The Evening Blues - 6-24-19


The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: Jimmy Liggins

Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features r&b singer and guitarist Jimmy Liggins. Enjoy!

Jimmy Liggins and His Drops Of Joy - Cadillac Boogie

"War will never cease until babies begin to come into the world with larger cerebrums and smaller adrenal glands."

-- H.L. Mencken

News and Opinion

As Trump Claims Power to Bomb Iran at Whim, Anti-War Voices Say: 'Where Is Congress?'

In the wake of an aborted bombing raid against Iran called off by President Donald Trump just minutes before it was set to launch overnight, anti-war progressives and progressive Democrats on Friday are demanding an end to the era in which the nation's commander-in-chief is allowed to claim the authority to start a war or launch an unnecessary attack on a foreign country—a legacy created by nearly two decades of unchecked power and endless war.

According to the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the most powerful Democrat in Congress, the White House did not even inform her of the plan to launch the attack despite a meeting with the president and top staffers just hours earlier.

In response to Trump's behavior, progressive Democrats running for president were among those denouncing the fact that he had come within just minutes of ordering a strike that would have sparked untold death and damage. "A war with Iran would be a disaster and lead to endless conflict in the region," said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, on Friday morning. "Congress must assert its constitutional authority and stop Trump from going to war."

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), also running for president, tweeted: "Donald Trump promised to bring our troops home. Instead he has pulled out of a deal that was working and instigated another unnecessary conflict. There is no justification for further escalating this crisis—we need to step back from the brink of war."

In an email to its members on Friday, the progressive advocacy group Justice Democrats—which has organized to elect anti-war candidates over more hawkish members of the party—said that even though Trump called off the strike at the last minute, the overnight episode "highlights a disturbing reality that we must face—this could happen at any time."

And the threat of war continues, the group warned. "Without the light and power of public pressure," the email continued, "Trump's administration could wield the most powerful military in the world to suit their own political purposes. That's not just scary. It's disturbing on a fundamental level. The notion that unconfirmed executive officials and members of an administration that the majority of Americans did not vote for could condemn us to yet another multi-decade bloody conflict displays a structural problem in our foreign policy, and a structural problem in Trump's ability to wage unchecked war."

Tucker Carlson Stops War With Iran! Dems Upset.

Trump says 'absolutely broken' Iran will face major new sanctions

Donald Trump has pledged that Iran’s “absolutely broken” economy will face “major” new sanctions on Monday, as Iran countered it would take further steps to increase its nuclear programme unless Europe does more to shield it from US pressure over the coming fortnight.

The US president claimed that Iran wanted to negotiate because of the relentless economic pressure from sanctions. Tehran has so far rejected any talks while sanctions remain, and there was no sign of relief on Sunday. Despite calling off airstrikes that had been planned in reprisal to the downing of a US drone on Thursday, tensions in the Gulf remain high.

On Sunday, one person was reported dead and seven wounded in a suspected drone attack on a Abha airport in southern Saudi Arabia. The Houthi movement in Yemen, which is backed by Iran, claimed responsibility for the second drone attack on the Abha airport in 10 days, and also claimed to have struck the airport in Jizan, on the south-west Saudi coast.

John Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser, warned Iran not to mistake US prudence for weakness. It was reported that the US carried out a cyber-attack on an organisation linked to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards suspected of being involved in tracking and attacking tanker traffic and naval deployments in the Gulf. A US official told CNN the US cyber command targeted software that was used to track tankers targeted in attacks in the Gulf of Oman on 13 June. ...

Bolton was judged to have lost an inter-agency dispute last week when Trump pulled back from missile strikes on three Iranian military sites.

But goodness, think about poor Mustache Man and Pompous Maximus - imagine their frustration being just 10 minutes away from conflict initiation and ... nothing. Must be painful, especially for the Mustache Man.

Trump and Iran Are Playing the World’s Scariest Game of Chicken

President Trump loves a cliffhanger, both on his old reality TV show, “The Apprentice,” and apparently when conducting high-stakes global nuclear diplomacy. ... “We were cocked & loaded to retaliate,” he tweeted. Trump reportedly relished flaunting total control over the decision between war and peace, but in reality the brinkmanship showed just how quickly tough talk with Iran could spiral out of control into a conflict neither side really wants. ...

“It strikes me that we’ve got two leaders who really don’t know what the hell they’re doing,” said Robert Deitz, who held senior roles in both the CIA and National Security Agency under former president George W. Bush. ...

Much of the current tensions stem from the maximum pressure Trump has placed on Iran’s economy since abandoning President Barack Obama’s landmark 2015 nuclear deal. But rather than encourage the country to renegotiate, Trump’s policy appears to have only stiffened Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s spine, and prompted Iran to search for its own points of leverage against the United States — including through military action. ...

“The decision not to strike [Thursday night] is the decision of someone who clearly does not want a conflict,” said Ambassador Dennis Ross, who advised both former presidents Barack Obama and George H. W. Bush on the Middle East. “The danger is the potential for miscalculation, and it takes just one mistake. You can easily see the tit-for-tat and how it gets out of hand pretty quickly.”

Iran expert: Military confrontation is "inevitable"

Worth a full read:

Trump Has a $259 million Reason to Bomb Iran

John Bolton is the loudest voice inside the White House pushing for a military escalation to the administration’s “maximum pressure” strategy. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, for his part, is staking out the position that the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force allows the administration to take military action against Iran without congressional approval, an unusual and broadly criticized interpretation of congressional oversight.

Yet, there’s another omnipresent influence on Trump: $259 million given by some of the GOP’s top supporters to boost his campaign in 2016 and support Republican congressional and senate campaigns in 2016 and 2018. Those funds  came from Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, Paul Singer and Bernard Marcus, donors who have made no secret, both through public statements and funding think tanks that support military action against Iran, of their desire for the United States to destroy the Islamic Republic. ... Adelson's role as the biggest funder of Republican House and Senate campaigns makes him a vital ally for Trump—who relied on Adelson’s campaign donations to maintain a Republican majority in the Senate and curb Republican losses in the House in the 2018 midterm election—and any Republican seeking national office.

Adelson publicly suggested using nuclear weapons against Iran and pushed for Trump to replace then-national security adviser H.R. McMaster with Bolton, partly due to the former’s perceived unwillingness to take a harder line on Iran. In 2017, the Zionist Organization of America, which receives much of its funding from the Adelsons, led a public campaign against McMaster, accusing him of being “opposed to President Trump’s basic policy positions on Israel, Iran, and Islamist terror.” ...

The billionaire Iran hawks—the Adelsons, Singer, and Marcus—made combined donations of over $259 million to GOP politicians in the past two cycles, making them some of the Republican Party’s most important donors. That quarter-billion-dollars doesn’t include contributions to dark money 501c4 groups and donations to 501c3 nonprofits, such as think tanks like FDD. News coverage of Trump’s slide toward war frames the discussion as a competition between his better instincts and a national security advisor and secretary of state who, to varying degrees, favor military action. But the $259 million that helped elect Trump and Trump-friendly Republicans must loom large over the president. ... These donors have made their policy preferences on Iran plainly known. They surely expect a return on their investment in Trump’s GOP.

USA's Pompeo seeks global coalition against Iran as fresh sanctions due to be announced

Ten Minutes to War

It seems unlikely that a president would have to ask at the last minute about potential civilian casualties, unless the Pentagon has become so callous as to not have figured that into its war planning. A more likely scenario is that Donald Trump was in an epic struggle with his most hawkish national security advisers—Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton—and with himself, and that he could not decide what to do until literally the last ten minutes, using the excuse of civilian deaths to pull back.

Trump’s inner struggle on Iran has played out in public, mostly on Twitter. He has been sending seriously mixed signals to Iran: on the one hand he has told Iran he wants to negotiate with them to replace the nuclear deal he unwisely pulled out of last year and on the other hand he’s gone as far as threatening what amounts to genocide.

If Trump is engaged in a good-cop, bad-cop strategy with Iran, with Pompeo and Bolton playing very convincing bad cops, then Trump is a disaster as a good cop. He has been essentially playing good-cop, bad-cop with himself. We’ve got three bad cops here, Pompeo, Bolton and half of Trump, and one good cop, the other half of Trump.

If he were really committed to the anti-interventionist rhetoric of his campaign, which many of his followers still believe in, he would not have appointed Pompeo and Bolton to begin with, unless under extreme pressure from someone like Sheldon Adelson, the fanatically pro-Israel casino magnet and major Republican donor who once suggested the U.S. drop a nuclear bomb in the Iranian desert as a warning. Pompeo, and especially Bolton, have demonstrated that they are trying to run U.S. policy on Iran on their own, managing, manipulating or attempting an end run around Trump. ...

Instead of standing up to Bolton and Pompeo, who this week tried to peddle the ludicrous tale that Shi’ite Iran supports Sunni extremist al-Qaeda (while fighting it in Syria and just as the Bush administration tried to falsely tie al-Qaeda to Saddam), Trump instead runs to Fox News to whisper to the interviewer, as if they were alone, about the “military-industrial complex” being real and how much his advisers, presumably Pompeo and Bolton, “like war.”

He needs to tell them that. Last minute excuses about civilian deaths probably won’t work next time Pompeo and Bolton set Trump up for disaster.

Much more at the link:

As Trump Wants To Avoid A Shooting War, Iran Will Use Other Means To Pressure Him

The discussion about Trump's decision not to 'retaliate' for the shoot down of a U.S. drone by Iran is still dominating U.S. media. The accounts of the various 'sources' contradict each other. Most likely Trump saw the trap of an ever escalating military conflict and did not fell for it. The Pentagon prepared a strike plan as it always does, but Trump never approved its execution.

One new detail about the White House discussion emerged in a New York Times story on the issue. The Pentagon and the White House are not sure where the Global Hawk drone came down. They do not trust that the U.S. Central Command is telling them the whole truth:

On Friday night, the Pentagon confirmed the presence of a second surveillance aircraft, a Navy P-8A Poseidon, which officials said took photographs of the drone being shot down. But a senior Trump administration official said there was concern inside the United States government about whether the drone, or another American surveillance aircraft, or even the P-8A manned aircraft flown by a military aircrew, actually did violate Iranian airspace at some point. The official said the doubt was one of the reasons Mr. Trump called off the strike.

An earlier version of the same NYT story, quoted here, included this:

The delay by United States Central Command in publicly releasing GPS coordinates of the drone when it was shot down — hours after Iran did — and errors in the labeling of the drone’s flight path when the imagery was released, contributed to that doubt, officials said.

A lack of provable “hard evidence” about the location of the drone when it was hit, a defense official said, put the administration in an isolated position at what could easily end up being the start of yet another war with a Middle East adversary — this one with a proven ability to strike back.

Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif added to the doubt when he gave the exact point where the drone was targeted:

Shortly before Zarif posted the above, the Iranian Fars news agency distributed a video from the shoot down and an hour later a video that showed the flight path of the U.S. drone. Yesterday Iran retrieved debris of the drone and distributed photos of it. Experts said that the material is genuine.

Trump dismisses UN request for FBI to investigate Jamal Khashoggi's murder

Donald Trump has dismissed a United Nations request for the FBI to investigate the murder of the dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, suggesting it would jeopardise American weapons sales to Saudi Arabia. A report on Khashoggi’s assassination published last week by the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings said the US should open an FBI inquiry and “pursue criminal prosecutions within the United States, as appropriate”.

But Trump brushed the proposal aside in an interview broadcast by NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday. Asked if he would allow the FBI to investigate, Trump said: “I think it’s been heavily investigated.” Asked who had investigated, the president replied: “By everybody. I mean … I’ve seen so many different reports.” ...

The UN special rapporteur blamed the Saudi government for the murder and said there was credible evidence that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and other senior officials were responsible. Trump told NBC the murder “really didn’t come up” in a call this week with the prince, a key ally of the president’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, who among other responsibilities is charged with implementing a plan for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Trump also suggested Saudi Arabia was no worse than other states in the Middle East, which he called a “vicious, hostile place”, adding: “Look at Iran, look at other countries, I won’t mention names.”

Palestinians are being told to give up most of their country in exchange for a loan

Kushner unveils economic part of 'deal of the century' Middle East peace plan

The White House has unveiled a $50bn Palestinian investment and infrastructure proposal aimed at supporting its much-anticipated but still unreleased “deal of the century” Middle East peace plan. The scheme, which calls for a mix of public and private financing and intends to create at least a million new jobs for Palestinians, was posted to the White House website before a two-day conference in Bahrain.

The so-called “Peace to Prosperity” workshop in Manama on Tuesday and Wednesday is being held amid heavy skepticism about its viability, and outright opposition from Palestinian leaders.

Speaking to Reuters on Saturday, Donald Trump’s adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, who is behind the plan, said: “I laugh when [Palestinian leaders] attack this as the ‘deal of the century’. This is going to be the opportunity of the century if they have the courage to pursue it.” Kushner said some Palestinian business executives had confirmed their participation in Bahrain, but declined to identify them. The overwhelming majority of the Palestinian business community will not attend, businessmen in the West Bank city of Ramallah told Reuters.

Several Gulf Arab states, including Saudi Arabia, will attend. Their presence, some US officials say privately, appears intended in part to curry favor with Trump as he takes a hard line against Iran.

Ola Bini, Privacy Activist and Julian Assange Friend, Speaks Out After Release from Ecuadorian Jail

Ekrem Imamoglu defeats AKP in Istanbul mayoral election

Turkey’s opposition has won a high-stakes rerun of the Istanbul mayoral election, a serious blow to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and a landmark victory in a country where many feared democracy was failing. Shortly after initial results pointing to a landslide win for the opposition coalition candidate, Ekrem Imamoglu, emerged on Sunday evening, the candidate of the ruling Justice and Development party (AKP), Binali Yildirim, conceded and congratulated his rival.

The repeat election, designed to undo Imamoglu’s narrow surprise win in the 31 March contest, was an unprecedented test for both Turkey’s fragile democratic institutions and Erdogan’s political future. Yildirim’s swift concession saved the AKP the embarrassment of watching the vote count add up to a second defeat, but the loss is likely to lead to intense new power struggles inside the coalition government. Opposition parties were jubilant. ...

The president issued his congratulations to Imamoglu on Twitter after initial results showed that with 99% of ballots counted the People’s Republican party (CHP) candidate had increased his lead in March, of 13,000 votes, to an astonishing 777,000, or 54%. Crowded parties broke out on Istanbul’s main shopping streets and in liberal neighbourhoods. ...

Losing Istanbul for a second time is an unthinkable outcome for the AKP. Turkey’s biggest city and economic heart, it accounted for 31% of GDP in 2017 and is an important driver of the government’s unofficial patronage networks. It has been controlled by the ruling party and its Islamist predecessors for a quarter of a century.

Trump accused of using migrants as ‘political pawns’ after delaying raids

Donald Trump was accused of using fearful migrants as “political pawns”, after postponing planned weekend raids and mass deportations of people in the US illegally. The president granted a two-week reprieve to up to 2,000 families who were due to be targeted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) agents, following a request from Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic speaker of the House of Representatives.

But Trump said in a tweet on Sunday the raids would go ahead later this month if Democrats did not allow him to tighten laws to make it more difficult for people to claim asylum in the US. “Probably won’t happen, but worth a try,” Trump said. “Two weeks and big Deportation begins!”

While activists expressed relief at the passing of immediate danger, many condemned Trump’s casual handling of a decision that could lead to migrant parents being taken from children born in the US. “This is all a game to him while people live in deep fear,” said Vanita Gupta, president and chief executive of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “Human beings as political pawns.” ...

Trump’s climbdown followed threats from Democrats in Congress to withhold $4.5bn in funding for law enforcement and humanitarian aid at the US-Mexican border, where there has been a surge in migrant arrivals. Many are fleeing violence in central America.

“Somebody Is Going to Die”: Lawyer Describes Chaos, Illness & Danger at Migrant Child Jail in Texas

Flu, Lice, and Open Toilets: What Attorneys Saw at Migrant Child Processing Centers

Attorneys who work with migrant children recently visited two Border Patrol processing centers along the U.S.-Mexico border — and what they saw paints a bleak picture of the Trump administration’s treatment of child migrants. The attorneys said that hundreds of kids are being held in filthy, overcrowded, and increasingly dangerous conditions at the Border Patrol station in Clint, Texas and the Ursula processing center in McAllen, Texas — often for weeks at a time. The facilities are riddled with flu and lice outbreaks and often lack proper adult supervision. Some older kids even have to take care of the younger ones.

“I have not seen conditions like this before,” said Warren Binford, a law professor at Williamette University and part of the team who went to Clint, Texas. “They [Border Patrol agents] say, ‘We are on your side. Children don’t belong here; they need to get to appropriate facilities because we can’t appropriately care for them here.’” ...

Children at the Clint facility described being forced to sleep in crowded “cells,” Binford said. Some were given mats to sleep on. Others, including babies, were forced to sleep on the floor. “The children consistently described that numerous children sleep on a single mat. Some have six children on a mat,” she said.

Overcrowding at the station has facilitated the spread of diseases, including the flu, Binford said. The problem has been made worse by filthy conditions. Some of the cells have open toilets. Fifteen children in the facility have the flu and 10 others have been quarantined, according to the Associated Press. “There is no soap for the kids to wash their hands with. We saw many, many sick children,” she said. “We immediately saw children who were coughing and had runny noses. They had mucus all over their shirts.”

Earlier this month, the Trump administration argued in court that children in Border Patrol custody aren’t entitled to things like soap, toothbrushes, or towels.

Japanese-American Internment Survivors Protest Plan to Jail Migrant Kids At Fort Sill, a WWII Camp

Ocasio-Cortez Not Apologizing to Kevin McCarthy: “He Should Apologize to the Children That Have Been Separated From Their Parents”

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., fired back on Thursday at House Republican Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who had demanded that she apologize for her use of the term “concentration camps.”

“I think he should apologize for the deliberate conflation and attack on these terms. I think he should apologize for the conditions that he’s supporting on the border,” Ocasio-Cortez said on Capitol Hill. “He should apologize for his support for widespread human rights abuses — that’s what he should apologize for, and until he stops supporting the absolute dehumanizing conditions on our border, I will not apologize for holding him to account for it.” ...

Ocasio-Cortez argued that the GOP is turning the border crisis into a “controversy about words instead of turning it into a controversy about why kids are dying on our border with U.S. dollars.”

The Last Abortion Clinic In Missouri Just Lost Its License

The last abortion clinic in Missouri officially lost its license on Friday, after the state health department refused to renew it. Planned Parenthood of St. Louis will remain open and performing abortions for now, thanks to a court order. But if it closes, Missouri will become the only state in the nation without an abortion clinic.

“While Gov. [Mike] Parson and his political cronies are on the wrong side of history, nothing changes right now for patients who need access to abortion at Planned Parenthood,” Colleen McNicholas, a clinic physician, said in a statement to the Kansas City Star. “We will continue providing abortion care for as long as the court protects our ability to do so.”

the horse race

Democrats Are Spending Millions on Facebook to Tap Voter Rage Over the Supreme Court

Liberals have watched helplessly as President Donald Trump and the Republican Senate reshaped the judicial system over the past two years. Now outside groups are pouring gobs of cash into digital ads in the hopes of harnessing progressive rage and turning the courts into a major 2020 issue.

In a media push likely to ramp up as the election approaches, new advocacy groups and Democratic candidates have put big bucks behind Supreme Court-related messaging on major social media platforms. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has thrown more than $1 million into Facebook alone over the past 90 days, more than every presidential candidate other than Trump and Joe Biden. ...

Such calls for action have crescendoed since Republicans confirmed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh last year despite sexual assault allegations. A string of southern states passed restrictive abortion laws seen by many as thinly veiled attempts to roll back Roe v. Wade this spring. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in late May that he’d push through another Supreme Court nomination before the 2020 election — contrary to his obstruction of Obama nominee Merrick Garland’s confirmation process in the lead up to 2016.

Democratic and liberal groups hope to continue riding the resulting outcry in their support of candidates for the Senate and White House.

Elizabeth Warren Wants to Ban Private Prisons

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., on Friday rolled out a plan to ban private prisons and detention facilities and stop companies from profiting off mass incarceration. The 2020 hopeful introduced the proposal ahead of her appearance at the NALEO Presidential Candidate Forum, addressing the largest gathering of Latinx policymakers in the country.

“Washington hands billions over to corporations profiting off of inhumane detention and incarceration policies while ignoring the families that are destroyed in the process,” Warren wrote in a Medium post outlining the policy. “We need to call that out for what it is: corruption. Incarcerating and detaining millions for profit doesn’t keep us safe. It’s time to do better.”

Her proposal would shut down federal private detention facilities by ending all contracts the Federal Bureau of Prisons and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement have with private detention providers. Private prisons have expanded significantly over the last two decades, and companies like CoreCivic and GEO Group have profited immensely from the business of incarceration. Since Donald Trump’s entry into office, and due to his administration’s aggressive immigration policies, business for private prisons is booming.

“Washington works hand-in-hand with private prison companies, who spend millions on lobbyists, campaign contributions, and revolving-door hires — all to turn our criminal and immigration policies into ones that prioritize making them rich instead of keeping us safe,” she wrote.

the evening greens

She Defended Her Land Against a Mine in Guatemala. Then She Fled in Fear for Her Life.

Teresa Muñoz was riding her motorbike along her regular delivery route on a winding Guatemala road, carrying the homemade cheese she sold for a living, when she saw in her rearview mirror one of the white sedans that employees of the Escobal silver mine drove. Mining company cars had followed her before, but this time, the vehicle swerved. The driver rammed her motorbike, pitching her into the street, and then sped off. Muñoz was left bruised and scraped, convinced they’d meant to kill her.

For years, she had been a leader in the fight against the silver mine, the project of Tahoe Resources, a U.S.-headquartered Canadian company. Located in the southeastern Guatemala city of San Rafael las Flores, Escobal was on its way to becoming one of the largest silver mines in the world. Muñoz and her family helped organize community votes on the mine, participated in rallies to stop production, and educated people about the mine’s potential harms.

Rainfall in the mountains that contain the Escobal mine feeds the Los Esclavos River and a multitude of natural springs, whose waters fuel the production of coffee and onions in the region, grown for export. For sustenance, families grow beans, corn, and squash in the forested hillsides. More than half the surrounding population lives below the poverty line, making them particularly vulnerable to changes in the local hydrology. Mines like Escobal use massive quantities of water and divert flows in ways that can disrupt communities’ access. Such projects have also been known to leach heavy metals into drinking water sources.

The mountains are part of the territory of the Xinca people, an Indigenous group whose language and culture were nearly wiped out by Spanish colonizers and the Catholic Church. For years, Tahoe Resources argued that there were no Xinca people left in the communities surrounding the mine who would require any consultation. They were wrong. In fact, the mine’s denial of the Xincas’ existence fueled a regional reclamation of the identity. “Soy Xinca” — “I am Xinca” — has become the rallying cry under which Muñoz and others fight.

In response to the anti-mining movement in San Rafael, Tahoe hired firms run by U.S. and Israeli ex-special forces veterans to protect the project and lobbied the Guatemalan government to quash the resistance. Over the course of the 12-year conflict, mine opponents have been shot, imprisoned, and even killed.

Devastating Rain Spells Are on Their Way

Canadian scientists have examined an exhaustive collection of rain records for the past 50 years to confirm the fears of climate scientists: bouts of very heavy rain are on the increase. They have measured this increase in parts of Canada, most of Europe, the U.S. Midwest and Northeast, northern Australia, Western Russia and parts of China.

From 2004 to 2013, worldwide, bouts of extreme rainfall rain increased by 7%. In Europe and Asia, the same decade registered a rise of 8.6% in cascades of heavy rain. The scientists report in the journal Water Resources Research that they excluded areas where the records were less than complete, but analyzed 8,700 daily rain records from 100,000 stations that monitor rainfall worldwide. They found that from 1964 to 2013, the frequency of catastrophic downpours increased with each decade.

“By introducing a new approach to analyzing extremes, using thousands of rain records, we reveal a clear increase in the frequency of extreme rain events over the recent fifty years when global warming accelerated,” said Simon Papalexiou, of the University of Saskatchewan’s college of engineering. “This upward trend is highly unlikely to be explained by natural climate variability. The probability of this happening is less than 0.3% under the model assumptions used.”

As temperatures rise, evaporation increases. A warmer atmosphere can absorb more moisture: capacity increases by 7% with each extra degree Celsius on the thermometer. Moisture absorbed into the atmosphere will inevitably fall again. The world has warmed by at least 1°C in the last century. ... “If global warming progresses as climate model projections predict, we had better plan for dealing with frequent heavy rain right now.

An interesting article worth a full read:

Vandana Shiva - Fake Meat: Big Food’s Attempt to Further Industrialize What We Eat

Industrial food systems have reduced food to a commodity, to “stuff” that can then be constituted in the lab. In the process both the planet’s health and our health has been nearly destroyed. Seventy five percent of the planetary destruction of soil, water, biodiversity, and 50 percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from industrial agriculture, which also contributes to 75 percent of food-related chronic diseases. It contributes 50 percent of the greenhouse gases driving climate change. Chemical agriculture does not return organic matter and fertility to the soil. Instead it is contributing to desertification and land degradation. It also demands more water since it destroys the soil’s natural water-holding capacity. Industrial food systems have destroyed the biodiversity of the planet both through the spread of monocultures, and through the use of toxics and poisons which are killing bees, butterflies, insects, birds, leading to the sixth mass extinction.

Biodiversity-intensive and poison-free agriculture, on the other hand, produces more nutrition per acre while rejuvenating the planet. It shows the path to “zero hunger” in times of climate change.
The industrial agriculture and toxic food model has been promoted as the only answer to economic and food security. However, globally, more than 1 billion people are hungry. More than 3 billion suffer from food-related chronic diseases. It uses 75 percent of the land yet industrial agriculture based on fossil fuel intensive, chemical intensive monocultures produce only 30 percent of the food we eat. Meanwhile, small, biodiverse farms using 25 percent of the land provide 70 percent of the food. At this rate, if the share of industrial agriculture and industrial food in our diet is increased to 45 percent, we will have a dead planet. One with no life and no food.

The mad rush for fake food and fake meat, ignorant of the diversity of our foods and food cultures, and the role of biodiversity in maintaining our health, is a recipe for accelerating the destruction of the planet and our health. In a recent article “How our commitment to consumers and our planet led us to use GM soy,Pat Brown, CEO & founder of Impossible Foods, says: “We sought the safest and most environmentally responsible option that would allow us to scale our production and provide the Impossible Burger to consumers at a reasonable cost.” Given the fact that 90 percent of the monarch butterflies have disappeared due to Roundup ready crops, and we are living through what scientists have called an “insectageddon,” using GMO soya is hardly an “environmentally responsible option.”

At a time when across the world the movement to ban GMOs and Roundup is growing, promoting GMO soya as “fake meat” is misleading the eater both in terms of the ontology of the burger, and on claims of safety. The “Impossible Burger” based on GMO, Roundup sprayed soya is not a “safe” option. Zen Honeycutt and Moms across America just announced that the Impossible Burger tested positive for glyphosate. “The levels of glyphosate detected in the Impossible Burger by Health Research Institute Laboratories were 11 X higher than the Beyond Meat Burger. The total result (glyphosate and its break down AMPA) was 11.3 ppb. Moms Across America also tested the Beyond Meat Burger and the results were 1 ppb. ... Only 0.1 ppb of glyphosate has been shown to destroy gut bacteria, which is where the stronghold of the immune system lies.”

Also of Interest

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

VIPS Memo to the President: Is Pompeo’s Iran Agenda the Same As Yours?

Mainstream Media Faults Trump for Not Following Through on Iran Attack

Iran ‘Violates’ Nuclear Deal, After US ‘Withdraws’

CBS News "War Expert" Is Being Paid By Raytheon

Iran Had Every Right to Shoot Down That Drone

White House Pushes 'Trump Pulled Back' Story - He Likely Never Approved To Strike Iran

Starvation Sanctions Are Worse Than Overt Warfare

Accelerating Imperial Decline

This Palestinian Activist Got Swept Up in the War on Terror. Decades Later, ICE Tried to Secretly Deport Him to Israel.

I’m a Journalist but I Didn’t Fully Realize the Terrible Power of U.S. Border Officials Until They Violated My Rights and Privacy

Mike Pence repeatedly refuses to say climate crisis is a threat to US

America's corn belt farmers face uncertainty after rain … and more rain

Naomi Klein: Forget Bernie vs. Warren. Focus on Growing the Progressive Base and Defeating Biden.

'It's totally unfair': Chicago, where the rich live 30 years longer than the poor

A Little Night Music

Jimmy Liggins - No More Alcohol

Jimmy Liggins and His Drops Of Joy - Lookin' For My Baby

Jimmy Liggins w/Earl Hooker - Blues For Love

Jimmy Liggins and His Drops Of Joy - That's What's Knockin' Me Out

Jimmy Liggins - I'll Never let You Go

Jimmy Liggins - Troubles Goodbye

Jimmy Liggins - Talking That Talk

Jimmy Liggins - Boogie Woogie King

Jimmy Liggins - Come Back Home

Jimmy Liggins - Last Round

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JekyllnHyde's picture

Thanks, joe.

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A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma

joe shikspack's picture


bolton seems to know the beat that the msm likes to dance to best.

kinda reminds me of this:

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War will never cease until babies begin to come into the world with larger cerebrums and smaller adrenal glands.

H.L. Mencken

War will never cease until making and sustaining peace makes certain people as rich and powerful as war and "peace processes" make them.


So, Democrats in Congress, who watched Obama invade one country after another, are upset by Trump's threat? Pelosi thought Obama talking to her and (was it Boehner or McConnell?) sufficed to make kosher any action in Syria. So, apparently, did the hundred (+ or -) members of Congress who had signed a letter telling him he had to at least consult Congress first.

No, dears. The Constitution clearly says that the so-called Constitutional Law professor was supposed to get a war vote, not a confab with majority and minority leaders. But, Congress no more wants to vote on wars than Presidents want to ask them to do that. Especially Presidents basking in the illusion of authority given them by an AUMF that never expires. However, if forced to vote on an authorization to use military force, as Bush the Lesser cannily forced them, we all know what Democrats would do because they did it for Bush. They'd do the same as they do with Trump's bloated defense budgets.

So, Bolton doesn't want us to mistake prudence for weakness? Dear supernatural power(s), If you exist, please relieve players on the world stage of their fear of being seen as weak and instill in them a morbid fear of being seen as evil or willfully batshit. Amen.

Good luck on pulling together another coalition of the willing. Even the UK won't join this time. Well, maybe you can put together a coalition of desperate nations, but it will cost you.

Trump also suggested Saudi Arabia was no worse than other states in the Middle East, which he called a “vicious, hostile place”....

Pot, kettle? Projection?

Immigrant kids at detention centers. Assange. I have no words.

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joe shikspack's picture


So, Democrats in Congress, who watched Obama invade one country after another, are upset by Trump's threat?

heh, you noticed that, too huh? i guess in washington there is no hypocrisy too big to ignore.

Dear supernatural power(s), If you exist, please relieve players on the world stage of their fear of being seen as weak and instill in them a morbid fear of being seen as evil or willfully batshit.

sadly, trump wishes to be seen by both allies and enemies as either evil or willfully batshit. he considers that to be a strength.

it's nothing new, though. kissinger and nixon codified it back in the 60's.

[saudi no worse than other middle east nations] Pot, kettle? Projection?

the u.s. and other western colonizers shaped those governments, they are what the west made them.

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joe shikspack's picture

@joe shikspack

just for the heck of it:

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ggersh's picture

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this time it's different

empty suit on Kapernick

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

joe shikspack's picture


oh, hell, the msm has been placing stories for the spook community for years. by the time that they get finished with assange, anomalous releases of information will be ended. frankly, one is tempted to suspect that the msm's tepid complaints about first amendment infringements by government are mere window dressing.

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snoopydawg's picture

Who helped to destabilize the Central American countries that many immigrants are fleeing from? None other than Hillary Clinton.

Oh look...

Obama administration plans new raids that would deport Central American children

The Obama administration is planning another series of raids that would lead to the deportation of Central American mothers and children found to have entered the country illegally, the Department of Homeland Security said Thursday.

The news drew protests from several members of Congress and both Democratic presidential candidates.

The raids will target adults and children who crossed the border illegally after Jan. 1, 2014, a population of immigrants that the Obama administration has identified as priorities for deportation, according to Homeland Security spokeswoman Marsha Catron.

"We must enforce the law," Catron said, adding that federal agents will only target individuals who have already been issued a deportation order by an immigration court. She said agents would try to avoid conducting raids "at sensitive locations such as schools, hospitals and places of worship, except in emergency circumstances."

The government detained more than 100 people in similar raids earlier this year, most of whom were women and children who had sought political asylum in the U.S. after fleeing turbulent Central American countries including Honduras and El Salvador.

Clinton said she is "against large-scale raids that tear families apart and sow fear in communities." She called for a plan "to stop the root causes of the violence in Central America and expand orderly resettlement programs."

"I am concerned about recent news reports, and believe we should not be taking kids and families from their homes in the middle of the night," she said.

She has softened her position on the issue since 2014, when she told a reporter that she believed immigrant children from Central America "should be sent back as soon as it can be determined who responsible adults in their families are."

There are no easy answers to this problem, but one thing that would surely help is for us to mind our business and not interfere in other countries.

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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, if only "the resistance" could have resisted its own fascist urges when it was "the man."

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WoodsDweller's picture

I wonder how much of Obama's timidity wrt Congressional Republicans was due to the influence of Joe "Pals Around With Racists" Biden?
"Gee, Barak, don't push so hard for your Supreme Court nominee, you'll just offend our friends on the other side. Take my word for it, when Hillary is President I'm sure they'll let her have whoever she wants."

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"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function." -- Albert Bartlett

joe shikspack's picture


I wonder how much of Obama's timidity wrt Congressional Republicans was due to the influence of Joe "Pals Around With Racists" Biden?

it's a fair question. surely obama must have expected some help with his former chums in the senate from biden. one can certainly surmise that biden had a hand in the failure that was obama.

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snoopydawg's picture

I've read about journalists being harassed at the border before, but not like this guy was. The police have been militarized and now they not only use military equipment they also dress in military clothing making them look just like our troops. And as the saying goes "the war abroad will find its way home" we are going to see more and more of our rights going away. But still it doesn't seem that many people care about them. "I have nothing to hide so the government can spy on me all it wants." Same thing here.

"The cages were built by Obama. Trump has nothing to do with this."

"To claim that Trump has anything to do with security at the boarder is absurdly partisan. Bush enacted DHS and Obama did nothing to stop it. Clinton instituted the cages for kids policy and Obama did nothing to stop it, and you have the gall, the audacity, to claim it it Trump's fault? Even though Trump stopped caging kids?!?!?!!?!?!?"

Yes things like this happened during Obama's tenure, but that doesn't mean that Trump isn't guilty of doing them too. And for those who say they have nothing to hide don't they understand that if the government can search your laptops then they can also plant evidence? There are ways that people can look to have said something that they didn't.

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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


But still it doesn't seem that many people care about them.

one might reasonably worry that by the time enough people are concerned about their civil rights, it will be too late.

that reporter's story ought to be a cautionary tale that upsets a lot of people. it ought to upset the reporter's employer(s) and his congressworms. it ought to make a difference.

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Thanks as usual for all the news you bring to us. Hope you had fun at the Solstice party on Friday. Escaped from the real world to Big Bend where we were not able to get internet, wifi, etc. unless you went to the restaurant which we did not until Saturday evening and that was for dinner and so did not get caught up on all the beating of the war drums until on the way home on Sunday. This madness is frightening and so hard to listen to MSM report on the "war with Iran" in their very serious voices. And then to proceed with all their breathless reporting on the upcoming debates and all the other really important things they need to report on.

Am feeling a little overwhelmed at the moment as I sit in the house in the Texas Hill Country. There are so many decision to make as what to do with ALL THE STUFF we have collected over the past 48 years. Some of it is quite easy to discard and have been working on that. Fortunately for me, there is a woman in the community that always can find someone that needs that roll away bed, extra cook stove etc. etc. and on and on. Sometimes it does help me set a rhythm that takes my mind off things momentarily.

Did do a wonderful meditation walk through the Chisos Basin in Big Bend that did help restore some of my calm and hope to relive that during these chaotic times. Sorry for the ramble but this is such a safe place to come and visit and share thoughts.

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

This ain't no dress rehearsal!

joe shikspack's picture


thanks! i had a great time at the party. we were camped out deep in a hollow in the hills of west virginia where no wifi, phone or any other communications signal finds its way. the lack of buzzes, beeps and other electronic brain-fogging noise was quite restful.

heh, the way i approach getting rid of stuff is to get rid of the easy stuff first. then proceed to the stuff you haven't used for a long time and can't imagine using again. keep the stuff that has sentimental value and don't sweat it, you deserve comfort.

glad to have you drop by. feel free to go for a ramble anytime. Smile

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@jakkalbessie to probate her brother's will, which I had prepared, and her aged Mom, who also came for the hearing, fell and could not walk. Chaos ensued.
Seems my deceased Mom's wheelchair was in a shed, so I had my client meet me at the house to get it. Everything settled down, peace and calm then ensued. My client's Mom attended court in my late Mom's wheelchair, and it was like some moment where my Mom, who absolutely loved coming to all my trials, was there. It was just so full of love, respect, and honor, it was a 5 minute hearing before the probate judge for the ages. 10 years later, I still get Christmas cards from my Michigan pals.
I hope you will have many, many moments of those emotions forever, and ever, and ever.

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@on the cusp thanks for the story and the thoughts

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

This ain't no dress rehearsal!

@jakkalbessie Always and forever!

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enhydra lutris's picture

private prisons, though she'll probably not get anywhere with it. So, the kids on the border are POWs or what? Of course they're in concentration camps, tht's what places like that are called.

Have a great one.

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

joe shikspack's picture

@enhydra lutris

yep, while i don't agree with warren on a bunch of important stuff, i feel that she is setting a bar for candidates to share their plans with the public. i appreciate the work that she is putting into her position papers and a lot of them are quite good.

have a great evening!

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Unabashed Liberal's picture

thanks for tonight's EB. In a crunch to get a long-promised spreadsheet for Mr M, so, will catch up with Everyone tomorrow. (hopefully, early)

Oh, BTW, while checking out Uruguay, uncovered one somewhat 'negative' aspect, regarding living there--a VAT Tax. Dagnabbit! Of course, that's not particularly unusual, since many/most countries with really decent public healthcare systems, social safety net programs, etc., have them. Not a deal killer, but, might change plans, slightly. IOW, might consider it a part-time gig, keeping primary residence in US. I'm thinking that we can get rebates on some of those taxes (legally), if we do that. But, gotta do more checking, to make certain I'm understanding everything, correctly.

Hey, sounds like a neat trip. We luv camping/RV'ing. Just don't do it much, like we did. Three of our furbabies always went nuts when we hit the road--they'd literally knock each other down, trying to get in the door of the Coachman.

Haven't observed Kaity in that situation. But, think she'd like it. She's an amazingly observant and alert dog; whip smart. Don't recall ever seeing a dog, much less a young Pup, with more keen sight, and sense of noise/direction. Of course, maybe this breed of dog has those attributes, naturally. (since it's a hunting breed)

Have a nice evening, Eveyone. Stay cool.

Bye Pleasantry


“Dogs have given us their absolute all. We are the center of their universe. We are the focus of their love and faith and trust. They serve us in return for scraps. It is without a doubt the best deal man has ever made.
~~Roger Caras

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

joe shikspack's picture

@Unabashed Liberal


good luck with your spreadsheet compilation.

is the vat tax in addition to other taxes, or is it the sole tax? if it is the sole tax, it might not be that much of a bite if the cost of living there is significantly lower than in the u.s.

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Unabashed Liberal's picture

@joe shikspack @joe shikspack

to the info I've found, I'd say that taxes, overall, are pretty low in that country.

For instance, property taxes appear to be quite low. (I say it that way, because I didn't really give that category a hard look, since we definitely wouldn't buy a home there, unless we get rid of some property in US, first.) Now, I'll take a harder look in the days to come, so that I can report back to you Guys.

Regarding 'income' tax, they have one. At a somewhat cursory level--and I wouldn't take any of the information as fact, until I can verify it--doesn't appear that wages or earnings from outside of Uruguay, are taxed under their system. Meaning, private investment, or retirement income. Including federal retirement/Social Security.

I believe they've pretty much eliminated any inheritance tax.

As far as an additional 'sales' tax--I don't 'think' there's one. But, need to check further. Could vary by locale--dunno. We're still trying to narrow down towns and cities that we'd be interested in, so, haven't looked at 'local' tax scenarios, yet.

The primary VAT Tax rate is higher than in some SA countries--22 percent. And, there are not a truckload of exceptions (compared to some countries), either.

IIRC, medicines (and some other items) are taxed at 10%. And, some fruit and vegetables (and a few other items) are totally exempt from the VAT.

But, imports (clothing, automobiles, etc.) can be pretty expensive. Denim jeans--approximately $85 dollars. Expensive to buy or operate a vehicle, since they're not exempt from the VAT tax. And, that includes petroleum products. Apparently, a lot of folks use the supposedly very good public transit system(s).

Now, the overall cost-of-living is approximately 25% less than US median or average, not sure which. My 'guess' is that you, in Maryland, would realize a considerably bigger cost-of-living savings, compared to me and Mr M, living in the Mid- and Deep South. But, I could be wrong.

Having said all that--sounds like it might be worth putting up with. Uruguay has about the highest standard of living in all of South America. A very strong middle class--literacy is much higher than US, about 97-98%, IIRC. High wages. Top notch telecommunications and infrastructure. Excellent schools. Excellent health care. One of '3' countries (in world) considered to have the best climate/weather.

As I've been saying (a lot, lately) - What's not to like? Biggrin

I'll try to double-check those tax rates, tomorrow, just in case. The ol' memory isn't what it used to be!


[Edited: 'They're' not 'They've']


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

joe shikspack's picture

@Unabashed Liberal

you might consider that as a savings? the other thing to check is what the cost of importing your own vehicle is if it turns out you really need one. if you're not a full time resident, there might be a loophole in showing up with your own vehicle.

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Unabashed Liberal's picture

@joe shikspack

about looking into a seasonal residency, so to speak.

Been a long time since we've used public transit, Joe. Remember, we're no longer city dwellers. (And, haven't been since our twenties/very early thirties. Or, not in a larger one, that is--like D.C. and Atlanta.)

The only problem we'd have with public transit--our age. It wouldn't be a big deal, if one is feeling well. But, might be a hassle, if/when in poorer health. So, we'd probably suck it up, and pay whatever we had/needed to, to have a vehicle. Like you said, though, we should see if we can get a break on bringing our own. Instead of BYOB--BYOV, or, BYOA!



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