The Evening Blues - 11-19-19


The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: Matt "Guitar" Murphy

Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features blues guitarist Matt "Guitar" Murphy. Enjoy!

Matt Murphy - Murphy's Boogie

"The nations of the world, with centuries of international law behind them, have never hesitated to engage in mass destruction when solemnly pledged to keep the peace; and the legal documents in America have not prevented the United States from doing the same. Those in authority have and always will abuse their power. And the instances when they do not do so are as rare as roses growing on icebergs. Far from the Constitution playing any liberating part in the lives of the American people, it has robbed them of the capacity to rely on their own resources or do their own thinking. Americans are so easily hoodwinked by the sanctity of law and authority. In fact, the pattern of life has become standardized, routinized, and mechanized like canned food and Sunday sermons. The hundred-percenter easily swallows syndicated information and factory-made ideas and beliefs. He thrives on the wisdom given him over the radio and cheap magazines by corporations whose philanthropic aim is selling America out. He accepts the standards of conduct and art in the same breath with the advertising of chewing gum, toothpaste, and shoe polish. Even songs are turned out like buttons or automobile tires--all cast from the same mold.”

-- Emma Goldman

News and Opinion

US says Israeli settlements no longer considered illegal in dramatic shift

The US has declared that Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land are not necessarily illegal, in a dramatic break with decades of international law, US policy and the established position of most US allies.

“Calling the establishment of civilian settlements inconsistent with international law has not advanced the cause of peace,” said Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state. “The hard truth is that there will never be a judicial resolution to the conflict, and arguments about who is right and who is wrong as a matter of international law will not bring peace.”

He said the legality of individual settlements should be decided by the Israeli courts, and claimed that the US declaration would not prejudice an ultimate comprehensive settlement between Israelis and Palestinians. Pompeo even suggested the move would “provide the very space for Israelis and Palestinians to come together to find a political solution”.

The US embassy in Jerusalem, however, appeared to be bracing for a hostile reaction from Palestinians, issuing a warning against travel to Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza.

Senior Palestinian politician Saeb Erekat said: “Once again, with this announcement, the Trump administration is demonstrating the extent to which it’s threatening the international system with its unceasing attempts to replace international law with the ‘law of the jungle’.” ...

At the same time, Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, immediately lauded the announcement, saying the US had righted a “historical wrong” and accepted the “reality on the ground”.

Noura Erakat: U.S. Recognition of Israeli Settlements Is “Entrenchment of an Apartheid Regime”

US settlement announcement prompts Israeli calls for takeover

Washington’s announcement that it no longer considers Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank illegal has elicited a wave of euphoria from Israeli rightwing figures and indignation from Palestinians.

Senior Israeli officials and settler groups said the shift in US policy meant the time was ripe for Israel to take permanent control of the settlements – a move that is largely seen as an end to Palestinian aspirations of statehood. The former Israeli justice minister and pro-settlement hardliner Ayelet Shaked thanked Donald Trump and the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, in a tweet. “The Jewish People have the legal and moral right to live in their ancient homeland,” she wrote. “Now is the time to apply our sovereignty to these communities,” she added. ...

World powers overwhelmingly consider the settlements illegal under international law, many of them built on land confiscated from Palestinian families and squeezing them into ever-smaller enclaves. ...

Hanan Ashrawi, a senior Palestinian official, said the US had neither the “right nor agency to rewrite international law” and was spreading lawlessness. “Israeli settlements are a grave violation of international law, including international humanitarian law. They also constitute a war crime … These are solid facts that the Trump administration cannot alter or unravel,” she said. ...

“The Trump administration been giving everything to Netanyahu as a gift over the course of the past nearly three years,” said Diana Buttu, a former adviser to the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas. “This was next on Netanyahu’s wishlist.” But Buttu, who has been involved in political negotiations since 2000, added that US policy had been moving in this direction for decades. “This isn’t just about Trump, as bad as Trump is, as terrible as a president he is,” she said. “We saw this all happening through the negotiations; there was a continued attempt to water down the illegality of settlements. Israel got the message that might is right.”

Trump 'Pandering to His Extremist Base' on Israeli Settlements, Says Bernie Sanders

Sen. Bernie Sanders was among a number of critics decrying the Monday announcement by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that the U.S. would no longer consider Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank illegal, a break with longstanding precedent that could ireversibly damage the two-state solution and peace process.

Sanders, a candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, said in a tweet that it was clear the settlements are illegal and suggested that President Donald Trump was pushing the issue due to pressure from his right-wing supporters. "Once again, Mr. Trump is isolating the United States and undermining diplomacy by pandering to his extremist base," tweeted Sanders.

Brooklyn-based organizer Linda Sarsour, a Sanders surrogate, expressed her anger in a tweet.

"Not only do Trump and his administration believe they're above the law of THIS LAND, they believe they are above international law by announcing that the 'U.S.' (cause they don't speak for me) doesn't see illegal settlements in Palestine as 'inconsistent with international law,'" said Sarsour.

The enthusiasm from Pompeo over Monday's change in policy, opined Palestinian leader Hanan Ashrawi, is likely based in his theocratic Christianity.

"Another blow to international law, justice, and peace by a Biblical absolutist waiting for the 'rapture,'" tweeted Ashrawi.

Christian leaders urge Congress to curb Israeli torture of children

Two dozen Christian leaders are calling on the US Congress to support a bill to curb Israeli torture of Palestinian children. This comes as progressive lawmakers are being challenged over their failure to uphold Palestinian rights. In Chicago, activists occupied the office of Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky to demand she back the bill.

In a letter to US lawmakers, the faith leaders say that thousands of Palestinian children have been “prosecuted and incarcerated” by the Israeli army in recent years. “Often dragged from their homes in the middle of the night by armed soldiers, they suffer physical and emotional violence and frequently face verbal abuse, humiliation and intimidation,” the letter states. “These children are interrogated, usually without family or lawyers present, and often sign confessions in Hebrew, a language many do not understand.”

Introduced by Congresswoman Betty McCollum, HR 2407 would prohibit US funding to Israeli military units found to be involved in abuses of Palestinian children. It also allocates millions of dollars to investigate such abuses.

Signatories of the letter urging lawmakers to back the bill include Reverend Michael B. Curry, the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, Reverend Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Jim Winkler, president of the National Council of Churches, and Johnny Zokovitch, executive director of the Catholic peace movement Pax Christi USA.

McCollum will be holding a briefing on Capitol Hill this week to urge more lawmakers to support HR 2407.

The Intercept has a series of articles up based on an intelligence document dump from Iran about its activities in Iraq. There's good information in it, though at least in the introductory video one has to put up with James Risen's idiotic babbling about how invading Iraq was a "strategic blunder," utterly ignoring the moral dimension of the U.S.' decades of imperialist war, death-dealing and domination in Iraq and Iran. This article by Jeremy Scahill and Murtaza Hussain at least has a decent summation, which I'll excerpt here:

From the Rubble of the U.S. War in Iraq, Iran Built a New Order

When the Obama administration conducted a made-for-television “withdrawal” from Iraq in 2011, large swaths of the country were still in a state of political and humanitarian collapse. The Iraqi state that had existed before the war had been utterly destroyed. For better and for worse, Iran has sought to fill the gaping void in Iraq that Washington’s policies created. Out of the rubble of the country, Iranian leaders saw an opportunity to create a new order — one that would never again threaten them the way Saddam Hussein’s regime had. ...

That Iran would seize an opportunity to assert its influence in Iraq is no shock. While Iran’s role has been far from positive, the United States has long since lost any claim to be a legitimate broker regarding the future of either country. In 1963, the U.S. helped initiate Iraq’s long nightmare when it aided the overthrow of the popular government of Abdel Karim Kassem, who sought to nationalize Iraqi oil and create social welfare programs. The U.S. supported the ascent of Saddam and continued to back his regime over the years, mainly as a bulwark against Iran, even in the face of high-profile atrocities like the gassing of Kurdish civilians in the city of Halabja and the massacres of Shia Iraqis following the Gulf War.

For more than six decades, the U.S. has played a central role in fomenting disasters that have destroyed the lives of entire generations in Iraq and Iran. Any criticisms of Iran’s role today cannot efface this ugly record. How Iraqis respond to the information about Iran’s secret dealings in their country is their business. Perhaps there are international organizations and countries whose advice and counsel would be welcome. But given its atrocious legacy in Iraq, the United States should not be among them.

Yemen's Houthi rebels hijack towboat with apparent Saudi link

Yemen’s Houthi rebels have hijacked a boat towing a South Korean drilling rig, a Riyadh-led coalition has said, with a global shipping tracker calling it a Saudi-flagged vessel. Sunday’s incident in the Red Sea follows a lull in Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia as one Riyadh official said the kingdom had established an “open channel” with the Iran-backed rebels.

“On Sunday, during the sailing of the tugboat Rabigh-3 in the southern Red Sea, it was hijacked and subjected to armed robbery by terrorist elements affiliated to the Houthi militia,” the coalition spokesman Turki al-Maliki said. “The boat was towing a [marine rig] owned by a South Korean company,” Maliki said in a statement posted on the official Saudi press agency. ...

The head of the rebels’ supreme revolutionary committee, Mohammed al-Houthi, acknowledged the Houthis had seized a vessel, in what he called a “suspicious case” off the Yemeni coast. “The Yemeni coastguard is doing its job to determine whether it … belongs to the aggressors or to South Korea,” he tweeted. “If it is for South Korea, they will be released after legal procedures … we assure everyone not to worry about the crew.”

Turkey warns of another military operation if Syrian Kurds don't leave border region

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Monday that Ankara will resume its military operations in northern Syria if the Kurdish leftist YPG militia does not vacate the region, according to Reuters.

Cavusoglu was quoted by the state-owned Anadolu agency as saying Russia and the U.S. have not abided by a cease-fire agreement brokered by Vice President Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last month. The agreement called for the removal of YPG from a territory bordering Turkey in northeastern Syria in exchange for Turkey halting its offensive.

“If we do not obtain a result, we will do what is necessary, just as we launched the operation after trying with the U.S.,” Cavusoglu said.

Bolivian U.N. Ambassador: “Racist Elite” Engineered Coup to Restore Neoliberalism in Bolivia

After Week of Violence and Unrest, Warren Criticized for Conciliatory Remarks on Post-Coup Bolivia

Top-tier 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren is under fire from progressives and Indigenous activists for her comments Monday about the recent coup in Bolivia—remarks her critics called too conciliatory to the right-wing un-elected government that seized power after President Evo Morales was forced to resign and flee the country.

"The Bolivian people deserve free and fair elections, as soon as possible," Warren tweeted Monday afternoon. "Bolivia's interim leadership must limit itself to preparing for an early, legitimate election. Bolivia's security forces must protect demonstrators, not commit violence against them."

"Sometimes silence is better," replied journalist Katie Halper. "Please get a better foreign policy advisor and condemn the coup," said attorney Eva Golinger. ...

Jacobin's Luke Savage pointed out that Warren's statement appeared to be an attempt to downplay the violence of the coup and reframe the conflict as a purely political conflict. "This isn't an issue of process," said Savage. "A right wing military coup deposed Bolivia's sitting president and the U.S.A. supported it."

"Bolivia highlights another stark contrast with Sanders that can't be obscured with semantics," tweeted journalist and media critic Adam Johnson. "Sanders firmly calls what happened a coup, Warren gives us process handwringing."

Who is Bolivia's far-right US-backed coup leader?

Bolivia crisis : food, gasoline shortages reported in several cities

Hong Kong: police say surrender is only option for protesters

Hong Kong police have fought running battles with protesters trying to break a security cordon around a university in the city, firing teargas both at activists trying to escape the besieged campus and at crowds trying to reach it from outside.

Police have said the demonstrators inside Polytechnic University had no option but to come out and surrender.

The sprawling campus has been occupied by demonstrators since last week, and has become the focus of the most prolonged and tense confrontation between police and protesters in more than five months of unrest in the semi-autonomous city.

Hundreds of protesters, including secondary school students, have been trapped inside for more than 24 hours, after clashes on Sunday during which protesters launched petrol bombs and shot arrows at police, who threatened to use live rounds.

Police said they had allowed Red Cross volunteers into the university to ferry out injured protesters but said the rest had no option but to give themselves up. “Other than coming out to surrender, I don’t see, at the moment, there is a viable option for them,” Cheuk Hau-yip, regional commander of Kowloon West district, told a press conference, adding that police had the ability and resolve to end the standoff peacefully so protesters should not try their luck.

Anti-Semitism Bandwagon Resumes Against Corbyn

For a few months over the summer the British corporate media largely lost interest in smearing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as an anti-Semite. Maybe they had begun to worry that the constant drum-beat of the past three years was deadening the public’s sensitivity to such claims. But an election is now weeks away, and the anti-Semitism smear bandwagon is being rolled out once again.

Stephen Pollard, editor of The Jewish Chronicle (who also writes for the Tory-loving Mail, Express, Sun and Telegraph newspapers) has yet again been terrifying readers as best he can, implying not so subtly that voting for Labour might risk a genocide of British Jews. After several years of painting Corbyn – preposterously – as some kind of unkempt, gray-bearded leader of a British Gestapo-in-the-making, Pollard spent a few recent days highlighting in the corporate media the predictable results of the latest survey of Jewish public opinion. It suggests that a growing number of Jews are considering leaving Britain if Corbyn manages to oust Boris Johnson from power. ...

The anti-Semitism smear campaign is being revived in the corporate media for good reason. The stakes could not be higher for Britain’s ruling class. As worried as many of them are by Brexit, Corbyn is seen as a bigger threat. He might call time on the banquet they have been gorging on for four decades uninterrupted. If Corbyn shunts Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the Tories out of power, the millionaires and billionaires who control both the British print and broadcast media, including the BBC, fear the good times could come to an abrupt end. The Brexit threat pales in comparison. That would simply shift our primary economic allegiance from Europe to the United States, leaving the predatory capitalism on which the corporate class has grown unimaginably rich as strong as ever. A Corbyn government, by contrast, is an unknown quantity. The free-lunch might end, or at least start to feel more like an unsatisfying snack.

In truth, given the bitter divisions tearing apart his own party — between most of the mass membership, who are behind him, and the holdouts from the Blair-Brown era that still dominate the parliamentary party — it is hard to imagine Corbyn being able to do as much as his critics fear. He may manage to curb the worst excesses of the neoliberal financial system; he may block further privatization of the National Health Service, even reverse it a little; and he may bring a few vital national industries back into public ownership. He may manage too to redirect some of the cream the fat cats have been lapping up back into the public coffers for a New Green Deal. All of that would be a relief after so many years of Tory-designed austerity for the many and state socialism for the few.

But the corporate class are now so greedy, so used to getting their way, that even the smallest diminishment of their power and wealth is seen as an unbearable offence against what they divine as the natural order.

Trump's Child Separation Policy "Absolutely" Violated International Law Says UN Expert

The Trump administration violated international law when it separated migrant children from their families, a United Nations expert said Monday.

That's not all, said Manfred Nowak, the independent expert leading a global study on children deprived of liberty. With over 100,000 children still in migration-related detention, the United States leads the world with the highest number of children in migration-related custody in the world.

Nowak made the remarks to press at the formal launch of the report, the U.N. Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty, he said has the power to effect positive change.

Referencing the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Nowak said that "the detention of children shall only be a measure of last resort and only if absolutely necessary for the shortest appropriate period of time. That means, in principle, children should not be deprived of liberty."

"Alternatives to detention are usually available," said Nowak, "it's simply a question of politics." ...

"Of course, separating children—as was done by the Trump administration—from their parents, even small children, at the Mexican-U.S. border is absolutely prohibited by the Convention on the Rights of the Child," Nowak continued. "I would call it inhuman treatment for both the parents and the children. And there are still quite a number of children that are separated from their parents—and neither the children know where their parents are and the parents [don't] know where the children are—so that is definitely something that definitely should not happen again." ...

Asked whether the United States—the only U.N. member state not to have ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child—would face direct consequences of the rights violations, Nowak said direct action from the United Nations was unlikely because the United States is a permanent member of the Security Council.

"That's one of the weaknesses of the United Nations," said Nowak.

Keiser Report: A rivalry turned ‘financial war’

An interesting article worth a click:

Inequality Higher in Some States Because of Corporate Welfare

Income inequality made big headlines recently, after the U.S. Census Bureau released new data showing that the gap between the richest and poorest Americans is at its highest level in at least half a century. Less reported was the significant variation among the states. New York and California had the highest inequality in 2018, while Utah and Alaska had the lowest. In addition, states as diverse as Alabama, Texas and New Hampshire experienced large increases from the prior year.

Why are some states more or less equal than others?

It usually comes down to policies. States with more generous welfare programs and higher minimum wages often have lower inequality, while those with weaker unions and lower taxes on the rich have higher levels. My research suggests there’s another, less-noticed reason behind the disparities: corporate welfare.

States offer economic development incentives to businesses in order to encourage their investment and expansion in the state. ... But the amount of incentives states offer can vary significantly. For example, New Hampshire spent just $9.9 million on incentives, or 75 cents for every state resident, per year from 1999 to 2014, while Louisiana paid out an average of $1.2 billion a year, or $267 per capita. ...

I found that when states spend more on incentives, their level of inequality tends to spike within a year or so. This holds true even when controlling for other economic and demographic factors and other public policies. The data showed that, on average, for every $180 per citizen that a state spends on incentives, the Gini coefficient increases by 0.004. In other words, $600 to $1,000 more winds up in the pockets of people from wealthy households.

If You Care About Medicare for All or a Green New Deal, Here’s the Senate Primary That Matters

Chris Coons, a Democratic senator known for his intense dedication to bipartisanship, has drawn a primary challenger in Delaware. On Monday, Jess Scarane, a Wilmington digital strategist, announced her plan to challenge Coons, saying that she drew inspiration from the insurgent bid in 2018 by Kerri Harris against longtime incumbent Delaware Sen. Tom Carper. Harris fell short, winning 35 percent of the vote, but shattered the wait-your-turn political convention in Delaware and demonstrated that there is a base of support for primary challengers. ...

Though Coons is an obscure member of the Democratic caucus relative to somebody like the famously recalcitrant Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., Coons is no less a threat to the progressive agenda. He is an ardent supporter of the Senate tradition of bipartisan comity, and insists on only co-sponsoring legislation that is also backed by at least one Republican. His respect for bipartisanship is undiminished by the fact that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has not reciprocated. After holding open a Supreme Court seat for a year in order to swipe it for his party, McConnell eliminated the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees and has been rubber-stamping a record-breaking number of judicial appointments. He used the process known as budget reconciliation, which gets around the legislative filibuster, to attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act and to pass the GOP’s tax cut.

Yet even as Republicans implement their agenda with a 50-vote threshold, Coons is committed to requiring 60 votes for any Democratic agenda item. Coons was easily reelected in 2014 and is popular throughout Delaware. But if he wins reelection a second time, it is virtually impossible to envision him supporting the enactment of Medicare for All using a 50-vote threshold, as Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has pledged to attempt. ...

Scarane said she’ll be running on a broadly progressive platform, focused on addressing the climate emergency with a Green New Deal, implementing Medicare for All, and dramatically expanding funding for education. She’s also open to ending the filibuster — an effort that Coons has vowed to block.

the horse race

Sanders Top Policy Advisor contrasts their plan with Warren's Medicare For All

Progressives Are Suddenly Really Mad at Elizabeth Warren

Big, structural change? More like big, structural incrementalism. That’s what some progressives are saying about Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who walked back her Medicare for All plan on Friday by announcing she won’t fully install a national single-payer health program until her third year in office. ...

“Her latest proposal ... is smoke and mirrors, a red herring — any cliche you like. It looks as if Warren’s feet of clay have returned, and that this proposal merely allows her to continue to claim that she supports Medicare for All,” Libby Watson wrote in The New Republic.

“[The proposal] is a clearer indication that she has settled for the public option, like most of the rest of the field,” she continued.

In the pages of Jacobin, a bible for young democratic socialists and vocal supporter of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, writer Carl Beijer called Warren’s proposal “practically tailor-made to divide, depress, marginalize, and exhaust any political will for single payer before we've even begun the final fight.”

“Doing this in stages creates a political danger and an opening for opponents to prevent further progress,” Adam Gaffney, president of Physicians for a National Health Program, told the Washington Post. “The longer the rollout, the more political risk.”

Deval Patrick and Biden Want to Gobble Up Beto’s Warriors

Well, there’s yet another Democrat in the presidential race. His first order of business? Poaching supporters of the last one out. Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick held a conference call Sunday evening to court several dozen people from around the country who volunteered on the now-defunct campaign of ex-Rep. Beto O’Rourke. The call came the evening of Patrick’s first big candidate forum of the race at the Nevada Democratic Party’s “First in the West” event.

Patrick spoke on the call, followed by Abe Rakov, Patrick’s campaign manager who was O’Rourke’s early states director. Rakov pitched Patrick as a progressive who can deliver results and appeal to different ideological factions of the Democratic Party as well as racial and ethnic minorities, according to a source on the call, which was organized at the request of a few former O’Rourke supporters.

It was not said outright, but the subtext of his pitch was clear: Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are polling incredibly well, but their progressive platforms make some Democrats nervous. Meanwhile, the preeminent moderate in the race, former Vice President Joe Biden, is drooping in early primary states. Filling the void is Pete Buttigieg, a 38-year-old small-town mayor with limited governing experience and meager support among black voters, which also makes some Democrats nervous. That may leave an opening for Patrick.

Not to be outdone, the Biden campaign has also dispatched a high profile surrogate to court Betoheads. Michelle Kwan, the former Olympic figure skater who is now a Biden campaign official, met with about 20 former Beto volunteers during the California Democratic Party Convention at a restaurant in Long Beach on Saturday.

Adolph Reed Jr. responds to Obama, warns Establishment won't let Bernie win

The left smells a rat in Bloomberg, Patrick bids

Aides and allies to Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, among other liberals, perceive the eleventh-hour campaign launched last week by Deval Patrick — and the prospect of an impending Bloomberg 2020 bid — as an attempt to crush an ascendant left wing that would expand government more than any other Democratic president in decades. In their view, Patrick and Bloomberg are stalking horses for moderate Democrats, high-dollar contributors and bundlers desperate to halt the momentum of the economic populists at the top of the polls — and regain control of the party levers. ...

“There’s clearly anxiety from parts of the Democratic Party establishment and donor class about becoming a party that is unapologetic about taking on oligarchs, whether they’re Donald Trump or Jeff Bezos,” said Waleed Shahid, a former Sanders aide who now works for the progressive group Justice Democrats. “While he’ll basically try to buy votes through tons of ads, billionaire candidates like Bloomberg remain deeply unpopular. Deval’s supporters compare him to Obama, but forget that Obama also ran as an outsider populist in the 2008 primaries.” ...

“I see Deval Patrick as nothing but a kamikaze candidate,” said Murshed Zaheed, a Megaphone Strategies partner and former Harry Reid aide who supports Warren. “These folks have entered specifically in reaction to Warren’s ascendant candidacy.”

#PrimariesSoWhite: Why Do Two of the Whitest States Vote First For Presidential Candidates?

the evening greens

Hunger strikers target Pelosi in push for Democrats to take action on climate crisis

Young activists frustrated and frightened by Democrats’ inaction on the climate crisis occupied the office of the top Democrat in Congress on Monday to mark the beginning of a hunger strike. Roughly a dozen strikers with Extinction Rebellion are taking part in a global climate hunger strike that nearly 300 people have pledged to join.

They say the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, is holding back progress, so they are targeting her instead of top Republicans. They are demanding that she meet with them for an hour on camera before they call off their hunger strike.

“Every day the evidence piles up at your desk, but you have yet to pass even symbolic legislation recognizing the climate crisis as a national emergency. With all due respect, you have failed,” the group said in a letter to Pelosi.

Pelosi’s office contested allegations of inaction but did not say whether Pelosi or her staffers would meet with the protesters. In a press statement, Pelosi cited a bill the House passed to keep the US in the Paris climate agreement, which Donald Trump is exiting. The international pact is voluntary, and experts say it is not strong enough and also not being upheld by many countries.

Extinction Rebellion calls for governments to declare a climate and ecological emergency, cut heat-trapping pollution to net-zero by 2025 and create a citizen’s assembly to direct a way forward. Their demands are far more aggressive than most environment organizations. ... Nick Brana, a spokesman for Extinction Rebellion in Washington, accused Pelosi of holding back a resolution to declare a climate emergency and a Green New Deal and “neutering” a special House climate committee that does not have the power to subpoena fossil fuel companies or the ability to write legislation.

New report shows spike in illegal logging, fires in Brazil's rainforest

Amazon deforestation 'at highest level in a decade'

Deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon has hit the highest annual level in a decade, according to new government data which highlights the impact the president, Jair Bolsonaro, has made on the world’s biggest rainforest. The new numbers, showing almost 10,000 sq kms were lost in the year to August, were released as emboldened farm owners scuffled with forest defenders in Altamira, the Amazonian city at the heart of the recent devastation.

The assault on the planet’s biggest terrestrial carbon sink by land-grabbers, agribusiness, miners and loggers is accelerating. In the year until 30 July 2019, 9,762 sq kms were lost, an increase of 29.5% over the previous 12 months, the Brazilian space agency INPE said. The clearance rate – equivalent to about two football fields a minute – is the fastest since 2008, pushing Brazil far off course from reaching its Paris agreement goals to cut carbon emissions.

The annual numbers are compiled with information from the Prodes satellite system, which is considered the most conservative measurement of deforestation. Although less steep than the rise suggested by monthly alerts from the Deter system, it confirms an upward trend that Bolsonaro and his ministers said was a “lie”, which the former head of the space agency was fired for repeating.

The monitoring NGO, the Climate Observatory, said the rise was the third highest in history (after 1995 and 1998), and was likely to continue. “Proposals like legalising land-grabbing, mining and farming on indigenous lands, as well as reducing the licensing requirements for new infrastructure will show that the coming years will be even worse,” Carlos Rittl, its executive secretary, said. “The question is how long Brazil’s trading partners will trust its promises of sustainability and compliance with the Paris agreement, as forests fall, indigenous leaders are killed and environmental laws are shattered.”

Renewable energy: climate crisis 'may have triggered faster wind speeds'

The global climate crisis could lead to more renewable electricity being generated by spurring faster wind speeds for the world’s growing number of windfarms, according to research. Scientists have discovered that the world’s shifting ocean circulation patterns may have triggered a rapid increase in wind speeds over the last 10 years. The international research team analysed data from 9,000 international weather stations since the late 1970s and found that wind speeds had unexpectedly increased after a three-decade slowdown.

The faster than expected wind speeds could help increase the amount of renewable electricity generated by windfarms by more than a third to 3.3m kilowatt hours (kWh) by 2024.

Also of Interest

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

Chris Hedges: How to Save the Planet and Ourselves

Hope Is Bullshit

Leaked Iranian Intelligence Reports Expose Tehran’s Vast Web of Influence in Iraq

Erdogan's Ethnic Cleansing of the Kurds Is Still Happening

25 Times Trump Has Been Dangerously Hawkish On Russia

America's Arms Sales Addiction

Unpacking Media Propaganda About Bolivia’s Election

The white supremacy of Elizabeth Warren

Interim Bolivian Government Threatens Arrest of Opposition Legislators

Neo-Nazi terror group threatened ‘to find and harm’ US activist in Germany

Dem candidates fear Tulsi attacks on debate stage

McConnell reveals impeachment timeline is a disaster for Dems

Krystal Ball: A dire warning for Joe Biden supporters

A Little Night Music

Memphis Slim and Matt Murphy - Wish Me Well

Memphis Slim & Matt Murphy - I'm lost without you

Sonny Boy Williamson And Matt Murphy - Down And Out Blues

Memphis Slim & Matt Murphy - Matt's Guitar Blues

Memphis Slim and Matt Murphy - Movin' Out

Matt "Guitar" Murphy - Strut Your Stuff

Matt "Guitar" Murphy - Big City Takedown

Matt "Guitar" Murphy - Way Down South

Billy Boy Arnold, Matt Guitar Murphy & Joe Louis Walker - Jazz Vienne 99

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another golden presentation
thanks joe!

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joe shikspack's picture


thanks! have a great evening. i'll go count my gold now. Smile

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mimi's picture

I wondered who she was. Her bio taught me a lesson. Great lecture.

and ditto to what QMS said.

Now I have to think about when and where I will get the complete democratic debate tomorrow in German time. I hope C-Span will have it all archived.

Good Night.

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joe shikspack's picture


emma goldman was an interesting character with interesting insights into american culture and politics. she's well worth the time to read.

the debate is slated for 9pm eastern time, here are the places that it is supposed to be livestreamed:

MSNBC will livestream the debate on and, along with the NBC News and Washington Post mobile apps. The debate will also be available on SiriusXM Channel 118 and TuneIn.

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mimi's picture

@joe shikspack

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snoopydawg's picture

MLB owners have already got congress to rescind the minimum wage and overtime rules for baseball and now they want to make minor league owners take up more of the money part. Worker's compensation insurance would cost them close to $400,000. Then there's all the new stadiums that have been built with our money and the jobs are economic benefits that cities rely on that will just go poof. This sounds like a done deal from the NY mag article.

Rob Manfred's plan to destroy minor league baseball

MLB could eliminate 42 minor league baseball teams

I grew up going to minor league baseball starting at age 3 with my grandpa and finally living in a place where I could go watch the A's and Giants. To take this away from millions of families is beyond comprehension, but the owners say that they are making more money from TV deals and other things. Yeah guys let's see how much money you loose when people start boycotting major league games. Seems like this is just more of the gig economy BS.

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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


mlb owners greed and hubris know no limits. i have been disgusted for years as the orioles ownership grifts the city of baltimore for stadiums and all sorts of taxpayer-funded concessions.

screw them, i hope they go out of business.

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snoopydawg's picture

@joe shikspack

Something about them losing their anti trust status. I'm just as appalled by congress giving into their demands on paying players. I wonder what the big league players will do if they do it? I'd love to see them boycotting with us little people. Greedy f'cking.

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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,"


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joe shikspack's picture


oh great, i can't wait until war with china is finally declared/not declared but engaged in by presidential action.

irresistible collision course?

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enhydra lutris's picture

@gjohnsit @gjohnsit
Quemoy and Matsu.

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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 --

TheOtherMaven's picture

@enhydra lutris @enhydra lutris

Probably renamed so that no one ever hears or thinks about them any more, also.

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There is no justice. There can be no peace.

lotlizard's picture

You were expected to just say “China” or — in contexts where grudging acknowledgment of the existence of another (“Red” or “mainland”) China was absolutely unavoidable — “Nationalist” China.

In those days, the Fifties and Sixties, the U.S. official story was that the government on the island of Formosa (Taiwan) was China. Formosa/Taiwan held China’s seat on the U.N. Security Council and other international bodies.

You could easily get into trouble if you said “Taiwan.” Referring to the Nationalist government as “Taiwan” highlighted the fact that they at most represented only that one peripheral island province and weren’t really legitimately China.

Even worse, they weren’t even legitimately “Taiwan” either. Having invaded the island after being driven from the mainland and having brutally suppressed the local populace, the Nationalist regime was in no way a democratically chosen, authentic voice of the people of the island (consisting of both Chinese who had migrated centuries earlier and indigenous Malayo-Polynesians).

Walter Cronkite on TV always was careful to say “Peiping radio” when he meant Chinese government broadcasts from Peking (Beijing). “Peiping” was the Nationalists’ name for the city; to say “Peking” might be a sign of communist sympathies.

Yes, in those days, if anyone, especially someone with Chinese roots, didn’t take care always to make pro-Nationalist noises and use pro-Nationalist terminology, that could only mean they were pro-communist. You would immediately be suspect and put under scrutiny by the FBI.

War with China as the enemy — looks like we could be headed there again.

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"Also says that water will no longer be considered wet, and the center of the sun is no longer considered to be hot."

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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.

Bernie as president can still accomplish a lot even with hostile democrats and republicans in Congress. But his actions can cause American billionaire and millionaire oligarchs to lose a lot of money. Talking billions upon billions. The obvious example are prosecution of criminal banksters. One thing to note is that Holder and Obama could have issued a bunch of additional sanctions against the offending companies, which they did not (I believe that HSBC was actually able to declare their fine as an expensive deduction). One of the ways corporate owners were able to become filthy rich was by stock buy backs. Those stocks go down and billions will be lost. Unless Bernie turns out to be another Obama, who knows what can happen as Bernie progresses to be the democratic party candidate--probably better to cheat him up front.

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