The Evening Blues - 12-2-19
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features Chicago blues guitarist Little Smokey Smothers. Enjoy!
Little Smokey Smothers - You Don't Love Me
"Every revolution evaporates and leaves behind only the slime of a new bureaucracy."
-- Franz Kafka
News and Opinion
The British justice system has finally agreed to let a Spanish judge question WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange as a witness in a case involving allegations that a Spanish security firm spied on him while he was living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
Judge José de la Mata of Spain’s High Court, the Audiencia Nacional, will interview the cyber-activist via video link on December 20, said judicial sources.
Assange will be transferred from Belmarsh prison in southeast London to Westminster Magistrates Court to answer questions from De la Mata, who is investigating alleged violations of client-attorney privilege between the cyber-activist and his lawyers, and allegations that these conversations were passed on to the CIA.
British civil servants visited Assange in prison last week, asked him whether he agreed to be questioned by De la Mata, and delivered a document listing the events under investigation by the judge, who had issued a European Investigation Order (EIO) in September requesting assistance from British authorities.
This list of events under investigation, which EL PAÍS has seen, notes that David Morales, owner of the Spanish security firm UC Global, SL “invaded the privacy of Assange and his lawyers by placing microphones inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London without consent from the affected parties.” It also states that the information thus collected was distributed to other people and institutions, including “authorities from Ecuador and agents from the United States.” ...
The British justice system, acting through the United Kingdom Central Authority (UKCA), the agency in charge of processing EIOs, initially blocked De la Mata’s request. ... This position created unease in judicial circles, and was viewed as resistance to an investigation that could hinder Assange’s extradition to the US. ... Several Spanish judges consulted by this newspaper said that EIO requests are generally granted on an automatic basis.
Iraq’s prime minister announced Friday that he will resign after a brutal crackdown on protesters that has left nearly 400 people dead. The announcement triggered wild celebrations among protesters in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square.
Adel Abdul-Mahdi’s resignation came just a day after more than 40 protesters were shot dead by security forces in Baghdad and the southern cities of Najaf and Nasiriyah on Thursday.
Hours before his announcement, Iraq’s top Shiite cleric, who is one of the country’s most powerful and influential leaders, used his weekly sermon to condemn the use of lethal force against protesters, telling parliament to reconsider its support for the prime minister. In a statement announcing his resignation, Abdul-Mahdi said he had “listened with great concern” to Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani’s call and was stepping down in order to “facilitate and hasten its fulfillment as soon as possible.” ...
Iraq has been rocked by mass anti-government protests since Oct. 1, when thousands of young Iraqis took to the streets of the capital. The protesters have accused the government and the ruling class of using the country’s vast oil riches to line their own pockets. They are also calling for an overhaul of the political system, demanding that rulers address issues like high unemployment and broken utilities like electricity and clean water.
Iraq’s parliament will today begin the process of electing a new leader after the prime minister, Adel Abdul-Mahdi, resigned last week. His successor will have to cope with the severe unrest that is spreading across the country and which has pitched security forces against demonstrators for nearly two months. Fears are mounting that the country could unravel altogether. ...
At stake now is whether the post-Saddam Iraq constructed by the US remains viable 16 years after the invasion that overturned the country’s regime and reset the balance of power in the region.
“When the Americans left in 2011, we thought that at least some structures had been left behind,” said Bassma Qadhimi, a doctor in Baghdad. “Then they started stealing more than ever before and everyone looked away. There were a few elections where it wasn’t important if you were a Shia, a Sunni or a Christian. It looked good. Then it unravelled, because every sect stole. But if there’s anything to come from the protests so far, it’s that not sect, but nationality, is leading it.” ...
Iran – which also has a majority Shia population – has played a prominent role in the affairs of Iraq throughout the post-invasion years, and especially since the US withdrew its forces in 2011. The Iranian general Qassem Suleimani has been a central figure in the crackdown, directing a lethal response that started roughly a month ago. At the same time Iran is facing pressure on the home front and an uprising in Lebanon, where the most important arm of its foreign projection, Hezbollah, plays a vital role in the fragile country’s affairs. ...
“In Lebanon and in Iraq, they are on a war footing,” said a regional official familiar with Iranian thinking. ... Tribal leaders in Dhi Qar province have demanded that security forces and militia leaders responsible for the killings in Nasiriyah be held accountable. The stance adds a new layer of complexity to a standoff, which now looms as the most serious Iran has faced in the post-Saddam Middle East. “They are convinced the Americans are behind this,” said the official. “I have never seen them as rattled as they are now.” ...
The Iraqi parliament has 15 days to nominate a new prime minister, but in the past new leaders have only been named after months of horse trading. Failure to reach a cross-factional consensus could plunge Iraq into an abyss.
A failure to capture the present rare chance for peace in Yemen may potentially cost the international community $29bn (£22bn) in further humanitarian aid if the current civil war continues for another five years, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) warns on Monday in a new report. It is also likely to prolong Yemen’s inability to return to pre-crisis levels of hunger by 20 years just as famine conditions are improving.
The warnings are partly directed at Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, who are leading the fight against Houthi rebels as well as funding the bulk of humanitarian aid mainly going to UN agencies such as the World Food Programme (WFP).
David Miliband, president of the IRC and former foreign secretary, said: “Today’s grim predictions are an insight into the colossal cost of the age of impunity: where wars are fought with a complete disregard for civilian life and neglected by diplomats charged with ending the violence and holding perpetrators of international law to account.
“What’s more, the war in Yemen has been prolonged by active military support and diplomatic cover from the US, UK, and other western powers. ...
The report claims there are signs of diplomatic hope in Yemen for the first time since the Saudi intervention five years ago, including localised ceasefire proposals, prisoner releases and belated progress in implementing the December 2018 deal that brought warring parties together for the first time in two years.
Reversing Pro-Palestinian Stance of Evo Morales, Bolivia's Coup Government Moves to Restore Ties With Israel
The right-wing coup regime in Bolivia announced plans Thursday to restore diplomatic relations with Israel, reversing ousted former President Evo Morales' 2009 decision to cut off ties with the country over its weeks-long assault on the occupied Gaza Strip that killed over a thousand Palestinians.
Speaking to the media Thursday, Bolivian Foreign Minister Karen Longaric expressed hope that reestablishing ties with Israel will "lead to positive aspects for both sides and contribute to Bolivian tourism."
Israel's foreign ministry celebrated the foreign minister's announcement in a statement.
"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has actively worked for a long period of time to promote the renewal of the relationship, also with the help of the Brazilian president [Jair Bolsonaro] and minister of foreign affairs, with whom I recently spoke on the subject at the U.N. Conference in New York," said Israeli foreign minister Israel Katz. "The departure of President Morales, who was hostile to Israel, and his replacement by a government friendly to Israel, allows the fruition of the process." ...
The Añez government's decision to restore ties with Israel represents another major break from the foreign policy of Morales, who formally recognized Palestine as an independent state in 2010 and called on the International Criminal Court to charge top Israeli officials with genocide over the 2009 assault on Gaza, known as Operation Cast Lead.
On Thursday night, a besuited Donald Trump appeared at a US airbase in Afghanistan, serving Thanksgiving turkey to the troops, complaining half-jokingly about the length of his surprise trip, and drawing attention to all the money he had spent on the military. ...
Over the past few months, Trump has embraced his role as commander-in-chief, announcing unheralded military movements in and out of Syria and intervening repeatedly in the military justice system to absolve service soldiers accused of war crimes. The US military – or its leadership at least – is hardly reveling in the president’s attention. A spate of reports cite former commanders and unnamed active duty senior officers complaining about the undermining of the chain of command and the corrosion of the integrity of an institution most Americans have seen as a pillar of the republic – an incorruptible and disciplined armed forces.
CNN reported “at least two senior military officers” had been reluctant to appear alongside Trump at recent official events, out of fear of he would come out with partisan remarks. Richard Spencer, the secretary of the navy fired last week after clashing with the president over war crimes cases, wrote in the Washington Post that it was “a reminder that the president has very little understanding of what it means to be in the military, to fight ethically or to be governed by a uniform set of rules and practices”.
It is a far cry from the early days of Trump’s presidency, when he surrounded himself with military brass and boasted about “his generals”. One by one those grand martial figures have left the administration, to be lampooned by their commander-in-chief on their way out the door as “failed generals” who were “not tough enough” and “overrated”. More senior officers are reported to be considering resignation, if the president continues to meddle in what they see as the preserve of the military. ...
Trump is fond of talking about “my military”, but the claim is less true with every passing month. Veterans still support him in significantly greater numbers than the general population, but he no longer has a lead among active duty service members, who are fairly evenly split between approval and disapproval.
Worth a full read, the details are Kafkaesque.
For the 18-year lifespan of the war on terrorism, an obscure provision of the PATRIOT Act permitting the indefinite detention of non-citizens on U.S. soil has gone unused. But to keep a Palestinian man behind bars even after he finished serving his sentence, the Trump administration has fired this bureaucratic Chekhov’s gun.
Adham Amin Hassoun, now in his late 50s, has spent nearly the entire war on terrorism in cages. First picked up on an immigration violation in June 2002, he ended up standing trial alongside once-suspected “dirty bomber” Jose Padilla. But Hassoun was never accused of any act or plot of violence. His crime was cutting checks to extremist-tied Muslim charities operating in places like Kosovo and Chechnya that Congress outlawed after the 9/11 attacks. Hassoun wrote all but one of those checks before 9/11.
Sentenced to 15 years in federal prison, Hassoun should have been a free man in 2017. Instead, he found himself in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which locked him up in western New York. It was there that Hassoun’s case turned extraordinary.
ICE wanted to deport Hassoun, but his statelessness as a Palestinian got in the way. No country—not the Lebanon of his birth, not the Israel that occupies the West Bank and Gaza—was willing to take him. Aided by attorneys at the University of Buffalo Law School, Hassoun in January won what should have been his freedom, on the grounds that his deportation was unlikely.
The Trump administration instead declared him a threat to national security. It did so at first using an also-obscure immigration regulation designed to sidestep a 2001 Supreme Court ruling imposing a six-month detention limit. And it was aided by a testimonial, under seal, of Hassoun’s alleged misdeeds behind bars as related by what his attorneys describe as jailhouse snitches who provided second- or third-hand accounts. But as the government fought what had become a habeas corpus case for Hassoun’s release, the Department of Homeland Security invoked, for the first time in U.S. government history, section 412 of the PATRIOT Act.
Section 412 gives the government broad powers to detain non-citizens on American soil whom it can’t deport but deems, on “reasonable grounds,” to be engaged in “activity that endangers the national security of the United States.” It makes that determination for a six-month period that it can renew without limit. To little fanfare, the former acting secretary of Homeland Security, Kevin McAleenan, informed Hassoun on Aug. 9 that “you will therefore remain in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) pending your removal from the United States or reconsideration of this decision.”
The future of Angela Merkel’s government is in doubt after the election by her junior coalition partners, the Social Democrats (SPD), of a new leftwing leadership duo who have pledged to renegotiate the terms of the alliance. Norbert Walter-Borjans and Saskia Esken, from the left of the SPD, have called for major policy concessions from Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), and say they are prepared to pull the plug on the partnership.
Germany is facing the prospect of months of political uncertainty with the collapse of the coalition, which has been fragile since its inception after the 2017 election, a growing likelihood. It also raises the prospect that Merkel, who has said she will not run for another term in office, will face an earlier exit from the political stage than she intended.
Walter-Borjans and Esken narrowly secured first place in the SPD leadership vote on Saturday on 53%, beating the expected winners Olaf Scholz, the finance minister and vice-chancellor, and Klara Geywitz by eight points in a second-round runoff. The result, delivered on a 54% turnout of the 425,000 SPD members, was a blow to Scholz, one of the architects of the grand coalition, and is widely seen as a vote of no confidence in him.
The immediate focus is now on Scholz. If he decides he has to resign from his ministerial roles as a result of the defeat, the coalition would in effect be over, even if an election would not happen until well into next year. The uncertainty reflects the tensions at the heart of German politics, following ever stronger challenges to the mainstream parties from the far-right Alternative für Deutschland, the leftwing Die Linke and the Greens. ...
It is the first time the party will have two people at the helm, with the new leaders, who are due to be sworn in at the SPD’s headquarters next Friday, saying they will only consider continuing to support the government if major concessions are made by the CDU. Among their main demands are an increase in the minimum wage from €9 an hour to €12 and a backtrack on the government’s central fiscal policy of balancing the federal budget, known as the “schwarze Null” or the “black zero”, to allow for more spending on infrastructure and welfare programmes. They are also calling for a more radical approach on the climate emergency.
Activists across France tried to hamstring Amazon on Black Friday in a protest against the online retail giant and its environmental footprint. Dozens congregated outside Amazon’s French headquarters in Clichy, while other protesters attempted to block a shopping center in Paris and a logistics center in Lyon, the BBC reported.
The French anti-Amazon protests began on Thursday, when activists reportedly formed a human chain and dumped old fridges on the road to block traffic outside a company depot. The demonstrations continued Friday, with protests popping up across the country. Activists have done their best to hamper Amazon and slow down consumerism on Black Friday in general. ...
Protesters have done their best to block the distribution centers and shopping areas. "Work, consume and shut up, that is the message given to our youth," demonstrators shouted at shoppers at a Paris shopping center, according to Reuters.
Activists have accused Amazon, which has a massive delivery system, of helping to accelerate climate change. The company does have a massive carbon footprint — it emitted 44.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide last year, which is as much as a small country — but has pledged to go net carbon neutral by 2040.
Boris Johnson Was Replaced With an Ice Sculpture During a TV Climate Debate. Now He's Threatening the Channel's License.
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson was due to appear at a leaders’ debate about climate change on Channel 4 on Thursday evening. When he refused to appear, to the broadcaster put an ice sculpture in his place. Now, Johnson’s government is threatening to withdraw Channel 4's license — a move critics say is an attempt to intimidate a major broadcaster at a critical moment in U.K. politics.
The debate, entitled Emergency On Planet Earth, saw party leaders face questions about how they will tackle climate change. When Johnson didn’t appear, rather than “empty chair” him, the broadcaster replaced him with an ice sculpture with the word “Conservatives” on it. There was a second ice sculpture on display to represent Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, who also refused to attend. Both sculptures were seen melting throughout the debate. ...
Before the debate, Johnson’s director of communications wrote to the media regulator Ofcom claiming the broadcaster was engaging in a “provocative partisan stunt” and showing “a pattern of bias.” He suggested it should block the broadcast. At the same time, a party source told BuzzFeed that the government could “review Channel 4’s Public Services Broadcasting obligations” if it wins next month's snap election, which would be a first for a U.K. government.
Five minutes befor Gove turned up at C4 the Tories fed Buzzfeed the threat to revoke the channel's licence - ours is becoming a "managed democracy" pic.twitter.com/UW91VUZ3Pj
— Paul Mason (@paulmasonnews) November 29, 2019
When the former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani emerged as one of Donald Trump’s most bareknuckle defenders during the Russia investigation, attacking his former colleagues in the justice department, people asked: “What happened to Rudy?” Now, as federal prosecutors tighten a net of criminal investigations around Giuliani, the question has become: “What is going to happen to Rudy?” The poignancy of Giuliani’s downfall from national hero and presidential candidate to the subject of multiple federal criminal investigations has been often remarked in the past year.
The net tightened again last week when it emerged a grand jury had issued a broad subpoena for documents relating to Giuliani’s international consulting business as part of an investigation of alleged crimes including money laundering, wire fraud, campaign finance violations, making false statements, obstruction of justice, and violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act. ...
Giuliani has denied wrongdoing and scoffed at the notion he is in any legal jeopardy – particularly from federal prosecutors in the southern district of New York, an office he once led as a star US attorney during Ronald Reagan’s first term. There Giuliani built a reputation for taking on mob bosses and aggressively prosecuting the kind of criminal activity he now stands accused of.
“Me ending up in jail?” Giuliani told the celebrity gossip site TMZ at a Washington airport on Monday. “Fifty years of being a lawyer, 50 years of ethical, dedicated practice of the law, probably have prosecuted more criminals of a high level than any US attorney in history. I think I follow the law very carefully. I think the people pursuing me are desperate, sad, angry, disappointing liars. They’re hurting their country. And I’m ashamed of them.”
But in no version of events does Giuliani appear not to be in big trouble.
As the pressure on him has intensified, Giuliani’s antics in his own defense have grown increasingly animated. He warned last week that he had collected information that would put his political enemies on their heels. “I’m also going to bring out a pay-for-play scheme in the Obama administration that will be devastating to the Democrat party,” Giuliani told Fox News. He even threatened to start an impeachment podcast.
Magical thinking strikes a state government between the ears:
A bill to ban abortion introduced in the Ohio state legislature requires doctors to “reimplant an ectopic pregnancy” into a woman’s uterus – a procedure that does not exist in medical science – or face charges of “abortion murder”.
This is the second time practising obstetricians and gynecologists have tried to tell the Ohio legislators that the idea is currently medically impossible.
The move comes amid a wave of increasingly severe anti-abortion bills introduced across much of the country as conservative Republican politicians seek to ban abortion and force a legal showdown on abortion with the supreme court. ...
The new Ohio HB413, p.184: To avoid criminal charges, including murder, for abortion, a physician must “…[attempt to] reimplant an ectopic pregnancy into the women’s uterus”
— David N Hackney MD, FACOG (@DavidNHackney) November 19, 2019
An ectopic pregnancy is a life-threatening condition, which can kill a woman if the embryonic tissue grows unchecked.
In addition to ordering doctors to do the impossible or face criminal charges, House Bill 413 bans abortion outright and defines a fertilized egg as an “unborn child”.
It also appears to punish doctors, women and children as young as 13 with “abortion murder” if they “perform or have an abortion”. This crime is punishable by life in prison. Another new crime, “aggravated abortion murder”, is punishable by death, according to the bill.
Millions of Americans face losing access to food assistance under proposed rule changes by the Trump administration, a new analysis has found.
The changes, if they had been instituted last year, would have resulted in 3.7 million fewer people and 2.1m fewer households receiving the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as Snap or food stamps, during an average month, according to the study.
The altered rules would also reduce benefits received by many people, with 2.2m households set to have their average monthly assistance cut by $127. Nearly one million students would lose access to free or discounted lunches.
The analysis, by the not-for-profit Urban Institute, said that three planned changes to Snap would “significantly alter” food-based help provided to poor Americans, with disparities across the country in terms of impact. Benefits would be cut in most states, although states including Vermont, New York, Nevada and Connecticut would fare particularly badly.
Britain is about to decouple itself from a continental economy beginning to get things right, and hook up with one that is palpably beginning to fail. ... Britain is about to make a vast mistake. In the recently published The Great Reversal, leading economist Thomas Philippon of New York University and member of the advisory panel of the New York Federal Reserve, mounts a devastating attack on the conventional wisdom, so perfectly embodied by the witless Boris Johnson. The news is that over the last 20 years per capita EU incomes have grown by 25% while the US’s have grown 21%, with the US growth rate decelerating while Europe’s has held steady – indeed accelerating in parts of Europe. What is going on?
Philippon’s answer is simple. The US economy is becoming increasingly harmed by ever less competition, with fewer and fewer companies dominating sector after sector – from airlines to mobile phones. Market power is the most important concept in economics, he says. When firms dominate a sector, they invest and innovate less, they peg or raise prices, and they make super-normal profits by just existing (what economists call “economic rent”). So it is that mobile phone bills in the US are on average $100 a month, twice that of France and Germany, with the same story in broadband. Profits per passenger airline mile in the US are twice those in Europe. US healthcare is impossibly expensive, with drug companies fixing prices twice as high or even higher than those in Europe; health spending is 18% of GDP. Google, Amazon and Facebook have been allowed to become supermonopolies, buying up smaller challengers with no obstruction.
This monopolising process gums up everything. Investment in the US has been falling for 20 years. Because prices stay high, wages buy less, so workers’ lifestyles, unless they borrow, get squeezed in real terms while those at the top get paid ever more with impunity. Inequality escalates to unsupportable levels. Even life expectancy is now falling across the US.
But why has this happened now? Philippon has a deadly answer. A US political campaign costs 50 times more than one in Europe in terms of money spent for every vote cast. But this doesn’t just distort the political process. It is the chief cause of the US economic crisis. Corporations want a return on their money, and the payback is protection from any kind of regulation, investigation or anti-monopoly policy that might strike at their ever-growing market power. ... Philippon shows this is systemic; how both at federal and state level ever higher campaign donations are correlated with ever fewer actions against monopoly, price fixing and bad corporate behaviour. ...
The EU’s regulations are better thought out, so in industry after industry it is becoming the global standard setter. Its corporate governance structures are better. And last week, to complete the picture, Christine Lagarde, the incoming president of the European Central Bank, in the most important pronouncement of the year, said the environment would be at the heart of European monetary policy. In other words, the ECB is to underwrite a multitrillion-euro green revolution. In short – bet on Europe not the US.
That 57% of Republicans approve of a 2% wealth tax on fortunes above $50 million is absolutely remarkable.
And tends to confirm my hunch that economic leftism per se (as opposed to concerns about health care details) isn’t a huge 2020 Democratic problem.https://t.co/sC1JBLCv4D
— Kurt Andersen (@KBAndersen) November 29, 2019
Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren seem to be having fun clowning billionaire former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg lately. The question is whether they’ll get the chance to say it to his face. Bloomberg’s pledge not to accept any donations for his late-entry bid for the Democratic presidential nomination means that, as the rules currently stand, he will never be on a debate stage opposite his progressive nemeses.
The Democratic National Committee requires a candidate to have a certain number of donations to qualify (200,000 unique donors for the December debate, for instance). So unless the DNC changes its debate qualification rules, the entirely self-funding Bloomberg would not make the cut. ...
DNC Chairman Tom Perez was asked about whether they would relax the rules to accommodate Bloomberg last week and did not seem to rule it out — not necessarily because of Bloomberg, but because by early next year voters will be casting ballots and so they may revisit the thresholds.
“We haven't set the rules for after the first of the year, and that's something that we're doing right now and we always set the rules early enough so that we can give notice to the campaigns,” Perez said. “Right now, zero votes have been cast. And so the voters haven't spoken. What should the rules be once the voters have spoken and we have some actual data from states? That's the question that we are considering."
Sen. Elizabeth Warren: "Some people have figured out you know it’d be a lot cheaper to spend a few hundred mil just buying the presidency instead of paying that two cent wealth tax." pic.twitter.com/i5GisNkdUN
— The Hill (@thehill) November 26, 2019
Joe Biden has embarked upon an eight-day ‘No Malarkey’ barnstorm bus tour across Iowa as the former US vice-president attempts to arrest his flagging poll numbers in the key state, which is the first to vote in the race to be the Democratic 2020 presidential nominee.
Biden started his election blitz on Saturday, telling supporters in a fundraising email that he was undertaking an “eight-day, 18 county, ‘No Malarkey’ barnstorm” across Iowa. “The plan is to meet as many caucus-goers as I can, and we’re going to cover a lot of ground to do it,” the email read. On Sunday, the former vice president was due to attend a meet and greet in Carroll, a town hall in Storm Lake, meet and greets in Jefferson and Perry, and a town hall in Spencer.
The bus tour follows recent polling that shows Biden’s standing has slipped among Democratic voters in Iowa who, on 3 February, will be the first caucus in the US to pick a favored candidate to take on Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election.
After topping the Democratic field in the state in several polls as recently as September, the 77-year-old has seemingly been eclipsed by Pete Buttigieg in recent surveys of Iowan Democrats. Still, the polls show a tight race and Biden’s supporters deny that his campaign is in any sort of trouble, especially as he still frequently leads the Democratic field in national polls.
The Democratic presidential campaign of South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg on Thursday launched a new ad in Iowa attacking the idea of tuition-free public college, sparking backlash from progressives who called Buttigieg's argument against the proposal "disingenuous" and reactionary.
"I believe we should move to make college affordable for everybody. There are some voices saying, 'Well that doesn't count unless you go even further, unless it's free even for the kids of millionaires,'" Buttigieg says in the 30-second spot, a clear shot at Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who are both campaigning on making public colleges and universities tuition-free.
"But I only want to make promises that we can keep," Buttigieg says in the ad, which aired Thursday evening in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. "Look, what I'm proposing is plenty bold. I mean these are big ideas. We can gather the majority to drive those big ideas through without turning off half the country before we even get into office."
New Pete ad in Iowa taking aim at Warren and Bernie over college affordability/debt (but not by name), arguing they’d alienate half the country by insisting it be “free even for the kids of millionaires”. H/t @McCormickJohn
— Alex Thompson (@AlxThomp) November 29, 2019
Unlike Sanders and Warren's plans, which would make public colleges and universities tuition-free for all, Buttigieg's proposal (pdf) would make public college education tuition-free only for households earning up to $100,000 per year.
Buttigieg thinks that if your combined household income is more than $100k/yr you can be lumped in rhetorically with billionaires and should be cut out of the free public college pool https://t.co/PLwzQTjG2r
— Ryan Grim (@ryangrim) November 29, 2019
Progressives were quick to respond that Buttigieg's argument against tuition-free public college and in favor of means-testing could just as easily apply to other publicly funded goods and programs like K-12 education, Social Security, Medicare, and libraries. "This logic leads directly to President Pete agreeing to further Medicare and Social Security means testing in order to keep taxes low," said Crooked Media's Brian Beutler.
The countries most at risk of deluge from climate chaos have issued an impassioned plea to the industrialised world ahead of crucial negotiations on the Paris agreement that start on Monday in Madrid. “We see [these talks] as the last opportunity to take decisive action,” Janine Felson, deputy chair of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) told the Guardian.
“Anything short of vastly greater commitment to emission reduction, a new climate finance goal and tangible support for disaster risk reduction will signal a willingness to accept catastrophe.”
Pacific atolls and other low-lying islands are likely to be inundated if temperatures rise to more than 1.5C above preindustrial levels, while current Paris commitments put the world on track for a “disastrous” 3C.
“We are mired in a planetary emergency of existential proportion,” said the leaders of the 44 states of AOSIS, in a joint statement. “The impacts are real and current for people living on small islands. This does not have to be our destiny or legacy.” ...
The US last month formally submitted the one year’s notice legally required for withdrawal under the accord. The withdrawal will formally take effect the day after the next US presidential election, and just before the next UN talks in November 2020, to be hosted by the UK in Glasgow. A US State Department spokesperson told the Guardian: “The US delegation at COP25 will actively engage in negotiations to protect US interests and level the playing field for US businesses.”
Decrying 'Utterly Inadequate' Efforts to Tackle Climate Crisis, UN Chief Declares 'Our War Against Nature Must Stop'
On the eve of the United Nations Climate Change Conference, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres decried the "utterly inadequate" efforts of governments to curb planet-heating emissions and called for "a clear demonstration of increased ambition and commitment" from world leaders to tackle the crisis.
"For many decades the human species has been at war with the planet. And the planet is fighting back," Guterres told reporters in Madrid Sunday. "We are confronted now with a global climate crisis. The point of no return is no longer over the horizon. It is in sight and hurtling towards us."
"Our war against nature must stop," he declared. "And we know that that is possible. The scientific community has provided us with the roadmap to achieve this." ...
Governments across the globe face growing pressure from the public—particularly young people—to step up their climate action to meet the level of the crisis, noted Guterres, whose remarks to reporters Sunday came just two days after a youth-led worldwide climate strike that aimed to push COP 25 attendees to pursue more ambitious policies.
"What is still lacking is political will," Guterres said. "Political will to put a price on carbon. Political will to stop subsidies on fossil fuels. Political will to stop building coal power plants from 2020 onwards. Political will to shift taxation from income to carbon—taxing pollution instead of people. We simply have to stop digging and drilling and take advantage of the vast possibilities offered by renewable energy and nature-based solutions."
Although Guterres didn't criticize any nations or leaders by name—including U.S. President Donald Trump, who began formally withdrawing the United States from the Paris accord last month—the secretary-general chided the world's largest emitters for "not pulling their weight" and warned that "without them, our goal is unreachable."
On the heels of Friday's global youth-led climate strike, thousands of activists staged demonstrations at three coal mines in Germany Saturday to protest the government's plan to phase out coal by 2038, which activists say isn't soon enough.
The German news agency dpa reported that "protesters ran into the Jänschwalde and Welzow-Süd open-cast mining sites in the eastern state of Brandenburg, as well as the United Schleenhain lignite mining area in neighboring Saxony."
Ende Gelände (End of the Road), which helped organize the protests, said there were about 4,000 demonstrators total, while some reporting put the number closer to 2,000.
"We're at a critical moment—the window of opportunity to stop the climate crisis is closing rapidly," Ende Gelände spokesman Johnny Parks told German broadcaster DW.
The power plant at Jänschwalde has been deemed one of the top polluting facilities in Europe in terms of planet-warming emissions. Parks said that "we want to show with our protest today that this mine needs to be shut down permanently."
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Little Smokey Smothers + Elvin Bishop - Roll Your Moneymaker
Smokey Smothers - I Got My Eyes On You
Little Smokey Smothers - 43rd Street Blues
Little Smokey Smothers - I Need Love So Bad
Little Smokey Smothers - Remembering
Little Smokey Smothers - I Ain't Gonna Be Your Monkey Man
Little Smokey Smothers - Days Are Dark
Little Smokey Smothers - Don't Throw Your Love On Me So Strong
Little Smokey Smothers - Why Are You So Mean To Me
Little Smokey Smothers - In The Zone
Little Smokey Smothers - I Wanna Be With You