The Evening Blues - 3-20-19


The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: Howard Tate

Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features soul singer Howard Tate. Enjoy!

Howard Tate - How Come My Bulldog Don't Bark

“I really do think that if for one week in the United States we saw the true face of war, we saw people's limbs sheared off, we saw kids blown apart, for one week, war would be eradicated. Instead, what we see in the U.S. media is the video war game.”

-- Amy Goodman

News and Opinion

Report: U.S. Air Strikes Are Killing Civilians in Somalia in Wave of Attacks Under Trump

U.S. air strikes are killing civilians in Somalia, a new Amnesty International report says, refuting the Pentagon’s repeated statements that no civilians have died, even as U.S. attacks have at least tripled under the Trump administration. Amnesty’s report, released today, details five air strikes that resulted in the deaths of 14 people. The group’s forensic investigation found substantial evidence that suggests American airstrikes are responsible for deaths in four of those cases, and likely the fifth.

“This is a detailed, credible, and deeply disturbing report,” Hina Shamsi, the Director of the ACLU National Security Project said in an email to The Intercept. “Despite very challenging investigative conditions, Amnesty provides strong evidence that the Trump administration’s claim of zero civilian casualties simply cannot be believed.”

Africa Command, which oversees U.S. military activity in Africa, disavows all Amnesty’s findings.

Loosened rules of engagement have allowed for mistakes and misidentification that end in fatal attacks, the report concludes. Amnesty says indiscriminate aspects of the military’s tactics may mean that some attacks could constitute war crimes, even though the U.S. has technically not declared war on Somalia. Indeed, when asked if the U.S. is at war in Somalia, Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser, the commander of AFRICOM, said during a Congressional hearing earlier this month, “I wouldn’t characterize that we’re at war. It’s specifically designed for us not to own that.” Amnesty contends the U.S.’s behavior makes it a clear party to non-international armed conflict, and as such the laws of war would apply.

German Court Hands Partial Victory to Critics of U.S. Drone Deaths in Yemen

The German government must ensure any support provided by a U.S. military base in Germany for U.S. drone strikes in Yemen complies with international law, a German court ruled on Tuesday, handing a partial victory to critics of such strikes. An administrative appeals court in Muenster upheld an earlier ruling that had rejected a request by relatives of Yemenis killed in drone strikes that Germany ban participation by Ramstein Air Base in any drone strikes in Yemen. ...

U.S. forces have repeatedly carried out drone and air strikes targeting al Qaeda militants holding parts of south Yemen, and some civilians have been killed. The court said Germany was obliged to do what it could to protect the plaintiffs even if they lived abroad, "as (they) legitimately fear a danger for their lives and safety from U.S. drone strikes violating international law by using infrastructure at the Ramstein air base".

The German government's finding "that there were no indications of violations of German or international law by the U.S. caused by their activities in Germany is based on an insufficient assessment of the facts and is not legally sustainable," the court said in its ruling.

German lawmakers want Trump’s ambassador kicked out

A top German politician is calling for the expulsion of U.S. Ambassador Richard Grenell, who he says is acting like “a high commissioner of an occupying power.” Grenell, a former Republican operative with a penchant for outrageous statements, has angered opposition lawmakers in Germany, who claim he is interfering in sovereign German matters.

Wolfgang Kubicki, the deputy chairman of the opposition Free Democrats (FDP), called on Germany’s foreign minister to “declare Richard Grenell persona non grata immediately.” And he was not the only one criticizing the American ambassador. “Grenell is a complete diplomatic failure. [He] damages trans-Atlantic relations with his repeated clumsy provocations,” Carsten Schneider, a lawmaker with the Social Democrats (SPD), told the German news agency DPA.

Grenell, 52, has done little to ingratiate himself to his host country since taking up the position in May 2018. Comments he made this week about Germany’s contributions to NATO led to Kubicki’s rebuke. ... In his remarks, Grenell criticized the budget of Germany’s finance minister and said it was unacceptable that the country was once again going to miss its NATO defense spending target.

A Brief History of U.S. Intervention in Iraq Over the Past Half Century

Fifteen years ago this week, on April 9, 2003, television networks across the globe cut to a live scene unfolding in Baghdad’s Firdos Square. A motley hybrid of what appeared to be ordinary Iraqis and uniformed U.S. troops — who had begun to occupy Baghdad — pulled down a massive statue of Saddam Hussein. It was a brilliant, semi-staged propaganda exercise meant to reinforce the neoconservative promise that ordinary Iraqis would be exuberant over the fall of the regime and welcome the U.S. troops as liberators. It was with this image firmly tattooed on the public consciousness of the war that George W. Bush stepped off a fighter plane onboard the USS Abraham Lincoln on May 1, 2003, ridiculously dressed in a flight suit, and told the world that the American mission was accomplished. There was a massive banner with that message created just for that moment. In reality, this particular war was just beginning and it continues on to this day.

It is important to examine what happened in this war and how it happened: the lies, the crimes, the mass killings, the destruction — all of it. George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and the neoconservatives should all hold a special place in the hall of shame for mass killers for what they did to Iraq. But they did it with the support of many in Congress, including some of the most prominent and elite Democrats, including the 2016 nominee for president, Hillary Clinton.

Trump & Bolsonaro Join Forces to Back Regime Change in Venezuela & to Attack Media as “Fake News”

U.S.-Russia Talks on Venezuela Stall Over Role of Maduro

High-level U.S.-Russian talks on how to defuse Venezuela’s crisis ended on Tuesday with the two sides still at odds over the legitimacy of President Nicolas Maduro.

“No, we did not come to a meeting of minds, but I think the talks were positive in the sense that both sides emerged with a better understanding of the other’s views,” U.S. special representative Elliot Abrams told reporters.

The Russian side also said the two sides now understood their respective standpoints better after the two-hour talks in Rome but Moscow’s delegation chief, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was blunter.

“Perhaps we failed to narrow positions on this situation...,” Russian state news agency TASS quoted Ryabkov as saying. “We assume that Washington treats our priorities seriously, our approach and warnings.”

Ryabkov was quoted by Russia’s RIA news agency as saying the talks were difficult but frank and that Moscow had warned Washington not to intervene militarily in Venezuela.

Why the Dust Won’t Settle After Mueller’s Report

Last week gave us mounting indications that Robert Mueller has finished his two-year probe into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 elections and is about to issue his long-awaited report. But those who hope to read the results of the “full and thorough investigation” promised when Mueller was appointed special counsel should adjust their expectations. After spending upward of $12 million, Mueller is almost certain to hand Attorney General William Barr a light-on-evidence document that dodges many more questions than it resolves. Neither is it clear whether the AG will make all, part, or none of the Mueller report public.

There are two certainties we can rely upon as we await Mueller’s final word, none a cause for relief.

  • The special counsel’s office did not undertake a credible investigation of the two core charges related to the 2016 elections—that Russian intelligence hacked Democratic National Committee email servers while colluding with Donald Trump as he sought the presidency. Mueller failed to call numerous key witnesses, and failed to pursue alternative theories, a duty of any investigator in Mueller’s position. These omissions are more or less fatal to the legitimacy of Mueller’s work.
  • Among the mainstream Democrats who have incessantly hyped the “Russia-wrecked-our-elections” story, there is no remorse for the damage it has done to our governing institutions, our foreign policy, and our national security. Russia-gate has consolidated Cold War II. The chance to rebuild mutually beneficial relations with Moscow has been damaged.

... Earlier this month the House Judiciary Committee announced that it has requested documents from 81—yes, 81—government agencies, entities such as Wikileaks, and (mostly) individuals. ... The committee purports to be looking for obstructions of justice, collusion with Russia, and other possible transgressions—this after Mueller spent two years investigating the same things. It is not hard to read this for what it is: the first indication that the Democrat-controlled House wants enough grist to keep the post–Mueller Russia-gate mill running for its political advantage. “Russia-gate,” in short, is not about to pass into history. It looks now as if this political spectacle will be sustained as long as President Trump remains in office.

Twitter Restricts Account of Julian Assange’s Mother

The Twitter account of Christine Assange, the mother of the arbitrarily detained founder of WikiLeaks, has been restricted, she told Consortium News on Tuesday. “My Twitter account has been ‘blocked due to ‘unusual activity,'” Ms. Assange wrote in a text message. Twitter, however, has provided her no reason for its action. ...

While a user can access her page by agreeing to view her profile, Ms. Assange told Consortium News she is unable to post new Tweets to her account.

Her last post, at 11:55 am on Tuesday in Australia, where she lives, is a retweet of an article published about her son. She posted 12 tweets in the past 24 hours. “Interesting that it followed on from a day of my tweets about free speech and calling on journalists globally to stand up for Julian,” Ms. Assange said in a text message.

In the past ten days, Ms. Assange tweeted direct replies to Hillary Clinton and John Bolton, the U.S. national security adviser. Bolton had tweeted on March 9: “US military should use #Wikileaks for cyber warfare target practice. Take down their capabilities & prevent further harm to nat’l security.” Ms. Assange’s reply to Bolton is no longer visible under his tweet. Nine replies to Bolton are now “unavailable.” Ms. Assange said in a text message that her reply began by calling Bolton’s tweet, “Fascist talk.”

Theresa May asks EU for Brexit delay with cabinet in deadlock over 'crisis'

Theresa May will be forced to write to EU leaders on Wednesday and beg them to delay Brexit, with her cabinet deadlocked over the best way out of what Downing Street now concedes is a “crisis”. The government had maintained until the last possible moment that Brexit could go ahead as planned on 29 March or after a brief “technical extension”.

But after the Speaker, John Bercow, ruled the prime minister could not put her deal to parliament unchanged for a third “meaningful vote,” her spokesman conceded it was now too late to leave with a deal. He said May would write to the European council president, Donald Tusk, to ask for an extension to article 50, before EU leaders meet in Brussels on Thursday. He declined to say how long a delay she would request, or for what purpose, simply insisting: “You’re going to have to wait for that letter to be published.” ...

Ministers discussed Brexit for about 90 minutes at what several sources said was a testy cabinet meeting on Tuesday. Insiders said opinion was more or less evenly divided, between those who favoured requesting a short, three-month extension, leaving in place the prospect of a no-deal Brexit in the summer, and those who want to see a much longer delay. Several sources said ministers emerged from cabinet unclear about what May’s personal position was on the best way forward. ...

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, hinted on Tuesday that Brussels would demand a clear answer to the question of how the government intended to proceed as the quid pro quo for granting an extension. “The key questions will be: does an extension increase the chances of the ratification of the withdrawal agreement? Will the UK request an extension because it wants a bit more time to rework the political declaration?” Barnier said. “If not, what would be the purpose and outcome of an extension? And how can we ensure that at the end of a possible extension we are not back at the same situation as we are today?”

Is Israel An Apartheid State w/Norman Finkelstein

Governments and media seek to cover up culpability for fascist attack in New Zealand

Vigils and other commemorations for the victims of last Friday’s fascist terrorist attack on two mosques in Christchurch have been attended by large and emotional audiences across New Zealand, as well as in Australia and numerous other countries. The atrocity is the worst mass killing in New Zealand’s history, and one of the most savage acts of fascist terrorism internationally. ... The solidarity events have witnessed an outpouring of impassioned opposition to anti-Muslim xenophobia and condemnation of the extreme right-wing, fascist conceptions of the man who has been charged with the terrorist act, 28-year-old Australian Brenton Tarrant.

More information is emerging to prove that Tarrant was not some “lone wolf,” let alone a “madman.” For a number of years, he has moved within, and been politically shaped by, the international fascist networks spawned by the almost universal stoking of anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim hatred by the political establishments and media in Australia and New Zealand, across Europe and in the United States. Tarrant has travelled extensively across Europe since 2012, as well as visiting Turkey, Pakistan and even North Korea. He participated in extreme right-wing discussions on 8chan, as well as commenting on posts on Facebook and other media. He did not conceal his name or his views. He claims in his manifesto to have decided to conduct an act of terrorist mass murder while in France and witnessing the defeat of the fascist National Front in the 2017 elections. From November 2018 to January 2019, as he planned Friday’s attack, he toured Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Serbia and Croatia, visiting sites of past battles against “Muslim invaders.”

The Australian and New Zealand governments continue to insist that Tarrant was “off the radar” of their intelligence agencies, whose size and resources have been vastly expanded since the “war on terror” began in 2001. While the Muslim communities of both countries have been subjected to 18 years of surveillance and numerous police actions, an individual interacting with organisations espousing fanatical right-wing views was purportedly ignored—even after he applied for a gun license at the end of 2017 and this year joined a gun club in New Zealand when he returned to the country. Tarrant, moreover, did not seek to hide his murderous intentions. Two days before the attack, he posted images on his Twitter account of his semi-automatic weapon with white supremacist slogans dubbed upon it. His fascist manifesto, which specifically named the two mosques he was going to attack, was sent out to dozens of government and media accounts some eight minutes before he initiated the massacre. If he had been under monitoring, the atrocity might have been entirely prevented.

While millions of working people have reacted with shock and anger, the official expression of horror by the political and media establishments in New Zealand, Australia and internationally is, frankly, a cover-up of their culpability in the development of fascist terrorism. In Australia, successive Liberal-National Coalition and Labor Party governments have presided over 18 years of anti-Muslim hysteria and the enforcement of a brutal and racist policy of preventing predominantly Muslim refugees from claiming asylum in the country on the grounds they could be “terrorists.” The dominant figures within the current Coalition government, including Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton and former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, are among those most associated with these policies. ...

The reality is that anti-immigrant and nationalist demagogy has been used by the capitalist ruling class internationally to try to divide the working class and scapegoat migrants for the immense and ever-widening social inequality and dysfunction of essential services. The Trump administration’s blatantly racist “America First” policies are just a particularly crude expression of a universal tendency. Ultra-right parties are now part of numerous governments in Europe or form the main official opposition, as in France and Germany. Fascism is spawned by the crisis and failure of capitalism. Its fundamental role for the capitalist class is to block and break up an independent and unified socialist movement of the working class developing for revolutionary social and political change. Tarrant spelt this out clearly in his manifesto, which is influenced by the views of an entire fascist milieu. He advocated provoking race-based violence across the United States, Europe and other countries, as it would provide the pretext for the establishment of military dictatorships and genocidal policies against socialists, immigrants and religious minorities such as Muslims and Jews.

Ardern in New Zealand and Morrison in Australia are now demanding that social media platforms do more to censor bulletin boards and postings, and impose stricter controls on the live-streaming of video. Such measures will not be primarily used to block fascist views, but to undermine the democratic rights and struggles of the working class against social inequality and war.

UK to start issuing far-right terrorism alerts

The UK is to start issuing official threat-level warnings for far-right terrorism amid rising concerns about white supremacist murder attempts, the Guardian has learned. The threat levels will be issued following assessments by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC), an elite Whitehall unit that already produces similar warnings for Islamist and Ireland-related terror.

Friday’s attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand, when 50 Muslims were murdered as they prayed, allegedly by a white supremacist gunman, have triggered fresh concerns about whether the threat from the extreme right is being taken seriously enough.

Combating far-right violence was once the responsibility of the police but top-level plots and suspects are now being tackled by Britain’s domestic intelligence agency, MI5. Public order issues and hate crime will remain with the police, and JTAC’s formal assessment of the far-right threat is expected to start this year.

'Why Educate the Public When You Can Give Billionaires Tax Cuts': Trump Budget Would Slash All Federal Funding for Media, Arts, Libraries, Museums

Despite new research showing that the arts contribute over $760 billion to the American economy each year—in addition to their many non-economic societal benefits—President Donald Trump's budget proposal calls for eliminating all federal funding for the arts, museums, humanities, public television and radios, and libraries.

"For the third time in as many years, the White House has proposed a federal budget that would shutter the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting—which supports PBS and NPR—and the Institute of Museum and Library Services," the Washington Post reported on Monday. "Like last year, the plan provides small appropriations for each agency to facilitate its orderly demise."

Framed by the Trump White House as "wasteful or unnecessary spending," the budget's proposed cuts to the arts, libraries, and humanities programs would total $897 million.

The Torture Machine: Flint Taylor on Chicago Police Brutality from Fred Hampton to Today

Coal Tax Cut Endangers Funds for Black Lung Treatment

Former coal miner John Robinson’s bills for black lung treatments run $4,000 a month, but the federal fund he depends on to help cover them is being drained of money because of inaction by Congress and the Trump administration.

Amid the turmoil of the government shutdown this winter, a tax on coal that helps pay for the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund was cut sharply Jan. 1 and never restored, potentially saving coal operators hundreds of millions of dollars a year. With cash trickling into the fund at less than half its usual rate, budget officials estimate that by the middle of 2020 there won’t be enough money to fully cover the fund’s benefit payments. ...

Trump made no mention of restoring the 2018 tax rate in his proposed budget released in mid-March. The White House said in a statement Tuesday that “President Trump and this administration have always supported the mining industry by prioritizing deregulation and less Washington interference.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whose home state of Kentucky is third in the nation in coal production, told a reporter from Ohio Valley ReSource in October the tax rate would “be taken care of before we get into an expiration situation.”

That didn’t happen. McConnell spokesman Robert Steurer didn’t repeat that pledge this week; rather, he wrote in an email, “benefits provided through the Black Lung Disability Fund continue to be provided at regular levels” and that McConnell “continues to prioritize maintaining and protecting the benefits.”

Thieves mock Trump by stealing border razor wire to protect homes in Mexico

Mexicans are building fences, and America has already paid for them.

In recent months, US authorities have unrolled miles of razor wire along the border with Mexico as part of efforts to “harden” the frontier and deter migrants from entering America illegally. But thieves in the city of Tijuana have made a mockery of Donald Trump’s attempts at beefing up border security by stealing the razor wire and reselling it to local residents in Mexico.

Residents of barrios abutting the border told XETW 12 television in Tijuana that entrepreneurial individuals have offered to sell them the stolen concertina wire and install it for just 40 pesos per home – barely $2.

Fifteen people have been arrested for stealing concertina wire, according to XETW 12, but none were held for long. The wire they offered to locals matches what was installed on the border and is not sold in Mexican hardware stores, according to local media.

Attorneys and Reporters Interrogated at Border About Political Beliefs In 'Outrageous' Violation of Rights

Rights advocates are issuing fresh warnings of intimidation and repressive tactics in the wake of new reporting about U.S. border patrol agents detaining and interrogating journalists and immigration lawyers, including questions about their political beliefs.

NBC News reported Monday that at least one journalist and four immigration lawyers were stopped at Customs and Border Protection (CBP) stations near the border in Texas and Arizona in an apparent attempt to identify individuals in the area who oppose the Trump administration.

Taylor Levy and Hector Ruiz, who were working at the border to provide legal assistance to asylum seekers, were not included on CBP's list of 59 reporters, organizers, and perceived "instigators" in the San Diego area—but both were stopped at the border in recent months and subjected to questioning and forced to hand over their cell phones to agents. "I was treated like a criminal," Ruiz told NBC of his experience being stopped by a group of agents as he was crossing the border near Juarez, Mexico.

Ruiz was asked about his political beliefs during a four-hour detention at a CBP station which continuted until he agreed to allow the agents to look through his cell phone contacts. "They asked me what my opinion was on the administration, just generally. And how we are doing economically," Ruiz told NBC.

Weeks later, Levy was stopped in her car when she was attempting to cross into El Paso. She was held for two hours in a station and told that she would be arrested if she didn't answer the CBP agents' questions.

Black Sites for Kids: Rights Advocates Outraged Over Child Immigrants Being Held at 'Off-the-Books' Detention Facilities

Immigrant rights advocates were horrified Tuesday by a new report which confirmed that the Trump administration is sending some immigrant children to clandestine facilities that are not known to their families and lawyers and are not equipped to provide care to vulnerable minors. An investigation by Reveal on Monday showed that at least 16 young immigrants—as young as nine years old and in need of mental or behavioral health treatment—have been sent by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) to "off-the-books" facilities outside the network of federally-funded detention centers. The administration is housing immigrant children with an even greater degree of secrecy than was previously known, in violation of U.S. law. At least one facility — Rolling Hills Hospital in Ada, Oklahoma—has a history of patient abuse.

The Flores settlement of 1997 requires that minors are held in U.S. custody for no more than 20 days and demands that the federal government share with a child's attorney the minor's whereabouts and release him or her to a sponsor as soon as possible—two stipulations that the ORR has blatantly flouted with its use of secret facilities.

"Detained unaccompanied children with mental health issues are some of the most vulnerable children, and when the government does not provide access to their whereabouts, it calls into question the basic underpinnings of our democratic institutions," Holly Cooper, an attorney representing unaccompanied minors in a class action lawsuit, told Reveal. ...

In addition to Rolling Hills Hospital, children have been sent to secret centers in Arkansas, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

the horse race

Cory Booker Gets Real, Hits “Senators” for Bragging About Pot Use While Drug Charges Still Dog Regular People

In Davenport, Iowa this weekend, Sen. Cory Booker twice offered veiled criticism of the lighthearted way that two of his rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination, Sens. Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders, have joked about their past use of marijuana.

In an interview with MSNBC on Monday, Booker suggested that, while he was in favor of reforming the drug laws, the gross disparity in the way that rich and poor users are currently treated by the criminal justice system makes it no laughing matter. “The privileged can break laws and not have to worry about it. There’s no difference between blacks and whites for using marijuana, or even selling marijuana, but blacks are almost four times more likely to be convicted,” Booker said.

“Now we have presidential candidates, senators, bragging about their pot use while there are kids who can’t get a job because they have a nonviolent offense for doing things that two of the last three presidents did,” he added.

While he declined to name them, both Harris and Sanders recently attracted attention for joking about their past use of the drug during interviews with “The Breakfast Club,” a nationally syndicated radio show. As the pro-legalization website Marijuana Moment first noted, Booker made similar comments one day earlier, suggesting that he plans to use the issue against rivals who both signed on as co-sponsors last month when he introduced the Marijuana Justice Act, which would remove the drug from the federal list of controlled substances and expunge past convictions.

'A Poll Tax By Any Other Name': Florida GOP Undermines Newly-Restored Voting Rights For 1.4 Million People

Civil rights advocates Tuesday slammed Republicans in Florida for passing a bill that would severely undermine a law approved by voters last year that restored voting rights to residents with felony convictions.

Four months ago, Florida voters passed Amendment 4 in a state referendum to allow many of the state's former felons to vote. But on Tuesday, the Republican-controlled House Criminal Justice Subcommittee passed CRJ 3 in a party-line vote.

While the passage of Amendment 4 was celebrated by voting rights advocates nationwide, the new GOP measure would undermine the hard won victory by requiring former felons to pay all court fees in order to have their right to vote granted.

Critics including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Public Citizen denounced CRJ 3 as a poll tax.

More than 64 percent of Florida voters approved Amendment 4 in November, restoring voting rights to about 1.4 million former felons.

the evening greens

Monsanto's weedkiller deemed a 'substantial factor' in man's cancer

Monsanto: Roundup substantial factor in man’s cancer, jury finds in key verdict

A federal jury in San Francisco found Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide was a substantial factor in causing the cancer of a California man, in a landmark verdict that could affect hundreds of other cases. Edwin Hardeman of Santa Rosa was the first person to challenge Monsanto’s Roundup in a federal trial and alleged that his exposure to Roundup caused him to develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL), a cancer that affects the immune system.

In the next phase of the case, the jury will weigh liability and damages, and Hardeman’s lawyers will present arguments about Monsanto’s influence on government regulators and cancer research.

During the trial, the 70-year-old Santa Rosa man testified that he had sprayed the herbicide for nearly three decades and at one time got it on his skin before he was diagnosed with cancer. He used the chemical to control weeds and poison oak on his properties, starting in 1986.

Hardeman’s case is considered a “bellwether” trial for hundreds of other plaintiffs in the US with similar claims, which means the verdict could affect future litigation and other cancer patients and families. Monsanto, now owned by the German pharmaceutical company Bayer, is facing more than 9,000 similar lawsuits across the US.

The unanimous ruling on Tuesday follows a historic verdict last August in which a California jury in state court ruled that Roundup caused the terminal cancer of Dewayne Johnson, a former school groundskeeper. That jury said Monsanto failed to warn Johnson of Roundup’s health hazards and “acted with malice or oppression”, awarding Johnson $289m in damages.

UNESCO Report Shows World's Most Vulnerable and Poor Paying More Than Rich for Clean Water

Globally, those who are poor or marginalized because of their identities pay far more than the rich to acquire clean water.

That's according to the new World Water Development Report (WWDR 2019), which is published annually by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization's World Water Assessment Program (UNESCO-WWAP). This year's report, entitled Leaving No One Behind, was unveiled Tuesday at an ongoing session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland.

Access to safe, affordable, and reliable drinking water and sanitation facilities such as toilets and showers are internationally recognized human rights. But as the report lays out (pdf), "billions are being left behind" in their access to both, often due to factors such as gender, age, poverty, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disabilities, religion, socio-economic class, and geographic location. With the world's population currently around 7.7 billion people, 2.1 billion lack consistent access to safe drinking water at home while 4.5 billion lack proper sanitation services.

WWDR 2019, Reuters reported, "explores how to help three groups in that category: families living in urban slums, smallholder farmers in rural areas, and people uprooted by conflicts and disasters."

Editor-in-chief Rick Connor of UNESCO said that in cities, rich homes with piped water tended to pay far less per liter, while the poor in slums often had to buy water from trucks, kiosks, and other vendors, shelling out 10 to 20 times more.

"The misperception is that they don't have water because they can't afford it—and that is completely wrong," with some spending up to 30 percent of their salaries on water, he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Refugees and internally displaced people "are among the most vulnerable and disadvantaged groups, often faced with barriers to access basic water supply and sanitation services," according to the report, which notes that by the end of 2017, an "unprecedented" 68.5 million people were forcibly displaced.

Brazilian President Bolsonaro's climate change stance threatens indigenous communities

Pesticide residues found in 70% of produce sold in US even after washing

About 70% of fresh produce sold in the US has pesticide residues on it even after it is washed, according to a health advocacy group. According to the Environmental Working Group’s annual analysis of US Department of Agriculture data, strawberries, spinach and kale are among the most pesticide-heavy produce, while avocados, sweetcorn and pineapples had the lowest level of residues.

More than 92% of kale tested contained two or more pesticide residues, according to the analysis, and a single sample of conventionally farmed kale could contain up to 18 different pesticides. Dacthal – the most common pesticide found, which was detected in nearly 60% of kale samples, is banned in Europe and classified as a possible human carcinogen in the US. ...

Other foods on the group’s “dirty dozen” list include grapes, cherries, apples, tomatoes and potatoes. In contrast, its “clean 15” list includes avocados, onions and cauliflower. ...

Despite a growing body of research, scientists say it is difficult to pinpoint how many pesticides people are exposed to in their daily lives, and in what quantity. And it is also hard to say how those chemicals in combination affect the body.

Also of Interest

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

What Republicans and Billionaires Really Mean When They Talk About ‘Freedom’

New Zealand’s Muslims say Islamophobia was a problem long before the Christchurch massacre

Christian Charity Gave Over $50 Million to Hate Groups, Report Reveals

Venezuela - Journalists Doubt Guaidó's Legitimacy - Regime Change Plans Continue

America’s Venezuela Strategy: Coup By Sheer Narrative Control

In El Paso Jails, Immigrants Are Incarcerated Far Past Their Release Dates

Bloomberg’s Armsmaker-Funded Columnist Wants You to Know: Military Spending Is Woke

The Paris of the rich is ablaze – and that image will define Macron

60 Years Ago, Racists in Congress Nearly Cost Hawaii Statehood

A Little Night Music

Howard Tate - Get it while you can

Howard Tate - Ain't nobody home

Howard Tate - Half A Man

Howard Tate - I Learned It All the Hard Way

Howard Tate - How Blue Can You Get

Howard Tate - Stop

Howard Tate - Shoot 'Em All Down

Howard Tate - Look At Granny Run Run

Howard Tate - Glad I Knew Better

Howard Tate - She's A Burglar

Howard Tate - Girl From The North Country

Howard Tate - Night Owl

Howard Tate - It's Heavy

Howard Tate - Have You Ever Had The Blues

20 users have voted.


Thanks for article on what is happening with felon's voting. Curious to see how democrats fight back on this one. Civil rights groups are certainly jumping in immediately. To me, this goes to show that it is not the Russians who are undermining democracy and elections (which I have claimed over and over), but in this case the republicans--it is Americans inside the system cheating other Americans that occurs over and over. Of course, it seems to me that democrats spent more time and attention on Russians and elections then they ever spent on real actual voter disenfranchisement.

From a perverse point of view, the cutting of all arts spending is rather a clever evil act. And where pray-tell will arts organizations high and low get their funding? Of course from rich right wing individual donors and corporations. Who loves opera more than the Kochs?

13 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


heh, the dirty little (not so) secret is that the elites have never really much wanted democracy and have rationed it carefully for the entirety of the history of the united states. we have never yet reached a point where elections are free and fair if you scratch the surface.

agreed. the attack on arts and public broadcasting funding is all about control.

4 users have voted.
Steven D's picture

These daily columns will someday provide a historical record of the damage to the lower classes and, indeed, life on this planet, that the wealthy elites have engineered over the past decade.

9 users have voted.

"You can't just leave those who created the problem in charge of the solution."---Tyree Scott

joe shikspack's picture

@Steven D

well, i guess i hope that by the time when people typically get interested in reviewing a previous period as history that there are still people to read it. on the other hand, i would be proud to offer this archive for whatever creatures succeed us. Smile

i hope all is going well, have a great evening!

5 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

The special counsel’s office did not undertake a credible investigation of the two core charges related to the 2016 elections—that Russian intelligence hacked Democratic National Committee email servers while colluding with Donald Trump as he sought the presidency. Mueller failed to call numerous key witnesses, and failed to pursue alternative theories, a duty of any investigator in Mueller’s position. These omissions are more or less fatal to the legitimacy of Mueller’s work


I beg to differ here. This was one of the first things that got Russia Gate off the ground. The biggest thing to happen after this charge was that the FBI never looked at the computers or server. The NSA could have provided proof that it happened, they haven't for what reason?

Mueller never interviewed Assange. Congress has no intention of interviewing him and Comey and Schiff stopped him from testifying because of course he could have shut the f'cking thing down. You'd think that would have been one of the most important things to happen if one is going to make that charge.

"Russia-gate,” in short, is not about to pass into history. It looks now as if this political spectacle will be sustained as long as President Trump remains in office.


Of course this is now the plan because it keeps people distracted from more important issues. People who used to follow lots of bad things that the government and country do have put all their attention on Russia Gate. So of course intentional and with Nancy, "impeachment is off the table" in charge nothing is going to happen with this waste of time. The argument against it is that the republicans won't vote for conviction. But look at how Bill's impeachment affected Gore's run and democrats after Bill left office. People distanced themselves from him. But you'd think that it would be dangerous to keep Putin's puppet in office wouldn't y'all? Kabuki BS!

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

sentenced to endlessly trudging, day after day, down the roads and sidewalks of this nation, bearing a sign that says, "remorseless apologist for torture and slaughter," or some such.

10 users have voted.

The earth is a multibillion-year-old sphere.
The Nazis killed millions of Jews.
On 9/11/01 a Boeing 757 (AA77) flew into the Pentagon.
AGCC is happening.
If you cannot accept these facts, I cannot fake an interest in any of your opinions.

snoopydawg's picture


I think Caitlin has written something about his tweet. Lotsa people still walking free after our forward looking. And Bolton's threatening people from the ICC if they dare look at our war crimes.

7 users have voted.

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

joe shikspack's picture


ick! ptoooey! that creep ari fleischer is still polluting the air with his filthy lies? disgusting.

i guess we are doomed to have to endure the russiagate drama for a while longer. time will tell if it is to end a farce or a tragedy.

7 users have voted.
The Aspie Corner's picture

11 users have voted.

Modern education is little more than toeing the line for the capitalist pigs.

Guerrilla Liberalism won't liberate the US or the world from the iron fist of capital.

joe shikspack's picture

@The Aspie Corner

good, she can demonstrate that there's really not a dime's worth of difference between the two major parties.

7 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

The Mueller report is in for endless spin no matter what is in it. In a weekend opinion item carried in The Guardian, the usually sensible Robert Reich, a former U.S. Labor secretary, suggested the impending report leaves the president trapped and desperate. “So what does a cornered president do?” Reich asked. “For starters, he raises the specter of violence against his political opponents.”

Yep. Lots of people who used to be sensible have lost their gawd damn minds over RG. My question is do they actually believe that it happened the way we've been told or are they just helping to make it look more real? And for Dawg's sake! Mueller hasn't even questioned Steele who wrote the f'cking dossier? Nor Sally Yates, Susan Rice, Loretta Lynch or others that were involved in during Obama's tenure? No of course not. Jayzus!

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


reich works hard at appearing to be reasonable, but deep down he's a party animal. he's just another liberal tool that wants to help cut a deal to save capitalism.

6 users have voted.
Lookout's picture

A long but productive day here. Funny how you can see your own progress but others not so much. So is the nature of nature I guess.

Thanks for the great round up. Saw something briefly yesterday about Maduro dismissing his cabinet, but never heard a follow up. But did catch an interesting UN presentation by Max Blumenthal's Grayzone at the UN

Here's the full 40 min
...or the pieces
Max's 20 min
Anya Parampil spoke about the US-led regime change war on Venezuela and the right-wing opposition's use of violence (12 min)
and concluding with Former UN Special Rapporteur Alfred de Zayas criticized the human rights commissioner's past reports on Venezuela, calling them "unprofessional" and politicized, denouncing an "ocean of lies." (6 min)

All the best!

9 users have voted.

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

joe shikspack's picture


i saw a report yesterday that maduro intended to reshuffle his cabinet, but there were no details. i think that his veep, delcy rodriguez, tweeted about it as well.

max blumenthal's presentation to the un was great, thanks for posting links.

have a good one!

7 users have voted.
enhydra lutris's picture

In other news, the border pigs were interrogating reporters way excessively and illegally, unless it was a trap and they were trying to trick them into letting it slip that they're in cahoots with the concertina thieves.

So we're killing civilians in air strikes. When haven't we? Wasn't McCain some sort of war hero for doing exactly that?

7 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

heh, i think that the concertina wire liberation is a great example of people with an entrepreneurial spirit redeeming a poor investment to serve a useful purpose. Smile

collateral damage is something of an american tradition, no?

4 users have voted.
mimi's picture

Statehood's history by Sarah Miller Davenport. So much to learn from it. Bookmarked and kept close by. I also read through the comment list of that article. From the first read I wonder what kind of 'monarchy' the Hawaiian natives were more opposed to, to that of their own kingdom or that of the American empire.

Thanks for that article. Need to read it a couple of more times over the days.

Thanks as always for the outstanding collection of articles.

Hope spring time is coming and the flowers keep your spirit in a good mood.

4 users have voted.

Ich schreibe was mir paßt - in memory of Steve Biko

joe shikspack's picture


heh, i'm pretty sure that the native hawaiians wanted nothing to do with the white man's proposed monarchy. one of the links in the article goes to a book review that states the following:

In 1897, as a white oligarchy made plans to allow the United States to annex Hawai'i, native Hawaiians organized a massive petition drive to protest. Ninety-five percent of the native population signed the petition, causing the annexation treaty to fail in the U.S. Senate.

spring is doing it's best to get a foothold here. no flowers yet, though.

have a great evening!

6 users have voted.
lotlizard's picture

@joe shikspack

Kūʻē — resistance — Hawaiians were opposed to U.S. federal power long before “progressive” America thought it was cool.

1 user has voted.

I just hung up my phone from speaking with a woman who will undergo brain surgery at 6 a.m. Friday. It is 7:57 p.m. now, in my time zone.
I set my alarm to get up early, will prepare her will, and numerous medical and general estate planning documents. Her middle aged daughter is 100% disabled, the 2 little non-relative kids over which she has possession. because their parents harmed them, are in great jeopardy should the woman die or become permanently disabled.
Time is of the essence.
My limited time to distract myself from the never ending pressure of my chosen profession is spent checking out the news gathered here, my way of joining (sort of) like-minded people to report and discuss (sort of) topics in which we seem to (sort of) be interested.
I am grateful for this and all efforts the contributors to the site afford to me, to all of you, and we are better off knowing the what is out there, regardless of source.
It is as important to know what the nut-jobs say as what the
good guys say.
The truth will out.
Forewarned is forearmed.

11 users have voted.
QMS's picture

@on the cusp
for your client in brain salad surgery.
You are doing good.
That is what matters.
Thanks for all you do to help.
It's important.

6 users have voted.

Listen to your higher mind.

joe shikspack's picture

@on the cusp

i wish the best of luck to your client and hope that modern medicine comes through for her and her dependents. i hope that you get what you need in the way of distractions and time off to fend off burnout from being needed too much.

It is as important to know what the nut-jobs say as what the
good guys say.

i agree completely. it is important to read broadly, know what the other guy is thinking and be aware of the biases of your sources of information.

i frequently post stuff here that i disagree with, but i feel that it's important to know the lay of the land in the public mind (such as it is).

heh, i agree that it's good to be forewarned - after all nobody wants to mess with somebody with four arms. Smile

6 users have voted.

3 users have voted.

The earth is a multibillion-year-old sphere.
The Nazis killed millions of Jews.
On 9/11/01 a Boeing 757 (AA77) flew into the Pentagon.
AGCC is happening.
If you cannot accept these facts, I cannot fake an interest in any of your opinions.

joe shikspack's picture


yep, tate really brings a new life to the song. his version of "get it while you can" is interesting to compare to janis joplin's later version of it.

3 users have voted.
lotlizard's picture

“The illusion of freedom [here, the illusion that Germany is sovereign and not still an occupied country] will continue as long as it’s profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, they will pull back the curtains, they will move the tables and chairs out of the way and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theater.”

When push comes to shove, what happened in Australia in 1975 shows how these things work.

“Gouverneur-General” Grenell.

3 users have voted.