The Evening Blues - 10-14-19


The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: "Little Richard" Penniman

Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features early rock and roll singer and piano player "Little Richard" Penniman. Enjoy!

Little Richard - Keep A Knockin’

"Most of wars or military coups or invasions are done in the name of democracy against democracy."

-- Eduardo Galeano

News and Opinion

Matt Taibbi weighs in with an important article. It is worth your time to click the link and read the whole thing.

We're in a permanent coup

I’ve lived through a few coups. They’re insane, random, and terrifying, like watching sports, except your political future depends on the score. ... When the KGB in 1991 tried to reassume control of the crumbling Soviet Union by placing Mikhail Gorbachev under arrest and attempting to seize Moscow, logistics ruled. Boris Yeltsin’s crew drove to the Russian White House in ordinary cars, beating KGB coup plotters who were trying to reach the seat of Russian government in armored vehicles. A key moment came when one of Yeltsin’s men, Alexander Rutskoi – who two years later would himself lead a coup against Yeltsin – prevailed upon a Major in a tank unit to defy KGB orders and turn on the “criminals.”

We have long been spared this madness in America. Our head-counting ceremony was Election Day. We did it once every four years.

That’s all over, in the Trump era.

On Thursday, news broke that two businessmen said to have “peddled supposedly explosive information about corruption involving Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden” were arrested at Dulles airport on “campaign finance violations.” The two figures are alleged to be bagmen bearing “dirt” on Democrats, solicited by Trump and his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman will be asked to give depositions to impeachment investigators. They’re reportedly going to refuse. Their lawyer John Dowd also says they will “refuse to appear before House Committees investigating President Donald Trump.” Fruman and Parnas meanwhile claim they had real derogatory information about Biden and other politicians, but “the U.S. government had shown little interest in receiving it through official channels.”

For Americans not familiar with the language of the Third World, that’s two contrasting denials of political legitimacy.

The men who are the proxies for Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani in this story are asserting that “official channels” have been corrupted. The forces backing impeachment, meanwhile, are telling us those same defendants are obstructing a lawful impeachment inquiry. This latest incident, set against the impeachment mania and the reportedly “expanding” Russiagate investigation of U.S. Attorney John Durham, accelerates our timeline to chaos. We are speeding toward a situation when someone in one of these camps refuses to obey a major decree, arrest order, or court decision, at which point Americans will get to experience the joys of their political futures being decided by phone calls to generals and police chiefs.

My discomfort in the last few years, first with Russiagate and now with Ukrainegate and impeachment, stems from the belief that the people pushing hardest for Trump’s early removal are more dangerous than Trump. Many Americans don’t see this because they’re not used to waking up in a country where you’re not sure who the president will be by nightfall. They don’t understand that this predicament is worse than having a bad president.

The Trump presidency is the first to reveal a full-blown schism between the intelligence community and the White House. Senior figures in the CIA, NSA, FBI and other agencies made an open break from their would-be boss before Trump’s inauguration, commencing a public war of leaks that has not stopped. ...

CIA/FBI-backed impeachment could also be a self-fulfilling prophecy. If Donald Trump thinks he’s going to be jailed upon leaving office, he’ll sooner or later figure out that his only real move is to start acting like the “dictator” MSNBC and CNN keep insisting he is. Why give up the White House and wait to be arrested, when he still has theoretical authority to send Special Forces troops rappelling through the windows of every last Russiagate/Ukrainegate leaker? That would be the endgame in a third world country, and it’s where we’re headed, unless someone calls off this craziness. Welcome to the Permanent Power Struggle.

Chuck Todd’s Ridiculous Over-Acting On Impeachment

Kurds reach deal with Damascus in face of Turkish offensive

Kurdish-led forces in control of north-east Syria have reached a deal with the Assad regime to stave off a bloody five-day-old Turkish assault, as more than 700 people with links to Islamic State have escaped from a detention camp in the area. Kurdish fighters controlling the region would surrender the border towns of Manbij and Kobane to Damascus in a deal brokered by Russia, officials said on Sunday night.

Syrian state media said units from President Bashar al-Assad’s army were moving north to “confront Turkish aggression on Syrian territory”. Unconfirmed reports said the deal between the Kurds and the regime would be extended to apply to the whole of north-east Syria.

“After everything, it seems that the fate of the Kurdish people [is to be abandoned]. We did everything that we could, we called upon the international community … but it did not result in a solution. We urged all Kurdish [groups] to show solidarity, but no one listened,” Ismat Sheikh Hassan, the leader of the military council in Kobane, told local television.

The deal is likely to be a bitter end to five years of semi-autonomy for Kurdish groups in north-east Syria, forced by Ankara’s offensive on the area. Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring started on Wednesday after Donald Trump’s announcement that US forces would withdraw from the region.

Kurds Turn to Bashar al-Assad for Protection as U.S. Abandons Former Allies to Turkish Assault

Turkish offensive in Syria: Ankara steps us the assault

Kurds Consider Asking for Russian No-Fly Zone as Moscow Demands Foreign Armies Leave Syria

A CNN exclusive by Barbara Starr and Ryan Browne reveals that Gen. Mazloum Kobani Abdi told the U.S., "I need to know if you are capable of protecting my people, of stopping these bombs falling on us or not. I need to know, because if you're not, I need to make a deal with Russia and the regime now and invite their planes to protect this region." Gen. Abdi told William Roebuck, the deputy special envoy to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIL, "You have given up on us. You are leaving us to be slaughtered."

A close reading of the Russian press, however, shows that a Russian no-fly zone against Turkey in northeast Syria is highly unlikely. Although U.S. politicians and pundits keep saying that the Turkish invasion benefits Russia, in fact Moscow is clearly very uncomfortable with it. It may end up inadvertently aiding the major Russian ally in Syria, the government of Bashar al-Assad, if it forces the Kurds into Assad's arms. But Russia hasn't connived in it, and its benefits to Moscow are uncertain.

Russian President Vladimir Putin called for all foreign militaries to leave Syria, according to Reuters: "Everyone who is illegitimately on the territory of any state, in this case Syria, must leave this territory. This applies to all states."

Syria: What are the implications of the deal between the Kurds and the Syrian government?

Trump orders US troops out of northern Syria as Turkish assault continues

Amid growing chaos in Syria, Donald Trump has ordered all US troops to withdraw from the country’s north to avoid a bloody conflict between Turkey and formerly US-backed Kurdish fighters that “gets worse by the hour”, defense secretary Mark Esper said on Sunday.

Reuters later reported that US officials speaking anonymously said the administration was considering plans to withdraw the bulk of American troops in the coming days, in what would be a faster-than-expected timeline. The officials said the US was looking at several options but added it appeared likely the military would pull the majority of its forces in the coming days, instead of weeks. A full withdrawal could take two weeks or more, although even that could happen faster than expected, one official said.

Esper spoke to CBS’s Face the Nation and Fox News Sunday. Trump’s national security team planned to meet to assess the situation, he said, as the US continued to urge Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan to halt his incursion. Asked if he thought Turkey, a Nato ally, would deliberately attack US troops in Syria, Esper said: “I don’t know whether they would or wouldn’t.”

He cited an incident on Friday in which a small number of troops fell under artillery fire at an observation post in the north. Esper called that an example of “indiscriminate fire” coming close to Americans, adding it was unclear whether that was an accident. The Washington Post reported that US officials believe Turkish forces knew Americans were in the area.

Turkey's Brutal Offensive Is Already a Disaster for the Kurds, a U.S. Ally

Turkey continued its ferocious assault on Kurdish-held northern Syria Friday, after Donald Trump effectively abandoned the Kurds, a key US military partner in the fight against ISIS. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based monitoring group, said at least 17 civilians, 41 Kurdish SDF fighters, and 34 Turkish-backed rebels had been killed since the launch of the offensive Wednesday. Turkey, meanwhile, claimed Friday that it had killed 342 Kurdish fighters and lost two soldiers in the fighting. It said nine civilians had been killed on Turkish soil from shelling from across the border.

The war monitor said Turkish forces and their proxies were attacking Kurdish positions along the border region with air strikes, rocket fire, and heavy artillery. But in a counteroffensive overnight, Kurdish forces managed to recapture two of the 11 villages they had lost since fighting broke out Wednesday.

Beyond the rising death toll, the assault has sparked a mass exodus of civilians, with at least 70,000 people having fled border towns like Ras al-Ain and Tal Abyad on the frontlines of the battle, and many more expected to follow. The mass displacement threatened to create a new humanitarian crisis in the region, the U.N. warned Friday.

Amnesty International said the destabilizing impact of the offensive meant about half a million people in the border region were potentially at risk. “Hostilities will impact and restrict access to humanitarian aid, pushing the civilian population, which has already suffered years of violence and displacement, to the brink,” said Europe director Marie Struthers.

At least 750 Isis affiliates escape Syria camp after Turkish shelling

At least 750 people with suspected links to Islamic State have reportedly fled a displacement camp in north-east Syria, local officials have said, raising fears that the Turkish offensive against Kurdish forces in the area could lead Isis to regain strength amid the chaos.

The news came at the same time the US ordered all 1,000 US troops to withdraw “as safely and quickly as possible” from the region after learning that the Turkish operation was likely to extend further than Ankara’s proposed 20-mile (32km) “safe zone” on the border between the two countries.

The bloody conflict between Turkey and the formerly US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters “gets worse by the hour”, the US defence secretary, Mark Esper, said on Sunday in a pre-taped interview. While US forces made preparations to pull out, the mayhem in Kurdish-held north-east Syria intensified, with reports that Turkish backed militias had summarily executed several civilians, including a female Kurdish politician.

On Sunday night Syrian TV said government troops were moving to the north to confront the Turkish offensive, potentially setting up direct clashes between Turkey and the Assad regime.

CrossTalk: NATO vs NATO

Less Than 24 Hours After Saying 'Time to Bring 'Em Home,' Trump Orders 1,800 US Troops to Saudi Arabia

Less than a day after President Donald Trump bragged to supporters at a campaign-style rally in Minnesota Thursday that he was working hard to bring U.S. soldiers home from foreign wars, the Pentagon announced Friday that 1,800 troops and advanced weapons systems have been ordered to Saudi Arabia—a move critics decried as both hypocritical and deeply dangerous.

"This is a dangerous escalation of a crisis created by the president's inability to conduct a coherent and sensible foreign policy and his reliance on the war hawks who profit from endless war," advocacy group Win Without War said on Twitter.

The announcement came 24 hours after the president tweeted that he was "trying to end the ENDLESS WARS" and told the crowd at his Minnesota rally that he was resisting elements of his administration insistent on keeping the U.S. military in the Middle East. "I have all these people that want to stay," said Trump. "They want to stay. And I don't want to stay."

The deployment is the latest increase to a total 14,000 U.S. soldiers newly arrived in the Middle East this year as Trump moves closer to war with Iran.

Cubans' resilience sorely tested as US oil sanctions bite

Services throughout Cuba have been slashed in recent weeks as the island grapples with acute petrol shortages caused by US sanctions which target companies and oil tankers transporting Venezuelan petroleum to the island. Cuba’s President Miguel Díaz-Canel has said the island is currently operating with 62% of the petrol it needs, and announced emergency measures to “disrupt the plans of imperialism”. Across the island, production has been cut and stopgaps found, so that fuel can be prioritized for hospitals, schools and food distribution.

Oxen have replaced tractors in sugarcane fields; some bakeries are using firewood to power their ovens. Transport inspectors have been deployed to ensure that anyone driving a vehicle which belongs to a ministry or state enterprise gives fellow citizens a lift.

At the Alamar textile factory – and in offices and factories throughout the island – all machines and lights are switched off between 11am and 1pm. Taking her extended lunch break, Aimee Machu, 52, said the US wants to stem the flow of oil to “extinguish the flame of communism”.

“It they cut the power in my house it’ll be torture,” she laughed, adding with mettle: “But if we have to go through power cuts again, we’ll do it.”

“We’re Cuban,” her colleague Rita Castro, 60, chuckled. “We’re used to this!” ...

The collapse of Venezuela’s oil industry – the result of years of mismanagement, incompetence and, more recently, US sanctions – has seen its oil shipments to Cuba slump, from more than 90,000 barrels a day four years ago to about 40,000 today.

Brexit talks fail to yield breakthrough with timely deal feared ‘impossible’

A breakthrough in the Brexit talks has failed to materialise after a weekend of intensive negotiations, with European Union capitals concluding that it may now be impossible for the UK to leave the EU by 31 October with a deal.

In a briefing to EU ambassadors on Sunday evening, the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, raised the prospect of the talks having to continue after the forthcoming leaders’ summit on Thursday, such was the lack of progress.

Barnier told diplomats for the member states that the latest British customs proposals for the Irish border remained an “untested” risk that the bloc could not countenance. He said that it would require a fresh “political impulse” from Boris Johnson for a deal to be realisable this week. ...

A Brexit extension – whether “technical” if the two sides get close to a deal in late October or longer to accommodate a general election – was raised in the EU27’s discussions for the first time in months.

Johnson had hinted at the problems during an update of his cabinet on Sunday lunchtime. He offered few details, but a No 10 spokesperson said the prime minister had told his colleagues that “a pathway to a deal could be seen, but that there is still a significant amount of work to get there and we must remain prepared to leave on 31 October”.

The lack of progress over the weekend has left scant hope, however, of a decisive moment in the Brexit saga this week.

Police across country put on standby for London’s million-plus protest day

Police forces in England and Wales are on standby for what could be one of the biggest public protests in British history, the anti-Brexit march due to take place in central London on Saturday 19 October.

As MPs gather in the House of Commons for an emergency weekend sitting to discuss Brexit, more than a million people are expected to mass outside parliament for a People’s Vote march, while Extinction Rebellion climate campaigners launch the finale to a near fortnight of continuous protest. Scotland Yard confirmed it was expecting a huge event and was liaising with the National Police Coordination Centre (NPoCC), which is responsible for the deployment of officers from across the UK to assist during large-scale events.

Tom Baldwin, director of communications for People’s Vote, said that despite the special parliamentary sitting, the Met had signalled it would allow the march to Parliament Square, where Extinction Rebellion protesters are camped. Talks over which group controls Parliament Square on the actual day indicate that Extinction Rebellion is likely to surrender its prime spot to accommodate the anti-Brexit protest, which could form the biggest public rally Britain has ever witnessed.

To date, the two largest public protests have been the Iraq war rally in 2003 and the last People’s Vote march held six months ago, which both drew more than a million people. Baldwin added: “It does look like it’s going to be a very, very large event, without any doubt one of the largest protests this country has ever seen.”

Trump impeachment: Esper indicates Pentagon will cooperate with inquiry

Donald Trump’s secretary of defense said on Sunday the Pentagon would cooperate with the House’s impeachment inquiry, while cautioning that Trump may try to restrict his disclosure of information. Mark Esper said in two interviews his department would work to comply with a subpoena from committees seeking records relating to the withholding of US military aid to Ukraine. ...

But Esper warned on Fox News Sunday that Trump and other officials may yet create complications for the compliance before Tuesday’s deadline for him to respond. “I don’t know what restrictions we may have internally in regard to releasing them,” Esper said. “The White House has a say on the release of documents as well.”

The Democratic chairmen of three House committees sent a subpoena to Esper on 7 October, giving him until 15 October to respond and warning that failing to do so would constitute evidence of obstruction.

Where's Hunter? Trump asks as Biden's son says he will leave China role

“Where’s Hunter?” Donald Trump asked on Sunday, referring to the son of former vice-president Joe Biden. Hunter Biden’s business interests overseas sit at the center of the House impeachment inquiry into Trump, who has admitted asking foreign powers to investigate.

“He has totally disappeared!” Trump tweeted on Sunday, adding without evidence the claim it “now looks like [Biden] has raided and scammed even more countries! Media is AWOL.”

In fact, the media swarmed to an internet post written by Hunter Biden’s attorney, which said the 49-year-old would step down from the board of a Chinese-backed private equity firm at the end of the month, as part of a pledge not to work on behalf of any foreign-owned companies should his father win the White House.

Portland antifa activist killed in hit and run, police say

A Portland antifascist activist was killed in the early hours of Saturday in an apparent hit-and-run near Cider Riot, a cidery and taproom popular with the city’s anarchist left that has been the scene of conflict with rightwing groups.

According to the Portland Police Bureau, the car involved was fired upon and crashed into a nearby building. Its occupants fled the scene.

Police said in a statement that the 23-year-old victim, Sean D Kealiher, was taken to a local hospital by associates. The Multnomah county medical examiner determined the cause of death to be homicide, caused by blunt force trauma. Police said homicide squad detectives would investigate and called on witnesses to come forward.

Kealiher was a prominent participant in antifascist and anti-Trump protests in Portland, speaking and marching in opposition to events held by rightwing groups. His activities occasionally attracted the attention of rightwing bloggers and social media personalities.

Rose City Antifa, the city’s longest-standing antifascist group, said in a tweet addressing Kealiher’s death that it “was not related to fascist activity”.

'That's murder': Fort Worth police officer shoots woman inside her home

After a white police officer responding to a report of a house door standing open killed a black woman inside her own home on Saturday, an attorney for the woman’s family said the officer had not had time to perceive a threat before shooting. “You didn’t hear the officer shout, ‘Gun, gun, gun,’” attorney Lee Merritt said after viewing video taken from a Fort Worth officer’s bodycam during the shooting death of Atatiana Jefferson, 28. “He didn’t have time to perceive a threat. That’s murder.”

Jefferson’s family told KXAS TV she was watching her eight-year-old nephew when she was killed. A neighbor had called a non-emergency line to report that the front door to the house was open. In a brief statement to media on Sunday, Lt Brandon O’Neil of Fort Worth police said the officer would be interviewed on Monday by the department’s major case unit.

“The officer observed a person through a rear window in the residence and fired a shot at that person,” O’Neil said. “The officer did not announce that he was a police officer prior to shooting. What the officer observed and why he did not announce ‘police’ will be addressed as the investigation continues." ...

The video released by police shows two officers searching the home from the outside with flashlights. One shouts: “Put your hands up, show me your hands.” One shot is then fired through a window. The officer does not identify himself as an officer in the video.

“We’re Still Here”: Indigenous Peoples’ Day Celebration Reflects Ongoing Resistance to Colonization

13,000 Migrant Kids Are Stuck Waiting in Mexico Thanks to Trump’s Policy

So far, the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy has forced more than 51,000 asylum-seekers to wait out their cases in Mexico, and about a quarter of them are children, according to a new Reuters analysis of federal data. Of those 13,000 children currently waiting, more than a quarter are under 5 and at least 400 are infants.

Children aren’t being sent back alone. The policy, officially known as the Migrant Protection Protocols, isn’t supposed to apply to unaccompanied minors — they’re typically allowed to pursue their cases from within the U.S. — but it does apply to family groups. Administration officials have repeatedly said the program is partly intended to keep asylum-seeking families from reaching the U.S., since a federal court settlement forbids the government from detaining minors for over 20 days.

There’s been a surge in migrant families claiming asylum at the border over the past year. Many are fleeing violence, crime, and poverty in Central America, and a growing number are so-called “extra-continental” migrants from Africa and Asia who are similarly seeking better conditions in the U.S. Border officers apprehended more than 457,000 people in “family units” between October 2018 and August 2019, according to federal data.

the horse race

CNN Host Sh*ts Pants Over Trumps Debate Power

Trump Supporters' Response to Impeachment? Make It Rain Money on Trump.

President Trump on Thursday held his first rally since Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that the House would launch an impeachment inquiry. ....

Though he might have sounded more than a little concerned about the prospect of impeachment, there is one way that the impeachment inquiry is not hurting him right now: fundraising. Campaign manager Brad Parscale told the Associated Press that in the 24 hours after the impeachment inquiry was announced, the campaign and the RNC raised $5 million online.

Trump's mounting troubles in Iowa could spell doom for Republicans

President Trump may have already lost Iowa and the rest of the midwest, but now he risks throwing the Senate into play. Until last week, Senator Joni Ernst, a Republican from Iowa, was pretty safe, with high approval ratings and an ability to lie low in her re-election bid. Now, she is facing tough questions back home about trade and impeachment that are making her squirm.

Trump’s trade war with China caused John Deere, the largest employer in Iowa, to cut production by 20% and lay off 160 workers in the Quad Cities along the Mississippi River. Crop markets are in disarray as China was the largest consumer of soybeans until that market was shut down.

Farmers have been furious with Trump for waiving ethanol blending requirements, which the EPA has tried to smooth over with vague promises for the corn-based fuel. But the trust has been breached, and mothballed ethanol plants in north-west Iowa are unlikely to fire up again. Farmers are anxious. So are rural communities, and so are union workers along the rivers. And it’s not just Iowa. It’s Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania, too. Polls show Trump is tanking across those key swing states.

Krystal Ball: Bernie's finally on a winning track

Sanders Distinguishes Himself From Warren by Noting That She Has Said 'I Am a Capitalist to My Bones'

White House hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders distinguished himself from Sen. Elizabeth Warren—another top competitor in the Democratic presidential primary—by highlighting their different beliefs on economic policy during an interview with ABC News chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl that aired Sunday.

After ABC's Karl suggested that Sanders (I-Vt.) and Warren (D-Mass.) have "pretty close to identical positions" on major issues, Sanders said that "Elizabeth Warren has been a friend of mine for some 25 years and I think she is a very, very good senator, but there are differences between Elizabeth and myself. Elizabeth, I think, as you know, has said that she is a capitalist [to] her bones. I'm not."

Sanders, a democratic socialist, went on to detail his concerns about "the situation today that we face in this country." Specifically, he called out major pharmaceutical companies for price fixing as well as the fossil fuel industry for profiting off of "destroying the planet." The senator, a champion of Medicare for All, also pointed out that the United States fails to guarantee healthcare to all people in the country, unlike other developed nations.

"I think business as usual and doing it the old-fashioned way is not good enough," Sanders said. "What we need is, in fact—I don't want to get people too nervous—we need a political revolution. I am, I believe, the only candidate who's going to say to the ruling class of this country, the corporate elite: Enough, enough with your greed and with your corruption. We need real change in this country."

Reiterating a key distinction between him and Warren on economic grounds, he said that "Elizabeth considers herself—if I got the quote correctly—to be a capitalist to her bones. I don't. And the reason I am not is because I will not tolerate for one second the kind of greed and corruption and income and wealth inequality and so much suffering that is going on in this country today, which is unnecessary."

Warren's quote which Sanders repeatedly referenced is from a July 2018 event hosted by the New England Council. The Massachusetts Democrat was quoted as saying, "I am a capitalist to my bones." During an interview about a week later, CNBC editor at large John Harwood asked Warren, "You don't think capitalists are bad people?"

"I am a capitalist. Come on. I believe in markets," Warren responded. "What I don't believe in is theft, what I don't believe in is cheating. That's where the difference is. I love what markets can do, I love what functioning economies can do. They are what make us rich, they are what create opportunity. But only fair markets, markets with rules. Markets without rules is about the rich take it all, it's about the powerful get all of it. And that's what's gone wrong in America." ...

Reporters and political observers noted that Sanders' comments during the ABC interview were "the biggest contrast" he has made with Warren in the race so far.

Sanders National Policy Director: How Bernie will end corporate greed

The debate already is rigged against Gabbard, Sanders, and Yang

the evening greens

Wall Street wants to kill you.

Top investment banks provide billions to expand fossil fuel industry

The world’s largest investment banks have provided more than $700bn of financing for the fossil fuel companies most aggressively expanding in new coal, oil and gas projects since the Paris climate change agreement, figures show.

The financing has been led by the Wall Street giant JPMorgan Chase, which has provided $75bn (£61bn) to companies expanding in sectors such as fracking and Arctic oil and gas exploration, according to the analysis. The New York bank is one of 33 powerful financial institutions to have provided an estimated total of $1.9tn to the fossil fuel sector between 2016 and 2018.

The data shows the most aggressively expanding coal-mining operations, oil and gas companies, fracking firms and pipeline companies have received $713.3bn in loans, equity issuances and debt underwriting services from 2016 to mid-2019.

Other top financiers of fossil fuel companies include Citigroup, Bank of America and Wells Fargo.

Using Bloomberg financial data and publicly available company disclosures, the analysis was compiled exclusively for the Guardian by Rainforest Action Network, a US-based environmental organisation. The figures update the group’s Banking on Climate Change 2019 report from April, which showed the practices of key investment banks were aligned with a climate disaster.

Figures show fracking has been the focus of intense financing, with Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America providing about $80bn over three years, much of it linked to the Permian basin in Texas.

Looks like Extinction Rebellion is getting some help from both greedy energy companies and mother nature in disrupting capitalism.

California wildfires bring destruction to Los Angeles suburbs

Millions without power. A hundred thousand ordered to evacuate. A major highway through Los Angeles closed for most of the day, as hills above burned. Wildfire season in California is disrupting daily life and highlighting the weaknesses of official responses to climate disasters even in a wealthy and technologically advanced state.

At least three people were reported dead at the scenes of wildfires on the outskirts of Los Angeles on Friday.

In the Saddleridge fire, to the north of the city, officials said 13 buildings were destroyed and another 18 were damaged. To the east of the city, a fire that swept through a mobile home park in Calimesa left 74 buildings destroyed and 16 damaged. Two people died there, officials said.

The fires in Los Angeles burned as power was restored to most of the nearly 2 million residents in the northern part of the state disconnected by Pacific Gas & Electric on Wednesday, seeking to prevent a repeat of the past two years, when its equipment sparked deadly, destructive fires during windy weather.

The blackouts, which hit parts of the San Francisco Bay Area, put medically vulnerable people at risk, highlighted the lack of preparation by city governments for helping at-risk residents, and prompted Governor Gavin Newsom to criticize PG&E for “greed” and “mismanagement”.

After Avoiding Safety Upgrades, PG&E Hired Lobbyists and Public Relations Instead

Power shutoffs affecting more than 1 million residents, scheduled by PG&E this week throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and Northern California, have sparked a massive backlash, with many community members telling reporters that they are shocked that the company has not done more to upgrade its transmission lines. The decision to shut off the electricity services, a precaution over concerns about high winds, raises the question of precisely how PG&E has been spending its rate-payers’ money. And the answer isn’t pretty: While neglecting safety upgrades and investments in its aging infrastructure, PG&E has instead been lavishly rewarding shareholders and buying political influence.

Over the last year, reporters have highlighted the large lobby spending and billions of dollars in dividend payments to investors by PG&E, while the company avoided necessary investments in its aging transmission towers — some of which are among the oldest in the world and were known to the company to be a potential fire hazard. The aging transmission lines caused the Camp Fire wildfires last November, the most destructive in California history, that left 86 dead, over a dozen injured, and caused at least $16 billion in damages. The Intercept has identified even more money spent by PG&E on lobbyists and image-makers, including previously unreported filings made public through Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings that began in January. ...

PG&E’s political sway is legendary in California. The company has enlisted top lobbyists and retained a veritable who’s who of influential former lawmakers and politicians on its payroll, including former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown. During the gubernatorial race last year, the company donated over $200,000 to the campaign of Gov. Gavin Newsom.

In July, Judge William Alsup directed PG&E to outline to the federal court the full extent of its campaign donations and explain why the firm spent so lavishly on political initiatives and dividends instead of repairing its aging power lines.

Also of Interest

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

Can Extinction Rebellion Build a U.S. Climate Movement Big Enough to Save the Earth?

Profit Is Just Another Word For Destruction

Aid Groups Warn of Humanitarian Crisis from Turkey’s Assault on Syria

‘Assange exposed war crimes but no one was convicted’ – Rapper M.I.A. visits WikiLeaks founder

The False Balance Between Fascists and Antifascists

Pompeo suggests reporter 'working for Democrats' after impeachment grilling

'All the Way Up to POTUS': Ousted Ambassador to Ukraine Names Trump in Testimony Over Smear Campaign Led by Giuliani

Adam Schiff has 2 aides who worked with whistleblower at White House

The New York Times’ Preemptive Reporting on James Comey

Activists’ phones targeted by one of the world’s most advanced spyware apps

PG&E Execs Were Literally Partying in Wine Country While Planning to Cut Power to Millions of Californians

In the Midst of a Liquidity Crisis, the Fed Rolls Back Liquidity Requirements at Banks

Gabbard slams New York Times profile of her

Democratic Candidate for Senate Was a Key Player in Controversial Big-Money Fueled Development Project

Images offer glimpse into life of endangered Florida panther

A Little Night Music

Little Richard - Slippin’ And Slidin’

Little Richard - She’s Got It

Little Richard - By the Light of the Silvery Moon

Little Richard – Tutti Frutti, Bama Lama Bama Loo

Little Richard & His Band - Baby

Little Richard - I Got It

Little Richard - Ready Teddy

Little Richard - She Knows How To Rock

Little Richard - I'm Back

Little Richard - Rip It Up

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Shahryar's picture

"suspected links to ISIS"

if they weren't ISIS before, they probably are now.

That is, if there really is such a thing as ISIS.

0 users have voted.

pulled it out of their ass just at a time when 'Al-quaeda' was no longer scary enough to sell National Enquirers and MSNBC ad time.

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I don't want Trump to win, but I do want the establishment Dems to lose due to their cheating and undemocratic practices in the primary. And I will do whatever I can to help that happen.

joe shikspack's picture


heh, i suspect that isis is just a marketing franchise. the u.s. wanted to make allies of al-qaeda in certain theatres of battle and needed to distract attention away from them. the obvious choice was to create a new marketing campaign for an even more distressing hobgoblin.

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Raggedy Ann's picture

That Taibbi article is WELL worth reading. This was my second read through and I'm glad I did it.

I'm with Shahryar ~ is ISIS real? Inquiring minds are skeptical.

Beautiful day in the neighborhood!

Have a lovely Monday evening, everyone! Pleasantry

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"When will our conscience's grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?" Eleanor Roosevelt

"The secret of change is to focus all your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new." Socrates (469-399 BC)

joe shikspack's picture

@Raggedy Ann

yep, i think that taibbi is really on to something. i hope that everybody clicks the link and reads the article.

it's a lovely evening here, neither too hot nor too cold. i'll take it!

have a good one!

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Lily O Lady's picture

sharks are eating THEIR (the shrimpers) shrimp catches. No one seems to be considering that the shrimpers might be taking the sharks’ shrimp. I think that attitude takes a lot of sand—pun intended.

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"The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

joe shikspack's picture

@Lily O Lady

heh, some people take being at the top of the food chain a little too seriously. either that, or their magic book that tells them that they have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth or crawleth.

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Lily O Lady's picture

@joe shikspack

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"The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

joe shikspack's picture

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Pluto's Republic's picture

...that first story should not be missed:

The Trump presidency is the first to reveal a full-blown schism between the intelligence community and the White House. Senior figures in the CIA, NSA, FBI and other agencies made an open break from their would-be boss before Trump’s inauguration, commencing a public war of leaks that has not stopped.

My discomfort in the last few years, first with Russiagate and now with Ukrainegate and impeachment, stems from the belief that the people pushing hardest for Trump’s early removal are more dangerous than Trump. Many Americans don’t see this because they’re not used to waking up in a country where you’re not sure who the president will be by nightfall. They don’t understand that this predicament is worse than having a bad president.


Americans might soon wish they just waited to vote their way out of the Trump era

That's what I'm thinking.

It seems to be a Nazi Coup vs a Russian Take Over. Which one is a lie?

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Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.

— Martin Luther King

Lily O Lady's picture

@Pluto's Republic

Brooks Brothers rioters halted the ballot count in Florida. It was a political move disguised as a citizen demonstration. Still, I take Taibbi’s point.

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"The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

Pluto's Republic's picture

@Lily O Lady

And the Patriot Act made the Coup official.

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Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.

— Martin Luther King

joe shikspack's picture

@Pluto's Republic

what struck me about taibbi's piece is that it is about pattern recognition. i have been seeing the pattern of rising fascism for quite a number of years now and i certainly have picked up the pattern of elements of the permanent (unelected) government interfering in the (allegedly) democratic process. i have thought of it as a take over by a corporate state grown too big to maintain the appearance of being restrained by a regulatory structure.

i and probably a lot of people have considered what is happening a trip into uncharted territory.

taibbi, however, has seen this pattern before and points out that it's just like processes that have taken place in governments around the world and just what we can expect as an outcome.

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Pluto's Republic's picture

@joe shikspack

...I have come to realize that it is not really intellectual at all. It's mechanical:

what struck me about taibbi's piece is that it is about pattern recognition

In this new world flooded with big data, there are those few who can inexplicably and deftly swim through it and effortlessly collect patterns without thinking too much — not to solve a standing hypotheses, but to create new ones that are constructed with solid evidence.

In the absense of big data, this gift would have died with the possessor until the conditions to activate it were just so. In the 100,000 year run of humans struggling to evolve, how many composers and programmers and mathematicians and artists have slipped through the livestock, because they were born too soon for their gifts to find fertile ground to bloom?

Anyone can learn to spot patterns, but this gift is all about making inspired connections. I've seen that gift in Matt Tiabbi. I've seen him stumble and be rescued by it, as well. It's a gift that allows you curate the news each day like a composer who follows a score playing inside his head. It's an emergent and timely gift — and one that is dangerous to the ruling elite because it can accurately spot lies, misdirection, and distractions very early in the process.

I also believe it takes one to know one.

More that a few with some signs of awareness of the validity of pattern recognition have clustered at c99. Many of those banned at psyops websites like TOP, tend to exhibit the gift, knowingly or unknowingly, which will not let them simply swim in the smoothness of delusion without pointing out the logic flaws.

The 'Winstons' in Orwell's world could not unlearn or suppress the gift of pattern recognition. Today's IC face the same problem that Big Brother did with these outliers.

Blessed are those who recognize patterns, for their purpose is to keep civilization from destroying itself.
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Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.

— Martin Luther King

Shahryar's picture

I remember the first time I really heard him. Wow.

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joe shikspack's picture


he was a genuine innovator and a great musician.

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Matt had a great insight that there are two types of leakers/whistle blowers. The first are the unapproved leakers like Snowden. All of whom get punished for their revelations. The other group are the approved leakers who come from various intelligence agencies--such as the whistle blower who exposed Trump. Really whistle blowers/leakers get treated like criminals and not allowed to go back to their jobs.

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joe shikspack's picture


heh, i guess the difference between a whistleblower and a leaker is that a whistleblower points out things that the powers that be want to become public. sort of convenient inconvenient facts.

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is the coup is only Trump-specific because, well, Trump, but could have happened any time since the CIA and FBI were created.
I came away thinking Trump is the closest any president has come since JFK to saying the CIA must be eliminated.
Which also leads me to the conclusion Obama let the CIA run as wild as Reagan. After all, Obama said he was some kind of moderate (?) Reagan Republican. Guess the CIA caught that little dog whistle.

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joe shikspack's picture

@on the cusp

what i find so curious about the way that the alphabets rejected trump prior to trump taking office even. it seems to me that a moron like trump would be ever so simple to manipulate by the alphabets. a little flattery and a lot of keeping him out of the loop and "whoopsie, look what just happened over there," should have gotten the job done for the alphabets.

Which also leads me to the conclusion Obama let the CIA run as wild as Reagan.

perhaps wilder. how many countries did the u.s. start wars in on obama's watch? how many countries had special forces troops performing operations on his watch?

i bet it was way more than under reagan.

beyond that, reagan actually initiated major nuclear deals with russia, while obama worked really hard to piss russia off.

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@joe shikspack Reagan/Clinton and...all those fields of poppies pictures show our US Army are guarding.
"In Flander's Fields our poppy our flowers grow"...
Who in hell runs this world, and for what end?
They have been doing it for centuries. Everywhere, and we still can't get a handle on who, what, when, where, why, or how they do it.

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enhydra lutris's picture

tunes from Little Richard. Wonderful E.B., thanks.

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