The Evening Blues - 3-19-19


The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: Jimmy McCracklin

Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features blues singer, songwriter and piano player Jimmy McCracklin. Enjoy!

Jimmy McCracklin - Rockin' Man

“Criminals do not die by the hands of the law. They die by the hands of other men.”

-- George Bernard Shaw

News and Opinion

U.S. taking "unprecedented" measures to avoid international court probe into Afghanistan

India, Pakistan threatened to unleash missiles at each other

The sparring between India and Pakistan last month threatened to spiral out of control and only interventions by U.S. officials, including National Security Advisor John Bolton, headed off a bigger conflict, five sources familiar with the events said.

At one stage, India threatened to fire at least six missiles at Pakistan, and Islamabad said it would respond with its own missile strikes “three times over”, according to Western diplomats and government sources in New Delhi, Islamabad and Washington.

The way in which tensions suddenly worsened and threatened to trigger a war between the nuclear-armed nations shows how the Kashmir region, which both claim and is at the core of their enmity, remains one of the world’s most dangerous flashpoints.

The exchanges did not get beyond threats, and there was no suggestion that the missiles involved were anything more than conventional weapons, but they created consternation in official circles in Washington, Beijing and London.

Responses To This Tweet Show How People Fixate On Narrative Over Fact

Last month I published an essay about the importance of understanding the difference between fact and narrative, and I just want to quickly highlight a perfect illustration of this importance in a controversy arising from a recent Tulsi Gabbard tweet:

Now, all the facts say that Gabbard’s claim that Trump has been bringing the world closer to nuclear war with Russia is indisputably true. It is perhaps possible to dispute the notion that Trump has escalated tensions with Russia to try and “prove he’s not Putin’s puppet”; maybe an argument could be made that he’s simply reckless and violent or that he’s particularly beholden to cold war profiteers, or that despite all his rhetoric he just really, really hates Russia for some reason. But it is absolutely not disputable that Trump has greatly escalated tensions with a nuclear superpower by implementing a Nuclear Posture Review with a much more aggressive stance against Russia, withdrawing from the INF treaty, bombing and illegally occupying Syria, arming Ukraine, staging a coup in Venezuela, and many, many other hawkish actions taken against the interests of the Russian Federation which his predecessor Obama never dared to take.

These facts are all well documented in the mainstream press and are entirely beyond dispute. The facts say that Donald Trump has escalated nuclear tensions with Russia more than any other president since the fall of the Berlin Wall. But if you go to Gabbard’s tweet and read the responses right now, you’ll find thousands and thousands of Democratic establishment loyalists calling her a liar for saying so.

“Gabbard staking out a bold ‘Trump is *too* tough on Putin’ lane in the Democratic primary,” tweeted former NSA attorney Susan Hennessey of CNN and the Brookings Institution. “As predictable as it is absurd.” ... There are many, many more, but you get the picture. The deluge of responses to Gabbard’s undeniably true statement about Trump’s dangerous escalations against a nuclear superpower are largely predicated on two assumptions: (1) that Trump has not in fact made the escalations that he has made, and (2) that the danger of nuclear war is not a real or significant thing. These are both, obviously, bat shit insane. ... As journalist Glenn Greenwald pointed out in response to the uproar over Gabbard’s tweet, “The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists’ doomsday clock is at 2 minutes before midnight. By far its two greatest threats to *humanity’s existence* are climate change & US/Russia nuclear war. Yes, how crazy and treasonous to want to avoid ratcheting up tensions.” ...

Why is an indisputably true claim about an indisputably real danger being treated as a lie by Democratic Party loyalists, even though it attacks the same president they themselves claim to oppose? The answer is because it doesn’t fit the narrative. A consensus has been built over the last two years that Trump is a Kremlin puppet, so the indisputable fact that his administration is endangering the life of every organism on this planet by escalating tensions with Russia looks like a lie against that backdrop. The facts say one thing, the narrative says another, and they go with the narrative. For most people, narrative takes precedence over fact.

Macron tried to solve the French crisis through debates. Yellow Vests say it didn’t work.

President Emmanuel Macron’s two-month political Tour de France came to a close Friday. Since mid-January, Macron has made surprise appearances in dozens of towns around the country, urging the French to engage in an initiative he called the Grand National Debate.

These staged, hours-long debates emerged as Macron’s response to the Yellow Vests protests, which have threatened to derail his presidency and remain strong four months after they started. The movement is comprised of mostly working-class French, who are distrustful of the political class and feel shunned by the elites.

Through 10,000 locally organized debates, 16,000 grievance books, and 1.5 million online questionnaires, the French people have voiced their discontent on the four central themes of Macron’s national debate: democracy and citizenship, taxes and public spending, green energy, and public services. Third-party research companies, hired with the help of a 10-to-15 million–euro budget, are swinging into high gear to crunch all the data by April, when Macron plans to announce his first proposals.

But it’s far from clear if Macron’s stunt has paid off, and Yellow Vests remain highly skeptical of it. Indeed, despite a series of concessions in early December — most notably a commitment to increase the monthly minimum wage by 100 euros, and dropping the fuel tax, which was the impetus for the Yellow Vests — Macron still has a woeful approval rating of just 28 percent.

French PM removes police chief and vows to shut down rioters

The French government has removed the Paris police chief and announced it will shut down all anti-government street protests by the gilets jaunes (yellow vests) in central parts of Paris, Bordeaux and Toulouse if violent groups are spotted in the crowds. The prime minister, Édouard Philippe, announced the hardline measures on Monday after the government admitted failures in dealing with rioting and arson in Paris this weekend.

“From next Saturday, we will ban ‘yellow vest’ protests in neighbourhoods that have been the worst hit as soon as we see sign of the presence of radical groups and their intent to cause damage,” Philippe said in a televised statement. He replaced the Paris police chief, Michel Delpuech, with Didier Lallement, a colleague serving in western France.

The government was on the defensive after security forces were again unable to prevent violence, arson and looting on the Champs Élysées at the weekend. Several hundred black-clad rioters caused havoc for more than seven hours as 10,000 gilets jaunes protesters marched in the capital. More than 90 shops and businesses, including luxury stores such as Longchamp and Bulgari, were damaged and looted, and a bank and a restaurant were burnt.

South Korea says it's considering holding talks with North Korea to ease tensions with the US

South Korea said it's considering holding talks with North Korea in efforts to help improve relations between the latter and the US since their summit fell apart in Vietnam last month.

South Korea's Blue House presidential office confirmed a Yonhap News Agency report that it's mulling a meeting with its neighbour.

The US and North Korea "absolutely don't want" to revert to the situation before 2017 when there was conflict and confrontation, Yonhap cited an unidentified high-level official at the Blue House as saying.

Kazakhstan leader Nazarbayev steps down after three decades in power

Kazakhstan president Nazarbayev steps down after 30 years in power

Kazakhstan’s president has announced his retirement after nearly 30 years as leader of the central Asian nation – but he will likely remain a power behind the throne, analysts said, as he retains key posts in Kazakhstan’s military and political bureaucracy. Nursultan Nazarbayev has led the oil-rich country since the fall of the Soviet Union, first as its Communist leader and then as president after independence.

But he would remain the chairman of the country’s powerful security council, the leader of the Nur Otan party, which dominates parliament, and his legal title as “leader of the nation”, he said. While Nazarbayev’s resignation “comes as a surprise, it does not signal any immediate major policy shifts,” said Kate Mallinson of Chatham House. His control of the security council, which sets guidelines for foreign and security policies, would enable him to “continue to rule Kazakhstan as the power behind the throne”.

Nazarbayev led the country through the economic turbulence of the 1990s while consolidating his hold on power in a series of elections that began to resemble coronations. He was last elected in 2015 with 97.7% of the vote. Though credited with maintaining stability and ethnic peace in Kazakhstan, he has faced criticism for suppressing dissent and sidelining the opposition.

The Grayzone testifies at the UN - 'Humanitarian crisis in Venezuela: Propaganda vs. reality'

Worth a full read, there's an interesting section about Venezuela and the internal politics of the Bolsonaro administration.

Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro Meets With Donald Trump to Consolidate Their Far-Right Alliance

There is perhaps no foreign leader more in tune with Donald Trump than Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Both men are unscripted, uninformed, and unburdened by the truth; they’ve whipped up devoted mass followings by breaking with conventions and using direct, simple language to preach a message of violence, hatred, victimhood, right-wing culture war, anti-science, and “anti-globalism.” Bolsonaro has difficulty staying on script in person, despite a proclivity for putting his foot in his mouth, and he loves to use Twitter to belittle and attack enemies, decry “fake news” even when the reporting is demonstrably true, and praise right-wing torturers and dictators. Sound familiar?

It is unsurprising, therefore, that Bolsonaro, who took office in January, insisted that his first visit to a foreign capital be Washington, D.C., and Trump was eager to oblige. On Tuesday, the two men are scheduled to meet at the White House and have lunch (there was not enough time to arrange a full state visit). The far-right leaders are expected to discuss the push to oust Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro, economic and trade cooperation, Brazil’s bid to enter the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and sign a deal to allow U.S. rocket launches from a Brazilian base. ...

Bolsonaro is far more popular than his most recent predecessors, but his domestic approval ratings have dipped to 39 percent as internal squabbling, strategic missteps, and a series of corruption scandals have quickly usurped his campaign narrative of a disciplined, moral leader untainted by the corruption that plagues the capital. The trip may grant him a momentary reprieve from the countless crises — many of his own making — that continue to encircle him in Brasília. At the White House, Bolsonaro will get to mug for the cameras with Trump, whom he’s already referred to as “an example” and never misses a chance to publicly flatter. But in the end, his political future hinges on dragging the economy out of years of languor, though recent economic indicators have been ticking down alongside his popularity.

His administration’s strategy on that front is to push through wildly unpopular austerity measures to roll out the red carpet for foreign investment, particularly from the United States. The visit is designed to signal positive steps in that direction, even if it is unlikely to produce any substantial breakthroughs.

Another setback to May's Brexit plan as speaker rules out third vote on the same deal

Brexit: John Bercow rules out third meaningful vote on same deal

The House of Commons Speaker has thwarted any attempt by Theresa May to bring a third meaningful vote to parliament, unless there has been substantial change to the Brexit deal. With Theresa May’s plans thrown into chaos by the move, one of her chief law officers warned the government could be forced to cut short the parliamentary session and restart in order to bring back the Brexit deal.

John Bercow’s shock move, which drew immediate criticism from May’s allies, suggested he believed such a fundamental change would involve a renegotiation at EU level rather than clarification of the legal advice written by the attorney general, something that had been suggested this week. The solicitor general, Robert Buckland, said the decision was a “constitutional crisis” and that the government might have to consider the drastic step of ending the parliamentary session early and restarting a new session.

Bercow made the surprise announcement in the chamber on Monday afternoon, saying the Commons was “being repeatedly asked to pronounce” on the same question. Quoting from the guide to parliamentary procedure, Erskine May, Bercow said by convention, the question “may not be brought forward again during the same session” and that it was a “strong and longstanding convention” dating back to 1604.

“One of the reasons the rule has lasted so long is that it is a necessary rule to ensure the sensible use of the house’s time and the proper respect for the decisions it takes. Decisions of the house matter. They have weight,” he said. “It is a necessary rule to ensure the sensible use of the house’s time and the proper respect for the decisions which it takes.”

Angela Merkel will 'fight until final hour' to avoid no-deal Brexit

The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, has said she will fight until the “final hour” of 29 March to avoid a no-deal Brexit, but admitted she cannot second-guess the outcome of an EU summit this week due to the chaos in Westminster. Following the decision by the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, to effectively block the UK government from putting Theresa May’s deal to MPs, Merkel expressed her surprise.

She said it was up to the British prime minister to tell the EU what was now required, but the “flux” in UK politics made it impossible to predict how the saga would develop.

The EU is expected to come to an agreement on the length of a Brexit delay with May on Thursday and leave it open to be formally signed off until the last hour of 29 March, allowing time for a further vote on the prime minister’s deal.

Speaking in Berlin, Merkel said: “I admit that I wasn’t on top of the British parliament’s 17th-century procedural rules.

Canada's top civil servant resigns over role in growing Trudeau scandal

Canada’s top civil servant – a central figure in the political crisis that continues to damage the prime minister, Justin Trudeau – has resigned from his post, following allegations of political bias from parliamentarians.

In a letter to the prime minister, Michael Wernick announced his plans to retire as clerk of the privy council, the most powerful non-elected position in the federal government. Wernick had previously held numerous senior government positions and had served under multiple prime ministers over nearly four decades.

“Recent events have led me to conclude that I cannot serve as clerk of the privy council and secretary to cabinet during the upcoming election campaign,” he wrote in the letter, referring to the political scandal that has already cost the Trudeau government two cabinet ministers and adviser.

Trudeau is battling allegations that he and his aides – including Wernick – improperly pressured the country’s attorney general to abandon the prosecution of SNC Lavalin, a large Montreal-based engineering company. SNC Lavalin is believed to have bribed the Libyan government for lucrative construction projects between 2001-2011 and is facing criminal charges.

Trump claims media are blaming him for New Zealand shooting

Donald Trump claimed on Monday the US media were blaming him for a deadly shooting attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. Fifty people died in the attack, which happened on Friday. A suspect has been charged with murder. In the aftermath of the attack, Trump condemned it but also said he did not believe white nationalism was a growing threat around the world.

“I don’t really,” he said. “I think it’s a small group of people.”

He spoke shortly after describing immigration to the US as an “invasion”, the same term the alleged New Zealand shooter used to describe Muslim immigrants in a manifesto that was subsequently reported to have been sent to politicians and media outlets. ...

Many media observers drew parallels between Trump’s view that white nationalism is not a rising threat and his comments after a far-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017 resulted in the death of a counter-protester. Trump said then there were “very fine people on both sides”.

NPR’s Source on Mosque Murders Can’t Recall People Ever Being Murdered in a Mosque Before

On NPR‘s Morning Edition (3/15/19), Jonathan Greenblatt, the director of the Anti-Defamation League, was interviewed by host David Greene about the mass murder of 49 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. Asked by Greene “how common” it is for online hate speech to turn into a “mass shooting this terrible,” Greenblatt responded:

Well, I think this act of violence really doesn’t have a precedent as far as we know, murdering people in a mosque like this, and the social media dimension is something new. However, hate speech online is an increasing problem.

Greene didn’t react on the air to Greenblatt’s claim that there’s never been a mass murder in a mosque before. But of course, this is far from the first Islamophobic murder to take place in a mosque.

A little more than two years ago, on January 29, 2017, six people were killed by a gunman at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City in Canada. Another famous mosque attack—as Mondoweiss (3/15/19) pointed out in a post on the NPR interview—occurred in Hebron in the Occupied West Bank on February 25, 1994, in the Cave of the Patriarchs (Extra!, 5–6/94). Baruch Goldstein, a member of the Israeli army reserves, entered the site sacred to both Judaism and Islam and opened fire while Muslims were praying there, killing 29 before he himself was killed.

Perhaps the biggest mosque-related mass murder occurred in the Philippines on September 24, 1974, when some 1,500 members of the Moro people were rounded up by the Philippine army and killed in a mosque in the village of Malisbong. Other anti-Muslim mosque attacks include the 25 worshipers killed on October 11, 2017, at a mosque in Kembe, Central African Republic; the 20 people slaughtered at the Han Tha mosque in Taungoo, Myanmar, in May 2001; and the 147 victims of the Kattankudy mosque massacre in Sri Lanka on August 3, 1990. ...

That none of this was recalled, either by the host of Morning Edition or the director of a group that presents itself as a “global leader in exposing extremism” with a mission “to secure justice and fair treatment for all,” is a testament to the failure of our information systems to give due weight to violence against Muslims—and the consequent dangerous impoverishment of our collective memory.

Supreme court gives Trump victory on detaining immigrants with criminal convictions

The US supreme court on Tuesday endorsed US government authority to detain immigrants awaiting deportation at any time – potentially even years – after they have completed prison terms for criminal convictions, handing Donald Trump a victory as he pursues hardline immigration policies.

The court ruled 5-4, with its conservative justices in the majority and its liberal justices dissenting, that federal authorities could pick up such immigrants and place them into indefinite detention at any time, not just immediately after they finish their prison sentences.

The ruling, authored by the conservative justice Samuel Alito, leaves open the possibility of individual immigrants challenging the federal law involved in the case on constitutional grounds if they are detained long after they have completed their sentences.

In dissent, the liberal justice Stephen Breyer questioned whether the US Congress when it wrote the law “meant to allow the government to apprehend persons years after their release from prison and hold them indefinitely without a bail hearing”.

Family sues over death of marijuana-grower police chased with bulldozer

Pennsylvania state police acted recklessly when troopers used a bulldozer to pursue a 51-year-old Grateful Dead fan who had been caught growing marijuana on public land, killing him when he wound up under the machine’s treads, according to a civil rights lawsuit filed on Monday.

Greg Longenecker’s family said police had no business chasing him with a dangerous piece of machinery, especially over a few pot plants he was cultivating for personal use.

His death last July, in a rural area about 75 miles outside Philadelphia, also provoked outrage from a marijuana advocacy group.

“They killed a beautiful human being, a caring, loving man,” said Longenecker’s uncle, Mike Carpenter, who is named as a plaintiff in the federal suit. “He’ll never be able to share his life with us, or us with him, again. For no reason. He wasn’t hurting anyone.”

State police declined comment. A prosecutor who investigated Longenecker’s death concluded that troopers acted reasonably.

Keiser Report: Negative yielding debt

10,000 NYC nurses are about to go on strike over understaffing

Unionized nurses delivered a formal strike notice to New York City’s three largest hospital systems Monday, a sign that another big organized labor force is prepared to follow the nation’s teachers and walk off the job if their demands are not met.

If hospital management and the New York State Nurses Association cannot reach a deal by April 2, 10,000 nurses will stop showing up for work and start picketing. A near-unanimous 97 percent of members voted to authorize a strike at Montefiore, Mount Sinai, and New York-Presbyterian Hospitals. ...

The big issue of contention for nurses is understaffing, which nurses say endangers patients. “After nearly 30 negotiation sessions, we still do not have a single item agreed upon,” the union said in a statement announcing the strike date. “But it is management’s continued refusal to even engage in a conversation about minimum nurse-to-patient ratios that has led to this moment.”

The union says that nurses are sometimes working with 9 or 10 patients at once, which creates safety issues for both health-care workers and the people who receive care. NYSNA, which has endorsed the Medicare for All policy in New York hospitals, said that its bargaining committee will be available to negotiate “every day and night” until the deadline. Members at the Brooklyn Hospital Center are voting this week on whether to join the strike, according to the union.

the horse race

‘One chance at survival’: Jay Inslee is running for president to fight climate change

There are other things around which Washington’s governor, Jay Inslee, could craft his stump speech. He could talk about how he dropped out of Stanford and moved into his parents’ basement because he couldn’t afford tuition. He could tell voters he was the first governor to challenge Donald Trump’s Muslim travel ban. These things are mentioned when he talks to voters as a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. But from its announcement at a Seattle solar panel installation company, his campaign has remained laser-focused on fighting climate change.

The 68-year-old says climate change is the reason he is running for president and he speaks of it as an imminent threat to the US and the world. Other issues matter but Inslee says America cannot afford to have another leader who does not have climate change as their top priority. “We have exactly one chance left to defeat climate change – and that’s during the next administration,” he told a crowd in a living room in Bedford on Saturday morning. “And when you have one chance at survival, we ought to take it.”

Inslee says fighting climate change offers economic promise, that clean energy will create millions of jobs. In Bedford, he told voters the “vast bulk” of money invested in clean energy will come from private equity markets, not taxpayers. “What we need to do is embrace policies that will help drive private equity into these industries,” he said. Such investment and job creation is already happening in Washington state, he said, as it pushes towards clean energy. ...

Other candidates pledge not to take money from Super Pacs but Inslee has said he will not turn down funds from those which really want to fight climate change. He has pledged, however, not to accept any money from the fossil fuel industry or corporate political action committees.

Craziest Bernie Smears Of All Time!

'Total Embarrassment': WaPo Rebuked for Failed Fact-Check of Sanders on Trillion-Dollar Wall Street Bailout

Progressive critics accused Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler of cherry-picking evidence, playing semantic games, and obscuring the truth on Monday after he said Sen. Bernie Sanders inflated the amount of taxpayer bailout money Wall Street received following the 2008 financial crisis. Kessler took issue with a line the Vermont Independent and 2020 presidential contender often includes in his stump speeches: "Not one major Wall Street executive went to jail for destroying our economy in 2008 as a result of their greed, recklessness, and illegal behavior. No. They didn't go to jail. They got a trillion-dollar bailout."

Dismissing the trillion-dollar figure as "a nice round number" that is "not borne out by the facts," Kessler added up the amount of aid major banks received through the 2008 Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). Even under an expansive definition of Wall Street, Kessler asserted, the bailout amounted to "just over $500 billion—or half a trillion." Under the Post's vaguely defined scoring system, Kessler rewarded Sanders with two "Pinocchios."

But Sanders' team and other critics were quick to argue that Kessler's focus on TARP funds was overly narrow and neglected emergency loans from the Federal Reserve that amounted to trillions of dollars in bailout money that kept Wall Street afloat. "If anything, Senator Sanders has underestimated the size of the post-crisis bailouts," Arianna Jones, a spokeswoman for Sanders' 2020 presidential campaign, told the Post. Jones pointed to several studies and news reports showing that Fed loans exceeded a trillion dollars and may have been as high as $29 trillion.

"Sorry, Wall Street got a MULTI-trillion bailout," tweeted Warren Gunnels, Sanders' staff director.

A 2011 study (pdf) from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which Kessler quotes in his piece, concluded that loans from the Fed "peaked at more than $1 trillion in late 2008."

Elizabeth Warren called for abolishing the Electoral College

A Republican presidential candidate has won the popular vote just once in the last three decades — but the party has ended up winning the White House three times. Sen. Elizabeth Warren wants to put a stop to that.

The 2020 Democratic presidential candidate announced at a CNN town hall on Monday that she wants to abolish the Electoral College, a process that decides elections through 538 electoral votes doled out to each state based on population — rather than a true “one person, one vote” methodology. Every state carries an electoral vote for each of its House and Senate seats in Congress. That means a handful of populous swing states — like Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin — usually decide elections.

The system has drawn criticism for allowing Donald Trump to become president in 2016 even though Hillary Clinton won the popular vote. In 2000, the same happened to Al Gore, who sued over a recount of the final electoral votes, which belonged to Florida. The U.S. Supreme Court, however, ultimately ruled in George W. Bush’s favor.

“Every vote matters, and the way we can make that happen is that we can have national voting, and that means get rid of the Electoral College,” Warren said, which triggered enormous applause at the town hall.

the evening greens

Record high US temperatures outpace record lows two to one, study finds

Over the past 20 years, Americans have been twice as likely to sweat through record-breaking heat rather than shiver through record-setting cold, a new Associated Press data analysis shows.

The AP looked at 424 weather stations throughout the US lower 48 states that had consistent temperature records since 1920 and counted how many times daily hot temperature records were tied or broken and how many daily cold records were set. In a stable climate, the numbers should be roughly equal.

Since 1999, the ratio has been two warm records set or broken for every cold one. In 16 of the last 20 years, there have been more daily high temperature records than low.

The AP shared the data analysis with several climate and data scientists, who all said the conclusion was correct, consistent with scientific peer-reviewed literature and showed a clear sign of human-caused climate change. They pointed out that trends over decades are more robust than over single years.

Worth a full read:

US and Saudi Arabia blocking regulation of geoengineering, sources say

The United States and Saudi Arabia have hamstrung global efforts to scrutinise climate geoengineering in order to benefit their fossil fuel industries, according to multiple sources at the United Nations environment assembly, taking place this week in Nairobi. The world’s two biggest oil producers reportedly led opposition against plans to examine the risks of climate-manipulating technology such as sucking carbon out of the air, reflective mirrors in space, seeding the oceans and injecting particulates into the atmosphere.

Deeper analysis of the risks had been proposed by Switzerland and 12 other countries as a first step towards stronger oversight of potentially world-altering experiments that would have implications for food supply, biodiversity, global inequality and security. Some have been tried, but as yet none deployed at a scale that would affect the climate. This call for caution was supported by the president of the assembly, Siim Kiisler, Estonia’s environment minister, “We need to talk about governance of geoengineering. We need an international agreement on this in the future. Just ignoring the issue does not help. We need to talk about it and how to govern those technologies in the future.”

But sources involved with the talks said the initiative was blocked, initially by the US and Saudi Arabia, then by Japan and other countries. Once dismissed as reckless science fiction, geoengineering has risen up the political agenda of some nations as the climate crisis has become more apparent. The petrochemical industry sees it as a way to justify further expansion of fossil fuel industries. Chevron, BHP and other high-emitting companies have invested in companies that are pushing ahead with experiments to pull CO2 out of the air.

US academics at Harvard are also poised to conduct the biggest outdoor test of stratospheric aerosol injection, which simulates the cloaking effect of a volcano eruption. The researchers say this test, known as Scopex, will probably take place in New Mexico. One of the leading US scientists behind such research, David Keith, published a paper this week claiming the risks of geoengineering are not as great as previously feared. Opponents counter that earlier, more thorough studies show serious impacts on Asian monsoon cycles, African droughts, tropical cyclones and extreme temperatures. They want the UN to impose a moratorium on outdoor experiments using this form of technology.

Poppy Bloom: a sea of flowers blankets Californian Canyon

#Superbloom or #poppynightmare? Selfie chaos forces canyon closure

Nestled in the hills of western Riverside county, Lake Elsinore ground to a halt when at least 50,000 people flocked to the area, trampling flowers and creating hours-long traffic snarls on Interstate 15 and city streets around the trailhead. Things got so bad that the town was forced on Sunday to bar access to Walker Canyon, one of the most popular sites for poppy seekers. “This weekend has been unbearable in Lake Elsinore,” the city wrote on its Facebook and Instagram pages, adding the hashtag #poppynightmare. “We know it has been miserable and has caused unnecessary hardships for our entire community.”

Social media is being partly blamed for the super bloom bonanza, with thousands of photos pouring on to Instagram over the weekend. Some of the most popular posts soon drew critical comments: “Trampling the flowers for a photo? Now they shut it down,” wrote one user. “Not worth it for a pic.”

Meanwhile Lake Elsinore’s mayor, Steve Manos, has been on a social media blitz of his own, posting regular Facebook video updates on what he dubbed “poppy-palooza”. They show bumper-to-bumper traffic and cars illegally parked on the highway, as well as offering advice for how visitors can avoid the crush. Kristin Burrows, who has lived in the town for three years, said the weekend had brought the worst crowding she had ever seen. “The last super bloom, two years ago, was nothing like this,” she says. “This bloom is so much larger and getting so much press, it’s destroying the area.”

Also of Interest

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

Circles of Identity, Circles of Violence

New Zealand Suspect’s Actions Are Logical Conclusion of Calling Immigrants “Invaders”

Brexit’s Imperial Nostalgia

The Pentagon’s Bottomless Money Pit

Chelsea Manning and the New Inquisition

Report from the Ground in Paris: The Most Recent Gilets Jaunes Protests

Why the media fails to cover Palestine with accuracy and empathy

Who is Tulsi Gabbard? The progressive 2020 hopeful praised by Bannon and the right

'Political Reptilian Brains': Cuomo Blasts Democrats and the Left

'Flintstone' house sparks lawsuit from California town: 'It's an eyesore'

A Little Night Music

Jimmy McCracklin - Rockin' All Day

Jimmy McCracklin - Looking For A Woman

Jimmy McCracklin - Just Got To Know

Jimmy McCracklin - You Look So Fine

Jimmy McCracklin - Folsom Prison Blues

Jimmy McCracklin - Arkansas (Parts 1 & 2)

Jimmy McCracklin - I'll See It Through

Jimmy McCracklin - She's Gone

Jimmy McCracklin - Pretty Little Sweet Thing

Jimmy McCracklin - You Ain't Nothing But a Devil

Jimmy McCracklin - Susie And Pat

19 users have voted.


dervish's picture

this time it's only up until 8pm EST. Bernie is ahead again.

Vote here if you're so inclined.

8 users have voted.

"Obama promised transparency, but Assange is the one who brought it."

Bollox Ref's picture



8 users have voted.

from a reasonably stable genius.

joe shikspack's picture


heh, thanks! i am amused to see that sanders is again crushing the kos-preferred candidates.

5 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

A prosecutor who investigated Longenecker’s death concluded that troopers acted reasonably.

That no one who looked at this incident saw nothing wrong with what happened to the man just shows again that cops have been given an okay order to kill anyone of us they want. Too harsh? Cops kill over a thousand people a year and it's very rare that any of them are even charged let alone found guilty.

The Supreme Court decision on immigrants goes hand in hand with Obama's NDAA. The president can order anyone arrested by the military and hold them indefinitely without charges or access to a lawyer. This is just starting with immigrants, but who is going to be next? People protesting against Agriculture cruelty? There is a law against it. Big time fines and possible arrests. Plus we saw what happened at Trump's inauguration, but people dodged that bullet. But just the fact that people just being in the area and were charged should have gotten more press. Going to work where there is a protest happening? You can be arrested for it.

This is a very bad decision for the country, but who didn't see something like this coming? It's times like this that I wish I was a decade or two older.

9 users have voted.

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

joe shikspack's picture


it used to be that police thought twice before murdering middle class white people.

i wonder if middle class white people have enough social and political clout to make the police stop their repressive juggernaut.

5 users have voted.
lotlizard's picture

@joe shikspack  
Nowadays the empire’s style sheet says, don’t stop for any Mahatma Gandhis or the Tian An Men “tank man” — just run ’em down and say it was an accident.

3 users have voted.
enhydra lutris's picture

shouldn't that be Bigbootiegig (pronounced with a tay, tay, tay)?

Ok, sorry about that, but, ya know, Grover's Mill ain't that far from South Bend by western standards.

4 users have voted.

That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

joe shikspack's picture

@enhydra lutris

good point. Smile

3 users have voted.
enhydra lutris's picture

@joe shikspack
director's cut of that movie on DVD. Wink

2 users have voted.

That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

joe shikspack's picture

@enhydra lutris

it's among my favorite movies.

2 users have voted.
Azazello's picture

NZ intelligence community: Misguided Spying and the New Zealand Massacre
Here's a different angle on migration from Central America: Immigration and climate change in Central America

6 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


heh, i guess that the spy agencies don't want to crack down on their pool of right-wing candidates for vigilante squads to keep the population in line when the shit hits the fan.

thanks for the links!

4 users have voted.
smiley7's picture

Jocelyn Bell Burnell talks to Matin Durrani about the launch of the new Bell Burnell Graduate Scholarship Fund, run by the Institute of Physics, to boost diversity in physics departments in the UK and Ireland

Passes that which was earned on ... good news.

Felt more spry today than usual of late ...

Hope you've had a good day.

Thanks for the news and blues.

3 users have voted.
enhydra lutris's picture


3 users have voted.

That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

smiley7's picture

2 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


thanks for the link! my dad (who was a physicist) would have been amused and gratified. he worked really hard to encourage my sister to study science (which she did quite successfully). there were no women in his graduate program back in the 1940's.

glad to hear that you're feeling above the weather, so to speak. have a great evening!

5 users have voted.
mimi's picture

@joe shikspack
there was one woman. I still don't understand how I ended up there as a major in Physical Chemistry. Definitely by accident to say it nicely. Nobody encouraged me, just my prof, who sent me to listen to Physicists at CERN one day. And he made space for my baby in the dark room of the institute he was a prof in and where I wrote my pitiful thesis for him. That guy had definitely a brain and a conscience.

Merkel and her husband were also physicists with majors in Quantum chemistry or Physical Chemistry. Wonder why I like me some Merkel sometimes?

3 users have voted.

TTTT (too tired to talk)

snoopydawg's picture

Didn't the last fine get whittled down some?

8 users have voted.

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

joe shikspack's picture


this is only the first phase of the trial. the real danger for monsanto is in the second phase which will focus on their corporate behavior.

Didn't the last fine get whittled down some?

that's my memory of it.

8 users have voted.
OzoneTom's picture

@joe shikspack
There was just a report a week or so back showing high levels of the substance in 19 of 20 beers and wines tested.

A year or so back there was a similar percentage of popular breakfast cereals made from wheat and/or oats.

The industry points to "acceptable levels" in each product but do not account for the commonly-consumed foods that may be ingested in a typical day. Or the possibility that recommended serving sizes might be exceeded.

In addition to the heavy use of glyphosate as a weed-killer, there is a common practice (not officially sanctioned, but everyone does it) of using the herbicide as a "dessicant" so that all of grain stalks die and brown at the same time for a more profitable harvest yield.

4 users have voted.
dystopian's picture

Great tunes JS... some nice keys twinkling there...

Re Tulsi: Hard to believe there are not already millions of people from every state that have donated a buck to the only vociferously pushing peace candidate. The establishment piling on is disgusting as it is predictable.

NPR and Greenblatt are a pitiful excuse for information. NPR now stands for National Propaganda Radio.

Right there with the Washinton Post and their umpteenth Bernie attack story, still with a reckless disregard for facts and truth. I guess Jeff Bozo doesn't mind, despite it confirming him a bigger POS every time it happens.

A bulldozer is a deadly weapon when chasing someone down in brush, yet the prosecutor found no wrong doing. And justice for all.

Elizabeth anything for attention and traction Warren seems grasping for straws already. Considering she has been around years not mentioning all these so important things she is going to do. Looks like sheepdogging to me.

Biden calls himself 'most progressive'???????????????? He is delusional, and a bald-faced liar. I guess when you have no morals but loyalty to your moneyed masters it comes easy.

5 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


Re Tulsi: Hard to believe there are not already millions of people from every state that have donated a buck to the only vociferously pushing peace candidate. The establishment piling on is disgusting as it is predictable.

it's hard to tell whether the establishment wants to run a full-on blackout of gabbard or run a full-on smear campaign. my guess is that the more traction she gets the longer the knives will get.

NPR and Greenblatt are a pitiful excuse for information.

they are a pretty disgusting lot. donald trump wants to defund them. i am struggling to find reasons to defend them.

Biden calls himself 'most progressive'????????????????

yeah, he wants to make improvement in smaller increments than anybody else, hence he is the "most progressive." Smile

5 users have voted.