The Evening Blues - 1-24-20
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features The King of the Slide Guitar Elmore James. Enjoy!
Elmore James - Goodbye Baby
"The Government's power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the Government. The press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of government and inform the people. Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government."
-- Hugo Black
News and Opinion
WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson gave a brief statement to the press after the latest court hearing for Julian Assange’s extradition case in London today, saying the Trump administration is arguing that the First Amendment of the US Constitution doesn’t provide press freedom protection to foreign nationals like Assange.
“We have now learned from submissions and affidavits presented by the United States to this court that they do not consider foreign nationals to have a First Amendment protection,” Hrafnsson said.
“Now let that sink in for a second,” Hrafnsson continued. “At the same time that the US government is chasing journalists all over the world, they claim they have extra-territorial reach, they have decided that all foreign journalists which include many of you here, have no protection under the First Amendment of the United States. So that goes to show the gravity of this case. This is not about Julian Assange, it’s about press freedom.”
Hrafnsson’s very newsworthy claim has as of this writing received no mainstream news media coverage at all. The video above is from independent reporter Gordon Dimmack.
This prosecutorial strategy would be very much in alignment with remarks made in 2017 by then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo. “Julian Assange has no First Amendment freedoms. He’s sitting in an embassy in London. He’s not a U.S. citizen,” Pompeo told the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
That, like nearly every sound which emits from Pompeo’s amorphous face, was a lie. The First Amendment is not a set of special free speech privileges that the US government magnanimously bestows upon a few select individuals, it’s a limitation placed upon the US government’s ability to restrict rights that all persons everywhere are assumed to have. ...
Journalist Glenn Greenwald, who is himself now being legally persecuted by the same empire as Assange under an indictment which Hrafnsson in the aforementioned statement called “almost a carbon copy of the indictment against Julian Assange”, also denounced Pompeo’s 2017 remarks. “The notion that WikiLeaks has no free press rights because Assange is a foreigner is both wrong and dangerous,” Greenwald wrote at the time. ... Greenwald, who is a former litigation attorney, referenced a Salon article he’d written in 2010 skillfully outlining why Senator Susan Collins’ attempts to spin constitutional rights as inapplicable to foreigners would be outlandish, insane, illegal and unconstitutional to put into practice.
“To see how false this notion is that the Constitution only applies to U.S. citizens, one need do nothing more than read the Bill of Rights,” Greenwald argued in 2010. “It says nothing about ‘citizens.’ To the contrary, many of the provisions are simply restrictions on what the Government is permitted to do (‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion . . . or abridging the freedom of speech’; ‘No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner’). And where rights are expressly vested, they are pointedly not vested in ‘citizens,’ but rather in ‘persons’ or ‘the accused’ (‘No person shall . . . . be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law’; ‘In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed . . . . and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense’).” ...
So let’s be clear here: the Trump administration isn’t just working to establish a legal precedent which will demolish press freedoms around the world, it’s also working to change how the US Constitution operates on a very fundamental level.
Hmmm... this testimony seems pretty self-serving. I wonder how accurate it is.
“They Said That We Were Pussies:” The Psychologist Who Tortured Accused 9/11 Plotters Says the CIA Wouldn’t Let Him Stop
James Mitchell is often referred to as the “architect” of the CIA’s so-called “torture program,” a system developed to question suspected terrorists at “black sites” around the world after 9/11. But to hear Mitchell tell it, what he saw wasn’t much of a system at all — and he certainly wasn’t in charge of it. As part of his first public testimony before a military commission at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, on Wednesday, Mitchell detailed his frequent clashes with what he called the CIA’s “middle management” over how aggressively to interrogate prisoners. ...
In 2002, the CIA asked Mitchell to help question Abu Zubaydah, a suspected al-Qaeda operative captured in Pakistan. President George W. Bush had described Zubaydah as “al-Qaeda’s chief of operations”— a committed, high-ranking member of the organization likely to know nearly everything about its operations. (Later, nearly all of these assumptions proved false.) At a CIA black site in Thailand, Zubaydah became the first prisoner to undergo so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques,” including waterboarding. Within days, Mitchell and his partner, Bruce Jessen, concluded he had cooperated and given up all his useful information. He only knew about past terror attacks; he could share nothing about future strikes within the United States, the CIA’s major focus.
Mitchell and Jessen, who’s also scheduled to testify later this week, petitioned the higher-ups for permission to stop torturing Zubaydah. The official request to cease waterboarding, according to Mitchell, followed a number of informal appeals. They argued that pushing further could break the law and physically endanger Zubaydah, who’d been shot several times before being captured. ... The official response was “let’s stay the course.” From middle management the reply was considerably less amicable, according to Mitchell. “They said that we were pussies, that we had lost out spines,” he said. They warned of a looming, massive attack, and that Mitchell would have American blood on his hands.
Management also reminded Mitchell he was at a CIA-controlled black site; he could only leave with the agency’s approval. In a tense moment of testimony, Mitchell described threatening to end an interrogation he thought had gotten out of control. When he was overruled, he asked to leave — was told he couldn’t leave. I’m a US citizen, a civilian; you’re holding me against my will in a foreign country, incommunicado,” said Mitchell, tearing up in court. Mitchell portrayed himself as largely at the mercy of the agency that had hired him as a consultant. Whatever theoretical controls on coercive violence he’d tried to impose were quickly rendered useless in practice.
The United States has not yet entered into talks with Iraq on the removal of US troops from the country, as demanded by the Iraqi parliament, a senior US official said Thursday.
"There has not been any real engagement," said ambassador James Jeffrey, the US special envoy for Syria and the coalition against the Islamic State.
"Our position, as you know –- we've said it several times -- is that we're prepared to discuss with the Iraqi government our overall strategic relationship," Jeffrey told reporters.
"We have a Strategic Framework Agreement with Iraq since 2008," he said. "It covers economic, security, and diplomatic engagement across the board.
"We see this as a package," Jeffrey said. "And when we do sit down and talk with them, that's where we'll be aiming to direct the conversation."
Jeffrey said that operations against IS fighters have been on hold since a January 3 US drone strike near Baghdad airport killed top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani.
Backed into a corner and influence waning, the United States has in recent weeks been promoting a plan to create an autonomous Sunni region in western Iraq, officials from both countries told Middle East Eye. The US efforts, the officials say, come in response to Shia Iraqi parties’ attempts to expel American troops from their country.
Iraq represents a strategic land bridge between Iran and its allies in Syria, Lebanon and Palestine. Establishing a US-controlled Sunni buffer zone in western Iraq would deprive Iran of using land routes into Syria and prevent it from reaching the eastern shores of the Mediterranean.
For Washington, the idea of carving out a Sunni region dates back to a 2007 proposition by Joe Biden, who is now vying to be the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate.
Now efforts to expel US troops have breathed new life into the project, and the creation of a Sunni region is just one of the options being considered by Washington to counter Iranian pressure, a top Iraqi Shia official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told MEE. Iraqi unity “is no longer a priority now for the US,” the Shia official said.
A former US official familiar with the project confirmed that the Americans have worked on "taking this project out of the drawer and putting it on the table".
“The creation of a Sunni region has always been an option for the US. The Iranians cannot be allowed to reach the Mediterranean Sea or benefit from the land bridge connecting them to Hezbollah” in Lebanon, the former US official told MEE.
The U.N.’s top court has issued a damning indictment of former Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi and ordered that her Myanmar government take all possible measures to prevent genocide against the Rohingya people. The ruling from the International Court of Justice in The Hague, delivered on Thursday morning, was warmly welcomed by Rohingya Muslims and human rights activists who have long called for the international community to condemn the atrocities perpetrated against the minority group and hold the Myanmar military to account. ...
In 2017 the Myanmar military conducted a clearance operation in northern Rakhine State that led to hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims fleeing to Bangladesh, and to accusations of mass killings, rapes, and torture. In a bid to protect the Rohingya who remain in Myanmar, the ICJ demanded that the government ensure military and police forces do not commit genocidal acts, and that they preserve all evidence of genocidal acts. Myanmar is required to report back to the court in four months to outline what steps it has taken to comply with the order, and it must continue to update the court every six months after that.
Aung San Suu Kyi was not in court on Thursday to hear the verdict, but Myanmar’s State Counselor and de facto head of state did travel to The Hague last month to defend the actions of the military that once held her under house arrest for 15 years. And she continues to defend her military’s actions.
In an opinion piece published Thursday in the Financial Times, the Myanmar leader said her country was the victim of “unsubstantiated narratives” by human rights groups and U.N. investigators. ...
The court on Thursday also ordered that if Myanmar does not obey the ruling, the ICJ can send the case to the U.N. Security Council — although countries like China and Russia have already shown they continue to support Aung San Suu Kyi’s government.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – January 23, 2020 – The iconic Doomsday Clock symbolizing the gravest perils facing humankind is now closer to midnight than at any point since its creation in 1947. To underscore the need for action, the time on the Doomsday Clock is now being expressed in seconds, rather than minutes: Today, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Science and Security Board in consultation with the Bulletin’s Board of Sponsors, which includes 13 Nobel Laureates, moved the Doomsday Clock from two minutes to midnight to 100 seconds to midnight.
As the statement issued today by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists explains: “Humanity continues to face two simultaneous existential dangers—nuclear war and climate change—that are compounded by a threat multiplier, cyber-enabled information warfare, that undercuts society’s ability to respond. The international security situation is dire, not just because these threats exist, but because world leaders have allowed the international political infrastructure for managing them to erode.”
The Doomsday Clock has now moved closer to midnight in three of the last four years. While the Doomsday Clock did not move in 2019, its minute hand was set forward in 2018 by 30 seconds, to two minutes before midnight. The Clock was adjusted in 2017 to two and a half minutes to midnight from its previous setting of three minutes to midnight.
Rachel Bronson, president and CEO, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, said: “It is 100 seconds to midnight. We are now expressing how close the world is to catastrophe in seconds – not hours, or even minutes. It is the closest to Doomsday we have ever been in the history of the Doomsday Clock. We now face a true emergency – an absolutely unacceptable state of world affairs that has eliminated any margin for error or further delay.”
Former California Governor Jerry Brown, executive chair, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, said: “Dangerous rivalry and hostility among the superpowers increases the likelihood of nuclear blunder. Climate change just compounds the crisis. If there’s ever a time to wake up, it’s now.”
For the first time, experts from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists were joined in making the Doomsday Clock change by members of The Elders. Founded by Nelson Mandela in 2007, The Elders are independent global leaders working together for peace and human rights.
Former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, deputy chair, The Elders; and former South Korean Foreign Minister, said: “We share a common concern over the failure of the multilateral system to address the existential threats we face. From the US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement and the Iran Nuclear Deal, to deadlock at nuclear disarmament talks and division at the UN Security Council – our mechanisms for collaboration are being undermined when we need them most.”
Former President of Ireland Mary Robinson, chair, The Elders, and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said: “We ask world leaders to join us in 2020 as we work to pull humanity back from the brink. The Doomsday Clock now stands at 100 seconds to midnight, the most dangerous situation that humanity has ever faced. Now is the time to come together – to unite and to act.”
The Doomsday Clock statement highlights three worsening factors:
· Nuclear weapons. “In the nuclear realm, national leaders have ended or undermined several major arms control treaties and negotiations during the last year, creating an environment conducive to a renewed nuclear arms race, to the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and to lowered barriers to nuclear war. Political conflicts regarding nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea remain unresolved and are, if anything, worsening. US-Russia cooperation on arms control and disarmament is all but nonexistent.”
· Climate change. “Public awareness of the climate crisis grew over the course of 2019, largely because of mass protests by young people around the world. Just the same, governmental action on climate change still falls far short of meeting the challenge at hand. At UN climate meetings last year, national delegates made fine speeches but put forward few concrete plans to further limit the carbon dioxide emissions that are disrupting Earth’s climate. This limited political response came during a year when the effects of manmade climate change were manifested by one of the warmest years on record, extensive wildfires, and quicker-than-expected melting of glacial ice.”
· Cyber-based disinformation. “Continued corruption of the information ecosphere on which democracy and public decision making depend has heightened the nuclear and climate threats. In the last year, many governments used cyber-enabled disinformation campaigns to sow distrust in institutions and among nations, undermining domestic and international efforts to foster peace and protect the planet.”
Donald Trump has invited Israel’s prime minister and leader of the opposition to Washington for talks on the “prospects of peace”, signalling that the White House was preparing to share details of its long-awaited “ultimate deal” for Israelis and Palestinians. Mike Pence, the US vice-president who is visiting Jerusalem for a Holocaust remembrance forum, said after a meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu that he had asked the leader to fly to Washington next week. ...
No Palestinian representatives appeared to have been invited.
Trump later tweeted: “Reports about details and timing of our closely-held peace plan are purely speculative.”
But Israeli media, citing unnamed officials, reported that details of the much-delayed plan could be released as soon as this week – and that they would be extremely favourable to Israel. Reports suggested the proposal would allow Israel to retain large parts of the occupied Palestinian territories, including Jewish settlements, and all of contested Jerusalem. The Palestinians would be granted statehood, but under tight conditions and restrictions. ...
Expectations are exceedingly low, even by the standards of Middle East peace plans, that the proposal will lead to an agreement.
National guardsmen in riot gear have corralled hundreds of Central Americans and hauled them on to buses as Mexico continues with efforts to contain mass migration, under pressure from the Trump administration. Security forces blocked the migrants’ path near the town of Frontera Hidalgo on Thursday afternoon, after hundreds had swept into Mexico across the Suchiate River that divides the country from Guatemala.
The migrants had stopped for the day at a shaded crossroads when security forces advanced and a brief attempt at negotiation stalled. As the migrants knelt to the ground in prayer and began to chant “We want to pass,” national guardsmen advanced banging their plastic shields with batons. There was shoving and pepper spray as migrants were rounded up.
Many of the people allowed themselves to be escorted to the buses without resistance. Women cradling small children or holding kids’ hands wept as they walked toward the vehicles. Others resisted and were subdued by guardsmen. One man dragged by four guardsmen shouted, “They killed my brother, I don’t want to die,” presumably in reference to the possibility of being returned to his country. The road was left littered with water bottles, plastic bags and clothing.
Mexico has cracked down on the large caravans seen previously following intense pressure from Washington last year.
Goldman Sachs: The Vampire Squid’s Alum Control Two Fed Banks, the U.S. Treasury, the European Central Bank and the Bank of England
The head of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas (Robert S. Kaplan), the head of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis (Neel Kashkari), the Secretary of the U.S. Treasury (Steve Mnuchin), the President of the European Central Bank (Mario Draghi) and the head of the Bank of England (Mark Carney) all have two things in common: they sit atop vast amounts of money and they are all alums of Goldman Sachs. In addition, the immediate past President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, William Dudley, which secretly sluiced over $29 trillion to bail out Wall Street banks during the financial crisis and has now opened its money spigot for trillions of dollars more, worked at Goldman Sachs for more than two decades, rising to the rank of partner and U.S. Chief Economist.
Goldman Sachs has been variously depicted as “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money,” by Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone; or the amoral investment bank that bundled mortgages it knew would fail and sold them to their clients as good investments so that it could make millions betting against them (shorting); or the place where greed became so over-the-top that a vice president, Greg Smith, resigned on the OpEd page of the New York Times, writing that his colleagues callously talked “about ripping their clients off.” Smith’s bosses were implicated as well: “Over the last 12 months I have seen five different managing directors refer to their own clients as ‘muppets,’ ” wrote Smith.
Today, Goldman Sachs is under a criminal investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice and under a criminal indictment by Malaysia for its role in bribery and embezzlement of its sovereign wealth fund known as 1MDB.
Goldman Sachs’ notorious history has not stopped its alum from magically landing in government positions that control, create or funnel giant piles of money.
[Much more at the link. - js]
While Trump cuts food stamps, USAID bankrolls Venezuela regime change with half a billion in tax dollars
Under President Donald Trump, the United States has dumped over half a billion dollars into regime change-related “aid” efforts targeting Venezuela’s elected, UN-recognized government. From 2017 to December 2019, the Trump administration spent at least $654 million on Venezuela-related destabilization schemes. While Washington claims this spending assisted humanitarian efforts, much of the US taxpayers’ money financed efforts to overthrow the government of President Nicolás Maduro. ...
USAID has provided $435 million of this $654 million, bankrolling Venezuela’s right-wing, US-controlled opposition. At least $128 million of this USAID money went directly into the pockets of the coup leaders that the Trump administration attempted to install as the rulers of the country in 2019. ...
While the United States is spending hundreds of millions of dollars trying to overthrow Venezuela’s leftist government, the Trump administration is aggressively cutting social programs at home. To slash $4.2 billion in public expenditures over five years, Trump gutted food stamps that fed 700,000 poor Americans, most of whom are children. Funding this crucial program would cost just around $840 million per year – almost the same amount Trump has poured into US regime-change efforts in Venezuela.
The Trump administration has also drastically cut taxes for the rich and large corporations. Thanks to these cuts, the richest 400 billionaires in the US now pay a lower tax rate than the poorest Americans. As working-class Americans increasingly bear the burden of this taxation, their tax dollars are being spent on destroying socialist governments in the Global South.
Almost two years after Ledell Lee was strapped to a gurney and injected with a lethal cocktail of drugs, it looks increasingly likely he was telling the truth: he went to his death an innocent man. ... The deceased inmate’s sister Patricia Young lodged a lawsuit on Thursday with the circuit court of Pulaski county, Arkansas, petitioning city authorities and the local police department in Jacksonville to release crime scene materials to her family. ...
An 81-page filing in the lawsuit provides damning new evidence that key aspects of the prosecution case against Lee were deeply flawed. The complaint includes expert opinion from a number of world-leading specialists who find glaring errors in the way forensic science and other evidence was interpreted. The lawsuit also includes a bombshell affidavit from Lee’s post-conviction attorney who admits to having struggled with substance abuse and addiction throughout the years in which he represented him. ...
Lee relentlessly insisted he was not guilty from the moment he was arrested less than two hours after the brutally beaten body of Debra Reese was discovered in her home in Jacksonville on 9 February 1993. The difficulties with the case against Lee began almost immediately. He was picked up nowhere near the crime scene and was not in possession of any possessions that could be linked to the break-in at Reese’s home. The only evidence against him was inconclusive at best. There were two eyewitnesses, but they gave conflicting reports of the suspect’s identification.
The crime scene was shocking, with blood splattered over the walls and floor. Yet when Lee was arrested on the same day detectives could find no blood on his clothes or body including under his fingernails and nothing was found in a forensic search of his house. Given the paucity of evidence, it is not surprising that it took two trials to find Lee guilty and sentence him to death. The first trial collapsed after the jury was unable to reach a verdict. ... Partly as a result of poor legal representation, terrible errors were made in Lee’s defense – both at trial and for years afterwards during the appeals process. The complaint goes into detail about these “deeply troubling” shortcomings. ...
Lee was executed in a flurry. When the state of Arkansas realized its supply of one of its three lethal drugs, the sedative midazolam, was about to expire at the end of 2017 with no hope of replacing it due to a global ban on medicines being sent to the US for use in executions, it went into overdrive. ... It was in that climate that attempts by the ACLU and the Innocence Project to have materials gathered at the crime scene of Reese’s murder released for DNA testing fell on deaf ears. Though the lawyers presented a strong argument that DNA testing could be crucial in casting doubt on Lee’s conviction and pointing towards the real killer, a federal district court denied the request on grounds that Lee had “simply delayed too long” in asking for the materials. ...
Should Arkansas now agree belatedly to hand over the crime scene materials for testing, he may yet be proven to have been, just as he always said he was, an innocent man.
Two years ago, Pennsylvania’s supreme court dealt a blow to state Republicans when it said they had unconstitutionally rigged congressional elections in the state. Republicans fumed and threatened to impeach four of the justices, but the map was redrawn, and voters elected an even split of Democrats and Republicans to Congress in 2018. Now, Republicans are weaponizing a new tactic – a move that seems designed to increase their power on the state’s highest court.
The Republican proposal overhauls the way that court justices are elected in a state that can swing both red and blue. The justices on the court, where Democrats hold a 5-2 majority, are currently appointed through statewide elections, but the new plan would make it so the justices are elected from districts throughout the state. The change would probably hurt Democratic candidates – four of the current justices are from the Pittsburgh area and one is from Philadelphia, both urban areas that tend to skew blue.
If the proposal is successful, it could offer a roadmap for Republicans elsewhere to undermine state courts. That’s significant after last year’s supreme court decision that determined federal courts couldn’t stop gerrymandering – the partisan redistricting of state maps – but that nothing stopped state courts from acting. State courts responded swiftly: a state court in North Carolina followed Pennsylvania and struck down electoral districts as unconstitutional gerrymanders there. And a slew of gerrymandering lawsuits are expected when districts are next redrawn in 2021.
“With the Pennsylvania supreme court having struck down the general assembly’s gerrymandering, the general assembly is now clearly trying to gerrymander the Pennsylvania supreme court itself,” said Daniel Jacobson, an attorney who helped represent the plaintiffs in the gerrymandering case. “It only goes to show the lengths that the general assembly leaders will go when they feel that their grip on power is threatened.”
Sanders: 29% (+14)
Buttigieg 17% (-1)
Biden 14% (-3)
Warren 13% (+1)
Klobuchar 6% (+3)
Yang 5% (-)
Gabbard 5% (-)
Steyer 2% (-1)https://t.co/ukJF6TIl3T
— Political Polls (@PpollingNumbers) January 23, 2020
South Carolina Democrat Who Endorsed Biden Said She's Switching to Sanders Because He Fights 'For the Least, the Fallen, the Left Behind'
Dalhi Myers, a black woman elected to South Carolina's Richland County Council in 2016, announced Wednesday that she is switching her support in the 2020 Democratic primary from former Vice President Joe Biden to Sen. Bernie Sanders because of the latter's willingness to fight for the most vulnerable and his potential strength in a general election battle against President Donald Trump.
"I looked at that, and I thought, 'He's right,'" Myers said of Sanders' electability argument in an interview with the Associated Press.
"He's unafraid and he's unapologetic," added Myers. "I like the fact that he is willing to fight for a better America—for the least, the fallen, the left behind."
Myers' decision to shift her support to Sanders comes just over a month ahead of the crucial South Carolina primary, slated to take place Feb. 29. While most Democratic primary polls have shown Biden comfortably ahead of his rivals in the early voting state, recent surveys have suggested that Sanders is cutting into the former Vice President's lead.
Just last month, Myers joined more than a dozen other South Carolina elected officials in endorsing Biden as "the only candidate with the broad and diverse coalition of support we need to win."
But Myers told AP she no longer believes that is the case.
Pete Buttigieg Skipped South Bend Meetings on Police Oversight to Attend Campaign Fundraisers Across the Country
Amid widespread criticism of policing in South Bend, Indiana, following the June 2019 shooting of Eric Logan, a 54-year-old black resident, then-Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s administration established a series of public meetings with the Board of Public Safety, the disciplinary body overseeing the police department. While Buttigieg said his administration was taking “steps that were empowering for residents,” the presidential candidate attended only one of those eight meetings, traveling across the country for fundraisers, speaking engagements, and campaign events instead.
The board in July scheduled seven “community advisory groups,” wherein city officials would “publicly solicit input from residents on a range of law enforcement issues” for August and September, and later added an eighth meeting in November. Buttigieg, now one of the top contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination, attended only one of those meetings — the second-to-last one, on September 19 — a day after after activists spoke to CNBC about his absence. While Buttigieg was never meant to lead those meetings, activists in the city say his absence was glaring.
“We’ve discussed police policy, training, procedures, etcetera, but Mayor Pete didn’t come to any of those meetings until we called him out in the national media,” said Black Lives Matter South Bend leader Jorden Giger, who attended several of the community meetings. Giger is also a leader of Our Revolution Michiana, a regional chapter of the political organization that was born out of Bernie Sanders’s 2016 presidential campaign. ...
Black Lives Matter activists, including some from South Bend, have protested at Buttigieg’s campaign events in states like California and Iowa. The local Black Lives Matter chapter has taken issue with the mayor since his inauguration, not long after which he asked for the resignation of the city’s black police chief, whom he later demoted after significant pushback. The group protested again last week, ahead of the debate at a campaign event in Iowa, clashing with Buttigieg supporters who shouted chants of “Boot-Edge-Edge” and “USA, USA” over activists chanting “anti-black, anti-poor” as they were escorted out of the venue.
The gray wolf, once numbering in the tens of thousands throughout North America, have faced public vilification and extermination programs that drove it to near extinction in the US. Now Colorado will vote on whether to reintroduce them into the wild after an 80-year absence, thanks to an effort that has cattle ranchers outraged but which conservationists say could restore an ecosystem that has long suffered without the apex predator.
The species was systematically exterminated by controversial, US government-backed programs in the 19th and 20th centuries. This was primarily due to wolves’ attacks on the cattle, a booming industry that has been integral to the expanding west economy. By 1940, wolves were almost completely gone.
Their inclusion on the 1973 Endangered Species Act, along with a 1995 effort to build a home for them in Yellowstone national park, has helped bring their numbers back up to 5,500 in the lower 48 states. This year, a ballot measure in Colorado will let voters decide whether a home should be built for the gray wolf in the state. Polling indicates the measure is likely to pass, though segments of both the ranching and hunting communities are strongly opposed.
Conservationists argue that eradication of wolves threw the ecology of the Rocky Mountains into disarray, with elk and deer excessively grazing in open lands where they otherwise would have been targets for wolves, created a domino effect that has harmed a variety of species.
Colorado’s vote comes at a time when safeguards for gray wolves are threatened: the Trump administration announced last year intentions to remove the animals from the endangered species list.
The Trump administration has completed its rollback of environmental protections for streams, wetland and other bodies of water, a process that has stripped pollution safeguards from drinking water sources used by around a third of all Americans.
Clean water protections strengthened under the Obama administration have long been targeted by Donald Trump, who has called it a “very destructive and horrible rule”.
Trump has been backed by ranchers, farming groups and golf course operators, who claim the so-called “Water of the United States” (Wotus) rule impinged upon landowners’ rights.
The Obama-era water rule was repealed last year and on Thursday the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a weakened replacement that removes millions of miles of streams and around half of America’s wetlands from federal oversight, potentially allowing pesticides and other pollutants to be dumped into them without penalty.
The move has dismayed former EPA staff who worked on the expansion of protections to ephemeral streams that supply drinking water to an estimated 117 million people in the US. “The new rule is scientifically indefensible and socially unjust,” said Betsy Southerland, who was scientific director of the EPA’s office of water for three decades before departing in 2017.
Donald Trump’s treasury secretary has clashed with Greta Thunberg after responding to the activist’s call for immediate fossil fuel divestment by telling the 17-year-old to go to college and study economics.
In an attempt to slap down the climate emergency movement, Steven Mnuchin pretended not to know who Thunberg was, before dismissing her concerns as ill-informed. Asked whether calls for public and private-sector divestment from fossil fuel companies would threaten US growth, Mnuchin jibed: “Is she the chief economist? Who is she, I’m confused” – before clarifying that he was joking.
“After she goes and studies economics in college she can come back and explain that to us,” Mnuchin added, at a press conference at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
Thunberg, 17, responded by tweeting a graph from a UN report showing how the world’s remaining carbon budget will be used up by 2027 unless global emissions are curbed. “My gap year ends in August, but it doesn’t take a college degree in economics to realise that our remaining 1,5° carbon budget and ongoing fossil fuel subsidies and investments don’t add up,” she pointed out.
My gap year ends in August, but it doesn’t take a college degree in economics to realise that our remaining 1,5° carbon budget and ongoing fossil fuel subsidies and investments don’t add up. 1/3 pic.twitter.com/1virpuOyYG
— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) January 23, 2020
If you don’t have an economics degree like Greta, they’ll mock you for not having one.
If you DO have one, as I do, they’ll claim it’s illegitimate.
Haters gonna hate & deniers will deny. They will deny logic, science, and environmental consensus in order to protect oligarchy. https://t.co/6b0S40MQk2
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) January 23, 2020
President Donald Trump’s response to climate change may be, “I don’t believe it,” but a new poll shows just how dramatically out of step that leaves him with young Americans. The poll, shared exclusively with VICE News, found that 80% of Generation Z and Millennials believe “global warming is a major threat to human life on earth as we know it,” according to the U.S. Conference of Mayors-Zogby Strategies National Youth Poll.
They also believe that state and local government should be doing something about it in the absence of federal government action.
“While the boomers are still trying to decide whether or not scientists can be trusted, our kids are saying, ‘Save the planet,’” said Shane Bemis, the Republican mayor of Gresham, Ore., who helped commission the poll. “For me, it's not a partisan issue and I could care less whether the Republican Party party is on it. I care about clean water, clean air and I care about my kids.” ...
Interestingly, the poll found that 58% of respondents agreed with the statement, “We are amidst a climatic crisis, and drastic times call for bold measures; such as the need for the U.S. government to repair and upgrade the energy infrastructure; require utilities to develop renewable energy, and require businesses to become carbon free in the next 20 or 30 years.”
Twenty-one percent responded that sweeping climate legislation would be “beyond the capability” of the U.S. government.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Elmore James - Hawaiian Boogie
Elmore James - Woke Up Screamin' & Cryin'
Elmore James - One More Drink
Elmore James - Stranger Blues
Elmore James - It hurts Me Too
Elmore James - Shake Your Moneymaker
Elmore James - I Believe
Elmore James - I Can't Stop Lovin' You
Elmore James - Blues Before Sunrise
Elmore James - Rollin' and Tumblin'
Elmore James - One Way Out