The Evening Blues - 2-7-19
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features early Chicago blues singer Washboard Sam. Enjoy!
Washboard Sam - Digging My Potatoes
"The tragedy of modern war is not so much that the young men die but that they die fighting each other--instead of their real enemies back home in the capitals."
-- Edward Abbey
News and Opinion
As Resolution to End US Complicity in Yemen Carnage Advances, Anti-War Voices Say, 'Now Is the Time to Call Your Lawmakers!'
With the advancement in a House committee on Wednesday of a measure to help end U.S. complicity in the war and humanitarian crisis in Yemen, anti-war voices are urging constituents to ramp up pressure on lawmakers to pass the joint War Powers Resolution in both chambers.
#HFAC (@HouseForeign) just passed bipartisan @RoKhanna Yemen war powers resolution #HJRes37 (ending US military support for Saudi-led intervention in Yemen not authorized by Congress) out of committee 25-17! We hope for a vote on the #HouseFloor this month! #YemenCantWait pic.twitter.com/yzV3b4CtRF
— Win Without War (@WinWithoutWar) February 6, 2019
The House version of the resolution, H.J.Res.37, is sponsored by Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.). Following its markup in the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday, he said, "More than 14 million Yemenis—half the country—are on the brink of famine, and at least 85,000 children have already died from hunger and disease as a result of the war. Let's end American complicity in the atrocities in Yemen."
The U.S. has helped fuel the disaster with weapons, logistical assistance, and refueling of aircraft so the Saudi-led coalition can wage its bombing campaign. Ostensibly targeting Yemen's Shiite rebels, the military campaign has committed "accidents"—schools and hospitals have repeatedly been hit and thousands of civilians—including many children—killed.
These are the costs of the Saudi-led War in Yemen
-17,000+ people killed
-3 million internally displaced
-22 million in need of aid
-The worst cholera outbreak in history
So why don't we hold Saudi Arabia to the same human rights standards as other countries? pic.twitter.com/pBCs1xpW2C
— Rep. Ilhan Omar (@Ilhan) February 6, 2019
The Senate version of the measure is S.J.Res. 7, introduced by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), and Chris Murphy (Conn.). Murphy reiterated his call to end U.S. involvement in the carnage on Tuesday following a CNN investigation that Saudis have reportedly provided U.S. weapons to al-Qaeda forces in Yemen.
Glen Ford weighs in with an interesting and thoughtful commentary. It's worth a full read.
“Here, in the United States, we are alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country,” Donald Trump told the imperial Congress. “America was founded on liberty and independence --- not government coercion, domination, and control. We are born free, and we will stay free. Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.” In truth, there are no organizations of socialists even remotely positioned to threaten the rule of the Lords of Capital in the U.S. However, super-majorities of the U.S. public favor single payer health care, free college tuition, a living minimum wage, and other New Deal-type programs pushed by self-styled “democratic” socialists like Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. And the leftish Democrats’ “Green New Deal” proposals for a massive renewable energy makeover of infrastructure combined with jobs guarantees are “strongly” or “somewhat” supported by a whopping 81 percent of all registered voters(including 40 percent of Republicans) and 92 percent of Democrats.
This is what passes for “socialism” in the U.S., and although such programs are not designed to overthrow the rule of capital, they are forbidden political territory for the leadership of both corporate parties in the age of endless austerity and war. Of the 535 House and Senate members gathered in the Capitol building for the annual presidential address, only 78 belong to the Medicare for All Caucus, all of them House Democrats. That means only one-third of the 235 Democratic House members have endorsed a measure that enjoys 85 percent support among Democratic voters and 70 percent among Americans as a whole, including 52 percent of Republicans. ...
After the Address, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told MSNBC that Trump is "losing on the issues" and that is why he made an "ad hominem" attack on socialism. She pointed out that her proposal to tax the super-rich at 70 percent is supported by 60 percent of the public. Howevever, Ocasio-Cortez, a “socialist” of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) variety, cannot escape the stupiifying grip of imperial ideology. Her “socialism” goes no farther than New Deal programs to save capitalism, and is absent any solidarity with those resisting imperialism’s efforts to destroy the very idea of “socialism” and national sovereignty everywhere in the formerly Third World. Solidarity is not part of Sanders and ”AOC’s” political makeup, except with those purported “socialists” that have made peace with capitalism in western Europe and now struggle to preserve their welfare state structures under the NATO imperial umbrella – a battle they are so far losing -- while their governments act as junior partners in Washington’s endless wars. Ocasio-Cortez was questioned on MSNBC about Trump’s attack on socialism in general, and on the socialist government in Venezuela that the U.S. has been attempting to overthrow for the past 20 years. “We stand with the Venezuelan people in their noble quest for freedom,” said the Orange Aggressor, who last week recognized a U.S.-groomed pretender to the Venezuelan presidency and gave him the keys to billions in assets stolen by Washington. “And we condemn the brutality of the Maduro regime, whose socialist policies have turned that nation from being the wealthiest in South America into a state of abject poverty and despair.”
AOC said Trump was trying to “confuse the public. I think he sees himself losing on the issues, he sees himself losing on the wall in the southern border, and he needs to grasp at an ad hominem attack and this is his way of doing it." But she did not object to Trump and two previous U.S. presidents’ attempted coups, devastating sanctions and constant subversion of a government whose electoral process were described by former president Jimmy Carter as the “best in the world.” Instead, she spoke as a loyal American imperialist, for whom the sovereignty of other nations and peoples is dependent on the whims of the global hegemon, the government of which she is now a part. According to Ocasio-Cortez, the issue in Venezuela is not socialism, even if the president that ordered it says so, and neither is there a problem of violations of international law by the U.S. Rather, "What we need to realize is happening is this is an issue of authoritarian regime versus democracy. In order for [Trump] to try to dissuade or throw people off the scent of the trail, he has to really confuse the public. And I think that that's exactly what he's trying to do."
If AOC meant that the U.S. is an authoritarian regime that systematically violates international law, she would be correct. But instead, she was speaking of the government in Venezuela, and blaming the victim of the aggression. Ocasio-Cortez is thus complicit in the crime. As is Sanders, whose statement on the unfolding U.S coup in Venezuela provided a political rationale for overthrowing Nicolas Maduro’s government, followed by a weak objection to Trump’s actually doing it. Only three Democratic members of the House, California Rep. Ro Khanna, Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, have condemned the U.S. actions against Venezuela, and much of the phony left has found common cause with Trump in the crime. It is possible that AOC will grow an internationalist consciousness, without which one is no socialist. But it’s way too late for 77 year-old Bernie Sanders. His historical mission is to run for president once again, on a platform opposed to endless austerity, and hopefully generate such momentum that Democratic leaders will be forced by their corporate masters to sabotage Sander’s campaign in the full light of day, provoking a significant exodus of lefties from the Party.
The UN refuses to take a position in favor of the U.S. backed coup plotter Juan Guaidó and says that in Venezuela it acts in coordination only with the government recognized by the member countries.
Stéphane Dujarric, spokesman for the secretary general of the United Nations, António Guterres, confirmed on Thursday that the states of the United Nations General Assembly and the United Nations Security Council recognize Nicolás Maduro as the constitutional and legitimate president of Venezuela.
For that reason, the spokesman refused to position himself in favor of the interests of the deputy of the National Assembly (AN) -in contempt-, Juan Guaidó, who on January 23 unconstitutionally proclaimed himself “president in charge” at the urging of the Trump administration. The opposition leader wrote to Guterres last Saturday, January 26, asking for the implementation of “support mechanisms” to address what he called the”humanitarian crisis” in the Bolivarian Republic.
In his response, Dujarric asserted that the UN “is ready to increase its humanitarian and development activities in Venezuela,” but for that it needs the consent and cooperation of the government,” in reference to Maduro, the only one it recognizes.
The spokesman stressed that the recognition of governments is not a function of the UN Secretary General, but of the member states, and that in its relationship with the member states it respects “the decisions” of the General Assembly and the Security Council.
Venezuela’s government-in-waiting intends to scrap requirements that state-owned oil giant PDVSA keep a controlling stake in joint ventures as it seeks to revive the oil sector and encourage private investment, National Assembly leader Juan Guaido’s representative to the U.S. said.
The move is part of a broader plan by Guaido, who was declared interim president by the assembly last month, to revive Venezuela’s shattered economy by focusing on boosting oil output as soon as possible, said Carlos Vecchio, Guaido’s envoy in the U.S. Currently, PDVSA must have a 51 percent stake in all joint projects.
“We want to go to an open economy, we want to increase oil production,” Vecchio said in an interview Monday during a visit to Bloomberg’s Washington office. “The majority of the oil production that we want to increase will be with the private sector.”
Vecchio ruled out the possibility that Citgo, the U.S. refiner controlled by PDVSA, would file for bankruptcy, saying it was “not necessary.” He also mused about the possibility of the White House issuing an executive order protecting Venezuela from creditors as the U.S. once did for Iraq. Asked about the possibility, he called it a “good idea.”
“We want to keep the operation running” as it is now, Vecchio said of Citgo.
Venezuelan officials accuse the US of sending a cache of high-powered rifles on a commercial cargo flight from Miami so they would get into the hands of 'extreme right fascist' groups looking to undermine Maduro's regime
Officials in Venezuela have accused the US of sending a cache of high-powered rifles and ammunition on a commercial cargo flight from Miami so they would get into the hands of President Nicolás Maduro's opponents.
Members with the Venezuelan National Guard [GNB] and the National Integrated Service of Customs and Tax Administration [SENIAT] made the shocking discovery just two days after the plane arrived at Arturo Michelena International Airport in Valencia.
Inspectors found 19 rifles, 118 magazines and 90 wireless radios while investigating the flight which they said arrived Sunday afternoon. Monday's bust also netted four rifle stands, three rifle scopes and six iPhones.
The Deputy Minister of Public Security, Endes Palencia, told reporters during a Tuesday afternoon press conference that the weapons were destined to reach the hands of 'extreme right fascist' groups looking to destabilize Maduro's government.
Worth a full read if being lied to bugs you:
The US media chorus supporting a US overthrow of the Venezuelan government has for years pointed to the country’s economic crisis as a justification for regime change, while whitewashing the ways in which the US has strangled the Venezuelan economy (FAIR.org, 3/22/18). Sister Eugenia Russian, president of Fundalatin, a Venezuelan human rights NGO that was established in 1978 and has special consultative status at the UN, told the Independent (1/26/19):
In contact with the popular communities, we consider that one of the fundamental causes of the economic crisis in the country is the effect [of] the unilateral coercive sanctions that are applied in the economy, especially by the government of the United States.
While internal errors also contributed to the nation’s problems, Russian said it’s likely that few countries in the world have ever suffered an “economic siege” like the one Venezuelans are living under. While the New York Times and the Washington Post have lately professed profound (and definitely 100 percent sincere) concern for the welfare of Venezuelans, neither publication has ever referred to Fundalatin.
Alfred de Zayas, the first UN special rapporteur to visit Venezuela in 21 years, told the Independent (1/26/19) that US, Canadian and European Union “economic warfare” has killed Venezuelans, noting that the sanctions fall most heavily on the poorest people and demonstrably cause death through food and medicine shortages, lead to violations of human rights and are aimed at coercing economic change in a “sister democracy.” ... Given that de Zayas is the first UN special rapporteur to report on Venezuela in more than two decades, one might expect the media to regard his findings as an important part of the Venezuela narrative, but his name does not appear in a single article ever published in the Post; the Times has mentioned him once, but not in relation to Venezuela. ...
[T]he US government has acknowledged what it’s doing to Venezuela. ... remarked a senior State Department official made last year:
The financial sanctions we have placed on the Venezuelan Government has forced it to begin becoming in default, both on sovereign and PDVSA, its oil company’s debt. And what we are seeing because of the bad choices of the Maduro regime is a total economic collapse in Venezuela. So our policy is working, our strategy is working and we’re going to keep it on the Venezuelans.
Thus, the US government acknowledges that it is knowingly, consciously driving the Venezuelan economy into the ground, but US media make no such acknowledgment, which sends the message that the problems in Venezuela are entirely the fault of the government, and that the US is a neutral arbiter that wants to help Venezuelans. Call this elision what it is: war propaganda.
As a U.S.-backed effort to overthrow Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro continues, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said late Wednesday that Hezbollah "has active cells" in Venezuela—a claim that was immediately scrutinized and compared with the second Bush administration's lies to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Hezbollah, a political and militant Shi'ite Muslim group based in Lebanon, has been on the U.S. State Department's "Designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations" list since 1997. In the interview with Fox Business, Pompeo, who previously served as President Donald Trump's CIA director, also charged that Iran and Cuba are strongly influencing the country. "The Cubans invaded Venezuela. The Cubans have been controlling the security apparatus, protecting Maduro, and destroying the way of life for the Venezuelan people for an awfully long time," he said. "People don't recognize that Hezbollah has active cells—the Iranians are impacting the people of Venezuela and throughout South America. We have an obligation to take down that risk for America."
Pompeo's latest claims on Wednesday were met with sarcasm, skepticism, and concern for how they may be used to justify further American intervention—including military action that hasn't been authorized by Congress—in a country already enduring political and economic crises.
Congrats to @JeffreyGoldberg & The @NewYorker: after your propaganda proved useful for a US regime change war in 2003 (https://t.co/6m9YkSQ9xr) (https://t.co/D2y2zHHPiI), looks like it may be useful again for a US regime change effort in 2019: (https://t.co/eVx9BmPcKz) https://t.co/2udd6mrh3L
— Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate) February 7, 2019
A federal judge in Washington, DC, on Monday dismissed a lawsuit against the American Studies Association over its decision to support the boycott of Israeli academic institutions. The ruling is a significant blow to efforts by Israel lobby groups to use courts to harass, intimidate and silence supporters of Palestinian rights in US universities – a tactic known as lawfare.
In his 20-page ruling, US District Judge Rudolph Contreras wrote that the plaintiffs had no standing to file a lawsuit seeking damages on behalf of the ASA, and that their individual damage claims came nowhere near the $75,000 minimum required for them to seek relief in federal court. At most, the individual plaintiffs could seek damages of a few hundred dollars to cover membership dues they allege were misappropriated, but they would have to find some other venue to pursue their claims, the judge found.
“The court basically said, in no uncertain words, that the plaintiffs suing ASA lied when they claimed to have ‘suffered significant economic and reputational damage.’” Radhika Sainath, senior attorney with the civil rights group Palestine Legal, told The Electronic Intifada. “But, as the court explained, ‘nowhere’ in the lawsuit could the plaintiffs explain what that damage was. It didn’t pass the smell test.” ...
The force behind the lawsuit was the Louis D. Brandeis Center, an Israel advocacy organization that has for years worked to smear Palestine solidarity activism as anti-Semitism, and attempts to suppress it with frivolous lawsuits and bogus civil rights complaints. ... In March 2017, the court threw out the plaintiffs’ key claim that the ASA had acted beyond its charter by backing the boycott. “The boycott resolution was aimed both at encouraging academic freedom for Palestinians and strengthening relations between American institutions and Palestinians,” Judge Contreras wrote at the time. “Thus, it was not contrary to the ASA’s express purposes.”
But Contreras allowed other claims to go forward – until he eventually threw the lawsuit out altogether.
Paris has taken the extraordinary step of recalling its ambassador from Rome, in the worst crisis between the two neighbouring countries since the second world war. France blamed what it called baseless verbal attacks from Italy’s political leaders, which it said were “without precedent since world war two”. Italy’s two deputy prime ministers, the far-right Matteo Salvini and Luigi Di Maio of the populist, anti-establishment Five Star Movement, have in recent months criticised the French president, Emmanuel Macron, on a host of inflammatory issues, from immigration to the gilets jaunes (yellow vest) anti-government demonstrations.
Di Maio this week met leaders of the gilets jaunes seeking to run in May’s European parliament elections as he declared the “wind of change has crossed the Alps” and a “new Europe is being born of the yellow vests”.
France said the comments were an unacceptable “provocation”. Announcing the immediate return to Paris of its ambassador for talks, the French foreign office said in a statement: “For several months, France has been the target of repeated, baseless attacks and outrageous statements. Having disagreements is one thing but manipulating the relationship for electoral aims is another. “All of these actions are creating a serious situation which is raising questions about the Italian government’s intentions towards France.”
Salvini responded by saying the Italian government did not want to fall out with France and suggested a meeting with Macron to fix the relationship. “I don’t want to row with anyone, I’m prepared to go to Paris, even by foot, to discuss the many issues we have,” he said. But, in a further dig at Macron, he said France must first address three issues: French police must stop pushing migrants back into Italy, end lengthy border checks blocking traffic and hand over around 15 Italian leftist militants who have taken refuge in France in recent decades.
In what progressive lawmakers and advocacy groups decried as the Trump administration's latest "shameful" attack on vulnerable families, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) unveiled a plan on Wednesday that would gut regulations protecting consumers from predatory payday lenders.
Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, denounced the CFPB's plan as "a slap in the face to consumers—especially people of color—who have been victims of predatory business practices and abusive lenders."
"This decision will put already struggling families in a cycle of debt and leave them in an even worse financial position," Gupta added. "This administration has moved the CFPB away from protecting consumers to protecting the very companies abusing them."
Detailed in a statement by Trump-appointed CFPB director Kathy Kraninger, the agency's proposal would dramatically weaken an Obama-era rule that would have required payday lenders to verify that borrowers have the financial ability to repay their loans—an effort to help vulnerable people avoid falling into debt traps. In its explanation of the rule change, the CFPB said it wants consumers to have even more access to payday lenders, despite their long record of exploiting the poor.
Although big banks in the United States paid $21 billion less in taxes last year thanks to the Republican Party's push in late 2017 to lower rates for corporations and wealthy Americans, the nation's top financial institutions used those savings to benefit shareholders rather than workers and customers—just as critics of the #GOPTaxScam had warned they would.
After reviewing financial results and commentary from the 23 banks the Federal Reserve designates as most vital to the U.S. economy, Bloomberg reported Wednesday:
On average, the banks saw their effective tax rates fall below 19 percent from the roughly 28 percent they paid in 2016. And while the breaks set off a gusher of payouts to shareholders, firms cut thousands of jobs and saw their lending growth slow...
While banks vowed to use a portion of their savings to reward employees, help needy communities, and support small businesses, the magnitude of their break and how the money was divvied is likely to fuel debate over whether the law was an effective way to stoke the economy. The 23 firms boosted dividends and stock buybacks 23 percent, and they eliminated almost 4,300 jobs. A few have signaled plans to cut thousands more.
Four of the nation's six biggest banks—Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley—"paid less taxes than they projected in 2018." And while employees did receive some bonuses and raises, they were marginal compared with the banks' windfalls.
— TicToc by Bloomberg (@tictoc) February 6, 2019
[C]an even a knowledgeable, seasoned veteran like Waters tackle the herculean problem that Wall Street banks represent to the country today? Apparently, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon and Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon aren’t wasting any time trying to get a handle on the topics on which Waters intends to hold hearings. According to a report by CNBC in late January, both CEOs met separately with Waters after she became Committee Chair. The Wall Street Journal has further reported that Waters plans to call the CEOs of the six largest Wall Street banks to testify at a hearing in March or April. That would likely include: JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo.
The 2019 hearing would be the first time since February 11, 2009, at the height of the financial crisis, that all of the major Wall Street bank CEOs were grilled by this Committee. ... A decade after the greatest financial system and economic collapse since the Great Depression, Congress is still tolerating captured regulators at Wall Street’s top cops: the Federal Reserve, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
The SEC has taken no action to stop the Wall Street banks’ from trading the shares of their own bank stocks in their own Dark Pools as well as hundreds of other stocks that should have trading transparency on a regulated stock exchange. The OCC and Federal Reserve are now allowing JPMorgan Chase to open more bank branches nationwide despite the fact that it has pleaded guilty in the past four years to three criminal felony charges – two for its role in the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme and one for its involvement in the rigging of the foreign currency market. (JPMorgan’s Chairman and CEO, Jamie Dimon, who presided over the bank during its $30 billion in fines and three felony charges remains at the helm of the bank. No regulator has blinked an eye about the message that sends to the investing public.)
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has been essentially gutted under the Trump administration. The CFPB’s effort to restore the rights of consumers to take their complaints against the Wall Street banks to the nation’s courts was terminated by Vice President Mike Pence, who cast the deciding vote in the Senate in 2017. Let that sink in for a moment, the most corrupt industry in America, Wall Street, which has crashed the U.S. financial system and brought financial devastation to millions of Americans twice in the past 9 decades, is still allowed by Congress to run its own private justice system, forcing both customers and employees into mandatory arbitration hearings which lack any of the protections of our nation’s court system. ...
If Waters fails to bring critically needed public attention to the new dangers lurking in the dark corners of the behemoth Wall Street banks, the U.S. could soon be looking at a financial crisis that makes 2008 look like a cakewalk.
The reality of capitalism: GM makes $11.8 billion in profits while closing plants, eliminating 14,000 jobs
General Motors made $11.8 billion in profits in 2018, according to a company statement released yesterday. This included $10.8 billion in North American earnings last year and a 9.5 percent profit margin in the final quarter. These giant profits were announced as GM accelerates it plans to shut five factories in the US and Canada and destroy more than 14,000 jobs. GM’s corporate board initiated the jobs massacre two days before the release of the profit report, which showed an eight percent decline over last year’s profits. The aim is to reassure Wall Street that GM will not bow to popular outrage over the plant closings and mass layoffs.
On Monday, the first of 4,000 engineers, technicians, managers and other white-collar workers, including 1,300 workers at the GM Tech Center in the Detroit suburb of Warren, were laid off and escorted out of their work locations. The half-century old Lordstown, Ohio assembly plant is scheduled to be closed next month. The Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant is to be closed on June 1, and the Oshawa, Ontario plant shut down by the fourth quarter of 2019. The company also plans to close transmission plants in Baltimore and Warren by April 1 and August 1, respectively.
In 1979, during the first Chrysler bankruptcy, the corporations and the United Auto Workers (UAW) claimed that huge wage and benefit concessions were needed to “save” the auto industry. After three decades of endless givebacks, the UAW made the same claims as it collaborated with the Obama administration to slash wages during the 2009 restructuring of GM and Chrysler. Now, even as the auto companies are flush with cash, the corporations are demanding even more sacrifices from workers and handing over billions to Wall Street.
Since 2015, GM squandered $10.6 billion on stock buybacks to boost the value of the company’s shares, more than double the $4.5 billion GM is expected to save next year from the job cuts. Billions more have been spent on dividend payments to wealthy shareholders. ... Workers in the US, Canada, Korea and Brazil are thrown onto the streets, their communities are destroyed, and the profits they have produced are handed over to the financial aristocracy that lords over society.
Officials in a small Arizona border city are decrying the installation of reels of dangerous razor wire that now cover the entirety of the tall border wall that runs through downtown. The city council in Nogales, which sits on the border, is set to consider a proclamation on Wednesday night condemning the use of concertina wire. It follows reports that US military troops installed more horizontal layers of the wire along the downtown border fence over the weekend.
The vote also comes one day after Donald Trump made his case to the American people in his State of the Union address about the need for a border wall to protect the nation, describing how he has ordered 3,750 troops to prepare for what he called a “tremendous onslaught” of migrants showing up at the US-Mexico border. ...
Nogales, a city of about 20,000 people, is a fraction of the size of its twin Mexican city on the other side, also called Nogales, but its economy is largely reliant on Mexican shoppers and cross-border trade. Illegal crossings in that area have dropped steeply in the past several years. ...
The proclamation the city council is scheduled to vote on says concertina wire is typically something found in battlefields, and that placing it along the entirety of the border fence is “not only irresponsible but inhuman”.
The Green New Deal Takes Its First Congressional Baby Step, as Pelosi Mocks “Green Dream or Whatever”
The first hand of the Green New Deal has been dealt. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., on Thursday unveiled a five-page, nonbinding resolution that frames a 10-year “national, social, industrial, and economic mobilization” to confront the climate crisis. The plan envisions the creation of millions of “good, high-wage jobs” and will serve to “counteract systemic injustices.”
The resolution sets a framework for legislation to be hashed out over the next two years, and gives Ocasio-Cortez, Markey, and climate groups something to organize around. Their goal is to meet 100 percent of the demand for power in the U.S. with “clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources,” in line with the scientific consensus on climate change, as well as to provide “all people of the United States” with clean air and water, “healthy and affordable food,” high-quality health care, “affordable, safe, and adequate housing,” and economic security. ...
The resolution provides the most detail yet of what Ocasio-Cortez and company mean by a Green New Deal, but it does not map out precisely what a Green New Deal will entail. If the House had created a Select Committee on a Green New Deal, per Ocasio-Cortez’s original resolution, that would have been the two-yearlong mandate of a team of policymakers and experts. In laying the groundwork for an eventual legislative package, the document will create pressure on the select panel created by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in lieu of the one called for by Ocasio-Cortez. Dubbed the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, it will be chaired by Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla.
Pelosi on Thursday morning announced Ocasio-Cortez would not be on that select committee, though she was approached for a seat and declined to join. In a separate interview with Politico, Pelosi mocked the notion of a Green New Deal. “It will be one of several or maybe many suggestions that we receive,” she said. “The green dream or whatever they call it — nobody knows what it is but they’re for it right?”
'A Red Screaming Alarm Bell' to Banish Fossil Fuels: NASA Confirms Last Five Years Hottest on Record
NASA scientists confirmed in a report Wednesday that 2018 was one of the hottest years on record, continuing what the New York Times called "an unmistakable warming trend." Last year was the fourth-warmest on record since scientists began recording such data 140 years ago, according to NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS). This finding makes the last five years the five hottest years ever, scientists said, slapping down any question that the planet is growing warmer. ...
https://t.co/WawxMivL3n #NASA, #NOAA to Release Update on Earth's Climate 2018 Global Temperatures Today... THIS is The State of Our Planet. Much more important than the dog and pony show of the #SOTU. #ClimateChange #Earth pic.twitter.com/sdx7xK1yMN
— Janet Moore (@earthflowr) February 6, 2019
GISS also noted that the average temperature of the globe in 2018 was 1º Celsius (or 1.8º Fahrenheit) higher than the average temperature at the end of the 19th century, as human activities began emitting more and more carbon into the atmosphere following the Industrial Revolution. The report follows a year marked by wildfires which scorched more than 1.5 million acres in California and an extended drought across much of Europe, as well as news that glaciers at the North and South Poles are melting at far faster rates than previously believed.
Of the top 20 hottest years on record, the agency said, 18 of them have been since 2001. ...
Hoda Baraka, communications director for 350.org, called the report "a red screaming alarm bell that we must stop the fossil fuel industry."
"Temperatures are rising year on year, breaking records everywhere, and causing untold damage across the world—meanwhile coal, oil, and gas companies intend to continue profiting from spewing their pollution into the atmosphere. The science is clear, to have a realistic chance of limiting temperature rise to1.5C we must end the fossil fuel industry, starting today," said Baraka.
Global warming could temporarily hit 1.5C above pre-industrial levels for the first time between now and 2023, according to a long-term forecast by the Met Office. Meteorologists said there was a 10% chance of a year in which the average temperature rise exceeds 1.5C, which is the lowest of the two Paris agreement targets set for the end of the century.
Until now, the hottest year on record was 2016, when the planet warmed 1.11C above pre-industrial levels, but the long-term trend is upward.
Man-made greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are adding 0.2C of warming each decade but the incline of temperature charts is jagged due to natural variation: hotter El Niño years zig above the average, while cooler La Ninã years zag below. In the five-year forecast released on Wednesday, the Met Office highlights the first possibility of a natural El Niño combining with global warming to exceed the 1.5C mark.
Dr Doug Smith, Met Office research fellow, said: “A run of temperatures of 1C or above would increase the risk of a temporary excursion above the threshold of 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. Predictions now suggest around a 10% chance of at least one year between 2019 and 2023 temporarily exceeding 1.5C.” Climatologists stressed this did not mean the world had broken the Paris agreement 80 years ahead of schedule because international temperature targets are based on 30-year averages. ... They also noted that the probability of 1.5C years would steadily increase unless emissions were rapidly scaled back.
Newly empowered Democrats in the House are trying to increase the political pressure on climate change, as multiple government reports on Wednesday warned of rapidly increasing temperatures. But they do not have an exact plan for how they would cut greenhouse gases across the US economy to match what scientists say is necessary and even if they did, they face stiff resistance from Republicans who control the Senate and the White House.
In twin climate change hearings, GOP lawmakers questioned the science of manmade global warming and said the transition away from fossil fuels would be too expensive, technologically infeasible and bad for the poor.
“The majority of Americans consider climate change to be a moral and economic imperative, and they’re absolutely right,” said the House natural resources committee chairman, Raúl Grijalva, from Arizona. Committee Democrats are devoting the month of February to climate change.
But Representative Rob Bishop, the committee’s ranking Republican from Utah, jokingly thanked Grijalva for picking the shortest month of the year, saying lawmakers should be focusing on Black History Month, wildfires or a maintenance backlog at the National Park Service. “Are these hearings designed for that group that’s sitting at a table in the corner so they can write cute stories?” he said, referring to the press.
The natural resources committee has jurisdiction over the public lands handled by the interior department. Public lands and the fossil fuel development on them account for a significant portion of US greenhouse gas emissions.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Washboard Sam - The Big Boat
Washboard Sam - Barbecue
Washboard Sam - She Fooled Me
Washboard Sam - Back Door
Big Bill Broonzy, Washboard Sam - By Myself
Washboard Sam - Maybe You'll Love Me
Washboard Sam - Who Pumped The Wind In My Doughnut?
Washboard Sam - My Bucket's Got A Hole In It
Washboard Sam - River Hip Mama
Washboard Sam - Walkin´ in My Sleep
Washboard Sam - Out With The Wrong Woman