The Evening Blues - 5-15-19
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features blues guitarist Bobby Radcliff. Enjoy!
Bobby Radcliff - Walking By Myself
When a war breaks out, people say: "It's too stupid, it can't last long." But though a war may be "too stupid," that doesn't prevent its lasting.
-- Albert Camus
News and Opinion
The top British general in the US-led coalition against Isis has said there is no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq or Syria, directly contradicting US assertions used to justify a military buildup in the region.
Hours later however, his assessment was disowned by US Central Command in an extraordinary rebuke of an allied senior officer. A spokesman insisted that the troops in Iraq and Syria were on a high level of alert due to the alleged Iranian threat. The conflicting versions of the reality on the ground added to the confusion and mixed signals in a tense part of the Middle East.
Maj Gen Christopher Ghika, who is a deputy commander of Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), the coalition conducting counter-terrorist operations against Isis in Iraq and Syria, was repeatedly questioned by reporters about the threat from Shia militias in Syria and Iraq, cited by US officials over the past week as justification for speeding up the deployment of an aircraft carrier strike group in the Gulf and for sending B-52 Stratofortress bombers and an anti-aircraft battery to the region.
“No – there’s been no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq and Syria,” Ghika said in a videolink briefing from Baghdad to the Pentagon. “We’re aware of that presence, clearly. And we monitor them along with a whole range of others because that’s the environment we’re in. We are monitoring the Shia militia groups. I think you’re referring to carefully and if the threat level seems to go up then we’ll raise our force protection measures accordingly.”
On Tuesday night, US Central Command – whose area of operations covers the Middle East and Afghanistan – put out a statement refuting Ghika’s comments. “Recent comments from OIR’s deputy commander run counter to the identified credible threats available to intelligence from US and allies regarding Iranian-backed forces in the region,” it said.
The rebuke was particularly striking as it implied that Ghika was unaware of the state of alert of his own troops. The remarkable comments heightened concerns that fabricated or exaggerated intelligence may be being used by administration hawks led by the national security adviser, John Bolton, to further the case for war against Iran, in a manner reminiscent of the buildup to the Iraq invasion.
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders on Tuesday came out forcefully against the Trump administration angling the United States into another costly and unnecessary war of choice in the Middle East—this time against Iran—delivering an online address in which he warned that any military action without approval from Congress would be an "unconstitutional and illegal" breach of office.
"Let me be as clear as I can be: a war with Iran would be an absolute disaster," said Sanders in the roughly six-minute speech. "Sixteen years ago, the United States committed one of the worst foreign policy blunders in the history of our country by attacking Iraq. That war was sold to the American people based on a series of lies about weapons of mass destruction. We should remember that one of the leading advocates for that war was John Bolton."
Sanders declaration against a possible war comes amid increasing concerns, as Common Dreams has reported, that Bolton—Trump's national security advisor—is leading the administration's underhanded attempt to provoke or manufacture a military confrontation with Iran.
The United States Congress must do everything it can to prevent the Trump Administration’s attempts to put us on the brink of a catastrophic and unconstitutional war with Iran. https://t.co/n2Wbzcj2Pq
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) May 14, 2019
Trump dismisses report administration reviewing plan to send 120K troops to Middle East amid Iran tensions
President Donald Trump on Tuesday dismissed a New York Times report that the administration is reviewing a plan to send as many as 120,000 troops to the Middle East if Iran attacked U.S. forces as "fake news." But even as the president sought to brush off the report, he added that he would "send a hell of lot more" troops if he did have to respond to a military attack from Iran.
"I think it's fake news, okay?” Trump said when questioned by ABC News’ Cecilia Vega about the reported plan Tuesday. “Would I do that? Absolutely. But we have not planned for that.”
He continued: “Hopefully we're not going to have to plan for that. If we did that, we'd send a hell of a lot more troops than that. I think, where - was that story in the New York Times? - well, The New York Times is fake news.”
Armed drones attacked two oil pumping stations in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday in what Riyadh called a "cowardly" act by Yemen's Houthi rebels, two days after Saudi oil tankers were sabotaged off the coast of the United Arab Emirates. The drone strikes caused minor damage to one of the stations supplying a pipeline running from its oil-rich Eastern Province to the Yanbu Port on the Red Sea, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said in a statement carried by the state-run Saudi Press Agency. ...
A fire that broke out was later brought under control, but the country's state-run oil giant Aramco stopped pumping oil through the pipeline. ... Oil prices rose on news of the attacks on the stations, 320km west of the capital Riyadh. Brent was trading at about $71 up 1.2 percent.
Houthi military spokesman Yahya Saree said seven drones carried out the strikes on the Saudi oil installations. "It was a successful operation. We found assistance from people living in Saudi Arabia, and we had excellent intelligence," Saree said.
Worth a full read for more details. Here are the most amusing parts:
An extraordinary set of events has been unfolding at the Venezuela Embassy in Washington DC, ever since the Embassy Protection Collective began living at the embassy with the permission of the elected government of Venezuela on April 10 to protect it from an illegal takeover by Venezuela’s opposition. The actions of the police on the evening of May 13 added a new level of drama. Since the cutting off of electricity, food and water inside the embassy has not been enough to force the collective to leave, late Tuesday afternoon, the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police handed out a trespassing notice that was printed without letterhead or signature from any U.S. government official.
The police taped the notice to the doors all around the Embassy and later called in the fire department to cut the lock and chain that had been on the front door of the Embassy since diplomatic relations were broken between Venezuela and the United States on January 23. Adding to the drama, supporters of both sides began to gather. The pro-Guaido forces, who had erected tents around the perimeter of the embassy and had set up a long-term encampment to oppose the collective inside the building, were ordered to take down their encampment. It seemed as though this was part of moving them from outside the embassy to the inside.
Two hours later, some members of the collective inside the embassy voluntarily left to reduce the load on food and water, and four members refused to obey what they considered an illegal order to vacate the premises. The crowd waited in anticipation of the police going inside and physically removing, and arresting, the remaining collective members. The pro-Guaido forces were jubilant, crying “tic-toc, tic-toc” as they were counting down the minutes before their victory.
In a remarkable turn of events, however, instead of arresting the collective members who remained inside, a lengthy discussions ensued between them, their lawyer Mara Verheyden-Hilliard and the DC police. The discussion focused on the reason collective members were in the Embassy in the first place—trying to stop the Trump administration from violating the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic and Consular Facilities by turning over the diplomatic premises to a coup government. Collective members reminded police officers that following illegal orders does not protect them from being charged with criminal actions.
A longish read:
The event had all the trappings of a typical air show. Hundreds of thousands of people — from government officials to school children bussed in by the thousands — paraded around the tarmac. They posed for selfies alongside fighter jets and attack helicopters. A team of F-16s flew in close formation, leaving intricate patterns of red and white smoke in their wake. A nearly constant series of sonic booms made it difficult to talk. Massive speakers blared pulsing music. But there was something different about this air show: It wasn’t in America, the global pioneer of weaponized drones and the customary host of such pageants. It was in Turkey, just outside Istanbul. And the pilotless aircraft that delighted the crowd wasn’t made in America; it was manufactured by Turkey. The crowd was enthusiastic to be in its crosshairs because the spectacle signified that their homeland had taken its place among the most technologically advanced countries in the world.
Their country had entered the second drone age — in which the use of drones to kill people has proliferated far beyond the United States, the first country to kill people with missiles launched from drones after 9/11. Turkey now rivals the U.S. and the U.K. as the world’s most prolific user of killer drones, according to a review by The Intercept of reported lethal drone strikes worldwide. (Other countries that have reportedly killed people with drone-launched weapons include Israel, Iraq, and Iran.) The technology has been used by Turkey against ISIS in Syria and along Turkey’s border with Iraq and Iran, where ever-present Turkish drones have turned the tide in a decades-old counter-insurgency against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK.
While the U.S. was the foremost operator of armed, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the world for more than a decade, launching the first drone attack in 2001, today more than a dozen countries possess this technology. The U.K., Israel, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, Nigeria, and Turkey have all used armed UAVs to kill targets since 2015. Efforts by Washington to control proliferation through restrictions on drone exports have failed to slow down a global race to acquire the technology. Meanwhile, the U.S. has set a precedent of impunity by carrying out hundreds of strikes that have killed civilians over the last decade. “We are well past the time when the proliferation of armed drones can in any way be controlled,” said Chris Woods, a journalist who has tracked drone use for more than a decade and director of the conflict monitor Airwars. “So many states and even nonstate actors have access to armed drone capabilities — and they are being used across borders and within borders — that we are now clearly within the second drone age, that is, the age of proliferation.” ...
The U.S. pioneered the technology and showed the world how it could be used. Others have watched and learned. Turkey won’t be the last country to manufacture its own drones, and its public will not be the last to see them as a source of pride.
Executive members of the 1922 Committee are preparing to ask Theresa May to step down immediately if she fails to set out a timetable for leaving Downing Street. Up to 10 members of the powerful group of senior Tory MPs have discussed telling the prime minister to name a date for the end of her premiership or face immediate demands to go, sources confirmed.
May is due to appear before the committee on Thursday as the party struggles to contain widespread anger among its MPs and members at May’s failure to lead the UK through Brexit.
She indicated earlier this year that she would resign once her Brexit deal with Brussels has been passed by MPs – a promise that seemed to persuade a number of pro-Brexit Tories to back the deal, among them Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg. However, parliament has been in deadlock over Brexit for months and has rejected the deal three times.
Commemorating the one-year anniversary of the US moving their embassy to
Jerusalem, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman declared that “Israel is on the side of God,” calling that a “secret weapon that not too many countries have.”
This sort of declaration is not unheard of among some varieties of Christianity within the United States. It has not, however, ever been a stated aspect of US policy, and Friedman’s comments suggest it is part of what is driving US policy toward Israel in general, including the embassy relocation.
Amnesty International Marks Nakba Day With Palestinian Refugees' Testimonies Detailing 'Seven Decades of Misery'
On the eve of Nakba Day, which commemorates the mass displacement of Palestinians due to the creation of Israel in 1948, Amnesty International shared new testimonies from Palestinian refugees and urged people around the world to pressure the Israeli government to respect their right to return. "The Nakba (catastrophe in Arabic) saw the state of Israel established, 750,000 Palestinians forced into exile, and over 500 Palestinian villages and towns destroyed," British Palestinian scholar-activist Yara Hawari wrote at openDemocracy last year. "Palestinian society was torn apart and Palestinians were geographically fragmented."
On Tuesday, Amnesty International denounced Israel's refusal to grant Palestinian refugees their right to return as "a flagrant violation of international law." The human rights advocacy group also published stories from refugees living in Lebanon and Jordan that demonstrate how Israel's position has fueled "seven decades of misery."
"More than 70 years after the conflict that followed Israel's creation, the Palestinian refugees who were forced out of their homes and dispossessed of their land as a result continue to face the devastating consequences," Philip Luther, Amnesty International's research and advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa, said in a statement. "Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, and the Occupied Palestinian Territories are trapped in a cycle of deprivation and systematic discrimination with no end in sight," he added. "For many of them life is full of suffocating restrictions and has become a living hell."
About 2.1 million of the 5.2 million registered Palestinian refugees reside in Jordan. The country has granted the majority of them citizenship—which enables them to access healthcare and education—but more than a quarter of the refugees still have not been naturalized, so they can't sufficiently use public services, according to the human rights group. ...
Amnesty International teamed up with photographer Tanya Habjouqa to share their and others' stories on a website, 70+ Years of Suffocation, which highlights not only the refugees' current struggles, but also a desire shared by many of them to return to the land they or their ancestors once called home.
Democrats in Congress have rallied behind Rashida Tlaib after Republicans, citing her recent comments about Israel and the Holocaust, accused the congresswoman of being an antisemite. Top Democrats forcefully defended Tlaib, marking another acrimonious showdown over perceptions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the first two Muslim women elected to Congress.
Republicans seized on Tlaib’s remarks about the role played by her Palestinian ancestors in creating a safe haven for Jews after the Holocaust gave her a “calming feeling”.
“There’s always kind of a calming feeling I tell folks when I think of the Holocaust, and the tragedy of the Holocaust, and the fact that it was my ancestors – Palestinians – who lost their land and some lost their lives, their livelihood, their human dignity, their existence in many ways, have been wiped out, and some people’s passports,” Tlaib said in an interview with a Yahoo News podcast. “And just all of it was in the name of trying to create a safe haven for Jews, post-the Holocaust, post-the tragedy and the horrific persecution of Jews across the world at that time,” she added. “And I love the fact that it was my ancestors that provided that, right, in many ways. But they did it in a way that took their human dignity away and it was forced on them.”
While some questioned the historical accuracy of Tlaib’s comments, Republicans falsely claimed Tlaib had said it was the persecution and slaughter of 6 million Jews that somehow gave her calm. ...
“Republicans’ desperate attempts to smear [her] and misrepresent her comments are outrageous,” House speaker Nancy Pelosi tweeted. “President Trump and House GOP should apologize to Rep Tlaib and the American people for their gross misrepresentations.” Steny Hoyer, the No 2 Democrat in Congress and a strident supporter of Israel, also rushed to Tlaib’s defense.
The US attorney general is stepping up inquiries into the origins of the Russia investigation, working with intelligence chiefs to see how surveillance was conducted and naming a US attorney to oversee the investigation.
The investigation is examining intelligence and surveillance used during the Russia investigation that shadowed Donald Trump’s presidency for nearly two years. William Barr is working with the CIA director, Gina Haspel; director of national intelligence, Dan Coats; and FBI director, Christopher Wray, as part of the inquiry.
Barr tapped John Durham, the US attorney in Connecticut, to lead the inquiry, but Barr remains directly involved in the investigation, which he initiated about three weeks ago, according to a person familiar with the matter. The person could not discuss the matter publicly and spoke Tuesday to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
The Trump administration is letting corporate crime run rampant. That's the message delivered by a new report (pdf) out Tuesday from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.).
The report, "Rigged Justice 2.0," explains how President Donald Trump's government is allowing corporations to do whatever they want. "Our justice system's soft touch with huge corporations and billionaires is not a new phenomenon," reads the report. "But under President Trump, it is far worse than it has ever been."
The report is the second in a series. The first edition, "Rigged Justice," was released by Warren, a Democratic presidential candidate, in January 2016. The report detailed the weakness of the Obama administration on corporate crime—but, as Warren's office pointed out in a statement announcing "Rigged Justice 2.0," those were the good old days. ...
Among the key findings:
- A rapid decline in the number of white collar crime enforcement actions pursued by the federal government, bringing enforcement activity to a 20-year low -- down 33.5 percent from 2013, and down 41 percent from 1998;
- A decline in monetary penalties and enforcement actions across nearly every federal government agency, including drops in penalty amounts of more than 80% during the administration's first 20 months at the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Federal Communications Commission;
- A failure to punish banks and financial firms that break the law, including a more than 50% decline in the number of cases brought by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Securities and Exchange Commission, and DOJ; and
- Massive declines in the number of federal government employees responsible for enforcing federal laws that protect the security of our financial markets, the safety of our workplaces, and the quality of our air and water.
"The Trump administration has treated their billionaire buddies and corporate campaign contributors like the old friends they are," reads the report, "handing them the keys to government regulatory decisions, and neutering the federal government's enforcement tools to address and prevent corporate crime."
AT&T promised to create thousands of new jobs as President Donald Trump's tax legislation moved through Congress in 2017—but the telecom giant has done precisely the opposite since the bill became law, while raking in over $20 billion in extra profits.
That's according to an analysis published Monday by the Communications Workers of America (CWA), which found that AT&T has slashed 23,328 jobs since Congress passed Trump's tax bill in 2017, including nearly 6,000 in the first quarter of 2019 alone.
Meanwhile, according to CWA, AT&T has reaped $21 billion in tax cuts thanks to the Republican law, with $3 billion in annual savings expected in the future. ...
While slashing jobs, the CWA analysis found, AT&T hiked executive pay and cut capital investments by over a billion dollars—contrary to the promises of CEO Randall Stephenson.
Alabama’s Republican-controlled state senate passed a bill Tuesday to outlaw abortion, making it a crime to perform the procedure at any stage of pregnancy. The strictest-in-the-nation abortion ban allows an exception only when the woman’s health is at serious risk, and sets up a legal battle that supporters hope will lead to the supreme court overturning its landmark ruling that legalized abortion nationwide.
The measure contains no exception for rape and incest, after lawmakers voted down an amendment Tuesday that would have added such an exception.
The legislation, which passed by a vote of 25-6, makes it a class A felony for a doctor to perform an abortion, punishable by 10 to 99 years in prison. Women would not face criminal penalties for getting an abortion.
The bill has already passed the house. It must now be signed by the state’s governor, Kay Ivey. The legislation is poised for an immediate legal challenge and to be overturned at least by the lower courts.
Dozens of people turned out in support for Scott Warren at the federal courthouse in Tucson, Arizona, last week. But as friends and family filled the benches, there was a noteworthy absence: A team of Warren’s fellow humanitarian aid volunteers were out in the field. They were searching for a man reported missing on the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge — the same remote desert area where Warren was accused of leaving jugs of water, food, and medical supplies for migrants in distress. ... When Warren’s trial kicked off in Tucson the following day, May 6, his fellow volunteers were still searching. They reported finding three sets of suspected human remains on Monday, another on Wednesday, and two more on Thursday. A majority were discovered within walking distance of a Border Patrol rescue beacon. All the while, the man the volunteers were searching for remained missing.
The grim work provided an apt backdrop for the court proceedings in Tucson, where Warren’s defense team argued that deeply held spiritual beliefs compel the 36-year-old geographer to confront the death and disappearance that encircle Ajo, Arizona, the tiny, unincorporated community where Warren lives and concentrates his humanitarian efforts — and where the remains of hundreds of migrants have been discovered in recent years. To prosecute Warren for those efforts would violate his religious freedom rights, the lawyers argued. Facing six months in prison on federal littering and trespassing charges, the misdemeanor trial was the first of two for Warren this month. The stakes are even higher in the second case, set to begin on May 29, with Warren fighting multiple felony smuggling and conspiracy charges and facing up to 20 years in prison for allowing two undocumented men access to food, water, and a place to sleep for two nights last year.
Warren’s lawyers have argued that the charges against him point to something bigger than one man’s actions on a given day. It is about a multi-decade story of government policy leading to thousands of lives lost, and the people working to confront and expose that scandal now finding themselves in the crosshairs of the state.
After Introducing Criminal Justice Reform Platform, Amy Klobuchar Pushes Hundreds of Millions More Dollars for Police
Just weeks after Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar unveiled a new criminal justice reform platform, she is getting ready to introduce a police-backed measure that would reauthorize part of the infamous 1994 crime law. Now a presidential candidate, Klobuchar has received her fair share of flack for her history as an aggressive prosecutor. She has tried to counter that in part by rolling out a plan that would allow the release of incarcerated people through the creation of a clemency advisory board and the installation of a presidential adviser to advocate for reform from within the White House.
The senator, however, is working on a measure endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police and the National Association of Police Organizations, and opposed by key reform groups. Klobuchar’s bill, which she’s working on with Republican Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, would authorize $400 million a year for a hiring program under the Community Oriented Policing Services office, or COPS, which encourages community policing by providing grants to “community policing professionals.” That’s a $247 million increase over the last congressional authorization for the hiring program in February, which allocated $153 million. ...
In a 2020 budget request, the Trump administration said it planned to allocate $29.2 billion to the Department of Justice, an umbrella figure that includes money for the COPS program. The program’s critics reviewed the budget and sent a letter in April to the House Appropriations Committee recommending suspension of the COPS Hiring Program until the House Judiciary Committee holds an oversight hearing on it. “Created with the goal of hiring 100,000 local police officers, the COPS program has outlived its purpose and contributes to the epidemic of mass incarceration that has devastated communities across the nation,” the letter from the ACLU, the Drug Policy Alliance, the NAACP, and the Sentencing Project reads.
“Since its inception, the COPS program has [used] billions of dollars for a purpose that many argue has fueled mass incarceration in the states. And all too often, the COPS Hiring Program supports unconstitutional policing practices and subsidizes failed police departments,” the letter continues. From 2009 to 2013, “the COPS Office awarded more than $10.2 million in grants to the Baltimore Police Department without ensuring that the police department used these funds in compliance with nondiscrimination laws, such as Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. During that period, the Civil Rights Division found that the Baltimore police were engaging in a pattern or practice of conduct that violates the Constitution or federal law including, unconstitutional stops, searches, and arrests; constantly using excessive force; and intentionally discriminating against African-Americans.”
For advocates working to reform sentencing and drug policy, Klobuchar’s enthusiasm for the legislation at a time when she’s pushing a progressive platform makes little sense. “The COPS program is the cornerstone of the repudiated 1994 crime bill,” Michael Collins, director of national affairs at Drug Policy Alliance, said in a statement to The Intercept. “For legislators to reauthorize such a harmful program, without even the slightest debate on the program’s many flaws, demonstrates a misunderstanding of what this country needs to do to move away from the failed war on drugs.”
After Front Row Seat to Obama Years, Biden Called 'Remarkably Naive' for Saying He Expects GOP 'Epiphany' After 2020
A comment from 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden bout the Republican Party on Tuesday generated intense criticism of the former vice president and had some observers wondering if Biden fully understands the present political moment.
The comment in question was first reported on in a tweet by Bloomberg's Sahil Kapur.
"In New Hampshire, Joe Biden predicts that once President Trump is out of office, Republicans will have 'an epiphany' and work with Democrats toward consensus," said Kapur.
The "epiphany" remark is not the only recent Biden comment about the GOP to stir controversy. Earlier in May, as Common Dreams reported, Biden referred to Trump as an "aberration" of the Republican Party rather than a symptom of its current state—a statement that also attracted widespread rebuke.
He’s literally saying there will be a divine revelation and Republicans will come around.
Just like they did in 2009. Remember 2009, when Republicans realized that for the good of the country—and the world!—mired then in economic crisis, they would work with the Democrats? https://t.co/DjxEAkhpNg
— Eric Rauchway (@rauchway) May 14, 2019
Tuesday was no different. A number of observers wondered where, exactly, Biden was for the eight years he served as former President Barack Obama's vice president and the decades before that he spent in Congress.
Author Keith Boykin, who is also a CNN commentator, wondered if Biden was aware of the GOP's behavior over just the last half-century. "The party of Barry Goldwater, the southern strategy, the Willie Horton ad, Clarence Thomas, Fox News, Newt Gingrich, government shutdowns, the Clinton impeachment, Sarah Palin, voter suppression and Mitch McConnell, and that blocked Merrick Garland will have an epiphany?" Boykin tweeted.
South Bend, Indiana mayor and Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg slammed casino mogul and Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson while speaking in Las Vegas on Saturday, using language that led a Republican Jewish leader to accuse him of anti-Semitism.
In a segment of his speech about strengthening democratic norms and voting rights, Buttigieg mentioned, “I know I’m a guest in Sheldon Adelson’s town,” eliciting boos from the audience. “But I know … that real democracy means that the voice you have in our political process is gauged by the merits of what you have to say and not by the number of zeros in your bank balance.” ...
Matthew Brooks, the executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, wrote on Twitter that Buttigieg’s remarks were an “anti-Semitic dog whistle.”
On Monday night, at the final stop on the Sunrise Movement’s “Road to a Green New Deal” tour across the United States, the group called for a mass, youth-led mobilization to pressure Democratic candidates to make the 2020 election a referendum on climate change. On July 30, the scheduled date for the second Democratic presidential debate, Sunrise hopes to bring tens of thousands of young people to Detroit to present all the Democratic contenders with three demands:
- Sign the no fossil fuel money pledge.
- Commit to making the Green New Deal a day one priority if elected president.
- Pledge support for a presidential debate on climate change, so voters can hear where candidates stand on the issues.
Sunrise co-founder Varshini Prakash called it the “largest action our movement has organized to date for the Green New Deal.” Monday night’s event came exactly six months since Sunrise activists staged a protest in the office of Nancy Pelosi’s office before she became House speaker; they were joined by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who had yet to be sworn into Congress.
The U.S. government plans on replacing barriers through 100 miles (161 kilometers) of the southern border in California and Arizona, including through a national monument and a wildlife refuge, according to documents and environmental advocates. The Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday again waived environmental and dozens of other laws to build more barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border. ...
Barriers will go up at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, a vast park named after the unique cactus breed that decorates it, and Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, which is largely a designed wilderness home to 275 wildlife species. The government will also build new roads and lighting in those areas in Arizona. ...
The waivers the department issued Tuesday are vague in their description of where and how many miles of fencing will be installed. The Center for Biological Diversity says the plans total about 100 miles (160 kilometers) of southern border in both Arizona and California, near Calexico and Tecate. ...
The government has already demolished refuge land in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas and construction is set to begin any day. On one section of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge, crews have used heavy construction equipment to destroy a mix of trees, including mesquite, mulberry and hackberry. Those trees protect birds during the ongoing nesting season. ...
After months of public outcry, Congress forbade U.S. Customs and Border Protection from building in the nearby Santa Ana wildlife refuge or the nonprofit National Butterfly Center. But it didn’t stop money from going to wall construction in other refuge lands, nor did it stop the government from building in otherwise exempted land due to the emergency declaration, said Marianna Trevino Wright, the butterfly center’s director. “They’re going to have to protect us in every single spending bill going forward, and they have to protect us against the state of emergency,” Wright said.
“Guess what the best planet is in this solar system?” asked Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos at a recent media event on his Blue Origin space program. “It’s easy to know the answer to that question,” he continued. “We’ve sent robotic probes like this one to all of the planets in our solar system. Now, some of them have been fly-bys, but we’ve examined them all. Earth is the best planet. It is not close. This one is really good.”
Bezos then went on to discuss his plan to ship humans off of the best planet in the solar system and send them to live in floating cylinders in space.
Bezos claimed that the growing human population and growing energy consumption will force us to make a choice between “stasis and rationing” and “dynamism and growth”, and claimed that the latter item in his dichotomy is possible only by moving humans off the planet. “If we’re out in the solar system, we can have a trillion humans in the solar system, which means we’d have a thousand Mozarts and a thousand Einsteins,” Bezos said. “This would be an incredible civilization. What would this future look like? Where would a trillion humans live? Well it’s very interesting, someone named Gerry O’Neill, a physics professor, looked at this question very carefully and he asked a very precise question that nobody had ever asked before, and it was, ‘Is a planetary surface the best place for humans to expand into the solar system?’ And he and his students set to work on answering that question, and they came to a very surprising–for them–counterintuitive answer: No.”
Bezos went on to describe how the limited surface areas, distance, and gravitational forces of the other planets in our solar system make settling on those planets impractical and cost-prohibitive, while constructing giant space cylinders closer to Earth which can hold a million people is far more practical. These cylinders would spin to replicate Earth’s gravitational pull with centrifugal force. “These are really pleasant places to live,” Bezos said. “Some of these O’Neill colonies might choose to replicate Earth cities. They might pick historical cities and mimic them in some way. There’d be whole new types of architecture. These are ideal climates. These are short-sleeve environments. This is Maui on its best day, no rain, no storms, no earthquakes.”
No rain? No weather? Just big, spinning cylinders floating monotonously in space? A trillion divided by a million is one million, which means that the best idea the richest man in the world can come up with for the future of our species is to fill our solar system with a million of these floating homogenized space malls. “If we build this vision, these O’Neill colonies, where does it take us? What does it mean for Earth?” Bezos asked. “Earth ends up zoned, residential, and light industry. It’ll be a beautiful place to live, it’ll be a beautiful place to visit, it’ll be a beautiful place to go to college, and to do some light industry. But heavy industry, polluting industry, all the things that are damaging our planet, those will be done off Earth. We get to have both. We get to keep this unique gem of a planet, which is completely irreplaceable–there is no Plan B. We have to save this planet. And we shouldn’t give up a future of our grandchildren’s grandchildren of dynamism and growth. We can have both.”
Now, if you look at the behavior of Jeff Bezos, who exploits his employees and destroys his competitors, and who some experts say is trying to take over the underlying infrastructure of our entire economy, you can feel reasonably confident that this man has no intention of leaving “this unique gem of a planet”, nor of having the heirs to his empire leave either. When you see this Pentagon advisory board member and CIA contractor planning to ship humans off the Earth’s surface so the planet can thrive, you may be certain that he’s talking about other humans. The unworthy ones. The ones who weren’t sociopathic enough to climb the capitalist ladder by stepping on the backs of everyone else.
The best part of that John Oliver rant about the GND I put up a couple of days ago. Short and to the point:
bill nye just grounded me and sent me to my room and i can’t come out until i make the planet stop melting pic.twitter.com/Uck1Qt2mau
— Jarvis Johnson (@jarvis) May 14, 2019
Germany’s rightwing populists are embracing climate change denial as the latest topic with which to boost their electoral support, teaming up with scientists who claim hysteria is driving the global warming debate and ridiculing the Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg as “mentally challenged” and a fraud.
The Alternative für Deutschland party (AfD) is expected to launch its biggest attack yet on mainstream climate science at a symposium in parliament on Tuesday supported by a prominent climate change denial body linked by researchers to prominent conservative groups in the US.
The AfD’s focus on climate change has increased since it entered the Bundestag in autumn 2017. It has added a sceptical voice to the rising number of parliamentary debates on the topic and concentrated its opposition specifically on the scandal over diesel car emissions and plans to phase out brown coal. ...
Jakob Guhl, an ISD researcher, said climate change denial had become key to the party’s political platform. “The AfD has been denying human-made climate change on its social media pages since 2016, and while it has not shifted its position it is clear that the party decided to communicate it more frequently.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Bobby Radcliff - Early In The Morning
Bobby Radcliff - It’s All Your Fault
Bobby Radcliff - Maybe The Last Time
Bobby Radcliff - Night Train
Bobby Radcliff - Looking Good
Bobby Radcliff - Hard road To Travel
Bobby Radcliff - I Don't Want No Woman / The Twist
Bobby Radcliff - Tramp
Bobby Radcliff - Ugh