The Evening Blues - 5-22-19


The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: Ben E. King

Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features r&b singer Ben E. King. Enjoy!

Ben E King - What Is Soul

“Everything secret degenerates, even the administration of justice; nothing is safe that does not show how it can bear discussion and publicity.”

-- Lord Acton

News and Opinion

Why You Should Care About Trump’s War on Whistleblowers

Iran 'threat' has diminished, says US defense secretary

The acting US defence secretary has claimed that the alleged threat from Iran has receded as the result of an American show of force in the Middle East.

“We’ve put on hold the potential for attacks on Americans,” Patrick Shanahan told reporters before briefing Congress on the situation in the Persian Gulf and the military deployments that the US said were a response to a danger of imminent attack. ...

Asked what he meant by saying that the threat was “on hold”, the acting defence secretary said: “There haven’t been any attacks on Americans. I would consider that a hold. That doesn’t mean that the threats that we’ve previously identified have gone away,” Shanahan added. “Our prudent response, I think, has given the Iranians time to recalculate. I think our response was a measure of our will and our resolve that we will protect our people and our interests in the region.”

The Trump administration did not make public the intelligence it claimed showed an imminent Iranian threat to the US in the Middle East. An investigation is under way into the sabotage attacks on four oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates last week. The UK and Norway are helping the US with the inquiry, which was expected to report on Monday, but has been delayed for reasons that have not made clear.

Protesting Assault on Yemen, Italian Dock Workers Refuse to Load Saudi Weapons Vessel

In an act of defiance against Saudi Arabia's brutal assault on Yemen—which is being carried out with the support of the United States and European nations—Italian union workers on Monday refused to load a Saudi vessel reportedly filled with weapons that could be used to fuel the world's worst humanitarian crisis. "We will not be complicit in what is happening in Yemen," union leaders said in a statement.

According to Reuters, dockworkers attempted to have the Saudi ship—officially called the the Bahri Yanbu—barred from entering the Port of Genoa. When that effort failed, Reuters reported, "workers refused to load two generators aboard the boat, saying that although they were registered for civilian use, they could be instead directed to the Yemen war effort."

As Amnesty International noted in a statement last week, the Bahri Yanbu has been "bouncing off European ports like a pinball," loading up with weapons that rights groups warn will be used to massacre civilians in Yemen. Earlier this month, the Bahri Yanbu left a French port without its cargo amid protests from Christian Action for the Abolition of Torture (ACAT) and other human rights organizations. The vessel then proceeded to Spain, where it successfully "took on cargo contracted from private companies," according to Al Jazeera.

Trump Says the Military Industrial Complex is Pressuring him Into a War With Iran

US Accuses Syria Of More Chemical Attacks Just As Chemical Weapons Narrative Crumbles

The Institute for Public Accuracy published a report today about the leaked engineering assessment from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons investigation into an alleged chemical attack in Douma, Syria which directly contradicts the findings of the official OPCW report on the matter. Until the unauthorized release of this internal document the public was kept entirely uninformed of its existence, despite the serious military consequences of the questions it raises; the official story that the Syrian government had dropped chemical weapons in Douma was used to justify an airstrike on Syria days later.

MIT professor Theodore Postol provided IPA with a basic analysis of some of the data in the engineering assessment, adding that he “will have a much more detailed summary of the engineering report later this week.”

“A second issue that is raised by the character of the OPCW engineering report on Douma is that it is entirely unmentioned in the report that went to the UN Security Council,” Postol concludes after his analysis. “This omission is very serious, as the findings of that report are critical to the process of determining attribution. There is absolutely no reason to justify the omission of the engineering report in the OPCW account to the UN Security Council as its policy implications are of extreme importance.”

Hours later, the US State Department issued a statement once again accusing the Syrian government of using chemical weapons, and now when you search Google for information on chemical weapons in Syria, the results you get [are entirely dominated by the U.S. State Department accusations, utterly wiping mention of the leaked engineering report out of the top results. (article graphic demonstrating this not extracted) -js]

So that’s convenient.

The State Department’s release actually reads like a government trying to regain control of an important narrative. It begins with an unsubstantiated allegation of a chlorine gas attack by the Syrian government this past Sunday, and warns that the US and its allies will respond militarily if chemical weapons have been used. It condemns the Syrian government’s offensive to recapture the Al Qaeda-occupied Idlib province, then veers off into sheer narrative management, accusing the Russian government of lying about the White Helmets and citing the OPCW as a trustworthy source of authority. ...

As I wrote the other day, the fact that the OPCW kept the engineering report from receiving not a whisper of attention severely undermines the organization’s credibility, not just with regard to Douma but with regard to everything, including the establishment Syria narrative as a whole and the Skripal case in the UK. Everything the OPCW has ever concluded about alleged chemical usage around the world is now subject to very legitimate skepticism, and now the State Department is trying to use this same dubious source in its narrative control campaign against a government long targeted by the US empire for regime change.

The notion that the Syrian government would use chemical weapons at this stage in the game is even more nonsensical than it was at the time of the Douma allegations in April 2018. President Bashar al-Assad has recaptured far more territory from the western-backed extremist factions, the eventual full recapture of the nation by Syria and its allies is a foregone conclusion barring direct military intervention by the US empire, and now the western imperialists are even beginning to lose the narrative war as well. There’s no reason to believe Assad would use chemical weapons at this point in the game unless you sincerely believe that he gains some sort of sexual gratification from committing war crimes that is so powerful it overwhelms his most basic survival instincts.

US claims 'Iranian threat' is averted by show of force but not all Democrats buy what they heard

May’s final effort to win backing falls flat as MPs reject ‘new' Brexit deal

Theresa May’s final attempt to patch together a parliamentary majority for Brexit appears to have backfired after her 10-point “new deal” was rejected by MPs from across the political spectrum.

In a speech at the headquarters of consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers in London on Tuesday, the prime minister laid out a series of promises that will be included in the 100-page withdrawal agreement bill (Wab) when it is published later this week – including an offer of a binding vote on a referendum if the deal passes.

But, after a stormy cabinet meeting in which a more generous proposed offer on a second referendum was met with the threat of revolt, MPs on both sides of the Brexit divide said that the proposals were hollow. Within hours, more than 20 Conservatives who backed the deal last time rejected it.

May had implored MPs in her own party and beyond to take a fresh look at what she called a “serious offer”. And with her party facing defeat by Nigel Farage’s Brexit party in Thursday’s European election, she warned that extending the Brexit deadlock “risks opening the door to a nightmare future of permanently polarised politics”. ...

MPs across the House of Commons were unpersuaded by May’s new proposals. By Tuesday evening not a single MP who opposed the deal last time had come out to support it. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “We won’t back a repackaged version of the same old deal – and it’s clear that this weak and disintegrating government is unable deliver on its own commitments.”

“Modern-Day Indentured Servitude”: How Predatory Lenders Devastated New York City’s Taxi Drivers

Trump’s war to keep his finances secret just lost its first battle

President Trump has pulled out all the stops to prevent Congress from investigating his administration, his family and his finances, defying subpoenas and suing his political opponents to keep his records hidden.

But Trump’s strategy suffered a significant setback on Monday when U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta ruled the president's lawsuit to block his longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, from turning over documents to House Democrats had no merit. In doing so, Judge Mehta not only undermined one of Trump’s key legal defenses but also reaffirmed Congress’ power to investigate the president.

The decision marks an important early victory for House Democrats trying penetrate Trump’s unprecedented stonewalling of Congress, a historic standoff that Democratic leaders have called a Constitutional crisis.

“This judge ruled not only in favor of Congress and their investigative authority,” said Martin J. Sheil, who served over 30 years as an investigator at the IRS, “but in such profound language that it leaves, as far as I’m concerned, no wiggle room for appeal.”

Don McGahn defies subpoena as Trump clash with Congress intensifies

Democrats faced another brazen attempt by Donald Trump to stonewall their investigations on Tuesday, this time with former White House counsel Donald McGahn defying a subpoena to appear before Congress on orders from the White House. ...

Trump blocked McGahn from testifying before Congress about the special counsel’s report on Russian election interference, prompting sharp criticism and fresh threats of impeachment.

The committee chairman, Jerry Nadler, said the House would hold the president accountable “one way or the other” and the committee was ready to hold McGahn in contempt. The committee will hear McGahn’s testimony, “even if we have to go to court”, Nadler said. ...

Democrats were encouraged by an early success on that route, as a federal judge ruled against Trump on Monday in a financial records dispute with Congress.

“We Don’t Want a Monarchy”: Rep. Al Green Says Democrats Have No Choice But to Impeach Trump

Revolting Against Speaker's Inaction, Pelosi's Own Leadership Team Demands Trump Impeachment Proceedings

After the Trump administration instructed former White House counsel Don McGahn to refuse to comply with a Judiciary Committee subpoena to testify, several members of House Speaker Nancy >Pelosi's leadership team privately confronted the Democratic leader late Monday and demanded impeachment proceedings against the president immediatelyin response to the latest attempt to stonewall congressional oversight.

According to the Washington Post, at least "five members of Pelosi's leadership team—four of whom also sit on the House Judiciary Committee, with jurisdiction over impeachment—pressed Pelosi (D-Calif.) in a closed-door leadership meeting to allow the panel to start an [impeachment] inquiry, which they argued would help investigators attain documents and testimony that Trump has blocked."

One of the lawmakers who reportedly pressed Pelosi to approve impeachment proceedings on Monday was House Judiciary Committee chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), who has faced calls to act as his repeated attempts to investigate President Donald Trump and administration officials have been brazenly denied by the White House. "The meeting marks the first time a chairman and top rank-and-file lawmakers—including members of Pelosi's leadership team—have lobbied her to change her long-held position on impeachment," the Post reported. ...

Pelosi, however, refused to budge despite backlash from her own leadership team.

‘No justice for black people’: family of man shot by police demand same payout as Justine Damond's

The family of an African American man shot dead by Minneapolis police are demanding a $US20m ($A29m) payout equal to what the family of the Australian Justine Ruszczyk-Damond received.

Jamar Clark’s father said Damond and her family were treated differently because they were white. “There’s no justice for black people,” James Clark told a rally outside Minneapolis’ federal courthouse. “White people get all the justice”.

Jamar Clark, 24, was shot in 2015 during a scuffle with two white Minneapolis police officers. The police officers were not charged.

Damond’s father, John Ruszczyk, and brother Jason filed a civil lawsuit against the city of Minneapolis last year and just days after the jury’s guilty verdict the city agreed to pay the family a record $US20m. Clark’s family filed a civil lawsuit in 2017 against the city but the parties have not come to an agreement. Settlement talks continue.

How ICE Is Using Solitary Confinement to Punish Asylum Seekers, Including LGBT & Disabled Immigrants

Texas Governor Supports Chick-fil-A’s Right to Be Homophobic

The Republican-controlled Texas House passed the so-called “Save Chick-fil-A” bill on Monday, despite fervent opposition from Democrats and the LGBTQ caucus. The bill outlaws local governments from taking “any adverse action” against any person or business for their affiliation with a religious organization, including those that promote anti-LGBTQ causes.

The bill already passed the Republican-controlled Senate — though the Senate will need to approve of small changes made by the House — and is now fast-tracked for the GOP governor, who is expected to sign it.

Republicans introduced the bill after the San Antonio City Council voted to ban Chick-fil-A from opening up shop in the city’s airport three months ago in response to the fast-food chain’s long-documented history of anti-LGBTQ advocacy. And its members wouldn’t reconsider their decision. ...

“This bill is going to pass; let’s face it,” state Rep. Celia Israel, a Democrat, said minutes before her colleagues cast their votes, according to the Austin Chronicle. “It’s been cloaked in religious freedom, but the genesis, the nexus of this bill, is in hatred.”

A Tennessee County Wanted to Sterilize Inmates for Shorter Sentences. That’s Over Now.

A Tennessee judge offered dozens of inmates about a month off their sentence if they’d undergo surgical sterilization, and many agreed to it, in what critics argued amounted to a eugenics program and a blatant violation of constitutional rights.

Now, nearly two years after a local district attorney first made his concerns about the program known, inmates sued to end deals to get vasectomies or birth control implants, and nationwide outrage grew, sterilization deals are officially quashed after a federal court order Monday night.

“Inmate sterilization is despicable, it is morally indefensible, and it is illegal,” said Daniel Horwitz, a Nashville attorney who represented inmates pro-bono in their lawsuit against White County General Sessions Judge Sam Benningfield and former county sheriff Oddie Shoupe, in a statement. ...

While the program was in practice, White County agreed to sterilize “dozens” of inmates, according to the lawsuit. Both vasectomies and birth control implants can be reversed or removed, but — like all surgical procedures — can be costly and pose medical risks to patients. In an email, Horwitz told VICE News that “several dozen” women received Nexplanon implants through the program, and nobody received vasectomies, though many signed up to do so.

the horse race

Worth a full read, here's a little taste:

Warren and Sanders Understand the Power of 'The Bad Guy'

Progressive activist Norman Solomon offers a succinct description of neoliberalism: an ideology that sees victims but never victimizers. Bad things just happen. They’re the product of mysterious, unaccountable and ill-defined “market forces.” Factories just close, endless wars just “erupt,” the Nasdaq just crashes and our 401K and home equity just evaporate. No one specifically is responsible. And when someone is, around the margins, it’s a handful of faceless Arabs off in a cave somewhere or, increasingly, anonymous “Russians.” Our military and intelligence services are off fighting those Bad Guys. Trust us.

But intuitively we know this is inadequate. It’s clear neither Islamic State group nor the Russians caused the opium crisis, the housing bubble, racist policing, the predatory gig economy, massive college loans, endless wars or a host of other social ills. It’s human nature to seek out the causes of a crisis, name names and get a sense that, even if one accepts that terrorism and Putin are real and urgent threats, they’re small-time compared to those making us poor, overworked, drug-addicted, indebted and war-fatigued. We have victims—this much is obvious. But where are the victimizers?

Two 2020 presidential candidates, Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, have gone to great lengths to lay out who these victimizers are and to establish The Bad Guy—the former, first in 2016; the latter with more specificity in 2020. ... For Sanders and Warren, it’s simple: This Bad Guy is the rich, the one percent, the oligarchy—however one wants to put it. It’s not an exact definition (and some on the left think this vagueness, when globalized, carries its own potential problems), but it’s precise enough, and one that has been good enough for countless left-wing populist movements, reforms and revolutions for centuries. ...

In 2016, Trump understood the political power of The Bad Guy and, fully harnessing years of Fox News’ brand of faux-class warfare, proffered a made-up one: a racist fever dream, a Soros-Black Lives Matter-Islamo conspiracy out to get the underdog-middle-class white man. Its face wasn’t that of a wealthy bank or pharma exec but a (((globalist))) liberal donor, a masked Islamic State group fighter and the dreaded “liberal media.” ... It’s important, as I’ve noted time and again, that the much-heralded white working class is not Trump’s base—however, the largest defection of voters from Obama to Trump did come from this demographic. The median, most consequential Trump backer is a golf-tanned white man with $1.3 million in the bank who owns a network of Toyota dealerships in Central Florida. But—the domain of poor whites is where Trump picked up a lot of “winnable” ground—and where the Democrats can rightfully reassert themselves.

Only instead of offering up a racist, Fox News-concocted Bad Guy, Warren and Sanders can offer voters a real one: the rich, cynical prescription drug pusher; the bank executive who foreclosed on your aunt’s house; the retail overlord who docks your pay for taking bathroom breaks when you pick up shifts at Walmart. In other words: the one percent.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says she'd be 'hard pressed' to back Biden in primary

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the progressive US congresswoman and social media sensation, has said she would be “hard pressed” to endorse the frontrunner, Joe Biden, in the Democratic presidential primary. The statement is the latest sign of the left’s apathy towards the former vice-president, who has surged ahead of the Senator Bernie Sanders and other rivals in recent polls.

Sanders, a self-declared democratic socialist, appears to be the favourite to secure 29-year-old Ocasio-Cortez’s prized endorsement but she said she was still some way off making a decision.

“I’m not close to an endorsement announcement any time soon,” she told the Guardian on Tuesday. “I’m still trying to get a handle on my job. It seems like ages but I’m just five months in and we have quite some time. The debates are in the summer and our first primary election for the entire country isn’t until next year.”

Asked if she would consider endorsing Biden, widely seen as a centrist, Ocasio-Cortez replied: “I’d be hard pressed to see that happen, to be honest, in a primary.”

'Absolutely Nothing to Offer': Beto's Answer on Medicare For All at CNN Town Hall Angers Progressives

Democratic presidential primary candidate Beto O'Rourke went on CNN for a town hall Tuesday evening in an attempt to breathe some life into his struggling campaign, but all he did was earn the ire of progressives after delivering a less than ambitious answer to a question on Medicare for All.

O'Rourke declined to endorse the popular policy by host Dana Bash as a follow up to a question from the audience on drug prices. Bash asked the former Texas congressman why he supports the Medicare for America plan put forth by Democratic Reps. Rose DeLauro (Conn.) and Jan Schakowsky (Ill.) instead of Medicare for All.

"They don't have time for us to get to the perfect solution," O'Rourke said, referring to audience member Diane Kolmer, whose struggles with the disease multliple sclerosis prompted her to ask about healthcare, and a man O'Rourke claimed to have met named "Joey."

"If we were to start from scratch, maybe we would start with a single payer," added O'Rourke, "but we've got to work with the system that we have here today."

O'Rourke's perceived prevarication on healthcare generated sharp criticism from the left. 

"It's obvious why this guy has been campaigning on awkward hand motions, standing on tables, photo shoots and trying to sound like Obama," progressive news podcast "The District Sentinel" said in a tweet. "He has absolutely nothing to offer."

Some More News host Cody Johnston mocked O'Rourke's narrow use of timing.

"Beto O'Rourke," Johnston tweeted, "running for president of Exactly Now." ...

Columbia Law School lecturer Shawn Sebastian pointed out that any plan supported by Democrats, even Medicare for America, won't face any more of an easy path to becoming law than Medicare for All—Republicans, Sebastian said, will oppose anything with the same ferocity they oppose the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

"The GOP tried to repeal the ACA for a decade and they'll fight Beto's plan another decade," said Sebastian. "We'll get worse outcomes to protect private insurance. Beto is lying."

the evening greens

1.6m Americans live near the most polluting incinerators in the US

A total of 1.6 million Americans live next to the most polluting incinerators in the country, with lower-income and minority communities exposed to the vast majority of pollution coming from these waste-burning plants. The burning of household and commercial waste can give off a stew of pollutants, including mercury, lead and small particles of soot. This pollution isn’t evenly distributed, however. Of the 73 incinerators across the US, 79% are located within three miles of low-income and minority neighbourhoods, according to research by the Tishman Environment and Design Center at New York City’s New School.

In total, 4.4 million people live within three miles of an incinerator in the US. Of this total, 1.6 million live close to the top 12 incinerators measured in terms of pollutant emissions across mercury, lead, particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxide and carbon monoxide.

These pollutants are linked to a range of health problems, including asthma and heart disease. US incinerators typically abide by rules set on the amount of allowable emissions. But researchers said that even incinerators operating within their permits are adding to public health problems that heavily burden black, Hispanic and poorer communities. ...

The report, which was commissioned by anti-incinerator group Gaia and draws from Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data, charts the rise of incinerators from the 1980s after federal rules eliminated many of the most harmful landfills. Many US incinerators, which typically last for about 30 years, are nearing the end of their lifespans, making them increasingly costly to maintain.

The facilities can, however, benefit from renewable energy subsidies by helping create electricity from the burning of waste. A further boost has indirectly come from China’s decision to ban the import of most plastic for recycling, leaving many US cities to simply burn plastic they can’t reuse.

Global Sea Level May Rise Faster Than Previously Projected, With 'Profound Consequences for Humanity'

A new study warning that rapidly melting ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica may push global sea level rise beyond 7.8 feet by 2100 has elicited alarm about the "profound consequences for humanity" and cast doubt on past projections.

"If we see something like that in the next 80 years we are looking at social breakdown on scales that are pretty unimaginable," lead author Jonathan Bamber, a professor of physical geography at the U.K.'s University of Bristol, told New Scientist.

The structured expert judgement study, published Monday by the peer-reviewed journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), brought together 22 experts. Under the experts' worst case scenario projection—based on global temperatures increasing to 5°C (9°F) above pre-industrial levels by 2100—rising seas would leave about 1.79 million square kilometers (691,123 square miles) underwater and displace up to 187 million people.

Detailing what this would look like on a global scale, BBC News reported:

Much of the land losses would be in important food growing areas such as the delta of the Nile. Large swathes of Bangladesh would be very difficult for people to continue to live in. Major global cities, including London, New York and Shanghai would be under threat.

"To put this into perspective, the Syrian refugee crisis resulted in about a million refugees coming into Europe," said [Bamber].

"That is about 200 times smaller than the number of people who would be displaced in a two meter sea level rise."

The PNAS study's upper level projection is more than double the highest estimate from the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC). That 2013 U.N. analysis, which experts have long criticized as too conservative, concluded that under business-as-usual greenhouse gas emissions, global sea level could rise up to 3.22 feet by the end of this century.

Over 1,351 Climate Strikes in 110 Countries Planned for Friday as Global Revolt Escalates

Two months after what was reportedly the largest international climate demonstration ever, young people around the world are expected to make history again on Friday with a second global climate strike.

Sixteen-year-old Greta Thunberg, who began the global movement in which students around the world have walked out of their classrooms on a weekly basis since last fall to demand climate action, reported Tuesday that at least 1,351 separate strikes are now scheduled to take place all over the world on Friday. ...

Two strikes are planned in Antarctica, according to a map on the #FridaysForFuture website; countries including Afghanistan, Namibia, and Uzbekistan are each planning at least one strike, while hundreds of rallies have been planned across Germany, France, the U.S., and several other countries.

On March 15, an estimated 1.6 million people demonstrated in 123 countries. The number of planned protests for Friday surpassed the 1,325 which took place two months ago.

Also of Interest

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

How the West’s War in Libya Spurred Terrorism in 14 Countries

Iran’s Military Options

Why Jon Chait Can’t Read

If Roe v Wade is overturned, we should worry about the rule of law

A Homeland Security Whistleblower Goes Public About ICE Abuse of Solitary Confinement

How Bad Are Things on Wall Street? JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs Offer No Minimum Accounts

'48 years is enough': activists and celebrities call for release of ex-Black Panther

A ‘Just Transition’ from Fossil Fuels

A Little Night Music

Ben E King - It's All Over

Ben E King - Young Boy Blues

Ben E. King - Too Bad

Ben E. King - Show Me The Way

Ben E. King - Souvenir of Mexico

Ben E King - Spanish Harlem

Ben E. King - That's When It Hurts

Ben E. King - Stand By Me

Ben E King (Drifters) - Save the Last Dance for Me

Ben E King (Drifters) - There Goes my Baby

Ben E King - Money Honey

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JekyllnHyde's picture

Never mind that the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 and the Cold War ended soon after. What Bernie is offering is FDR liberalism, something the Democratic Party abandoned decades ago!

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A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma

joe shikspack's picture


heh, it looks like both major parties are using the same utility research lab, the only difference is the terminology "socialism!" vs. "too far left!"

thanks for the toon!

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Azazello's picture

Great quote from Norman Solomon in that truthdig piece.

Here's Ted Rall on Prez2020, sound analysis.
Why Joe Biden is the Least Electable Democrat

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joe shikspack's picture


solomon gets right at the meat of what is essential in a campaign season where lots of people are dissatisfied. much as the corpadems would like to pretend that everybody is fat and happy, it's certainly not a way to win elections. rall seems to be on to something, too.

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provide very positive news! Thank you for posting it!

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joe shikspack's picture

@Linda Wood

it's great to see that somewhere in the world there are people who are not willing to be complicit in the wanton slaughter of millions of people for a little money.

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...and then the Warriors won 6 straight and are in the NBA Finals.
Whoops. Nate Silver blows it again.

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joe shikspack's picture


oops! i guess kos' favorite quant jock booted another one. Smile

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Unabashed Liberal's picture

new constraints on choice of health care services" for seniors currently enrolled in Original/Traditional Medicare, or TM.

Here's the exact wording,

In the United States, public programs have implemented few utilization management programs, but private insurers have increasingly used them to lower costs.

Some private insurers require prior authorization for patients seeking expensive therapies, for example, and Medicare Part D plans offer low or no copayments to patients who use cheaper generic medications.

Many of those strategies could be continued under a single-payer system.

The utilization management in such a system might not be much of a change for people who were previously enrolled in a private plan, but it would impose new constraints on the choice of health care services for those who were previously enrolled in the Medicare FFS program.

(My Note: FFS=Fee For Service, which is how services are paid for in TM/Original Medicare.)

Case closed! After all, "utilization management" is basically an euphemism for managed care. We want nothing to do with obtaining "prior authorization" every time we need a medical service, or procedure. If we did, we would have enrolled in MA.

Heh, gotta run pay bills, but, plan to drop by, and re-post a couple of screenshots about the Sanders/Jayapal Universal MFA Bill--including one that I accidentally left out earlier today. Oops! Thought something look a bit 'off.'


Everyone have a nice evening. (We're bracing for rough weather over the next week, or so--hopefully, won't be as bad as being forecast.)



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

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

joe shikspack's picture

@Unabashed Liberal

what you've been digging up increasingly looks like something that ought to be put in the form of a serious question to sanders' policy geeks as well as some of the folks at national nurses union and physicians for a national health program (both of whom i remember divineorder forwarding materials from frequently). your concern is going to be an important question for a lot of people.

heh, good luck with the weather. we've got another day or possibly two of temperate weather here and then it is supposed to start ramping up to summer weather for a week or more after that. makes me think that a drive north for a few days might be a nice thing. Smile

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Unabashed Liberal's picture

@joe shikspack @joe shikspack

(just found out that rack is preferable to wrack, in this context--never knew that!) to figure out a way to get enough info in a single Tweet, so that I could ask either his or Jayapal's campaign, or, one of the organization's who support this Bill, to comment on [some of] the language in the Bill, or, the analysis above regarding utilization management (UM) [from the CBO report].

(To say that I'm no whiz when it comes to the art of 'Tweeting,' is a huge understatement. That, coupled with the fact that one could pretty much count on both hands the number of followers that I have in each one of my individual Twitter accounts, it's easy to understand that I need to keep it simple when I Tweet. So, I don't even try to compose Tweets that are multi-part, or continuous.)

BTW, thank you for tonight's edition of News & Blues--especially, the Ben E King. What can I say--"Stand By Me" has always been one of my favorite tunes!

I hear you, about the heat coming in. Hope you get to go north and escape it, if it gets too bad. We just decided to cancel a trip to the Eastern Shore over Memorial Day Weekend, until/unless temps fall back into the 80's (since it's not for any pressing reason). Very occasionally, it's warmer in the Mid-South (TN) than on the Gulf Coast/Mobile Bay. Not often--but, it happens. Again, AccuWeather is my friend. Honestly, don't know how we ever managed without it, especially, MinuteCast.

I think I'm going to re-post those other screenshots tomorrow evening, 'cause I need to add a better explanation, or clarification, than I posted earlier today. And, I'm just plumb tuckered out this evening.

You see, 'walking the Pup' is much more challenging than walking 'the B.' (And he weighed 62 pounds in his prime.) Which reminds me--she has her first nickname. It's 'Bo' (as in Bo Derek). Actually, it's short for "Rambo." Honest to goodness, she is the most powerful dog, pound for pound, that we've ever had. At six months and one day, she weighed in at 44 lbs, last week. Heaven help us, if she turns out to be a 80 or 90 pounder!


Have a nice evening, Joe.



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

0 users have voted.

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

snoopydawg's picture

Trump Is Considering Deputizing the Military as a Civilian Police Force. That Is Terrifying

The Donald Trump presidency, marked by cruelty, corruption, and disdain for the rule of law, has been disastrous for our democracy. If there is one silver lining, it is this: Trump’s abuses have exposed weaknesses in our laws and institutions that were previously hidden and which we can now begin to try to fix. We learned about one such weakness in February, when Trump relied on the National Emergencies Act to commandeer funding Congress had specifically denied for the construction of a border wall. The latest such legal loophole is another emergency power that could enable the president to turn the military into his own immigration police force.

According to a report in the Daily Caller last week, the Trump administration is considering invoking the Insurrection Act to give federal troops the power to detain and remove undocumented immigrants in the United States, acting essentially as Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. The White House, when asked about the option last week, refused to rule it out.

If Trump follows through on this plan, it would be a staggering abuse of authority, on par with the president’s declaration of a “national emergency” to build the border wall. In both cases, the president seeks to harness an authority clearly intended for the most dire and unusual of circumstances to deal with a long-standing issue that does not come close to posing an urgent or overwhelming threat. In both cases, the president’s goal is not to avert a catastrophe, but to score political points with his base and consolidate his own power.

The Insurrection Act is an exception to the general rule, enshrined in the Posse Comitatus Act, that presidents may not use the military as a domestic police force. Posse comitatus, in the words of one former Defense Department official, reflects “one of the clearest political traditions in Anglo-American history: that using military power to enforce the civilian law is harmful to both civilian and military interests.” Deploying soldiers as police officers not only violates democratic sensibilities; it increases the risk that interactions with civilians could go disastrously wrong, as armed forces are not trained in conducting law enforcement activities. On the flip side, every soldier engaged in law enforcement is being pulled away from military priorities.

The Insurrection Act gives the president a dangerous amount of discretion.

Despite this strong tradition, there are times when the law permits domestic use of the military. The Insurrection Act allows the president to deploy federal troops to suppress domestic uprisings and enforce the law when civilian law enforcement is impeded or overwhelmed. As its name suggests, Congress intended the law to be used only in the most extraordinary situations, and only where absolutely necessary to preserve civil order. For the most part, presidents have honored this intent. The law has not been invoked since 1992, when George H.W. Bush used it to help suppress riots in Los Angeles following the acquittal of police officers for the brutal beating of Rodney King.

It should go without saying that the presence of undocumented immigrants within the United States does not justify invocation of this potent emergency power. There is no uprising taking place, no breakdown of civil order. For better or for worse, immigration officers are fully capable of carrying out deportations—indeed, they are doing so at record-setting rates.

Both Obama and Trump pushed the limits for how long families could be detained in immigration centers and even after the court told Trump that he was on a deadline for reuniting kids with their parents he still hasn't done it.

There are other things that he is doing that push the limits of law and if he does this then he is going outside what our law allows. He already took money from other departments to fund immigration centers and for other issues related to it, but if he gets away with doing this then I think we're on a very slippery slope. If we aren't sliding down it already with Bush passing the patriot act and some of the other president's executive orders.

Congress has abdicated its duty to hold the executive in check. But it didn't start with Trump.

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"It is remarkable that a sitting president would express less than complete confidence in the American democracy’s electoral process."

Hillary: "I'd be president today if Comey, Bernie, Bros and Putin hadn't stolen it from me."

joe shikspack's picture


sadly, nancy is not going to do anything about this besides sniff and tell people that elections are their only option to stop this. despite the fact, that as obama's record demonstrates, elections that leave people like nancy in place are not effective enough.

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enhydra lutris's picture

almost completely eliminates Florida. A bit more and it is gone. Would they then lose their 2 senators?

Thanks for the Ben E King & have a great one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

joe shikspack's picture

@enhydra lutris

i think that it means that their senators will be replaced by alligators, who will be moving north.

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enhydra lutris's picture

@joe shikspack
georgia and bama. Heh, Sweet home gatorbama ...

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

joe shikspack's picture

@enhydra lutris

it's "talibama" now. Smile

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janis b's picture

@joe shikspack


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janis b's picture

That’s a great quote for the day. Justice and Soul are clearly lacking. A little transparency would help.

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joe shikspack's picture

@janis b

yep, we live in a time where there is an odd asymmetry between the governing faction and the governed, wherein they demand to know every tiny detail of our existence, yet find means to criminalize the sharing of any knowledge that we have of theirs.

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janis b's picture

@joe shikspack

in it's reality.

Time for listening to some good music to create a more positive atmosphere ...

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mimi's picture

@joe shikspack
to promote the lacking transparency, according to an article in 'Der Spiegel'. A US court decided that. Deutsche Bank darf Trumps Finanzunterlagen weitergeben (Deutsche Bank is allowed to release Trumps financial data).

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“Trauma is not what happens to you.
Trauma is what happens inside you,
as a result of what happens to you.”
— Dr. Gabor Maté

Anja Geitz's picture

For defying the war machine with their courage and enlightened humanity. If only we could transplant the rest of the population with a spine donation of this magnitude.

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier