The Evening Blues - 6-11-19



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The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: Roy Book Binder


Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features folk blues guitarist and singer Roy Book Binder. Enjoy!

Roy Book Binder - Police Dog Blues

"Congress seems drugged and inert most of the time... its idea of meeting a problem is to hold hearings or, in extreme cases, to appoint a commission."

-- Shirley Chisholm


News and Opinion

Congress Can End the Yemen War This Summer, Despite Trump

On April 16, President Trump vetoed one of the most historically significant pieces of legislation to emerge from Congress during his presidency: S.J.Res.7, the Yemen War Powers Resolution. This bill would end U.S. military involvement in Saudi Arabia’s and the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) disastrous war on Yemen. A veto override vote in the Senate a few weeks later passed with a simple majority of 53-45, but did not achieve the 67-vote supermajority needed to overturn the veto. Though the effort failed, we learned something important in the process: We now know in unequivocal terms that a bipartisan majority in Congress wants to end the U.S. military role in a war that has already claimed the lives of 85,000 children under the age of five due to hunger and disease.

Congress has another chance to end the war this summer during consideration of the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and defense appropriations bills. These annual military spending bills offer Congress one of the quickest and most straightforward ways to defund the war and condemn this military campaign. Through the NDAA and defense appropriations, Congress can prohibit intelligence-sharing and logistics support activities for the war in Yemen; suspend direct commercial sales licenses for the maintenance and sustainment of fighter aircraft used in Saudi-UAE offensive operations in Yemen; and even stop domestic training of Saudi and UAE fighter jet mechanics. Importantly, these bills could suspend the transfer and sale of weapons ― something many experts believe could be the best chance for creating the leverage needed for lasting peace in Yemen. ...

There is precedent for Congress successfully using the NDAA and defense appropriations bills to defund and end wars. During the Vietnam War, members of Congress expressed their dissent through several defunding bills, including the 1971 Congress Cooper-Church Amendment, which prohibited the use of funds to send troops into Cambodia, and the 1973 Case-Church Amendment on a State Department appropriations bill, which prevented funds from being used in Southeast Asia. Last year, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut) introduced an amendment to the 2019 Defense Appropriations bill that would have cut off military aid for the Saudi-UAE coalition. Unfortunately, it never came up for a vote, but a majority may support a similar effort this time around after they supported several successful bipartisan votes in 2018 and 2019 on Yemen War Powers Resolutions with the hope of finishing what they started.

Press Freedom Under Attack: Australian Police Raid Network for Exposing War Crimes in Afghanistan

Denouncing US Bullying of ICC, Rights Groups Demand Afghan War Crimes Victims Get Their Day in Court

Demanding that the pleas for justice from victims of Afghanistan war crimes be heard, human rights organizations on Monday filed an appeal against the International Criminal Court's recent decision not to probe the alleged abuses.

The appeal (pdf), filed by Reprieve and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), said the decision by the "court of last resort" was "devastating" for the six victims, as it left them unable "to contribute to a process that seeks to end impunity and contribute to the prevention of crimes, to know the truth, and to request reparations."

As Common Dreams reported, the court announced in April that it would not launch a probe into possible war crimes and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan, including those committed by U.S. forces. ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda requested the investigation in 2017.

The rejection of the probe—which came even as the three-judge chamber acknowledged "there is a reasonable basis to believe that the incidents underlying the request have occurred"—followed intimidation efforts by the Trump administration to block the investigation, including denying visas for ICC personnel, revoking Bensouda's visa, and President Donald Trump and national security adviser John Bolton threatening the court should it investigate possible U.S. or Israeli war crimes.

The appeal called out the U.S. bullying—and the ICC's giving in to it.

Blatant attacks on the court and those contributing to its work have been made at the highest levels, particularly by representative of the United States government in reaction to the prosecutor's request. Such actions cannot but constitute an interference with the independence of the court and the prosecution. More troubling still is the apparent suggestion in the decision (para.94) that far from resisting such attacks, the court has allowed itself to be cowed by them. Even if this was not the pre-trial chamber's intended meaning, the perception that the court has succumbed to political interference is in itself a cause for deep concern.They add to the victims' concern that without a rectificatory ruling from the appeals chamber, efforts may persist to exclude from the court's remit any actions of the United States government, its allies, or others who adopt such tactics. It is therefore particularly vital that the appeals chamber address the jurisdictional issue raised in the present notice of appeal.

"Survivors of war-on-terror era torture have waited seventeen years for some semblance of justice—which has so far been wholly denied. For many, the ordeal that began in Afghanistan continues, with no end in sight, at Guantánamo Bay," said Katie Taylor, deputy director at Reprieve, in a statement Monday.

"For the ICC to fold up its investigation, under pressure from the U.S., puts its credibility at risk," she said. "The court must recognize that these victims have a right to be heard."

Yemeni Guantanamo detainee's bid for release rejected by U.S. Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday turned away a Yemeni man’s bid for release after 17 years held as an enemy combatant at the American naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, even as a liberal justice urged the court to decide whether the United States can legally confine such detainees indefinitely.

The nine justices decided not to hear an appeal by detainee Moath Hamza Ahmed al Alwi, who was captured in Pakistan in 2001 and placed in the Guantanamo U.S. military detention facility in 2002 without ever facing criminal charges. The U.S. government has said al Alwi was involved in fighting against U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan and was closely linked with the Islamic militant group al Qaeda. ...

Justice Stephen Breyer, one of the court’s four liberals, issued a statement saying that the court should decide at some point “whether, in light of the duration and other aspects of the relevant conflict, Congress has authorized and the Constitution permits continued detention.” Al Alwi “faces that real prospect that he will spend the rest of his life in detention based on his status as an enemy combatant a generation ago,” Breyer added.

Legal Expert Says 'Congress Must Repeal the AUMF' After Supreme Court Rejects Yemeni Man's Appeal for Release From Gitmo

"The Supreme Court can no longer be trusted to enforce due process. If Congress doesn't put a stop to this unconstitutional cruelty, no one will."

The Supreme Court's decision Monday to not hear a Yemeni Guantanamo prisoner's appeal for release prompted Justice Stephen Breyer to call for a serious examination of the constitutional questions raised by detention of so-called "enemy combatants" in an age of endless war, and led one legal expert to argue it is time for Congress to tackle the problem at its root.

In a detailed examination of the Supreme Court's refusal to hear the petition of Moath Hamza Ahmed al-Alwi, lawyer and Slate legal journalist Mark Joseph Stern welcomed Breyer's belated concerns about perpetual detention but said nothing will change until Congress rolls back the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF). With the help of the Supreme Court, Stern wrote, the Bush administration interpreted and used the AUMF as a broad license to detain any individual deemed an enemy of the U.S. in the so-called "war on terror."

"Congress must repeal the AUMF, as well as any statute—particularly immigration laws—that can arguably be read to allow endless imprisonment," Stern argued. "The Supreme Court can no longer be trusted to enforce due process, despite Breyer's pleas. If Congress doesn't put a stop to this unconstitutional cruelty, no one will."

As Stern pointed out, the Supreme Court—including Breyer—"endorsed a key part of the Bush administration's AUMF theory" in its 2004 Hamdi v. Rumsfeld decision.

"Yaser Esam Hamdi was a U.S. citizen captured in Afghanistan, taken to Guantanamo, then transferred to a naval brig in the United States," Stern wrote. "Accused of joining the Taliban, Hamdi was deemed an enemy combatant, and the government asserted a right to hold him indefinitely without even bringing formal charges, let alone giving him a trial." Hamdi challenged his detention, but the Supreme Court ultimately "agreed that the 2001 AUMF allowed the president to detain those he determines to be an enemy combatant," Stern wrote.

"The plurality," Stern added, "also agreed that these individuals are not owed full due process, even if they're U.S. citizens."

Iran's foreign minister warns US 'cannot expect to stay safe'

Iran’s foreign minister has warned the US it “cannot expect to stay safe” after launching what he described as an economic war against Tehran. Speaking alongside the German foreign minister in Tehran on Monday, Javad Zarif said Iran would not start a war but “whoever starts a war with us will not be the one who finishes it”. He also set the bar high for any talks with the US, saying: “President Trump himself has announced that the US has launched an economic war against Iran. The only solution for reducing tensions in this region is stopping that economic war.”

The bilateral talks with his German counterpart, Heiko Maas, were described as frank by Zarif, normally a sign that the two countries did not reach common ground. Germany is the lead country in Europe trying to set up a special purpose vehicle (SPV) to ease trade between Europe and Iran without falling foul of US economic sanctions. Iran has repeatedly urged the European Union to make the SPV operational, arguing increased trade with Iran was integral to its efforts to win domestic support for the nuclear deal signed in 2015.

Maas said Germany and its European partners had “made the greatest effort to meet [their] commitments”, but in the face of threatened US sanctions against European companies that trade with Iran, said they could not perform miracles. Maas acknowledged the economic benefits Tehran hoped for from the deal were now “more difficult to obtain”.

Defending Iran’s regional foreign policy from claims it has been disruptive, Zarif turned the tables by asking a series of questions largely aimed at Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy. “Was it us that gave arms to Saddam Hussein? Did we support al-Qaida? Did we imprison the prime minister of Lebanon? Are we bombing Yemeni civilians every day? Did we support Isis and the Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria, or were American weapons provided by Saudi Arabia?”

He also urged European countries to wean themselves off the dollar as the chief currency for international trade. “America’s power rests on the dollar; a great part of America’s economic power will go away if countries eliminate the dollar from their economic systems,” he said.

The Navy’s War Versus Bolton’s War

The recent White House decision to speed the deployment of an aircraft carrier battle group and other military assets to the Persian Gulf has led many in Washington and elsewhere to assume that the U.S. is gearing up for war with Iran. As in the lead-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, U.S. officials have cited suspect intelligence data to justify elaborate war preparations. On May 13, acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan presented top White House officials with plans to send as many as 120,000 troops to the Middle East for possible future combat with Iran and its proxies. Later reports indicated that the Pentagon might be making plans to send even more soldiers than that.

Hawks in the White House, led by National Security Advisor John Bolton, see a war aimed at eliminating Iran’s clerical leadership as a potentially big win for Washington. Many top officials in the U.S. military, however, see the matter quite differently — as potentially a giant step backward into exactly the kind of low-tech ground war they’ve been unsuccessfully enmeshed in across the Greater Middle East and northern Africa for years and would prefer to leave behind. ...

After years of slogging it out with guerrillas and jihadists across the Greater Middle East, the U.S. military is increasingly keen on preparing to combat “peer” competitors China and Russia, countries that pose what’s called a “multi-domain” challenge to the United States. This new outlook is only bolstered by a belief that America’s never-ending war on terror has severely depleted its military, something obvious to both Chinese and Russian leaders who have taken advantage of Washington’s extended preoccupation with counterterrorism to modernize their forces and equip them with advanced weaponry.

For the United States to remain a paramount power — so Pentagon thinking now goes — it must turn away from counterterrorism and focus instead on developing the wherewithal to decisively defeat its great-power rivals. This outlook was made crystal clear by then-Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee in April 2018. “The negative impact on military readiness resulting from the longest continuous period of combat in our nation’s history [has] created an overstretched and under-resourced military,” he insisted. Our rivals, he added, used those same years to invest in military capabilities meant to significantly erode America’s advantage in advanced technology. China, he assured the senators, is “modernizing its conventional military forces to a degree that will challenge U.S. military superiority.” In response, the United States had but one choice: to reorient its own forces for great-power competition. “Long-term strategic competition — not terrorism — is now the primary focus of U.S. national security.”

Raytheon and United Technologies announce $121bn merger

United Technologies and defense contractor Raytheon have agreed a $121bn merger that will create the world’s second-largest defense contractor.

The new company, to be called Raytheon Technologies, which will make Tomahawk missiles, the F-35 fighter jet engine and space suits for astronauts among other items, would have sales of about $74bn in 2019. It will be the second largest defense contractor behind Boeing and ahead of Lockheed Martin. ...

United Technologies’ aerospace business makes engines for Airbus as well as the F-35, which was developed by Lockheed Martin and is the most expensive military project in history. Last year United announced it was spinning off its escalator and air-conditioner businesses, which included the Otis elevator brand and Carrier air conditioners.

Raytheon makes missile defense and radar systems, including the Patriot missiles and other military technology used by militaries around the world.

Together the two companies employ about 180,000 people worldwide. United technologies said the merger would lead to $1bn in cost savings.

Kim Jong-nam, half-brother of North Korean leader, 'was a CIA informant'

Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un who was killed in Malaysia in 2017, had been an informant for the CIA, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.

The newspaper cited an unnamed “person knowledgeable about the matter” for the report, and said many details of Kim Jong-nam’s relationship with the CIA remained unclear. It quoted the source as saying “there was a nexus” between the CIA and Kim Jong-nam. ...

Reuters could not independently confirm the journal’s claim but Anna Fifield, the Washington Post’s bureau chief in Beijing, refers to it in her book The Great Successor. “King Jong-nam became an informant for the CIA ... His brother would have considered talking to American spies a treacherous act. But King Jong-nam provided information to them, usually meeting his handlers in Singapore or Malaysia,” she wrote.

UAE Enlisted Businessman to Spy On Trump White House

In January 2017, three days before President Donald Trump’s inauguration, a businessman from the United Arab Emirates was invited to a lavish dinner planned by Trump’s longtime ally Thomas J. Barrack Jr., who was chair of the president’s inaugural committee. The guest list placed Rashid al-Malik, a onetime business associate of Barrack’s, amid more than 100 foreign diplomats and top members of the incoming administration. The president-elect himself made a surprise appearance at the gathering.

Al-Malik’s name later surfaced in connection with a federal probe into potential illegal donations to Trump’s inaugural fund and a pro-Trump Super PAC by Middle Eastern donors. Al-Malik was interviewed by members of special counsel Robert Mueller’s team and was “cooperating” with prosecutors, his lawyer told The Intercept last year. The New York Times recently reported that investigators are looking into “whether Mr. al-Malik was part of an illegal influence scheme,” although no details of that potential scheme have been made public.

In fact, the U.S. intelligence community has concluded that al-Malik served as a paid intelligence source for the UAE throughout 2017, The Intercept has learned. Al-Malik reported to UAE intelligence about aspects of the Trump administration’s Middle East policy, according to a former U.S. official and documents viewed by The Intercept. The National Intelligence Service of the UAE gave al-Malik a code name and paid him tens of thousands of dollars a month to gather information, a role for which his investment business would have provided a convenient cover.

After he was interviewed as part of the Mueller investigation, al-Malik left Los Angeles, where he’d been based for several years, and went back to the UAE.

US Secretary of meddling? Pompeo promises to stop Corbyn from becoming UK's PM

Mike Pompeo tells Jewish leaders he would 'push back' against Corbyn

Labour has accused Donald Trump’s top official, Mike Pompeo, of trying to stop Jeremy Corbyn becoming prime minister, after he was caught on tape telling Jewish leaders that he would “push back” against the party’s leadership. In a recording leaked to the Washington Post, the US secretary of state was asked what he would do if Corbyn were to be elected as prime minister, after sustained criticism over Labour’s handling of accusations of antisemitism within the party.

The questioner said: “Would you be willing to work with us to take on actions if life becomes very difficult for Jews in the UK?” In response, Pompeo appeared to suggest that he would seek to intervene in the debate before Corbyn had a chance to become prime minister. “It could be that Mr Corbyn manages to run the gauntlet and get elected,” he said on the recording. “It’s possible. You should know, we won’t wait for him to do those things to begin to push back. We will do our level best. It’s too risky and too important and too hard once it’s already happened.”

A Labour spokesman said: “President Trump and his officials’ attempts to decide who will be Britain’s next prime minister are an entirely unacceptable interference in the UK’s democracy.” He added that the party was “fully committed to the support, defence and celebration of the Jewish community and is implacably opposed to antisemitism in any form”.


German firm escalates its war crimes against Palestinians

German construction giant HeidelbergCement is expanding its plunder of Palestinian resources, a war crime punishable under German and international law. HeidelbergCement operates a stone quarry in the occupied West Bank without permission of the Palestinians.

After exhausting the Nahal Raba quarry, the Israeli army has now given the firm permission to exploit another 25 acres of occupied West Bank land. Most of the quarried products are used for the Israeli construction industry, including settlements in the occupied West Bank whose construction is also a war crime.

The Palestinian people’s right to self-determination includes permanent sovereignty over natural resources, even while under occupation. Israel has no authority to grant HeidelbergCement permission to extract Palestinian natural resources for its own benefit or that of a foreign company. Yet Israel not only permits HeidelbergCement to profit from illegal quarrying, but actively thwarts Palestinians from quarrying their own land, one of the myriad ways Israel prevents economic development.

Companies like HeidelbergCement that extract natural resources through Israeli licensing may be engaging in the war crime of pillage, according to Al-Haq, a Palestinian human rights group.

'Malicious cyber attack' exposes travelers' photos, says US customs agency

A US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data breach has exposed travelers’ photos and license plate information, renewing concerns about expanded facial recognition and federal surveillance systems.

A “malicious cyber-attack” hit a CBP “subcontractor” that had stored “copies of license plate images and traveler images collected by CBP”, the agency said in a statement Monday. CBP said “none of the image data has been identified on the dark web or internet”, but declined to answer questions about the scope of the attack and stolen data, and refused to name the subcontractor.

The US government maintains vast databases of travelers’ personal information, including passport and visa photos, and airlines have also increasingly used facial recognition technology, sharing biometric data with federal agencies that store the sensitive information. CBP has been expanding its facial-scanning systems to international airports across the country since Donald Trump’s 2017 executive order expediting the deployment of this surveillance.

“This breach comes just as CBP seeks to expand its massive face recognition apparatus and collection of sensitive information from travelers, including license plate information and social media identifiers,” Neema Singh Guliani, American Civil Liberties Union senior legislative counsel, said in a statement. “This incident further underscores the need to put the brakes on these efforts and for Congress to investigate the agency’s data practices.” The best way to avoid these kinds of breaches, Guliani added, “is not to collect and retain such data in the first place”.

A CBP spokesperson declined to comment on the number of people affected and the kind of information compromised, though a government official told the New York Times no more than 100,000 people had their data stolen. The agency sought to cast blame on the subcontractor, saying the unnamed firm violated CBP policies when it “transferred copies of license plate images and traveler images collected by CBP to the subcontractor’s company network”.

How NAFTA hurts Mexican workers and unions

DHS Agents Treat Undocumented Immigrants as Criminals in Hospitals, Shackling Them to Beds and Impeding Care, Study Finds

Doctors at hospitals near the U.S.-Mexico border report that border patrol agents regularly treat undocumented immigrants like convicted criminals when taking them to receive medical care after apprehending them. Dozens of asylum-seekers and migrants arrive at hospitals near the border every day in the custody of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents, often dehydrated and suffering from other complications from their trek across the desert from their home countries.

A new report by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) revealed Monday that although most of these migrants have broken no laws other than the misdemeanor of crossing the border without going through a designated entry point, the agents frequently shackle them to beds, insist on standing guard in their rooms, and interfere with their care in a number of ways.

"Doctors, who have a moral and ethical obligation and duty to care for patients, are actively being prevented from carrying out the practice of medicine as they've been trained to practice it," Kathryn Hampton, a program officer for PHR and a co-author of the report, told the New York Times. The study details a number of cases of agents intimidating doctors and hospital staff as they refused to leave physicians with patients for private exams and attempting to pressure doctors into discharging immigrants early. ...

Under federal law, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is prohibited from arresting undocumented immigrants in certain "sensitive locations" including courthouses and hospitals. But as PHR reports, CBP agents frequently flout the law at community hospitals near the southern border.

'Wake-Up Call' Report Shows Black Drivers in Missouri 91 Percent More Likely to Be Pulled Over by Police

Black drivers in Missouri are nearly twice as likely to be pulled over than white drivers, according to a new report by the state's attorney general.

The report, released Monday by the office of Attorney General Eric Schmitt, found that black drivers had a 91 percent higher chance of being pulled over than their white counterparts. That was one of a number of disturbing statistics that add to the perception of Missouri as one of the most dangerous places in the U.S. for black people.

 The trend reflected in this year's report, while troubling, is nothing new. In 2017, the NAACP issued a travel advisory for black people driving in Missouri based in part on data from the 2016 attorney general's report.Black drivers in the state are 91 percent more likely to be pulled over by police than white drivers, a report from Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt's office found. 

Steve Kofahl: Foxes in the Social Security Henhouse



the horse race



Biden Tells Donors and Lobbyists at Fundraiser That Wall Street bankers "can be positive influences in the country."

Providing more evidence of the fundamental political differences between himself and progressives vying for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, former Vice President Joe Biden told lobbyists and donors at a fundraiser Monday night that Republicans in Congress "know better" than to align with President Donald Trump and declared that Wall Street bankers "can be positive influences in the country."

"Wall Street and significant bankers and people, they're all positive, they can be positive influences in the country," Biden told the audience gathered in Washington, D.C. "But they didn't build the country. The middle class built the country."

Observers were quick to note the sharp contrast between Biden's friendly stance toward Wall Street and the positions of top 2020 contenders Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who are both rejecting Wall Street cash as they campaign against the corrosive influence massive banks and corporations have on the American political system.

Biden also doubled down on his view that President Donald Trump is an aberration from the Republican Party rather than a symptom of the corruption and racism at the core of the modern GOP—a statement that has put him at odds with Democratic candidates who believe ousting Trump is necessary but not sufficient to tackle crises that long precede his presidency. "Here's the deal: we all know, and I don't think this is hyperbole, we all know in our gut this election is the most important election we've ever engaged in—and not just because I'm running," Biden said. "With Trump gone you're going to begin to see things change. Because these folks know better. They know this isn't what they're supposed to be doing."


Gov. Jay Inslee on the Climate Crisis, Tax Breaks for Boeing & Why He Feels Trump is a Racist

'Shenanigans' on Progressive Kat Brezler in White Plains NY Democratic Primary Endemic of Intraparty Struggle

A public schoolteacher who took the Democratic Party's advice about working from the inside got a first-hand taste of the kind of resistance the party will display when a progressive tries to enter the halls of power. Kat Brezler, a first grade teacher in White Plains, New York and a supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) during his 2016 presidential bid, is running for one of three seats on the city's Common Council. Her presence in the race as the fourth candidate for three positions has triggered a primary, despite the efforts of the White Plains City Committee of Democrats—where Brezler is the recording secretary.

The committee and Brezler's three opponents in the race turned to litigation to try and knock Brezler off the ballot, claiming that enough of the signatures on Brezler's ballot drive were invalid as to deny her a place on the Democratic line. The committee finally accepted defeat on June 7 when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit refused to hear their case, effectively ruling in Brezler's favor.

Brezler told Common Dreams that while she was surprised at the lengths to which her opponents went in their hostility to her candidacy, she gets why they did it: she's challenging the existing power structure. "They don't want to cede power," said Brezler. As The Intercept's Aida Chavez reported in May, Brezler's fight for ballot access has dragged on for months. And even though she's now on the ballot, the time wasted on the court battle is time that Brezler could have spent getting out the vote.

"Imagine if Democrats fought against Republicans with this level of tenacity," Intercept editor Ryan Grim tweeted June 8.

Normally, Brezler said in an interview with Common Dreams, the committee handpicks the Democratic candidates in citywide elections, thereby nullifying any actual contest for votes. And White Plains is a "two-to-one" city, providing an advantage to Democrats that means whoever wins the party's nod is a lock to land on the council.



the evening greens

‘Frightening’ number of plant extinctions found in global survey

Human destruction of the living world is causing a “frightening” number of plant extinctions, according to scientists who have completed the first global analysis of the issue.

They found 571 species had definitely been wiped out since 1750 but with knowledge of many plant species still very limited the true number is likely to be much higher. The researchers said the plant extinction rate was 500 times greater now than before the industrial revolution, and this was also likely to be an underestimate.

“Plants underpin all life on Earth,” said Dr Eimear Nic Lughadha, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, who was part of the team. “They provide the oxygen we breathe and the food we eat, as well as making up the backbone of the world’s ecosystems – so plant extinction is bad news for all species.”

The number of plants that have disappeared from the wild is more than twice the number of extinct birds, mammals and amphibians combined. The new figure is also four times the number of extinct plants recorded in the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s red list. “It is way more than we knew and way more than should have gone extinct,” said Dr Maria Vorontsova, also at Kew. “It is frightening not just because of the 571 number but because I think that is a gross underestimate.”

She said the true extinction rate for plants could easily be orders of magnitude higher than that reported in the study, published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution. There are thousands of “living dead” plant species, where the last survivors have no chance of reproducing because, for example, only one sex remains or the big animals needed to spread their seeds are extinct.

'The DNC Is on the Wrong Side of History': Challenged by Activists, Tom Perez Says Hosting 2020 Debate on Climate Crisis 'Not Practical'

Confronted by activists during a fundraiser for the Florida Democratic Party over the weekend, DNC chairman Tom Perez insisted it would be impractical to make one of the dozen scheduled 2020 presidential primary debates solely about the global climate crisis and candidates' proposed solutions. "A lot of young people say we should have a single debate focused on climate change," Perez told activists after delivering a speech at the gala. But, the DNC chairman added, "once you have one single issue debate, then every debate leads to become a single issue debate in order to address the concerns."

"So these debates, and we will have issue areas in debates, including but not limited to climate," Perez said, "but it's just not practical for us to have one debate on democracy reform, one debate on voting."

Perez's remarks provoked further outrage from grassroots groups that have been demanding a climate-specific debate, particularly given that past presidential debates have largely ignored the crisis—even in the face of scientific evidence showing that immediate and drastic action must be taken to avert catastrophic warming.


Garrett Blad, national press coordinator for the Sunrise Movement, called Perez's comments "pathetic" and "disastrous for my generation and millions everywhere."

Wildfires & Global Warming: Portugal & the EU face up to dual dangers

Canada Is Finally Joining the War on Single-Use Plastic

The Canadian government is moving to ban the vast majority of single-use plastics, becoming the latest country to crack down on ubiquitous and seldom-recycled items like plastic forks.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced new plans to regulate plastic waste, much of which is recyclable in theory but usually ends up in landfills and waterways. Canadian media is reporting that a ban on many types of plastics could take effect as soon as 2021, and would cover things like plastic straws and single-use plates and cutlery.

The plan involves declaring plastic waste a toxic substance under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, an unnamed government source told the Globe and Mail.


Also of Interest

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

Regrouping the Nuclear Dealmakers

Exposé in "The Hill" challenges Mueller, media

'Truth Will Prevail,' Says Lula, After Leaked Documents Suggest He Was Imprisoned to Prevent Victory in Brazil's Presidential Election

From bears to hippos: the expert guide to surviving killer beasts

The Unipolar Moment is Over

Uh… What Did Pompeo Mean When He Vowed To “Push Back” Against Corbyn?

Black Lives Matter Founder Launches Huge Project to Shrink Black Lives

The Scandal of Puerto Rico’s Botched Disaster Relief


A Little Night Music

Roy Bookbinder - Candyman

Roy Book Binder - I Got Mine

Roy Book Binder - Cigarette Blues

Roy Book Binder - That'll Never Happen No More

Roy Book Binder - Rag Mama

Roy Book Binder – Mississippi Blues

Roy Book Binder - Electricity

Roy Book Binder – I'm Going Home Someday

Roy Book Binder - Davis-Travis Rag

Roy Book Binder - Black Dog Blues


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Comments

I know he's a dick, and I know how much some people hate giving him clicks...............but Warren has an early lead like last time and that just can't be. If she wins, he'll be all over MtP saying Bernie is dead. He takes it down before CA has a chance to get home from work, so it won't be there long.

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2019/6/11/1863974/-Daily-Kos-Democratic...

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10 users have voted.

"Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

@dkmich

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9 users have voted.

chuck utzman

TULSI 2020

joe shikspack's picture

@dkmich

i just took a peek and it looks like warren is up by 9 points. i guess the little guy will be pretty happy about a conventional candidate of the war party leading his poll. oh, well.

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9 users have voted.

definition of "middle class" and "country."

Slaves built the White House, the U.S. Capitol Building and a number of other landmarks, as well as being responsible for a good chunk of the economy.

Were coal miners middle class, or dirt poor?

How about the thousands of Chinese immigrants who worked on the transcontinental railroad? Middle class, or exploited poor people?

Those people who "owed their soul to the company store," what the hell were they building?

A favorite line from Burt Wolf, cookbook author, TV host, etc. about immigrants who came to the US expecting to find streets paved with gold goes something like this. "When they got here, they learned that, not only were the streets not paved with gold, but they were expected to pave them." (From memory, so may not be an exact quote.)

Politicians are constantly trying to erase the poor, whether the working poor or not, from existence and memory. Out of sight, out of mind? Not out of my mind.

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21 users have voted.

@HenryAWallace
The poor are an exploitable resource, mind you. It's the capitalist way. Give US your poor and downtrodden, watch the wall street wizards turn the middle class into the homeless. Reality tee-vee.

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16 users have voted.

May we be united and strong -- laurel

joe shikspack's picture

@HenryAWallace

well put. the day that the backs and skills of the working class are no longer needed, these same people will be trying to liquidate them even more quickly than usual. there will be no sharing of credit for "our great advances."

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11 users have voted.
janis b's picture

@HenryAWallace

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Raggedy Ann's picture

Hey - dk - don't you think Marcuss has someone or many someones stuffing the ballot box? I'm thinking that might be his strategy. He's no dummy. A fool maybe..............

War with Iran is still hanging in the balance. I think Herr Drumpf and his side-kicks Pompousass and Bolted better be careful what they wish for.

Have a thoughtful Tuesday, everyone! Pleasantry

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10 users have voted.

“The trouble [with injustice] is that once you see it, you can’t unsee it. And once you’ve seen it, keeping quiet, saying nothing, becomes as political an act as speaking out. There is no innocence. Either way, you’re accountable.”
-- Arundhati Roy

@Raggedy Ann @Raggedy Ann

Sneak it up, sneak it down. Don't like the results, declare it null and void because "someone" cheated. No matter how many new votes come in on the new survey, the percentages never change. Yes, I think he cheats. We did manage to overwhelm the poll enough to make Bernie win it for the last several times. The result is that big media lost interest in him and his poll and so did we. We got bored toying with him and wandered off, which is how Warren is winning this one. I would hate to see him back on TV with the other big idiot chuck todd saying how Bernie's campaign is dead, Warren has the momentum, long live the new queen.

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15 users have voted.

"Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

joe shikspack's picture

@Raggedy Ann

heh, the pentagon might get the war it doesn't want if bolton and pompeo can pull it off. either way, whether the pentagon crazies want a war with russia, china or iran - they are out of their league. to win a war you need not only military skill but diplomatic skill as well. u.s. diplomatic skill, to the extent that it ever existed has been utterly dismantled in the last couple of decades.

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@Raggedy Ann When the first poll came out with Bernie on top, they said Bernie supporters mobbed the vote, unfairly, without any proof. So,now it's ok to do it because, well, they did it first.

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Hey, evening all. Think would rather face the wild animals than think of dealing with the hardships being wrought on people from around the world by our esteemed leaders on both sides of the aisle.

We were told to make noise, sing and if you do encounter a bear, a t tall, keep eyes down and start backing away.

Of course the malarial mosquito is the deadliest in Africa but a charge by an elephant or hippo is frightening. When we were on a 3 day overnight kayak trip on Zambezi river were told not to get out of the tent at night because hippos and elephants roamed there eating. What an experience it was.

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11 users have voted.

Life is what you make it, so make it something worthwhile.

This ain't no dress rehearsal!

joe shikspack's picture

@jakkalbessie

i fancy humanity's chances against wild animals are far better than its chances against fellow humans - though the mosquito is indeed a worthy opponent, especially given all the help it gets from humans.

one of the zoos that i went to some years ago had hippos in a large enclosure, i was pretty amazed at how fast such a large animal could move.

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enhydra lutris's picture

@jakkalbessie
in Kenya, and sure enough, one night an elephant ws immediately outside our tent tearing up grass and shrubs to eat.

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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 --

@jakkalbessie without a guide or Masai warrior by my side! Can't count they times they took me to get beer at the "bar tent"! lol!

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enhydra lutris's picture

@on the cusp
bu were free to roam within the confines of the camp during daylight hours. Of course we were also supposed to promptly follow any instructions from any of the camp personnel should a hippo or elephant show up in camp during daylight. Being up on a bluff overlooking the river decreased the chances of that, however.

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5 users have voted.

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

@jakkalbessie we were always escorted back from the bar or given the all clear.

But one night the radio between bars was calling "campsite bar" to tell us lions were headed our way. Sure enough camp gua.3rd spotted the lions coming down the path we used to get from campsite to main bar and cabins. what an adventure!

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10 users have voted.

Life is what you make it, so make it something worthwhile.

This ain't no dress rehearsal!

Azazello's picture

snoopydawg's picture

@Azazello

I was hoping for jury nullification here. But in our upside down country the people who try to help others are the ones who get punished for it. Giving aid to immigrants is punishable, but dumping out water in the desert isn't. People who feed the homeless are given tickets for it and the cops raid their camps and throw their stuff away. Just how cruel is that?

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14 users have voted.

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

joe shikspack's picture

@Azazello

yeah, it's not quite the full repudiation of the dhs bastards that i hoped for when put before a jury, but it's a start. maybe next time.

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Azazello's picture

@joe shikspack
Pluto posted it in another thread: All Americans Have Blood on Their Hands

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enhydra lutris's picture

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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 --

crossing fingers

That’s the key question confronting the state’s Democrats in primaries on Tuesday in which no fewer than four progressive challengers hope to topple incumbents in races for state and local office.

In a fifth race, Del. Lee Carter, a working-class member of the Democratic Socialists of America who drives for Lyft to make ends meet, is competing to fend off a business-friendly challenger who was a Republican up until the 2016 election.

Virginia is now solidly Democratic in national and statewide elections. But in the state’s halls of power, the “Virginia Way” ― a byword for clubby lawmaking that doubles as a euphemism for the bipartisan, pro-corporate consensus ― still reigns supreme.

Progressive victories in even some of the races would shake up that dynamic. They could also inspire similar challenges in other suburban areas with increasingly enthusiastic liberal voting blocs, according to Quentin Kidd, dean of the College of Social Sciences at Christopher Newport University.
...
Saslaw has hit the campaign trail hard, determined not to take a victory for granted. His massive cash advantage ― over $1.9 million to Taeb’s $179,000 ― has also enabled him to dominate the television airwaves. He is using the cash to tout some of his real accomplishments, such as working with Northam to shepherd Virginia’s Medicaid expansion despite narrow Republican majorities in the state Senate and House of Delegates.

But in a low-turnout, off-year primary, insurgent candidates with highly motivated supporters often punch above their weight.

If Taeb pulls off an upset, the tremors are likely to be felt across Virginia and beyond.

“It would be a bigger shock to the system than [former GOP House Majority Leader] Eric Cantor losing to Dave Brat,” Kidd said. “Saslaw’s an institution in the Democratic Party ― in the good old boy, business-political world of Virginia Democratic politics.”

“It would make the moderate pro-business wing of the Democratic Party ashen-faced, and it would be an exclamation point on the movement against Dominion, because Saslaw is Mr. Dominion,” he added.

Virginia would be the first big primary sequel since the progressive insurgency began (see Lee Carter).
It's a test of momentum.

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joe shikspack's picture

@gjohnsit

virginia politics are getting more interesting. the densely populated d.c. suburbs are providing the voting base that could potentially provide a bunch of progressive wins in that area. it will be interesting to see if the wave can spread to the more rural parts of the state.

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snoopydawg's picture

the Yemen war. It's long past time to do this. Even after the Saudis continued to attack and destroy civilian infrastructure

Very upsetting that the SC just let down people in Gitmo by refusing to hear his case. Breyer said that as long as the AUMF is in place anyone called an enemy combatant can be locked up indefinitely. This would apply to US citizens or anyone around the world. Lee has a bill to rescind it but it can't come up for a vote. Great way to run the government huh? Just sit on every bill passed by the house or just not vote on others. McConnell is sitting on 100 bills passed by the house and the democrats are just fine with it. They could refuse to participate in congress and other ways if they were serious about getting them passed, but...

This isn't the first time Bolton has threatened people. He threatened the head of OPCW last time he was in government and got him to retire. I think that he threatened the guy's family. Such a nasty little man! He wants to kill as many Muslims as he can. I hope that I'm around when the world has had enough of America's cruelty and starts holding us accountable. But there are plenty of other countries that need to join us in the dock.

Has anyone thought of suing the government for dereliction of duty? As the video stated it's their job to govern for we the people, but they aren't doing that. Taking money that should come to us and giving it to the corporations and using the military to be their muscle. Depriving the programs that are supposed to be helping the less fortunate, defunding social security and Medicare, etc.... I don't see why we can't at least try to do that.

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10 users have voted.

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

joe shikspack's picture

@snoopydawg

yep, there's yet another opportunity for congresspeople to stand up on their hind legs and act like they're humans. it probably isn't prudent to hold one's breath over the likelihood of a successful effort to stop the war in yemen, though.

yep, the democrats love the fact that they can now pass progressive-sounding legislation with no worries that it will get past the turtle man. i'm certain that they love it, they can please their base and not disappoint their donor class at the same time.

yes, bolton did threaten the kids of a diplomat - at the time the head of the organization for the prohibition of chemical weapons.

well, there are some kids that are suing the government for dereliction with regard to climate change.

the sort of uselessness that you describe traditionally has a different remedy than a court remedy. especially given that the courts are part of the problem of the government's uselessness.

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mimi's picture

@joe shikspack

especially given that the courts are part of the problem of the government's uselessness.

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enhydra lutris's picture

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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

have a good one!

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janis b's picture

The size and concentration of America’s defense contractors is such an ugly picture, and difficult to imagine erasing, or even adjusting.

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/01/10/top-10-defense-contractors-in-the-world....

Thanks anyway, joe, as always.

* edited to add link

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joe shikspack's picture

@janis b

yep, and they are expensive to support, too. looking at the billions in revenue they take in, one can presume most of it comes from americans. so, if you are an american, even if you don't work for the military industrial complex, you work for the military industrial complex.

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janis b's picture

@joe shikspack

their taxes to purposes of choice. We’d probably have a much more equitable and habitable planet.

Where are you Leonard when we need you ...

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GreatLakeSailor's picture

.
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Compensated Spokes Model for Big Poor & Big Peace.

joe shikspack's picture

@GreatLakeSailor

i am certain that johnson was very helpful to the 5 eyes spooks. gosh, i wonder if the guardian's sudden change in tone about assange corresponded with johnson's tenure on their little committee. i feel like i don't really need to look it up.

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enhydra lutris's picture

overturning a colonial law. According to the Christian Science Monitor, a panel of 3 high court judges unanimously affirmed that:

“A democratic nation is one that embraces tolerance, diversity, and open-mindedness,” said Judge Michael Leburu, reading from the court’s ruling Tuesday morning. “We have determined that it is not the business of the law to regulate private consensual sexual encounters” between adults.

edit: forgot l;ink = https://www.csmonitor.com/Daily/2019/20190611?cmpid=ema:ddp:20190611&id=...

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7 users have voted.

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

dystopian's picture

Great blues JS, what a great player Roy was. If Jorma likes ya, yer worth listening to. This guy is awesome.

Dem damn Dems are good at window dressing and meaningless platitudes... but reality is...
19dnc-platform-leadership.jpg

Thanks for the blues!

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11 users have voted.

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
both - Albert Einstein