The Evening Blues - 2-11-19
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features Chicago blues singer and guitarist Floyd Jones. Enjoy!
Floyd Jones - Stockyard Blues
“The country is governed for the richest, for the corporations, the bankers, the land speculators, and for the exploiters of labor. The majority of mankind are working people. So long as their fair demands — the ownership and control of their livelihoods — are set at naught, we can have neither men’s rights nor women’s rights. The majority of mankind is ground down by industrial oppression in order that the small remnant may live in ease.”
-- Helen Keller
News and Opinion
As survey data continues to show that raising taxes on the wealthy is extremely popular among the U.S. public, new research by inequality expert and University of California, Berkeley economist Gabriel Zucman found that the richest 0.00025 percent of the American population now owns more wealth than the 150 million adults in the bottom 60 percent.
Zucman, who helped Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) develop her "Ultra-Millionaire Tax" proposal, observed in a working paper (pdf) that "U.S. wealth concentration seems to have returned to levels last seen during the Roaring Twenties."
The 400 richest Americans have tripled their share of the nation’s wealth since the early 1980s and now own more of the country’s riches than the 150 million adults in the bottom 60% of the wealth distribution. https://t.co/wVFzJzPW3C pic.twitter.com/5lFYfZgZvu
— Steven Greenhouse (@greenhousenyt) February 9, 2019
As the Washington Post's Christopher Ingraham noted in a breakdown of Zucman's research, adults in the bottom 60 percent of the wealth distribution "saw their share of the nation's wealth fall from 5.7 percent in 1987 to 2.1 percent in 2014."
Consolidation of wealth at the very top, Ingraham observes, "is eroding security from families in the lower and middle classes, who rely on their small stores of wealth to finance their retirement and to smooth over economic shocks like the loss of a job. And it's consolidating power in the hands of the nation’s billionaires, who are increasingly using their riches to purchase political influence."
Socialism — whatever that means — is in vogue right now. ... Alarmed by the growing threat of progressive policies at home, the establishment has found a one-word weapon to deploy against the rising tide: Venezuela. The trick is to attack any political figure or movement even remotely on the left by claiming they wish to turn the country into a “socialist wasteland” (Fox News, 2/2/19) run by a corrupt dictatorship, leaving its people hungry and devastated. One Fox opinion piece (1/25/19) claimed that Americans should be “absolutely disgusted” by the “fraud” of Bernie Sanders and Democrats like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker, as they “continue to promote a system that is causing mass starvation and the collapse of a country,” warning that is exactly what their failed socialist policies would bring to the US. ...
This useful weapon to be used against the left can only be sustained by withholding a great number of key facts—chief among them, the US role in Venezuela’s devastation. US sanctions, according to the Venezuelan opposition’s economics czar, are responsible for a halving of the country’s oil output (FAIR.org, 12/17/18). The UN Human Rights Council has formally condemned the US and discussed reparations to be paid, with one UN special rapporteur describing Trump’s sanctions as a possible “crime against humanity” (London Independent, 1/26/19). This has not been reported by any the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN or any other national US “resistance” news outlet, which have been only too quick to support Trump’s regime change plans (FAIR.org, 1/25/19).
Likewise, the local US-backed opposition’s role in the economic crisis is barely mentioned. The opposition, which controls much of the country’s food supply, has officially accepted responsibility for conducting an “economic war” by withholding food and other key goods. For example, the monolithic Empresas Polar controls the majority of the flour production and distribution crucial for making arepa cornbread, Venezuela’s staple food. Polar’s chair is Leopoldo Lopez, national coordinator of Juan Guaidó’s Popular Will party, while its president is Lorenzo Mendoza, who considered running for president against Maduro in the 2018 elections that caused pandemonium in the media (FAIR.org, 5/23/18). Conspicuously, it’s the products that Polar has a near-monopoly in that are often in shortest supply. This is hardly a secret, but never mentioned in the copious stories (CNN, 5/14/14, Bloomberg, 3/16/17, Washington Post, 5/22/17, NPR, 4/7/17) focusing on bread lines in the country. ...
Regardless of these bothersome facts, the media has continued to present Venezuela’s supposedly socialist dictatorship as solely responsible for its crisis as a warning to any progressives who get the wrong idea. ... The simplistic narrative of a socialist dictatorship starving its own people provides great utility as a weapon for the establishment to beat back the domestic “threat” of socialism, by associating movements and figures such as Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jeremy Corbyn with an evil caricature they have carefully crafted.
Donald Trump’s top Latin America adviser has claimed “there is not a single scenario” in which Nicolás Maduro and his “cronies” are able to retain power in Venezuela. The revolt against Maduro’s regime is entering its fourth week, with the Venezuelan strongman showing no sign of relinquishing power despite a startling and largely unforeseen challenge from a previously obscure opposition leader called Juan Guaidó.
An anticipated large-scale military abandonment of Hugo Chávez’s heir has not materialized despite Guaidó – who is now recognized as Venezuela’s legitimate interim president by most western governments – repeatedly touting an amnesty for the armed forces.
However, in an interview with Latin American journalists in Washington, the National Security Council’s senior director for Western Hemisphere affairs insisted Maduro’s demise was a foregone conclusion. “The path we are going down is irreversible … The question is no longer if Maduro accepts this or not, it’s how long it will take him to accept it,” Mauricio Claver-Carone said. ...
Maduro’s domestic and international foes are adamant he is doomed. Colombia’s foreign minister, Carlos Holmes Trujillo, last week branded Maduro’s regime “an unburied corpse”. But many observers believe Guaidó’s opposition movement will be frustrated not to have seen more military defections. With a new round of opposition protests planned for Tuesday, Venezuela expert Moisés Naím admitted it was impossible to predict Maduro’s fate.
Idiot Democrats are fully on board with the Trump propaganda and regime change:
Appreciate @SpeakerPelosi‘s strong statement of support. The U.S. stands united in its support of Venezuelan Interim President Juan Guaidó, and of the peaceful, constitutional transition to democracy in Venezuela. https://t.co/slwxPTHwoZ
— John Bolton (@AmbJohnBolton) February 10, 2019
The U.S. coup attempt in Venezuela is not only about oil and general U.S. imperialism. It is attempt to bring a specific type of people back into power. The same type of people that rule in Washington DC. The Nation describes how the U.S. has long funded and manipulated the opposition in Venezuela. The Random Guy™ Juan Guaidó, who claims the presidency, was created through this process:
How Washington Funded the Counterrevolution in Venezuela
Self-declared president Juan Guaidó comes from the right-wing, US-backed student movement that tried to subvert Hugo Chávez’s government.
The piece includes this revealing sentence:
A former USAID/OTI member who helped devise US efforts in Venezuela said the “objective was that you had thousands of youth, high school, and college kids that were horrified of this Indian-looking guy in power. They were idealistic.
Being "horrified" that the "Indian-looking" Hugo Chávez was in power does not seem "idealistic". One might call it racist though. A number of those white, well off, U.S. trained college kids joint politics in right wing parties. They wanted to take power. But to sell one of theirs as a leader of a country where the majority is mestizo was a problem. To solve that problem the Random Guy, despite being known only by 20% of Venezuelans, was selected to lead the U.S. coup attempt. ...
Guaido is a stand in. He was selected because he somewhat looked like the majority of the people of the country. ... The rich in Venezuela are overwhelming white people. They long ruled the country. The mestizo majority are the poor. Hugo Chavez brought them to power. The white people want the power back. This obvious racist aspect of the conflict is missing from the general reporting of the issue.
An excellent piece worth a full read. Here's a taste:
The Trump administration’s now completely overt effort to overthrow Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro had a very successful public relations effort this week, as major Western media outlets uniformly echoed its simplistic, pre-packaged claim that the Venezuelan government was heartlessly withholding foreign aid:
- Tensions Rise as Venezuela Blocks Border Bridge in Standoff Over Aid (CNN, 2/7/19)
- Maduro Blocks Critical Aid Sent to Venezuela (CNN, 2/7/19)
- Aid Arrives at Venezuela Border as US Demands Maduro Let It In (ABC News, 2/7/19)
- Venezuela Crisis: Pompeo Demands Aid Corridor Opened (BBC, 2/7/19)
- The US Says Maduro Is Blocking Aid to Starving People. The Venezuelan Says His People Aren’t Beggars. (Washington Post, 2/8/19)
- Humanitarian Aid Arrives for Venezuela — But Maduro Blocks It (NPR, 2/8/19)
All of the above articles—and scores more like it—repeated the same script: Maduro was blocking aid from the US “out of refusal to relinquish power,” preferring to starve “his own people” rather than feed them. It’s a simple case of good and evil—of a tyrannical, paranoid dictator not letting in aid to feed a starving population.
Except three pieces of key context are missing. Context that, when presented to a neutral observer, would severely undermine the cartoonish narrative being advanced by US media.
- Both the Red Cross and UN warned the US not to engage in this aid PR stunt.
- The bridge in question is a visual metaphor contrived by the Trump administration of little practical relevance.
- The person in charge of US operations in Venezuela has a history of using aid as a cover to deliver weapons to right-wing mercenaries.
Hungary’s populist prime minister, Viktor Orbán, has promised that women who have four or more children will never pay income tax again, in a move aimed at boosting the country’s population. Orbán, who has emerged as Europe’s loudest rightwing, anti-immigration voice in recent years, said getting Hungarian families to have more children was preferable to allowing immigrants from Muslim countries to enter.
“In all of Europe there are fewer and fewer children, and the answer of the west to this is migration,” said Orbán in his annual state of the nation address on Sunday. “They want as many migrants to enter as there are missing kids, so that the numbers will add up. We Hungarians have a different way of thinking. Instead of just numbers, we want Hungarian children. Migration for us is surrender.”
Orbán’s Fidesz party won a third consecutive electoral victory last year on an anti-migration platform, and the Hungarian prime minister rarely gives a speech without presenting the upcoming years as a do-or-die battle for the future of Europe. He has voiced a hope that after elections in May, all European institutions will be controlled by “anti-migration forces”.
An interesting article, worth a full read. There's lots more that cannot be fairly abstracted. Here are some snippets to get you started:
Here's a riddle any Democrat hoping to be elected president at the crest of a progressive wave in 2020 should be able to solve: what do you call Israel’s military rule over millions of disenfranchised Palestinians in the territories it seized by force in 1967? The answer, “an occupation,” is obvious to anyone familiar with the laws of war, but in recent years American progressives who use that term to describe Israeli control of the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights have come under intense pressure from Democratic leaders concerned about exposing the party to charges of bias against Israel. This hesitancy to acknowledge that the territories are indeed occupied, rather than contested or disputed as right-wing Israelis insist, is particularly strange to anyone who recalls that one of Israel’s most revered leaders, Ariel Sharon, made a point of using the term repeatedly in a televised news conference almost 16 years ago.
WATCH Fifteen years ago the Israeli prime minister and longtime hawk and backer of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza, Ariel Sharon, said the occupation has to end. #TBT
"To hold 3.5 million Palestinians under occupation, is, in my opinion, a very bad thing." pic.twitter.com/7NBgnzAt5n
— Yachad UK (@YachadUK) December 6, 2018
So what explains the skittishness of the American political establishment, both Democrat and Republican, to be as candid about using the word occupation now as Israel’s ultranationalist leader was in 2003? That question has been particularly evident since the election of a handful of young Democrats — Representatives Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York — openly critical of the occupation, unafarid to call it what it is, and supportive of measures to end it, like the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. All three Congresswomen have been attacked by Republicans and members of their own party for denouncing the occupation as a humanitarian and moral outrage akin to Jim Crow segregation in the United States or apartheid in South Africa.
Their outspoken support for Palestinian rights — which reflects a growing unease among young American progressives with unconditional support for an increasingly far-right Israel — has even prompted a new group, the Democratic Majority for Israel, to launch an online ad campaign intended to convey the message that “Israel is a progressive country.” That group’s president, Mark Mellman, also accused another progressive Democrat, Representative Betty McCollum of Minnesota, of “employing an anti-Semitic canard” in her criticism of Israel. “The right-wing, extremist government of Benjamin Netanyahu and its apartheid-like policies are at the core of what is alienating Democrats and a growing number of Americans,” McCollum told Vice News. “What has changed is that there are now members of Congress who are not willing to ignore the Israeli government’s destructive actions because they are afraid of losing an election.” ...
Simone Zimmerman, a co-founder of IfNotNow, a progressive group working “to shift the American Jewish public away from the status quo that upholds the occupation,” pointed out in an interview that Democrats had confronted their differences over this issue in 2016 too. That summer, representatives of Bernie Sanders tried, and failed, to amend the 2016 Democratic party platform to include language calling for “an end to occupation and illegal settlements.” That amendment was opposed by representatives of Hillary Clinton, and the platform’s final version called only for solution to the conflict “that guarantees Israel’s future as a secure and democratic Jewish state with recognized borders and provides the Palestinians with independence, sovereignty, and dignity.” ...
“I think that’s the fight that’s playing out right now,” she adds. “What’s happening is that supporters of Palestinian rights are becoming way more vocal and way more organized and the establishment is trying desperately to stop that shift, and that kind of cracking open of a more critical discourse. And it’s frankly what we’re seeing happen on a lot of issues right now. We’re seeing a backlash from the establishment that wants to preserve the old business as usual, as younger, bolder, more progressive voices are starting to really lead inside the party.”
Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire Republican casino mogul, is associated with a singular political project: his long-running mission to uproot the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv and plant it in Jerusalem instead. But there’s a second project — lower profile, but no less of a passionate priority — that Adelson has long been gunning for, and that’s his war against online gambling. Adelson’s casino empire is comprised of brick-and-mortar establishments, to which online gambling is a major threat, but Adelson says he is at war with online gambling for the good of society: Gambling in casinos is one thing, but gambling online is a public health nightmare.
Adelson’s crusade against online gambling led to an attorney general recusal, tense debates within the Justice Department, and a standoff with the White House that culminated with an extraordinary reversal of policy in the middle of the government shutdown, when the Trump administration issued the legal opinion against online gambling that Adelson had long sought.
School teachers in Denver, Colorado, are set to strike on Monday in the latest of a wave of actions that has swept the sector in the past year as educators battle for better pay and working conditions.
In Denver, teacher salaries have been steadily decreasing, leading to high turnover in the district. Teachers are forced to financially rely on bonuses and incentives beyond their control as part of a system called ProComp, first enacted in 2005.
“The bonuses and the amounts change every year. This has led to a problem where teacher salaries are different every year, and teachers, including myself, have been getting paid less every year,” said Michelle Garrison, a teacher at Farrell B Howell Early Childhood Education-8th grade school “You don’t ever get a paycheck that’s the same. It makes it hard for budgeting.” Tanessa Wilson, a teacher at John H Amesse Elementary in Denver cited an example that teachers at her school missed out on a $1,500 bonus this year because students who receive free and reduced lunches decreased by 0.2%. ...
Some 93% of the Denver Classroom Teachers Association membership voted to authorize a strike last month in the midst of new contract negotiations. ... Denver Public Schools officials responded to the strike vote by formally requesting the state of Colorado to intervene to avoid a strike, but the state declined.
Another one of the white men who brutally beat a young black man in a Charlottesville, Virginia, parking garage after the Unite the Right rally in August 2017 was found guilty Friday.
Tyler Watkins Davis, a 50-year-old from Middleberg, Florida, is the fourth man to be found guilty for taking part in the violent attack on 20-year-old DeAndre Harris, breaking his wrist, chipping his tooth, and causing a spinal injury and head laceration that required staples. Davis entered an Alford plea in a local Charlottesville court, meaning he agrees that there's enough evidence to convict him of a malicious wounding charge but believes the charge is too severe, according to a local NBC affiliate.
Davis was responsible for dealing the blow that required Harris to get staples, according to the Washington Post, and Davis was shown in a video hitting Harris with a stick. He was also a part of the white nationalist group the League of the South, the Post reported — considered a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. He was released on bond until his sentencing, set for August in Charlottesville.
The California governor has decided to yank hundreds of National Guard troops from the U.S.-Mexico border and redirect them toward anti-drug and wildfire initiatives.
Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom said he’ll sign an executive order Monday that would end the deployment of 360 National Guard troops, according to prepared remarks obtained by several media outlets. Those troops represent the majority of the guardsmen stationed at the border in California but just a slice of the 4,000 National Guard troops that President Donald Trump demanded across the border states of Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and California in April to address what he called a “drastic surge of illegal activity on the southern border.”
“The border ‘emergency’ is a manufactured crisis,” Newsom wrote in the prepared remarks for his State of the State address Tuesday night. “California will not be part of this political theater.”
With his executive order, Newsom becomes the second governor of a border state to decrease National Guard presence at the border and rebuke Trump as he continues to pressure Democrats into funding a border wall. Just a few hours before the president’s second State of the Union address last Tuesday, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham called back the majority of her state’s National Guard troops from the border and urged other governors to do the same.
Bipartisan negotiators in Washington are running out of time to reach a deal over Donald Trump’s demand for a border wall after talks stalled, raising the prospect of another government shutdown starting on Friday.
Leaders from both main parties sitting on a 17-strong negotiating panel must reach a deal over the disputed border security issue by Monday if there is to be time for Congress to pass legislation and Trump to sign it before the latest deadline of 15 February. Should they fail to reach agreement within hours, federal agencies, already exhausted after the 35-day shutdown that ended last month having impacted 800,000 federal employees, will yet again start to close from Friday at midnight.
“The talks have stalled right now,” Richard Shelby, Republican chairman of the senate appropriations committee told Fox News Sunday. “I’m hoping we can get off the dime later today or in the morning, because time’s ticking away, but we’ve got some problems.” Shelby put the odds of a deal being reached against a second shutdown occurring at 50-50. “I’m not confident we’re going to get there. The next 24 hours are crucial,” he said.
As jitters mount that the government might soon be inflicted with a second partial shutdown so soon after the first, congressional negotiators were trying desperately to overcome two sticking points. The most divisive appeared to be Democratic demands that a cap be placed on the number of undocumented immigrants held in federal detention centers.
Gearing Up for Possibility of Another Trump Shutdown, Airport Workers Ready Mass Protests in 80 Major Cities
With congressional negotiators still working on a deal to keep the federal government open after the current stopgap funding measure expires on Friday, Feb. 15, airport workers are already planning mass protests for next Saturday in case the government shuts down again.
Air traffic controllers and other airport employees were widely credited for creating the pressure that ended the longest shutdown in American history last month, and Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA) president Sara Nelson told New York Magazine on Friday that workers are gearing up to mobilize if congressional negotiators fail to reach a deal—or if President Donald Trump unilaterally scuttles any agreement.
As New York Magazine's Sarah Jones reported, "Nelson says that the union will be out leafleting in airports in 80 major cities next week ahead of Saturday's demonstrations."
"We are also working very hard to get information out to all of our members about what's at stake," Nelson told New York Magazine. "We need people to fully understand what the issues are so that we can be prepared to respond potentially with withholding our service, if that's what it takes to stop a continuation of the shutdown."
Trump official helping oversee migrant shelters says he found out about “zero tolerance” policy on TV
When senior government officials and immigration advocates testified before Congress Thursday about the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, they told harrowing stories about the thousands of children separated from their parents at the border last year. ... The hearing, held by a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee, was one of the Democrat’s first displays of oversight power after taking back control of the chamber in the 2018 midterms. Testimony from senior government officials offered an inside look into the bungled rollout of the zero tolerance policy and the Trump administration’s harried attempts to reverse course after a federal judge ordered it to reunify families. The officials also shed light on the murky conditions surrounding ongoing family separations.
Some of the most revealing testimony on Thursday came from Commander Jonathan White, a career public health official who helped oversee shelters for migrant children in 2017 and 2018 at the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which handles the care of migrant children under the umbrella of the Department of Health and Human Services.
Even before then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions formally announced the zero tolerance policy in April, White told lawmakers that he wondered whether border officials were separating families because he was seeing an increase in migrant children sent to the Office of Refugee Resettlement. He said he approached his superiors, including then-director Scott Lloyd, about making a plan because he worried the agency wouldn’t have enough resources to handle a spike in detained children. “I was told family separation wasn’t going to happen,” White said. In fact, he said he learned of its existence only on T.V.
“I do not believe separation of children from their parents is in the best interest of the child,” White added. “Neither I nor any career person in ORR would have ever recommended such a policy proposal.”
Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is prepared for the possibility that Democrats in New York could redraw her district after the 2020 election, she told The Intercept in an interview. ...
In 2014, New York approved a constitutional amendment establishing a nonpartisan redistricting commission, which is set to take over the redistricting process starting in 2020. The 10-member commission, meant to be independent from the legislature, is made up of individuals selected by leaders from the state Senate and Assembly, and the original eight members pick two additional members. But Ocasio-Cortez’s most determined adversaries are not partisan Republicans, but Democrats who say that she has been a disruptive influence. The Hill recently reported that at least one member of Congress has been urging New York party leaders to recruit a Democratic primary challenger to Ocasio-Cortez. But the news led to a surge of donations to Ocasio-Cortez, suggesting that a more efficient means of ousting her might be simply to eliminate her district.
The 29-year-old congressperson noted (accurately) that it’s generally expected that New York will likely lose a seat, despite the city itself growing at a consistent pace. “I don’t know if that means that all of our districts are going to be redrawn dramatically, because they have been historically gerrymandered, or what will happen, but there’s certainly a possibility, if not a guarantee, that my district in the coming years will not look like my district today,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “So I think it’s entirely possible, and New York politics being what it is, we have no idea where things are going to go.”
So far, the effort to primary Ocasio-Cortez, however, isn’t going well. The Daily Caller followed up on the article in The Hill and spoke to New York Democratic consultant Hank Sheinkopf, who said three names were floating around as potential challengers to Ocasio-Cortez: New York City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, Sen. Julia Salazar, and Assembly Member Catalina Cruz. “The Daily Caller is trash. 1. I would never primary @AOC, even if I lived in her district (which I do not). 2. I have no intentions of ever running for Congress. 3. Who on earth calls Jimmy Van Bramer ‘James?’” Salazar tweeted.
Van Bramer tweeted “This whole thing is crazy. I’m kind of loving having @AOC as my Congressmember! I’m not taking her on. I’m backing her up!”
As part of a growing effort to unseat Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) in 2020 over her vote to confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh last year, the advocacy group Demand Justice on Saturday launched a new digital ad campaign targeting the four-term senator after Kavanaugh "declared war on Roe v. Wade" in his dissent in a major Louisiana abortion case.
In a press release, Demand Justice said it is also running "static Facebook ads reminding Mainers of Collins' vote for Kavanaugh."
"The five-figure buy will run over multiple weeks," the group said, "and is part of a sustained effort Demand Justice will mount to hold Collins accountable for supporting Kavanaugh."
On top of ad campaigns against Collins, a fundraising effort to oust the Maine senator in 2020 has already brought in millions of dollars.
Senator Amy Klobuchar, of Minnesota, has joined the crowded field of Democratic candidates for 2020 that includes a historic number of women seeking the presidency. The three-term senator, who is often characterized as “Minnesota nice” amid the rough-and-tumble of politics, is looking to be a foil to Donald Trump’s brash personality and often vitriolic rhetoric. ...
Klobuchar, 59, is the sixth prominent woman to wade into the primary contest, which features a record number of women vying for a major-party nomination. She launched her candidacy at an outdoor event in Minneapolis on Sunday afternoon.
But amid an upbeat launch for the White House, there is a cloud over Klobuchar this weekend in the form of several reports late last week where ex-staffers claim the Minnesota Democrat has a reputation for running a workplace in Washington “controlled by fear, anger, and shame”, according to Buzzfeed.
A report in the Huffington Post said that at least three people withdrew from consideration to lead her forthcoming campaign — in part because of Klobuchar’s history of mistreating her staff and “bursts of cruelty”, despite being “beloved” in her home state as smart, funny and personable.
The world’s insects are hurtling down the path to extinction, threatening a “catastrophic collapse of nature’s ecosystems”, according to the first global scientific review.
More than 40% of insect species are declining and a third are endangered, the analysis found. The rate of extinction is eight times faster than that of mammals, birds and reptiles. The total mass of insects is falling by a precipitous 2.5% a year, according to the best data available, suggesting they could vanish within a century.
The planet is at the start of a sixth mass extinction in its history, with huge losses already reported in larger animals that are easier to study. But insects are by far the most varied and abundant animals, outweighing humanity by 17 times. They are “essential” for the proper functioning of all ecosystems, the researchers say, as food for other creatures, pollinators and recyclers of nutrients.
Insect population collapses have recently been reported in Germany and Puerto Rico, but the review strongly indicates the crisis is global. The researchers set out their conclusions in unusually forceful terms for a peer-reviewed scientific paper: “The [insect] trends confirm that the sixth major extinction event is profoundly impacting [on] life forms on our planet.
“Unless we change our ways of producing food, insects as a whole will go down the path of extinction in a few decades,” they write. “The repercussions this will have for the planet’s ecosystems are catastrophic to say the least.” The analysis, published in the journal Biological Conservation, says intensive agriculture is the main driver of the declines, particularly the heavy use of pesticides. Urbanisation and climate change are also significant factors.
Sen. Chris Murphy to Doubters: Green New Deal 'Absolutely Realistic' and the Kind of Plan Needed to Avert Climate Disaster
Addressing head-on those claiming that the Green New Deal plan unveiled last week by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) is impractical, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) declared on Sunday that the proposal is "absolutely realistic" and represents the kind of ambitious thinking that will be necessary to avoid climate catastrophe.
After CNN's Jake Tapper invoked objections raised by Sen. Angus King (I-Maine.) and former Obama Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz—both of whom have suggested the goals outlined in the Green New Deal resolution are unrealistic—Murphy strongly disagreed with their assessment. ...
"I have a 10-year-old and a seven-year-old," he continued. "Global warming is an existential threat to the planet, so if we don't command this country to think big about saving our nation and our world from destruction, then I don't think we're gonna get close to meeting the mark."
Sen. @ChrisMurphyCT says the Green New Deal is “absolutely realistic”: “If we don’t command this country to think big about saving our nation and our world from destruction, then I don’t think we’re going to get close to meeting the mark.” https://t.co/whl2tZGqtn #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/krkHZbDZm1
— CNN (@CNN) February 10, 2019
North Dakota Lawmakers Move to Restrict Access to Public Records After Standing Rock Reporting Exposed Law Enforcement Abuses
North Dakota lawmakers are considering a bill to restrict the release of records related to security operations involving “critical infrastructure” — a category that includes fossil fuel pipelines. The bill comes after The Intercept and other media outlets published stories documenting law enforcement surveillance and coordination with private security during the Dakota Access pipeline protests, many of which were based on records released under the North Dakota Open Records Act.
The bill, known as Senate Bill 2209, would amend the North Dakota Century Code to bar the disclosure of public records involving “security planning, mitigation, or threats” pertaining to critical infrastructure facilities. It specifically forbids the release of any critical infrastructure “security systems plan,” which it defines as “records,” “information,” “photographs,” “videos,” and “communications” pertaining to the “security of any public facility” or any “privately owned or leased critical infrastructure.” Among several examples of critical infrastructure systems included in the bill are “utility services, fuel supply, energy, hazardous liquid, natural gas, or coal.” ...
On January 22, the 47-member North Dakota Senate voted unanimously in favor of the bill. If approved by the state’s House of Representatives, it will head to Gov. Doug Burgum’s desk. ...
The struggle against the Dakota Access pipeline galvanized a global movement, but it also led to intensive police monitoring, violent suppression of protests, and the prolonged prosecution of hundreds of activists. The overwhelming majority of charges brought against pipeline opponents were eventually dismissed due to lack of evidence. In numerous cases, lawyers and activists drew on documents that media outlets obtained via open records requests to defend those under prosecution. Documents published as part of The Intercept’s Oil and Water series played a significant role in the criminal defense of Standing Rock Sioux tribal member Chase Iron Eyes and Oglala Lakota Sioux water protector Red Fawn Fallis. A class-action lawsuit alleging excessive brutality by North Dakota police also relied on The Intercept’s reporting, as did a lawsuit that state regulators filed against TigerSwan, the mercenary firm that oversaw the DAPL security operation.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Floyd Jones - Big World
Floyd Jones - Skinny Mama
Floyd Jones - Any Old Lonesome Day
Floyd Jones - On The Road Again
Floyd Jones - Playhouse
Floyd Jones + Eddie Taylor - Hard Times
Floyd Jones, Eddie Taylor & Big Walter Horton - Big Town Playboy
Floyd Jones - Early Morning
Floyd Jones, Eddie Taylor & Big Walter Horton - M & O Blues
Floyd Jones - Rising Wind