The Evening Blues - 4-3-19
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features blues and soul singer Earl Gaines. Enjoy!
Earl Gaines - The Best Of Luck To You & Turn On Your Lovelight
"Ahh, but the strawberries that's... that's where I had them. They laughed at me and made jokes but I proved beyond the shadow of a doubt and with... geometric logic... that a duplicate key to the wardroom icebox DID exist, and I'd have produced that key if they hadn't of pulled the Caine out of action. I, I, I know now they were only trying to protect some fellow officers..."
-- "Captain Queeg"
News and Opinion
Ecuador’s president, Lenín Moreno, has said the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange had “repeatedly violated” the conditions of his asylum in the country’s London embassy, where he has lived for close to seven years. Speaking to the Ecuadorean radio broadcasters association on Tuesday, Moreno said under the terms of his asylum “Assange cannot lie or, much less, hack into private accounts or private phones” and he could not “intervene in the politics of countries, or worse friendly countries”.
Moreno fulminated that “photos of my bedroom, what I eat and how my wife and daughters and friends dance” had been circulated on social media but stopped short of directly accusing WikiLeaks of circulating hacked photos of his family and wiretapping his phone calls and private conversations. The Ecuadorean government, however, has said it believes the whistleblowing organization shared the photos, which date back several years to when Moreno and his family lived in Geneva. ...
WikiLeaks tweeted on Tuesday that Moreno had said he would take a decision about Assange’s fate “in the short term” after it had reported on an “offshore corruption scandal wracking his government”. Known in Ecuador as the Ina Papers, the scandal alleges Moreno corruptly benefitted from an offshore account in Panama. Moreno denies any wrongdoing. ...
Moreno has also accused his predecessor turned arch enemy Rafael Correa of spying on him. In September 2017, months after taking office, he accused the former Ecuadorean president of planting a hidden camera in the wall of his presidential office. Correa denies any wrongdoing.
Much better coverage than the above Guardian article is at the Consortium site. This piece is worth a full read:
Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno said Tuesday he would decide “in the short term” the fate of Julian Assange after claiming that WikiLeaks had “repeatedly violated” the terms of Assange’s asylum in Ecuador’s London embassy by commenting on a scandal linking a Panamanian investment company with Moreno and his family.
Ecuador''s President Lenin Moreno stated today that Assange has "violated the 'conditions' of his asylum" and that he will "take a decision" "in the short term" after @WikiLeaks reported on the existence of the #INAPapers offshore corruption scandal wracking his government.
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) April 2, 2019
Ecuador's Presidential spokesman claimed last night that Maduro, Assange and the country's opposition leader, @MashiRafael are trying to bring down the government, after an embarrassing offshore and lavish spending scandal [@INAPapers / #INAPapers] arose. https://t.co/YB8jQ9x5Ij
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) March 29, 2019
Assange expulsion off the back of #INAPapers offshore corruption scandal: Ecuador's former Consul to London (2010-2018) analysis
"In short, the government seeks a false pretext to end the asylum and protection of Julian Assange."https://t.co/UQft7LAXHu
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) April 2, 2019
WikiLeaks had reported about the scandal allegedly involving Moreno and his family with INA Investments Corp, though WikiLeaks has not published any documents related to the case. Moreno’s spokesman, however, has implied that WikiLeaks published documents about the scandal. A search of Wikileaks’ website shows no such files. According to Telesur English the scandal came to light in February when Ecuadorian legislator Ronny Aleaga told reporters he had “received a dossier anonymously filled with documents that will implicate Lenin Moreno and his family in alleged crimes of corruption, perjury and money laundering.” The dossier has come to be known as the INA Papers.
The story was first reported by the Ecuadorian news outlet La Fuente in an article titled: “The Offshore Labyrinth of the Presidential Circle.” Ecuadorian media reported that the attorney general’s office has initiated a preliminary investigation and that Aleaga would be summoned on Thursday to “give his version and acknowledge his complaint.” The president of the National Assembly, Elizabeth Cabezas, has also come under investigation after allegedly trying to prevent an investigation into the scandal, El Universo newspaper reported. ...
Moreno appears to have attempted to deflect from the growing scandal by using it as a pretext to blame WikiLeaks and expel Assange.
A federal judge sent Manning to jail March 6 for refusing to testify to a grand jury investigating Wikileaks. On Monday, Manning's lawyers filed a motion with the federal appeals court in Richmond seeking her release on bail while that judge's order is appealed.
Manning's lawyers cited her medical needs related to her transgender status. They also say she was illegally electronically surveilled by the government before her grand jury appearance, and that Manning can legally refuse to answer questions derived from such surveillance.
US Government's Refusal to Confirm or Deny It Put American Journalist on Drone Kill List Called 'Chilling'
The organization's comments came as part of a response to the U.S. government's attempt to dismiss a lawsuit regarding its use of the list. Reprieve is representing Bilal Abdul Kareem, a journalist and U.S. citizen who claims he was repeatedly targeted —and nearly killed on five separate occasions—by drone and missile attacks in 2016 when he was reporting on the ongoing conflict in Syria. Kareem joined an Al Jazeera journalist in 2017 in a lawsuit against the government, demanding that the Trump administration remove their names from the "kill list" of potential targets for the U.S. drone program.
"The right to due process has been a bedrock of the judicial system, and one of the pillars that support a free society going back eight centuries to the Magna Carta," wrote Tom Emswiler and Will Isenberg in the Boston Globe last summer. "It is the birthright of every American. Gaining a tactical advantage is not worth losing that heritage."
As Common Dreams reported at the time of the filing, Kareem believes the Obama administration placed him on the kill list and wants President Donald Trump to remove his name, asserting that his inclusion "is the result of arbitrary and capricious agency action, accomplished without due process, and in violation of the United States Constitution and U.S. and international law."
The government responded that if those included on the U.S. kill list were to be informed and given a trial, national security could be jeopardized during the court case. ... The government, in its motion to dismiss, said that Kareem's due process rights would be satisfied simply by allowing him to present evidence that he has been wrongly placed on the kill list, and that the government was under no obligation to respond. ...
"The government's assertion that it has the right to mark its own citizens for death, based on secret information, without affording them the legal protections offered by the Constitution, is chilling," said Jennifer Gibson, co-counsel for Kareem.
Heh, standards were made to be broken.
'Weak Journalism': NYT Fails to Disclose Op-Ed Writer's Close Family Ties to Venezuelan Opposition Leader
A recent video opinion piece published by The New York Times intended to drum up support for U.S. involvement in Venezuela failed to disclose the author's ties to the opposition government, leading to criticism from progressives of the paper's coverage. Joanna Hausmann, a comedian who posts highly viewed articles on Venezuela on YouTube, delivered a five minute, thirteen second opinion piece at the Times Monday in which she claims that the country's leader, President Nicolas Maduro, is a dictator and that the American left are his patsies.
"This movement is dangerously glorifying a brutal dictator and promoting inaction," Hausmann says in the video as quirky music plays behind her. "That is the worst combination for ordinary Venezuelans." Hausmann also claims that the country's economic problems are the fault of decades of socialist rule and that the path forward is a future without Maduro—it's implied, though never outright stated, that the answer is for opposition leader Juan Guaidó to take power.
What the video and the Times did not reveal is that Hausmann's father, Harvard University economics professor Ricardo Hausmann, currently serves as Guaidó's envoy to the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB). It's a position that, if Guaidó became president, would wield immense political and economic power. That omission was a focus of criticism from progressives. The elder Hausmann's place in the Venezuelan shadow government is a conflict that should have been made clear in his daughter's opinion video implicitly arguing for American intervention to remove Maduro.
Ricardo Hausmann's past in Venezuela should give Americans serious pause before taking him seriously, Anya Parampil argued in an early March article for Mint Press News.
Ricardo Hausmann is much more than a prominent pundit. He is one of the West’s leading neoliberal economists, who played an unsavory role during the 1980s and ’90s in devising policies that enabled the looting of Venezuela’s economy by international capital and provoked devastating social turmoil.
"She's not an independent voice but rather the failchild of Guaidó advisor Ricardo Hausmann, a man who neoliberalized and destroyed [Venezuela's] economy once before and wants to do it all over again," Parampil said.
In a response to critics, Times video producer Adam Ellick implied that because Joanna Hausmann has a sizable social media and YouTube following, disclosing her father's close ties to the Venezuelan opposition was unnecessary.
It's all about the Benjamins:
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence said that
the current price of oil remains low enough to allow the US not only to
continue with its sanctions against Iran and Venezuela, but to “bring even more pressure” on the nations going forward. ...
Yet getting exports to zero would cause a substantial shortage on the market, and there is no easy replacement available. This is doubly true with the US also forbidding Venezuela to sell oil, or at least to get paid for it. While this may ultimately cap how high the sanctions can go, the growing US oil market may suggest that this is informing the administration in both directions, and that they would not want to ease sanctions if it means US oil becomes less valuable on the world markets.
When the Trump administration on seven occasions authorized companies to share sensitive nuclear energy information with Saudi Arabia, it was supposed to consult with several agencies, including the independent Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
But NRC Chairman Kristine L. Svinicki testified before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on Tuesday that she did not know whether the agency had been consulted, and if so whether it had raised any concerns. ...
Last week, the administration divulged that it had kept secret from Congress as well as the public seven authorizations for nuclear energy companies to use in wooing Saudi Arabia, a potential customer interested in building two nuclear reactors for civilian purposes. The information kept under wraps includes the identity of the companies and the type of information. ...
In the Senate hearing Van Hollen said, “You have a statutory and regulatory role to play here, and I’ve got to say it’s astounding that not a single one of you is aware of whether, when and what role the NRC played in that particular authorization.”
A US woman who survived an attack by the Egyptian military on a group of tourists is now fighting to prevent the sale of the US-made weaponry that left her permanently scarred. April Corley from San Diego and her Mexican boyfriend Rafael Bejarano were traveling with a tour group in Egypt’s White Desert in September 2015 when they were attacked by Egyptian military, who later claimed they mistook the group for jihadist militants. ...
Corley described how the tourists scrambled for shelter as an Apache attack helicopter circled overhead, firing at them with rockets and 30mm machine guns for several hours – even while their guides desperately waved a white flag. “I played dead,” she said, describing how the helicopters returned to fire on the group for several hours, even though a member of the Egyptian tourist police was traveling with the tour vehicles which were marked with logos from the their travel company. ... “They just kept coming back around, again and again, and shooting. They wanted to wipe everything out.”
When the attack finally ended, Bejarano, his mother and six other Mexican tourists were lying dead, along with four of their Egyptian guides. Corley is now seeking to draw attention to the deadly consequences of American weaponry used on foreign soil.
The United States supplies Egypt with an average of $1.3bn in annual military aid, and Corley and her lawyers are pressuring Donald Trump to raise her case when the country’s president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, visits Washington next week. Corley has called on the US to deny Egypt the $1bn sale of a further 10 Apache AH-64E helicopters, arguing that the attack is a stark example of misuse of weapons made by the US manufacturer Boeing. ...
The 40-year-old former pilates instructor and professional rollerblader sustained injuries that doctors say she will never fully recover from. Ammunition broke her shoulder, collarbone, arm and ribs, tore off parts of her skin and ripped muscle from her bones; she still suffers from debilitating post-traumatic stress disorder. “I was not trained for war,” she said. The Egyptian government has offered her $150,000 in compensation, far short of the over $14m that Corley and her lawyers say would cover her ongoing medical bills and lifelong loss of earnings.
For officials in the Trump administration, leaving the government and writing a book has become a reliable and lucrative exit strategy — so much so that it has created a small army of literary agents who specialize in snapping up the next tell-all memoir. For anyone with name recognition in D.C., it has perhaps never been easier to scoop up a sizable advance and make the best-seller list. But for rank-and-file members of the intelligence community, the process is not so easy. Employees who formerly had access to sensitive information must submit manuscripts for a government “pre-publication review,” intended to ensure that they don’t divulge official secrets.
The result has been a massive system that processes thousands of submissions, in which the rules are broad and vague, and vary from one agency to another. The process can drag on for months or, in some cases, years, and can force authors to choose between deleting text or publishing pages of type blacked out by U.S. government censors.
But the American Civil Liberties Union and Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University are challenging this redaction regime. In a lawsuit filed on Tuesday, the groups allege that pre-publication review amounts to a “far-reaching system of prior restraint,” and that the government’s arbitrary and sometimes confounding censorship decisions are unconstitutional under the First Amendment. “This far-reaching censorship system simply can’t be squared with the Constitution,” Jameel Jaffer, executive director of the Knight First Amendment Institute, said in a statement. “The government has a legitimate interest in protecting bona fide national security secrets, but this system sweeps too broadly, fails to limit the discretion of government censors, and suppresses political speech that is vital to informing public debate.”
The lawsuit has five plaintiffs, all of whom are former members of the military or intelligence community. They allege that the delays and censorship involved in prepublication review have unfairly damaged their work as academics, authors, and outside experts, and are asking the court to stop the government from enforcing their review agreements.
Imagine the internet without all those crazy memes that make your day. That’s what Europeans are worried about after the EU Parliament voted last week in favor of a wonky-sounding law called the “copyright directive in the digital single market.”
Lawmakers claim the directive will protect the rights of online creators, but opponents say it will create an unintended consequence: restricting freedom of speech.
The most contentious section of the law, Article 13, says platforms can be sued if they don’t make “best efforts” to stop copyrighted content from being uploaded onto their sites. That’s a radical departure from the status quo, where the liability for infringing copyright currently rests with the individual user. ...
Opponents [...] believe the only feasible way to screen millions of uploads will be to use algorithm-led upload filters — which will inevitably be imperfect, error-prone and unable to tell the difference between a copyrighted image and a parody of one.
Theresa May’s cabinet descended into rows and recriminations before it settled on the uneasy decision to invite Jeremy Corbyn to help solve the UK’s Brexit crisis. During seven hours of meetings on Tuesday described as tense and gruelling, the prime minister struggled to keep order among colleagues who are vying to take her job. The outcome provoked disbelief and anger from members of the Conservative party’s largest Eurosceptic grouping, the European Research Group (ERG), some of whom doubted that they could support a subsequent deal. ...
Geoffrey Cox, the attorney general whose evidence that the UK risked being trapped in the Irish backstop indefinitely helped sink May’s deal at the second meaningful vote, urged the prime minister to make concessions to Corbyn to win a majority. Cox spoke after several ministers had argued against any further extension to article 50, and said government had to shift its position. “He said, give Labour whatever they want to get it over the line,” said a cabinet source. In what was described by two sources as one of the key moments, Michael Gove strongly agreed. ...
Former minister Conor Burns, who is from Northern Ireland, said that the deal was proof that May’s government had collapsed. The MP said: “The UK no longer has a functioning government of executive control. The prime minister has handed the future decisions over Brexit to the Labour party. It will now be for Corbyn, Diane Abbott and John McDonnell to decide if the Conservative party implements its manifesto. ...
As the meeting broke up, Jacob Rees-Mogg, the ERG’s chair, criticised the prime minister for planning to collaborate with “a known Marxist” and said the move would lose Tory votes.
The carefully crafted illusions the May administration were founded on have crumbled into dust. After three years of civil service expertise wasted, billions of pounds of growth lost and two years’ worth of legislative time squandered, Theresa May stopped trying to get Brexit through with Tory votes and turned to Jeremy Corbyn. Corbyn will be asked to co-author a new version of the political declaration acceptable to Labour or, failing that, to help engineer a majority in the Commons, either for a Norway-style deal or a customs union.
In effect, May has bottled out of a fourth “meaningful vote”, ditched the threat of no deal completely and, in a desperate attempt to avoid an election, has thrown herself on the mercy of parliament. It should show no mercy.
Labour’s proposed Brexit deal would sign Britain up to the customs union and enter a state of “dynamic alignment” with the rules of the single market. This is not the equivalent of a Norway-style deal, because it allows Britain to participate fully in the single market – with the obligation to accept freedom of movement – but to diverge over time by paying a price in lost market access. If May can accept this to the letter, and is prepared to whip her MPs for it, splitting the Tory party for a generation, Corbyn should consider the offer. But I doubt she will do so. Indeed, I doubt she will retain a shred of authority once the Tory grassroots and backbenches understand the scale of the climbdown she has made.
But what’s crucial now is that any deal done must be put to a second referendum, with remain as the other option. For the past two years, it has been pro-remain progressives who advocated a second referendum. Now, all possible outcomes look so far away from the fantasies sold to leave voters that they need to be given the option to decide whether remain is better. ...
For certain, a second referendum will be difficult. But mass ideologies deflate suddenly. There cannot legitimately be a no-deal option on the ballot paper – in which case, I expect the minority of dedicated white nationalists and xenophobes to throw the towel in. We need to break it to them as gently as possible, and offer as many as possible a way back to consensus politics, but May’s bombshell means simply: the Little English nationalist revolution is over.
The Ministry of Defence has launched an urgent investigation after a video emerged via social media that shows members of the parachute regiment firing at a poster of Jeremy Corbyn at a target range in Kabul. MoD insiders said they believed the video – which had the caption “happy with that” – was genuine, but inquiries were taking place to establish why an image of the Labour leader, studded with bullet marks, was used.
The video shows four soldiers, clearly identifiable as members of the 3rd Battalion, the Parachute Regiment, stationed in Afghanistan, using simulation weapons. Brig Nick Perry, the commander of 6th Air Assault Brigade, acknowledged the video showed a “serious error of judgment” that was “being fully investigated”. He added: “The army is, and always will be, a totally apolitical organisation.” ...
Labour sources highlighted that Corbyn and other Labour figures have been targeted in recent weeks and months, while the party pressure group Momentum said it reflected the “radicalising effect the rightwing press is having”. A Brexit supporter who hit Corbyn, assaulting him outside a mosque in north London, was jailed for 28 days last month.
The most recent 10Ks (annual reports) filed by the largest Wall Street banks covering their financial condition as of December 31, 2018, provide the strongest argument thus far for Congress to enact legislation to separate the Federally insured, deposit-taking commercial banks from the trading casinos on Wall Street. In other words, Congress needs to restore the Glass-Steagall Act, which kept the U.S. financial system safe for 66 years until its repeal in 1999.
According to JPMorgan’s 10K, it has sold credit derivative protection on $177 billion of “subinvestment grade” i.e., junk credits. When you sell credit protection, you are on the hook to pay the buyer if that entity goes belly up. When you are selling credit protection on subinvestment grade entities, it is far more likely that they could go belly up. JPMorgan Chase will likely argue that they have also purchased boatloads of credit derivatives, which might be on the same entities, but there is no way for anyone to accurately predict if this mega bank has aligned these risks correctly. ... We know very well that JPMorgan Chase “may not be successful” in managing its derivative risks because as recently as 2012 it lost at least $6.2 billion of its bank depositors’ money gambling in derivatives in London.
[See article for considerably more information about the derivative risks of pretty much all of the big Wall Street Banks. -js]
Major Nurses Union Calls Medicare X Plan 'Sub-Par and Wholly Inadequate to Address the Healthcare Crisis'
Democratic Senators Tim Kaine and Michael Bennet reintroduced their "Medicare X" public option plan Tuesday in an effort expand health insurance coverage, but National Nurses United said the bill is "sub-par and wholly inadequate to address the healthcare crisis confronting our country."
"Now is not the time for half-measures, while lives are at stake," NNU President Zenei Cortez, RN, said in a statement. Instead of embracing incremental measures, Cortez argued, Senate Democrats should line up behind Medicare for All, which would provide comprehensive health insurance to everyone at a lower overall cost to the nation.
"The solution to fix our healthcare is clear: the Medicare for All Act of 2019 (H.R. 1384), which offers real patient choice, without devastating out of pocket costs," said Cortez. "The Medicare for All Act is backed by over 100 members of Congress and will guarantee quality healthcare for everyone."
Kaine readily admitted that his legislation would not fundamentally alter the current for-profit healthcare system, which has left 30 million Americans uninsured and over 80 million more underinsured. "We preserve everything about the existing system," the Democrat from Virginia told The Hill. "And we just put one additional element into it." ...
Medicare X would allow Americans of all ages to buy a public insurance plan, which distinguishes it from other incrementalist plans Democrats have introduced in recent weeks—such as Sen. Debbie Stabenow's (D-Mich.) proposal to let Americans buy-in to Medicare at age 50. But, Cortez argued, Kaine and Bennet's plan would not do nearly enough to remedy the systemic problems and immense costs of the U.S. healthcare system.
Critics on Tuesday said the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in a case brought by a Missouri death row inmate fundamentally erodes protections against torture enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.
Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the opinion for the court's right-wing majority in the 5-4 decision, ruling that Russell Bucklew can be executed by lethal injection despite his medical condition, cavernous hemangioma. The disease, warn his legal team and medical experts, will cause Bucklew to choke for several minutes on his own blood before dying as the tumors growing in his throat and elsewhere in his body rupture.
"The Eighth Amendment does not guarantee a prisoner a painless death," wrote Gorsuch.
The decision was denounced as "atrocious," "blood-thirsty" and "barbaric" by death penalty abolitionists and other critics, with some saying the high court's approval of Bucklew's execution is tantamount to nullifying the Constitution's Eighth Amendment—the law banning cruel and unusual punishment. ...
At the legal analysis blog Above the Law, Elie Mystal wrote that Gorsuch's opinion will not only condemn Bucklew to a painful death instead of forcing the state to find a less painful method, as the inmate requested, but will weaken the Eighth Amendment's protections for other death row inmates for generations to come.
"But Neil Gorsuch is not a better man," he continued. "Instead of just killing the murderer and being done with it, Gorsuch could not resist seeing the Bucklew case as an opportunity to experiment with justifications of the state’s right to inflict suffering that have long been discarded by decent people."
Wow, it just makes you proud to be an American:
After several days of media attention, Border Patrol started moving migrants out of an open-air, fenced enclosure beneath a bridge here over the weekend. By the time a delegation of Congressional Democrats arrived to tour the holding pen on Sunday, it was almost empty. The agency said they decided to relocate the migrants to a large Border Patrol facility on the outskirts of El Paso with “more space and more shelter capability.” It turns out, they meant a parking lot.
On Monday, we spoke to more than a dozen people who were among those relocated, and had since been released. We showed them footage of the facility and tents. They confirmed that this was where they'd been taken, and insisted that it was even worse than sleeping under the bridge. “When they took me out of the bridge, I thanked God because I thought I’d be going to a better place,” said a man who asked to be known only by his first name, Gustavo. ...
“I get to this other jail, and they throw us in those tents. And then more and more and more people kept arriving, until it turned into chaos,” he said after being released to a makeshift shelter provided by an El Paso church. Gustavo described the scene at the new location as overcrowded to a point of absurdity. He estimates there were about 1,500 people crammed into the three tents, an estimate in line with those of the others we spoke with. “The kids slept on top of our feet — we were standing up, because we didn’t fit. You couldn’t see even one part of the floor. Just shoes and more shoes.”
Even though temperatures dipped into the low 40s with strong wind gusts on Sunday night, the migrants we spoke with said everyone, including children, was forced to take off any additional layers of clothing and hand them over to the officers. “I had to hand them my daughter’s sweater,” Syrly, who also asked that we only share her first name, told us. “I watched them throw it away.”
“There were 1-year-olds,” said Gustavo. “They took away their blankets and they threw them in the garbage. They took away their hats. The kids trembled.”
Nancy Pelosi – widely seen as the most powerful woman in Washington – has some advice for Joe Biden: keep your hands to yourself. As Biden, the former vice-president, scrambles to contain any political damage over his past behavior with women, the House speaker said at an event in Washington that her fellow Democrat and other male politicians should keep their distance during encounters with women and restrain from being touchy-feely.
“Join the straight-arm club with me,” Pelosi, who is the first female speaker, said of Biden during a live interview with Politico on Tuesday. “He’s an affectionate person, to children, to senior citizens, to everyone, but that’s just not the way.” ...
Pelosi said the two allegations of unwelcome contact should not keep Biden from running for the presidency in 2020. “I don’t think it’s disqualifying,” she told the event on Tuesday. But she added that Biden “has to understand that in the world we are in now, people’s space is important to them and what’s important is how they receive it, not necessarily how you intended it”. ...
On Tuesday, Bernie Sanders’ 2020 campaign manager, Faiz Shakir, strongly denied any suggestion that anyone from the senator’s team or his allies encouraged Lucy Flores to publish her account of an unwelcome interaction with Biden. “Neither the Bernie Sanders campaign nor anyone involved in it, planted, planned, persuaded, cajoled or otherwise urged Lucy Flores or anyone else to tell their story. Full stop, period, end of sentence. I don’t want to hear it. We didn’t play a role,” he said.
Flores, the former Nevada lawmaker, supported Sanders during the 2016 election and was on the board of his group Our Revolution.
Two years after leaving office, Joe Biden couldn’t resist the temptation last year to brag to an audience of foreign policy specialists about the time as vice president that he strong-armed Ukraine into firing its top prosecutor.
In his own words, with video cameras rolling, Biden described how he threatened Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in March 2016 that the Obama administration would pull $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees, sending the former Soviet republic toward insolvency, if it didn’t immediately fire Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin. ...
Interviews with a half-dozen senior Ukrainian officials confirm Biden’s account, though they claim the pressure was applied over several months in late 2015 and early 2016, not just six hours of one dramatic day. ... But Ukrainian officials tell me there was one crucial piece of information that Biden must have known but didn’t mention to his audience: The prosecutor he got fired was leading a wide-ranging corruption probe into the natural gas firm Burisma Holdings that employed Biden’s younger son, Hunter, as a board member.
U.S. banking records show Hunter Biden’s American-based firm, Rosemont Seneca Partners LLC, received regular transfers into one of its accounts — usually more than $166,000 a month — from Burisma from spring 2014 through fall 2015, during a period when Vice President Biden was the main U.S. official dealing with Ukraine and its tense relations with Russia. The general prosecutor’s official file for the Burisma probe — shared with me by senior Ukrainian officials — shows prosecutors identified Hunter Biden, business partner Devon Archer and their firm, Rosemont Seneca, as potential recipients of money.
Shokin told me in written answers to questions that, before he was fired as general prosecutor, he had made “specific plans” for the investigation that “included interrogations and other crime-investigation procedures into all members of the executive board, including Hunter Biden.”
Canada is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world, a landmark government report has found, warning that drastic action is the only way to avoid catastrophic outcomes. “The science is clear – Canada’s climate is warming more rapidly than the global average, and this level of warming effectively cannot be changed,” Nancy Hamzawi, assistant deputy minister for science and technology at Environment and Climate Change Canada, told reporters on Monday.
The report, released late on Monday by Environment and Climate Change Canada, paints a grim picture of Canada’s future, in which deadly heatwaves and heavy rainstorms become a common occurrence. Forty-three government scientists and academics authored the peer-reviewed report. While global temperatures have increased 0.8C since 1948, Canada has seen an increase of 1.7C – more than double the global average. And in the Arctic, the warming is happening at a much faster rate of 2.3C, the report says.
While the increased warming in the Arctic is not yet fully understood, snow and ice play a critical role in reflecting the sun’s radiation and heat. But scientists say the retreat of glaciers and disappearing sea ice both contribute to a feedback loop of warming, which is one of the factors contributing to Canada’s disproportionate temperature increase.
The report suggests the majority of warming felt in Canada and around the globe is the result of burning fossil fuels.
Despite the urgency of the report, Canada remains mired in a political battle over climate policy.
Securities regulators will allow oil giant Exxon Mobil to block shareholders from voting on a proposal that the company disclose goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Activist investors led by the New York state comptroller pushed the proposal, which urges Exxon to set annual targets in line with goals decided by the 2015 Paris climate agreement.
Exxon asked the Securities and Exchange Commission in January for permission to bar the resolution.
As Industrial Farming Exploded Over the Past Century, the Netherlands' Butterfly Population Plummeted 84%
Bolstering global concerns about declining biodiversity, a new study shows that as industrial farming has expanded in the Netherlands over the past century, the nation's butterfly population has plummeted by at least 84 percent, and 15 native species are now extinct.
The analysis of 71 butterfly species native to the northwestern European country was conducted by Statistics Netherlands and the Dutch Butterfly Conservation, and published Friday in the journal Biological Conservation.
Study shows butterflies in the Netherlands have declined by 84% between 1890 and 2017.
More evidence of the catastrophic declines insects & other invertebrates are suffering globally.
These largely ignored animals are the foundations of the ecosystems we all depend on to live. https://t.co/3svtD7wvCq
— Chris Cathrine (@chriscathrine) March 30, 2019
The results of the study are "more evidence of the catastrophic declines insects [and] other invertebrates are suffering globally," Chris Cathrine, director of U.K.-based ecological consulting firm Caledonian Conservation Ltd, said on Twitter.
"These largely ignored animals are the foundations of the ecosystems we all depend on to live," Cathrine added.
Noting that early collectors of butterflies didn't seek out common species, study coauthor Chris van Swaay of the Dutch Butterfly Conservation told the Guardian that "we are quite sure that the real decline must be much larger."
As Van Swaay explained to the newspaper, experts believe a key driver of the regional decline has been industrial farming across the lowlands of western Europe:
Before 1950 or so, grasslands in the Netherlands very much resembled what we now only have left in some nature reserves—they were wet, they had lots of flowers, were lightly grazed, and mown only once or twice a year. This was very low-intensity farming.
In two decades after the 1950s, the countryside was rebuilt—land was drained and planted with one species of grass, large amounts of fertilizer was put on the land, and it was mown six times a year. There is no room for butterflies except on road verges and nature reserves. The countryside is more or less empty.
... The new findings on the country's butterfly numbers, Van Swaay said, shows that "industrial agriculture is simply leaving hardly any room for nature."
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Earl Gaines - Baby, Baby, What's Wrong
Earl Gaines - Please Love Me
Earl Gaines - Can't Keep From Cryin'
Earl Gaines - Have Faith (In Me)
Earl Gains - It's Worth Anything
Earl Gaines - It's Drivin' Me Mad
Earl Gaines - It's Love Baby (24 Hours A Day)
Earl Gaines - 24 Hours a Day
Earl Gaines - You Belong To Me
Earl Gaines - Soul Children
Earl Gaines & Roscoe Shelton - Be Good or Be Gone