The Evening Blues - 1-11-19
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features Chicago slide guitarist and harmonica player Studebaker John. Enjoy!
Studebaker John & The Hawks - Your HooDoo Man
“Now, it's are you now, have you ever been, and will you ever be in the future a supporter of non-violent boycotts against Israeli violations of international law? That's an outrage.”
-- Phyllis Bennis
News and Opinion
For Second Time During Shutdown, Four Democrats Vote With GOP for Unconstitutional Legislation to Punish Boycotts of Israel
Despite being given a rare opportunity to change their widely denounced vote from earlier this week, four Senate Democrats once again sided with the GOP on Thursday in support of a motion to end debate on "unconstitutional" legislation that would punish those who choose to defend Palestinian rights by backing the international campaign to boycott Israel. Much to the relief of civil libertarians and Palestinian rights groups, the motion ultimately failed to reach the 60 votes needed to pass, as every other member of the Democratic caucus teamed up to block Senate Bill 1 (S.1) — a slate of four measures that includes the so-called "Combating BDS Act" and legislation to authorize $38 billion in military aid to Israel.
The four Senate Democrats who voted with Republicans for the second time this week were: Bob Menendez (N.J.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Doug Jones (Ala.), and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.). These Democrats could get yet another chance to flip their vote as early as next week, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) immediately filed cloture again following the second failed procedural vote.
"Of the four Democrats, Sinema's vote was the most disappointing," Ariel Gold, national co-director of CodePink, told Common Dreams. "In fact, her vote was shocking. In 2003, Sinema joined CodePink protests against the Iraq War. Why she now would be voting in favor of a war on the First Amendment and prioritizing military aid to Israel over the need for federal workers to be paid is baffling." "We hope that as Senator McConnell has called for this to go to to third vote, Kyrsten Sinema—as well as Menendez, Jones, and Manchin—will come to their senses," Gold added.
While advocacy groups were quick to applaud Democratic senators for standing together to stop McConnell from moving ahead with legislation that is completely unrelated to ending the government shutdown, critics noted that bipartisan support for anti-boycott efforts raises serious concerns that enough Democrats could flip and vote to pass the bill after the prolonged shutdown ends.
It’s old news that large segments of society have become deeply unhappy with what they see as “the establishment,” especially the political class. The “Yellow Vest” protests in France, triggered by President Emmanuel Macron’s move to hike fuel taxes in the name of combating climate change, are but the latest example of the scale of this alienation. There are good reasons for today’s disgruntlement: four decades of promises by political leaders of both the center left and center right, espousing the neoliberal faith that globalization, financialization, deregulation, privatization, and a host of related reforms would bring unprecedented prosperity, have gone unfulfilled. While a tiny elite seems to have done very well, large swaths of the population have fallen out of the middle class and plunged into a new world of vulnerability and insecurity. Even leaders in countries with low but increasing inequality have felt their public’s wrath.
By the numbers, France looks better than most, but it is perceptions, not numbers, that matter; even in France, which avoided some of the extremism of the Reagan-Thatcher era, things are not going well for many. When taxes on the very wealthy are lowered, but raised for ordinary citizens to meet budgetary demands (whether from far-off Brussels or from well-off financiers), it should come as no surprise that some are angry. The Yellow Vests’ refrain speaks to their concerns: “The government talks about the end of the world. We are worried about the end of the month.” ...
When I was at the World Bank, the first lesson in policy reform was that sequencing and pacing matter. The promise of the Green New Deal that is now being championed by progressives in the United States gets both of these elements right. The Green New Deal is premised on three observations: First, there are unutilized and underutilized resources – especially human talent – that can be used effectively. Second, if there were more demand for those with low and medium skills, their wages and standards of living would rise. Third, a good environment is an essential part of human wellbeing, today and in the future.
If the challenges of climate change are not met today, huge burdens will be imposed on the next generation. It is just wrong for this generation to pass these costs on to the next. It is better to leave a legacy of financial debts, which our children can somehow manage, than to hand down a possibly unmanageable environmental disaster. ... The Green New Deal sends a positive message of what government can do, for this generation of citizens and the next. It can deliver today what those who are suffering today need most – good jobs. And it can deliver the protections from climate change that are needed for the future. ... The grassroots movement behind the Green New Deal offers a ray of hope to the badly battered establishment: they should embrace it, flesh it out, and make it part of the progressive agenda. We need something positive to save us from the ugly wave of populism, nativism, and proto-fascism that is sweeping the world.
A new Politico/Morning Consult poll has found that there is much more support for ongoing military occupations among Democrats surveyed than Republicans. To the question “As you may know, President Trump ordered an immediate withdrawal of more than 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria. Based on what you know, do you support or oppose President Trump’s decision?”, 29 percent of Democrats responded either “Somewhat support” or “Strongly support”, while 50 percent responded either “Somewhat oppose” or “Strongly oppose”. Republicans asked the same question responded with 73 percent either somewhat or strongly supporting and only 17 percent either somewhat or strongly opposing. Those surveyed were also asked the question “As you may know, President Trump ordered the start of a reduction of U.S. military presence in Afghanistan, with about half of the approximately 14,000 U.S. troops there set to begin returning home in the near future. Based on what you know, do you support or oppose President Trump’s decision?” Forty percent of Democrats responded as either “Somewhat support” or “strongly support”, with 41 percent either somewhat or strongly opposing. Seventy-six percent of Republicans, in contrast, responded as either somewhat or strongly supporting Trump’s decision, while only 15 percent oppose it to any extent. ...
The anti-war Democrat, after Barack Obama was elected on a pro-peace platform in 2008, went into an eight-year hibernation during which they gaslit themselves into ignoring or forgiving their president’s expansion of George W Bush’s wars, aided by a corporate media which marginalized, justified, and often outright ignored Obama’s horrifying military expansionism. Then in 2016 they were forced to gaslight themselves even further to justify their support for a fiendishly hawkish candidate who spearheaded the destruction of Libya, who facilitated the Iraq invasion, who was shockingly hawkish toward Russia, and who cited Henry Kissinger as a personal role model for foreign policy. I recall many online debates with Clinton fans in the lead up to the 2016 election who found themselves arguing that the Iraq invasion wasn’t that bad in order to justify their position.
After Clinton managed to botch the most winnable election of all time, mainstream liberal America was plunged into a panic that has been fueled at every turn by the plutocratic mass media, which have seized upon unthinking cultish anti-Trumpism to advance the cause of US military interventionism even further with campaigns like the sanctification of John McCain and the rehabilitation of George W Bush. Trump is constantly attacked as being too soft on Moscow despite having already dangerously escalated a new cold war against Russia which some experts are saying is more dangerous than the one the world miraculously survived. Trump’s occasional positive impulses, like the agenda to withdraw US troops from Syria and Afghanistan, are painted as weakness and foolishness by the intelligence veterans who now comprise so much of corporate liberal media punditry. And their audience laps it up because by now
A speech delivered by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Cairo, Egypt on Thursday was immediately chided by critics as bellicose and ahistorical "hogwash" that did more to reveal the incoherence and dangers of the Trump administration's foreign policy than anything else. In his remarks, Pompeo said while Trump remains committed to withdrawing all U.S. troops from Syria, the administration would not rest until "every last Iranian boot" was also removed from the country. The U.S. government, he added, will "not ease our campaign to stop Iran's malevolent influence and actions against this region and the world."
With a straight face, and failing to acknowledge the long and well-documented history of U.S. invasions and anti-democratic interference in the region, Pompeo claimed the U.S. under Trump "has reasserted its traditional role as a force for good in" the Middle East. American leaders have "learned from our mistakes," he added, but isolated his criticism to the actions of the Obama administration who he accused of "retreat[ing]" from the region.
Anti-war advocate and CodePink co-founder Medea Benjamin, an analysis emailed to Common Dreams, characterized the speech as preposterous — "an arrogant tirade extolling the U.S. as a liberator not an occupier, a defender not an aggressor—a depiction that runs totally counter to the sordid U.S. history of invasions and occupations all over the world." While Pompeo declared the U.S. has never been an "empire-builder," Benjamin said that false claim "would come as a surprise to the people living in countries where the U.S. has over 800 military bases, especially places like Cuba, Okinawa and South Korea where people have been fighting for decades to recover their lands."
Whenever/wherever US interferes, chaos, repression & resentment follow. The day Iran mimics US clients & @SecPompeo's "human rights models”—be it the Shah or current butchers—to become a “normal" country is the day hell freezes over. Best for the US to just get over loss of Iran.
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) January 10, 2019
In the end, said Benjamin, Pompeo's speech, "just like U.S. policy in the region," could be described with one word: shameful. "What the world needs to hear from U.S. leaders," she concluded, "is a speech that apologizes for the tragedies we have wrought throughout the region with our illegal invasions and occupations, a speech that commit the U.S. to reparations, and a speech where we pledge to stop coddling repressive regimes in the region, from Israel to Saudi Arabia to the United Arabs Emirates to Bahrain. That is the kind of speech the people of the Middle East deserve, not more imperial hogwash."
US forces have begun pulling out from Syria, sparking fresh fears of abandonment among Kurdish allies less than a day after the the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, pledged a new beginning in the Middle East in which “our allies depend on us to follow through”.
Ten armoured vehicles involved in the fight against Islamic State (Isis) crossed from eastern Syria into Iraq on Friday morning. The US military acknowledged the pullout but said no troops had left and refused to reveal the areas from which the battle trucks had withdrawn.
The move comes three weeks after Donald Trump’s surprise announcement ordering the withdrawal of 2,000 US troops and declaring a military victory over Isis, against which US forces had waged a four-year campaign alongside Kurdish forces it had raised for such a purpose.
Speaking in the Iraqi Kurdish capital of Irbil on Wednesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo dismissed the idea of Turkish threats of military action against the Syrian YPG having any impact on the US withdrawal from Syria. He said that the pullout would not impact a US commitment to protect the YPG.
Pompeo’s position seems to be to overtly ignore the comments made by
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on how no concessions can be made
with respect to the YPG. Instead, Pompeo is insisting that Erdogan
“understands” the US determination to see the YPG protected, and that he
had made some unspecified “commitments” in that regard.
What was actually said isn’t entirely clear, but Pompeo has repeatedly made
reference to Turkish promises to “protect” the Syrian Kurds. Erdogan,
on the other hand, has said as recently as yesterday that Turkey “cannot make any concessions” on the YPG.
"Don't upstage the boss" is a powerful maxim in Washington, and usually it applies to President Trump's White House. But National Security Adviser John Bolton doesn't seem to have gotten the memo. "Bolton puts conditions on plan for withdrawal from Syria," reads one recent headline. "Contradicting Trump, Bolton says no withdrawal from Syria until ISIS destroyed, Kurds' safety guaranteed," blares another. "John Bolton says certain conditions must be met before U.S. withdraws from Syria," states a third. ...
While there are certainly good reasons to proceed more methodically — and with less deference to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan — than Trump's Twitter speed, the exhaustive conditions laid out by Bolton, and perennial hawks like Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), would likely mean no Syria withdrawal at all for the duration of Trump's presidency. On top of that, by slow-walking the withdrawal from Syria, which the president publicly ordered, Bolton appears to be overruling his boss.
If that's the case, Trump may well come to regret his failure to heed another Washington maxim: personnel is policy. Much of his national security team is made up of the same kind of people who made many of the foreign policy decisions he campaigned against in 2016. ... The success of those brought in to work for the president on matters of war and peace should be judged by how effectively they are translating his goals into actionable policy rather than by their willingness to selectively defend him on cable television. Yet as long as Trump is the commander-in-chief in question, a nontrivial amount of reporting and analysis seems nonchalant — if not celebratory — about what sounds an awful lot like insubordination among his staff.
The U.S. military is finally withdrawing (or not) from its base at al-Tanf. You know, the place that the Syrian government long claimed was a training ground for Islamic State (ISIS) fighters; the land corridor just inside Syria, near both the Iraqi and Jordanian borders, that Russia has called a terrorist hotbed (while floating the idea of jointly administering it with the United States); the location of a camp where hundreds of U.S. Marines joined Special Operations forces last year; an outpost that U.S. officials claimed was the key not only to defeating ISIS, but also, according to General Joseph Votel, the commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, to countering “the malign activities that Iran and their various proxies and surrogates would like to pursue.” You know, that al-Tanf.
Within hours of President Trump’s announcement of a withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria, equipment at that base was already being inventoried for removal. And just like that, arguably the most important American garrison in Syria was (maybe) being struck from the Pentagon’s books — except, as it happens, al-Tanf was never actually on the Pentagon’s books. Opened in 2015 and, until recently, home to hundreds of U.S. troops, it was one of the many military bases that exist somewhere between light and shadow, an acknowledged foreign outpost that somehow never actually made it onto the Pentagon’s official inventory of bases.
Officially, the Department of Defense (DoD) maintains 4,775 “sites,” spread across all 50 states, eight U.S. territories, and 45 foreign countries. A total of 514 of these outposts are located overseas, according to the Pentagon’s worldwide property portfolio. Just to start down a long list, these include bases on the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia, in Djibouti on the Horn of Africa, as well as in Peru and Portugal, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom. But the most recent version of that portfolio, issued in early 2018 and known as the Base Structure Report (BSR), doesn’t include any mention of al-Tanf. Or, for that matter, any other base in Syria. Or Iraq. Or Afghanistan. Or Niger. Or Tunisia. Or Cameroon. Or Somalia. Or any number of locales where such military outposts are known to exist and even, unlike in Syria, to be expanding. ...
Such off-the-books bases are off the books for a reason. The Pentagon doesn’t want to talk about them. ... “Undocumented bases are immune to oversight by the public and often even Congress,” David Vine, author of Base Nation: How U.S. Military Bases Abroad Harm America and the World, explains. “Bases are a physical manifestation of U.S. foreign and military policy, so off-the-books bases mean the military and executive branch are deciding such policy without public debate, frequently spending hundreds of millions or billions of dollars and potentially getting the U.S. involved in wars and conflicts about which most of the country knows nothing.”
In the wake of President Trump’s nationally televised address Tuesday night, the political axis of the conflict over the border wall, which has led to the partial shutdown of the federal government, has clearly shifted. In their official response to Trump Tuesday night, neither House Speaker Nancy Pelosi nor Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer said anything about the declaration of a national emergency, although Trump began hinting at it last week.
Setting the tone for the American media as a whole was the New York Times, the semi-official voice of the Democratic Party, whose lead editorial Wednesday on the federal shutdown actually presents the possible declaration of a state of emergency as a positive good, a way for Trump to back down on the building of a border wall without offending his fascistic base, for whom the wall has become an all-or-nothing symbol of Trump’s determination to wage war on immigrants and override political opposition. The Times argued: “Mr. Trump has also been floating the possibility of stiff-arming Congress altogether. With his advisers increasingly anxious that Republican lawmakers are poised to abandon them on the shutdown, the president has raised the threat of declaring a state of national emergency, which he thinks would allow him to command the Pentagon to build his wall. Such a move would prompt a swift and furious legal challenge, if not a full-blown constitutional crisis, that could drag on indefinitely. It would, however, also give Mr. Trump a way to reach a wall-free funding deal with Congress without losing face, thus weaseling out of the shutdown box into which he has nailed himself.” ...
Before a scheduled meeting at the White House with Pelosi, Schumer and congressional Republican leaders, Trump was asked under what circumstances he might declare a national emergency. He reiterated the view that he had the “absolute right” to declare one, adding that his “threshold” for doing so was failure to work out a deal with congressional Democrats to provide funding for the wall. After Trump stormed out of the meeting, having failed to win assurances on the border wall, the Wall Street Journal reported, “As a possible way out of the shutdown, White House officials are discussing a scenario in which the president could declare a national emergency to fund the border wall and agree to sign a spending bill without such a provision. While the declaration would likely be tied up in litigation, Mr. Trump would be able to tell supporters he did everything he could to build the wall, one of his top campaign pledges in 2016.”
Again, like the Times, the Journal presents the declaration of a national emergency not as an attack on the Constitution, establishing an executive dictatorship, but as a political maneuver through which Trump could pull the wool over the eyes of his ultra-right supporters. In reality, it is the corporate media and the Democrats who are seeking to hoodwink the American people, concealing the growing threat of dictatorial action by the White House. ... No [...] emergency exists on the US-Mexico border, where the number of detentions has plunged from more than a million a year in the 2000s to less than 400,000 in 2017, and where the only increase in border crossings involves family groups of refugees, including women and children, fleeing violence and poverty in Central America. It is clear from this record that the fundamental issue in the current crisis in Washington is not the wall, or even immigration policy as a whole, but rather the drive by the US ruling elite to establish a completely unconstrained executive power. The crisis over the border wall has been manufactured to provide the pretext for Trump carrying out a long-prepared assertion of virtually unlimited presidential authority.
The president visited the Texas border on Thursday – the 20th day of a partial government shutdown – in a publicity ploy to help make the case for funding his long-promised wall after negotiations with Democrats broke down. ...
As part of a series of events at the border, Trump held a roundtable discussion between his officials, border enforcement figures and local citizens, including ranchers, to discuss security. At the meeting Trump claimed, without providing evidence, that a border wall would bring crime down and listened as a sympathetic panel praised his leadership.
Later, near Mission, Texas, Trump accompanied law enforcement to a rural stretch of the border where he shook hands with soldiers and border patrol agents. ...
With Trump digging himself into a hole in which he has vowed to keep the shutdown going for months or even years unless he gets his wall, an end to the impasse looks distant. His strategic priority appears to be sustaining the support of his political base of hardline supporters by fueling fears of a “humanitarian crisis” at the border.
Among those traveling in Texas with the president is the top White House lawyer, Pat Cipollone, prompting speculation that Trump might be preparing to declare the “national emergency” in the hope of bypassing Congress to fund the wall. The 1976 National Emergencies Act grants a president powers to move unilaterally in times of crisis. But any such move in this case would almost certainly face instant challenges in the courts. The White House has nonetheless begun preparing the groundwork for Trump to issue a declaration, the Washington Post reported on Thursday.
Donald Trump has backed away from his threat to declare a national emergency to fund his long-promised border wall, as pressure mounts to find a solution to the three-week impasse that has closed parts of the government, leaving hundreds of thousands of workers without pay.
“We want Congress to do its job,” the president said Friday during a roundtable on border security at the White House. “What we’re not looking to do right now is national emergency.”
Trump’s comments came amid reports that he was consulting White House attorneys and allies about declaring a national emergency, and using presidential powers to take unilateral action to construct the wall over the objections of Congress. He had earlier claimed that his lawyers told him the action would withstand legal scrutiny “100%”. ...
Trump insisted on Friday he had the right to declare a national emergency, but said: “I’m not going to do it so fast.”
The president instead called on Democrats to find a way out of the shutdown, which on Saturday would become the longest in US history, with still no end to the deadlock in sight.
Week 3 of the government shutdown feels a lot like Week 2 and Week 1: There’s no end in sight, and the nation’s top political leaders continue to shout past each other, neither side blinking.
Behind-the-scenes talks got underway this week in the hopes of crafting an immigration compromise that would potentially have saved face for both sides. But even those talks seem to have fallen apart. So for now, President Donald Trump is still in the driver’s seat — and that means the shutdown that started Dec. 22 likely isn’t ending anytime soon.
“We’re stuck. I don’t see a way forward,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) vented to reporters at the Capitol on Thursday after senators cast their last vote for the week and rushed to the region’s airports to start their extended weekend. “I have never been more depressed about moving forward than I am right now," Graham said.
“Nothing’s changed,” Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) told VICE News on Thursday afternoon. “We’re waiting on them to tell us what’s going to happen.” The mood at the Capitol is somber, with members of both parties bracing for a long shutdown — the longest ever in the nation’s history if it goes past Friday. ...
“This whole thing worries me,” Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) told VICE News while walking through the basement of the Capitol. “They’re trapped in the president’s spiraling behavior, and they’re trying to reverse-engineer a strategy and a policy approach on how he feels in the morning.”
Progressives Slam DCCC for Tapping Only Pro-Business Centrists for Leadership Roles—Ignoring Energy of Left-Wing Movement
Corporate Democrats have made it known that although progressive candidates represent the views of the majority of Democratic voters on a number of high-priority issues including healthcare and the climate crisis, the party leadership will continue to marginalize progressives in the 2020 congressional elections—angering groups including the Justice Democrats and Our Revolution.
Progressive organizations championing Medicare for All and a Green New Deal slammed the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) on Thursday for selecting a leadership team consisting of seven representatives of the pro-business New Democrat Coalition. Following her election as chairwoman of the DCCC, Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) selected three so-called "centrist" Democrats to head the committee's candidate recruitment team and three pro-corporate representatives to lead its Frontline panel, which will defend vulnerable incumbents in 2020.
None of the candidates the leadership team chooses and defends are expected to be progressive now that Reps. Pete Aguilar (Calif.), Val Demings (Fla.), Donald McEachin (Va.), Ami Bera (Calif.), Suzan DelBene (Wash.), and Brad Schneider (Ill.) will be overseeing the committees' operations. The representatives have taken large campaign contributions from the for-profit health insurance industry, Amazon, and defense contractor Northrup Grumman—relationships that Justice Democrats communications director Waleed Shahid argued are not aligned with the interests of most Democratic voters.
Bustos has indicated that she will actively fight against progressive candidates who back bold, widely popular proposals like the Green New Deal—supported by 92 percent of Democrats—and Medicare for All, which 84 percent of Democratic voters support.
Justin Trudeau was in campaign mode this week, striding around a school gymnasium, shirtsleeves rolled up and brow suitably furrowed as he addressed voters’ concerns at one of his annual town hall-style meetings. A day earlier and nearly 800km away, another face of the federal government was on display as dozens of police – some heavily armed – stormed a makeshift barricade, arresting 14 indigenous protesters and prompting others to flee for safety on snowmobiles. ...
Their demonstrations, part of a fight against a multibillion-dollar natural gas pipeline, galvanized supporters across the country, and at his town hall meeting, the prime minister was forced to contend with a barrage of angry questions. ...
Unlike the rest of the country – where relationships between indigenous groups and the state are governed by treaties – few indigenous nations in British Columbia ever signed deals with colonial authorities, meaning the federal government still operates in a vacuum of authority on their lands, said Gordon Christie, a scholar of indigenous law at the University of British Columbia “What I see is a long history of the Canadian government doing its best to avoid acknowledging the existence of other systems of government,” he said. “The Crown has itself acknowledged that the way it gets authority over territory is through the making of a treaty,” said Christie. “So this is their problem.”
In recent months, tensions with indigenous peoples have flared across Canada as energy companies seek to construct projects on and through indigenous lands. Both TransCanada, which is attempting to build the Coastal GasLink pipeline and Kinder Morgan, which was pushing the TransMountain pipeline, have faced fierce opposition from indigenous groups. ... The events of the past week have cast a shadow over the Trudeau’s image of a political leader seeking reconciliation with Canada’s marginalized and often mistreated First Nations. While he lamented the arrests, his government will maintain its course, arguing the resource projects must be built. ...
Trudeau pledged to overhaul the framework guiding relations with indigenous communities nearly a year ago. But in areas where no treaties were signed, the courts have often become the arbiter of land claims. In 2014, the Tsilhqot’in people in British Columbia won a longstanding battle over title rights at the country’s highest court – but at a cost of more than $10m. In 1997 the supreme court put an end to one of the longest-running legal battles in Canadian history, ruling that the Wet’suwet’en had effectively demonstrated clear title to their land. The plaintiffs exhausted more than an estimated $25m on legal fees – only to have a retrial called, leaving uncertainty around their claim. “It doesn’t matter which route we take. We took this to the highest court in the Canada and it was ruled in our favour,” said Jennifer Wickham, a member of the Gitdumden, one of five clans making up the Wet’suwet’en nation. “Even when we follow their western law, it doesn’t do us any good.”
In "an important victory for free speech" and animal welfare, a federal judge on Wednesday struck down Iowa's so-called "ag-gag" law, determining that it violates the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment. The legal groups that brought the case challenging Iowa's ag-gag law and other animal rights advocates celebrated the win in court, which follows similar victories in Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming.
"Ag-gag laws are a pernicious attempt by animal exploitation industries to hide some of the worst forms of animal abuse in the United States," Animal Legal Defense Fund executive director Stephen Wells said in a statement on Wednesday. "Today's victory makes it clear that the government cannot protect these industries at the expense of our constitutional rights."
Ag-gag legislation, which has been enacted and often struck down in several states with sizable agricultural industries, aims to prevent journalists and activists from going undercover at factory farms and other facilities where animals are held for commercial purposes, such as slaughterhouses and puppy mills, to shed light on abuse. As ACLU of Iowa legal director Rita Bettis Austen explained, in her state—home to an estimated 10,000 factory farms—"it has effectively silenced advocates and ensured that animal cruelty, unsafe food safety practices, environmental hazards, and inhumane working conditions go unreported for years."
A huge win for free speech and a free press, and a major - and richly deserved - defeat for the pervasively corrupt agricultural industry, that has tried to use their control over governments to criminalize the exposure of their heinous practices: https://t.co/ijkXKV9zWk
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) January 9, 2019
The world’s oceans are warming at a faster rate than previously estimated, new research has found, raising fresh concerns over the rapid progress of climate change. Warming oceans take up more space, a process known as thermal expansion, which the study says is likely to raise sea levels by about 30cm by the end of the century, on top of the rise in sea levels from melting ice and glaciers. Warmer oceans are also a major factor in increasing the severity of storms, hurricanes and extreme rainfall.
Oceans store heat so effectively that it would take decades for them to cool down, even in the unlikely scenario that greenhouse gas emissions were halted urgently.
The report, published on Thursday in the journal Science, found that the warming of the oceans was accelerating and was matching the predictions of climate change models, which have shown global temperature rises are likely to lead to extreme weather across the world.
Zeke Hausfather, co-author of the paper and a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, said: “While 2018 will be the fourth warmest year on record on the [earth’s] surface, it will most certainly be the warmest year on record in the oceans, as was 2017 and 2016 before that. The global warming signal is a lot easier to detect if it is changing in the oceans than on the surface.” Oceans absorb more than nine-tenths of the excess energy trapped in the atmosphere by greenhouse gases, and play a key role in regulating the world’s climate.
The Sea Shepherd environmental group has published video showing an attack by about two dozen small fishing boats on the group’s vessel Farley Mowat in Mexico’s Gulf of California. The fishermen in the Gulf, also known as the Sea of Cortez, oppose environmentalists trying to protect the vaquita marina, the world’s smallest and most endangered porpoise. Sea Shepherd says fishermen threw lead weights, dead fish and even Tabasco sauce at the Farley Mowat and tried to douse the vessel and waters around it with gasoline in the attack on Wednesday.
The @MVFarleyMowat IS UNDER ATTACK!
The Sea Shepherd vessel @MVFarleyMowat was prop fouled and boarded by angry poachers!
— Sea Shepherd SSCS (@SeaShepherdSSCS) January 10, 2019
The video shows some of the fishing boats carried gill nets, though they are banned within the reserve designed to protect the vaquita. The vaquita is nearing extinction due to gill nets set illegally to catch totoaba, a fish whose swim bladder commands astronomical prices because it is considered a delicacy in China.
Some fishermen threw a net in front of the Farley Mowat to foul the propellers of the Sea Shepherd vessel; others boarded the ship and apparently carried off some items. The Farley Mowat’s crew can be seen using a hose to repel some of the smaller boats. Sea Shepherd operates in the Gulf with the knowledge and cooperation of the Mexican government to help detect illegal nets. The incident took place in an area set aside as a vaquita refuge in the Upper Gulf of California. Sea Shepherd said dozens of boats were taking part in “obvious illegal poaching” of totoaba.
Experts say as few as 15 of the marine mammals remain in the Gulf, the only place they exist, and none have ever been held in captivity.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Studebaker John's Maxwell Street Kings - I Am The Houserocker
Studebaker John - Freight Train Blues
Studebaker John & The Hawks - This City
Studebaker John - The Rest Is Up To You
Studebaker John & The Hawks - Shake
Studebaker John's Maxwell Street Kings - Son of the Seventh Son
Studebaker John's Maxwell Street Kings - Fine Cadillac
Studebaker John & The Hawks - Roll, Roll, Roll
Studebaker John's Maxwell Street Kings - When Your Mule Won't Ride
Studebaker John & The Hawks - Too Tough