The Evening Blues - 6-10-19


The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: Billy Branch

Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features Chicago blues harmonica player Billy Branch. Enjoy!

Billy Branch & Jamiah Rogers - Red House

"We the government have vital information which we cannot disclose. It is upon this knowledge that we make decisions. You, who are merely private citizens, have no access to this information. Any criticism you make of our policy, any controversy about it in which you may indulge, will therefore be uninformed and valueless."

-- Harold Thorby

News and Opinion

Australian police chief links media raids to US-led “Five Eyes” spy network

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) called a news conference on Thursday to justify its raids targeting journalists at two media organisations this week.

Police spent seven hours ransacking a News Corp political reporter’s home in Canberra on Tuesday, and eight hours poring over and seizing files at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s (ABC) Sydney headquarters on Wednesday.

In an extraordinary admission, the AFP’s acting commissioner Neil Gaughan blurted out that the real reason for the raids was to protect the information that the Australian police and intelligence agencies receive from their “Five Eyes” counterparts. Five Eyes is a top-level network of intelligence agencies dominated by the US that also includes Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. “The Australian government, or particularly the Australian enforcement and intelligence communities, rely on secret and top-secret information from our international partners, particularly our Five Eyes partners,” the police chief said. “If we can’t be seen to protect our own internal information, [then] we are concerned that the information flow to us dries up.”

Citing government demands for investigations into leaks of secret information, Gaughan said the AFP received “numerous referrals to us [of leaks] and to be honest we get too many. But the premise of investigating these matters is to ensure the international community knows that we take the leaking of information, sensitive information, seriously.” In other words, the AFP is under pressure not just from Canberra, but from Washington, to ensure that information, including about criminal actions of governments and its agencies, is kept from public view. This takes place amid the Trump administration’s mounting threats of war against Iran and Venezuela, as well as its escalating confrontation with China.

The AFP search warrants related to leaked documents exposing war crimes perpetrated by the Special Air Service (SAS) in Afghanistan and plans to legalise domestic mass surveillance by the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), which are both central to Five Eyes operations.

Congress Angered by ‘Escalated’ Ballistic Missile Program Amid Concern of a Saudi Nuke

The U.S. has obtained intelligence that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia “significantly escalated” its ballistic missile program with Chinese help, CNN reported on Wednesday. Beijing has enabled the Saudis to expand their missile infrastructure and technology at a time of escalating tension in the Persian Gulf, CNN said, with both the Saudis and Iranians perceiving a growing threat from each other.

The previously unreported classified intelligence has led U.S. lawmakers to express concern about undermining decades-old efforts to limit the proliferation of missiles in the Middle East. The CNN report cited two former senior U.S. intelligence officials who said it is “likely” that President Trump received this intelligence in a Presidential Daily Briefing, given the close monitoring of ballistic missile developments and flows of material worldwide by U.S. intelligence.

Yet the Senate Foreign Relations Committee only acquired this intelligence from a committee staff member who learned about the ballistic missile activity in Saudi Arabia from a “foreign counterpart” while on “an unrelated trip to the Middle East.” The news increased anger in Washington about a perceived lack of congressional oversight on foreign policy matters in the Trump era.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Bob Menendez, (D-NJ) reprimanded Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and blamed the administration for its “unacceptable” failure to initially provide the committee with the classified information. Menendez declared that the State Department must “do a better job of engaging with us.” Such outcry comes against the backdrop of mounting bipartisan criticism over the administration’s support for the Saudi/Emirati-led campaign in Yemen and the cover that Trump provided Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) following the CIA’s conclusion that he ordered Jamal Khashoggi’s killing.

The Trump administration likely avoided disclosing the intelligence because of its tacit approval of the Kingdom’s ballistic missile activity. ... News of this recent intelligence must also be read within the context of U.S. -Saudi nuclear cooperation, which is another Saudi-related flashpoint pitting lawmakers against the White House. ... Some analysts worry that such information transfers could help the Kingdom develop a nuclear weapon at a later point if the Saudi government makes that decision.

State Dept Official Sacked After Pushing Illegal Fast-Tracking of Saudi Arms Sales

The resignation of Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Charles Faulkner last month appears to have been less a resignation and more of a sacking, according to officials familiar with the situation. Faulkner, a former Raytheon lobbyist turned Trump appointee, was spearheading the administration’s scheme to declare a phony “state of emergency” to avoid Congressional oversight on arms sales. In this case, the arms sales included billions from his former employer, Raytheon.

Faulkner’s role in this decision cannot be overstated, and since Congress started moving to restrict sales to the Saudis he had been one of the lone voices in the State Department urging Pompeo to sign off on sales, as well as being a heavy advocate of skirting oversight. ... This is expected to be a major topic of discussion next week when Congress takes up the matter of the arms sales, and the State Department’s role in them. Congressional aides suggest Faulkner’s former employment with Raytheon and his role in decision-making on their sales appear particularly problematic.

Iran Denounces Trump's 'Hollow' Offer of Negotiations After US Imposes Latest Sanctions

Accusing the Trump administration of "economic terrorism," Iran's foreign ministry said Saturday that the latest sanctions imposed by President Donald Trump demonstrate that the U.S. is not serious about pursuing negotiations regarding Iran's nuclear power. Trump announced the newest round of sanctions on Friday to punish Iran's largest petrochemical company for its indirect support of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The Trump administration labeled the IRGC as a terrorist group in April.

The sanctions came just days after the administration indicated it wanted to pursue negotiations to reach a new deal on Iran's nuclear activity.

"It was only necessary to wait one week until the claim of the president of America about talks with Iran were proven to be hollow," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said, according to Reuters. "The American policy of maximum pressure is a defeated policy."

The sanctions were announced about a month after the administration sent an aircraft carrier, missiles, and B-52 bombers to Iran in an apparent show of force.

Mystery fires scorch thousands of acres of crops in Syria, Iraq

This was supposed to be the year the farmers of eastern Syria and Iraq bounced back. For the first time in a decade, neither war nor drought had intervened to deter what promised to be a bumper harvest. Fields of golden wheat rippled across the vast lands once ravaged by the militant fighters, the most fertile area of the region that in centuries past served as the breadbasket of the known world.

Then came the mysterious crop fires - blamed on and claimed by the Islamic State, but perhaps not entirely the work of the militants. Starting in early May, tens of thousands of acres of farmland have been burned across an expanse of territory stretching from the Iranian border in the east to near the Mediterranean coast in the west. The scorch marks across the landscape are visible from satellites. The plumes of smoke rising on the horizon recall the U.S.-led airstrikes that pummeled much of the area a few years ago. ...

The fires come as a reminder that the Islamic State retains the capacity to spark mayhem with seemingly little effort, exploiting the unresolved grievances and disputes that contributed to its emergence - and could yet help it rise again. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the earliest of the fires and urged its followers to ignite more. "The harvest season is still long, and we tell the soldiers of the Caliphate: you have before you millions of dunams of land planted with wheat and barley, which are owned by apostates," said the claim, published by the Islamic State's al-Naba newsletter, exhorting supporters to set more fires.

Many of the fires are almost certainly the work of the Islamic State, or ISIS, in keeping with the scorched earth strategy the group adopted after it began to lose territory, said Peter Schwartzstein, a fellow at the Center for Climate and Security. "They are a means of keeping the countryside unstable and ripe for it to operate," he said. "The rationale is: If we can't have this land, neither can anyone else." Few, however, believe the Islamic State is responsible for all the burnings, he said. "A chunk of it is almost certainly others piggybacking on the phenomenon. It looks as if these ISIS-related fires have provided a useful foil for others to pursue their goals."

Islamic State group on the rise in Afghanistan

Millions join general strike in Sudan aimed at dislodging army

Millions of people in Sudan have joined a general strike called by ​pro-reform groups, shutting down the centre of cities across the country despite a wave of arrests and intimidation​. The massive shutdown was called to take place on Sunday, the first day of the working week, and is aimed at relaunching an opposition movement battered by a brutal crackdown and forcing the country’s new military leaders to resign.

Shops were closed and streets were empty throughout the capital, Khartoum, and in the neighbouring Omdurman. Four protesters were killed in sporadic violence in the two cities. The Sudanese Professionals Association, a leading opposition group, said it had called on people to stay home in protest at the deaths of more than 100 people on Monday last week, when security forces violently dispersed a pro-democracy sit-in outside the military headquarters in Khartoum.

“The peaceful resistance by civil disobedience and the general political strike is the fastest and most effective way to topple the military council … and to hand over power to a transitional civilian authority,” the SPA said.

The military took power after ousting the then president, Omar al-Bashir, in April after months of mass rallies. The ruling Transitional Military Council has since refused demonstrators’ demands for an immediate move to civilian rule, instead pushing for a transitional power-sharing arrangement.

Ahed Tamimi: 'I was afraid to protest when I was 8. Not anymore'

As Trump Signals Support for Israel's Proposed West Bank Annexation, Lawmakers and Rights Advocates Condemn Plan to Commit 'War Crime'

A top Trump administration official signaled Saturday that the U.S. would welcome Israel's reported plan to break international law by annexing parts of the West Bank, angering advocates for Palestinian rights.

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman told the New York Times that Israel is "entitled to retain some portion" of the Palestinian territory where Israel has built settlements over the past two decades.

Saeb Erakat, the Palestinians' chief negotiator, wrote that the Trump administration's blessing of Israeli's plan to commit a "war crime" represents "the road to an endless conflict."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in April that he planned to begin annexation, drawing condemnation from U.S. progressive leaders including Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Mark Pocan (D-Wisc.), who accused Netanyahu of "undermining" peace efforts.

Late Friday, ahead of Friedman's statement, lawmakers including Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) were among the lawmakers who introduced a resolution opposing any Israeli plan to annex parts of the West Bank and demanding a two-state solution that recognizes Palestinians' right to self-determination.

Facebook’s new public policy manager for Ukraine is nationalist hawk who volunteered with fascist party during US-backed coup

When Facebook hired a new public policy manager for Ukraine, the mega-corporation chose one of the most biased candidates possible: a hawkish jingoist who has worked extensively with the Ukrainian government and the European Union.

Kateryna Kruk, who has served as Facebook’s first public policy manager for Ukraine since late May, was an active participant in Ukraine’s 2014 US-backed coup, in which far-right ultra-nationalists violently ousted a democratically elected government accused by the West of getting too close to Russia and replaced it with a pro-NATO one.

During the coup, Kruk volunteered with the fascistic Svoboda party, and defended the extreme-right group from criticism. She is a nationalist hardliner who compares Russian President Vladimir Putin to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, reduces all pro-Russian forces in Ukraine to “terrorists,” and opposes any kind of negotiations with Moscow.

Facebook’s new public policy manager for Ukraine publicly cheered when Turkey shot down a Russian plane, has called for martial law, and claims that Russians are incapable of keeping promises. She has even gone so far as to refer to the Kremlin as a “terrorist organization.”

An investigation by The Grayzone found that Kateryna Kruk said she “thanked” and “blessed” a boy who joined the Ukrainian neo-Nazi militia known as the Azov Battalion. She also gloated over fascist violence against Ukrainian communist politicians, and repeatedly called for the Communist Party of Ukraine to be banned.

The fact that someone with these extreme political views will be policing content for Facebook is already troubling, and raises concerns about whether she will censor sources that she disagrees with. ... Facebook’s new public policy manager for Ukraine openly refers to her country as a key battleground for “information warfare” against Russia. She has called for NATO and the European Union to play a more active role in policing media content. And Kruk clearly indicated in various social media posts that her solution to fight supposed “Russian propaganda” is with pro-EU and pro-NATO propaganda.

[Much more background at link. -js]

House Democrats Aren’t Done Talking About the Mueller Report — Especially the Russia Hacking Details

When Special Counsel Robert Mueller finally spoke about his investigation into President Trump’s ties to Russia, he hammered home the “central allegation” of his probe: Russia made multiple attempts to interfere in the 2016 election.

Democrats seemed to have got the memo. While they’re still in talks about getting testimony from Mueller, the House Intelligence Committee on Friday announced a “Lessons from the Mueller Report” hearing to be held this Wednesday, with a specific focus on the “counterintelligence implications” of his findings.

No one from Mueller’s team is expected to show up, but the committee will hear testimony from two former top national security officials at the FBI, Stephanie Douglas and Robert Anderson.

“Our committee’s goal will be to explain to the American people the serious counterintelligence concerns raised by the Mueller Report, examine the depth and breadth of the unethical and unpatriotic conduct it describes, and produce prescriptive remedies to ensure that this never happens again,” said committee chairman Rep. Adam Schiff, Democrat from California.

House Democrats Reach Deal to Review Mueller’s “Key Evidence”

House Democrats reached a deal with the Department of Justice to review some of the “key evidence” behind special counsel Robert Mueller’s report. As a result, they’ve backed off plans to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress, the Democrat-controlled House Judiciary Committee said in an emailed statement on Monday.

The deal struck Monday relates to evidence used by Mueller to determine whether Trump obstructed justice. But Nadler said House Democrats would revive plans for a legal confrontation over Mueller’s files if the DOJ balks at sharing information.

“If the Department proceeds in good faith and we are able to obtain everything that we need, then there will be no need to take further steps,” Nadler said. “If important information is held back, then we will have no choice but to enforce our subpoena in court and consider other remedies.”

Company part-owned by Jared Kushner got $90m from unknown offshore investors since 2017

A real estate company part-owned by Jared Kushner has received $90m in foreign funding from an opaque offshore vehicle since he entered the White House as a senior adviser to his father-in-law Donald Trump. Investment has flowed from overseas to the company, Cadre, while Kushner works as an international envoy for the US, according to corporate filings and interviews. The money came through a vehicle run by Goldman Sachs in the Cayman Islands, a tax haven that guarantees corporate secrecy.

Kushner, who is married to Trump’s elder daughter Ivanka, kept a stake in Cadre after joining the administration, while selling other assets. His holding is now valued at up to $50m, according to his financial disclosure documents. Cadre’s foreign funding could create hidden conflicts of interest for Kushner as he performs his work for the US government, according to some ethics experts, who raised concerns over the lack of transparency around the investments. ...

The names of the foreigners investing in Cadre via Goldman Sachs are not disclosed by the companies, which are not required to make the information public. Two sources familiar with the firm said much of the money came to the Cayman Islands vehicle from a second offshore tax haven, while some came from Saudi Arabia.

Cadre was founded in 2014 by Kushner, his brother Joshua and their friend Ryan Williams, who previously worked for Goldman Sachs. The company operates from a building in Manhattan owned by the Kushner family’s real estate corporation.

The company styles itself as an online marketplace where investors can come together to buy property. But it has also built a real estate investment fund, now worth more than half a billion dollars, that is used to buy properties across the US. The fund’s value has risen fivefold since 2017, when Kushner was appointed a White House adviser, following earlier slower growth.

The Intercept Is Reporting on a Vast Trove of Materials About Brazil’s Operation Car Wash and Justice Minister Sergio Moro

The Intercept Brasil today published three explosive exposés showing highly controversial, politicized, and legally dubious internal discussions and secret actions by the Operation Car Wash anti-corruption task force of prosecutors, led by the chief prosecutor Deltan Dallagnol, along with then-Judge Sergio Moro, now the powerful and internationally celebrated justice minister for Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. These stories are based on a massive archive of previously undisclosed materials — including private chats, audio recordings, videos, photos, court proceedings, and other documentation — provided to us by an anonymous source. They reveal serious wrongdoing, unethical behavior, and systematic deceit about which the public, both in Brazil and internationally, has the right to know.

These three articles were published today in The Intercept Brasil in Portuguese, and we have synthesized them into two English-language articles for The Intercept. Given the size and global influence of Brazil under the new Bolsonaro government, these stories are of great significance to an international audience. ... Beyond the inherent political, economic, and environmental importance of Brazil under Bolsonaro, the significance of these revelations arises from the incomparably consequential actions of the yearslong Car Wash corruption probe. That sweeping scandal implicated numerous leading political figures, oligarchs, Bolsonaro’s predecessor as president, and even foreign leaders in corruption prosecutions.

Most importantly, Car Wash was the investigative saga that led to the imprisonment of former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva last year. Lula’s conviction by Moro, once it was quickly affirmed by an appellate court, rendered him ineligible to run for president at a time when all polls showed that Lula — who was twice elected president by large margins in 2002 and in 2006 before being term-limited out of office in 2010 with an 87 percent approval rating — was the frontrunner in the 2018 presidential race. Lula’s exclusion from the election, based on Moro’s finding of guilt, was a key episode that paved the way for Bolsonaro’s election victory. ...

The Car Wash prosecutors and Moro have been highly controversial in Brazil and internationally — heralded by many as anti-corruption heroes and accused by others of being clandestine right-wing ideologues masquerading as apolitical law enforcers. Their critics have insisted that they have abused and exploited their law enforcement powers with the politicized goal of preventing Lula from returning to the presidency and destroying his leftist Workers’ Party, or the PT. Moro and the prosecutors have, with equal vehemence, denied that they have any political allegiances or objectives and have said they are simply trying to cleanse Brazil of corruption. But, until now, the Car Wash prosecutors and Moro have carried out their work largely in secret, preventing the public from evaluating the validity of the accusations against them and the truth of their denials. That’s what makes this new archive so journalistically valuable: For the first time, the public will learn what these judges and prosecutors were saying and doing when they thought nobody was listening.

[Here are links to the two articles:

Hidden Plot

Breach of Ethics]

Brazil reels at claims judge who jailed Lula collaborated with prosecutors

Brazil has been rocked by allegations that a prominent judge repeatedly collaborated with prosecutors during high-profile corruption investigations – including the controversial case that imprisoned former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. According to the Intercept, Sérgio Moro gave prosecutors strategic advice, criticism and tips during the sprawling corruption investigation known as Operation Car Wash that jailed hundreds of executives, politicians and middlemen. ...

In a statement on Sunday night, Moro said the disclosures “did not show any abnormality” and that they “ignored the giant corruption scheme revealed by Operation Car Wash”. The minister also complained about the “criminal invasion” of prosecutors’ phones. ...

Bolsonaro has yet to comment but his son Carlos shared a tweet noting that Greenwald’s husband is congressman David Miranda from the leftist Socialism and Freedom party.

Prosecutors said in a statement they had been subject to a “criminal act” by a hacker which had compromised their safety with “the objective of impeding the continuity of the operation”. “Many conversations, without due context, can give way to misinterpretations,” they said.

Brazilian leftists – who have long argued that Lula was unjustly convicted – said the revelations proved they were right. “It is harder and harder to deny the judicial persecution of Lula,” said Jean Paul Prates, a Workers’ party senator in a statement. ... Geoffrey Robertson, the lawyer handling Lula’s appeal to the United Nations human rights committee said the disclosures showed Moro was biased. “Lula should now be released from prison and Moro and certain police officers prosecuted for preventing justice,” he said in a statement.

Clashes in Hong Kong after vast protest against extradition law

Riot police have clashed with protesters in Hong Kong after hundreds of thousands of people marched through the streets in a massive demonstration against a proposed extradition law. Critics say the proposed law will allow mainland China to pursue its political opponents in the city, which has traditionally been a safe haven from the Communist party.

A largely peaceful scene outside the parliament and government headquarters in the Admiralty business district changed dramatically in the early hours of Monday as police wearing riot gear moved in with batons and pepper spray on protesters who hurled bottles and metal barricades.

Earlier on Sunday a sea of people, many wearing white, stretched for almost two miles as they marched from Victoria Park, in the east of Hong Kong island, to the government HQ. Thousands more struggled to board packed public transport from outer Hong Kong and Kowloon on the mainland. After seven hours of marching, organisers estimated that more than 1 million people had taken part, far outstripping a demonstration in 2003 when half that number successfully challenged government plans for tighter national security laws. A police spokesman said they estimated that 240,000 were on the march at its peak.

Small groups of young protesters had planned to stay outside the government HQ until Wednesday, when the extradition bill is due to have its second reading, but police moved in on them after their permission to protest expired at midnight. Within minutes scenes of chaos unfolded as protesters fought with officers who were soon backed by riot police. An hour or so later riot police moved into clear out the remaining protesters. There was little resistance after the earlier violence, although some pockets of people remained sitting.

Jeremy Hunt claims Merkel is willing to renegotiate Brexit deal

The Conservative leadership hopeful Jeremy Hunt has claimed Angela Merkel would be willing to renegotiate the UK’s Brexit deal and possibly the Irish border arrangements opposed by Eurosceptics. The foreign secretary said he had spoken to the German chancellor on the sidelines of D-day commemorations last week and she had indicated that the EU was “willing to negotiate on the package” if a new prime minister had the “right approach”.

His claim flies in the face of repeated assertions from Brussels that the withdrawal agreement cannot be reopened to change the Irish backstop, which Eurosceptics reject because they fear it may keep the UK in a customs union indefinitely.
Speaking to Sky’s Ridge on Sunday programme, Hunt said Merkel had told him Brussels “would look at any solutions” the UK put forward to solve the Irish border issue.

In apparent criticism of the leadership frontrunner, Boris Johnson, Hunt said an “ultra hardline person” would be met by “an ultra-hardline response” from the EU.

Johnson told the Sunday Times he would withhold the UK’s payments to the EU until a better deal could be struck. He suggested the settlement of £39bn over the coming decades would be paid only when there was “greater clarity” about the way forward.

Tariff Temper Tantrum: Trump “Created a Fake Crisis & Has Announced a Fake Solution” with Mexico

All I have done, no credit!’ Enraged Trump defends US-Mexico migrant deal

The Trump administration was forced to defend its immigration agreement with Mexico on Sunday, amid reports that key provisions in the deal, forged under the threat of trade tariffs, were mostly old commitments agreed to months ago. ...

In the deal announced with significant self-congratulation by Donald Trump on Friday, Mexico agreed to deploy its national guard and to expand a heavily criticised program that keeps migrants seeking asylum in the US in Mexico as their claims are processed. Trump withdrew a threat of 5% tariffs on all Mexican goods.

But on Saturday the New York Times reported that Mexico had already agreed to key provisions in the joint declaration during secretive negotiations over the past six months.

On Sunday, the president fired off a series of enraged tweets as he headed for a second day of golf at his course in Sterling, Virginia. Lamenting what he called “another false report in the Failing New York Times”, he wrote: “If President Obama made the deals that I have made, both at the Border and for the Economy, the Corrupt Media would be hailing them as Incredible, & a National Holiday would be immediately declared. With me, despite our record setting Economy and all that I have done, no credit!”

Trump Administration Making It Harder to Find Out Whether It’s Fighting White Supremacist Terror

Over the last decade, the FBI classified domestic terrorism cases using 11 categories, including a specific grouping for white supremacists. At the end of April, the FBI and Justice Department revealed to Senate Judiciary Committee staffers that a new classification system was now in place, employing only four categories: racially motivated violent extremism; anti-government and anti-authority extremism; animal rights and environmental extremism; and abortion extremism.

The “racially motivated” category is the most problematic one. Under an administration that has made a point of drawing false equivalences between deadly white supremacist violence and anti-racist dissent, the FBI’s category collapse is as unsurprising as it is disconcerting.

According to the Anti-Defamation League, between 2009 and 2018, white supremacist and far-right extremists were responsible for 73 percent of extremist murders in the U.S. Yet the distinct and deadly threat of white supremacist violence is now unnamed and merely folded into the too-broad “racially motivated extremism” category. That category folds in “black identity extremism” — an FBI category conjured in 2017 to make the unsubstantiated claim that black organizers fighting against racist police executions were a national security threat.

The new nomenclature reflects the Trump administration’s ideological commitment to enabling white supremacists. But the new classifications are more than semantic: They render it impossible for the public, or even elected officials, to know whether the FBI is dedicating resources to investigating the very real threat of white supremacist terror or if those resources are going toward the harassment of Black Lives Matter and civil rights activists. Only the former use of government time and money would be justified, but both cases would fall under “racially motivated extremism.”

the horse race

Rev. William Barber: Racist Gerrymandering Created a GOP Stronghold in the South. We Must Fight Back

Joe Biden’s lead slips as Elizabeth Warren surges, Iowa poll shows

On the heels of a major Iowa poll which showed a big slip in his big lead over the Democratic field, Joe Biden was conspicuous by his absence from the guest list for a big party event in the state on Sunday. Nineteen candidates for the presidential nomination were due to give five-minute speeches at the Democratic Party Hall of Fame dinner in Cedar Rapids, among them leading contenders Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg and Kamala Harris.

Biden, who was attending his granddaughter’s graduation, was not among them. He is due to visit Ottumwa, Iowa, on Tuesday – the same day Donald Trump will visit Council Bluffs and Des Moines.

In the poll released by CNN and the Des Moines Register on Saturday night, the former Delaware senator and vice-president led the 23-strong field in the early voting state by eight clear points. But he only polled at 24%, down from his usual 30%-plus. Sanders was second with 16%, ahead of Warren with 15% and Buttigieg with 14%. Harris was the only other candidate above 5%, with half as much support as Buttigieg.

Booed Democrats Invited To Join Republican Party!

'Bravo... Now Do the Iraq War': After Hyde Reversal, 2020 Candidate Seth Moulton Reminds Biden of Other Position He May Want to Retract

After 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden bowed to pressure and announced he no longer supports the anti-choice Hyde Amendment, Rep. Seth Moulton on Friday applauded Biden for reversing his position and said he should do the same for the Iraq invasion he voted for as a senator in 2002.

Biden's vote in favor of the invasion of Iraq is one of his many past positions that, according to critics, show he is out of touch with the current direction of the Democratic Party.

"Joe Biden stands in near complete opposition to where the center of energy is in the Democratic Party today," progressive advocacy group Justice Democrats said after Biden announced his candidacy in April. "We don't need someone who voted for the Iraq War, for mass incarceration, and for the Bankruptcy Reform Act while voting against gay marriage, reproductive rights, and school desegregation." ...

As Norman Solomon wrote for Common Dreams in March, the problem "wasn't just that Biden voted for the Iraq war on the Senate floor five months before it began."

"During the lead-up to that vote, in August 2002, as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee," Solomon wrote, "he presided over sham hearings—refusing to allow experts who opposed an invasion to get any words in edgewise—while a cavalcade of war hawks testified in the national spotlight."

Biden Repeatedly Lied About Marching For Civil Rights

the evening greens

Greenpeace Campaigners Stop BP Rig Bound for North Sea, Stalling Fossil Fuel Giant's Plan to Extract 30 Million Barrels of Oil

Three Greenpeace campaigners halted a British Petroleum oil rig off the coast of Scotland on Sunday as it prepared to leave for the North Sea to drill oil wells.

Carrying enough provisions to last several days aboard the rig, the climate action advocates pulled up to the 27,000-ton vessel in small boats as it attempted to leave Cromarty Firth, bound for the Vorlich oil field where BP plans to access up to 30 million barrels of oil. The campaigners unfurled a banner reading "Climate Emergency" after climbing the rig.

Despite recent studies from the world's top climate scientists warning that governments must transition to renewable energy sources and end their dependence on fossil fuels to stem the effects of the climate crisis, the U.K.'s Oil and Gas Authority last week awarded 37 license areas to 30 companies.

"The approval threatens to result in scores of new projects at exactly the time we need to halt the growth of new oil and gas production," said Greenpeace. The new licenses suggest that the country is not following its recent declaration of a climate emergency with concrete action, as campaigners have demanded.

Trump Attempted to Suppress State Dept Analyst's Testimony on Climate Crisis

The Trump administration issued one of its most blatant attacks on climate science this past week when it tried to stop a State Department employee from testifying on the climate crisis, reports showed on Saturday. As the Washington Post reported, intelligence analyst Rod Schoonover's testimony was submitted to the White House for approval ahead of his planned appearance before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. His remarks focused on the national security risks posed by the climate crisis.

The Trump administration refused to approve the testimony for entry into the congressional record, noting that the data Schoonover planned to present—drawing from top government scientists' research and peer-reviewed scientific reports—did not align with the executive branch's views. National Security Council advisers wrote a number of comments on Schoonover's draft, saying the testimony was "not objective."

The testimony "includes lots of climate alarm propaganda that is not science at all," wrote William Happer, a senior member of the National Security Council who has sought to create a federal task force to challenge the consensus reached by 97 percent of peer-reviewed climate scientists who say humans are contributing to the climate crisis.

"I am embarrassed to have this go out on behalf of the executive branch of the federal government," Happer added, noting a particular objection to Schoonover's use of the term "tipping point" in reference to possible devastating, irreversible effects of the climate crisis. "'Tipping points' is a propaganda slogan for the scientifically illiterate," Happer wrote.

Schoonover was ultimately permitted to testify before the committee, but his testimony was not submitted into the record because, the Office of Legislative Affairs said, it did not "jibe" with the Trump administration's views on the climate.

Following Trump's Executive Order, EPA Moves to Limit States' Ability to Block Dirty Energy Projects

In just the latest move by the Trump administration to expand dirty energy infrastructure no matter the cost to the climate and public health, the Environmental Protection Agency on Friday issued a new guidance that limits the ability of states and tribes to block permits for proposed projects such as fossil fuel pipelines.

"Not a day goes by where [EPA] doesn't do *something* to endanger your health," Jake Levine, a climate attorney who served as an energy aide to former President Barack Obama, tweeted in response to the news Friday.

The EPA put out the guidance (pdf) to facilitate the implementation of President Donald Trump's April executive order to expedite the approval process for energy projects—which critics at the time decried as "a massive abuse of power that does nothing other than line the pockets of Trump's fossil fuel billionaire friends, all at the expense of our democracy and our safety."

The guidance is specifically about Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 401, which empowers state and tribal governments to "certify" projects permitted at the federal level by the Army Corps of Engineers, EPA, or Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

E&E News, which first reported on the development Friday, explained how states have used that power and how the Trump administration intends to rein it in:

In recent years, New York and Washington have used this certification process to deny permits for pipelines and coal terminals not just due to water quality concerns, but also because of their contribution to air pollution and climate change.

Guidance issued today by EPA seeks to limit that practice. The guidance is meant as a stand-in while EPA works on formal regulations.

The guidance itself doesn't carry the rule of law, and therefore states are not bound by it. But it serves as a significant warning shot. States that ignore EPA guidance could well find themselves in court, either fighting EPA for ignoring their certification decisions or fighting with industry.

The guidance aims to restrict the scope of state and tribal certifications, and force the local governments to issue decisions more quickly.

Also of Interest

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

Australia's national security laws should protect the country, not its politicians in power

Government under FiveEyes

MSM Mourns Death Of CIA-Backed Syrian Al-Qaeda/ISIS Ally

U.S. 7th Fleet Cruiser Ignores Rules At Sea - Nearly Collides With Russian Destroyer

No, WSJ, Palestinians Have Not Given Up On National Rights

A USS Liberty’s Hero’s Passing

At AMA's Annual Meeting, Doctors and Nurses Demand Powerful Lobbying Group 'Get Out of the Way' In Fight for Medicare for All

As San Francisco District Attorney, Kamala Harris’s Office Stopped Cooperating With Victims of Catholic Church Child Abuse

Revenge of the Machine: New York Party Bosses Rally to Melinda Katz in Pivotal Prosecutor Race

A Little Night Music

Billy Branch feat. Lurrie Bell & The Sons Of Blues - Help Me

Billy Branch & Sugar Ray Norcia - Route 66

Billy Branch & The Sons Of Blues - Bring It on Home

Billy Branch - The Blues Follow Me Around

Billy Branch - My Baby Caught the Train

Billy Branch & The Sons Of Blues - I'm Ready

Billy Branch and Lurrie Bell ~ The Train I Ride

Billy Branch & Lil' Ed - I Like It Like That

Billy Branch and the Sons of Blues - Blues Shock

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Azazello's picture

Evening all ...
From the two Vice News articles posted above it seems that the Dims don't understand that Act I is over. They're beating a dead horse. John Solomon at The Hill has been covering the beginning of Act II. First, he broke the story that Konstantin Kilimnik wasn't a Russian operative after all and now this: Hillary Clinton's Russia collusion IOU: The answers she owes America

Here are 10 essential questions:

1) In January 2018, the Senate Judiciary Committee sent a formal investigative request for documents and written answers from your campaign. Do you plan to comply?
2) Please identify each person in your campaign who was involved with, or aware of, hiring Fusion GPS, Glenn Simpson and Christopher Steele.
3) Please identify each person in your campaign, including Perkins Coie lawyers, who were aware that Steele provided information to the FBI or State Department, and when they learned it.
4) Describe any information you and your campaign staff received, or were briefed on, before Election Day that was derived from the work of Simpson, Steele, Fusion GPS, Nellie Ohr or Perkins Coie and that tried to connect Trump, his campaign or his business empire with Russia.
5) Please describe all contacts your campaign had before Election Day with or about the following individuals: Bruce Ohr, Nellie Ohr, Glenn Simpson, Christopher Steele, former Australian diplomat Alexander Downer, former foreign policy scholar Stefan Halper and Maltese academic Joseph Mifsud.
6) Did you or any senior members of your campaign, including lawyers such as Michael Sussmann, have any contact with the CIA, its former Director John Brennan, current Director Gina Haspel, James Baker, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page or former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe?
7) Describe all contacts your campaign had with Cody Shearer and Sidney Blumenthal concerning Trump, Russia and Ukraine.
8) Describe all contacts you and your campaign had with DNC contractor Alexandra Chalupa, the Ukraine government, the Ukraine Embassy in the United States or the U.S. Embassy in Kiev concerning Trump, Russia or former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
9) Why did your campaign and the Democratic Party make a concerted effort to portray Trump as a Russian asset?
10) Given that investigations by a House committee, a Senate committee and a special prosecutor all have concluded there isn’t evidence of Trump-Russia collusion, do you regret the actions by your campaign and by Steele, Simpson and Sussmann to inject these unfounded allegations into the FBI, the U.S. intelligence community and the news media?

Hillary Clinton owes us answers to each of these questions. She should skip the lawyer-speak and answer them with the candor worthy of an elder American stateswoman.

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joe shikspack's picture


i presume that the democrats strategy now is to continue flogging the dead horse, making as much noise as possible in hopes of drowning out the sound of act 2. it's not much of a strategy, but it's all they've got since they have eschewed impeachment on the basis of actual causes.

all ten of those are good questions that deserve answers, though, number 10 is problematic as it operates under the pretense that the clinton creature can experience remorse (for which a functioning conscience is requisite).

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Azazello's picture

@joe shikspack
as enthusiastically as they did Act I ?
I doubt it.
Here's Matt Taibbi: Exposé in "The Hill" challenges Mueller, media

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joe shikspack's picture


i expect that the mockingbird press that dutifully regurgitated the clintonista propaganda will be loath to spread a counternarrative.

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Raggedy Ann's picture

Happy Monday!

We've averted Mexico tariffs for the time being. (I don't believe the temper tantrum is really over) How long will it last? Start that office pool!

I'll believe the Congress is pissed about the Saudi Missile program when they actually do something consequential. Until then, it's all noise.

I'm in total agreement with the 10 essential questions Azazello posted - I'm also waiting with anticipation to see if anything, anything at all, if any shoe drops, any shoe at all, once Brenner,, are exposed as the Rooskie-gaters that they are. Will it happen? Stay tuned.

It's awfully cool today - only 69. I'm tired of being cold, but then again, I better shut my trap because I could be belly-aching about the heat, the flood, the hurricane, the tornado, you get the picture.....

Have a lovely Monday, everyone! Pleasantry

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"When will our conscience's grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?" Eleanor Roosevelt

"The secret of change is to focus all your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new." Socrates (469-399 BC)

joe shikspack's picture

@Raggedy Ann

no, the tantrum can never be over. it is a show for political organization purposes.

since the tantrum is a fake response to a fake problem, there is no action that mexico can take that can fix the fake problem. the problem will recur when it is politically necessary.

congress do something consequential to stop an act of war? pffffffttt!!

heh, i'd be happy to take your weather in the upper 60's all summer long. Smile

have a good one!

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mimi's picture

...Here in German TV two documentaries have been broadcasted, each 1.5 hours long.
The German title is "The New York Times und Donald Trump". I can't find the whole documentary (the German version in cooperation with ARD (WDR) and Arte online) Under this link there are various trailer or shorter videos about the documentary. I wanted to know if the full English version of the documentary is somewhere online available, and if yes, was it ever shown on US mainstream TV channels. I thought those documentaries were very well made and shows the work of the news buereaus and its reporters and journalists realistically.

Here a link that shows some of the clips contained in the German version of the complete documentary.
Mission Wabrheit - The New York Times und Donald Trump

There are tons of original sound and video clips from NYT Times reporters in their NY and DC offices and the White House press offices, including video clips with Comey, Bannon, Flynn, Manafort etc. Unfortunately the German subtitles and the German narrator make it hard to really concentrate on the English sound.

You guys are so much more capable to to find out an English version of the complete documentary, we can see here on German TV. As I was not in the US during that time (mostly 2017) this documentary was very helpful and interesting to me.

Now I will go on and read the EB. Smile

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Raggedy Ann's picture

your link took me to "Mimi" TV! Of course - I cannot read the German subtitles, so don't really know what was being said.

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"When will our conscience's grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?" Eleanor Roosevelt

"The secret of change is to focus all your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new." Socrates (469-399 BC)

mimi's picture

@Raggedy Ann @Raggedy Ann
the main clip one on top were all in the documentary as well. I just wondered who put them all together in an all together three hour long documentary.

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Raggedy Ann's picture


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"When will our conscience's grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?" Eleanor Roosevelt

"The secret of change is to focus all your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new." Socrates (469-399 BC)

joe shikspack's picture


a quick search didn't turn up an english version of the film unfortunately. it looks interesting, but i can't follow the language.

have a good one!

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ggersh's picture

time to buckle up....w/the tinyhands orange man in
charge, it won't end pretty

Trump: If President Xi does not attend G-20, more China tariffs will go into effect immediately

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this time it's different

empty suit on Kapernick

"“Kapernick needs to think about the pain he’s causing military families."

joe shikspack's picture


heh, that trump guy really likes to throw around the ultimatums. i guess it must play well with his base. too bad for the rest of the world.

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snoopydawg's picture

A tale of two heroes

The general who committed massive war crimes and crimes against humanity is still walking free while the person who exposed them has been persecuted by the PTB and is in fear for his life.

The comments on an article about Trump threatening Iran were mostly for what Trump is doing. The gist is that Iran has been threatening us and calling for American deaths. I'd like for the military worshippers to imagine that the city that they live in is destroyed by another country and left it poisoned beyond repair and now have to see babies born with hideous birth defects. What can be done to open people's eyes to what the military stands for and does? Do they have any idea why people come home with severe PTSD?

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"It seems to me that the problem is that group party interests, in this case, are placed above the interests of the entire society and the interests of people,"

joe shikspack's picture


What can be done to open people's eyes to what the military stands for and does?

there is a reason that the powers-that-be spend billions of dollars making propaganda that portrays the military as something other than it is. putting a stop to all of those hollywood films, made for teevee movies and violent video games that are military propaganda would be a great start.

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snoopydawg's picture

So are the comments. A few people think that Johnson sent the unarmed ship there deliberately to get attacked by Israel to get us involved in their war. Just the fact that Johnson called off all ships going to help them kinda backs that up.

But Russia right?

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"It seems to me that the problem is that group party interests, in this case, are placed above the interests of the entire society and the interests of people,"

joe shikspack's picture


A few people think that Johnson sent the unarmed ship there deliberately to get attacked by Israel to get us involved in their war.

i don't have enough facts to make a claim that large, but it is clear that johnson made some despicably wrong choices, not the least of which was to cover up the incident and feed disinformation propaganda to american citizens.

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GreatLakeSailor's picture

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Compensated Spokes Model for Big Poor & Big Peace.

joe shikspack's picture


yep, i was thinking that glenn and his husband may need to move sometime soon if things don't work out.

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GreatLakeSailor's picture


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Compensated Spokes Model for Big Poor & Big Peace.

joe shikspack's picture


wow, that tweet ought to appear in the dictionary next to "distinction without a difference."

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enhydra lutris's picture

most of the information preented is of the "always timely" ilk as well as the "further confirmation of what we know or suspect already" ilk. Super mucho thanks all the sa,e. ;-]

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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

heh, have a great day and thanks for reading more evidence for known knowns.

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