The Evening Blues - 1-22-19



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The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: Syl Johnson


Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features blues and soul singer and guitarist Syl Johnson. Enjoy!

Syl Johnson - (She's So Fine) I Just Gotta Make Her Mine

“No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.”

-- U.S. Constitution Article 1 Section 9 Clause 7


News and Opinion

Has the Government Legalized Secret Defense Spending?

October 4th, 2018, was a busy news day. The fight over Brett Kavanuagh’s Supreme Court nomination dominated the cycle. The Trump White House received a supplemental FBI report it said cleared its would-be nominee of wrongdoing. Retired Justice John Paul Stevens meanwhile said Kavanaugh was compromised enough that he was “unable to sit as a judge.” #NationalTacoDay trended on Twitter. Chris Evans told the world production wrapped on Avengers 4.

The only thing that did not make the news was an announcement by a little-known government body called the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board — FASAB — that essentially legalized secret national security spending. The new guidance, “SFFAS 56 – CLASSIFIED ACTIVITIES” permits government agencies to “modify” public financial statements and move expenditures from one line item to another. It also expressly allows federal agencies to refrain from telling taxpayers if and when public financial statements have been altered.

To Michigan State professor Mark Skidmore, who’s been studying discrepancies in defense expenditures for years, the new ruling ­— and the lack of public response to it — was a shock. “From this point forward,” he says, “the federal government will keep two sets of books, one modified book for the public and one true book that is hidden.” Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists’ Project on Government Secrecy was one of the few people across the country to pay attention to the FASAB news release. He was alarmed. “It diminishes the credibility of all public budget documents,” he says.

I spent weeks trying to find a more harmless explanation for SFFAS 56, or at least one that did not amount to a rule that allows federal officials to fake public financial reports. I couldn’t find one. This new accounting guideline really does mean what it appears to mean, and the details are more bizarre than the broad strokes. ... This new rule is not confined to a few spy agencies. It appears to allow a stunningly long list of federal agencies to make use of new authority to “modify” public financial statements. The Treasury Department’s definition of a “component reporting entity” includes 154 different agencies and bodies, from the Smithsonian Foundation to the CIA to the SEC to the Farm Credit Administration to the Railroad Retirement Board. The notion that any of these agencies could now submit altered public financial reports under the rubric of national security is mind-boggling. ...

One thing is certain: the taxpayer who opens up a federal financial statement expecting to find correct numbers will no longer be sure of what he or she is reading. Bluntly put, line items in public federal financial statements may now legally be, for lack of a better word — wrong. Moreover, the state is not required to include a disclaimer telling the reader that modifications have been made. ... This would fall in line with the pattern of post-9/11 America. So much about intelligence programs in the War on Terror era seems already beyond oversight. We’ve been told little-to-nothing about drone assassinations and warrantless detention, and it took a high-profile whistleblower like Edward Snowden to break the news of a vast new domestic surveillance program (something about which former National Intelligence Director James Clapper was willing to lie under oath). A legalized dualistic system for public financial reporting would therefore just be the latest blow to federal transparency, but it would be a big one.

Expect Increased Smearing Of Progressives As Russian Assets

I’d like to draw attention a few recent social media posts which have gained a lot of traction in the last few days, not for the impact those posts have but for what they portend for the rest of the 2020 race. The first is from the Twitter account for the Russiagate documentary Active Measures, and it received thousands of shares:


“Bernie was the one Democrat not to vote to keep sanctions on Deripaska (he also voted against Russia sanctions and Magnitsky),” the post reads. “@SenSanders won’t stand up to billionaires in Russia and he wants you to to believe he’ll stand up to them in America. #fraud”

The second comes from professional linguist and engineer John Rehling, who has over 50 thousand Twitter followers:


“Kamala Harris is immediately the front runner for the Democratic nomination, and if Russia is predictable, they will create armies of bots attacking her from the *left*,” reads Rehling’s tweet. “If you’re left of Kamala Harris, I’m sure you are honestly, but you’ll be doing Putin’s work, like it or not.”

The third comes from Shareblue manipulator Caroline Orr, just one of many similar posts that she has made in recent days. Orr has also launched a GoFundMe to investigate Tulsi Gabbard’s imaginary Putin-Assad ties/score a free vacation to Hawaii, and is also circulating the baseless rumor that “Russian-linked accounts” are pushing for a Bernie-Tulsi 2020 ticket. Note the URL Orr highlighted in the tweet below featuring her allegation that Gabbard is “pro-Putin” and “pro-Assad”.

In each case, posts punching left with accusations of Kremlin servitude gained traction with their followers, which means there is already an audience for this schtick. And, again, the presidential race has barely even begun. Things are likely to get a whole lot uglier between now and November 2020. This is your life for the next two years, progressives. This is what those of you who drank the Russiagate Kool-Aid have helped buy for what passes for America’s political left today. You can expect such accusations to get far more common and far more aggressive as this thing drags on. The left can either play along with this and let centrist cold war rhetoric suck all the oxygen out of the room for the advancement of progressive policies, or they can fight back against this moronic facilitation of longstanding intelligence community agendas. ... If progressives don’t start attacking this “Move right or you’re a Russian agent” schtick directly and with full force, it will snuff them out completely.

Erdogan: Turkey is ready to take over Syria's Manbij

Turkey is ready to take over security in Syria’s Manbij, where four U.S. citizens died in an Islamic State-claimed bombing last week, President Tayyip Erdogan told U.S. President Donald Trump in a telephone call on Sunday, the Turkish presidency said. Erdogan told Trump that the suicide bombing in Manbij, a town in northeast Syria controlled by a militia allied to U.S.-backed Kurdish forces, was a provocative act aimed at affecting Trump’s decision last month to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria. ...

Manbij is controlled by U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a militia allied to the U.S.-backed Kurdish YPG. Ankara views the YPG as a terrorist group and an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) that has for decades waged a separatist insurgency in Turkey.

In its description of the call, the White House made no mention of Erdogan’s offer to take over security in Manbij but said the two men agreed to keep pursuing a negotiated settlement for northeastern Syria that meets both nations’ security needs. ... In its statement, the Turkish presidency also said that the two leaders had agreed to accelerate discussions between their chiefs of staff about a safe zone in northeastern Syria. ... Turkey wants the zone to be cleared of the Kurdish group.

Saudi-led coalition's planes pound Yemen's capital

Saudi-led forces launched overnight air strikes on Yemen’s capital, described by one resident on Sunday as the worst in a year, as the United Nations struggles to implement a peace deal. A spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition said its warplanes attacked seven military facilities used for drone operations in Sanaa, which is held by rival Houthi forces. ...

Medical workers and residents told Reuters at least two civilians were killed, and others injured, and that the raids also damaged homes. Houthi-run al-Masirah TV said on Sunday that the coalition had conducted 24 air strikes on Sanaa since Saturday evening, including four on the air base. It said a plastics factory was also hit, causing a large fire. ...

“The raids were very violent, the likes of which we have not seen for a year,” Sanaa resident Arwa Abdul Karim told Reuters. “The house shook so much we thought it would fall on our heads.”

Violence in Venezuela intensifies as US backs non-elected leader

No-deal Brexit would mean hard Irish border, EU confirms

The EU has injected further pressure into the Brexit talks by confirming it will enforce a hard border on the island of Ireland in the event of a no-deal outcome, despite the risk this would pose to peace. In comments that proved highly uncomfortable for Dublin, Jean-Claude Juncker’s chief spokesman told reporters in Brussels it was “pretty obvious” border infrastructure would be necessary if the UK were to leave without an agreement.

Both the Irish and British governments have been wary of speculating about the repercussions of the UK leaving the EU with no deal in place. Ireland’s deputy prime minister, Simon Coveney, had been caught on tape last week indicating his fellow ministers should not talk about the resumption of border checks publicly for fear of a backlash.

In a private conversation, he told the Irish transport minister, Shane Ross, “once you start talking about checks anywhere near the border, people will start delving into that and all of a sudden we’ll be the government that reintroduced a physical border on the island of Ireland”. But the spokesman for the European commission president said on Tuesday the likely enforcement of border checks could not be avoided. ...

In the event of a no-deal Brexit, the UK would leave the customs union and single market, without any transition period, and a range of checks would immediately be required on goods passing through the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The commission spokesman said a no-deal scenario had become more realistic in recent days and echoed the complaints of many in the House of Commons about Theresa May’s statement on Monday, by claiming “at this stage we have nothing new to say from Brussels because there is nothing new from London”.

May claims EU second referendum would threaten 'social cohesion'

Theresa May reiterated her opposition to a second Brexit referendum on Monday night, claiming it would threaten Britain’s “social cohesion” and insisting the centrepiece of her strategy remained negotiating changes to the Irish backstop.

With just 67 days to go until Britain is due by law to leave the European Union, May exasperated MPs and business groups by offering scant evidence that she was willing to change course. ...

May flatly rejected the idea of ruling out a no-deal Brexit, claiming the only way to do so was to accept her deal – or revoke article 50 altogether.

But the prime minister faces a looming revolt over the issue, with cabinet ministers and other Tory frontbenchers likely to step up calls for a free vote on an amendment put forward on Monday night by Labour’s Yvette Cooper that could pave the way for an extension of article 50 if no agreed deal has been reached. The work and pensions secretary, Amber Rudd, is understood to have warned May that resignations from the front bench may follow, if the prime minister did not allow ministers to express their backing for the move. ...

Business groups reacted with alarm to the lack of new thinking in May’s statement, with the CBI director general, Carolyn Fairbairn, calling it “another bleak day for business”.

Brexit Plan B? May refuses to tear up her deal

France and Germany provoke populist anger over 'friendship pact'

The French president, Emmanuel Macron, and German chancellor, Angela Merkel, signed the 16-page update to the 1963 Elysée treaty on Tuesday in the German border city of Aachen, the residence of Charlemagne, the “father of Europe” who managed to unite much of the western part of the continent in the ninth century. With the EU under unprecedented pressure from Brexit, Donald Trump and nationalist governments in Italy, Poland and Hungary, Macron and Merkel sought to renew their nations’ commitment to the bloc and limit the gains Eurosceptic parties are expected to make in European parliamentary elections in May. ...

The text promises enhanced economic and security cooperation, including the aim of a “German-French economic area with common rules” and a “common military culture” that Merkel said could “contribute to the creation of a European army”. However, domestic far-right opponents in France and Germany said the document signed away national sovereignty, and Eurosceptics abroad derided it as a symbolic and irrelevant gesture by two significantly weakened leaders.

Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s National Rally party, accused Macron of “an act that borders on treason”, while Alexander Gauland, of Germany’s Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) said Paris and Berlin were trying to create a “super EU” within the bloc. “As populists, we insist that one first takes care of one’s own country,” Gauland said. “We don’t want Macron to renovate his country with German money … The EU is deeply divided. A special Franco-German relationship will alienate us even further.”

Italy’s far-right interior minister, Matteo Salvini, said earlier this month that he intended to challenge the text’s pro-European message, and indeed the whole idea of a “Franco-German motor”, with a Eurosceptic “Italian-Polish axis”.

Franco-German Treaty: 'We can win back sovereignty with better co-operation'

With Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Americans Finally Have a Politician Who Agrees With Them About Taxes

Much of the U.S. political system was flummoxed two weeks ago when a brand new 29-year-old congressperson made a seemingly radical proposal on “60 Minutes.” Here’s what Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., said that wound everyone up: The U.S. should tax income over $10 million per year at a top rate of 60 or 70 percent.

Republicans responded by shamelessly lying about what this meant, pretending that Ocasio-Cortez was advocating a tax rate of 70 percent on all income. Some older Democrats, such as House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, adopted the standard Democratic tactic of cowering in fear before a deceptive Republican onslaught, like abused dogs. The hullabaloo was understandable: Ocasio-Cortez’s forthright advocacy demonstrated that American politics, against the odds, can sometimes be about what Americans want. After the “60 Minutes” episode aired, The Hill commissioned a poll that found that 59 percent of registered voters support raising the top marginal tax rate to 70 percent. The idea, The Hill wrote, even receives “a surprising amount of support among Republican voters. … 45 percent of GOP voters say they favor it.”

However, the only surprising thing about this Republican support was that The Hill found it surprising. For the past 40 years, polls have uniformly shown that there is essentially no constituency for cutting taxes on the wealthiest Americans or corporations — and a huge constituency for raising them. ... All in all, the polling numbers are strikingly constant: Big majorities of Americans have always wanted to make the rich pay more. It’s one of the most popular political positions imaginable, with only teeny-tiny minorities calling for tax cuts for the country’s millionaires. ...

The ferocious pushback against Ocasio-Cortez demonstrates the fear at the top that one day many other politicians will decide it’s in their interest to side with the vast majority of Americans.

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez Debunks Myths About A 70% Marginal Tax

As Public Shouts Approval for Ocasio-Cortez's 70% Tax Rate for Ultra-Rich, Elites at Davos Admit: "It's Scary"

Gathering for the annual World Economic Forum in the Swiss Alps town of Davos, some of the world's wealthiest business leaders and so-called "thought leaders" focused their attention Monday on a proposal that's gaining traction in the U.S.—a return to a far higher marginal tax rate for the wealthy as a way of correcting the country's widening wealth gap. A majority of American voters support the idea, a fact that was cited by one Davos attendee as precisely why he fears the proposal.

"It's scary," Scott Minerd, head of the $265 billion investment firm Guggenheim Partners, told CNBC of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's (D-N.Y.) proposal of a 70 percent tax rate for income over $10 million per year, predicting that the idea will likely continue to get more of the the attention it's captured over the past three weeks, since the freshman congresswoman mentioned it in an interview with "60 Minutes." "This is going to gain more momentum," said Minerd. "And I think the likelihood that a 70 percent tax rate, or something like that, becomes policy is actually very real."

Another attendee, Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman, sarcastically told CNBC that he is "wildly enthusiastic" about the tax proposal, complaining that the U.S. already has "the second most progressive tax regime in the world." Ocasio-Cortez herself showed little sympathy for fearful elites like Minerd and Schwarzman, tweeting her disbelief that the ultra-wealthy are publicly expressing concern over their own financial well-being while nearly half of Americans regularly struggle to afford basic monthly expenses.


Public polling shows Minerd has reason to be concerned. Since her "60 Minutes" appearance a poll found the 59 percent of Americans support a 70 percent tax rate for income above $10 million, including 45 percent of Republicans, and major TV networks have devoted more time to her idea.

Shutdown has ‘hindered’ FBI’s ability to conduct operations, union says

A union representing FBI agents warned on Tuesday that the partial federal government shutdown has “hindered” the bureau’s ability to conduct operations and pursue investigations. Thousands of union members are among hundreds of thousands of federal workers and contractors now without pay for a fifth week.

As the FBI Agents Association released a report containing firsthand accounts of how the 32-day shutdown has affected operations, its president, Tom O’Connor, demanded Congress and Donald Trump fully fund the FBI.

“The failure to fund the FBI undermines essential FBI operations, such as those designated to combat crimes against children, drug and gang crime and terrorism,” O’Connor told reporters.

He declined to say whether Americans were less safe as a result of the shutdown.

Trump’s Shutdown Offer Creates a De Facto Asylum Ban for Central American Minors

President Donald Trump's new offer to open the federal government in exchange for funding for his wall on the southern U.S. border includes a major change to immigration policy that was not included as part of his public announcement. The Trump administration had claimed that it would support legislation known as the BRIDGE Act — which includes protections for Dreamers — in exchange for concessions by Democrats. Upon closer investigation, that turned out to be a lie.

Trump’s offer to Democrats, revealed Monday night, actually gives him even more of what he has wanted in immigration policy, which is an end to the legal process that allows people to present themselves at a U.S. port of entry and apply for asylum. Trump’s new policy would ban such asylum-seeking for Central American minors and require those fleeing violence or persecution to apply in their own country instead.

The Trump administration, however, has also made that process effectively impossible. The appropriations bill that’s currently on the negotiating table creates the “Central American Minors Protection Act,” which would allow minors from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras with a “qualified parent or guardian” in the United States to apply for asylum in their home countries. (The bill does not define “qualified” parent, and it’s unclear whether the program would be limited to the children of U.S. citizens and permanent residents.) But far from treating would-be asylum-seekers’ claims with urgency, the bill gives 240 days (about eight months) for the establishment of eight processing centers that would deal with these claims — even though the ban on requesting asylum at the border would go into effect immediately.

“There is no way to square the way the administration has described this plan with what it actually is,” said Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, a policy analyst at the American Immigration Council, describing the proposal as a “de facto asylum ban” for the vast majority of cases. ... The bill also caps the number of applications that can be processed at 50,000 per year, and says no more than 15,000 people can be granted asylum under the program annually. The Department of Homeland Security’s decision would not be subject to judicial review. If the legislation is passed, people who are eligible for the program will could be sent back to their home countries — without regard for their fear of persecution — if they trek to the U.S. and ask for asylum here.

Los Angeles teachers angered over secret talks between union, school district and mayor

Striking teachers in Los Angeles are expressing their anger over being kept in the dark on the content of the closed door negotiations between the United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) union and school district officials, which began last Thursday under the auspices of Democratic mayor Eric Garcetti. While the mayor has indicated that a deal could be reached before Tuesday, neither side has issued an official statement on the talks.

The walkout by more than 33,000 teachers, which began on January 14, has pit educators in the nation’s second largest school district against the entire Democratic Party establishment, which has overseen decades of defunding of public education and expansion of charter schools and other privatization schemes. Teachers who have not had a raise in a decade are fighting for improved wages and school funding, smaller class sizes and to halt the expansion of publicly funded private charters that siphon off resources and students from the traditional public schools.

UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl and other union officials have claimed that teachers “are the most essential part of the bargaining process.” In practice, however, the UTLA has relegated teachers to the position of cheerleaders while union executives bargain behind their backs.

During the course of the weekend negotiations blackout, the UTLA posted a number of videos on social media of teachers taking a break from picketing to dance and sing along with several celebrity endorsements of the strike. This campaign, meant to distract and mollify rank and file teachers, has encountered growing anger from educators determined to carry out a serious struggle. One teacher writes on the UTLA Facebook page, “UTLA leadership seems to be more interested in performances and entertainment. People are NOT getting paid. This is NOT a celebratory occasion!!”

Another teacher, referring to the UTLA blackout, posted, “Stop being cute and tell us the facts! We are not getting paid here."

Los Angeles teachers union officials and school district reach tentative deal to end strike

Los Angeles school officials and the teachers union reached a tentative deal on Tuesday that will allow educators to return to classrooms after a six-day strike against the nation’s second-largest district, officials said. Mayor Eric Garcetti, accompanied by leaders of United Teachers Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Unified School District, announced the agreement at City Hall a few hours after a 21-hour bargaining session ended before dawn.

“I’m proud to announce that pending approval by the teachers represented by UTA and educational professional and this board of education we have an agreement that will allow our teachers to go back to work on the campuses tomorrow,” Garcetti said. The union’s president, Alex Caputo-Pearl, said teachers would vote on Tuesday and he expected approval.

The agreement was broadly described by officials at the press conference and details were promised to be released later. “I’m delighted we’ve reached an agreement with UTLA that provides teachers with a well-deserved salary increase, that will reduce class size, and add more support to our students and educators in schools including librarians, nurses and counselors,” said the district superintendent, Austin Beutner.

Matamoros strike threatens to shut down North American auto industry

The strike by 70,000 auto parts workers in Matamoros, Mexico is beginning to affect production at US automobile assembly plants, raising the possibility that auto production across North America could be brought to a standstill. US workers are reporting to the World Socialist Web Site that management is slowing production at General Motors and Ford assembly plants as a result of the strike. Production at Ford’s assembly plant in Flat Rock, Michigan will stop this week due to a shortage of parts caused by the walkout. ...

There are indications the strike may spread. On Friday, the parts company Aptiv fired hundreds of workers in the border city of Reynosa for engaging in partial strikes demanding a 100 percent wage increase. The firings provoked outrage among the workers. The eyes of a million maquiladora workers near the US-Mexico border—accounting for nearly two-thirds of Mexican exports—are on the struggle in Matamoros.

The strike shows that the international interconnectivity of the auto industry is a source of profound strength for workers everywhere. While the companies have used globalization to facilitate the hyper-exploitation of workers all over the world, the Matamoros strike demonstrates that workers at each center of production have the power to disrupt the whole machine of global for-profit production. ...

To date, there has not been a single report in the US media about the strike. The Mexican national media has ignored the strike with almost equal tenacity.



the evening greens

David Attenborough tells Davos: ‘The Garden of Eden is no more’

Sir David Attenborough has warned that “the Garden of Eden is no more”, as he urged political and business leaders from around the world to make a renewed push to tackle climate change before the damage is irreparable. ... “I am quite literally from another age,” Attenborough told an audience of business leaders, politicians and other delegates. “I was born during the Holocene – the 12,000 [year] period of climatic stability that allowed humans to settle, farm, and create civilisations.” That led to trade in ideas and goods, and made us the “globally connected species we are today”.

That stability allowed businesses to grow, nations to co-operate and people to share ideas, Attenborough explained, before warning sombrely: “In the space of my lifetime, all that has changed. The Holocene has ended. The Garden of Eden is no more. We have changed the world so much that scientists say we are in a new geological age: the Anthropocene, the age of humans,” he declared.

“Over the next two years there will be United Nations decisions on climate change, sustainable development and a new deal for nature. Together these will form our species’ plan for a route through the Anthropocene. What we do now, and in the next few years, will profoundly affect the next few thousand years,” he added.

Speaking to journalists after his speech, Attenborough warned that economic models needed to change. “Growth is going to come to an end, either suddenly or in a controlled way,” he explained, citing the old joke that anyone who thinks you can have infinite growth in finite circumstances is “either a madman or an economist”.

David Attenborough warns of damage humans can do ‘without even noticing’

Greenland's ice melting faster than scientists previously thought – study

Greenland is melting faster than scientists previously thought, with the pace of ice loss increasing four-fold since 2003, new research has found. Enormous glaciers in Greenland are depositing ever larger chunks of ice into the Atlantic ocean, where it melts. But scientists have found that the largest ice loss in the decade from 2003 actually occurred in the southwest region of the island, which is largely glacier-free.

This suggests surface ice is simply melting as global temperatures rise, causing gushing rivers of meltwater to flow into the ocean and push up sea levels. South-west Greenland, not previously thought of as a source of woe for coastal cities, is set to “become a major future contributor to sea level rise,” the research states.

“We knew we had one big problem with increasing rates of ice discharge by some large outlet glaciers,” said Michael Bevis, lead author of the paper and a professor of geodynamics at Ohio State University. “But now we recognize a second serious problem: increasingly, large amounts of ice mass are going to leave as meltwater, as rivers that flow into the sea.”

The research provides fresh evidence of the dangers posed to vulnerable coastal places as diverse as Miami, Shanghai, Bangladesh and various Pacific islands as climate change shrinks the world’s land-based ice. “The only thing we can do is adapt and mitigate further global warming – it’s too late for there to be no effect,” Bevis said. “This is going to cause additional sea level rise. We are watching the ice sheet hit a tipping point.

“We’re going to see faster and faster sea level rise for the foreseeable future. Once you hit that tipping point, the only question is: How severe does it get?”

8 Percent of Americans Recently Changed Their Minds on Climate.

For some people, the awakening comes in science class. In the Reddit thread titled “Former climate change deniers, what changed your mind?” the most popular comment comes from chucklesthe2nd (probably not his real name). Chuck, as we’ll call him, essentially inherited his dad’s views on climate change. “I grew up actively and obnoxiously denying climate change because my dad told me it wasn’t real,” Chuck wrote last year. Then, during a high school science course, he learned about feedback loops: “It suddenly hit me. As the atmosphere heats up, more CO2 is released, which heats up the atmosphere, which releases more CO2, which heats up the atmosphere, which releases more CO2, which heats up the atmosphere, which releases more CO2……etc.”

It looks like Chuck is at the forefront of an encouraging trend. A recent Monmouth poll found that 78 percent of Americans believe climate change is real and leading to sea-level rise and more extreme weather. That’s up from 70 percent three years ago. The headline-grabbing takeaway: A majority of Republicans — 64 percent — are now believers, a 15-point jump from 2015.

To learn more about these converts, researchers at Yale and George Mason crunched the numbers from a blend of responses to surveys conducted between 2011 and 2015. They found that 8 percent of Americans said they had recently changed their opinion on the matter, according to a new analysis from Yale University and George Mason University. Nearly all of the recent converts said global warming had become a bigger concern for them.

“All kinds of people are changing their minds” and accepting the science, regardless of age, education level, or political affiliation, said Jennifer Marlon, a research scientist at Yale and an author of the new analysis. “I was surprised to see how consistent it is.” There are some clear trends. One interesting tidbit: 11 percent of adults 65 or older reported that they’d recently shifted their views, more than any other age group. ...

Researchers combed through open-ended survey responses and identified three main reasons why Americans were shifting their perspectives on climate change. They’d either personally experienced the effects of global warming like extreme weather and warmer seasons, or realized how serious the problem was, or simply become more informed.

New Study Shows Climate Crisis Could Mean 'Time Bomb" for World's Groundwater

A new study sheds light on another impact of the climate crisis—a "time bomb" for the world's groundwater reserves. It's a key issue, as roughly two billion people worldwide rely on groundwater as their main source of freshwater, and many of these reserves are already being overdrawn.

In contrast to surface water, groundwater is stored beneath the ground's surface, held in porous rock, sand, and soil. That water seeps out, or "discharges," into waterways. The groundwater is also replenished in what is called "recharge" when precipitation falls. As such, a balance is created. But events like drought or extreme downpours—features of a warming planet—have an impact on restoring that balance. Assessing groundwater model results along with hydrologic data sets, the team of researchers behind the new study found very differing timescales for how groundwater is going to respond to climate change, with groundwater in wetter areas expected to experience a far shorter response time than reserves in more arid areas.

"Our research shows that groundwater systems take a lot longer to respond to climate change than surface water, with only half of the world's groundwater flows responding fully within 'human' timescales of 100 years," said lead author Mark Cuthbert of Cardiff University's School of Earth and Ocean Sciences and Water Research Institute in a statement. While some regions could bounce back in less than 10 years, including parts of central Africa and the U.S. Midwest, other areas—including Australia, the Sahara region, and parts of the central U.S.—were shown to have response times of thousands of years.

"This means that in many parts of the world," Cuthbert continued, "changes in groundwater flows due to climate change could have a very long legacy. This could be described as an environmental time bomb because any climate change impacts on recharge occurring now, will only fully impact the baseflow to rivers and wetlands a long time later." Speaking to Agence France-Presse, Cuthbert added, "Groundwater is out of sight and out of mind, this massive hidden resource that people don't think about much yet it underpins global food production."

The authors conclude, in part, that it "is critical therefore that climate change adaptation strategies that shift reliance to groundwater in preference to surface water should also take account of lags in groundwater hydrology and include appropriately long timescale planning horizons for water resource decision making."

Nuclear Energy Plants Are Closing, Hurt by High Prices and Bad PR

Once hailed as a key part of the energy future of the United Kingdom and several other countries, the high-tech atomic industry is now heading in the opposite direction, towards nuclear sunset. It took another body blow last week when plans to build four new reactors on two sites in the U.K. were abandoned as too costly by the Japanese company Hitachi. This was even though it had already sunk £2.14 billion (300 billion yen) in the scheme.

Following the decision in November by another Japanese giant, Toshiba, to abandon an equally ambitious scheme to build three reactors at Moorside in the north-west of England, the future of the industry in the U.K. looks bleak. The latest withdrawal means the end of the Japanese dream of keeping its nuclear industry alive by exporting its technology overseas. With the domestic market killed by the Fukushima disaster in 2011, overseas sales were to have been its salvation. ...

Across the world the nuclear industry is faring badly, with costs continuing to rise while the main competitors, renewables, both wind and solar, fall in price. The cost of new nuclear is now roughly three times that of both wind and solar, and even existing nuclear stations are struggling to compete. ...

While there are 417 nuclear reactors still operating across the world and still a significant contributor to electricity production in some countries, many of them are now well past their original design life and increasingly difficult to maintain to modern safety standards. There is little sign of political will outside China and Russia to replace them with new ones.


Also of Interest

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

The new elite’s phoney crusade to save the world – without changing anything

Many 2020 Democrats Silent On Trump’s Afghanistan, Syria Withdrawals

U.K. Leader's Brexit Plan B Looks a Lot Like Plan A

Tlaib and Omar’s support for BDS is now a lightning rod for Republicans

AOC’s Green New Deal as Politics

The Silence on Wall Street’s Dark Pools Is Deafening

Chris Hedges: Confronting the Culture of Death


A Little Night Music

Syl Johnson - I'm Looking For My Baby

Syl Johnson - Well Oh Well

Syl Johnson - Straight Love, No Chaser

Syl Johnson - Going to the Shack

Syl Johnson - Try Me

Syl Johnson - Concrete Reservation

Syl Johnson - Come On Sock It to Me

Syl Johnson - Steppin' Out

Syl Johnson - Different Strokes

Syl Johnson - That's Why

Syl Johnson - Get Ready


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detroitmechworks's picture

Thanks for the News.

While I'd love to see some of those great ideas that are being floated come to pass, unfortunately there JUUUUST isn't time to address those for the next two years. I mean, we'll talk about them a lot. Do a lot of surveys about them, and maybe do a public opinion poll... which of course will determine that what's REALLY important is which political party is in power. Everything else MUST take a back seat to that reality. Therefore, we really need to make certain we don't attack ANYBODY who might be representing the Democrats from the left. Because we're doing Putin's bidding. (Second Thing I'm apparently Doing his bidding on. I had no Idea Judo was Russian, here I was thinking it was Japanese... who knew? Thank you New Truth for clarifying that.)

For some reason today, this 57 year old song is running through my head...

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10 users have voted.

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

joe shikspack's picture

@detroitmechworks

Therefore, we really need to make certain we don't attack ANYBODY who might be representing the Democrats from the left. Because we're doing Putin's bidding.

where do these morons get this stuff? sophistry r us?

i'm sick of this election season already and it hasn't even started in earnest.

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9 users have voted.
QMS's picture

Congress Agrees to receive no pay until govt. shutdown ends

Executive branch spending frozen by House until budget compromise passed

All new defense spending contracts suspended until appropriations process re-instituted in new budget agreement

Then watch the squirrels scramble! HA!

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17 users have voted.

Listen to your higher mind.

joe shikspack's picture

@QMS

how about: "all branches of government permanently relocate to mars."

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7 users have voted.

https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2019/01/21/pers-j21.html

... The strike shows that the international interconnectivity of the auto industry is a source of profound strength for workers everywhere. While the companies have used globalization to facilitate the hyper-exploitation of workers all over the world, the Matamoros strike demonstrates that workers at each center of production have the power to disrupt the whole machine of global for-profit production. ...

Interesting.

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12 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@Linda Wood

yep, it appears that modern supply chains are remarkably fragile with little redundancy built in. not only that, but international production relies heavily on the transportation industry. it's quite a weak link.

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11 users have voted.

@joe shikspack Delivery is what logistics is now set up for. Nobody has to store inventory, no one has to track it, no one has to retrieve it.
BUT.
If it ain't on time, things shut down. Quickly.

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5 users have voted.

Ya got to be a Spirit, cain't be no Ghost. . .

Lookout's picture

Even during the 6th great extinction there are places where nature seems to be thriving.
Along the Tennessee River, adjacent to cyprus swamps
IMG_3825.jpg
are Sandhill Cranes, Geese, Ducks, and more
IMG_3819.jpg
Mallards
IMG_3817.jpg
Whooping crane landed among the sandhill (notice the transponder on its legs)
IMG_3837.jpg
Snowy Geese take flight...
IMG_3846.jpg
...and fill the sky
IMG_3858.jpg

Just want to share my day with y'all. Made me feel good and I hope the thought that wildlife does have some habitat in which to thrive.

Wheeler Wildlife Refuge is a 35,000 acre fed facility, Fish and game had a little surplus money. It is one on 5 refuges in the nation operating on a limited budget during the shutdown.

Don't want to harsh my mellow and rant about the news....cause I could, so I'll say good evening, thanks for the music and daily recap, and peace to all...

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20 users have voted.

“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

snoopydawg's picture

@Lookout

Nature has a way to cheer you up doesn't it? I watched some confused Canadian geese flying today. First they flew over me going east and then they just turned around and flew back the way they came and next they were flying southeast and then northwest.

The Bear river bird sanctuary is in the northwest and Beuc's pond is in the southeast so I'm wondering if they had gotten lost? There were 7 of them and they kept changing their flight formation. Brightened my day.

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11 users have voted.

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

janis b's picture

@snoopydawg

is brightening? I hope their GPS finally kicked in. On the other hand, maybe it's not so bad to get lost ; ).

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5 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

@janis b

It was interesting watching them. The first flight had 6 fly right over me and then another one hurried to catch up. One dropped back to fly with it. Then on their next flight over me they were in a 1-4-2 pattern. The next one they flew spread out and I don't remember how they were aligned in the other flight. And they were loud. Bet someone was getting an earful for losing their directions.

I wonder where they came from. We got a huge snow storm yesterday and today was clear and sunny. I have no idea where geese hunker down during a storm. Any ideas? But yeah, being lost isn't always bad is it?

Smile

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7 users have voted.

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

janis b's picture

@snoopydawg

Canadian Geese are well adapted to frozen ponds and other extreme environments.

https://outdoors.stackexchange.com/questions/14462/why-would-a-canada-go...

I too often wonder how birds cope in storms.

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0 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@Lookout

thanks for the photos from your field trip today!

it reminds me that once this nasty cold snap passes, i need to get outside more.

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5 users have voted.
Pricknick's picture

Nuclear Energy Plants Are Closing, Hurt by High Prices and Bad PR

We need a better message on how great it is to have nuclear waste piling up all over the world.
That headline is just plain stupid.

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14 users have voted.

Regardless of the path in life I chose, I realize it's always forward, never straight.

joe shikspack's picture

@Pricknick

heh, i'm just glad to see the industry in decline. the other thing that the writers fail to mention is that once these nasty companies go bankrupt, there are going to be a whole lot of toxic facilities that will need millennia of monitoring and management. the people who profited in the short term will make off with their gains and generation after generation of people will be stuck cleaning up after them.

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10 users have voted.
QMS's picture

Long time passing

0dd2e78cc51162d150e27c5186d66b7f.png

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11 users have voted.

Listen to your higher mind.

@QMS
Shunt is saying the 8.15 from Gillingham when in reality he means the 8.13 from Gillingham. The train is the same, only the time is altered. Ecce homo, ergo elk. La Fontaine knew its sister and knew her bloody well. The point is taken, the beast is moulting, the fluff gets up your nose. The illusion is complete; it is reality, the reality is illusion and the ambiguity is the only truth. But is the truth, as Hitchcock observes, in the box? No, there isn't room, the ambiguity has put on weight. The point is taken, the elk is dead, the beast stops at Swindon, Chabrol stops at nothing, I'm having treatment and La Fontaine can get knotted.

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6 users have voted.

Sigh

dystopian's picture

Syl Johnson is great. Love that sound. Just a quick note on the Colbert AOC appearance.

Colbert: As someone from Queens how many F's do you give?
AOC: Zero
All over media hours later and all day today: AOC says she gives zero F's. As if she made that statement. All she said was 'zero'. Colbert was rude and unprofessional to use the word with AOC, he would not with Pelosi for example. All that money and no class.
He enabled and gave fodder to the media to misrepresent AOC with. What a tool he became.

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11 users have voted.

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
both - Albert Einstein

joe shikspack's picture

@dystopian

heh, that's because pelosi came from baltimore, a genteel community where the f-word is not in common usage. surely she never heard it here. Smile

but seriously, i don't think that it will have ramifications of aoc beyond a news cycle or two. and, if aoc plays it well, it may inoculate her against repeated attempts to tar her with silly gotchas. when it slides off of her back with no decline in her popularity, she will be able to turn the media's attacks against them.

all she really has to do is tweet back at some particularly odious media or political detractor that they should "grow up, it was a comedy show."

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7 users have voted.
janis b's picture

@dystopian

of Colbert is obvious, yuk.

Here is Ta-Nehsi-Coates, who has a lot more class, in conversation with AOC yesterday …

min 16- 65

I’ve only listened to 20 min. so far, but there’s a lot here to appreciate hearing. One example, which includes more context than is reflected in the following quote alone, is her response regarding the 70% marginal tax …

“Where do we draw the line on excess … and at what point do we return to the question that King asked … is our material sophistication outpacing our human sophistication?”

Yeah, we've all been burned in life and politics, and yes, one can see the similarities in AOC's and Obama's promotion to the pulpit, but does it really hurt to listen? Trust is a precious commodity that seems to increase in value. Hopefully it pays dividends in the future.

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10 users have voted.
mimi's picture

@janis b
than I would have expected. So far I couldn't make sense about her, this interview helped to get a better feel and understanding. No, it doesn't hurt to listen. Not to listen would be imo giving in to one's own 'first glances that led to one's own prejucices'. Thanks for posting this.

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7 users have voted.
zoebear's picture

@mimi

Is hardly an indicator of their intent. Much in the way Obama dazzled us with his words and presented himself as the kumbaya poster child for a multicultural America, I would be VERY surprised if AOC did not capitalize on a similar formula.

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7 users have voted.

If we surrendered to earth's intelligence we could rise up rooted, like trees
~ Rainer Maria Rilke

mimi's picture

@zoebear
What is she supposed to say in an interview without 'capitalizing' on features that any body can see as a factual given?

Obama dazzled us with words and presented himself as the kumbaya poster child for a multicultural America, I would be VERY surprised if AOC did not capitalize on a similar formula.

Obama certainly used the fact of being multicultural and black, because people by default think that a black-white man will support black man's interest more than a white-white man, to say it in simple words.

But how can one avoid as a mixed-race human being that other people will not think that with the mixed race genes comes a better understanding and support for all the different races with the human society by default?

I think it's the expectations that people read into multi-cultural and multi-racial persons that are at play here. And I believe too that candidates who happen to be multi-racial are not at fault for the expectations people attach to them.

Has it never happened to you that you read and listened to the words of a person on a blog. And somehow, without being aware of it, you have a perception and image of that person.
Then for some reason you see a picture or video and hear the real time voice and you say to yourself, oh boy that's a totally different person than I thought?

The little bit that made me listen up was when she described she has worked in Niger. imo those work and life experiences are leaving traces on your mind, That's all. In addition I think very little can prepare a person to manage the position of a presidency. I think it's the worst job in the world to have... and I pity anyone who runs for that job. Smile

Peace.

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5 users have voted.
zoebear's picture

@mimi

as a political product for mass appeal to both black and white audiences. That people trusted him because of his background was the intended outcome of their cunningly cynical "American Redemption" campaign in answer to 8 years of Bush. Much like the effect would be of sending the Good Humor man in his ice cream truck to a group of carrot eating dieters and asking them to vote.

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5 users have voted.

If we surrendered to earth's intelligence we could rise up rooted, like trees
~ Rainer Maria Rilke

zoebear's picture

@mimi

It's that people still believe what a political says when they speak.

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4 users have voted.

If we surrendered to earth's intelligence we could rise up rooted, like trees
~ Rainer Maria Rilke

mimi's picture

@zoebear
Before a voter can make up his mind, he/she has to listen to what the candidate says in order to know if he/she would vote for that candidate. If the walk of the candidate's talk isn't consistent with the talk later on and the voter feels betrayed, it's really always too late. Nobody knows where the candidate walks to, when they talk to convince you to vote for them.

I don't see a solution to that dilemma. Isn't there a new 'science' to interpret facial expressions and body language to find out if a candidate's talk is reflecting honesty and if the candidates's intentions are somewhat truthful? Why have people 'gut's feelings' they themselves really can't explain? Do the gut's feelings represent more of an unintentional tool to find out the truth or do the gut's feelings represent also unintentional the voters unconscious prejudices?

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3 users have voted.
zoebear's picture

@mimi

Supposes that our electoral process has NOT been compromised where those in power control the outcome. I am under no such assumptions, therefore, the dilemma of this voter reaches much further than politicians who lie.

https://caucus99percent.com/content/it-happened-end-game-russia-hacking-...

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3 users have voted.

If we surrendered to earth's intelligence we could rise up rooted, like trees
~ Rainer Maria Rilke

zoebear's picture

@mimi

This is the comment I originally responded to:

Not to listen would be imo giving in to one's own 'first glances that led to one's own prejucices'.

Listening, or not listening, will not alter the outcome. The DNC controls the outcome of the primary.

The veal pen continues...

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3 users have voted.

If we surrendered to earth's intelligence we could rise up rooted, like trees
~ Rainer Maria Rilke

mimi's picture

@zoebear
that I make an assumption of your electoral process to not be compromised?

Ok, it gets tedious for me to go further with that. What you think about my assumptions is wrong. I won't try to express my thoughts about what I think of the US electoral process.

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2 users have voted.
mimi's picture

@zoebear
have an influence on the election or not is another question. I guess I don't really understand what you are up to with this conversation. It doesn"t make sense to me.

Nothing for Ungood.

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2 users have voted.

makes me want to run and hide.
The ramifications of that are so horrible, so fascist, my right arm is already light weight, floating up.

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12 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@on the cusp

yep, the facts related in the article pretty much indicate that the constitution is just a damned piece of paper and that government of the people, by the people and for the people has perished from the earth.

it has been nice being a citizen with you.

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13 users have voted.
mimi's picture

@on the cusp
leaves you so angry and so helpless. Couldn't quite believe what I was reading. Sad
And it's always a shock to realize in which publications you get a clue about it. If I would have told my mother, read the Rolling Stones Mag for honest political analysis, she would have thought I have a feaver and would have shook her head. It's a very disturbing.

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6 users have voted.

can't get Wall Street

The shutdown is also keeping the federal government from serving grand jury subpoenas, and this is damaging counter-terrorism probes.

"I am already starting to see a negative impact of the shutdown on the pace of our operations and investigations," another FBI employee said in the report. "Particularly, the United States Attorney's Office is unable to issue grand jury subpoenas for financial institutions ... Most of our [counter-terrorism] cases have a strong financial angle and our inability to fully utilize all available investigative tools slows down the pace of the investigation in critical [counter-terrorism] matters."

Darn. The government shutdown is keeping me from having sex with supermodels.

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10 users have voted.

Thanks for posting.

Corporate culture - "It is the enemy of the sacred."

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5 users have voted.