The Evening Blues - 6-12-19


The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: Aaron "Little Sonny" Willis

Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features Detroit blues harmonica player, singer and songwriter Aaron "Little Sonny" Willis. Enjoy!

Little Sonny - Back Down Yonder

“Once the government can demand of a publisher the names of the purchasers of his publications, the free press as we know it disappears. Then the spectre of a government agent will look over the shoulder of everyone who reads. The purchase of a book or pamphlet today may result in a subpoena tomorrow. Fear of criticism goes with every person into the bookstall. The subtle, imponderable pressures of the orthodox lay hold. Some will fear to read what is unpopular, what the powers-that-be dislike. When the light of publicity may reach any student, any teacher, inquiry will be discouraged. The books and pamphlets that are critical of the administration, that preach an unpopular policy in domestic or foreign affairs, that are in disrepute in the orthodox school of thought will be suspect and subject to investigation. The press and its readers will pay a heavy price in harassment. But that will be minor in comparison with the menace of the shadow which government will cast over literature that does not follow the dominant party line. If the lady from Toledo can be required to disclose what she read yesterday and what she will read tomorrow, fear will take the place of freedom in the libraries, book stores, and homes of the land. Through the harassment of hearings, investigations, reports, and subpoenas government will hold a club over speech and over the press."

-- William O. Douglas

News and Opinion

The Thought Police Are Coming

We have watched over the last decade as freedom of the press and legal protection for those who expose government abuses and lies have been obliterated by wholesale government surveillance and the criminalizing of the leaking and, with Julian Assange’s persecution, publication of these secrets. The press has been largely emasculated in the United States. The repeated use of the Espionage Act, especially under the Obama administration, to charge and sentence whistleblowers has shut down our ability to shine a light into the inner workings of power and empire. Governmental officials with a conscience, knowing all of their communications are monitored, captured and stored by intelligence agencies, are too frightened to reach out to reporters. The last line of defense lies with those with the skills that allow them to burrow into the records of the security and surveillance state and with the courage to make them public, such as Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning and Jeremy Hammond, now serving a 10-year prison term in the United States for hacking into the Texas-based private security firm Strategic Forecasting Inc., or Stratfor. The price of resistance is high not only for them, but for those such as Julian willing to publish this information. As Sarah Harrison has pointed out: “This is our data, our information, our history. We must fight to own it.” ...

His arrest eviscerates all pretense of the rule of law and the rights of a free press. The illegalities carried by the Ecuadorian, British and U.S. governments in the seizure of Julian two months ago from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London are ominous. They presage a world where the internal workings, abuses, corruption, lies and crimes, especially war crimes, carried out by the global ruling elite will be masked from the public. They presage a world where those with the courage and integrity to expose the misuse of power, no matter what their nationality, will be hunted down around the globe and seized, tortured, subjected to sham trials and given lifetime prison terms. They presage an Orwellian dystopia where journalism is outlawed and replaced with propaganda, trivia, entertainment and indoctrination to make us hate those demonized by the state as our enemies.

The arrest of Julian marks the official beginning of the corporate totalitarianism and constant state surveillance, now far advanced in China, that will soon define our lives. The destruction of all protection of the rule of law, which is what we are witnessing, is essential to establishing an authoritarian or totalitarian state. ...

The psychological torture of Julian—documented by the United Nations special rapporteur on torture and ill treatment, Nils Melzer—mirrors the breaking of the dissident Winston Smith at the end of the novel “1984.” It is said the Gestapo broke bones and the East German Stasi secret police broke souls. Today, we too have refined the cruder forms of torture of the Gestapo. We break souls as well as bodies. It is more effective. This is why Julian, his physical and psychological health in serious decline, has been moved to a prison hospital. We can all be taken to George Orwell’s dreaded Room 101 to be made compliant and harmless. These “special administrative measures”—and you can be sure there are American intelligence operatives here assisting the British in the psychological torture of Julian—have destroyed thousands of detainees in black sites around the globe. ...

If Julian is extradited and tried, it will create a legal precedent that will terminate the ability of the press, which Donald Trump has attacked as “the enemy of the people,” to hold power accountable. The crimes of war and finance, the persecution of dissidents, minorities and immigrants, the pillaging of the ecosystem and the ruthless impoverishment of working men and women to swell the profits of corporations and consolidate the global oligarchs’ total grip on power will no longer be part of public debate. First Julian. Then us.

Julian Assange: The most dangerous man in the world?

Julian Assange: US charges expected to be revealed at hearing

The US will detail all the charges against the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, when it seeks his extradition in a London court, the editor-in-chief of the whistleblowing website has said. “The American authorities, the Department of Justice, will present the evidence in support of their extradition demand,” Kristinn Hrafnsson said.

The US justice department confirmed on Tuesday it had submitted a formal extradition request. The 47-year-old Australian is not expected to attend Friday’s hearing but could take part from prison via video-link, although it will be largely procedural. The “first real confrontation of arguments” in court will not be for several weeks or months, Hrafnsson said. ...

The 18 charges against Assange reject his claim he was simply a publisher receiving leaked material, which would be protected under press freedom legislation. Hrafnsson said the charges were “very revealing about the nature of this entire case”. He said the Espionage Act was part of an “archaic legal framework ... and has never been used against a publisher and a journalist”.

“It’s an indication of the watershed moment that we are now seeing in the attack on journalism,” he said.

‘Extraordinary illegality’: MI5 accused of storing personal data in ungoverned spaces

MI5 accused of ‘extraordinary and persistent illegality’

MI5 has lost control of its data storage operations and has been obtaining surveillance warrants on the basis of information it knows to be false, the high court has heard. The security agency has been accused of “extraordinary and persistent illegality” in a legal challenge brought by the human rights organisation Liberty The failures have been identified by the official watchdog, the investigatory powers commissioner, Lord Justice Fulford, and admitted in outline by the home secretary, Sajid Javid.

The full extent of the problems within MI5 became apparent in disclosures made public at the hearing on Tuesday. The revelations relate to bulk interceptions of data acquired through surveillance and hacking programmes and downloaded to its computers. The agency has a duty to ensure such material is not held longer than required or copied more often than needed.

Ben Jaffey QC, for Liberty, said there were “ungoverned spaces” in MI5’s operations where it did not know what it held. In written submissions, Jaffey said: “Fulford’s generic warrant decision notes that warrants were issued to MI5 on a basis that MI5 knew to be incorrect and the judicial commissioners [the watchdogs] were given false information.” ...

Megan Goulding, a lawyer with Liberty, said: “These shocking revelations expose how MI5 has been illegally mishandling our data for years, storing it when they have no legal basis to do so. This could include our most deeply sensitive information – our calls and messages, our location data, our web browsing history. In addition to showing a flagrant disregard for our rights, MI5 has attempted to hide its mistakes by providing misinformation to the investigatory powers commissioner, who oversees the government’s surveillance regime.”

Trump claims he wouldn’t have allowed CIA to recruit Kim Jong-un’s relatives

Donald Trump has said he would not have allowed the CIA to have recruited Kim Jong-un’s relatives as informants to gather information on the North Korean dictatorship. Trump told journalists on Tuesday he had received a new “beautiful” letter on Monday from Kim, who he insisted had “kept his word” on suspending nuclear and missile tests. He dismissed recent North Korean missile tests as short-range and therefore not relevant.

Asked about new reports that Kim’s half-brother, Kim Jong-nam – who was murdered with VX nerve agent in Kuala Lumpur airport in 2017 – had been a CIA informant, Trump said he would not have allowed that to happen. “I saw the information about the CIA with respect to his brother, or half-brother, and I would tell him that would not happen under my auspice that’s for sure. I wouldn’t let that happen under my auspices,” Trump said.

It was the latest occasion on which Trump has appeared to side with an adversary over US intelligence. In July last year, he made clear he believed President Vladimir Putin’s denials over US intelligence assessments that Russia had interfered in the 2016 US presidential elections.

Boris Johnson allowed arms sales to Saudis after Yemen bombing

Tory leadership frontrunner Boris Johnson recommended that the UK allow Saudi Arabia to buy British bomb parts expected to be deployed in Yemen, days after an airstrike on a potato factory in the country had killed 14 people in 2016. Campaigners accused the then foreign secretary of showing a “total disregard” for Yemeni civilians by allowing the sales, revealed for the first time in emails disclosed via a freedom of information request.

A day after the sale was recommended for approval by Johnson in August 2016, a village school in Yemen was hit by another deadly airstrike, prompting further complaints that the UK is complicit in breaches of international humanitarian law. ...

An email dated 12 August 2016 to the Export Control Joint Unit, responsible for licensing UK arms deals, says that Johnson “was content” to advise that the licensing of components for Paveway bombs should go ahead. A few days earlier, on 9 August, the Saudi-led coalition resumed airstrikes on Sana’a at the end of a ceasefire that had held since April. Reports at the time said that more than half of those killed in the strike were women. A day after the approval email was sent, on 13 August, a village school in the Sa’ada province was hit by an airstrike, which killed 10 children and injured 20.

The then cabinet minister has previously defended the arms sales during his time in office, saying in September 2016 that Saudi-led bombing campaign is not “in clear breach” of international humanitarian law.

US Middle East commander proposes permanent buildup against Iran

The chief of Central Command (CENTCOM), which oversees all of the Pentagon’s operations in the Middle East, claimed over the weekend that Iran continues to pose an “imminent” threat to Washington’s interests in the region and that a permanent military escalation against the country and its 82 million people may be required. Gen. Frank McKenzie during a tour of the region that included both Baghdad and the carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, sailing in the north Arabian Sea, told reporters that he is “negotiating” with the Pentagon on plans for “bringing additional resources into the theater” to step up the military campaign against Iran.

Last month, the Trump administration ordered the USS Lincoln’s carrier battle group, a bomber strike force led by nuclear-capable B-52s, along with 900 additional ground troops and a Patriot missile battery into the region on the pretext of responding to supposed Iranian threats. Plans were also leaked calling for the mobilization of as many as 120,000 troops for deployment to the region, a similar force as that which was assembled in advance of the 2003 US invasion of Iraq.

General McKenzie claimed that the military deployments and US threats had caused Iran to “step back and recalculate the course that they apparently were on.” He told the Associated Press, however, “I don’t believe the threat has diminished. I believe the threat is very real.”

Speaking with reporters, he said that US intelligence on Iranian threats was “clear” and “compelling,” adding that these alleged threats were “advanced, imminent and very specific.” The AP noted, however, that the general provided no specific information on the “threats,” insisting that the “compelling” intelligence was all classified.

Secret Files Show How Brazil’s Elites Jailed Former President Lula and Cleared the Way for Bolsonaro

Carwash Scandal Sparks Calls for Brazil's Moro to Resign

Justice Minister Sergio Moro is facing growing calls to step down after the publication of messages he allegedly exchanged with prosecutors of the so-called Carwash task force, Brazil’s largest-ever corruption investigation that he headed as a federal judge until last year. The messages released by The Intercept website Sunday supposedly show Moro sharing information and offering advice to prosecutors working on the case that led to the conviction of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva for corruption and money laundering, which barred him from last year’s elections.

The former judge, considered by many Brazilians as a superhero fighting endemic corruption in the country, said the messages were taken out of context and don’t show anything out of the ordinary in his actions. But the Brazilian Bar Association recommended that the minister step down from public office while investigations continue. Members of the opposition said they won’t vote on the government’s flagship pension overhaul proposal until measures against Moro and the Carwash prosecutors are taken.

Bernie Sanders Calls for Brazil’s Judiciary to Release Lula in Wake of Corruption Exposure

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva should be released from prison and his conviction should be annulled, said Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, on Tuesday. Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., meanwhile, is calling on the Trump administration to investigate the case that imprisoned the former president on corruption charges, following The Intercept’s exposé that showed Judge Sérgio Moro plotted with prosecutors to convict Lula and prevent the Workers’ Party from returning to power.

“This reporting confirms what we knew all along — that Moro was a bad actor and part of a larger conspiracy to send Lula to jail,” Khanna told The Intercept in an emailed statement. “While [it’s] not for America to make a factual judgement on Lula’s innocence, this reporting shows Moro was not impartial and coordinated with the prosecutors. This violates all judicial norms and ethics. I hope the Trump administration supports a full investigation into this matter given Lula is still in jail and Moro is Bolsonaro’s justice minister.”

Sanders said that the exposures should free Lula. “Today, it is clearer than ever that Lula da Silva was imprisoned in a politicized prosecution that denied him a fair trial and due process. During his presidency, Lula oversaw huge reductions in poverty and remains Brazil’s most popular politician. I stand with political and social leaders across the globe who are calling on Brazil’s judiciary to release Lula and annul his conviction,” Sanders said in a statement provided to The Intercept.

President Donald Trump has embraced Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s right-wing president who, like Trump, has a history of making bigoted, homophobic, and misogynistic statements and even paid a visit to the White House in March.

How corporate forces are lobbying for a coup in Venezuela

House moves to enforce subpoenas against Barr and McGahn

The House of Representatives has passed a resolution enabling lawmakers to go to court to enforce their subpoenas against the US attorney general, William Barr, and former White House counsel Don McGahn. The Trump administration has rebuffed Democrats’ attempts to dive more deeply into the Trump-Russia investigation in the aftermath of Robert Mueller’s report on the issue. House Democrats passed the resolution on a party-line vote of 229-191 on Tuesday.

The vote had long been planned amid unprecedented efforts by Trump’s administration to stonewall Democrats’ witness and document requests pertaining to special counsel Mueller’s work. Democrats on the House judiciary committee voted last month to hold Barr in contempt of Congress after he refused to comply with a subpoena for the full, un-redacted Mueller report, after a restricted version was made public in April. McGahn separately heeded instructions from the White House to refuse a subpoena calling upon him to testify before Congress.

Despite a deal between committee chairman Jerry Nadler and the justice department on Monday, paving the way for his panel to access some of Mueller’s underlying evidence, House Democrats said they were proceeding with Tuesday’s full floor vote to keep the option to enforce their subpoenas in court if necessary.

The measure also includes language to enable committee chairmen to enforce their subpoenas in court without a full vote on the House floor.

'Sea Rescues Have Been Criminalized' as German Boat Captain Faces 20 Years in Prison For Saving Refugees

A German boat captain faces a long and costly trial in Italy for charges targeting her humanitarian efforts on behalf of refugees.

Captain Pia Klemp, 35, told Basler Zeitung on June 7 that her upcoming trial in Italy for years of efforts with the civilian lifeboat "Iuventa" that saved at least 1,000 lives will take years and hundreds of thousands of dollars. Klemp faces up to 20 years in prison, but, she said, whether or not she ends up in jail—she would challenge any conviction in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France if necessary—the damage has been done. "The worst has already come to pass," said Klemp. "Sea rescue missions have been criminalized."

Along with helping refugees, Klemp works with ocean conservation group Sea Watch. The Italian charges against Klemp come as part of an anti-immigration crackdown by far-right Interior Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, who ran on imposing harsh penalties on refugees. "Italy's fascists are using this case as a showcase to deter others from aiding migrants," journalist Rula Jebreal said on Twitter. "They would prefer to let people drown in the Mediterranean."

Jury deadlocks over activist who gave migrants food and shelter

A US jury could not reach a verdict Tuesday against a border activist who, defense attorneys say, was simply being kind by providing two migrants with water, food and lodging when he was arrested in early 2018. Scott Daniel Warren, a 36-year-old college geography instructor, was charged with conspiracy to transport and harbor migrants in a trial that humanitarian aid groups said would have wide implications on their work. He faced up to 20 years in prison. ...

Outside the courthouse, Warren thanked his supporters and criticized the government’s efforts to crack down on the number of immigrants coming to the US. “Today it remains as necessary as ever for local residents and humanitarian aid volunteers to stand in solidarity with migrants and refugees, and we must also stand for our families, friends and neighbors in the very land itself most threatened by the militarization of our borderland communities,” Warren said.

Glenn McCormick, a spokesman for the US attorney’s office in Arizona, declined to comment on whether Warren would face another trial. The judge set a 2 July status hearing for the defense and prosecution. ...

Jurors said Monday that they couldn’t reach a consensus on the charges against Warren, but a federal judge told them to keep deliberating. They were still deadlocked Tuesday and ultimately dismissed.

Trump Administration Plans to Detain Migrant Children at Former Japanese Internment Camp

Lending even greater significance to the parallels commentators and historians have drawn between U.S. migrant detention centers and concentration camps of the past, the Trump administration is reportedly planning to hold more than a thousand immigrant children at an Oklahoma army base that was used as an internment camp for Japanese Americans during World War II.

According to Time, Fort Sill "has been selected to detain 1,400 children until they can be given to an adult relative."

"Fort Sill, located southwest of Oklahoma City, was one of several internment camps where Japanese-Americans were held during World War II," Time reported. "Between 1942 and 1946, the U.S. government forcibly removed an estimated 120,000 men, women and children from their homes and incarcerated them across the country. Fort Sill was later used to hold German prisoners of war."

Overcrowding, Rotten Food & Nooses: DHS Watchdog Confirms Horrific Conditions at Immigrant Jails

Steve Bannon Is Being Forced to Leave a Door Open on His Crowdfunded Border Wall

Steven Bannon used crowdfunded cash to build part of President Trump’s wall along the U.S.-Mexico border in New Mexico. But he’s going to have to leave the gate open.

On Monday afternoon, international officials propped open the section of the wall built by We Build the Wall, a nonprofit run by Bannon and Air Force veteran Brian Kolfage, according to BuzzFeed News. Its path runs through federal lands and cuts off access to waterways and a public monument. But authorities said the group didn’t apply for the necessary permits.

"This is normally done well in advance of a construction project," said Lori Kuczmanski, a spokesperson for the International Boundary and Water Commission, which would have had to clear the project, according to BuzzFeed News. The organization regulates waterway issues between the U.S. and Mexico. "They think they can build now and ask questions later, and that's not how it works,” she added.

Alabama Can Now Chemically Castrate Convicted Pedophiles

Some of Alabama’s sex-offender inmates will now be required to undergo chemical castration if they want to be released from prison.

Gov. Kay Ivey, a Republican, signed a bill into law on Monday that forces sex offenders whose victims are younger than 13 to take a series of pills that greatly reduce sexual libido as a condition of their parole, according to The controversial legislation passed through Alabama’s Statehouse last month, despite it being unclear whether chemical castration works to reduce sex crimes. Alabama is the seventh state, including California, Florida, Montana and Louisiana, to have a chemical castration law, although it’s unclear how often the punishment is utilized. ...

However, the bill might contradict the Eighth Amendment, which blocks cruel and unusual punishment. A law professor at the University of Florida, John Stinneford, argued in a 2006 paper that such laws should be struck down. Alabama’s chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union also thinks it runs afoul of the Eighth Amendment, according to

Ways and Means Committee Chair Doesn’t Want Medicare-for-All Hearing to Mention “Medicare for All”

In preparation for Wednesday’s hearing on Medicare for All before the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, the panel’s chair met privately with Democrats to lay out how he wants it to unfold. Rep. Richard Neal, a Massachusetts Democrat who has been in office since 1989, told the Democrats on the panel that he didn’t want the phrase “Medicare for All” to be used. Instead, he said, the hearing should focus on all the different ways to achieve “universal health care” or “universal health coverage,” which he said was a better term to deploy. Medicare for All, he argued, was wrong on policy and is a political loser, sources present for the meeting, held last Wednesday, told The Intercept.

Neal confirmed that he recommended a shift in emphasis. Asked whether he encouraged members in private to focus tomorrow’s hearing more on “universal health care” than Medicare for All, Neal said the conversation would be more about “universal health care and access,” pointing to his continued support for the Affordable Care Act. “I think what we’re talking about, we’re talking about universal health care and access,” he told The Intercept. “That’s the emphasis. So we have not ruled anything out or ruled anything in. And we think that continuing to gathering information — I mean, I helped to write the Affordable Care Act, I’m naturally in favor of expanding it, and, you know, 100% of the children in Massachusetts are covered, 97% of the adults. We’ve had a good experience with it.”

The hearing will be held at 10 a.m. on Wednesday in the Longworth House Office Building and will include five witnesses, all of whom are, at a minimum, sympathetic to Medicare for All. That the committee is holding a hearing at all on Medicare for All is a win for the Congressional Progressive Caucus and its co-chair, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., and signals momentum for the legislation. A Rules Committee hearing in April marked the first of its kind in history for the push for single-payer, and moving to the bigger stage of Ways and Means, which has jurisdiction over taxation and government revenue, represents a new high-water mark for Medicare for All. Holding hearings is the start of creating the legislative history of a bill and often signals — as it does in this case — that public support for a measure has risen to a significant enough level that Congress is willing to spend its limited attention on the issue.

Jayapal, a lead sponsor of the House Medicare for All bill, and her co-chair Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wisc., won a commitment for a Ways and Means hearing from Nancy Pelosi as the party leader was working to round up votes in her bid for House speaker. But converting that pledge into a hearing required the assent of the committee’s chair, Neal. When Neal came to speak to the CPC on April 30, Jayapal pressed him in person, and he committed there to the hearing. The result is Wednesday’s hearing, but its title, “Pathways to Universal Health Coverage,” hints at the internal tension.

the horse race

Bernie Sanders to defend his brand of socialism in speech

Bernie Sanders, draping himself in the progressive tradition of Franklin Roosevelt, is poised to defend his political philosophy in a speech that accuses Donald Trump of profiting from “corporate socialism”.

In a speech at George Washington University on Wednesday, the Democratic party presidential contender for 2020 will outline a distinctly American brand of socialism as he forcefully rebuts attacks on democratic socialism from the president and other senior Republicans.

“While President Trump and his fellow oligarchs attack us for our support of democratic socialism, they don’t really oppose all forms of socialism,” Sanders will say, according to excerpts of his speech distributed on Tuesday by his campaign. “They may hate democratic socialism because it benefits working people, but they absolutely love corporate socialism that enriches Trump and other billionaires.”

Sanders will describe democratic socialism as a reflection of deeply-held American values like fairness and equality as he calls for a reimagining of the US economy.

I'd post Sanders' full speech "How Democratic Socialism Is the Only Way to Defeat Oligarchy and Authoritarianism," but corporate interests "Global Music Rights LLC" and "WMG" have blocked the 2 Youtube videos that I found. Here and here. So, here's a snippet that was embedded in a Common Dreams article from twitter:

Progressives Call for Mobilization as Koch Brothers Open Their Pockets to Protect Corporate Democrats

With the billionaire Koch brothers reportedly considering spending big money to help protect conservative Democrats from left-wing primary challengers in the 2020 elections, progressives said the oil magnates' efforts can only be thwarted by a grassroots mobilization dedicated to a bold alternative agenda.

Justice Democrats—an advocacy group that is backing progressive primary challengers against corporate Democrats—said in an email to supporters on Tuesday that "we have to fight back with everything that we have" against the Koch brothers, whose political network spent tens of millions of dollars backing Republicans candidates over the past several election cycles. ...

In a memo (pdf) released last week, the Koch-funded PAC Americans for Prosperity signaled a willingness to support Democrats who favor its right-wing agenda in the upcoming elections. ...

The details of the Americans for Prosperity's 2020 push remain vague, but Politico reported that the Koch network is "adding four new policy-focused PACs that will operate separately from Americans for Prosperity: Uniting for Economic Opportunity, which will focus on issues like the budget and curbing government over-regulation; Uniting for Free Expression, which focuses on free speech issues; and trade- and immigration-focused PACs called Uniting for Free Trade and Uniting for Immigration Reform."

the evening greens

The problem with billionaires fighting climate change? The billionaires

During a commencement address this week, Michael Bloomberg announced that he’s spending $500m to help the United States move closer to a carbon-neutral future. We should be very grateful that Bloomberg isn’t running for president: the money he’s pouring into Beyond Carbon will fund some great and necessary work, like his injection into the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign several years back. But it would be much better for the planet if billionaires like him didn’t exist at all. ...

Corporate profits have grown as wages have stagnated, all while some of the most useless and destructive parts of our economy balloon. After the Great Recession, successive rounds of quantitative easing poured trillions of dollars into the global economy, and low interest rates have made credit easy to come by. These factors – and the fact that we place virtually unlimited faith in the prudent investment decisions of corporations and the wealthy to plan out our economy – leave as their legacy a bloated tech sector and fracking, a disaster for the climate that was unprofitable before we bailed out the banks.

The result of all this has concentrated outrageous levels of wealth at the top of the income bracket as global temperatures rise. Before the financial crisis, the top 1% held a collective $15bn in cash. Today they’ve got almost $304bn. And while the yachts and frequent flying habits of the wealthy are a pox on the planet, so is the fact that they now have more money than ever to throw into world-wrecking investments, buying off politicians and lobbying for their pet causes – namely, to let them keep doing more of the same.

For every Michael Bloomberg there are dozens of Koch brothers and Rebekah Mercers, who have poured tens of millions of dollars into spreading climate denial and blocking decarbonization efforts at the local, state and national level. None of them should have as much money as they do.

In Just One Decade, Corporations Destroyed 50 Million Hectares of Forest—An Area the Size of Spain

Major corporations involved with commodities like beef, palm oil, and soya pledged in 2010 to end deforestation over the next decade—but instead of fulfilling that promise, a new Greenpeace International analysis found the companies are set to destroy at least 50 million hectares of forest worldwide by 2020.

That estimate—the environmental advocacy group noted in a statement announcing its Countdown to Extinction report (pdf) Tuesday—is comparable to the size of Spain.

It is also "a conservative estimate," the group said, based on a combination of data on deforestation, tree cover loss, and forecasting through 2019. Given recent increases in tree loss cover, "the actual figure could be much higher."

Companies named in the report include General Mills, IKEA, Johnson & Johnson, Kellogg, L'Oréal, Mars, Nestlé, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, and Unilever.

Carbon emissions from energy industry rise at fastest rate since 2011

Carbon emissions from the global energy industry last year rose at the fastest rate in almost a decade after extreme weather and surprise swings in global temperatures stoked extra demand for fossil fuels. BP’s annual global energy report, an influential review of the market, revealed for the first time that temperature fluctuations are increasing the world’s use of fossil fuels, in spite of efforts to tackle the climate crisis.

The recorded temperature swings – days which are much hotter or colder than normal – helped drive the world’s biggest jump in gas consumption for more than 30 years. They also resulted in a second consecutive annual increase for coal use, reversing three years of decline earlier this decade.

Carbon emissions climbed by 2% in 2018, faster than any year since 2011, because the demand for energy easily outstripped the rapid rollout of renewable energy. That level of growth in emissions represents the carbon equivalent of driving an extra 400m combustion engine cars onto the world’s roads, said Spencer Dale, BP’s chief economist.

Dale said the increase in the number of extreme weather events and increasing demand for energy could be a vicious cycle. “If there is a link between the growing levels of carbon in the atmosphere and the types of weather patterns observed in 2018 this would raise the possibility of a worrying vicious cycle: increasing levels of carbon leading to more extreme weather patterns, which in turn trigger stronger growth in energy (and carbon emissions) as households and businesses seek to offset their effects”

Grocery store urges customers to rethink plastic with embarrassing bags

If concern over the climate crisis or revulsion over the contamination of the food chain are not enough to change consumer behaviour, one grocery store is hoping that another emotion may persuade people to shun single-use plastic bags: shame. Customers who don’t bring their own bags to the East West Market in Vancouver will instead have to carry their grocery home in bags reading “Wart Ointment Wholesale” or “Into the Weird Adult Video Emporium”.

David Lee Kwen, the shop’s owner, insisted that the plan wasn’t to embarrass customers. “We wanted to give them something humorous, but also something that made them think at the same time,” he told the Guardian. “It’s human nature not to want to be told what to do.” ...

Kwen admits there may have been an unintended consequence to the bags: “Some of the customers want to collect them because they love the idea of it,” he said. But he still believes the plan is working. “Even if you have the bag, you have to explain its origin to your friends. And then, we’ve started a conversation.”

Also of Interest

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

Russian journalist Golunov released after drug case against him dropped

Russian media solidarity for Golunov contrasts with loathsome US/UK press bootlicking over Assange

Bolsonaro tight-lipped as minister faces calls to resign over Lula scandal

Cuban Doctors Provide Healthcare To Those In Need - The U.S. Wants To Stop Them

Extending the US Embargo on Cuba & Hurting the People

The Tory contest shows that the Brexiters’ dream is dying before their very eyes

GOP congressman tried to amend tax code to report BDS supporters to IRS– and 12 Dems voted for it

How a history of US-Saudi ties turned into billion-dollar arms deals

All Americans Have Blood on Their Hands

A Little Night Music

I Love You Baby Until The Day I Die

Little Sonny - Love Shock

Little Sonny - I Gotta Find My Baby

Little Sonny - A Woman Named Trouble

Little Sonny - Sonny's Fever

Little Sonny - Goin' Down Slow

Little Sonny - Sonnys Bag

Little Sonny - Stretchin' Out

Little Sonny - Eli's Pork Chop

Little Sonny - You're Spreading Yourself A Little Too Thin

Little Sonny - The Creeper Returns

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snoopydawg's picture

how Trump is going to hold children at the same place that we held Japanese Americans I found out that this happened during Obama's tenure? Yep. He did it in 2014. I'm wondering if it made the headlines like it is now that Trump is going to do it?

Orwell's book has been coming true for too long. I hate to think about what is happening to Assange with Gina the torturer in charge of the CIA. Sure would have been nice if Obama had upheld the law against torture. Just one more thing that Trump is doing after he did too. But of course Trump is just an abhorration aberration isn't he..


After reading the article on how some members of congress want to penalize people for taking part in BDS I think you might enjoy this article on how Facebook, Google and Apple are moving the bulk of their businesses to Israel. Bibi has been pushing for it to get around BDS. It's appalling how our government does Israel's bidding and is passing legislation that they tell them to. Again but Russia!

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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,"

Azazello's picture

a portmanteau of a abhorrent and aberration.

0 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture


Thanks so much for the help. And duh. Now that you have spelled it correctly I can't believe I couldn't. Oh well, bad hair day.

aberration. Not so much huh?


This is what Biden is saying when he says he will make America respectable again. He would put the mask back on our imperialist ways. Just today he said that there were no scandals during Obama's administration. Guess that depends on how you define scandals.

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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


heh, trump is no different than his predecessors, except in that he doesn't care to bother with putting a friendly face on fascism like they did.

that is an interesting article:

With nearly 6 million Americans unemployed and regular bouts of layoffs in the U.S. tech industry, major American tech companies like Google, Microsoft and Intel Corporation are nonetheless moving key operations, billions in investments, and thousands of jobs to Israel — a trend that has largely escaped media attention or concern from even “America first” politicians. The fact that this massive transfer of investment and jobs has been so overlooked is particularly striking given that it is largely the work of a single leading neoconservative Republican donor who has given millions of dollars to President Donald Trump.

To make matters worse, many of these top tech companies shifting investment and jobs to Israel at record rates continue to collect sizable U.S. government subsidies for their operations while they move critical aspects of their business abroad, continue to layoff thousands of American workers, and struggle to house their growing company branches in Israel. This is particularly troubling in light of the importance of the tech sector to the overall U.S. economy, as it accounts for 7.1 percent of total GDP and 11.6 percent of total private-sector payroll.

Furthermore, many of these companies are hiring members of controversial Israeli companies — known to have spied on Americans, American companies, and U.S. federal agencies — as well as numerous members of Israeli military intelligence as top managers and executives.

This massive transfer of the American tech industry has largely been the work of one leading Republican donor — billionaire hedge fund manager Paul Singer, who also funds the neoconservative think tank American Enterprise Institute (AEI), the Islamophobic and hawkish think tank Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC), and also funded the now-defunct Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI).

Singer’s project to bolster Israel’s tech economy at the U.S.’ expense is known as Start-Up Nation Central, which he founded in response to the global Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement that seeks to use nonviolent means to pressure Israel to comply with international law in relation to its treatment of Palestinians.

i guess paul singer got bored after looting argentina and decided to loot the u.s. instead.

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Azazello's picture

Scumbag Bill Clinton went to Kosovo to celebrate NATO expansion and humanitarian intervention.

This is interesting, kinda' sad: The Day the Music Burned

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joe shikspack's picture


thanks for the umg article. it's terrible that the concentration of the music industry has put our musical heritage in the hands of a bunch of soulless businessmen. hanging is too good for the people that failed to care and allowed the chess archives to burn.

oh and clinton still sucks. Smile

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Azazello's picture

@joe shikspack
I don't remember hearing about that fire when it happened.
It's a tragedy for sure but then, maybe this stuff is just important to those of us who grew up with analog recording and actual musicians. Will the next generations even care ?

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joe shikspack's picture

i don't know if we are developing into an age of disposable culture or not.

on the other hand, i don't see why there would be a difference between the way that people care about (for example) visual arts like paintings and sculptures than they would music recordings. the sad thing is that best paintings wind up in museums where they are cared for by experts in conservation while the best audio recordings wind up in the hands of businessmen who know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

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enhydra lutris's picture

for posting it.

As for the other, lower than whale shit, as always, what can one say.

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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 --

Bernie describes the difference between a democratic socialist and a socialist democrat for the propaganda machine. Will the perpetually confused grok the point?

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joe shikspack's picture


heh, no, see you are supposed to be so put off by the mere mention of the word "socialism" that any distinction is rendered incomprehensible. socialism! socialism! boo! scary!

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mimi's picture

on the EB. I ran into these two and they confused me.

A rule isn't unfair if it applies to everyone. - unkown


You know, the courts may not be working any more, but as long as everyone is videotaping everyone else, justice will be done. - Marge Simpson

These are supposedly wise old sayings.

There is this new rule now that applies to everyone, which says, if you help a refugee in a boat and rescue him from drowning, thirst and starvation, then are a criminal and get punished accordingly.

Sea Rescues Have Been Criminalized' as German Boat Captain Faces 20 Years in Prison For Saving Refugees - "We have only followed international law, especially the law of the sea, where the highest priority is to save people from distress."

How can that rule ever be fair?

The other quote I consider ... proven wrong by the effects of an all surveillance video world we are living in and posted on the internet ... I can't see it has lead to more justice, can you?

I can agree with this one:

The deceitful have no friends.

Reading the EBs is tough. Azzazello's link about the burning vault of original video and sound files is imo not only very sad, but to me a sign of what might be ahead of us. Who knows. Need to calm myself a bit with this ... just to prove that giving up hope is no option.

Thanks as always for your work. Have a good evening, all. Good Night.

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joe shikspack's picture


heh, here's a quote that is often attributed to dickens, but probably was written much earlier (early 1600's):

"the law is a ass."

i find it quite often applicable.

have a great evening!

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mimi's picture

@joe shikspack

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snoopydawg's picture

I read something the other day about how the terrorists in Syria are burning crops. I might have read it on the EBs...

So what's a few more thousand deaths? Sociopaths are in charge.

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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


yes, you read about it here. the fires are a thing that can be confirmed. i have no reason to doubt that the reports of massive crop fires in syria and iraq are true as reported.

there is some question as to who is responsible for them. isis claims responsibility for them and has called on its people to set them as a military tactic. there is some likelihood that isis is not responsible for all of the fires as there are others with motives based upon the changing hands of land ownership due to the fortunes of war, who might have an interest in denying others the use of land that they formerly owned.

of course, that is a fairly short view of the problem. there was a long period of regional stability in the levant. the stability was provided by governments not to the liking of israel and associated western powers, who then provided the destabilization that has led to these catastrophes.

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snoopydawg's picture

@joe shikspack

Kidding. I've always had a lousy memory. Seems like Syrians just can't get a break. It's not only this, but we've sanctioned or blocked the oil coming in to the country and people are waiting in lines for days. Can you even imagine living in the country now after what it used to be like? Same with Libya, Iraq etc etc...... I drove across town today and tried imagining it destroyed and what it'd be like. Just sad that we've done this.


BTW. Whitney Webb who wrote the article is being called out big time for anti Semiticism just for writing it. Guess that will be the next bill congress passes. No criticism of Israel period!

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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,"

snoopydawg's picture


No comment!

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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,"

enhydra lutris's picture

news and blues.

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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 --

dystopian's picture

Great tunes... great harmonica player he was.

My understanding of the laws at sea (couple thousand hours out there myself) are that you must respond to another vessel in distress. Like the thirsty in the desert, it seems this should be a human response above the law.

I can't believe Bannon the arrogant and his lackeys built a wall in IBWC jurisdiction land without a permit?!?!?! The build now, pay the fine later is the corporate way here now. Just like how we market drugs, etc.

So M4All hearings and we can't mention M4all? What's next save the planet hearings where we can't mention saving the planet?

Biden says those billionaires are good guys.

I can't believe how fast they are surgically removing the lungs of the planet. 50 million hectares in 10 years!?!?!?!?

I was going to post the link to the UMG story but AZAZ beat me to it. This is one of the great modern tragedies. The Chess catalog!?!?! Not to mention all the rest. How could original masters not be in fireproof vault situation? Oh yeah, corporate profits first. Disgusting.

thanks for giving me the blues... Wink

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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