The Evening Blues - 12-6-19


The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: Van Morrison and Them

Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features British invasion blues rock band Van Morrison and Them. Enjoy!

Van Morrison and Them - Mystic Eyes, Gloria

"The worst form of injustice is pretended justice."

-- Plato

News and Opinion

ICC Holds Hearing on Afghanistan War Crimes, Including US Torture

The International Criminal Court (ICC) opened a three-day hearing in the The Hague, Netherlands on Wednesday at which prosecutors and Afghan torture victims are attempting to convince the court to overturn a previous decision to refuse to investigate war crimes committed by Taliban, Afghan government and US forces.

In April, the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber II announced it would not grant a request by ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to open an investigation of alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity, including deliberate attacks on civilians and child soldier conscription by Taliban militants, torture and sexual violence by members of Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and torture of prisoners held in US military and secret Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) prisons in Afghanistan, Poland, Romania and Lithuania. The decision was condemned by human rights advocates, many of whom accused the ICC of bowing to intense pressure from the Donald Trump administration after it barred Bensouda, a Gambian national, from entering the United States. The administration threatened further retaliation, including travel bans and economic sanctions, against the ICC.

President Donald Trump hailed the ICC’s April decision as “a major international victory,” while asserting that “the United States holds American citizens to the highest legal and ethical standards.” Critics countered by noting the president’s repeated pardoning of US war criminals, as well as America’s overall general impunity from war crimes accountability, as proof of the need for more robust international war crimes investigations and prosecution. ...

The current hearing will examine allegations that US troops and intelligence operatives tortured, raped and abused Afghan prisoners between 2003 and 2004. In December 2014 the US Senate released a 480-page summary of a previously classified 6,000-page report detailing how dozens of innocent individuals were wrongfully detained by the military and CIA due to mistaken identity and faulty intelligence, how these and other detainees were subjected to horrific and even deadly torture and abuse, and how the brutality and scope of the program were hidden from the Justice Department and even high-ranking members of the Bush administration, including President George W. Bush.

By 2006, at least 100 prisoners had died in US custody in Afghanistan and Iraq, most of them violently, according to government data. The most well-publicized detainee death happened at the notorious “Salt Pit,” a CIA black site, or secret prison, in Afghanistan, where Gul Rahman died of hypothermia after being severely beaten, stripped naked and chained to a wall in near-freezing temperatures. Abuse of prisoners, who were often kidnapped from third countries in a practice known as extraordinary rendition, was rampant at black sites around the world, including Detention Center Green in Thailand, which current CIA Director Gina Haspel ran in late 2002. Black site prisoners were hung by chains from ceilings for days on end, stuffed into boxes, deprived of sleep, shackled naked in near-freezing temperatures and subjected to mock executions. Prior to Haspel’s arrival, CIA torturers at Detention Center Green subjected cooperative prisoner Abu Zubaydah to the interrupted drowning torture known as waterboarding 83 times in a month. Haspel also played a key role in the destruction of videotaped CIA torture sessions. ...

Despite numerous campaign promises to investigate Bush-era abuses and early executive orders banning torture and (unsuccessfully) closing GITMO, former president Barack Obama attempted to undermine publication of the Senate torture report. More importantly, not only did he fail to prosecute any of the Bush torturers, his administration actively shielded them from any accountability for their crimes. Furthermore, the administration prosecuted and jailed former CIA agent John Kiriakou for blowing the whistle on torture.

Bolivia: 'overwhelming evidence' of vote rigging in favor of Morales, OAS says

The Organization of American States (OAS) has described “deliberate” and “malicious” steps to rig Bolivia’s October election in favor of the then president, Evo Morales, who was forced to resign amid widespread protests in the Andean nation.

A nearly 100-page report by the OAS described several violations, including the use of a hidden computer server designed to tilt the vote toward Morales. ...

OAS findings included “deliberate actions to manipulate the result of the election” that make it “impossible to validate” the official results, the report said.

I shall taunt you a second time: North Korea threatens Trump ‘dotard’ insults

North Korea has threatened to redploy its arsenal of formidable insults against DOnald Trump, referring to him once more as a “dotard” if he continues to use nicknames like “Rocket Man” for Kim Jong-un.

The threat, issued by the first deputy foreign minister, Choe Son-hui, has a serious undertone. The last time the two leaders were exchanging epithets, their countries were on the brink of conflict, and North Korea was conducting nuclear and long-range missile tests.

Kim suspended such tests in 2018 as he pursued a policy of summit diplomacy with Trump, but the regime has been signaling with increasing urgency that it is growing impatient that the leaders’ talks have not led to progress on lifting sanctions.

Earlier this week, the regime hinted it would abandon the moratorium in the next few weeks, presenting the US with an unwanted “Christmas gift”.

Since nuclear talks with the US stalled, North Korean propaganda has aimed abuse at senior US officials but avoided criticising Trump personally. For his part, Trump has consistently praised Kim, and boasted about their close relationship.

Israeli officials said to warn Jordan Valley annexation would imperil Amman ties

Israeli military officials are reportedly warning that Jordan may take drastic steps if Israel continues to push for annexation of the West Bank’s Jordan Valley, including possibly freezing a quarter-century-old peace treaty between the nations.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in September vowed that if reelected he would immediately annex the Jordan Valley, a swath of land linking the West Bank to Jordan that Israel views as a vital security asset, in what was widely seen as a bid to attract support from right-wing voters.

In recent days, Netanyahu has repeatedly called for a unity government to be formed so that Israel could take the step, citing a supportive US administration which recently said it doesn’t view settlements as “inconsistent with international law.” ...

Jordan has already said annexation of the territory would have consequences, but has not elaborated on what they might entail. It reportedly considered downgrading its diplomatic ties with Israel over the promise, but sees the vow as an empty campaign pledge.

Netanyahu has ramped up talk of carrying out the measure in recent weeks after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced in November that the US was softening its position on Israeli settlements in the West Bank and repudiating a 1978 State Department legal opinion that held that they were “inconsistent with international law.”

Netanyahu cousin and associates to be charged with corruption

Israel’s state prosecutor plans to indict several associates of Benjamin Netanyahu, including his cousin, for corruption in relation to a contentious £1.5bn deal to buy German submarines.

The justice ministry said in a statement that seven men would be charged with various criminal offences, including bribery, money laundering and fraud, pending a pre-trial hearing.

While Netanyahu is not a suspect, he was questioned in the long-running and high-profile investigation, known as Case 3,000. Thursday’s announcement will increase pressure on the prime minister as he faces his own separate corruption indictments as well as a political battle that could end his decades-long career. ...

Israel’s attorney general has charged Netanyahu with bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three separate corruption cases. ... Netanyahu has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, alleging he is the victim of a witch hunt.

Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib targeted in Israeli far-right fake news operation

Two Muslim US congresswomen have been targeted by a vast international operation that exploits far-right pages on Facebook to inflame Islamophobia for profit, a Guardian investigation has found. A mysterious Israeli-based group uses 21 Facebook pages to churn out more than a thousand coordinated fake news posts per week to more than a million followers around the world. It milks the traffic for revenue from digital advertising.

Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, who earlier this year became the first Muslim women to serve in the US Congress, have been singled out for vicious attacks by the coordinated effort. Somali-born Omar is the most frequent target. She has been mentioned in more than 1,400 posts since the network began two years ago. Tlaib has been mentioned nearly 1,200 times. Both totals are far higher than any other member of Congress. ...

The Guardian uncovered contacts between a group of mysterious Israel-based accounts and 21 far-right Facebook pages across the US, Australia, the UK, Canada, Austria, Israel and Nigeria. The posts exacerbate Islamophobia by amplifying far-right parties and vilifying Muslim and leftwing politicians. Their content is a blend of distorted news and pure fabrication. ...

Omar told the Guardian: “As this report makes clear, foreign interference – whether by individuals or governments – is still a grave threat to our democracy. These are malicious actors operating in a foreign country, Israel, spreading misinformation and hate speech to influence elections in the United States. The goal of these anti-Muslim hate campaigns is clear – they put Muslim lives here and around the world at risk and undermine our country’s commitment to religious pluralism.” She also slammed Facebook for its role in allowing users to spread misinformation.

When the Guardian notified Facebook of its investigation, the company removed several pages and accounts “that appeared to be financially motivated”, a spokesperson said in a statement. “These pages and accounts violated our policy against spam and fake accounts by posting clickbait content to drive people to off-platform sites,” the spokesperson said.

Monetising hate: covert enterprise co-opts far-right Facebook pages to churn out anti-Islamic posts

A mysterious group has used some of Facebook’s largest far-right pages to create a commercial enterprise that harvests anti-Islamic hate for profit and influences politics across the globe, a Guardian investigation has revealed. For the past two years the Israel-based group has co-opted at least 21 organically grown far-right pages, using them to churn out thousands of coordinated posts to more than 1 million followers across four continents and funnelling audiences to a cluster of 10 advertisement-heavy websites to milk the traffic for profit.

The posts stoke deep hatred of Islam across the western world and influence politics in Australia, Canada, the UK and the US by amplifying far-right parties including Australia’s One Nation and vilifying Muslim politicians such as US Democratic congresswoman Ilhan Omar. The network has also targeted leftwing politicians at critical points in national election campaigns, posting false stories about the UK Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, and the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau.

The revelations show how Facebook has failed to stop clandestine actors from using its platform to run coordinated disinformation and hate campaigns. The network uncovered by the Guardian has operated with relative impunity even since Mark Zuckerberg offered his apology to the US Senate after the Cambridge Analytica and Russian interference scandals. ...

The Guardian’s investigation has revealed that the Israel-based group gains access to existing rightwing and far-right Facebook pages by approaching local administrators and offering to act as editors who could bring new content and increase reach. Once they gain access, the Israeli administrators publish identical posts almost simultaneously to the network’s 21 Facebook pages, which have a combined 1 million followers around the globe. ... The network published 5,695 coordinated posts receiving 846,424 likes, shares or comments in October alone, Guardian analysis shows. In total, the network has published at least 165,000 posts and attracted 14.3m likes, shares or comments.

Filmmakers Sue to Shield Visitors to U.S. From Social Media Vetting

A filmmaker working on a documentary that’s critical of U.S. policies. A writer who operates a pseudonymous Twitter account to evade an authoritarian regime in their home country. An activist who uses Facebook to organize protests at the U.S.-Mexico border.

These are the kinds of people who might not want U.S. immigration agents poring over their social media profiles before deciding whether they should be allowed into the country. Yet that’s exactly what the State Department now requires as part of the Trump administration’s “extreme vetting” of millions of visa applicants. As of May, people who need a visa to enter the U.S. have to disclose any social media handles they’ve used over the past five years on 20 platforms, from Instagram and Twitter to YouTube and Weibo (the Chinese microblogging service). If they don’t, their visas could be denied.

Two U.S.-based documentary film organizations filed suit on Thursday in federal court in Washington, D.C. to challenge the policy, arguing that it will have a chilling effect on the filmmakers they work with. Along with the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University and the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School, the International Documentary Association and Doc Society are suing the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security because their international members are “concerned that their political views will be used against them during the visa process.”

“They self-censor to avoid being associated with controversial ideas or sensitive topics,” the complaint states. The nonprofit groups surveyed over 100 international filmmakers and found that “a significant majority said it would chill their speech online.” Some reported that they were reconsidering travel to the U.S. or trying to scrub online postings in light of the new requirements. Those coming from countries with repressive governments or from war zones were especially concerned, since some of them operate anonymously online to more freely share information and opinions. Once these people disclose their true identity to U.S. officials, they fear, that information could end up in hands of hostile governments or groups.

Why parents in a school district near the CIA are forcing tech companies to erase kids’ data

Parents at a public school district in Maryland have won a major victory for student privacy: tech companies that work with the school district now have to purge the data they have collected on students once a year. Experts say the district’s “Data Deletion Week” may be the first of its kind in the country. It’s not exactly an accident that schools in Montgomery county, in the suburbs of Washington DC, are leading the way on privacy protections for kids. The large school district is near the headquarters of the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency. It’s a place where many federal employees, lawyers and security experts send their own kids.

As digital surveillance of American students expands rapidly in schools across the country, sparking new debates over tradeoffs between privacy and safety, Montgomery county is a revealing example of what protections some of the nation’s most well-informed, privacy-savvy parents think their children need.

Like thousands of American public school districts, Montgomery county gives students laptops and has hired tech companies to track students’ activities on those computers, including monitoring what they search for and what websites they visit. This digital surveillance – a booming industry – is marketed as a way to keep kids safe from school shootings and self-harm. It also generates detailed data on individual children. Montgomery county parents fear that data might someday be used against their kids. ...

By requiring tech companies to delete data they collect on schoolchildren once a year, parent activists in Montgomery county said they hope to shield kids from being held accountable in adulthood for youthful mistakes, as well as to guard them from exploitation by what one parent termed “the student data surveillance industrial complex”.

Montgomery county public schools tested Data Deletion Week last year and publicly launched the program this past August. While not all student data is deleted that week, the district works to clean much of students’ digital slates over the summer, including data collected by Google and by GoGuardian, which tracks students’ web searches, according to Peter Cevenini, the district’s chief technology officer. The district demands more than a vague assurance from tech companies that the data has been erased: “They send us a certification that officially confirms legally that the information has been deleted from their servers,” Cevenini said. GoGuardian has already submitted its formal certification; the district is still waiting for formal certification from Google, Cevenini said.

Commuters face second day of severe transport disruption across France

Prof. Richard D. Wolff: France's strike a warning for American neoliberals

The Delusions Of The Impeachment Witnesses Point To A Larger Problem

During yesterday's impeachment hearing at the House House Judiciary Committee one of the Democrats witnesses made some rather crazy statements. Pamela Karlan, a Stanford law professor, first proved to adhere to neo-conservative delusions about the U.S. role in the world:

America is not just 'the last best hope,' as Mr. Jefferies said, but it's also the shining city on a hill. We can't be the shining city on a hill and promote democracy around the world if we're not promoting it here at home.

... But worse than Karlan's pseudo-patriotic propaganda claptrap were her remarks on the Ukraine and Russia:

This is not just about our national interests to protect elections or make sure Ukraine stays strong and fights the Russians so we don't have to fight them here, but it's in our national interest to promote democracy worldwide.

That was not a joke. From the video it certainly seems that the woman believes that nonsense.

For one the Ukraine is not fighting "the Russians". The Kiev government is fighting against east-Ukrainians who disagree with the Nazi controlled regime which the U.S. installed after it instigated the unconstitutional Maidan coup. Russia supplies the east-Ukrainians and there were a few Russian volunteers fighting on their side but no Russian military units entered the Ukraine.

But aside from that how can anyone truly believe that the Ukraine "fights the Russians so we don't have to fight them here"? Is Russia on the verge of invading the United States? Where? How? And most importantly: What for? How would that be in Russia's interest? ...

And how is it in U.S. interest to give the Ukraine U.S. taxpayer money to buy U.S. weapons? The sole motive behind that idea was greed and corruption, not national interest:

[U.S. special envoy to Ukraine] Volker started his job at the State Department in 2017 in an unusual part-time arrangement that allowed him to continue consulting at BGR, a powerful lobbying firm that represents Ukraine and the U.S.-based defense firm Raytheon. During his tenure, Volker advocated for the United States to send Raytheon-manufactured antitank Javelin missiles to Ukraine — a decision that made Raytheon millions of dollars.

... The Democrats are doing themselves no favor by producing delusional and partisan witnesses who repeat Reaganesque claptrap. They only prove that the whole affair is just an unserious show trial.

Dems Impeachment Witnesses Are A Disaster!

U.S. homeland security abandons plan for face scans for U.S. citizens

The Trump administration said Thursday it no longer plans to propose a regulation next year that would require all travellers - including U.S. citizens - to be photographed when entering or leaving the United States.

The proposed regulation was slated to be issued in July by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) as part of the Trump administration’s regulatory agenda. The agency said Thursday after consulting Congress and privacy experts it would not move forward.

Miami mural of Rio police abuse painted over after officers complain

A mural depicting police abuse in a Rio de Janeiro favela has been removed from the walls of a Miami events space after local police reportedly complained.

The work, by the Brazilian artist Panmela Castro, showed a black woman being held in a headlock, with the caption: “Woman who filmed abused [sic] by police officers is beaten and arrested.” It was painted on in the parking lot of the Aria 21 venue on Monday as part of a week-long exhibition for Miami Art Week – but was painted over the following day after managers at the space told Castro police had complained.

“I did not imagine this would happen at one of the biggest art fairs in the US. I cried with revulsion,” said Castro, whose works have been exhibited internationally. The mural was based on the experience of a student of Castro’s, who was handcuffed and arrested after filming police officers questioning a man in Rio de Janeiro’s Rocinha favela, days after police killed eight people in the neighbourhood. ...

Managers at Aria 21 said they did not want to jeopardise their good relationship with police. “The commander saw the painting, and he calls us aside and he says: ‘If you guys really want to do good … you have to get this out,’” said Jerusa Noveletto, one of Aria 21’s managers. “We tried to explain that she’s from another country, she’s just trying to show what’s going on there – but they didn’t want to have that.” She was not sure which police station the message had come from.

New Legislation Aims to End the “School to Confinement Pathway”

Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts introduced new legislation Thursday aimed at ending the “school to confinement pathway.” The bill targets discriminatory and punitive school discipline policies that push black and brown students out of schools at disproportionately high rates, often directly into the criminal justice system.

The bill offers incentives to states and schools that commit to ban most suspensions and expulsions, as well as corporal punishment and the physical restraint of students. It also allots resources to the Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights at a time when the Trump administration has worked to gut it, and establishes an interagency task force to end school pushout policies and examine their impact on girls of color, who are disproportionately penalized by current disciplinary policies. The bill, co-sponsored by Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and endorsed by more than a dozen community organizations, is the first to follow Pressley’s People’s Justice Guarantee, a comprehensive resolution introduced last month that maps how the federal government can tackle the injustices of the criminal legal system through a sweeping set of policies.

Schools have often served as young people’s first point of contact with the criminal justice system, and many students have seen their education disrupted by suspensions and expulsions. In recent years, viral videos of school-based police officers brutally tackling, dragging, or slamming to the ground black and brown children over minor disciplinary infractions have underscored the pervasiveness of school policies that criminalize and traumatize students. But to date Congress has done little to address such policies.

the horse race

Hillary Clinton Redbaits Bernie On Howard Stern

South Bend’s Police Chief, Close Ally of Pete Buttigieg, Promotes Officer Involved in Controversial Choking Death

A South Bend, Indiana, police officer who was involved in the controversial 2012 death of a man in police custody was promoted in October at the recommendation of Police Chief Scott Ruszkowski, a close ally of Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Activists called on the mayor, now a leading Democratic presidential candidate, to fire Ruszkowski following a police shooting over the summer. The city’s recent promotion of officer David Johnson, Buttigieg’s South Bend critics say, is yet another example of the mayor’s failure to adequately address troubling race relations in the city he governs.

“This is why people in the black community have issues with police, because of these kinds of things,” Black Lives Matter activist Jorden Giger said. Giger is also a co-leader of Our Revolution South Bend and Michiana, which supports Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders for president.

Johnson’s promotion to sergeant in special assignment was recommended by Ruszkowski and approved by the city’s Board of Public Safety, whose members are appointed by the mayor and which oversees administrative and disciplinary duties for police officers and firefighters. In 2012, Johnson and another officer chased Michael Anderson, who was suspected of stealing a moped, on foot. Anderson fled the police, but he was ultimately apprehended and found to be choking on bags of drugs and some cash. As Anderson sat handcuffed, Johnson went back to his squad car and returned with a plastic Slurpee-like straw, which he then put down Anderson’s throat in an ill-fated effort to retrieve the drugs.

Anderson died at a hospital later that night, a death that was later ruled accidental. Following an investigation, county prosecutors concluded that Anderson “died based upon his own actions.” At the time, activists called for St. Joseph County Metro Homicide Commander Tim Corbett and Lieutenant David Wells to step down over allegations they mishandled the investigation into the incident. The month following Anderson’s death, city council member Henry Davis, Jr., sent a letter to the Department of Justice calling for a federal investigation into the SBPD.

Anderson’s family later sued Johnson, a number of other officers, and city and county employees for negligence, excessive force, and failing to provide first aid or call paramedics in a reasonable amount of time, though they eventually dropped the lawsuit.

Republicans win in effort to limit 'liberal' student vote in key 2020 races

Maggie Flaherty grew up in a small town in California, but after she moved to New Hampshire to attend Dartmouth College, she registered to vote in the state where she would be spending at least four years. Now she is embroiled in a fight against Republicans in the state that is being watched across the country. Flaherty and a fellow student are challenging a Republican-backed law that is making it harder for many out-of-state students and other temporary residents to cast a ballot in a state with outsized national influence.

The lawsuit has been endorsed by the Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren and other Democratic presidential hopefuls. But last week, Flaherty and her colleague Caroline Casey hit another obstacle when the US district judge Joseph LaPlante denied a request to block the law just months before the primary elections.

New Hampshire is a small swing state where both local and state-wide races can be decided by razor-thin margins. Donald Trump lost the state to Hillary Clinton by just 2,736 votes in 2016. The same year, Maggie Hassan, also a Democrat, defeated Kelly Ayotte for a Senate seat by just 1,017 votes. The Democratic primary in February and general election in November are expected to be closely fought.

Republicans in the state have complained about college students voting before. “They are kids voting liberal, voting their feelings, with no life experience,” William O’Brien, a Republican and then the New Hampshire house speaker, said in 2011. There are nationwide efforts to restrict the surging student vote, but the party says the new law is merely intended to bring New Hampshire in line with other states.

The law, which went into effect on 1 July, mandates that anyone who has registered to vote and intends to drive while living in the state must obtain a New Hampshire driver’s license and register their vehicle within 60 days of signing up. ... It may seem like a benign change, but critics of the law say it has created mass confusion and imposes an unfair burden on college students, and amounts to a “poll tax” on voting because of the costs involved in getting a license. “There’s nothing that’s really gained by this, there’s no way to really enforce it, so what’s the point of it?” said Kate Corriveau, the New Hampshire director of America Votes, an advocacy group. “The point of it, as we’ve kind of seen, is that it’s confusing. And it’s a little bit intimidating.”

Biden declares AOC is not the future of the party

David Pakman: Is the establishment using Pete to block Bernie?

Declaring 'Buttigieg Is Wrong,' Bernie Sanders Makes Case for Tuition-Free Public College and Universal Programs

Sen. Bernie Sanders late Thursday directly confronted fellow Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg's recent attacks on the idea of tuition-free public college and made a broader case for universal programs funded by higher taxes on the rich over means-tested alternatives.

"I say Buttigieg is wrong on both counts," Sanders said in an appearance on MSNBC when asked about the South Bend, Indiana mayor's criticism of free public college as elitist and regressive.

Tackling Buttigieg's argument that tuition-free public college neglects those who may not want to attend a public college or university, the senator from Vermont said, "Of course, when we talk about making higher education—public colleges and universities—tuition-free, we mean not only college but we mean trade schools as well."

"There are millions of good jobs out there in construction and all kinds of areas, where people are good at working with their hands, they don't want to go to college, and of course we are going to make tuition free for those people," Sanders told MSNBC's Chris Hayes.

The senator went on to address Buttigieg's claim that making public colleges and universities tuition-free would be wrongheaded because it would allow "the kids of millionaires" to benefit.

Sanders responded:

I'm very glad that Mr. Buttigieg is worried that I have been too easy on upper-income people and the millionaires and billionaires, that I'm gonna allow their kids to go to public colleges and universities—just, by the way, as they do go to public schools right now. Trump's kids can go to any public school, elementary school, high school in the country "tuition-free."

But the point is, I happen to believe that when you talk about programs like Social Security, like healthcare, like higher education, they should be universal. The way you pay for them, and the way I do it, not the way Buttigieg does it, is I do demand that at a time of massive income and wealth inequality, that the very rich will start paying their fair share of taxes, as will corporate America.

"You pay for it by raising revenue from the very rich," Sanders continued, "but then you say in a very simple way that any person who wants a higher education, college, trade school, should be able to do it."

Buttigieg's attacks on proposals to make public colleges and universities tuition-free began last week with an Iowa ad that claimed universal and free public college is unrealistic and would alienate "half the country." ...

Progressives were quick to condemn Buttigieg's criticism, pointing out that his attacks could just as easily apply to other public programs. "Universal public systems are designed to benefit EVERYBODY!" Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) tweeted last week. "Everyone contributes and everyone enjoys. We don't ban the rich from public schools, firefighters, or libraries because they are public goods."

the evening greens

People Who Want to Ban Fracking Immediately, Says Joe Biden, 'Oughta Vote for Someone Else'

If you want a candidate committed to banning fracking in the United States immediately, find another candidate than Joe Biden.

That's the advice of Biden himself, given to an activist from the Sunrise Movement in a video posted online Thursday after the two discussed the former vice president's adviser Heather Zichal and Biden's plans for the future of fracking.

In the video of the interaction posted on Twitter by Sunrise Thursday afternoon, Biden appears confused about Zichal's connections to the natural gas industry, protesting that the adviser "worked for us in the administration." ...

As Sludge reported in May, adviser Zichal "recently occupied a lucrative seat on the board of the Texas-based liquified natural gas (LNG) company Cheniere Energy." Cheniere is a frequent donor to Republican politicians.

CounterPunch editor Jeffrey St. Clair referred to Biden's "No Malarkey" bus tour in a tweet about the interaction.

"Here's some choice malarkey from Biden on his climate advisor, Heather Zichal, who pulled down more than a cool (or hot, I guess) million on the board of Cheniere Energy, a Texas-based liquified natural gas company whose execs she'd gotten cozy with while working for Obama," tweeted St. Clair.

The interaction caught the attention of Briahna Joy Gray, campaign press secretary for Bernie Sanders, who earlier this year added a federal fracking ban to his 2020 campaign platform.

"Biden says 'you ought to vote for somebody else' if you want us to ban fracking and transition away from fossil fuels now," tweeted Gray. "Might I recommend Bernie Sanders: the climate candidate."

COP25: Alternative Climate Summit Honors Those "Suffering the Crimes of Transnational Corporations"

Nestlé cannot claim bottled water is 'essential public service', court rules

Michigan’s second-highest court has dealt a legal blow to Nestlé’s Ice Mountain water brand, ruling that the company’s commercial water-bottling operation is “not an essential public service” or a public water supply. The court of appeals ruling is a victory for Osceola township, a small mid-Michigan town that blocked Nestlé from building a pumping station that doesn’t comply with its zoning laws. But the case could also throw a wrench in Nestlé’s attempts to privatize water around the country.

If it is to carry out such plans, then it will need to be legally recognized as a public water source that provides an essential public service. The Michigan environmental attorney Jim Olson, who did not represent Osceola township but has previously battled Nestlé in court, said any claim that the Swiss multinational is a public water utility “is ludicrous”.

“What this lays bare is the extent to which private water marketers like Nestlé, and others like them, go [in] their attempts to privatize sovereign public water, public water services, and the land and communities they impact,” Olson said.

The ruling, made on Tuesday, could also lead state environmental regulators to reconsider permits that allow Nestlé to pump water in Michigan. The Osceola case stems from Nestle’s attempt to increase the amount of water it pulls from a controversial wellhead in nearby Evart from about 250 gallons per minute to 400 gallons per minute. It needs to build the pump in a children’s campground in Osceola township to transport the increased load via a pipe system. The township in 2017 rejected the plans based on its zoning laws, and Nestlé subsequently sued. A lower court wrote in late 2017 that water was essential for life and bottling water was an “essential public service” that met a demand, which trumped Osceola township’s zoning laws.

However, a three-judge panel in the appellate court reversed the decision. The appellate judges acknowledged that water was “essential to life”, but wrote that the context in which water is sold also had to be considered. Marketing bottled water in an area where tap water is available is unessential.

Why Are Some of Spain’s Biggest Polluters Sponsoring U.N. Climate Summit?

BPA chemical levels in humans drastically underestimated, study finds

Humans are probably being exposed to far more of a widely used dangerous chemical – found in plastics, canned goods and receipt paper – than previously understood, according to a new study. The analysis, in the peer-reviewed scientific journal the Lancet, uses a new method for evaluating exposure to BPA, or bisphenol-A.

BPA disrupts hormones critical to many body functions and is linked with obesity and other diseases. Pregnant women who are exposed to it are more likely to have children who have problems with growth, behavior and fertility, as well as a higher cancer risk. Many companies have phased out using BPAs, marketing new products with similar replacement bisphenols as safer without sufficient evidence for their claims, experts say.

The new research examined levels of BPA in urine but also counted the metabolites of BPA. Metabolites are formed when the body breaks down and eliminates a chemical. Using the new method, the scientists analyzed the urine of 29 pregnant women in their second trimester and found their BPA exposure levels to be an average of 44 times higher than what was measured with the traditional method.

Also of Interest

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

Donald Trump Keeps Navy SEALs Above the Law

Everyone Should Watch The Report. Take It From a Guantánamo Bay Lawyer

Belmarsh: A ‘Brick and Wire Hell of Sensory Deprivation’

'Make America 36th Out of 41 Developed Nations Again': Social Justice Index of Developed Nations Puts US Near Bottom

Fake News By Omission: THe Mass Media's Cowardly Distortion Tool

Greece and Turkey closer to armed conflict, say experts

Resolution recognising Armenian genocide blocked in U.S. Senate

Brexit is one of most spectacular mistakes in EU history, says Tusk

Video shows final hours of sick teen who died in US Border Patrol custody

Chicago police started working less after an officer was sentenced for killing black teen Laquan McDonald. But Chicago actually got safer.

Federal Reserve V.P. Grilled at House Hearing on Hundreds of Billions in Fed Loans to Wall Street

Vowing to Deliver High-Speed Broadband for All, Sanders Plan Would Enshrine Internet as Public Utility

Why is Michael Bloomberg silencing the press? Because it's his plaything

After the Obama disappointment, black voters want more than empty symbolism

Pete Buttigieg and McKinsey: why a background in business raises doubts

Sanders Scores Highest Mark on Sunrise Movement's Climate Report Card While Biden Told It's "Parent-Teacher Conference Time"

The Sitka tribe's struggle to save Alaskan herring

Jimmy Dore: Andrew Yang Calls Out MSNBC-Demands Apology!

Krystal Ball: Biden's new ad is everything that's wrong with Democrats

Rising: GOP Congressman: Impeachment almost never mentioned in my district

Rising: Pete Buttigieg's time in the barrel

A Little Night Music

Van Morrison and Them - Baby Please Don't Go

Them - Philosophy

Them - Here Comes The Night

Them - My Lonely Sad Eyes

Them - Don't Look Back

Van Morrison - I Put A Spell On You

Them - Could You, Would You

Them - (Get your kicks on) Route 66

Them - Turn on your Lovelight

Them - Don't Start Crying Now

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joe shikspack's picture

i'm going to be out this evening, so you all have fun and i'll catch up with you later.

have a great weekend, all!

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Shahryar's picture

I really do!

meanwhile, I remember how long it took Hills to endorse Obama, even when it was obvious that he was going to be the nominee. And yet, gosh, she's still bitter because Bernie did the same with her.

I'm not sure if I hate her more than I hate Mayo Pete. It's close.

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JekyllnHyde's picture


From David Sirota's daily 'Bern Notice.'

In the last two months, polls from CBS News, the New York Times, the University of Iowa and Quinnipiac have shown Bernie either in a statistical tie for first place in Iowa or in a strong second-place position...

Bernie has now held events with a total of more than a quarter-million people — and today he’s in Iowa doing his 200th event of the 2020 campaign. A must-read Des Moines Register story reports on the campaign’s surging grassroots operation in the state. As one consultant on another campaign told the newspaper, on caucus night, Bernie’s intensifying Iowa ground game has the potential to be "a hell of an operation that other campaigns will be envious of."

Bernie’s Iowa campaign isn’t a flash in the pan — it has been steadily building momentum in the polls through grassroots organizing, major endorsements, local events and substantive television ads that focus on his working-class agenda.


On Bernie's "Secret Weapon."

Sanders Has Strong Latino Support
December 6, 2019

Ron Brownstein: “There are signs Hispanics may prove a kind of secret weapon for Sanders. In a recent Fox News poll of Nevada, Hispanics there preferred Sanders over Biden by 7 percentage points. Sanders also led Biden with them by 9 points in a recent Latino Decisions poll of California and doubled the former vice president’s vote among them in the University of Texas at Tyler poll. Sanders narrowly led Biden with Hispanics in a New York Times/Siena poll of Florida, and the two ran even in Arizona, according to the OH Predictive Insights survey.”

Ed Kilgore: “The evidence of Sanders’s strength among Latinos is everywhere, most recently in a University of California IGS survey of the Golden State, where Sanders led the field, in no small part because of his 32 percent showing (Biden is second at 19 percent) among Latinos.”

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A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma

Azazello's picture

From RT:
Military officer: Don’t do what Israelis & Saudis say!

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It didn't have to be this way.

My only objection is to say that Republicans went crazy first.

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mimi's picture

one has to prove that the President committed a crime for an impeachment to be successful and a legal way to remove the President from office.

But can the President order that those, the President knows would know about the crimes he himself committed, to not testify in court. Is the President above the courts? Is the President allowed to refuse to appear in court? If that would be so, how could a President ever been removed from office legally? If the President could defy appearing in the courts or is allowed to sue those who request him to appear and testify, he could easily drag out the proceeding so that he would never be impeached and removed from office, before he would have to go anyway.

I don't understand the benefit of having only two terms of four years, because it would mean that for eight years the American population would be at the mercy of a President: It would be too easy, because the President could hinder the procedures to prove the crimes in that time period.

I am sorry I don't have the vocabulary and legal understanding. Thank you.
Otherwise as said in another comment yesterday, I do like Turley's opinion.

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“Trauma is not what happens to you.
Trauma is what happens inside you,
as a result of what happens to you.”
— Dr. Gabor Maté

@mimi he told them to wait until the court ruled on it.
He did not obstruct. He properly went to the courts for their opinion, which is what is supposed to happen when the 3 branches of government need a judicial referee.
Checks and balances between the branches is the court.
The media makes this all cray cray Trump.
It is Constitutional law, actually, and extremely appropriate.

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mimi's picture

@on the cusp
that Trump just said to his supeana-ed people to wait til the court decided on it, I thought he ordered them to not testify and not go to court.

In general, what happens if a subpeana-ed person refuses to appear in court? Do they commit then a crime which the court could punish?

I feel so uncomfortable, that I still have not understood the power of the courts. Who checks the courts? Are not some judges elected and with it, their elections dependent on supporters and their money? If the court is the referree, who checks on the referrees?


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“Trauma is not what happens to you.
Trauma is what happens inside you,
as a result of what happens to you.”
— Dr. Gabor Maté

LMAO. Sure, just like the Spanish civil war with a few German volunteers. Like the Condor Legion.

You are just as naive as those who think the CIA is helping democracy.

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We are so screwed.

Benny's picture

Fine roundup, always find interesting POV.

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One equal temper of heroic hearts, Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will. To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.--Tennyson

enhydra lutris's picture

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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 --

dystopian's picture

Them was great! Van is a world class singer, and a great performer. Their Gloria was the first song any guitar player with dreams of a garage band in 60's socal had to learn. Mystic Eyes was pretty rad for the time.

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We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
both - Albert Einstein

travelerxxx's picture


Gloria was the first song any guitar player with dreams of a garage band in 60's socal had to learn.

Ha! Indeed! Not just SoCal, but the midwest, too. It was the first song I learned (in its entirety) on electric. So long ago now that it occurs to me that I can't remember it! Shouldn't take too long.....

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After I did a cultural/historical tour of Ireland, I became even more addicted.
He and Them had to overcome prejudices that persist to this day about the Irish.
Amazing tunes, bringing back amazing memories of Ireland, and the realization "the Troubles" are not over yet.
"Into the Mystic" is probably the only song I wish to be played at my memorial when I get the public farewell! lol!

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lotlizard's picture

In reporting a crime, European news media often choose to omit mention of offenders’ ethnic background, making an exception only when the topic becomes unavoidable as a salient, relevant aspect of the case.

This practice has increased political divisions and loss of trust in the media, particularly since the migration crisis of 2015. Where part of the audience sees a plain crime story in the news and leaves it at that, another part of the audience checks further, finds out the suspect is a migrant or descendant of migrants, and comes away with the impression that mainstream media are hiding facts that would put migration and its proponents in a negative light. After enough such occurrences, guess what — yet another vote for right-wing populists at the next election.

One example that predates 2015: reporting on violence against referees in amateur soccer.

The Guardian chose not to reveal to its readers that the teenagers were Moroccan:

More recently, this incident from five weeks ago triggered a nationwide strike of volunteer soccer referees in Germany:

It turns out that “Hayri G.” is a Kurd whose background is originally from Turkey.

Naming suspects by first name and initial only is the rule in Germany, as media and police are forbidden to reveal a non-prominent person’s full identity until they have actually been found guilty of a crime. In this case some particularly finicky progressive media chose to bend over backward even further, not even reporting the clearly Turkish/Kurdish first name.

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mimi's picture

or nationality of a person proven to have committed an illegal crime of violence or fraud? It is probably as 'biased' to hide the ethnicity than it is to publish it.

German media shadows faces of the accused in courts, it also hides the voices of the accused or the narrator by distorting or warping their voices.

Why is it necessary to tell or show the audience that the accused was, for example, fron Saudi Arabia or Somalia or Turkey or Yemen or Syria etc.? If the crime has been proven, what does it matter where the accused and convicted came from? One wouldn't need to know, neither before the accused was convicted nor afterwoards, imo.

I felt that NBC purposefully posted the ethnicity of an accused. May be they did this only after the accused was convicted. There is the same amount of intentional and potential emotional hate causing among the audience by hiding an ethnicity marker than in showing it. Just stuck out to me. But didn't read the whole story.

The darn problem I have that in order to know if a news article is worth reading, you have to read it first. Judging by the title of a news article is not the way to tackle the problem. Titles have always an intention to lead the reader into a specific direction, so they are innately biased by 'nature'.

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“Trauma is not what happens to you.
Trauma is what happens inside you,
as a result of what happens to you.”
— Dr. Gabor Maté