political Fraud Of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s ‘Green New Deal’

NOTE: The Green New Deal was formulated by the Green New Deal Group of global Greens in 2007. It was modified by the Green Party United States and hundreds of Green Party candidates have run with the Green New Deal as part of their platform. The Green Party version of the Green New Deal calls for a public works program, local control and other changes that create an economic bill of rights, an emphasis on small businesses and cooperatives, financial reform, a functioning democracy and significant cuts to the military. Unlike the Democrats, the Green Party US views all of these changes as necessary for the Green New Deal to be effective, fair and sustainable. ...

Last week, newly-elected Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez released a proposal for an addendum to the rules of the US House of Representatives, to create a new congressional committee that would draft legislation for a “Green New Deal.” ... The document includes the call for a transition to 100 percent renewable energy within 10 years, and actions to “virtually eliminate poverty in the United States and to make prosperity, wealth and economic security available to everyone.” It calls for “a job guarantee program to assure a living wage to every person who wants one”; “massive investment in the drawdown of greenhouse gases,” and “upgrading every residential and industrial building for state-of-the-art energy efficiency, comfort and safety.” The document, as with Ocasio-Cortez’s politics, is characterized by a massive political fraud. It includes various left-sounding rhetoric, but is entirely directed to and dependent upon the Democratic Party. In particular, the members of the committee would be selected by the Speaker of the House, who is likely to be Nancy Pelosi, the stalwart of the Democratic Party establishment who has received the support of Ocasio-Cortez herself.

Any serious measures to stop global warming, let alone assure a job and livable wage to everyone, would require a massive redistribution of wealth and the reallocation of trillions currently spent on US imperialism’s neo-colonial wars abroad. Ocasio-Cortez’s document, however, excludes any encroachment on the fortunes of the ruling class. It calls instead for “innovative public and other financing structures,” including a “new public bank,” or system of banks, or “public venture funds,” which in concrete terms means nothing more than new avenues for providing cheap credit to private corporations. Everything is phrased as part of consultation with “business” leaders. Several of her proposals are explicitly aimed at promoting the interests of different sections of capital, including the call to “promote opportunities” for “entrepreneurship,” and “promote economic security, labor market flexibility and entrepreneurism.”

“Labor market flexibility”—that is, the ability of corporations to fire and hire at will. Such is the character of Ocasio-Cortez’s great left-wing reform! ... None of the signatories to the bill believes that any of its proposals—except those directly tailored to corporate interests—will ever be implemented. Its purpose is rather to promote illusions that the Democratic Party, a party of the corporate and financial elite no less than the Republicans, can be transformed into an agency of social progress.

Rightwing taskforce secretly approves anti-environment resolutions

Inside a little-known bulwark of conservative state policy, in a hotel conference room in Washington DC, state lawmakers and corporate lobbyists last week voted for a slate of anti-environment measures. They approved resolutions supporting stripping tax benefits from electric vehicles and endorsing Donald Trump’s pro-fossil fuel energy agenda. And they voted down a proposal to limit monopoly control of the power industry, which backers said would give consumers more choice and help grow renewable electricity faster and more cheaply.

The group, a taskforce of the American Legislative Exchange Council (Alec), did so behind closed doors. They barred press from the rooms where they called roll. When voice votes were close and a tally was required, the business representatives weighing in on what kinds of policies state legislatures should pursue voted in secret. They cast ballots on paper, in a change that four sources said organizers announced was meant to keep the process confidential from reporters. ...

The deliberations of a private group such as Alec, where elected officials meet out of public view with big business, highlight the divides the Republican party is struggling with as it courts both rightwing social conservatives and free-market Republicans. Alec has lost prominent members, including ExxonMobil and Verizon. Advocates who deny the science behind manmade climate change are regular attendees. Verizon ended its support after an anti-Muslim activist spoke at an annual Alec meeting.

But corporate influence over statehouses is strong and was on display in the lobbying fight over the future of the power industry. A trade group for investor-owned power companies opposed the idea of subjecting them to more competition. Competition supporters said the fight shows how much power utilities have over state governments and the people who are forced to buy their product. Michigan state representative Gary Glenn, the Alec resolution sponsor and head of the house energy committee who lost his seat this year to a primary challenger, said lawmakers are controlled by power companies “in fear of political retaliation”. Glenn claimed the industry donated $1m against him in his primary election.

EU's Climate Target Draws Large Show of Support

At least 65,000 people marched on the European Union’s headquarters in Belgium to show support for the bloc’s proposed curbs on climate change.

Braving rain and wind, demonstrators thronged the main road in central Brussels where the EU headquarters are located. Police said the peaceful march, held as a global climate conference got underway in Poland on Sunday, was the biggest climate demonstration in Belgium’s history.

Bushfires in the tropics: Queensland faces terrifying new reality


Late on Sunday night, a tropical cyclone formed off the north Queensland coast. The storm has begun a track towards the coast, where more than 100 bushfires are still burning after week-long heatwaves and “unprecedented” conditions. Tropical cyclone Owen will bring some relief from the stinking heat; lower temperatures and rainfall that should help firefighters control the most threatening fires by midweek.

Queensland’s exhausted emergency services will not welcome Owen’s track towards the shore with any sense of respite; to them the blended ends of disaster seasons represent a horror scenario, but one many have seen coming.

Paul Gray, a representative of the Queensland Firefighters’ Union, says the nature of bushfires has noticeably changed in recent years. The fires, he says, have become more intense and longer-lasting. Last week conditions in parts of Queensland were classified “catastrophic” for the first time. The rating has only existed since 2009, but no bushfire in the state since 1966, when warnings were first introduced, would have been considered so dangerous. “They’re always intense, but now you’re getting punished for days and days. Instead of a heatwave lasting one day, heatwaves are lasting four days or longer,” Gray says.

“It makes it more difficult for fire crews to stand down, we lose the ability to rotate. Firefighters are working longer hours on protracted incidents for days at a time. There is an increasing need for out-of-state and overseas assistance, because it’s getting harder to relieve our own crews.”

Australia’s devastating bushfires typically occur far to the south of the tropical Queensland rainforest. But Gray says the fire season in the north now lasts longer. That means a diminishing timeframe to allow emergency services to change tack from firefighting to battling cyclones and floodwaters, which historically have caused many more deaths and wider destruction in Queensland.



Also of Interest

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

Bush's sordid Saudi ties set template for Trump – he was just more subtle

If You Murdered A Bunch Of People, Mass Murder Is Your Single Defining Legacy

Misreporting Assange: A Case Study in Journalistic Malpractice

Cornel West: Why did CNN fire a pro-Palestinian commentator?

Here’s a Better Name for No Labels: Republicans

Decades of Denial and Stalling Have Created a Climate Crunch


A Little Night Music


Little Willie Anderson - 69th Street Bounce

Little Willie Anderson - Looking For You Baby, West Side Baby

Little Willie Anderson - Been Around

Little Willie Anderson - Willie's Women Blues

Little Willie Anderson - Late night

Little Willie Anderson - Everything Gonna Be Alright

Little Willie Anderson - Big Fat Mama



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Comments

divineorder's picture

Santa Fe.

I had wondered about the use of Green New Deal by O-C but had really not thought about it deeply. Good to read the article you excerpted!

FWIW after reading the Will Morrow, WSWS article you excerpted went to check on chatter on Dr. Jill Stein's and Green Party US Twitter accounts and hmmm, narry a mention or sign of outrage there by the Greens.

####

How about that stock market, eh? Smile

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12 users have voted.

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

joe shikspack's picture

@divineorder

cold, raw day here. there's been a cooling trend and they say that we might get a bit of snow or sleet here tomorrow. seems more likely to be sleet, but we'll see.

the greens might not be up in arms now, but once the democrats co-opt their language/concept and turn it into yet another corporate greenwashing, they are likely to be pissed.

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7 users have voted.
AllOne's picture

@joe shikspack Read, "stealing". We've had enough "innovation" unleashed on us by Wall Street. O-C's pandering to Nancy as a progressive is sickening. And the dems stealing "Green New Deal" stinks. The dem's "derivitive" version is so weak you can see through it. I like Ron Plecone's quote on Twitter, "There's nothing pragmatic about an incremental solution for a catastrophic problem."

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5 users have voted.
QMS's picture

Make the neo libs back down. Show us how it's done.

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17 users have voted.

Listen to your higher mind.

joe shikspack's picture

@QMS

the french people rising up against the elite ruling class is the best news that i've seen in years. sure, it's fraught with peril and it might not work out, but even more dangerous is doing nothing in the face of oppression.

vive la france!

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11 users have voted.
mimi's picture

@joe shikspack

The best thing of the EB is that folks make me smile so often. Smile

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6 users have voted.
lotlizard's picture

which is, of course, merely the U.S. narrative parroted and recirculated.

https://app.civey.com/umfragen/349/glauben-sie-dass-donald-trump-im-wahl...

Survey by the polling firm Civey on behalf of the Berlin daily Tagesspiegel — “Do you believe that Donald Trump got support from the Russian government during the election campaign?”

34.9 %   Yes, definitely
28.4       Tend to think yes
13.0       Undecided
13.8       Tend to think not
  9.9       No, definitely not

Sad!

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12 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@lotlizard

i'm sure that pretty much wherever you go, the opinion tracking done by media orgs closely tracks with its programming. that is to say, when they catapult the propaganda, it tends to stick to the wall.

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8 users have voted.
lotlizard's picture

@joe shikspack  
rather than employing traditional approaches to obtaining a representative sample.

They claim to be in possession of the tools and models (“multi-stage weighting procedure”) that allow them to adjust the results to make them representative.

https://the-hundert.com/startups/civey/

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The Aspie Corner's picture

Because Democrats apparently aren't going far enough for charter schools.

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8 users have voted.

Modern education is little more than toeing the line for the capitalist pigs.

joe shikspack's picture

@The Aspie Corner

heh, well, yeah. of course they are trying to control the elections with their money. i am always gratified when some rich schmucks (especially the kochs) lay out vast quantities of cash and lose.

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6 users have voted.
Bollox Ref's picture

Image1_5.jpg

Somebody, anybody, please make it stop...

Surely, Soviet style mourning is 'Un-American'.

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14 users have voted.

Gëzuar!!
from a reasonably stable genius.

joe shikspack's picture

@Bollox Ref

in the past day or two the couple of times that i've turned on npr in the car (the only place that i listen to nation petroleum radio) i've had to turn it off because they have been honoring a war criminal. thank the fsm i don't watch teevee.

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9 users have voted.
WindDancer13's picture

MoveOn.org is running a poll about who people would like to see run in 2020. They have quite a long list.

My reply was along these lines: I will vote for Bernie Sanders with Tulsi Gabbard as his VP. If any Clinton or Joe Biden is nominated, I will vote for Trump. I will vote for an independent rather than some others who are listed, e.g., Cory Booker.

No, I will not vote for Trump, but I think they will get the point.

Thanks for the news, Joe.

PS I hope no one here is playing the stock market. I have been fervently wishing on a star for consistent bad news there. It could be a huge factor in taking Trump down.

PSS Is it safe to look at the news again? Pages and pages about that guy who died. Who cares why he wore bright colored socks? What is the news trying to hide by distracting people with all this bs about another war criminal?

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11 users have voted.

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.--Aristotle
If there is no struggle there is no progress.--Frederick Douglass

divineorder's picture

@WindDancer13 @WindDancer13
Doubt it, but they might try to run Beto. Nope to that as well.

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12 users have voted.

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

WindDancer13's picture

@divineorder

Yet another neo-lib wannabe...but with a band.

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9 users have voted.

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.--Aristotle
If there is no struggle there is no progress.--Frederick Douglass

joe shikspack's picture

@WindDancer13

last i checked (this afternoon) the media was still nattering on about the war criminal bag of bones on display in washington.

i am of two minds about the decline of the stock market. i am delighted to see bankers take it in the shorts, but on the other hand, many people have no choice but to be invested in the stock market - retirees for instance. a serious, long-term plunge in the market will have an unpleasant effect on many people's pensions.

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12 users have voted.
WindDancer13's picture

@joe shikspack

Yeah, I go back and forth on my thinking about crashing Wall St. Love to see some of those people fall hard, but a lot of retirement funds are there also. *sigh* I really do think it is going to take some serious hits soon though.

All the cutey cartoons showing the guy with no lips in heaven are Fake News!

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5 users have voted.

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.--Aristotle
If there is no struggle there is no progress.--Frederick Douglass

divineorder's picture

... but opposition is watching them closely.

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10 users have voted.

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

snoopydawg's picture

@divineorder

congress has to give up their retirement first. So many of them are millionaires anyway and they got rich by getting away with insider trading so why should we have to fund their retirement?

I think a few messages to congress are in order. "We are watching what is happening in France and if you even think about cutting our safety net we will flood the streets!

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10 users have voted.

Disclaimer: No Russian, living or dead, had anything to do with the posting of this proudly home-grown comment

joe shikspack's picture

@divineorder

i'm not too worried about a unilateral move by the white house. these guys are only likely to move when they have the opportunity to make it bipartisan and sell it as "for the good of the country."

the danger rises in january when nancy paygo pelosi assumes the gavel again.

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7 users have voted.
divineorder's picture

@joe shikspack

He said the key is to find programs that siphon money from entitlements, but aren’t part of the core programs. He pointed to Medicare money going to pay students’ medical school tuition as the type of target the administration could try to tackle without cutting into Americans’ benefits.

“You can reform and save a ton of money in Medicare and Social Security and not touch the primary pillars for the next several years,” he told state legislators at an event hosted by the American Legislative Exchange Council.

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5 users have voted.

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

Azazello's picture

“It makes it more difficult for fire crews to stand down, we lose the ability to rotate. Firefighters are working longer hours on protracted incidents for days at a time. There is an increasing need for out-of-state and overseas assistance, because it’s getting harder to relieve our own crews.”

Why don't they just use prison labor like we do ? Sheesh.
That Keiser Report was good, both halves are worth a look.

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9 users have voted.
divineorder's picture

@Azazello capitalism?

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6 users have voted.

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

Azazello's picture

@divineorder
at least I've never heard him. He's a capitalist, not a Bolshevik, but he doesn't like neoliberalism. Seems like he recognizes the need for regulation.

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9 users have voted.
The Aspie Corner's picture

@Azazello we'll be right back where we started within a decade at best. The choice is this: We can either have capitalism or a habitable planet. Obviously you've chosen the former.

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3 users have voted.

Modern education is little more than toeing the line for the capitalist pigs.

Azazello's picture

@The Aspie Corner

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5 users have voted.
The Aspie Corner's picture

@Azazello by calling the Bolsheviks. Pot, meet kettle.

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1 user has voted.

Modern education is little more than toeing the line for the capitalist pigs.

divineorder's picture

@The Aspie Corner AZ was talking about Max Keiser on his show, not his/her own beliefs.

And even if he was, it is allowed to have different opinions at C99.

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7 users have voted.

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

joe shikspack's picture

@The Aspie Corner

that last sentence was really uncalled for. there's no need to cast personal aspersions.

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6 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@Azazello

heh, in oz they don't incarcerate people at the same rate that the u.s. does. they may not have enough slave labor to fight the fires.

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6 users have voted.
The Aspie Corner's picture

Mac Sabbath

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4 users have voted.

Modern education is little more than toeing the line for the capitalist pigs.

divineorder's picture

..

Had read something about insurance companies not being able to keep up with multiple catastrophes all happening at the same time.

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9 users have voted.

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

joe shikspack's picture

@divineorder

that's pretty much bound to happen as the scale of climate catastrophes expands and more human settlements are destroyed.

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4 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

@divineorder

When my worker's comp insurance companies went bankrupt the state had to take it over with the California insurance guarantee association. CIGA

From the article.

Judge Brian McCabe's decision allows the California Department of Insurance to take control of Merced. According to court documents, the state's Conservation & Liquidation Office will start liquidating what's left of the company.
Unlike with bankruptcy, where a business or individual can start over, liquidation means there is no hope for a company's recovery.

Fortunately for Merced's policyholders, they are covered by the California Insurance Guarantee Association, which "protects resident claimants in the event of an insurance company insolvency."
But the association has maximum benefit limitations, according to Merced.
"If it ends up that you have a claim in excess of CIGA's limits," the company said, "the excess will be a claim against the assets of Merced."

Just the start of what's to come? Probably.

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9 users have voted.

Disclaimer: No Russian, living or dead, had anything to do with the posting of this proudly home-grown comment

Recently Markos came out with an anti-Bernie tweet that caught a lot of attention. Now I go to TOP to really look at titles to gauge DNC talking points. But Markos had an diary in which he basically was kicking white males out of the party, and going on some benders about white males. Basically, the democrat party must chose candidates based on identity politics. He pulled the same bs from 2016 if memory served.

Our 2020 nominee will look like the Democratic Party, and that's not a white guy
https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2018/12/3/1816784/-Our-2020-nominee-wil...

Looks like most comments were for the idea. Many said just give us somebody who can beat Trump. And a small group said nope that white male votes were still needed. In fact, the second largest group to vote for Hillary were white males which was roughly equivalent to combined male/female African American voters. But get this, nationally only 20% of white males voted for Hillary. So in absolute terms, that vote exceeded the combined total of male/female African American voters. (Obama got 30% of white male voters). The point being the democrats to win must be a coalition.

Having worked in a democratic machine run city, there were guys who would approach party mucky mucks and demand a city job. Why? Because they claimed to control Polish voters, black voters, hispanic voters, etc. They never got a city job, as they could never prove that they indeed could deliver votes. Markos seems to be one of those guys--he wants to be the king of the POC vote. He is the man that can deliver the vote. He certainly didn't given the poor turn out of the base he thinks he controls.

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13 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

@MrWebster

One of the Bernie supporters who is still involved over there said that she is the future of the DP and boy did he get hammered over it. People came out and admitted that they are centrists and they don't like some of the things she has been saying.

I find it humorous that most of them would have totally supported both Bernie and AOC before Obama became president. This is when lots of people decided that being a centrist made you cool. Or something .. it just doesn't make any sense.

IMG_1850_0.JPG

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9 users have voted.

Disclaimer: No Russian, living or dead, had anything to do with the posting of this proudly home-grown comment

Bollox Ref's picture

@MrWebster

You can imagine my surprise that 'moulitsas' means 'dead-ender Hillary supporting person'.

Or 'loser, twat'.

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13 users have voted.

Gëzuar!!
from a reasonably stable genius.

snoopydawg's picture

@MrWebster

was that his intention do you think? I'm thinking he is thinking about Kampala Harris being the nominee. She's not white or a man.

Smile

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6 users have voted.

Disclaimer: No Russian, living or dead, had anything to do with the posting of this proudly home-grown comment

joe shikspack's picture

@MrWebster

i guess i'm a bit ahead of markos. i've voted for a very progressive woman (who was not hillary clinton) in the last two presidential elections.

i think that he's going to wind up straining something with all this identity politics crap he's hurling.

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11 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

doing are they? Just meet outside the halls of congress and vote on legislation that completely hides any legislation from the public. "Yes, Virginia. We are an oligarchy."

Inside a little-known bulwark of conservative state policy, in a hotel conference room in Washington DC, state lawmakers and corporate lobbyists last week voted for a slate of anti-environment measures.

This is a bit like what Utah just did with the medical marijuana bill that was voted in. The Mormon church met with the congress and decided what the law would be. There are 7 places where people can go to get the approved type of marijuana. And they reduced the types of disorders that doctors can prescribe marijuana for. All autoimmune are out! This disorder is very difficult for doctors to nail down and give names to and design treatment plans for, but the f'cking Mormon church gets to decide how patients are treated. The guv signed the bill today. The good news is Rocky Anderson, the ex SLC mayor is suing them. You might remember him from how he went after Bush.

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10 users have voted.

Disclaimer: No Russian, living or dead, had anything to do with the posting of this proudly home-grown comment

joe shikspack's picture

@snoopydawg

no, they aren't covering up as much as they used to. i'm guessing that they feel pretty secure that they are the masters of the universe these days.

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7 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

Hey dimwit. Vermont doesn't give Bernie an option to register as a democrat. Why don't you know that? BTW. Leahy isn't actually a democrat either. He just says that he is.

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9 users have voted.

Disclaimer: No Russian, living or dead, had anything to do with the posting of this proudly home-grown comment

joe shikspack's picture

@snoopydawg

yep, there seems to be a bit of an animus there. but, i wouldn't worry about it. the fella with the "cult of personality" is overwhelmingly more popular than mr. gate crasher.

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8 users have voted.
mimi's picture

@joe shikspack
Mosking
and to whomever it may apply:
Don't cha know there are lovable pigs out there. Just can't find them in my flickr mess and file folders. I am supposed to be an archiver. You may believe it if you see me messing around with files ... not.

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2 users have voted.

Ah, those little slips of the tongue, that pink little devil.
Zinke to a meeting of the National Petroleum Council:
“We’ve gotten a lot better as industry,” Zinke said, quickly correcting himself. “You’ve gotten a lot better.”

I feel so much better now, knowing the land is in good hands.

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7 users have voted.

If I'm wrong, it's the first time I'm happy to be confused. -Don Van Vliet

joe shikspack's picture

@pindar's revenge

what a surprise, zinke can't remember which team he's on from day to day. heh, continuing the fine tradition of ronnie raygun appointing people to dismantle the agencies that they are charged with running.

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6 users have voted.

@joe shikspack
Evening, Joe, Az. Yeah, Zinke called Grijalva a drunk.
Talking about dismantling agencies...
I heard an interview on National Propaganda Radio with the author of a new book, The Fifth Risk. He had some very good things to say about the unsung heroes working for the Fed agencies who protect us from hurricanes, floods, pollution, nuclear waste, etc. These people chose to work for a fraction of what their education and skills could get them in industry, because of reasons like actually liking their work and wanting useful tasks. They wind up as punching bags. One of the first things Obama did was cancel cost of living raises for Feds, which the unions estimated cost Feds $5 billion in lost wages and reduced pensions. The author's description in the book of what it's like to work for agencies like NOAA since the eRumption is heart-breaking. And scary. I can confirm it - I spoke with folks from EPA at the science march. I recommend the book.
I ordered it from the library as soon as the interview was over, and I was already 52nd in line.
The damage done by TheRump far exceeds Reagan, and the consequences will be decades in repairing: lost data and institutional knowledge, broken networks, the winnowing out of the better people through retirement and quitting. Ironically, right-wing Feds tend to spend their days watching Rush Limbaugh and ilk while griping about wasting tax dollars. Just imagine who's thriving there now.

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6 users have voted.

If I'm wrong, it's the first time I'm happy to be confused. -Don Van Vliet

joe shikspack's picture

@pindar's revenge

i would imagine that to respond to the emergency that the ruling elites (led by trump) are currently ignoring, a new organization will have to be built from the bottom up, anyway. hopefully some of the better scientists will be willing to come back out of retirement to make a difference.

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7 users have voted.

@joe shikspack
(rueful grin)

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6 users have voted.

If I'm wrong, it's the first time I'm happy to be confused. -Don Van Vliet

Azazello's picture

@pindar's revenge
You can read that here: USA Today
So Zinke fired back, here: Associated Press
Raul is in line to become chair of the House Natural Resources Committee.
Maybe there will be some hearings on Zinke's corruption.

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4 users have voted.
mimi's picture

who of you managed to read his article to the end?

I wanna see that movie. I liked to be able to focus and concentrate and understand what Hedges wrote.

It looks as if it is too much for me. And it feels as if it would be quite necessary that I fully grasped what Hedges said there.

Just saying ... I don't even have 0.02 cents left in my pocket to make a coherent comment.

Bless that Hedges man.

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5 users have voted.

Reuters Creates Fakenews About Iran - Intentionally Conflates Two Different Missiles - Misquotes Official
"... The Reuters piece conflates ground launched ballistic missiles with air-to-air missiles that the air force commander wants to develop. The U.S. does not care about Iran's air-to-air missiles. It itself has far superior ones. The U.S. does care about Iran's ballistic missiles. But the Iranian general did not talk about those at all. The quote Reuters attributes to the Iranian general it is taken out of context and used to propagandize a non-issue.

The FARS piece Reuters cites is absolutely clear with what the air force commander means, even while its headline is probably too generalized:

Iran Sees No Limit for Increasing Range of Missiles

Commander of the Iranian Air Force Brigadier General Aziz Nasirzadeh announced the country's plans to boost the range of its air-to-air missiles.

"Today, we are after increasing the range of our air-to-air missiles. Therefore, one of our most important plans is increasing the range of missiles and ammunition. We are after Beyond-Visual-Range (BVR) missiles and ammunition and consider no limitations in this regard for ourselves because the Air Force should heighten the country's deterrence power along with other (Armed) Forces," General Nasirzadeh told FNA on Tuesday.

The underlined part is the only one Reuters cites. In the original that part is led and followed by its context - air-to-air missiles. That very clear context is simply left out. Reuters thus frames the quote as related to ballistic missiles even though it has absolutely nothing to do with them.

Air-to-air missiles are used from one fighter jets against other fighter jets and bombers. Beyond visual range is defined as more than 20 miles or 37 kilometer. BVR air-to-air missiles allow for attacks on planes that are only detected on radar. These are normal ammunition for any modern airforce and have little strategic impact.

Ballistic missiles are ground to ground munitions with a large range. Iran voluntarily limits the reach of its ballistic missiles to 2,000 kilometers....."
https://www.moonofalabama.org/2018/12/reuters-creates-fakenews-about-ira...

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1 user has voted.