The Evening Blues - 5-15-19



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The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: Bobby Radcliff


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

No increased Iran threat in Syria or Iraq, top British officer says, contradicting US

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.

CrossTalk: Anti-War Resistance?

Bernie Sanders Delivers Online Address: 'We Must Not Go to War With Iran'

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.


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.”

US State Dept. orders non-emergency embassy staff to leave Iraq

Saudi Arabia says oil stations attacked by armed drones

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.

Despite Threats & No Electricity, Anti-Coup Activists Remain inside Venezuelan Embassy in D.C.

Worth a full read for more details. Here are the most amusing parts:

Venezuela Embassy Protection Collective Defies Unlawful “No Trespass” Order

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.

After two hours, instead of arresting the collective, police turned around, locked the door behind them, posted guards and said they would ask their superiors how to handle the situation. The crowd was stunned that the State Department and DC police, after having over a month to organize the eviction, had begun this operation without a full plan to include arrests warrants in case the Collective members did not vacate the building voluntarily.

A longish read:

How Turkey Defied the U.S. and Became a Killer Drone Power

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.

Brexit: MP's to vote on withdrawal bill in early June

Theresa May faces ultimatum: set your exit date or quit now

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.

On Contact - Deep rot in American journalism w/Matt Taibbi (Part 2)

US Ambassador: Israel Is On the Side of God

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 defend Rashida Tlaib over misrepresented Holocaust comments

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.

CIA and FBI helping Barr to investigate origins of Trump-Russia inquiry

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.

New Warren, Jayapal Report Details Corporate Crime Free-for-All Under Trump Administration

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."

While Reaping $21 Billion Windfall From Trump Tax Cuts, Report Shows, AT&T Slashed 23,000 Jobs

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 Passes Near Total Ban on Abortion as Part of “Stealth Campaign” to Overturn Roe v. Wade

Alabama abortion ban: Republican senate passes most restrictive law in US

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.

No More Deaths Trial Opens as More Bodies Discovered Along Arizona-Mexico Border

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.



the horse race



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.”

Bogus CNN Poll Favors Biden Exposed!

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.


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.

Buttigieg Accused Of Anti-Semitism After Calling Out Adelson’s Influence

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.”



the evening greens

Sunrise Movement Calls for Mass Climate Demonstration Outside Democratic Debate in Detroit

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.

Border Wall to Go Up in National Monument, Wildlife Refuge

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.

Bezos Reveals His Ugly Vision For The World He’s Trying To Rule

“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:


Germany’s AfD turns on Greta Thunberg as it embraces climate denial

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.

I Am Not A Fan Of America’s 46th President

U.S. Increases Risk Of War On Iran Without A Path To De-escalation

The Real Mueller-Gate Scandal

The Conspiracy Theory’s Four Monstrous Offspring

Biden showed poor foreign policy judgment in his bungling, boastful dealings with Kiev

Gabbard Says She’d Drop All Charges Against Assange And Snowden

Google’s Censored Search Would Help China “Be More Open,” Said Ex-CEO Eric Schmidt

Across the Country, Progressives Are Pushing for Universal Rent Control — and New York Is Next


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


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The Aspie Corner's picture

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3 users have voted.

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

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

joe shikspack's picture

@The Aspie Corner

thanks for the video, have a great evening!

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2 users have voted.
detroitmechworks's picture

Because let's be frankly honest. This is now a classic blunder. The most famous, is never get involved in a land war in Asia, but only SLIGHTLY less well known is this...

"Never go to Jerusalem. It never helps."

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7 users have voted.

I do not pretend I know what I do not know.

skod's picture

@detroitmechworks They’d all been warned...

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joe shikspack's picture

@skod

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joe shikspack's picture

@detroitmechworks

awesome video!

it never fails to amaze me how people will fight over even the most god-forsaken, parched patch of dust and rocks and call it "the promised land."

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skod's picture

@joe shikspack that immortal Sam Kinison bit about world hunger: “It’s SAND! You can’t eat it! aAAAAAagh!”...

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4 users have voted.
skod's picture

@skod Cathartic.

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Raggedy Ann's picture

So much to comment on in the news these days. Where to begin!?!

These oligarchs, along with President Bolton, have been foaming at the mouth to go to war with Iran for decades. I believe it is they who are blowing holes in the SA ships, not the Iranians. It could also be the Yeminis - who could blame them? Scratch one-s head

I couldn't be happier that the Venezualan embassy occupiers are coming out ahead! They've got the law on their side and somehow convinced the bully militarized police. For now. Good. Good

The MP's will vote or hold a new referendum until they get it right and no brexit will occur. Because that's how they operate. Hold as many votes as you need to get the result you want and not the result the people want. Mail 1

Israel is on the side of god - well, that's not saying much since there is no such thing as god, but shhhhhhhhhhhhhh - don't tell them. Let them keep on spinning those wheels.

Glad to hear the dims are defending Tliab. Shok What's their motive? Can't be good.

I find it interesting that Barr is trying to deter the GOP from too much investigation. He and Mueller are big buddies. I don't think they want to bring the castle down on themselves, so more cover-up to come!

Well, you know, the forced-birther movement only exists to keep women out of the workplace. It's a man's world, after all. Why can't women just get that and stay home in the kitchen? Love the fetus, hate the child! Unknw

That Biden - you gotta hand it to that yokel - the GOP is gonna come around once he's in the WH because he will give away the farm! He wants to - he wants to be cajoled and bribed - he admitted it! What a guy. Let's just appoint him today! I call for a coup! Biden! Biden! Biden! Dash 1

Okay, I've had enough fun for today. Everyone have a sensible Wednesday. Pleasantry

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8 users have voted.

Women are human beings, not prey.
(I forgot where I read it although it might have been in The Intercept)

QMS's picture

@Raggedy Ann
Your synopsis of the news is incredible. I'm glad I don't have to wade thru all of that shit. Your response tells me all I will ever need to know.

Thank you RA. It helps.

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5 users have voted.

Listen to your higher mind.

Raggedy Ann's picture

@QMS
is effortless. The stuff writes itself. Most days it’s too heavy to lift my pen.

You’re welcome, QMS. Happy to hear it was useful!
Pleasantry

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4 users have voted.

Women are human beings, not prey.
(I forgot where I read it although it might have been in The Intercept)

joe shikspack's picture

@Raggedy Ann

These oligarchs, along with President Bolton, have been foaming at the mouth to go to war with Iran for decades. I believe it is they who are blowing holes in the SA ships, not the Iranians. It could also be the Yeminis - who could blame them?

heh, it doesn't matter who makes the holes in saudi ships, what matters is who is assessed the blame (for as long as it takes to fire cruise missiles).

The MP's will vote or hold a new referendum until they get it right and no brexit will occur.

like the person who offers to jump in your cesspool for a nickel and then refuses to leave until you give him a hundred dollars, theresa may has a certain genius - if you can call it that.

Israel is on the side of god

that would be the god of the old tentacles who was a notorious bastard.

What's their motive?

they know that the broad brush with the tar is coming for them next.

have a great evening!

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Raggedy Ann's picture

@joe shikspack
Great responses, joe!

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3 users have voted.

Women are human beings, not prey.
(I forgot where I read it although it might have been in The Intercept)

ggersh's picture

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6 users have voted.

trump amerika's last president

Caitlin Johnstone

Anyone who's sure they know what humanity is and where we're headed is suffering from a psilocybin deficiency.

joe shikspack's picture

@ggersh

wow, the aussies have ranked choice voting and they still wind up with some of the most reprehensible turds ever to darken a government office running their country. that is pretty scary news since i had figured that ranked choice or some kind of proportional voting scheme might make a difference in the u.s.

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Not Henry Kissinger's picture

“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.”

Which apparently is ideal weather for a sweatshop.

“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.

'Off Earth' also means no pesky labor laws or other regulations that get in the way of Bezos's unfettered greed.

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8 users have voted.

Peace Sells

Lily O Lady's picture

@Not Henry Kissinger

“Do you have Prince Albert in a can. Well, let him out before he suffocates!”

They also remind me of the movie “Outland” where space miners lived in tight quarters in squalid conditions. A drug that caused violent behavior and even death circulated among the miners and was apparently impossible to prohibit. The new sheriff tried to clean things up only to discover that the mining company was behind the supply because it helped control the miners and brought in more money.

Imagine how easy it would be to “accidentally” lose a cylinder or two or three, full of “useless eaters.” Dystopia draws ever closer.

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8 users have voted.

"The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

Not Henry Kissinger's picture

@Lily O Lady @Lily O Lady

Like you read my mind. Exactly what I thought of too when I read the article.

Not quite a 'Space Mall', no?

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5 users have voted.

Peace Sells

Lily O Lady's picture

@Not Henry Kissinger

sociopathic billionaires imagined the way to impose it.

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5 users have voted.

"The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

joe shikspack's picture

@Not Henry Kissinger

in other news, bezos is now studying better ways to strap refrigerators to drones for delivery to eskimos.

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Azazello's picture

Here's the article Lavelle was talking about: From Boeing to E-Ring: Shanahan is Industry’s Man in the Pentagon

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joe shikspack's picture

@Azazello

thanks for the link!

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Azazello's picture

@joe shikspack

BBQ rib here tonight joe. No typo, it's a single rib, not a rack.
I've never done one of these before. It's one long beef rib. I think they call it a plate rib. Usually they cut these into 3" pieces and sell them as Short Ribs.
Wish me luck.

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joe shikspack's picture

@Azazello

i have never done beef ribs, only pork. i'm sure that they'll be tasty, though.

have a good one!

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Azazello's picture

@joe shikspack
I can work with this cut.
It was one bone, 1.8 lb. I gave it 3 hr. at around 220,
Texas rub, over mesquite.
Pretty good, nice crust, pinkish on the inside.
Have a nice night, joe.

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joe shikspack's picture

@gjohnsit

heh, well, if kos' poll meant anything and was actually reflective of trends in the real world, it might be bad news that a few progressives splitting the vote would push the convention to a second ballot so that the corporate leaders of the party could choose the nominee.

but, i doubt that kos' poll is indicative of anything more than how much kos pisses off progressives.

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Not Henry Kissinger's picture

@gjohnsit

got a lot of positive press over the weekend and played to the deplorables crowd by refusing to go on Fox News.

Then Markos just happens to stick her at the top of the poll.

Not that he wants Warren necessarily: just another trick to help pull Bernie back into the pack.

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6 users have voted.

Peace Sells

snoopydawg's picture

@gjohnsit

Kos has not said anything derogatory about Bernie's winning the polls since they started. But of course he isn't alone. I don't remember people still being upset with Hillary's PUMAs and dragging it into the next election like they are doing this time. Bernie "cost her the election" because he said bad things about her. BTW. There was no banning or purging over there. Nope. Nada. Didn't happen. This was just made up...

Oops..I mean that kos has said something derogatory about Bernie after every poll. Not one has he said anything good about him winning the polls and he loves to point out that he isn't getting as many votes as he did in the previous ones. No word though when someone does poorly.

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4 users have voted.

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

snoopydawg's picture

AND then Libya and Syria." Left some stuff out there Bernie. The kids do the same thing. When talking about war it's Bush strong armed congress into the Iraq war and now Bolton is doing the same with Trump. No mention of the Libya and Syria invasions or the many drone strikes that happened during Obama's tenure. It's like his administration was 'scandal free'.

Megalomaniac Bezos says But heavy industry, polluting industry, all the things that are damaging our planet, those will be done off Earth. We get to have both.
Yeah right. Guess who gets to go live in the space bubbles? Us indentured servants whilst those that live off our work get to live in luxury. Guess not much will change. Just the location.

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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

yep, omitting obama's reign of error is indicative of the fact that most american anti-war political activism is a part of the red/blue wrestling match rather than any concern for human decency or law.

glad to see that food has gotten into the embassy!

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snoopydawg's picture

Yep. Liz is getting hammered on Twitter for this. Good.

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6 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

we must stop climate change, it is killing people before our exterminators can get to them. thanks, liz!

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7 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

@joe shikspack

This is pretty much what others are saying, but not quite so succinctly.

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4 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

enjoy it with my compliments. Smile

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4 users have voted.

I almost got suckered into liking her.

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5 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@on the cusp

yep, warren has some pretty decent policy proposals - many far more detailed and ready to go than any of her competitors.

sadly though, there is little hope that she would be much better than hillary on foreign policy and defense issues.

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6 users have voted.

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.”

Can we maybe just work on providing a decent life for the 8 billion people we've got, rather than dreaming wetly of some futuristic system-wide homo sapiens infection that will no doubt be characterized by lives of squalid drudgery on the part of one trillion humans, in order to facilitate the genius of those 1000 Mozarts?

For that matter, what the fuck do we need a thousand Mozarts for? We can't even get our radio stations to play decent 70s-era Album-oriented rock. Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is argued by many, and often voted, to be one of, if not the, greatest albums in the history of rock. When was the last time you heard a cut from SPLHC on the radio? On the other hand, when was the last time you heard Sweet Home Alabama? Enough said.

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5 users have voted.

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

joe shikspack's picture

@UntimelyRippd

heh. mozart was the product not only of nature, but nurture as well.

is a mozart possible in a floating cylindrical mall and golf course? a thousand of them?

pffffftttt!

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2 users have voted.

@joe shikspack
have said before: There is no such thing as a wolf in a zoo.

The remainder of the exercise is left to the reader.

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3 users have voted.

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

janis b's picture

War, the height of stupidity. There must be a correlation between the most warring nation on earth, and the stupidest nation on earth. Some wars never seem to have ended, while old ones are being reignited and new ones growing warmer. It’s practically incomprehensible, but yet so real.

utopia

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joe shikspack's picture

@janis b

i think that shel silverstein has it figured out:

Said General Clay to General Gore,
'Oh must we fight this silly war?
To kill and die is such a bore.'
'I quite agree,' said General Gore.
Said General Gore to General Clay,
'We could go to the beach today
And have some ice cream on the way.'
'A grand idea,' said General Clay.
Said General Gore to General Clay,
'But what if the sea is closed today?
And what if the sand's been blown away?'
'A dreadful thought,' said General Clay.
Said General Gore to General Clay,
'I've always feared the ocean's spray,
And we may drown!' 'It's true, we may.
It chills my blood,' said General Clay.
Said General Clay to General Gore,
'My bathing suit is slightly tore.
We'd better go on with our war.'
'I quite agree,' said General Gore.
Then General Clay charged General Gore
As bullets flew and cannons roared.
And now, alas! there is no more
Of General Clay or General Gore.

-- Shel Silverstein

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janis b's picture

@joe shikspack

He is such an astute and sensitive observer of people and life, with a great talent to express the inexpressible.

Fear of nature being greater than fear of war?

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travelerxxx's picture

Caitlin's newest is a gas! President Bolton! I and a few others have been using this title for a short while now, but Johnstone had me in stitches reading her take on it.

I mean, look at what your new president is doing in Iran. Your last president campaigned against wars in the Middle East, correctly pointing out that they “have unleashed destruction, terrorism and ISIS across the world,” and frequently criticized his predecessor for excessive hawkishness towards Iran. Now your 46th president is weighing the possibility of sending 120,000 troops to fight Iran, which former National Security Advisor Colin Kahl said is an operation that would only be used in the event of an invasion with the goal of regime change.

Or how about Venezuela? Your last president’s inauguration speech criticized US interventionism, and won the primary and general elections largely due to his criticisms of his opponents’ interventionist foreign policies, but now President Bolton is actively pushing to topple Venezuela’s government and install a puppet regime there.

She certainly has a knack for this - she makes it sting. Considering Trump's extreme narcissim, Bolton should be refered to as President Bolton at every oppertunity. Nothing I can think of will speed his exit quicker.

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5 users have voted.
mimi's picture

Ask Besoz. I bet he knows where to shoot himself up to.

Thanks for your work on the EB.

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3 users have voted.

TTTT (too tired to talk)