The Evening Blues - 10-9-19
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features blues singer and guitarist Larry Davis. Enjoy!
Larry Davis - Whole World Down On You
"Experience has already shown that the impeachment the Constitution has provided is not even a scarecrow."
-- Thomas Jefferson
News and Opinion
Donald Trump pushed the United States towards a constitutional crisis on Tuesday when his legal counsel said the White House would refuse to cooperate with Congress’s impeachment inquiry.
“Given that your inquiry lacks any legitimate constitutional foundation, any pretense of fairness, or even the most elementary due process protections, the Executive Branch cannot be expected to participate in it,” the counsel Pat Cipollone said in a letter to Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives.
The eight-page missive came after the Trump administration abruptly blocked a key witness in the Ukraine scandal from appearing before the congressional impeachment inquiry and sets up a clash between the White House and Congress – the executive and legislative branches – in the weeks ahead. The letter appeared to put the emphasis on political rebuttal rather than structured legal argument – perhaps marking a new strategy to counter the impeachment threat with stalling and counter-attacking. ...
Trump’s supporters in the House endorsed the letter. The House Republican leader, Kevin McCarthy, said: “House Democrats have wanted to undo the results of the 2016 election for three years, and now they’re rushing a sham impeachment process. “President Trump is right to call out this rushed process because Democrats refuse to protect the transparency and basic fairness that have been integral to previous impeachment proceedings.”
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) October 8, 2019
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) October 8, 2019
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) October 8, 2019
Long, but worth a full read:
From the time of Donald Trump's election, American elites have hungered for this moment. At long last, they have the 45th president of the United States cornered. In typically ham-handed fashion, Trump has given his adversaries the very means to destroy him politically. They will not waste the opportunity. Impeachment now—finally, some will say—qualifies as a virtual certainty. ... As this process unspools, what politicians like to call “the people's business"will go essentially unattended. So while Congress considers whether or not to remove Trump from office, gun-control legislation will languish, the deterioration of the nation's infrastructure will proceed apace, needed healthcare reforms will be tabled, the military-industrial complex will waste yet more billions, and the national debt, already at $22 trillion—larger, that is, than the entire economy—will continue to surge. The looming threat posed by climate change, much talked about of late, will proceed all but unchecked. For those of us preoccupied with America's role in the world, the obsolete assumptions and habits undergirding what's still called “national security"will continue to evade examination. Our endless wars will remain endless and pointless.
By way of compensation, we might wonder what benefits impeachment is likely to yield. Answering that question requires examining four scenarios that describe the range of possibilities awaiting the nation.
The first and most to be desired (but least likely) is that Trump will tire of being a public piñata and just quit. ... The second possible outcome sounds almost as good but is no less implausible: a sufficient number of Republican senators rediscover their moral compass and “do the right thing,"joining with Democrats to create the two-thirds majority needed to convict Trump and send him packing. ... The third somewhat seamier outcome might seem a tad more likely. It postulates that McConnell and various GOP senators facing reelection in 2020 or 2022 will calculate that turning on Trump just might offer the best way of saving their own skins. ... At the moment, however, indications that Trump loyalists out in the hinterlands will reward such turncoats are just about nonexistent. Unless that base were to flip, don't expect Republican senators to do anything but flop.
That leaves outcome number four, easily the most probable: while the House will impeach, the Senate will decline to convict. Trump will therefore stay right where he is, with the matter of his fitness for office effectively deferred to the November 2020 elections. Except as a source of sadomasochistic diversion, the entire agonizing experience will, therefore, prove to be a colossal waste of time and blather. Furthermore, Donald Trump might well emerge from this national ordeal with his reelection chances enhanced. ...
Let me suggest that, while Trump is being pursued, it's you, my fellow Americans, who are really being played. The unspoken purpose of impeachment is not removal, but restoration. The overarching aim is not to replace Trump with Mike Pence—the equivalent of exchanging Groucho for Harpo. No, the object of the exercise is to return power to those who created the conditions that enabled Trump to win the White House in the first place. Just recently, for instance, Hillary Clinton declared Trump to be an “illegitimate president."Implicit in her charge is the conviction—no doubt sincere—that people like Donald Trump are not supposed to be president. People like Hillary Clinton—people possessing credentials like hers and sharing her values—should be the chosen ones. Here we glimpse the true meaning of legitimacy in this context. Whatever the vote in the Electoral College, Trump doesn't deserve to be president and never did.
For many of the main participants in this melodrama, the actual but unstated purpose of impeachment is to correct this great wrong and thereby restore history to its anointed path. In a recent column in the Guardian, Professor Samuel Moyn makes the essential point: Removing from office a vulgar, dishonest, and utterly incompetent president comes nowhere close to capturing what's going on here. ... “For all their appeals to enduring moral values,"Moyn writes, “the centrists are deploying a transparent strategy to return to power."Destruction of the Trump presidency is a necessary precondition for achieving that goal. “Centrists simply want to return to the status quo interrupted by Trump, their reputations laundered by their courageous opposition to his mercurial reign, and their policies restored to credibility."
The United States (US) military has severely limited Turkey’s access to the airspace over north-east Syria, making the upcoming Turkish military operation into the area difficult without the benefit of air cover.
The US has taken a series of actions since yesterday which would potentially hinder the operation, with Pentagon spokeswoman Carla Gleason informing reporters that the Combined Air Operations Centre has removed Turkey from the anti-ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) coalition’s air tasking order, through which it coordinates the flights of member nations.
As well as removing Turkey from US coordination, it has also halted Turkey’s access to surveillance information, crippling its ability to accurately conduct aerial cover during its campaign. Gleason refused to directly declare that the air space was shut off to Turkey, but stated that “if you’re not on the air tasking order, it’s really hard to coordinate flights in that area.” ...
In addition to limiting access to airspace, the US has also threatened to make Turkey an “extremely decimated economy” if its military forces harm any American troops throughout the operation. Warning of the use of his “unmatched wisdom”, Trump referred to his previous affect on the Turkish economy and the devaluing of its currency last year, during the incident in which Turkey was refusing to release a detained American pastor and was purchasing the Russian S-400 missile defence system which the US and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) was staunchly against due to security concerns.
The military operation that is set to take place is the third Turkish incursion into northern Syria, following on from Operation Euphrates Shield in 2016 and Operation Olive Branch in 2018, and fulfils Erdogan’s statement last week that Turkey must take its own course in setting up a safe zone in Syria.
Turkey has signalled its intent to press ahead with an attack on US-backed Kurdish-led forces in north-east Syria despite confusion over US policy after officials appeared to backtrack on Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from the area. The vice-president, Fuat Oktay, said Turkey would execute its own plans regarding national security and would not be “controlled by threats”.
“Turkey will not accept a terror corridor or terror state right next to its borders under any circumstances, whatever the cost,” he said. ...
The SDF said late on Tuesday night that Turkish forces were already attacking near the border. “The Turkish military is shelling one of our points on SereKaniye Border with Turkey,” it said in a tweet, referencing the key border town of Ras al-Ayn. It was one of the places from which US troops withdrew on Monday, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. “There were no injuries to our forces. We didn’t respond to this unprovoked attack,” the SDF said.
Turkey’s military also struck the Syrian-Iraqi border on Tuesday to prevent Kurdish forces using the route to reinforce north-east Syria. ...
The Republican senator Lindsey Graham warned Turkey that Congress would impose sanctions if Ankara went ahead with its offensive. “Any incursion into northern Syria by Turkey creates a nightmare for the region & US national security interests,” he said on Twitter. “It will be met with most severe sanctions against Turkey’s military and economy – by Congress – at a time we should be working together to solve common problems.” ...
With his rhetorical U-turns and mixed messages, Trump has been publicly coming to terms with policy dilemmas that constrained his predecessor, Barack Obama. The US cannot afford to worsen its already poor relationship with Turkey and cannot contemplate a military clash with a Nato ally. On the other hand, there is considerable US support, particularly in the Republican party, for standing by the Kurds.
The secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) ruled last year that some FBI surveillance violated the targets’ constitutional rights, the intelligence community revealed Tuesday. The ruling, a rare loss for the government on surveillance matters, found that the FBI may have violated the law, as well as constitutional protections against unreasonable searches, as it searched through databases connected to its a warrantless communications surveillance program.
Judge James Boasberg, who sits on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, found last year that the FBI's efforts to query the sensitive databases and purge unnecessary results were "inconsistent with statutory minimization requirements and the requirements of the Fourth Amendment."
, according to the ruling, which found these searches may have been used to vet personnel and cooperating sources. It also found that the FBI was not properly identifying and documenting which searches were connected to people in the U.S. ... The ruling found improper use of the database by individuals, including at least one FBI contractor who searched an intelligence database for information on himself, relatives and other personnel.
For years, civil liberties advocates have argued that the law at the center of the dispute – Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) — violates constitutional rights as it allows the government to collect data on Americans without a warrant.
Indigenous-Led Anti-Austerity Protests Shut Down Quito Forcing Ecuadorian Government to Move Capital
Thousands of indigenous protesters have converged on Ecuador’s capital after anti-government demonstrations and clashes prompted the president to move his besieged administration out of Quito. On Tuesday afternoon, one group of protesters burst through security lines and briefly surged into the country’s National Assembly, before they were forced out by police firing tear gas. The legislature was not sitting at the time.
Elsewhere, masked and stick-wielding protesters hurled stones and battled with security forces, who responded with tear gas. The South American country of 17 million appeared to be at a dangerous impasse, paralyzed by a lack of public transport and blockaded roads that were taking a toll on an already vulnerable economy.
Violence has persisted since last week when Lenín Moreno’s decision to cut subsidies led to a sharp increase in fuel prices. Several oil wells ceased production totaling 65,000 barrels daily because protesters seized installations, the energy ministry said. On Monday, police abandoned an armored vehicle to protesters who set it on fire. Elsewhere, rioters smashed car windows, broke into shops and confronted security forces who fired tear gas to try to disperse swelling crowds.
Some video footage has shown police beating protesters on the ground. Opponents have accused the Ecuador president’s government of human rights abuses in its attempts to quell disturbances.
Moreno met with cabinet ministers in Guayaquil on Tuesday after moving government operations there from Quito because of security problems. In comments broadcast by the Ecuavisa television network, he said he had the support of Ecuador’s institutions and thanked them “for their defense of the democratic system”. In a televised addressed late Monday, he said he had been the target of a coup attempt, but would not back down from his decision to cut the subsidies. ... Several military commanders in uniform stood behind Moreno during his address, underscoring the armed forces’ support.
Hong Kong’s leader warned Tuesday that if protests continue to escalate, she will be forced to ask the Chinese military to intervene. The message is a chilling warning to the tens of thousands of protesters who have flooded Hong Kong’s streets every weekend for the last four months and whose pro-democracy demonstrations have brought the city to a standstill on multiple occasions. ...
“I still strongly feel that we should find the solutions ourselves,” Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive, told reporters at a news conference. “That is also the position of the central government that Hong Kong should tackle the problem on her own but if the situation becomes so bad, then no options could be ruled out if we want Hong Kong to at least have another chance.”
The comments came after another weekend of mass protest marches that descended into violent clashes between riot police and protesters. To date over 2,000 people have been arrested for taking part in the demonstrations. The government last week enacted emergency legislation for the first time in almost 50 years to crack down on the wearing of face masks at protests and have so far arrested 77 people. Critics worry that the emergency legislation, which gives Lam unlimited powers, could be used to further crackdown on civil liberties, with authorities already floating the possibility of curfews and internet censorship.
Beijing has been taking a back seat in relation to the protests in Hong Kong so far, fearful that military intervention would further damage the city’s reputation as a financial and commercial hub.
Israel Is Accused of Torturing a Prisoner Until His Ribs Were Broken. Palestinians Are Demanding Answers.
Samir Arbeed was arrested by Israeli forces outside his workplace in the West Bank on September 25 in connection with a bomb attack that killed a 17-year-old Israeli girl. Two days later, the 44-year-old Palestinian and member of the militant Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine was rushed to the emergency room, unconscious. Six of his ribs were broken and his kidney had gone into failure.
What happened between his arrest and hospitalization is now a topic of fierce interest for Palestinians, who argue that Arbeed’s injuries are physical proof of a dark reality they’ve long known to be true: Israel’s security forces routinely torture and abuse Palestinian prisoners with impunity.
“This isn’t about two or three interrogators who have gone insane. It’s not about rotten apples. This is a whole system,” said Rachel Stroumsa, head of the Public Committee Against Torture, an independent rights watchdog based in Tel Aviv. “What we see here with Samir Arbeed is unusual in its consequences but not unusual in any other sense.”
Since 2001, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel has filed over 1,200 torture complaints on behalf of Palestinians to the Israeli Attorney General. The vast majority of cases have never seen the light of day, let alone result in any charges. ...
Shin Bet, Israel’s equivalent of the FBI, has long been accused of using torture tactics such as sleep deprivation, beatings, extreme pressure on the back, consecutive, periodical crouches on a suspect’s toes — known as the “frog position”— and psychological threats, including threats of rape. These tactics are typically reserved for Palestinians suspected of involvement in militant activity.
Boris Johnson’s Brexit plan appeared to be all but dead on Tuesday night as the government admitted there was little prospect of a deal before 31 October, following a day of furious recriminations. The prime minister spoke to the Irish taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, on the phone after a stormy 24 hours of briefing and counter-briefing, as concerns about his tactics were even raised in Johnson’s cabinet.
In Brussels, a further extension that could be as long as next summer is now considered almost inevitable, despite Johnson’s continued insistence that the UK would leave on 31 October, with or without a deal.
A blame game erupted on Tuesday morning as the cabinet gathered in Downing Street when an anonymous source briefed selected journalists about a private call between the prime minister and the German chancellor, Angela Merkel. The unnamed figure in No 10 claimed that Berlin’s insistence on keeping Northern Ireland in the EU customs union made a Brexit deal “essentially impossible, not just now but ever”.
That message infuriated Donald Tusk, the European council president, who tweeted directly at Johnson: “What’s at stake is not winning some stupid blame game. At stake is the future of Europe and the UK as well as the security and interests of our people. You don’t want a deal, you don’t want an extension, you don’t want to revoke. Quo vadis? [Where are you going?].”
That sentiment was echoed by the European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, who said “nobody would come out a winner” in a no-deal scenario. “I do not accept this ‘blame game’ of pinning the eventual failure of the negotiations on the EU. If that’s the case, the explanation is actually in the British camp,” he said. Juncker said Johnson’s Brexit proposals would leave the UK with a relationship with the EU that was “less intimate than with Canada”.
Los Angeles police officers stop and search black and Latino drivers at significantly higher rates than white people, even though white residents are more likely to be carrying drugs and weapons, a new report shows.
Traffic stop data from a recent 10-month period across LA revealed that black drivers and passengers were four times more likely to be searched by police than white people, and that Latinos were three times as likely to face searches, the Los Angeles Times reported on Tuesday.
In stops across the city, 24% of black drivers and passengers were searched, compared with 16% of Latinos and 5% of white people. White drivers were found with drugs or other contraband 20% of the time, a higher rate than other groups; the contraband rate was 17% for black people and 16% for Latinos.
The analysis of Los Angeles police department (LAPD) data comes the same week that an activist coalition is launching a campaign demanding an end to these kinds of stops and reparations for people who have been wrongly searched and racially profiled.
“These stops lead to the death of our people,” said Melina Abdullah, co-founder of Black Lives Matter LA, which is part of the coalition launching Wednesday, called Promoting Unity Safety and Health in Los Angeles (Push LA). “For anybody who lives in communities like mine, the data is not a surprise. It’s a validation of what we already know.”
After Education Secretary Betsy DeVos Flouts 2018 Ruling, Judge Reminds Her of Consequences—Including Jail Time
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Monday was told in no uncertain terms that her refusal to abide by a 2018 order stopping her department from collecting on student loans made to predatory for-profit Corinthian College had the potential to land her in jail, though Magistrate Judge Sallie Kim made clear that was, for now, an unlikely outcome.
"At best it is gross negligence, at worst it's an intentional flouting of my order," Kim told lawyers from the education department in court Monday. "I'm not sure if this is contempt or sanctions."
"I'm not sending anyone to jail yet," Kim added, "but it's good to know I have that ability."
As journalist Sarah Jaffe noted on Twitter, "Betsy DeVos is in trouble."
Betsy DeVos is in trouble https://t.co/j5ux8JFjOS
— Sarah Jaffe (@sarahljaffe) October 8, 2019
Mississippi, land where the blues began:
He Was Sentenced to Only Two Days in Jail, a Lawsuit Says. Three Months Later, He Killed Himself in His Cell.
Robert Wayne Johnson was allegedly sentenced to two days in a rural Mississippi jail for not paying a fine. Three months later, still in his cell, Johnson strangled himself with his shoelaces. Now, his widow, LaToya Johnson, is suing the county, the sheriff’s office, and several correctional officers. She filed a wrongful death lawsuit in a Mississippi federal court on September 30, alleging that he was unlawfully held past his release date, not provided with mental healthcare, and not properly monitored after he became suicidal.
Robert Wayne Johnson, a father of five, was given two days in jail and 199 hours of community service as punishment for not paying money he owed to a Meridian municipal court, according to the suit. In the complaint, LaToya says he wasn’t able to pay the fine because he had lost his job and couldn’t afford it. He was jailed in Kemper Neshoba Regional Correctional Facility, under the Kemper County Sheriff's Office.
Robert Wayne made another suicide attempt while jailed before his death, the complaint says. LaToya alleges that the jail ignored her husband’s mental health issues and other inmates’ repeated warnings that he had been tying shoelaces around his neck in the days leading up to his death on Jan. 9, 2018. In the hours before he died, he slit his wrists as well, the suit says.
The complaint says that Johnson was transferred to an unmonitored segregation cell with all of his belongings, including the shoelaces, after a “scuffle” with another inmate over Johnson being upset his fellow inmates had alerted a guard to his suicide attempt. Johnson killed himself approximately 14 minutes after being placed in isolation.
Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Staff Pushed Philadelphia Inquirer to Be More Critical of Larry Krasner: Emails
Officials working on behalf of Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro pitched the Philadelphia Inquirer to be more critical of local District Attorney Larry Krasner, according to emails revealed through an open records request. Several stories published by the Inquirer after Shapiro’s office reached out to the paper, drawing on some of the same arguments that Shapiro’s office had made to the paper, were heavily criticized by criminal justice experts after its publication for painting a misleading picture.
The emails shed light on an ongoing power struggle between two of the area’s top law enforcement officials, pitting the more moderate Shapiro against Krasner, a leading figure in the movement to roll back mass incarceration by taking power at the district attorney level.
On June 18, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Krasner’s office had actually increased the number of gun cases approved for prosecution despite criticism that his approach to criminal justice reform was too lenient. The coverage appeared to rankle officials at Shapiro’s office, who swapped emails criticizing the story and indicating that they subsequently facilitated an off-record phone call with the paper, in which they suggested that future coverage should show that Krasner’s policies were actually linked to increased crime, shootings, and homicides in the city. ...
It’s common practice for officials in question to push back against certain aspects of stories they might find inconvenient, and for reporters to take calls out of courtesy as part of maintaining relationships with the agencies they cover. But the move by the attorney general’s office to attempt to portray their counterpart as having a role in making Philadelphia the state’s most violent city is evidence that Shapiro sees Krasner as a rival and is willing to undermine his office publicly.
Senator Bernie Sanders indicated that he will “change the nature of the campaign a bit” after suffering a heart attack last week. Venturing outside his Vermont home on Tuesday, the 78-year-old senator is slowly easing back into the 2020 presidential race, telling reporters he “should have listened to those symptoms”.
“I must confess, I was dumb,” Sanders said. “During this campaign, I’ve been doing, in some cases, three or four rallies a day, running all over the state – Iowa, New Hampshire, wherever. And yet I, in the last month or two, just was more fatigued than I usually have been.”
Sanders’ campaign has said he will be at next week’s Democratic presidential debate in Ohio. It has not said whether he will resume campaigning before that. ... As Sanders continues to recover, surrogates including Carmen Yulín Cruz, mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, have taken Sanders’ place on the campaign trail.
Sanders has been active in recent days communicating with his staff and his broader network of longtime supporters. Those who have spoken to him say that he is quick to shut down questions about his health, insisting that he’s fine, and that he vowed to remain in the 2020 race during a Monday conference call with his entire campaign staff.
“It wasn’t a major heart attack. He had a minor heart attack. The stents will be extremely helpful in terms of blood flow. I assume he’ll be far more vigorous,” said RoseAnn DeMoro, a Sanders confidante and former executive director of National Nurses United. “Heaven help the opposition.”
A new unofficial Bernie Sanders ad, made by a fan, is making a lot of viewers tear up. It contrasts dismissive and disparaging comments about Bernie from TV pundits with the warmth felt towards him by his supporters across the country. It movingly shows how Sanders inspires people and gives them hope – but also just how insulated the “pundit class” is from the reality of people’s lives. ...
The media not only treat Sanders as a humorless fringe demagogue, but they also understate his popularity. Katie Halper has documented the various ways in which media organizations have subtly fudged the numbers to make Bernie seem less successful than he is, and there is still a narrative that his campaign is failing even as it hauls in giant quantities of small donations from all over the country. Even as he shatters fundraising records there will be stories of him “struggling to attract new supporters, and even keep some of the old ones”.
In part, the media underestimates Bernie because it can’t understand Bernie. The new ad quotes CNN’s Nia-Malika Henderson saying it’s “really hard to imagine who the Bernie Sanders voter is at this point”. And it’s true: if you are, like Henderson, a Yale graduate living in Washington DC, or you are, like the New York Times’ Sydney Ember, a former financial analyst for an investment bank, the source of Bernie’s appeal must be mystifying. That’s because Sanders returns again and again to issues that are of little interest to the political media, like environmental policy, social welfare, and education.
Consider MSNBC. Combing through their home page a few days ago, I found that nearly every story was about Trump, Ukraine and impeachment. The one headline about climate change, an issue so important that it should be dominating every day’s deadlines, was “Watch London climate change protest involving 1,800 liters of fake blood go horribly wrong,” hardly a substantive discussion of science or policy. ... If you see MSNBC as “the left” and Fox as “the right”, then Bernie Sanders must be some strange aberration that doesn’t make sense. In fact, he’s just a person with a well-refined sense of what matters and what doesn’t. Sanders has been accused of mirroring Donald Trump in his scathing attacks on the media. But while Trump’s objection to the media is that they spend too much time exposing his crimes and lies, Sanders’ objection is that they don’t elevate the voices of ordinary people and they don’t inform the public about the most important issues. ...
The reason the media doesn’t understand Sanders, then, is in part that they do not understand the problems he is speaking about or why they matter. To cover him fairly would require them to re-examine their entire values and priorities. And that wouldn’t be good for ratings.
Sen. Bernie Sanders's 2020 presidential campaign late Monday enthusiastically welcomed lobbyist backlash over the senator's new proposal to dramatically curb the power of corporate money in politics and bar the Democratic National Committee from taking cash from big business.
"Good!" Sanders tweeted in response to a story in The Hill that quoted several lobbyists opposed to the senator's plan, which would ban corporate donations to the Democratic Party Convention in Milwaukee if Sanders becomes the presidential nominee. As Politico reported last month, Democratic operatives have already begun seeking lobbyist help with financing the event.
Stewart Verdery, CEO of public affairs firm Monument Advocacy, warned that "telling companies who would like to partner with the party to take their ball and go home will easily feed into an anti-capitalist motif."
"On the substance side, hosting a convention is a major endeavor that can strap the budgets of parties and cities—the money has to come from somewhere and cutting off corporate donations may further depress interest in hosting a convention," said Verdery. "On the image side, the Democrats always have to balance their populist rhetoric with quieter outreach to the business community."
The Hill also granted anonymity to a Democratic lobbyist who bashed Sanders's proposal as a "desperate" attempt to outdo Sen. Elizabeth Warren's (D-Mass.) anti-corruption plan. "This is simply a game of one-upmanship from a desperate campaign that doesn’t have the ability to draft a 27-page thesis like Warren," said the lobbyist.
The Sanders campaign—which proudly touts a list of "anti-endorsements" on its website—was unmoved by the lobbyists' criticism. In fact, as deputy campaign manager Ari Rabin-Havt put it, lobbyist outrage over the proposal "is not a bug—it's a feature."
Warren Gunnels, Sanders's senior adviser, tweeted: "We welcome their hatred."
A few months ago, few people knew the Dendropsophus rozenmani existed. Scientists only just discovered the tiny, brown-striped tree frog — in a swath of forest that’s now largely been burnt to a crisp on the outskirts of the Amazon rainforest. The frog’s habitat is a 57 million-acre tropical ecosystem in Bolivia known as the Chiquitano dry forest. It’s host to a number of endangered species, and, likely, many undiscovered ones. The forest isn’t any richer in biodiversity than the Amazon, but it’s unique. Some species, like the tree frog and the Chiquitano Orchid, are only known to exist there and nowhere else. The fires may have permanently damaged the forest that these unusual creatures call home. ...
Since August, about 7 million acres — about a sixth of the Chiquitano dry forest — have burned, and scientists are concerned the ecosystem could be irreversibly altered. The Bolivian government said Monday that rain had finally extinguished the fires, but an estimated 2 million animals died. Researchers believe the flames threatened some 4,000 plant species and 1,600 species of animals, including jaguars, tapirs, and giant anteaters. Compared to its neighboring regions, the Chiquitano also has more species of mammals, a third of which are threatened or endangered, like the giant otter, the giant armadillo, and the maned wolf.
The fires in Bolivia, researchers and advocates believe, are largely set by people. They’re clearing forest for pasture because of a push to increase agricultural production for exports. In August, the country sent its first shipment of beef to China where an outbreak of African swine flu has decimated the pork supply and pushed the country to import from abroad. ...
Back in 2013, Bolivian President Evo Morales announced that he’d aim to triple the amount of arable farmland in Bolivia to 32 million acres by 2025. In practice, that means clearing forests. And this summer, Morales made good on that promise by passing laws that allowed farmers to legally slash and burn more land for agricultural use. “This happened in July,” said Alfredo Romero-Muñoz, a doctoral researcher studying the Chiquitano forest. “And in August, the fires started. So these are direct outcome of these policies.”
In Santa Cruz, a city in the same province as the Chiquitano forest, people took to the streets Friday to protest the government’s lack of response to the fires. The opposition party has called on Morales to declare a national emergency, which would streamline international aid money. But his administration hasn’t declared one over concerns that international cash could lead to foreign meddling in Bolivia.
I guess this makes a good case for solar panels on your roof and a battery in your basement. Power to the people.
A California utility has announced it will shut off power to more than 800,000 customers in an effort to prevent new wildfires, in the largest preventive outage in state history. With windy, dry weather in the forecast and warnings of extreme fire danger, Pacific Gas & Electric utility said it will start turning off power to 34 counties in northern and central California after midnight Wednesday.
It may take several days to fully restore power, Michael Lewis, senior vice-president of PG&E’s electric operations, said in a statement.
Separately, the Southern California Edison utility website said more than 106,000 of its customers in parts of eight counties could face power cuts. The affected regions include an area of wine country north of San Francisco where several fires two years ago killed 22 people and destroyed thousands of homes. ...
The outages will also affect portions of the agricultural Central Valley, the state’s northern and central coasts and the Sierra Nevada foothills, where a November wildfire blamed on PG&E transmission lines killed 85 people and devastated the town of Paradise. In Butte County, where Paradise is located, people lined up at gas stations Tuesday morning to fill up their cars and portable containers with fuel for generators. They also rushed to stores to buy flashlights, ice chests and batteries.
Stay away from astroturf and don't drink water from sources that have had runoff from it. Lots more detail in the article:
PFAS chemicals have been identified in synthetic turf, according to lab tests performed on several samples of the artificial grass that were shared with The Intercept. The presence of the chemicals, members of a class that has been associated with multiple health problems, including cancer, adds to growing concerns about the grass replacement that covers many thousands of acres in parks, schools, professional sports stadiums, and practice fields around the U.S.
In one set of tests, the PFAS chemicals were detected in the plastic backing of two samples of the turf. In another, in which the “blades” of the artificial grass were analyzed, scientists measured significant levels of fluorine, which is seen as an indication of the presence of the chemicals. ...
Any threats posed by the PFAS in the blades and backing of turf add to questions that were already swirling about the crumb rubber sprinkled over it. In 2014, soccer coach Amy Griffin realized that an alarming number of goalkeepers had developed cancer after playing on turf fields and began tallying all the athletes she could find in the same situation. By January 2019, her list included 260 young football, baseball, lacrosse, and soccer players with cancer. Griffin has repeatedly called for more research. But so far, scientists have focused on the chemicals in the crumb rubber spread over turf and not on the other components of the plastic grass. ...
The rubber, which is used in huge amounts (some 40,000 tires are shredded to cover a single artificial turf field), contains heavy metals and other chemicals shown to pose serious health risks. Environmental groups have taken issue with the health risks of turf. And the Children’s Environmental Health Center of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai deemed the fake grass so dangerous it called for a moratorium on new artificial fields in 2017.
In July, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry issued the first of two reports on the recycled crumb rubber, which found dozens of metals and volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds in the black rubber specks. Several of these compounds — including cadmium, benzene, nickel, chromium, and arsenic — are known carcinogens.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Larry Davis - Got To Be Some Changes Made
Larry Davis - I've Been Hurt So Many Times
Larry Davis - Woke Up This Morning
Larry Davis - The Years Go Passing By
Larry Davis - I Tried
Larry Davis - Angels In Houston
Larry Davis - Little Girl
Larry Davis - Down Home Funk
Larry Davis - 102nd St Blues
Larry Davis - Texas Flood