The Evening Blues - 4-25-19



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


Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features Chicago blues singer Jimmy Reed. Enjoy!

Jimmy Reed - Big Boss Man

"It takes a disciplined imagination to acknowledge that the less personal savageries of bombs, missiles, artillery and heavy weapons are, to those blown to smithereens, also barbaric. The main horror of what the coalition is doing is not a matter of the occasional soldier who, in the heat of battle, commits a war crime, but the steady destruction rained on cities, villages, the Iraqi people. This violence is wreaked calmly, from a distance, within the rules of engagement. The war itself is the American war crime."

-- James Carroll


News and Opinion

'Unprecedented': UN Finds US-Backed Forces Killed More Afghan Civilians Than Taliban and ISIS Did So Far in 2019

In an "unprecedented" revelation that highlights the consequences of the seemingly endless war in Afghanistan, the United Nations announced Wednesday that U.S.-backed forces killed more Afghan civilians than the Taliban and other armed anti-government groups did in the first three months of this year.

A new quarterly report (pdf) from the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) shows that "pro-government forces," including both Afghan and international troops, killed 305 civilians from January to the end of March.

That compared with 227 civilians killed by "anti-government elements" such as the Taliban and ISIS. There were 49 unattributable deaths, which includes those caught in crossfire. ...

"In Afghanistan, massive airstrikes, drone operations, and brutal night raids are killing more civilians in these days than any insurgent group does," Emran Feroz, a Austro-Afghan independent journalist and founder of Drone Memorial, tweeted Wednesday, citing the report. "This is not a surprise for those who are researching for years."

A “Death Trap” in Raqqa: Amnesty Finds U.S.-Led Coalition Killed More Than 1,600 Syrian Civilians

Leaders warned Navy SEALs that reporting alleged war crimes could cost them their careers

Chief Special Warfare Operator Edward "Eddie" Gallagher has been accused of killing an unarmed ISIS fighter with a hunting knife and firing on civilians with a sniper rifle while deployed in Iraq, as well as obstructing justice by attempting to intimidate his fellow SEALs. He allegedly threatened to kill teammates that spoke to authorities about his alleged actions.

Gallagher was arrested in September 2018 following allegations of intimidating witnesses and obstruction of justice, and he was detained at San Diego's Naval Consolidated Brig Miramar. He was officially charged in January with premeditated murder, among other crimes. ...

His direct superior, Lt. Jacob Portier, is accused of failing to report Gallagher's alleged crimes and burying/destroying evidence. Portier has pleaded not guilty. Gallagher, a decorated SEAL who earned a Bronze Star for valor, has pleaded not guilty, and his defense is denying all charges.

When his teammates, members of SEAL Team 7's Alpha Platoon, met privately with their troop commander at Naval Base Coronado in March 2018 to discuss Gallagher's alleged crimes, they were encouraged to keep quiet. The message was "stop talking about it," one SEAL told investigators, according to The New York Times, which obtained a copy of the 439-page report.

Navy SEALs Tried for Months to Report Superior for War Crimes and Were Told to “Let It Go”

As Oil Prices Rise on End of Iran Waivers, Trump Aide Vows Oil Prices Won’t Rise

One would think hindsight would be 20:20 on the US ending Iran oil waivers on Monday and the surging price of oil in the first 48 hours since that happened. The Trump Administration remains upbeat, however, and confident that what clearly just happened won’t happen.

Trump economic adviser Larry Kudlow made comments Tuesday at the National Press Club, comments which again came two days after the announcement, and after two days of prices going up substantially, assuring that there would be no price increase.

“I don’t see any palpable impact. The world is awash with oil,” Kudlow told the audience. That clearly appears to have been the administration’s rationale, with several officials emphasizing the excess oil on the market before this move was ultimately made. Their math was a bit off though.

War on Iran & Calling America’s Bluff

The Trump administration once again has graphically demonstrated that in the young, turbulent 21st century, “international law” and “national sovereignty” already belong to the Realm of the Walking Dead. As if a deluge of sanctions against a great deal of the planet was not enough, the latest “offer you can’t refuse” conveyed by a gangster posing as diplomat, Consul Minimus Mike Pompeo, now essentially orders the whole planet to submit to the one and only arbiter of world trade: Washington.

First the Trump administration unilaterally smashed a multinational, UN-endorsed agreement, the JCPOA, or Iran nuclear deal. Now the waivers that magnanimously allowed eight nations to import oil from Iran without incurring imperial wrath in the form of sanctions will expire on May 2 and won’t be renewed. The eight nations are a mix of Eurasian powers: China, India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, Italy and Greece. Apart from the trademark toxic cocktail of hubris, illegality, arrogance/ignorance and geopolitical/geo–economic infantilism inbuilt in this foreign policy decision, the notion that Washington can decide who’s allowed to be an energy provider to emerging superpower China does not even qualify as laughable. Much more alarming is the fact that imposing a total embargo of Iranian oil exports is no less than an act of war.

Those subscribing to the ultimate U.S, neocon and Zionist wet dream – regime change in Iran – may rejoice at this declaration of war. But as Professor Mohammad Marandi of the University of Tehran has elegantly argued, “If the Trump regime miscalculates, the house can easily come crashing down on its head.” Reflecting the fact Tehran seems to have no illusions regarding the utter folly ahead, the Iranian leadership — if provoked to a point of no return, Marandi additionally told me — can get as far as “destroying everything on the other side of the Persian Gulf and chasing the U.S. out of Iraq and Afghanistan. When the U.S. escalates, Iran escalates. Now it depends on the U.S. how far things go.” ...

IRGC [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] Navy Commander Rear Admiral Alireza Tangsiri has evoked the unthinkable in terms of what might develop out of the U.S. total embargo on Iran oil exports; Tehran could block the Strait of Hormuz. Vast swathes of the ruling classes across the West seem to be oblivious to the reality that if Hormuz is shut down, the result will be an absolutely cataclysmic global economic depression. ... If Tehran were totally cornered by Washington, with no way out, the de facto nuclear option of shutting down the Strait of Hormuz would instantly cut off 25 percent of the global oil supply. Oil prices could rise to over $500 a barrel, to even $1000 a barrel.

Iran will continue to defy US oil sanctions, says Tehran

The Iranian foreign minister, Javad Zarif, has said Tehran will continue to defy US sanctions by finding buyers for its oil and warned that Washington should “be prepared for the consequences” if it tries to stop it. The US announced the sanctions in November but some countries got temporary waivers that allowed them to import Iranian oil. Washington now says those waivers, which mainly affect China, India, Japan, South Korea and Turkey, will expire on 2 May.

Zarif, seen as the moderate face of Iran and speaking in New York, said Tehran would also keep the Strait of Hormuz open for oil exports. “We believe that Iran will continue to sell its oil. We will continue to find buyers for our oil and we will continue to use the Strait of Hormuz as a safe transit passage for the sale of our oil. It is in our interest, our vital national security interest, to keep the Persian Gulf open, to keep the Strait of Hormuz open.”

He added that if the US entered the Strait, they had to “talk to those who are protecting the Strait of Hormuz, and that is (the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps)“. The IRGC has been designated a foreign terrorist organisation by the Trump administration. ...

His remarks suggest Tehran appears to have decided the best course is to ride out Trump’s sanctions in the hope that the presidential elections in 2020 will bring a Democrat to office willing to revert to the 2015 deal. Most Democratic presidential candidates have said they will honour the Obama deal again, giving Tehran an incentive to keep its economy afloat by any means until then.

Zarif also lashed out at Trump for failing to condemn the mass execution by Saudi Arabia of 38 people in one day.

Saudi Arabia beheaded a pro-democracy protester set to attend college in U.S.

In 2011, when he was a teenager, Mujtaba al-Sweikat attended a handful of pro-democracy rallies in Saudi Arabia. This week, after imprisoning him for seven years, the Saudi government beheaded him. Prior to his arrest, al-Sweikat was set to attend Western Michigan University, and in 2017 his case made national news after faculty at the university pleaded for his release.

Al-Sweikat was arrested in 2012 after attending several pro-democracy protests, according to the Detroit Free Press. He was accused of armed disobedience, injuring security forces, destroying public property, causing chaos and disrupting the peace. Authorities described his charges as terrorism-related, according to the Detroit News.

A press release from the Saudi Press Agency on Tuesday stated that al-Sweikat was executed alongside 36 other people, some of whom were charged with setting off explosives that allegedly killed security officers. But Amnesty International dismissed the legitimacy of their convictions, saying they “relied on confessions extracted through torture.” Another person listed on the Saudi Press Agency announcement, Abdulkareem al-Hawaj, was convicted on charges relating to pro-democracy protests. He was 16 when he was arrested.

UK condemns Saudi Arabia over 'repulsive' mass executions

Britain has issued its sharpest condemnation of the direction of Saudi Arabian human rights policy, describing its mass executions as “repulsive” and “utterly unacceptable in the modern world”. The remarks came after further details emerged of the Saudi government’s execution on Tuesday of 37 people, including three who were minors at the time of their alleged offence. One of those executed was then crucified, according to Saudi state media.

The Foreign Office minister Sir Alan Duncan, answering an urgent question in the Commons, spurned the usual diplomatic niceties, saying the mass executions were “a deeply backward step which we deplore”. He added it was “deplorable and totally unacceptable” that at least one of those executed had been a minor at the time of the arrest. ...

The Treasury minister Liz Truss said there needed to be a review of UK policy towards Saudi Arabia, while Labour MPs called for the country to be stripped of the right to host the G20 summit next year. ...

Thirty-three of the 37 executed in six cities on Tuesday were Shia Muslims, often suspected by Saudi authorities of being loyal to Iran.

Duncan said: “The broader picture does give growing cause for concern if you look at those executed – the number, the Shia, the minors, those whose crimes we do not know, the Khashoggi incident, we will be very robust in the representations we make in the embassy and at a minister to minister level. ... He extended his criticism to the Saudi-led war in Yemen, saying: “Bombings in Yemen do not really achieve any of the objectives they have set out to achieve and we need a political settlement as a matter of urgency.”

'200,000 tons of [US] diplomacy' are prowling the Mediterranean - US ambassador to Russia

Benjamin Netanyahu Plans to Name an Illegal Settlement in Donald Trump’s Honor

Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, announced on Tuesday that he plans to name a new illegal settlement in the occupied Golan Heights in honor of Donald Trump, to thank the American president for agreeing to overlook the unlawful nature of Israel’s annexation of the territory seized from Syria in 1967.

Netanyahu made his announcement during a Passover holiday trip to the Golan Heights, accompanied by his wife and two sons. One of the prime minister’s sons, Yair, spent part of the holiday taunting Palestinian refugees. After first posting images of the ruins of Lifta, a village outside Jerusalem Palestinians were forced to flee in 1948, following attacks by Jewish militias, Yair Netanyahu argued on Twitter that Mark Twain’s account of his trip to Palestine in 1867, “Innocents Abroad,” should be treated as proof that it was “an empty land” before Zionist pioneers arrived to establish a Jewish homeland.

The naked appeal to Trump’s vanity — proposing to add his name to the map of the Middle East even as it disappears from apartment buildings in New York — came as Israeli officials expressed alarm that the American president had not yet done enough to sabotage the Iran nuclear deal. Colin Kahl, who was former Vice President Joe Biden’s national-security adviser when the deal was being negotiated, said on Tuesday that he had heard those concerns in person. “In Israel last month, people close to Netanyahu told me their top objective was to encourage Trump to pressure Iran to the point that it exits the nuclear deal so it can’t be put back together by a Democratic administration in 2021,” Kahl wrote on Twitter. ...

Netanyahu’s aides have watched anxiously, Haaretz reported on Tuesday, as several leading contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination — including Sens. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Kamala Harris — have expressed support for reversing Trump’s decision to withdraw from the deal should they succeed him.

San Francisco approves homeless shelter despite backlash from wealthy residents

Authorities in San Francisco have approved plans for a homeless shelter that had faced fierce protests from wealthy local residents. Tuesday’s unanimous vote by San Francisco’s port commissioners was the culmination of weeks of contention that began with residents of one of the city’s most desirable waterfront neighborhoods raising more than $101,000 in a crowdfunding campaign to pay for an attorney to fight the construction of the Navigation Center.

“It’s unfortunate that the industry around homelessness and affordable housing was able to prevail at this stage, but this is far from over,” Andrew Zacks, the attorney hired by the residents, told the Guardian. ...

Opponents to the proposed 200 beds that would come with this shelter say their ultimate concern is safety. But at Tuesday’s meeting, some also appeared concerned with image; the waterfront’s scenic views and seaside bike lanes attract tourists by the millions. Residents waved orange signs reading: “This is San Francisco’s Front Yard”. ...

“That slogan came from a comment at the previous meeting, that we don’t even put our Recology [waste processing] center in the front yard, we put it in the back yard,” said Kelley Cutler, the human rights organizer for the Coalition on Homelessness. “So that’s where the slogan came from: you’re putting ‘the trash’ in the front yard.” Cutler and the Coalition on Homelessness is used to getting pushback whenever a proposal for a homeless shelter comes up, but the level of “vitriol and hate” was unprecedented, Cutler said. ...

Zacks, the attorney for the residents, has already filed a brief objecting to the process by which the port commission approved the plans for the homeless shelter. He is also questioning whether the project should be exempt from a full environmental review or if it should undergo the lengthy process required under state law.

Facebook's Hire of Patriot Act Co-Author Raises Questions on Company's Commitment to Privacy

Social media giant Facebook made a major hire Monday, bringing on lawyer Jennifer Newstead as the company's general counsel—a move that generated criticism due to Newstead's work two decades ago drafting the Patriot Act. ... During her time in the Bush administration, Newstead was known for being the "day to day manager of the Patriot Act in Congress," according to torture memo author John Yoo.

Newstead's history in government, though, triggered criticism of Facebook for putting her in a position of power—especially in light of recent comments from the company's founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg that emphasized a more secure and private experience for users.

The Observer, in a report on the hire, took a skeptical view of Newstead's past as far as it related to tech.

Ironically, the newly minted Facebook chief lawyer has made a career out of helping the government gain access to private citizens' data in the name of security. Perhaps the most notable of Newstead's work is helping draft and present Congress with the Patriot Act, a post-9/11 bill that helped the Bush administration utilize Americans' phone and internet records.

Thus, as technologist Ashkan Soltani pointed out to Politico, the hire of Newstead is incompatible with the company's public pivot to privacy.

"It's almost as if we're living in some bizarro world where the company does exactly the opposite of what Zuckerberg states publicly," said Soltani.

Trump says aides need not testify to Congress amid growing power struggle

Donald Trump has said he is opposed to current and former White House aides testifying to congressional committees about special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian election interference. In an interview with The Washington Post, the US president claimed his administration cooperated with Mueller’s investigation and did not need to comply with congressional committees examining possible obstruction of justice on his part.

“There is no reason to go any further, and especially in Congress where it’s very partisan – obviously very partisan,” Trump told the Post. “I don’t want people testifying to a party, because that is what they’re doing if they do this.”

The remarks pointed to a deepening power struggle between the White House and Congress as shockwaves from the Mueller report continue to reverberate in Washington.

GCHQ says US president’s claim that it spied on his election campaign is ‘utterly ridiculous’

Donald Trump has repeated unproven and unverified accusations that British intelligence agencies spied on his election campaign, just a day after the UK confirmed he had been invited to London on a state visit to meet the Queen. The tweet also prompted GCHQ to reiterate that the US president’s claims were “utterly ridiculous”, although the foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, maintained that the “special relationship” remained intact.

Trump was apparently tweeting in response to an item on the conservative cable cable channel One America News Network, repeating an unproven conspiracy theory that originally dates back to 2017. The president had tweeted that “Former CIA analyst Larry Johnson accuses United Kingdom Intelligence of helping Obama Administration Spy on the 2016 Trump Presidential Campaign,” and added: “WOW! It is now just a question of time before the truth comes out, and when it does, it will be a beauty!”

When asked about Trump’s tweet, GCHQ referred reporters to its previous denials. Giving an on-the-record statement in response to a politician is almost unheard of for the secretive agency, which is reluctant to get drawn into public disputes.

As Treasury Stonewalls, House Dems Urged to Subpoena Trump Taxes or Hold Mnuchin in Contempt

After Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on Tuesday missed yet another deadline to turn over President Donald Trump's tax returns and signaled he has no intention of willingly giving Congress the documents, progressive advocacy groups urged Democrats to try to force the White House's hand with a subpoena or a possible contempt charge.

Tax March and Stand Up America applauded House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) for working to obtain the president's tax returns, but said he must go further in the face of the Trump administration's "illegal" refusal to comply.

"He cannot let the Trump administration hide critical information that will allow both Congress and the American people to hold President Trump accountable," the groups said in a joint statement Tuesday. "He has no choice but to subpoena the tax returns from the Treasury Department and force the IRS to comply with his request."

"If this stonewalling continues," the statement continued, "House Democrats should look into holding Secretary Mnuchin in contempt of Congress."

'Historic Step' Toward Healthcare Justice as First-Ever Medicare for All Hearing Set for Next Week

In what grassroots activists celebrated as a "historic step" toward a just healthcare system that places the needs of patients over corporate profits, the House Rules Committee announced late Tuesday that it will hold the first-ever congressional hearing on Medicare for All next week.

"I'm proud to announce this historic hearing on Medicare for All legislation," Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), chairman of the Rules Committee, said in a statement. "I'm a proud co-sponsor of this bill. It's a serious proposal that deserves serious consideration on Capitol Hill as we work toward universal coverage."

The hearing on Rep. Pramila Jayapal's (D-Wash.) Medicare for All Act of 2019—which currently has 108 co-sponsors in the House—will take place on Tuesday, April 30th at 10 am ET. "Healthcare is a human right and I'm proud the Rules Committee will be holding this hearing on the Medicare for All Act," Jayapal said in a statement.

"Even with passage of the Affordable Care Act," the congresswoman added, "there are more than 70 million people either without coverage or have coverage that leaves them still unable to access medical care due to prohibitively high out-of-pocket costs. There is no other developed country on the face of the Earth that has a healthcare system that is as fragmented and costly as ours. The health outcomes and barriers to care in America are the worst of any industrialized nation."

Under Jayapal's legislation, the United States would transition to a single-payer system over a two-year period, and every American would receive comprehensive health coverage including dental, vision, reproductive health, and mental health for free at the point of service.

Julian Assange was denied access to lawyers, visitors in Britain’s Belmarsh prison

WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange has spent most of the past two weeks in isolation at Belmarsh prison said Christine Assange, his mother, on Monday. Assange had “still not been able to receive any visits. Not even from his lawyers!” Mrs. Assange said on Twitter on April 22. She added that his treatment had been “outrageous, & appears punitive to continue to keep him isolated.”

Mrs. Assange noted that Belmarsh has been dubbed “the UK’s Guantanamo,” after the US military prison notorious for indefinite detention, torture, protracted isolation and other violations of human rights. It is where most British individuals charged with terrorism offences have been imprisoned.

Some 36 hours after she issued her tweet, Mrs. Assange stated on April 24: “Julian has had one video conference with his lawyers & they will visit him at Belmarsh Prison on April 26. Many thanks to all those calling for this visit from his lawyers.” WikiLeaks subsequently confirmed that Assange will have an “in person visit” with his legal team “in the coming days.” ...

The apparent denial of the WikiLeaks founder’s right to hold in person consultations with his legal counsel, in the days after his arrest and conviction on the bail charges, casts grave doubt that he will be afforded due process. It is a further indication that the Trump administration’s request for Assange’s extradition to the US and the resulting legal proceedings in Britain are a pseudo-judicial cover for an extraordinary rendition operation, aimed at placing the WikiLeaks publisher in the clutches of the war criminals and CIA torturers he has done so much to expose.

Florida police duo who slammed black teen's head suspended as outrage grows

Two Florida sheriff’s deputies who pepper-sprayed and punched a 15-year-old black student in the head during a violent arrest were beginning a paid suspension on Wednesday, amid growing calls for the officers to be fired. Cellphone video of the incident, which has been widely shared on social media, also captured the two white officers body slamming the boy, Delucca Rolle, to the ground and smashing his face into the concrete several times. ...

“It’s child abuse,” said Sue-Ann Robinson, attorney for the teenager’s family. “He’s 15 years old, he’s an eighth-grader. The actions by the officers on the video are unconscionable.”

Rolle was one of a number of youths from a nearby high school who had gathered outside a McDonald’s restaurant in Tamarac, Florida, after lessons last Thursday. Rolle’s family insist he was picking up a cellphone that a classmate had dropped when one officer, who was present because of a fight between students the day before, pepper-sprayed and jumped on him.

The Broward state attorney, Mike Satz, met the boy and his family on Tuesday, and announced he was dropping all charges against the student and continuing to pursue a criminal investigation into the officers’ conduct.

The Florida Senate just voted to let teachers bring guns into the classroom

Florida lawmakers just took a huge step toward arming teachers in their state — against the wishes of the students who survived the Parkland mass shooting on Valentine’s Day 2018.

On Tuesday, state senators voted 22-17 in favor of expanding the existing Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program — named for the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School coach who died trying to protect students — to allow teachers to bring guns into their classrooms. The program currently applies only to non-teaching staff like janitors and athletic coaches.

The bill is now expected to sail through the Republican-controlled House, and Gov. Ron DeSantis has already signaled his support.

School boards will still have the final say and would be required to vote on whether to arm their district’s teachers. Teachers who volunteer to carry guns would then be required to undergo a psychological test and a minimum of 144 hours of firearms training.



the horse race



Hours After Entering 2020 Race, Biden to Attend Big-Money Fundraiser Hosted by Comcast, Blue Cross Execs

Hours after officially entering the 2020 Democratic presidential field Thursday morning, former Vice President Joe Biden is expected to head to the Philadelphia home of Comcast executive David Cohen for a big-dollar fundraiser that will reportedly be attended by Democratic lawmakers, the CEO of insurance giant Independence Blue Cross, and other high-powered party players. ...

As Politico reported on the eve of Biden's 2020 announcement, the former vice president "raised the alarm about fundraising" in a conference call with top donors, expressing the need to have a big first-day haul. "The money's important," Biden reportedly said during the call, according to a anonymous participant who recounted the remarks to Politico. "We're going to be judged by what we can do in the first 24 hours, the first week."

While Biden has vowed to join most other 2020 Democratic candidates in rejecting campaign contributions from lobbyists, HuffPost's Kevin Robillard pointed out that Biden's planned fundraiser with corporate executives Thursday evening "shows the limitations of such a pledge."

Though Cohen is technically not a registered lobbyist, he directs Comcast's lobbying operations—a distinction that critics said allows him to skirt federal lobbying regulations. According to the Philadelphia Business Journal, "Cohen sent an email to potential contributors Wednesday soliciting donations of $2,800, the maximum federal primary contribution for the event."

As Sludge's Donald Shaw reported, Comcast "has been a leading voice in the telecommunication industry's efforts to oppose net neutrality rules, spending millions on lobbying against laws at the federal and state levels that would prohibit internet service providers (ISPs) from giving priority treatment to certain types of traffic."

From Crime Bill to Iraq War Vote, Biden’s Legislative History Under Scrutiny as He Enters Race

Young Democrats at 31 College Campuses Call for Boycott of the DCCC

Young Democrats at 31 colleges across the country are boycotting the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee over its decision to cut off vendors working for primary challengers.

The Harvard College Democrats released a letter Wednesday calling for a national boycott of donations to the party’s House campaign arm, urging people instead to contribute to individual candidates until the DCCC reverses the rule. By Wednesday afternoon, 26 chapters of college Democrats from Spelman to Arizona State had signed the letter calling the policy “regressive” and “undemocratic.” By Thursday, five more joined. Hank Sparks, president of the Harvard College Democrats, said he has emails waiting in his inbox from six other chapters hoping to sign on. ...

“The rule would financially deter and greatly disadvantage vital new voices in our party, who are often younger and come from underrepresented and historically marginalized communities and identities,” the students’ letter reads. “Primary challengers are essential to ensure that the Democratic Party is continually held accountable to the needs of our constituents. This blacklist policy is undemocratic and antithetical to our values of inclusion and diversity.”

The students also call out the DCCC for releasing the vendor rule alongside a statement affirming its commitment to diversity. They cite Ayanna Pressley, who said that Democrats “cannot credibly lay claim to prioritizing diversity & inclusion when institutions like the DCCC implement policies that threaten to silence new voices and historically marginalized communities.”

Mike Gravel Pulls Democrats LEFT In Presidential Race



the evening greens

Millions more Americans breathing dirty air as planet warms, study finds

An increasing number of Americans live in places with unhealthy levels of smog or particulate air pollution – both of which are being made worse by climate change, according to a new report. Air quality in the US has been improving since the 1970s, but that progress may be backsliding and 43% of Americans are now living in places where they are breathing unsafe air, according to the American Lung Association report.

As temperatures rise, wildfires are getting worse and spewing smoke across the west. And more smog, or ozone, is forming on warmer days. For the three hottest years on record, 2015 through 2017, about 141 million people lived in US counties that saw unhealthy levels of particle pollution, either in a single 24-hour period or over a year, or unhealthy levels of smog. That is 7 million more people than in the group’s last report.

“We’re seeing in this year’s report the impacts of climate change on air quality in really stunning terms,” said Paul Billings, a vice-president for the association. ...

Air pollution has fallen for decades in the US, due to pollution laws like the 1970 Clean Air Act and the use of less coal and more natural gas. One 2018 study found that deaths from air pollution in the US were cut in half between 1990 and 2010. But they still accounted for one out of every 35 deaths – more than from traffic accidents and shootings combined. ... The Trump administration has sought to roll back Obama-era environmental progress, including on air and climate pollution regulations, such as rules for power plants and cars

Green Groups Urge Court to Stop Trump Effort to Approve 'Climate-Wrecking, Wildlife-Killing' Keystone XL

A coalition of environmental groups filed a brief Tuesday urging the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to reject President Donald Trump's latest effort to green-light TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline.

"Trump's trying to ram this dirty pipeline down America's throat, but we're not falling for it," Jared Margolis, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement. "He can't just approve this climate-wrecking, wildlife-killing project however he wants and avoid the environmental reviews required by law." ...

The environmentalists' brief, which calls on the court to uphold the injunction against Keystone construction, comes nearly a month after the Trump administration issued a presidential permit in an effort to give TransCanada the authority to build its pipeline. ...

Marcie Keever, legal director at Friends of the Earth, echoed this criticism in a statement on Tuesday, accusing Trump of "a blatant attempt to circumvent the actions the federal court took to stop construction on the Keystone XL Pipeline."

"When a foreign company can call up the U.S. president to cash in a favor to side-step our judicial system, we will demand the courts respond," Keever said. "This case has become about far more than this dirty, climate-destroying pipeline, it is now another chapter in Trump's story of corruption and greed in the face of the law."

Brazil: indigenous people rally in capital to protest against Bolsonaro onslaught

Thousands of indigenous people have descended on Brazil’s capital Brasília to protest against a widespread assault on indigenous rights and territories by the government of the far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro. Up to 4,000 indigenous people from all over the country are expected to join the annual demonstration, which organizers say has taken on new significance after Bolsonaro – who has repeatedly called into question the existence of indigenous reserves – took power in January.

“We are defenders of the land, we are defenders of the Amazon, of the forest. The white man is our finishing off our planet and we want to defend it,” said Alessandra Munduruku, a representative from the Munduruku tribe who had travelled from the Amazonian state of Pará to join the “Free Land” protest camp near Brazil’s congress.

Elected with the help of powerful agribusiness and evangelical lobbies, Bolsonaro has vowed to freeze demarcations of new indigenous reserves, revoke the protected status of others, and free up commercial farming and mining on others such as the landmark Yanomami territory. The Yanomami reserve is Brazil’s biggest and has long suffered from the presence of illegal goldminers, known as garimpeiros, whose interests Bolsonaro has also promised to protect.

Indigenous leaders are incensed by the Bolsonaro government’s decision to transfer responsibility for demarcation of indigenous reserves to Brazil’s agriculture ministry, which is controlled by members of a powerful farming lobby that has long opposed indigenous land rights. They also object to a decision to hand control of Brazil’s cash-strapped indigenous agency Funai to a new ministry of women, family and human rights presided over by a conservative evangelical pastor. ...

Ramping up the tension, Bolsonaro’s justice minister, Sérgio Moro, last week authorised the national force – Brazil’s national guard – to take control of the area where the three-day indigenous event is being held, stirring fears of possible clashes with protesters.


Also of Interest

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

21,000 Years Lost and Counting: Prosecutors Are Working to Clear Wrongful Convictions, but Their Record Is Mixed

It's time for nations to unite around an International Green New Deal

End Of Sanction Waivers For Iran's Oil Will Hurt Trump's Voter Support

Coalition Airstrikes in Raqqa Killed at Least 1,600 Civilians, More Than 10 Times U.S. Tally, Report Finds

Ex-U.S. Marine accused in North Korean embassy raid ordered detained in L.A

The “Shelby Mafia” Is Muscling Through a Major New Bank Merger

Matt Taibbi: The Press Will Learn Nothing From the Russiagate Fiasco

Assange’s Imprisonment Reveals Even More Corruption Than WikiLeaks Did

Daniel Ellsberg Speaks Out on the Arrest of Julian Assange

The Bloody History of Border Militias Runs Deep — And Law Enforcement Is Part of It

Texas executes 'avowed racist' behind brutal killing of James Byrd Jr

As Support for Extinction Rebellion Soars, Group Says London Occupations Will End But 'International Rebellion' Will Continue

NYC vs Another Fracked Gas Pipeline: Notes From Activists On The Ground

Joe Biden Is a Fraud, Plain and Simple


A Little Night Music

Jimmy Reed - High and Lonesome

Jimmy Reed - Close Together

Jimmy Reed - You've Got Me Dizzy

Jimmy Reed - You Don't Have To Go

Jimmy Reed - Ain't That Lovin' You

Jimmy Reed - Boogie in the Dark

Jimmy Reed - Going To New York

Jimmy Reed - Shame, Shame, Shame

Jimmy Reed - Bright Lights, Big City


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snoopydawg's picture

that will make countries stop supporting them? The biggest outcry was over Kasshogi's murder. Not what they are doing to Yemen or the beheadings. Or the crucifixtion that happened so soon after Easter. Just what did they gain by killing the young man or any of the rest of them? Obedience?

Yep. That's exactly what would happen if it was anyone we are trying to overthrow. I'm betting that there will be a day when cops go too far.

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14 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

@snoopydawg

heh...

anything that the Saudis can do that will make countries stop supporting them?

get poor and/or run out of oil.

Just what did they gain by killing the young man or any of the rest of them? Obedience?

it's a matter of subjugating a religious minority and asserting the global dominance of their sect.

yep, that video of the french police running amok might yet get relabeled and distrubuted as a venezuela video. Smile

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9 users have voted.
GreatLakeSailor's picture

@snoopydawg

follow link to see whole thread
https://twitter.com/historic_ly/status/1121427138832470016

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3 users have voted.

Compensated Spokes Model for Big Poor & Big Peace.

snoopydawg's picture

@GreatLakeSailor

Thanks for posting it.

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3 users have voted.

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

JekyllnHyde's picture

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12 users have voted.

A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma

joe shikspack's picture

@JekyllnHyde

heh, no need to worry, pete's neoliberal donors are going to do just fine.

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5 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

@JekyllnHyde

doesn't it? Bush's face was on the poster then. Every day there was something new that caused great outrage and people were hoping for the democrats to do something about it. So we gave Nancy the gavel thinking that she would impeach him.....and look, people just did that again. And again she is saying that she doesn't want to.

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5 users have voted.

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

Raggedy Ann's picture

Disheartening news. The 1% lawyer in San Fran is mad the homelessness industry prevailed? Actually, not surprising.

Oh - that article about FB hiring the Patriot Act author cracked me up when that Soltani fellow was shocked the company says one thing publicly but does the opposite privately. Psst, here’s a secret - the government does it too, but keep it under your hat. He IS in bizarro world!

I loved the article from Consortium News by Pepe Escobar. I read it yesterday and thought about $500-$1,000/barrel oil. My commute to work is 50 miles, one way, with no public transportation available. I guess I’ll have to quit my job if this happens! Playing with people’s lives ain’t cool.

Have a restful evening, everyone! Pleasantry

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8 users have voted.

“It is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong.”

-- Voltaire

joe shikspack's picture

@Raggedy Ann

yeah, those rich nimby pricks in san francisco disgust me. i'd like to see the city take a few of their homes by eminent domain and convert them into homeless shelters.

heh, 500-1000 dollar/barrel oil would shut the whole country down.

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7 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

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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

@snoopydawg

somebody ought to make that jackass famous.

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4 users have voted.
Azazello's picture

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5 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@Azazello

an excellent choice.

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2 users have voted.
enhydra lutris's picture

brief respite from the news. Thanks for the OT. Heh Jimmy Reed on one end and Jimmy Dore on the other, what a pair of bookends for the evening.

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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 --

joe shikspack's picture

@enhydra lutris

yes, indeed though the respite was brief, the day was spectacular. spring has come on with great enthusiasm and everywhere i went was green and the trees and flowers were doing their thing. i just about walked my legs off, but it was worth it.

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4 users have voted.
enhydra lutris's picture

@joe shikspack
a string of good days here, a bit warm compared to what it had been, but cooler that it was when we were in the desert (duh) so we've been outdoors a lot but not too much walking, because yard and garden maintenance has a lot of procedures that are just done in one spot, and then a short walk to the next one, though I'm still managing 4 to 5 miles a day just going around in circles. Hmmmph, lots of motion going around in circles, why does that sound like politics?

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1 user has 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 --

Pluto's Republic's picture

Never have I seen a more fitting tribute. May this neighborhood in the Golan Heights, and all its residents, become known throughout the world by the famous names that enshrine what they have done.

Benjamin Netanyahu Plans to Name an Illegal Settlement in Donald Trump’s Honor

Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, announced on Tuesday that he plans to name a new illegal settlement in the occupied Golan Heights in honor of Donald Trump, to thank the American president for agreeing to overlook the unlawful nature of Israel’s annexation of the territory seized from Syria in 1967.

Netanyahu made his announcement during a Passover holiday trip to the Golan Heights, accompanied by his wife and two sons.

.

I'm going to add this news story to our family's Haggada, which we will read on Saturday during our Seder. The Haggada commemorates God's liberation of the Jews from slavery in ancient Egypt and their freedom as a nation under the leadership of Moses. In this annotation, we will celebrate how the Israelites continue to honor the precious gift of freedom that God bestowed on them.

God must be kvelling.

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8 users have voted.

The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.
– Albert Camus
Azazello's picture

@Pluto's Republic

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4 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@Pluto's Republic

yep, i have to say, bibi certainly does create fitting tributes. perhaps he could also christen some of those armored caterpillar bulldozers that they use to knock down palestinian homes and kill the occasional protester for some of his family members, too.

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5 users have voted.
dystopian's picture

Great seminal electric blues. Influenced a legion of players since. All the early blues/rock guys obviously. Always liked his Baby What You Want Me To. Hush hush had to be the origin of "Honey Hush". I'm guessing Lennon liked "You Got Me Dizzy" a lot (Miss Lizzy).

Just wanted to on record with a prediction that should we last long enough for the history to be written, Bolsonaro will not be remembered well.

These two stats ought to scare folks: "about 141 million people lived in US counties that saw unhealthy levels of particle pollution" and, "43% of Americans are now living in places where they are breathing unsafe air." Yeah but how much of the 1% live in those counties?

That Bibi would steal something illegally and name it after Trump has to have a joke in there somewhere. He couldn't find anything legal to name after him?

Thanks for the great tunes JS!

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6 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

@dystopian

Just wanted to on record with a prediction that should we last long enough for the history to be written, Bolsonaro will not be remembered well.

not to worry, i think that bolsonaro will make a name for himself quite rapidly.

Yeah but how much of the 1% live in those counties?

heh, they just own them. they have people to go and visit them to make sure that the tribute keeps flowing.

He couldn't find anything legal to name after him?

i'm sure that bibi will be happy to call "the greatest deal ever" the trump agreement after the extermination is complete.

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2 users have voted.
mimi's picture

can stand listening to. Regarding the news I can barely read the headlines. They kill my spirit.

This violence is wreaked calmly, from a distance, within the rules of engagement. The war itself is the American war crime.

... Remotely delivered violence with a smile and a sadistic mind.

What kills me the most is that they kill ALL our children, these assholes. Online conversations and video images will lead to massive homicides and suicides. I better look out for my cave.

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3 users have voted.

TTTT (too tired to talk)

Unabashed Liberal's picture

transcript of Warren CNN Town Hall, but, after a couple things went awry (earlier this evening), and, I got here so late, decided to post it, and comment on her reference to the Bowles-Simpson proposal, later.

Hey, so much excellent material compiled this evening, not sure where to start. Very much look forward to listening to Gravel (he was one of our Senators in Alaska, of course, until Frank Murkowski was elected), and, to reading Matt Taibbi's piece about the Russia Ruse. And, thanks for the heads-up about the MFA hearing. The next two weeks will be super hectic, so, fingers crossed that I'll be able to listen to it (on XM Radio).

I debated posting a video of a dancing Golden Retriever, but, luckily (for you Guys) couldn't locate it--and, too tuckered out to look for it, any longer. Biggrin

Good time to travel South--gonna have a brief cool spell, after the rain passes through, that is. Also, too pooped to re-locate the slideshow that I was talking about last evening (so, I'll do it later). Really is a very scenic region, with a lot of architectural appeal, and gorgeous flowers, with Bellingrath Gardens (and Home) nearby.

Hey, Everyone have a nice evening!

PleasantryByeMollie

I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me they are the role model for being alive.
~~Gilda Radner, Comedienne

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4 users have voted.

Everyone thinks they have the best dog, and none of them are wrong.

lotlizard's picture

We know the name Colin Kaepernick, but do we know the name Landen Hoffman?

Right-wingers say that we who lean Green, Democrat, or Left are ignoring black-on-white hate crimes, like the case of Landen Hoffman, the 5-year old thrown from a 3rd story balcony at the Mall of America, or the case of a Colorado man who ran over a white 11- and 12-year-old.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6920195/Wellwishers-donate-315k...

https://duckduckgo.com/?q=landen+hoffman

https://denver.cbslocal.com/2019/04/18/oghaleoghene-atuno-josh-piazza-au...

Of course, right-wingers are overlooking the big asymmetry between “stochastic” acts of black-against-white race hatred and acts that stem from quasi-institutionalized white-against-black race hatred in law enforcement.

I would add that, undeniably, there’s also an institutionalization of anti-white resentment going on in “critical race and ethnic studies” departments of colleges and universities, from which it diffuses into popular culture and society at large.

ETA: “Fat sex therapist” says fitness is Nazi.
https://www.rt.com/usa/457529-fat-sex-therapist-nazi/

Rashatwar’s intersectional rambling was not a once-off event at a stereotypically liberal university. Rather, it came as part of a 12-date nationwide speaking tour, during which she dissects issues like “How Fat Queers the Body,” and “Health is a Social Construct.” She is also a licensed therapist.

‘Fat acceptance’ is a movement becoming more prevalent in academia. Last year, nutritionist Linda Bacon, author of ‘Health at Every Size’, was a featured speaker at Baltimore’s prestigious John Hopkins University. Bacon spoke out against diet culture and ‘fatphobia,’ at the same university that hosts the Global Obesity Prevention Center.

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3 users have voted.
Cassiodorus's picture

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2 users have voted.

"The degree to which liberals are coming to inhabit an alternate reality, impenetrable by facts or reason, is actually frightening." -- Steve Maher