The Evening Blues - 9-16-19


The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: Hank Ballard and The Midnighters

Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features r&b group Hank Ballard and The Midnighters. Enjoy!

Hank Ballard and The Midnighters - The Twist

“Even the greenest military installation has a carbon footprint vastly disproportionate to the number of people living and working on base. Bases are, after all, usually home to large concentrations of extraordinarily fuel-inefficient trucks, tanks, aircraft, and navy vessels. All of these require massive supplies of fuel, oil, lubricants, and other petroleum products for frequent training and exercises, not to mention wartime activities. The military also uses huge amounts of energy to air-condition, heat, and power its bases’ tens of thousands of buildings and structures. The military’s thirst for petroleum is so great that on a worldwide basis, the US armed services consume more oil every day than the entire country of Sweden. This means that with the exception of a handful of countries, the US military probably produces more greenhouse gas emissions and other forms of pollution than almost any other organization, corporation, or entity on earth.”

-- David Vine

News and Opinion

An excellent article. Here's a taste:

Industrialized Militaries Are a Bigger Part of the Climate Emergency Than You Know

Over a century before we reached the brink of ecological catastrophe, Rabindranath Tagore had a glimpse of where we might be headed. ... He issued one of the earliest and most eloquent warnings about the precarity of a world sustained, like ours today, on the twin pillars of industrial consumption and industrial warfare. ...

“Before this political civilization came to its power and opened its hungry jaws wide enough to gulp down great continents of the earth,” Tagore wrote in “On Nationalism,” his 1917 book of essays, “we had wars, pillages, changes of monarchy and consequent miseries. But never such a sight of fearful and hopeless voracity, such wholesale feeding of nation upon nation, such huge machines for turning great portions of the earth into mincemeat, never such terrible jealousies with all their ugly teeth and claws ready for tearing open each other’s vitals.”

The climate emergency we are tipping into today — the tearing open of our mutual vitals — is a product of our collective failure to adhere to limits. An economic system that demanded endless growth and endless consumption was always too much to ask from a planet whose resources are finite. Yet, as Tagore recognized, the same avarice and contempt that led us to war against the earth would also lead to catastrophic, endless wars among peoples. At the time of his writing, World War I was underway. Tagore saw that conflict as the first of the modern wars that showed us the great power we had gained to destroy the natural world along with our fellow humans. The massive military industries created during that conflict pointed to an even more inhuman future that might be in store.

“The gigantic organizations for hurting others and warding off their blows, for making money by dragging others back, will not help us,” Tagore wrote. “On the contrary, by their crushing weight, their enormous cost, and their deadening effect upon the living humanity, they will seriously impede our freedom.”

Until his death in 1940, Tagore wrote about the dangers of militarism, race hatred, and a brutal type of industrial development that had begun to disfigure the natural world. The industrialization of warfare has now given us powers to destroy other human beings and the earth itself on a scale surpassing even Tagore’s warnings. ... Tagore left no ambiguity about where we would find ourselves if we fail. “If this persists indefinitely and armaments go on exaggerating themselves to unimaginable absurdities, and machines and storehouses envelop this fair earth with their dirt and smoke and ugliness,” Tagore warned, “then it will end in a conflagration of suicide.”

Saudi Oil Refinery Attack Raises Fears of “Wider Regional War” Involving U.S. & Iran

Major Saudi Arabia oil facilities hit by Houthi drone strikes

Houthi rebels have claimed responsibility for a drone attack on the world’s largest oil processing facility in Saudi Arabia which is vital to global energy supplies. The attacks on the processor and a major oilfield, operated by Saudi Aramco, on early Saturday sparked a huge fire, the kingdom’s interior ministry said.

According to Reuters, threes sources claimed the assault had disrupted output and exports, with one source claiming 5 million barrels per day of crude production had been impacted – nearly half the kingdom’s output. The Wall Street Journal reported that Saudi Arabia is shutting down about half of its oil output because of the incident. Authorities have not confirmed whether oil production or exports were affected.

A military spokesman for Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for the strikes, saying 10 drones had been deployed in the attack. ... Yahia Sarie made the announcement on Saturday in a televised address carried by the Houthi movement’s al-Masirah satellite news channel. Sarie said the rebels had attacked the Abqaiq oil processing facility and the Khurais oil field. He said attacks against the kingdom would get worse if the war in Yemen continued.

“The only option for the Saudi government is to stop attacking us,” he said. A Saudi-led coalition has been at war with the rebels since March 2015.

It was unclear whether there were any injuries in the attacks, or whether they would affect the country’s oil production. They are, however, likely to heighten tensions in the region, where Saudi Arabia and Iran are effectively fighting a proxy war in Yemen, and Tehran is at loggerheads with Washington over the latter’s withdrawal from its nuclear deal with world powers.

Trump says US 'locked and loaded' after Saudi Arabia attack, as oil prices soar

Donald Trump has said the US was “locked and loaded” and to ready respond to drone attacks on a petroleum processing facility in Saudi Arabia, saying the US knew who was behind them. The US president tweeted on Sunday night that he had “reason to believe that we know the culprit” behind the series of attacks on the Abqaiq facility, which is the world’s largest petroleum processing plant. The attacks disrupted more than half of the kingdom’s oil output and will affect global supplies.

Trump tweeted: “[We] are locked and loaded depending on verification, but are waiting to hear from the Kingdom [of Saudi Arabia] as to who they believe was the cause of this attack and under what terms we would proceed!”

It is the first time the president has hinted at a potential American military response to the attack. ...

The US secretary of state Mike Pompeo claimed over the weekend that Iran was responsible for the attack after Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi rebel group claimed responsibility for the attack. However, Pompeo said there was no evidence the drones were launched in Yemen and accused Iran of “an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply”.

Saudi Arabia drone attacks: Houthi rebels claim attacks on Saudi oil facilities

Iran denies launching drone attacks on Saudi oil facility

Iran has dismissed US accusations that it was responsible for a series of explosive drone attacks on the world’s largest petroleum processing facility in Saudi Arabia that disrupted more than half of the kingdom’s oil output and could affect global supplies. Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi rebel group claimed responsibility for launching waves of drones at state-owned Saudi Aramco facilities early on Saturday morning. But the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, said there was no evidence the drones were launched in Yemen and accused Iran of “an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply”.

Iranian officials rejected those claims on Sunday and warned that US military assets in the region were within range of its missiles. “Having failed at ‘max pressure’, [Pompeo is] turning to ‘max deceit’,” the Iranian foreign minister, Javad Zarif, wrote on Twitter.

Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi told state TV the American claim was “pointless”. A senior commander from Iran’s Revolutionary Guards warned that the Islamic republic was ready for “full-fledged” war. “Everybody should know that all American bases and their aircraft carriers in a distance of up to 2,000km around Iran are within the range of our missiles,” the head of the Revolutionary Guards Corps’ aerospace force, Amirali Hajizadeh, was quoted as saying by the semi-official Tasnim news agency.

US 'Lies' Slammed After Pompeo, Without Proof, Blames Iran for Drone Attacks

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi forcefully rejected Sunday unsubstantiated charges by by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) regarding the recent drone attacks that caused serious damage to two crucial Saudi Arabian oil installations. “It has been around 5 years that the Saudi-led coalition has kept the flames of war alive in the region by repeatedly launching aggression against Yemen and committing different types of war crimes, and the Yemenis have also shown that they are standing up to war and aggression,” Seyyed Abbas Mousavi said in a statement.

“Such accusations as well as blind and futile comments are pointless and not understandable within the framework of diplomacy,” he said.“In international relations, even ‘animosity’ must have some minimum requirements and logical frameworks to be believable, but US official have ignored even these minimum requirements,” the spokesman added. The spokesman concluded by saying that the only way to establish tranquillity in the region and put an end to the useless crisis in Yemen is to halt attacks and aggression by the Saudi-led coalition, stop Western countries’ political and arms support for the aggressors, and make efforts to work out political solutions.

Late Saturday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo directly blamed Iran for the attack on Twitter, without offering any evidence to support his charge.

Outing of CIA's Kremlin mole echoes Iraq WMD hoax

Worth a full read, kind of amusing and sad at the same time.

Russia Has ‘Oligarchs,’ the US Has ‘Businessmen’

Even in corporate media, you will occasionally see references to the United States as an “oligarchy.” That is the judgment of former President Jimmy Carter, of peer-reviewed academic studies, and even opinion pieces in our most prestigious media (e.g., Washington Post, 4/8/14; New Yorker, 4/18/14). Indeed, Paul Krugman has been saying it in the New York Times (11/3/11, 5/15/15, 7/15/19) for years.  Just three men hold more wealth than the bottom 50% of the country combined, and the richest people in society use their money to influence media, society and the government.

But if the US is an oligarchy, then who are the oligarchs? One candidate who has been in the news of late is conservative multibillionaire David Koch, who died August 23 (, 9/5/19). Koch was the world’s 11th richest and 29th most powerful person, according to Forbes, amassing a fortune of over $50 billion. The chemical and fossil fuel magnate used his enormous wealth to fund climate change denialists and block efforts to address climate breakdown. He bankrolled a multitude of right-wing causes, including the Tea Party, conservative media, politicians and think tanks. Koch undercut unions, opposed gun restrictions, blocked public transport initiatives and thwarted moves towards nationalized healthcare. As such, he and his brother Charles have shaped the Republican Party and modern society more than almost anyone else.

Yet in their obituaries, even media catering to a more liberal audience refrained from using the term to describe him. “Philanthropist” was the preferred description in the Washington Post (8/23/19) and NBC (8/23/19). CBS News (8/23/19) also described him as such, framing him as an “icon” who “committed millions to various hospitals for cancer research.” Meanwhile, the New York Times (8/23/19) glowed over the “gregarious, socially prominent” “man-about town philanthropist,” who gave over $1 billion to charity. (See, 9/5/19.)  The tone of these articles was functionally identical to that of more conservative media, like Fox News (8/24/19) or the Wall Street Journal (8/23/19).

Many outside the corporate media bubble were highly scornful of the coverage. Independent journalist Caitlin Johnston (Medium, 8/23/19) remarked that if Koch were Russian, he would be called an “oligarch,” while the Appeal’s Adam H. Johnson claimed on Twitter (8/23/19) that “oligarch” is a loaded term used exclusively for the elite of enemy foreign countries, and not our plutocrats.

To test these critiques, FAIR analyzed the 150 most recent articles using the search term “oligarch” from the New York Times, CNN and Fox News websites. (Full documentation, including a complete list of sources, used can be found here.) ... In the 150-article sample, Russia was described as an oligarchy in 89, while Ukraine was labeled as such in 35. The word was also used in connection to other ex-Eastern Bloc states in 13 articles: Those states were Moldova (6 times), Kazakhstan (twice), Hungary (twice), Georgia (twice) and Azerbaijan (once). Guatemala was also once referred to as possessing oligarchs. In all, 98% of countries referenced in connection to oligarchs were either Russia or formerly Soviet-dominated states. In contrast, only 1% of articles mentioned the US in connection with oligarchs, which is all the more remarkable, considering all the outlets in the sample are US-based and devote vastly more time, space and words to US issues than Eastern European ones.

Kim Jong-un invites Donald Trump to visit Pyongyang

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un invited US president Donald Trump to visit Pyongyang in a letter sent in August, a South Korean newspaper reported on Monday, citing diplomatic sources.

The letter pre-dates North Korea’s latest launch of short-range projectiles a week ago and is the second Trump received from Kim last month amid stalled denuclearisation talks between the two countries.

In the second letter, which was passed to Trump in the third week of August, Kim spoke of his willingness to meet Trump for another summit, one source reportedly told the Joongang Ilbo newspaper.

The White House, the US State Department and the North Korean mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

EU dismay as Boris Johnson compares himself to Hulk

European officials reacted with exasperation on Sunday as Boris Johnson compared himself to the Incredible Hulk throwing off the shackles of the EU the day before he is due to travel to Luxembourg for talks in pursuit of a Brexit deal. No 10 struck a combative tone before the scheduled meeting with European commission president Jean-Claude Juncker saying Johnson would tell him that the UK must reject any new Brexit deadline.

A Downing Street source said that Johnson would “stress to Mr Juncker that, while he wants to secure a deal, if no deal can be agreed by 18 October his policy is to leave without a deal on 31 October – and reject any delay offered by the EU”.

In turn, Juncker was expected to ask Johnson to spell out his ideas for replacing the Irish backstop, the key issue in any new Brexit deal. ...

Johnson insisted “a huge amount of progress” was being made, a view dismissed in Brussels. The PM also used a newspaper interview to liken himself to the Incredible Hulk, poised to break free of the EU’s “manacles”, saying: “The madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets.”

Jeff Bezos Abruptly Cuts Health Benefits for Nearly 2,000 Part-Time Whole Foods Workers

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos on Thursday cut benefits for part-time workers at his grocery chain Whole Foods, drawing criticism from the left for a move that could leave thousands of people without health insurance.

"Jeff Bezos is the richest man in the world," Boston-based activist Jonathan Cohn said on Twitter. "This is disgusting."

Business Insider reporter Hayley Peterson broke the story. The decision will affect 1,900 of the business's 95,000 workers—the ones who work part-time, or around 20 hours a week.

"We are providing team members with resources to find alternative healthcare coverage options, or to explore full-time, healthcare-eligible positions starting at 30 hours per week," a Whole Foods spokesperson told Peterson. "All Whole Foods Market team members continue to receive employment benefits including a 20% in-store discount." ...

The move came less than a month after Bezos signed a pledge to invest in workers, The Verge explained:

Last month, Amazon joined a number of other tech companies and Fortune 500 firms in signing a letter outlining the purpose of a corporation as something not just designed to return shareholder value, but also to serve employees and the community. "Each of our stakeholders is essential," the pledge read. "We commit to deliver value to all of them, for the future success of our companies, our communities and our country."

Cowardly Democratic Senator Coons Attacks Beto O’Rourke for Standing Up to NRA

Conservative Democratic US Senator Christopher Coons (D-Del.) is scared of the NRA.

Coons warned Friday that Beto O’Rourke’s pledge during Thursday's Democratic debate in Houston that the government will confiscate semiautomatic AR-15 rifles will become a rallying cry for gun rights groups for years to come and haunt the Democratic Party far into the future.

O’Rourke received loud applause when he declared: “Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47. We’re not going to allow it to be used against fellow Americans anymore.

“I frankly think that that clip will be played for years at Second Amendment rallies with organizations that try to scare people by saying that Democrats are coming for your guns,” Coons, a close ally of former Vice President Joe Biden in the Democratic race, told CNN’s Poppy Harlow in an interview.

“I am a gun owner. My sons and I have gone skeet shooting and hunting, and frankly I don't think having our presidential candidates, like Congressman O'Rourke did, say that we are trying to take people's guns against their will is a wise either policy or political move,” Coons said.

Trump blasts calls for impeachment of Brett Kavanaugh after new allegations

Donald Trump came storming to the defence of Brett Kavanaugh on Sunday, after the publication of new allegations about the supreme court justice’s behaviour while he was a student at Yale led to renewed calls for his impeachment.

Kamala Harris and Julían Castro were among Democrats leading the charge. Both called for impeachment, Harris saying Kavanaugh “lied to the US Senate and most importantly to the American people”. Bernie Sanders added his shoulder to the wheel, saying he supported “any appropriate constitutional mechanism to hold [Kavanaugh] accountable”.

Trump tweeted: “The Radical Left Democrats and their Partner, the LameStream Media, are after Brett Kavanaugh again.”

On Saturday, the New York Times, a leading target for Trump’s ire, published an essay adapted from a new book by two of its reporters, Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly. In the extract from The Education of Brett Kavanaugh: an Investigation, Pogrebin and Kelly looked into the judge’s time at Yale in the 1980s.

The piece concerned a claim by another student, Deborah Ramirez, that at a drunken party, Kavanaugh “pulled down his pants and thrust his penis at her, prompting her to swat it away and inadvertently touch it”. ... Pogrebin and Kelly wrote: “While we found Dr Ford’s allegations credible during a 10-month investigation, Ms Ramirez’s story could be more fully corroborated. During his Senate testimony, Mr Kavanaugh said that if the incident Ms Ramirez described had occurred, it would have been ‘the talk of campus’. Our reporting suggests that it was.”

The reporters also said they had “uncovered a previously unreported story about Mr Kavanaugh in his freshman year that echoes Ms Ramirez’s allegation”. A classmate, they wrote, “saw Mr Kavanaugh with his pants down at a different drunken dorm party, where friends pushed his penis into the hand of a female student”. The Times said senators and the FBI were notified about that claim but it was not investigated.

the horse race

Joe Biden’s Stunningly Racist Answer on the Legacy of Slavery Has Been Overlooked

In the second hour of the debate, ABC correspondent Linsey Davis asked Biden to reflect on a remark he made in the 1970s: “I don’t feel responsible for the sins of my father and grandfather. I feel responsible for what the situation is today, for the sins of my own generation, and I’ll be damned if I feel responsible to pay for what happened 300 years ago.” Davis said to Biden, “You said that some 40 years ago, but as you stand here tonight, what responsibility do you think that Americans need to take to repair the legacy of slavery in our country?”

Biden’s answer was staggeringly incoherent, obscuring, to his own benefit, what was, underneath, a horrifyingly racist answer. Here’s his whole response:

Well, they have to deal with the — look, there’s institutional segregation in this country. And from the time I got involved, I started dealing with that. Redlining, banks, making sure we are in a position where — look, you talk about education. I propose that what we take the very poor schools, the Title I schools, triple the amount of money we spend from $15 to $45 billion a year. Give every single teacher a raise to the $60,000 level.

Number two, make sure that we bring in to help the teachers deal with the problems that come from home. The problems that come from home. We have one school psychologist for every 1,500 kids in America today. It’s crazy. The teachers are — I’m married to a teacher, my deceased wife is a teacher. They have every problem coming to them. Make sure that every single child does, does in fact, have 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds go to school. Not day care, school.

We bring social workers into homes of parents to help them deal with how to raise their children. It’s not that they don’t want to help, they don’t want — they don’t know quite what to do. Play the radio, make sure the television — excuse me, make sure you have the record player on at night, the phone — make sure that kids hear words. A kid coming from a very poor school — a very poor background — will hear 4 million words fewer spoken by the time they get there.

The thoroughly racist paternalism came at the end of Biden’s answer, at which point many viewers had likely zoned out. It was not adequately highlighted in post-debate coverage, so it’s worth taking a closer look at. In response to a question on the legacy of slavery, Biden said: “We bring social workers into homes of parents to help them deal with how to raise their children. It’s not that they don’t want to help, they don’t want — they don’t know quite what to do.”

Author Anand Giridharadas flagged the moment. “Is this not one of the most explicitly racist moments of all time in a Democratic primary debate?” he wondered. “Asked about his past comments denying responsibility, as a white man, for America’s sins, he gives an answer insinuating that black parents don’t know how to raise kids.”

The answer appears to reflect not a campaign talking point, but Biden’s genuine thoughts on the question of race relations in the U.S. He has been criticized for his leading role in developing the policy infrastructure of mass incarceration, while couching it in dehumanizing and paternalistic language that was popular — and popularized by politicians like Biden — in the 1980s. The biases from which those ideas and that rhetoric sprang are still alive, if not necessarily well, in Biden’s mind 40 years later.

Biden’s Brain Is Swiss Cheese And It’s Creepy That We’re Not Talking About It

Most of you have probably heard about Biden’s infamous “record player” comment by now, but for those of you who missed it, Biden was asked by debate moderator Linsey Davis to defend some comments he made about America’s problems with racism in the 1970s, and he responded by essentially saying that Black people don’t know how to raise their kids so they need to be taught how by social workers. Biden has been receiving mainstream criticism for his racist and paternalistic position, along with plenty of mockery for saying that parents need to be told to “make sure you have the record player on at night” so that kids hear enough words in early childhood.

It is pretty clear that Biden was trying to communicate an idea that is premised on a deeply racist and condescending worldview, so it’s to be expected that people would want to talk about that. It’s also to be expected that people would be making jokes about how the cute old man said “record player” like a grandpa. But what isn’t being discussed nearly enough is the fact that what Biden said was also a barely coherent, garbled word salad stumbling out of a brain that is clearly being eaten alive by a very serious neurological disease. ...

Compare this befuddled, incoherent mess with footage of a younger Biden, like his famous quip about how Rudy Giuliani only ever mentions “a noun and a verb and 9/11” in a sentence, or this clip where he said if Israel didn’t exist America would have to invent it to protect its interests in the Middle East. Biden has always been notoriously gaffe-prone, but he was also sharp, alert, and articulate enough to deliver a punchline. As journalist Michael Tracey has been pointing out, what we’re consistently seeing over and over again from the former vice president now are not “gaffes”, but clear signs of cognitive decline. Contrast the difference between Biden’s younger footage and what was seen at the last debate with footage of Bernie Sanders throughout the decades, who has remained virtually identical save for appearance and hoarseness. Age does not account for this difference. Biden’s brain is dying.

It is certainly understandable that people are concerned about the presidential frontrunner having a racist worldview. But what’s really weird and creepy is how few people are discussing the obvious fact that the presidential forerunner is also clearly suffering from the early stages of some kind of dementia. ... This is someone who is campaigning to have access to the nuclear codes, yet we’re only talking about how he’s kind of racist and not about the fact that his brain is turning into Swiss cheese right before our eyes. It’s freaky.

Bernie Sanders Talks About His Debate Performance | Useful Idiots

Sanders Responds to Biden's Praise for Pharma Companies: 'Their Behavior Is Literally Killing People Every Day'

After former Vice President Joe Biden praised pharmaceutical companies during an event with wealthy donors in Dallas over the weekend, Sen. Bernie Sanders on Sunday said candidates for the highest office in the nation should not have kind words for corporations whose price-gouging is harming millions of people across the United States.

"I disagree with Joe Biden. The pharmaceutical companies are greedy, corrupt, and engaged in price fixing," Sanders said in a statement responding to his fellow 2020 Democratic presidential candidate.

"At a time when their behavior is literally killing people every day, America needs a president who isn't going to appease and compliment drug companies—we need a president who will take on the pharmaceutical industry, whether they like it or not," said Sanders, who has called on all 2020 contenders to reject campaign cash from the healthcare industry. "When we defeat Donald Trump, that's exactly what we are going to do."

Sanders' comments came after Biden said at the Dallas home of craniofacial surgeon David Genecov, "By the way, great drug companies out there—except a couple of opioid outfits."

The former vice president's suggestion that pharmaceutical companies are "great" with the exception of a few bad apples quickly drew sharp criticism on social media. "This isn't how you beat Donald Trump," Faiz Shakir, Sanders' campaign manager, said in response to Biden's remarks. "This isn't how you mobilize the voters we need to win. This isn't delivering the transformational change voters desperately want."

Kamala Ignores Healthcare Workers At Healthcare Rally

the evening greens

What’s in a Trump Straw?

'Americans are waking up': two thirds say climate crisis must be addressed

Two-thirds of Americans believe climate change is either a crisis or a serious problem, with a majority wanting immediate action to address global heating and its damaging consequences, major new polling has found. Amid a Democratic primary shaped by unprecedented alarm over the climate crisis and an insurgent youth climate movement that is sweeping the world, the polling shows substantial if uneven support for tackling the issue.

More than a quarter of Americans questioned in the new CBS News poll consider climate change a “crisis”, with a further 36% defining it as a “serious problem”. Two in 10 respondents said it was a minor problem, with just 16% considering it not worrisome at all. More than half of polled Americans said they wanted the climate crisis to be confronted right away, with smaller groups happy to wait a few more years and just 18% rejecting any need to act.

“Americans are finally beginning waking up to the existential threat that the climate emergency poses to our society,” said Margaret Klein Salamon, a clinical psychologist and founder of the Climate Mobilization Project. “This is huge progress for our movement – and it’s young people that have been primarily responsible for that.”

But while nearly all of those questioned accept that the climate is changing, there appears to be lingering confusion over why and scientists’ confidence over the causes.

"We in the Media Have Not Been Doing Our Job": 250+ News Outlets Pledge to Focus on Climate Crisis

Not Just the Bees, First-of-Its-Kind Study Shows Neonics May Be Killing Birds Too

In addition to devastating effects on bee populations and the pollination needed to feed humans and other species, widely-used pesticides chemically related to nicotine may be deadly to birds and linked to some species' declines, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of Saskatchewan studied the pesticide imidacloprid, in the nicotine-linked class of chemicals called neonicotinoids, or neonics, and found that the pesticide had effects on migrating birds' health and ability to reproduce.

The scientists gave small amounts of the pesticide to white-crowned sparrows and found that the limited consumption caused the birds to lose weight and delay their migration. Within hours of being given the neonics, the birds stopped eating and lost an average of six percent of their body weight and about 17 percent of their fat stores, making it impossible for them to complete their long flights south. The birds took at least an extra 3.5 days to recover and migrate.

"It's just a few days, but we know that just a few days can have significant consequences for survival and reproduction," Margaret Eng, an ecotoxicologist who led the study told Science magazine, where the research was published Friday. ...

More than 70 percent of North American farmland bird species are currently experiencing population declines. The research shows for the first time "behavioral effects in free-living birds as result of neonicotinoid intoxication," Caspar Hallmann, an ecologist at Radboud University in the Netherlands, told National Geographic after reviewing Eng's study.

“Biological Annihilation”: The Danger of Opening Alaska’s ANWR to Oil & Gas Drilling

Antibiotic resistance rising among dolphins, study reveals

Antibiotic resistance is rising in dolphins, researchers have said, mirroring the trend seen in humans. Scientists examined disease-causing organisms, or pathogens, found in samples from the blowholes, gastric fluid and faeces of bottlenose dolphins from the Indian River Lagoon in Florida. The samples were collected between 2003 and 2015.

The area has a large human population on the coast and significant environmental problems. “They include septic tanks, runoff from the land, freshwater discharge from canals, to name a few,” said Adam Schaefer of Florida Atlantic University, the study’s lead author. Of the 733 samples from 171 dolphins analysed, 88% contained a pathogen resistant to at least one antibiotic. The antibiotic to which the pathogens were most commonly resistant was erythromycin, which is commonly used to treat chest infections, acne and sexually transmitted infections including chlamydia and syphilis. ...

Schaefer said the resistant bacteria enter the lagoon from terrestrial sources including sewage discharge. “Once in the lagoon, the antibiotics create selective pressure on the normal bacteria that are present. “The bacteria that are not resistant die, and resistant bacteria remain and proliferate, essentially creating a population of resistant pathogens that dolphins are exposed to.”

Also of Interest

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

Naomi Klein: 'We are seeing the beginnings of the era of climate barbarism'

American Privilege

The Forbidden Topic in Pompeo’s Arctic Doctrine

Snowden says he hopes France will grant him asylum

How the FBI Increased Its Power After 9/11 and Helped Put Trump in Office

Mourning and Resistance in Kashmir After India Revoked the State’s Special Status

How The BBC's Quentin Sommerville Created Fairytales Of Underground Hospitals In Syria

Have You Noticed How Social Media Purges Always Align With The US Empire?

‘We don’t care who wins’: young Gazans see little choice in Israel’s elections

From Voice of America to NPR: New CEO Lansing's Glass House

Victory! Individuals Can Force Government to Purge Records of Their First Amendment Activity

Bernie Sanders Says in Last Night’s Debate that Richest 3 Americans Own More Wealth than Bottom 160 Million Americans. It’s Actually Worse than That.

Fukushima fishermen concerned for future over release of radioactive water

Ric Ocasek, lead singer of the Cars, dies aged 75

A Little Night Music

Hank Ballard and The Midnighters - House on The Hill

Hank Ballard & The Midnighters - Look At Little Sister

Hank Ballard and The Midnighters - Let’s Go, Let’s Go, Let’s Go

Excuse Me (I Think I've Got A Heartache)

Hank Ballard and The Midnighters - The Continental Walk

Hank Ballard & The Midnighters - Hoochi Coochi Coo

Hank Ballard and The Midnighters - It's Love Baby (24 Hours A Day)

Hank Ballard and The Midnighters - Which Way Should I Turn

Hank Ballard and The Midnighters - Switchie Witchie Titchie

Hank Ballard and The Midnighters - I Was Born To Move

Hank Ballard - Butter Your Popcorn

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snoopydawg's picture

But I've forgotten why I thought that. Something about how they wanted to stop a race war after Rodney King, but are now protecting the white supremacists instead of the ones fighting them. And how instead of going after cops that kill unarmed people they go after the BLM instead. But I'm disappointed that he has bought into Russia Gate. Just what evidence did he see that proved it happened?

HuffPoo this morning has another scary Russian boogeyman story about how Russia's spy agencies have been able to get further into our networks including hacking computers that aren't connected to the grid. This comes out right after Israel got caught spying on the WH? Sure..but Russia! Sigh

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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


i didn't get from the article that he bought into russiagate at all. here's the relevant part:

Bound up in the narrative of Trump’s ascent is, of course, one of the biggest FBI stories of all time: the Russia investigation. Here, German argues, the FBI’s running list of post-9/11 failures ascended to new heights. German’s assessment of former director Comey’s actions through this period is perhaps the most withering section of his book. Not unlike Trump, Comey had a tendency to take a blowtorch to the norms and obligations he was bound by. On top of that, German writes, “The available evidence suggests Comey’s FBI did not pursue allegations that Russia was illicitly supporting the Trump campaign with the necessary urgency, at least if you believe that a hostile foreign nation’s effort to influence a U.S. presidential election presents a national security threat of the highest dimension.”

In German’s view, the Russian government either successfully conspired with the Trump campaign to undermine the most important presidential election in modern American history, or it didn’t. “If it did, the FBI’s and its partner agencies’ inability to interdict the plot before a corrupted election elevated an illegitimate president to power is an intelligence failure of a magnitude rivaled only by the failure to quickly bring the conspirators to justice afterward,” he writes. “If not, the FBI and other intelligence agencies have used their covert intelligence powers to undermine a duly elected U.S. president and his administration in ways that would make J. Edgar Hoover blush. Either possibility suggests a significant part of our government has forfeited its legitimacy and is no longer serving in the public interest.”

heh, huffpost is out of sorts because russia might be doing to the u.s. what the u.s. is most certainly doing to russia?


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snoopydawg's picture

@joe shikspack

My brain is fuzzy today in case you didn't get that from my comment.. oh well.

The Russian Spy story is making the rounds.

Even if it does get debunked people will still believe it. How many times do you still read about the 17 intelligence agencies agree ...?

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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,"

mimi's picture

and the first article entry doesn't have a working link to the complete article. Fixable?

Sorry to not make a comment, too much going on.

Thank you for all your work to all who write here.

Give rose

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joe shikspack's picture


sorry, i missed that extra angle bracket. it's fixed now.

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Shahryar's picture

one of my faves and I cherish the signed LP.

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joe shikspack's picture


how could one not like hank ballard? allright, aside from those tipper gore types. Smile

have a great evening!

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mimi's picture

Snowden Interview on ZDF Evening news
Here is oe text and video in German. Too tired to put it through a translation software packege. I was quite suprised that ZDF got him for an interview. I wished the Germans would offer him asylum and protection, but apparently they are just too coward and mentally challenged to take that step. It's a shame.

Even if you don't understand the question the news anchor asks Snowden, Snowdens answers are in English and it is still worthwhile to liesten what he says.

Just listen in.

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joe shikspack's picture


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Pluto's Republic's picture

@mimi the interview in German. I learned that Snowden has become a very good and generous interviewee. He helpfully conveys the question he was asked and then answers it. He seemed very open and compassionate, yet very principled. He has a lot of laughter in his voice that he didn't have before. Yet it is clear (and it has always been) that he did not want to be stranded in Russia. He seems to have more access (or an uncontaminated access) to global news and views than Americans typically do. His own views are well analyzed but not overstated. Will Germany ever grant him assylum? I can't think of a government I trust anywhere to act decently in this world and not betray people for a political convenience. I used to be much more trusting.

I wonder if Ed Snowden would do it again. Sacrifice his future and his life to protect ordinary people around the world from the rogue governments and corporations that prey on them. People don't appreciate reality-based knowledge and empowerment. Most don't want to be bothered. They are here just to churn life and produce genetic diversity before they leave; they are not agents of evolution who have an obligation to entertain or metabolize transformational concepts. The world would not stand up for Ed Snowden. I wouldn't be surprised if he regretted wasting his life on protecting his fellow humans.

Thanks for the link.

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Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.

— Martin Luther King

TheOtherMaven's picture

@Pluto's Republic

Any and all of the Euro nations would sell him out to the US in a heartbeat.

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There is no justice. There can be no peace.

mimi's picture

@Pluto's Republic
I am so sorry I couldn't do a decent job to summaries how I felt he answered the questions he was asked. I was very amazed how positive and smilingly and laughingly his calme responses were. (Sorry for my bad English here). I didn't remember him like it as well. He answered to the question how he balanced the risk of his revelations versus their effectiveness to what they achieved and he said that it was worth it. Therefore I believe he would do the same again.

As to my feelings if the German government would grant him asylum, I doubt it. They are too afraid to get in troubles with the US if they would protect him and not extradite him to the US as the US demands. No spine to stand up against Big Brother. Be it the American or the Russian Big Brother. What else is not new. I hope that the US had a change of heart, but that seems to be a child's little dream.

I try to add a translation of the questions he was asked and post it tomorrow. Thanks again Pluto for helping me out.

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Pluto's Republic's picture

@mimi Ed Snowden's general mood and attitude. It was nice to see.

By the way, the interviewer seemed very dour, severe, and blunt. Of course, I don't speak German and perhaps I am reading him wrong. He never once smiled. Was he angry?

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Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.

— Martin Luther King

mimi's picture

@Pluto's Republic @Pluto's Republic
AFAIK German Evening News Anchors are not supposed to show emotions that could reveal a bias of reporting. They are supposed to talk non-rhetorical, fact-based and are not allowed to express irony or sarcasm too openly.

I would say that some of the point blank - or as you say blunt - questions surprised me too. But I thought they were appropriate.

ZDF: These are special circumstances under which we talk to each other. How does your daily routine look like? Do you normally go out to work?

Edward Snowden: I work from home for the Freedom of the Press Foundation in the US and I also work as a lecturer in universities around the world or at Cyber ​​Security conferences, so I spend my days. I talk to the media four hours a day, but that's good to be able to talk about these things in 2019.

The main statements of the interview summarized:

Edward Snowden in ZDF interview - "American government holds me in Russia"

In ZDF interview Edward Snowden settles his account with Internet giants and secret services. The whistleblower (Snowden) sees his future in exile at risk- as long as Europe does not help.
by Jasmin Sarwoko

ZDF: And where do you get your money from? Who pays you? Is that what you just told us? Or are you also dependent on the Russian state?

Snowden: Definitely I do not take money from the Russian state. I would never do that. I've been lucky in the last few years because I've found supporters all over the world. And people want to talk about it. And that's why I do not need that. I do not know if I can say that even more clearly: But I am completely independent. And I do not live in a house that is financed by the state. I pay for the metro and everything like everyone else.

ZDF: Now, yes, Mr Snowden, it's a bit of a paradox that someone like you, who works for real freedom and against surveillance, finds refuge in Russia, of all places. You have also described in your book how you sometimes walk the streets trying to make yourself a little unrecognizable, wearing a scarf, a hat, or other glasses. Who are you more afraid of? The surveillance by the Russians or surveillance by the Americans?

Snowden: Well, you can not hide, in front of the Russians in Russia. That's not my main concern now. If they want to dump me from the building, they can do it. You might as well send me back to the US for life imprisonment. Those who want to harm me are more likely to be the governments that I have exposed. Although ... But let's just leave it there.

ZDF: But do not you have to worry that Vladimir Putin will not take your hospitality from you at some point?

Snowden: Yes, he could, unfortunately. And as long as Europe has a policy where whistleblowers are not defended against the US and where they are only protected against Saudi Arabia, Russia or China, we will have this problem. This is one of the saddest lessons in this story. What does that mean for the next whistleblower? What does the world say? What does it mean in relation to ourselves when a dissident can only be heard in places that we do not expect?

ZDF: Would you say if Germany, if the federal government would say, 'Okay, come to us. We give you something like asylum. 'Then you would be gone tomorrow and in Berlin?

Snowden: That's already clear since the first day. Some of the viewers may not know that. I never decided to come to Russia. I was on my way to Latin America. The US government, which arrests me in Russia by canceling my passport... and then I was at the airport for 40 days and I have asked 27 countries of the world including Germany, France, Norway - countries of which we are hope they protect whistleblowers - that's where I asked for asylum. Of course I would like to go there.

ZDF: Your book, Mr. Snowden, is surprisingly personal and also private. It's also a love story. You write a lot about your wife. This is surprising, considering that you have spent half your life trying to stay as hidden as possible. Why are you suddenly making this public?

Snowden: It's no exaggeration to say: It was harder to write about myself than to light a match and set my life on fire in 2013. But when I look at the world today, when I look at what we have, that there is an appetite for authoritarianism, and that there are now increasingly authoritarian political movements in Western democracies, then the question arises: What can one do there ? I can not do much these days, I can only make my voice heard. I can say why I think that this is a destiny we still have to and can avoid. But without talking that does not work.

ZDF: You can not go home, not back to the US. There you will be searched with a warrant. A number of people see you as a traitor, saying you have revealed secrets that could endanger people. If you balance that with what you've achieved, as well as attention to your cause - was it worth it?

Snowden: Yes, it was worth it and I just think because we have revealed a certain dishonesty - that happens not only in my country, but also in countries around the world. Governments should actually work for their peoples, not against their peoples. They should not keep important facts secret from the citizens. Because in a democracy, the government gets the legitimacy of the people.

But if the people are not informed, the whole thing does not mean anything anymore. Yes. There are certainly people out there making such allegations. But we are in 2019, not in 2013. There has never been a proof, not from a single source, that a single person has been harmed. But there have been prizes in the US for journalism, the structure of the Internet has changed, and our understanding of people around the world has increased by having access to essential information about how people are being spied on.

If it was not already worth it, what then? If I'm to get life-long, at least I want a fair trial. But the government does not want to give that to me. The government forbids me to explain my actions to a jury so they can decide if it was right or wrong.

ZDF: One thing we have to discuss shortly. They fight against state surveillance, but they also fight against the Internet giants, Facebook, Amazon, Google. Is that in the end even more dangerous than the state, because we just all cheerfully join in all the time?

Snowden: In reality, that's two sides of the same coin. You can not say, 'Oh, the governments of this world are not a threat'. With each passing year, governments become a major threat. The same can also be said of the Internet giants. They have practically declared public privacy an enemy. They make money selling their lives as a product. Their goal is to permanently document life, our privacy. It's important to understand that these Internet giants work, as it were, as deputies to governments, especially when they are in Europe. After all, many of these Internet giants are not European, they are Americans and they do not feel they have a duty to European rights or European law.

ZDF: What should we do? We chat with each other here, you look like one who still sits at the computer for half the day. What would you recommend to all of us?

Snowden: That's right, I spend most of my life in front of the computer. I did that before, long before I left work at the NSA. That was just my choice and we should have this option without harming ourselves. If you take the phone today, on the couch, the armchair and the screen is off and you do not use anything: Do you know who these devices communicate with?

Do you know what these companies know about you? No. In fact, we've created a belief about leveraging the laws almost everywhere in the world where we think: If, somewhere before we open a Google or Facebook account, we can protect 600 pages of legal text, fine print, which we never will be read. We would not even understand, even if we click on the "Yes" button and say: 'We agree with it', then the fine print can be changed again and again. What happens is that your phone is there and that creates an invisible damage to you, your family, your privacy and the world community.

That harms us, it's like a pollution. It is the invisibility that makes it so toxic. We need to create tools that reveal all kinds of connections between people. We do not have the option to turn it off with a button. We do not have the choice to make sensible decisions about what we want. Because these companies make a blanket decision for us and try to make this a "smooth" decision for us. Smoothing simply means we are hiding the consequences and the true costs. At the front you have the joy of the product, but the damage, the damage, is hidden from us and that has to change.

PS: Evening News Anchors usually just give you a smile when they say "Tschüss" and wish you a nice evening at the end. BTW many Germans believe that Americans smile too often and get a bit uncomfortable if they do and expect them (the Germans) to smile back. Sigh. Life is so hard isn't it. If we have no problems we are always good to make some up.

Tschüss. Smile

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Pluto's Republic's picture


Thank you for taking the time. I don't think that many people had a chance to read this. You could post it as a Essay, if you want to, along with the video.

I prefer the German way of non-smiles in the news. US news spokes-models make me sick to my stomach. And they make the American people ignorant.

Thanks again!

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Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.

— Martin Luther King

snoopydawg's picture

I remember another candidate who ENERGIZED the crowds and then.... once burned...

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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


the same woman who would have gladly thrown all the rastafarians in jail to please her corporate masters now quotes marley to get votes.

well, you have to give it to her, she is shameless.

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snoopydawg's picture

@joe shikspack

I just saw a tweet that said she would throw Bob in jail for smoking some weed. This is not going well for her on Twitter. Sad..

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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,"