The Evening Blues - 1-27-20



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The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: Cash McCall

Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features soul and blues singer, songwriter and guitarist, Cash McCall. Enjoy!

Cash McCall - I Can't Quit You Baby

"Social Security's not the hard one to solve. Medicare, that is the gorilla in the room, and you've got to put all of it on the table."

-- Joe Biden


News and Opinion

Worth a full read. Here are some highlights.

Joe Biden Lied About His Record on Social Security

Over the past few weeks, former Vice President Joe Biden has been making an effort to recast his record on Social Security as one of a champion who defended the program from assaults, rather than one who consistently argued that it ought to be cut.

The value of such a revision is clear: Austerity is no longer a politically viable platform for Democrats to take in the primary. His defense of his record has included multiple television interviews, public comments, and even an ad attacking Sen. Bernie Sanders for “dishonest smears” challenging him on Social Security. In the ad, Biden makes a sweeping claim: “I’ve been fighting to protect — and expand — Social Security for my whole career. Any suggestion otherwise is just flat-out wrong.” At Vice’s Black and Brown Forum in Iowa this week, when pressed on his proposal to freeze Social Security payments by moderator Antonia Hylton, he simply lied: “I didn’t propose a freeze.”

In fact, Biden has argued for cuts or freezes to Social Security throughout much of his career. Earlier in January, The Intercept wrote about several instances in which Biden advocated for cutting Social Security over the course of his career. Biden, when he acknowledges his past support for cuts, portrays the advocacy as deep in the past. But a close inspection finds reams of more recent evidence of Biden’s support for cuts — including in Biden’s recent recounting of a conversation he had with China’s president, Xi Jinping, and in his choice of Bruce Reed, a longtime deficit hawk, as a senior policy adviser in his current presidential campaign. Reed, a longtime Biden aide, played a central role in advocating cuts to the New Deal-era program as a co-founder of the Democratic Leadership Council, as the top staffer for a controversial commission dedicated to slashing the deficit, and then as Biden’s chief of staff during the Obama administration. In Washington, D.C., he would be the last high-level staffer a campaign would bring aboard if it was genuinely intent on expanding, not cutting, Social Security. ...

The cuts came closest to happening amid talks between the Obama administration and congressional Republicans aimed at hammering out a so-called grand bargain. The most prominent vehicle for those negotiations was known as the Bowles-Simpson Commission, a bipartisan panel charged with making recommendations to Congress on how to reduce the federal debt. It was chaired by Alan Simpson, a former Republican senator from Wyoming, and Erskine Bowles, a former Democratic senator from North Carolina. And the staff director for Bowles-Simpson? Bruce Reed. “Our team was led by Bruce Reed, and believe me, there wouldn’t be a Simpson-Bowles Report without Bruce,” Bowles later wrote. The chairs of the commission recommended reducing Social Security benefits for the top half of earners, cutting the amount the benefit grew relative to inflation and raising the retirement age to 69. ...

The commission failed to secure the supermajority needed for its recommendations to move on to Congress, but the administration was far from done try to implement them. After finishing with the commission, Reed was brought on as Vice President Biden’s chief of staff, to continue to work on a grand bargain. ... The next phase of the Obama-era bargain talks, in the wake of Bowles-Simpson, became the so-called Biden Committee, a series of negotiations over deficit reduction chaired by Biden, staffed by Reed, and joined by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor; Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md.; and others. Biden, in talks that were covered closely in Bob Woodward’s book “The Price of Politics,” put Social Security and other cuts on the table but couldn’t get to a yes because Republicans refused to agree to any tax cuts. ...

Sanders was asked on Friday if he would apologize to Biden for criticizing him on Social Security, as he had apologized for a surrogate’s op-ed that argued Biden had a corruption problem. “No,” Sanders said. “There are ways to raise money in order to protect the working families of this country. Cutting Social Security ain’t one of ’em.”

'More Lies,' Says Sanders as Trump Vows to 'Save' Social Security Just One Day After Threatening Cuts

Just over 24 hours after threatening to cut Social Security at the World Economic Forum's annual gathering of global elites in Davos, President Donald Trump on Thursday vowed to "save" the New Deal-era program from supposed Democratic efforts to "destroy" it—prompting Sen. Bernie Sanders to accuse the president of peddling "more lies."

"Democrats are going to destroy your Social Security," Trump wrote on Twitter. "I have totally left it alone, as promised, and will save it!"

Sanders, a Democratic presidential candidate and long-time advocate of Social Security expansion, responded by pointing in a tweet to Trump's 2020 budget proposal, which called for $25 billion in cuts to Social Security and trillions more in cuts to Medicare and Medicaid.

In a separate tweet late Thursday, Sanders posted a video contrasting the president's comments at Davos with then-candidate Trump's pledge in 2015 to protect Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid from cuts backed by Republicans in Congress. "As a candidate, Trump said he'd protect Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid," Sanders wrote. "Now he has an obligation to tell the American people: 'I was lying. It was all just a campaign ruse.'"


As Common Dreams reported earlier this month, the Trump administration is currently pursuing changes to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) that, if implemented, could terminate crucial benefits for hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people. The public comment period on the administration's proposed rule change—which would make it more difficult for people with disabilities and other serious ailments to receive Social Security payments—ends Jan. 31. Comments can be left here.

Chilling role of 'the Preacher' confirmed at CIA waterboarding hearing in Guantánamo

There were three men authorised by the CIA to carry out waterboarding on detainees in America’s “war on terror”. Two of them were contractors who are in Guantánamo Bay this week to give evidence. The third has still not been identified 17 years after the torture was committed. In the courtroom of the military commission, the CIA officer was referred to only by three-digit code NZ7, or simply as “the Preacher” – a nickname he was given because of his peculiar way of terrorising detainees.

According to James Mitchell, a psychologist on contract to the CIA who helped draft and apply their “enhanced interrogation techniques”, the Preacher “would at random times put one hand on the forehead of a detainee, raise the other high in the air, and in a deep Southern drawl say things like, ‘Can you feel it, son? Can you feel the spirit moving down my arm, into your body?’” ...

Mitchell, together with his friend and business partner, Bruce Jessen – who is due to testify next week – have been the public face of the US torture programme for five years, settling out of court in 2017 in a civil suit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of three prisoners. Almost everyone else involved in the extensive programme, involving a network of black sites around the world, has remained in the shadows. In terms of legality, it is still the dark side of the moon.

Defence lawyers at the Guantánamo military commission hearings have asked to examine 52 witnesses. They have so far been permitted to question only two, Mitchell and Jessen. James Connell, representing defendant Ammar al-Baluchi, lost his patience on Thursday when prosecutors objected that he was asking Mitchell about events he had not directly witnessed. “He’s the only witness we’ve got. The government has blocked all the CIA witnesses,” Connell complained. ...

The longer the hearings have continued, the clearer it has become that the Mitchell and Jessen partnership was just a small part of the infrastructure of torture, with its own bureaucracy and personal rivalries. In his testimony, Mitchell railed repeatedly against the “middle management” who he believed was plotting against him.

Belmarsh Prison Inmates Prove More Ethical Than Entire Western Empire

In some refreshingly good news about Julian Assange, WikiLeaks is reporting that its founder has finally been moved out of solitary confinement to a different wing in Belmarsh Prison where he can have normal social interactions with 40 other inmates.

This fantastic news lifts a huge weight from the chests of those of us who’ve been protesting Assange’s cruel and unusual treatment at the hands of an international alliance of governments bent on making a draconian public example of a journalist whose publications exposed US war crimes. Solitary confinement is a form of torture, and a UN Special Rapporteur has confirmed that Assange shows clear symptoms that he is a victim of psychological torture caused by his persecution from coordinated efforts by Washington, London, Stockholm, Canberra and Quito.

So what caused this shift in Assange’s treatment? Did the powerful empire-like alliance loosely centralized around the United States suddenly come to its senses and realize that torturing journalists for telling the truth is the sort of tyrannical abuse that it accuses other governments of perpetrating? Did officials in the British government bow to public pressure from the pro-Assange demonstrations which have been taking place in London month after month and have some faint flickerings of conscience? Did Belmarsh Prison authorities come to their senses after more than a hundred doctors warned that their cruelty was killing the award-winning publisher?

Why no. As it turns out, Assange was in fact rescued from the cruelty of this globe-sprawling empire by the concerted protests of high-security prison inmates. ...

Belmarsh is a notoriously harsh maximum-security prison full of violent offenders and prisoners convicted under anti-terrorism laws, one of many reasons that Assange supporters have so vigorously opposed his confinement there. What does it tell you about the society you are living in that this population has a superior moral compass to the people who are actually running things?

For years I’ve been arguing with Democratic Party-aligned liberals on one side saying that Assange is a Russian agent who deserves to be tortured, and a bunch of Trump-aligned right wingers on the other side saying their president is extraditing Assange for the good of the world. These are the two mainstream views on Assange within the western empire today. And a group of Belmarsh prisoners just proved themselves infinitely more ethical than any of them. They have a better sense of right and wrong than those running the empire, and they have a better sense of right and wrong than the propagandized apologists for that empire.

Yellow Vests for Assange: French protesters rally outside Belmarsh Prison

French “yellow vests” protest for Assange outside Belmarsh prison in London

Today, hundreds of “yellow vests” from France and protesters from other countries across Europe, including Belgium and Britain, are protesting outside Belmarsh maximum security prison in London to demand the freeing of WikiLeaks founder and journalist Julian Assange.

A principled and courageous journalist whose revelations exposed imperialist crimes against humanity and encouraged working class protests around the world, Assange is the target of a relentless state campaign to destroy him. He is locked up in Belmarsh, subjected to torture according to testimony from doctors and UN experts, and faces extradition to America. There, he faces a life sentence in prison under the US Espionage Act, for publishing material such as the “Collateral Murder” video of US troops illegally gunning down civilians in US-occupied Iraq.

The decision of the “yellow vests” to protest in London points to deeply rooted international opposition to the relentless persecution of Assange among workers and more serious artists and intellectuals. As part of their initiative, they have also issued a petition, signed by over 15,000 people, including leading figures of French and European artistic life, titled “Freedom for Julian Assange.”

Jim Acosta Destroyed Over Julian Assange At “Newseum”

If you're the sort of person that calls congressworms and asks them to do your bidding, this would be a great thing to pester them about:

Votes Scheduled on Iran War in Congress

While most of the focus in Congress is on the impeachment, Congress has still found time to advance some votes relevant to the potential war with Iran, and are set for some such votes next week.

Two votes are planned in the House, and expected on Thursday. One is from Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) prohibiting any funding for a war in Iran without Congressional authorization. The second will attempt to repeal the 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF).

Debating Trump's 'maximum pressure' on Iran w/ Michael Doran

Three rockets hit US embassy in protest-hit Iraqi capital

Three rockets slammed into the US embassy in Iraq's capital on Sunday in the first direct hit reported after months of close calls, as thousands of protesters kept up anti-government sit-ins across the country. The attack marked a dangerous escalation in the spree of rocket attacks in recent months that have targeted the embassy or Iraqi military bases where American troops are deployed.

None of the attacks has been claimed but Washington has repeatedly blamed Iran-backed military factions in Iraq.

On Sunday, one rocket hit an embassy cafeteria at dinner time while two others landed nearby, a security source told AFP.

A senior Iraqi official told AFP at least one person was wounded, but it was not immediately clear how serious the injuries were and whether the person was an American national or an Iraqi staff member working at the mission.

Veterans criticize Trump's downplaying of US troops' brain injuries

Veterans of Foreign Wars, a prominent organization advocating for US military veterans, has called for Donald Trump to apologize for remarks downplaying brain injuries recently suffered by nearly three dozen American service members in Iraq. The group was joined by several other US veterans’ organizations, criticizing Trump’s remarks and saying they showed a lack of understanding of injuries and what US troops face in overseas conflicts.

The VFW’s statement stems from Trump’s remarks on injuries resulting from a 8 January Iranian missile strike on a US base in Iraq. Thirty-four US soldiers suffered from concussion or traumatic brain injury (TBI) after the strike, which was a reprisal for the US drone strike assassination of the Iranian general Qassem Suleimani. Donald Trump had previously said that the US “suffered no casualties” from the attack. ...

“So far, so good”, Trump said after the strike. “I’m pleased to inform you the American people should be extremely grateful and happy,” Trump said. “No Americans were harmed in last night’s attack by the Iranian regime. After the Pentagon announced on 16 January that troops were being treated for concussion symptoms, Trump claimed the discrepancy was because he heard about the injuries “numerous days later”. Trump also downplayed the severity, saying, “I heard that they had headaches. And a couple of other things. But I would say, and I can report, it is not very serious.”

“I don’t consider them very serious injuries relative to other injuries I have seen. I’ve seen people with no legs and no arms,” he said.

Interim Bolivian Government Taps the Same Lobby Firm Hired to Sell the Coup in Honduras

Interim Bolivian President Jeanine Áñez, who came to power in November, has rejected claims that her predecessor, Evo Morales, was ousted in a coup — while cracking down on dissent and calling for new elections to solidify the rule of conservative opposition forces that seized control of the government in Morales’s absence.

As many critics have noted, the cycle bears a striking similarity to the coup d’etat that ousted Honduran President Manuel “Mel” Zelaya a decade ago. The left-wing leader was whisked out of office by the military, only to be replaced with an interim government led by right-wing opposition forces that swiftly consolidated power through a controversial election process.

The parallels were apparently not lost on the Bolivia’s new rulers. The Áñez government has retained the services of the same Washington, D.C., consultants hired by the Honduran interim government to build American support. In December, Bolivia inked an agreement with CLS Strategies to provide “strategic communications counsel” for new elections this year and other interactions with the U.S. government. The lobbying firm, previously known as Chlopak, Leonard, Schechter & Associates, provided remarkably similar work after Zelaya’s ouster, helping the interim Honduran government earn backing from American policymakers and media outlets as the country held new elections.

Trump linked Ukraine aid to Biden inquiry, Bolton book draft says – report

The draft of a book by former US national security adviser John Bolton reportedly describes how Donald Trump told him about his determination to delay US military aid to Ukraine until its government agreed to investigate his Democratic rival Joe Biden.

The explosive manuscript details the kind of material that Bolton could be expected to reveal publicly were he to be called as a witness in Trump’s impeachment trial now going on in the US Senate.

The account undermines Trump’s claims that the delay in aid to Ukraine last summer and the president’s efforts to persuade Ukraine to investigate US Democrats were unconnected, the New York Times said as part of its article on Sunday night revealing the Bolton manuscript.

The manuscript reportedly contains new details about the actions of senior cabinet officials including secretary of state Mike Pompeo, attorney general William Barr and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.

Bolton has been circulating the draft passages from his planned book to associates and has sent the manuscript to the White House for what would be a mandatory review process for someone who was in Bolton’s position in the government before exiting the post last year, the NYT reported. The White House could censor the manuscript before Bolton’s planned book is published.

Explosive Bolton Book Allegations Spark New Calls For Witnesses to Testify at Impeachment Trial

F*cking foul-mouthed evangelical Christers, sheesh!

Pompeo says NPR reporter is part of 'unhinged' US media conspiracy

US secretary of state Mike Pompeo launched an extraordinary attack on a respected NPR journalist on Saturday, a day after reports emerged of him swearing at and trying to humiliate her by asking her to identify Ukraine on a map. In a sharply-worded statement issued by the state department, Pompeo accused the reporter, Mary Louise Kelly, of lying to him and being part of an “unhinged” media conspiracy “in a quest to hurt President Trump and this administration”.

The bizarre final line of the brief statement – “It is worth noting that Bangladesh is NOT Ukraine” – appears to suggest that Pompeo believes Kelly identified a different country when he asked her to point out Ukraine on an unmarked map produced by aides. The claim contradicts the experienced foreign correspondent and radio host’s own recollection of the encounter, in which she said she had no trouble identifying Ukraine, after which Pompeo put the map away and insisted: “People will hear about this.”

The release of the statement further suggests that the politician, who has a notoriously short fuse, was stung by media coverage of the aftermath of his interview with Kelly, which ended prematurely when Pompeo refused to answer questions about Ukraine. Kelly said Pompeo then called her into a separate room and attempted to browbeat her, asking “Do you think Americans care about Ukraine?” and launching into a foul-mouthed tirade.

Puerto Rican Protesters Are So Mad at Their Governor They Pushed a Guillotine Through the Streets

Puerto Ricans hit the streets again on Thursday — guillotine in tow — to demand the resignation of their governor.

The new unrest was triggered by the recent discovery of a warehouse in the southern part of the island that was full of emergency supplies, some dating back to before Hurricane Maria in 2017. But that was just the last straw for people who were shaken by a round of devastating earthquakes earlier this month, and who say the government has mismanaged emergency responses for years.

Despite heavy rain, hundreds turned out in protest at Gov. Wanda Vázquez’s official residence on Thursday night and stepped up the revolutionary imagery:


Protesters are demanding resignation and even jail time for Vázquez and other top government officials. The territory’s former housing secretary, who was fired last weekend, claimed earlier this week that the governor knew about the unused aid.

Salvadoran general admits army carried out infamous 1981 massacre

A retired Salvadoran general on Friday acknowledged for the first time that the armed forces were responsible for a notorious 1981 massacre of more than 1,000 people during the country's civil war. Juan Rafael Bustillo, a former commander of the Air Force, told a court the elite Atlacatl Battalion carried out the El Mozote massacre in eastern El Salvador in which unarmed villagers, most of them women and children, were slaughtered.

According to a U.N. report, soldiers tortured and executed over 1,000 residents of El Mozote and surrounding hamlets in the Morazan department, 180 km (110 miles) northeast of San Salvador, as they searched for guerrillas in December 1981.

At a court hearing in the eastern town of San Francisco Gotera in Morazan, Bustillo testified he had had no part in the operation which he said was conducted at the behest of Colonel Domingo Monterrosa, commander of the feared Atlacatl Battalion. ...

The 1980-1992 civil war, which pitted leftist guerrillas against the U.S.-backed Salvadoran army, lead to the deaths of an estimated 75,000 people and left 8,000 more missing.

In 2016, a judge ordered the case of the El Mozote massacre to be re-opened. Sixteen military officials including ex-defense minister Guillermo Garcia are being tried over the killings.

Seven months detained: seven-year-old is longest-held child migrant in US

Emerson Hernandez and his daughter Maddie have withstood hunger and thirst. They’ve been dumped in a threatening border city in Mexico, a foreign country with nowhere to shelter. And, for seven months, they’ve been locked up at what critics call a “baby jail”. The father and daughter have weathered all of this just for a chance at asylum in the United States after they fled a home in Guatemala that’s now overrun with crime.

“I don’t want my daughter to grow up in that environment of delinquency. I really am afraid that something could happen to her,” Emerson told the Guardian.

Maddie has been detained the longest of any child currently held in family immigration detention across the country, her attorneys say. On 17 January, she turned seven years old at Berks county residential center, a controversial detention facility in Pennsylvania where she has spent roughly 8% of her life. Despite her lawyers exhausting the legal avenues that could get her out, the government won’t release her and Emerson together. ...

Emerson said Maddie has always been strong, but being confined for such a long time has changed her. She’s gone from an easy, smiley little girl to someone who has become violent and throws explosive temper tantrums, according to her parents and an attorney. “Her change was sudden,” Emerson said. “And she says to me, ‘When are we going to leave this place?’”

The truth is no one knows. The Flores settlement, a landmark 1997 federal agreement that regulates child and family detention, made it the longstanding rule that kids and families should be released within 20 days.



the horse race



How Occupy Wall Street fueled Bernie's rise

With a Week Until Iowa, Bernie Sanders Campaign Tells Volunteers to Back Off Phone Calls

The presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders has a new directive for its army of volunteers in the final week before the Iowa caucuses: Lay off the phone calls.

The new guidance was shared with top volunteers on Saturday, and provided by a volunteer to The Intercept, which independently confirmed its authenticity. The move away from phonebanking comes as Sanders is surging in the polls in Iowa, New Hampshire, and nationally, and is explained in a detailed memo sent via Slack to campaign volunteers by Claire Sandberg, the campaign’s national organizing director. The directive applies to volunteers who live in states that vote in March, which together make up more than half the country.

“Up until now, you have heard us loud and clear that if you are not in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, or South Carolina, the most important things are to: 1) get to one of those states and knock on doors and 2) if you can’t get there in person, phonebank,” Sandberg wrote. But, she continued, “We have already run through most of the calls we wanted to make for this weekend,” citing volunteer participation that has exceeded targets and expectations. “This is definitely a great problem to have,” she wrote, “but this does mean we need to recalibrate.”

Sandberg, in the memo, urges volunteers to pivot either to door-to-door canvassing in their home state, or to friend-to-friend organizing through the campaign’s Bern app. The app, covered in a previous Intercept article, allows a user to find friends in the voter file and enter information about their level of support or opposition to Sanders, and has shown promise to be more effective than phone calls as an organizing tactic.

Campaign phone calls and text messages, when the volume runs into the millions, can be expensive — and are certainly more expensive than using the app or door-knocking — which may also be contributing to a cost-benefit analysis. In the final week leading to caucus day in Iowa on February 3, Democrats there are bombarded with phone calls from pollsters, campaigns, and outside advocacy groups. That, in addition to baseline spam, creates a cacophony that is hard for campaigns to break through. It is far more effective, campaign leaders have argued, to have friends and relatives urge those close to them to come out to caucus than to carpet bomb phone lines, what is known as relational organizing. The campaign’s original goal for phone calls before Iowa was 5 million, but volunteers have already surpassed 7 million.

Krystal Ball: Biden's big Hillary 2008 energy


Saagar Enjeti: Biden's pathetic attempt to cancel Joe Rogan, Bernie

Warren falls behind in Iowa but wins coveted newspaper endorsement

Bernie Sanders emerged as the frontrunner in the two earliest Democratic 2020 nomination voting states this weekend, Iowa and New Hampshire, according to the latest polls – but Elizabeth Warren received a powerful boost with an endorsement from the Des Moines Register newspaper in what is still considered an open race.

Warren had been slipping behind in Iowa, which holds the first vote in the nation with its caucuses just a week a way on 3 February, but the Register this weekend named her “the president this nation needs”.

Meanwhile, a surging Bernie Sanders, the original ultra-progressive in his runs for the White House in 2016 and 2020 elections, topped a new CNN and University of New Hampshire poll of likely Democratic primary voters in that state, released on Sunday, with 25% backing him – a considerable lead on former Vice President Joe Biden who was placed second with 16%. Pete Buttigieg, the former South Bend mayor, was third with 15% and Massachusetts senator Warren behind him with just 12%.

Sanders, who won the state by more than 20 points in the primaries four years ago, has gained four points since October and Warren has dropped six points in the same period. The state will vote in the Democratic primary on 11 February.

Meanwhile, a Washington Post-ABC News national poll, also published on Sunday, showed Biden and Sanders have emerged nationally as breakaway leaders in the competition for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Bernie hardens early state lead

Yang qualifies, will he outperform polls?

Worth a full read, detail-rich with individual bios of Warren's Warmongers and the poop on the institutions that have been keeping them warm, dry, well-fed and ready to start wars.

Woke wonk Elizabeth Warren’s foreign policy team is stacked with pro-war swamp creatures

Elizabeth Warren has promised “big, structural change” on a range of issues related to the economy. Warren has a plan for foreign policy, too, but it appears to be scarcely different from that of the last Democrat to occupy the White House. A close examination of Warren’s newly assembled team of international advisors presents little hope of change from the military interventionism, regime change strong-arming and drone warfare that characterized the administration of President Barack Obama.

Earlier this month, Warren foreign policy aide Sasha Baker revealed a list of 34 “friends, colleagues, and advisors” that formed the foundation of the candidate’s foreign policy team. For the first time, observers were offered a clear window into what US foreign policy might look like under a Warren presidency. According to CNN, these self-described foreign policy professionals have worked through “group text chains and conference calls where they brainstorm responses to urgent international events, help draft campaign statements and policy papers, and flag development.”

Despite repeated assurances that she was leading a “grassroots movement,” no one on this informal team had any record of grassroots anti-war organizing. Instead, the list was filled with 30 and 40-something Ivy League graduates-turned-Beltway careerists. Baker was a perfect example, having served as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Obama’s Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter. Team Warren was also filled with Obama Defense and State Department alumni, as well former employees of US regime change outfits such as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Of the 35 people listed as advising Warren, including Baker, nine have spent time at the Pentagon and 13 at the State Department.

Most others have spent time at the big four Democratic foreign policy think tanks, with six from the Center for American Progress (CAP), three from the Century Foundation, five from the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), and five from the Truman Project. The remaining five members of the team worked at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) or the US Agency for International Development (USAID), Washington’s two main arms for funding regime change activity.

The four major DC-based think tanks that Team Warren draws from share one thing in common: aggressive support for sanctions and military interventions from Syria to Korea to Venezuela.



the evening greens


Race to exploit the world’s seabed set to wreak havoc on marine life

The scaly-foot snail is one of Earth’s strangest creatures. It lives more than 2,300 metres below the surface of the sea on a trio of deep-sea hydrothermal vents at the bottom of the Indian Ocean. Here it has evolved a remarkable form of protection against the crushing, grim conditions found at these Stygian depths. It grows a shell made of iron. Discovered in 1999, the multi-layered iron sulphide armour of Chrysomallon squamiferumwhich measures a few centimetres in diameter – has already attracted the interest of the US defence department, whose scientists are now studying its genes in a bid to discover how it grows its own metal armour.

The researchers will have to move quickly, however, for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature has just added the snail to its list of threatened species. German and Chinese industrial groups have revealed plans to explore the seabed around two of the three vents that provide homes for scaly-foot snails. Should they proceed, and mine the seabed’s veins of metals and minerals, a large chunk of the snail’s home base will be destroyed and the existence of this remarkable little creature will be threatened.

“On land, we are already exploiting mineral resources to the full,” says Jean-Baptiste Jouffray, of Stockholm University. “At the same time, the need for rare elements and metals is becoming increasingly important to supply green technologies such as wind and solar power plants. “And so industrialists are looking to the seabed where it is now technologically and economically feasible to mine for minerals. Hence the arrival of threats to creatures like the scaly-foot snail.”

Jouffray is the lead author of an analysis, published last week in the journal One Earth, which involved synthesising 50 years of data from shipping, drilling, aquaculture, and other marine industries and which paints an alarming picture of the impact of future exploitation of the oceans. This threat comes not just from seabed mining – which is set to expand dramatically in coming years – but from fish farming, desalination plant construction, shipping, submarine cable laying, cruise tourism and the building of offshore wind farms.

This is “blue acceleration”, the term that is used by Jouffray and his co-authors to describe the recent rapid rise in marine industrialisation, a trend that has brought increasing ocean acidification, marine heating, coral reef destruction, and plastic pollution in its wake.

This Problem With Fracked Oil and Gas Wells Is Occurring ‘at an Alarming Rate’

On February 15, 2018, a fracked natural gas well owned by ExxonMobil’s XTO Energy and located in southeast Ohio experienced a well blowout, causing it to gush the potent greenhouse gas methane for nearly three weeks. The obscure accident ultimately resulted in one of the biggest methane leaks in U.S. history. The New York Times reported in December that new satellite data revealed that this single gas well leaked more methane in 20 days than an entire year’s worth of methane released by the oil and gas industries in countries like Norway and France.

The cause of this massive leak was a failure of the gas well’s casing, or internal lining. Well casing failures represent yet another significant but not widely discussed technical problem for an unprofitable fracking industry.

Casing failures occur when the steel or cement that’s lining an oil or gas well breaks or cracks, which means the well can’t maintain pressure anymore and creates a pathway for anything inside the well — such as fracking fluids — to leak into the surrounding environment. They can take place, as in the example of Exxon’s gas well in Ohio, at sites where hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is happening. The results of these failures can be catastrophic, as a 2017 paper published by the Society of Petroleum Engineers spells out: “Outcomes from casing failures include blowouts, pollution, injuries/fatalities, and loss of the well with associated costs.”

For an industry laser-focused on cutting costs, the risk of losing an entire fracking well gets its attention. ... This growing problem for the fracking industry can be traced to the same issues that have caused past failures: cutting corners on costs because shale companies have been losing money and are pushing the limits of technology to try to finally turn a profit and pay back their sizable debts.

Once again, this cost-cutting approach hasn’t been working, and the risks to the climate, the environment, and investors continue to mount.

‘Unprecedented’ Swarms of Locusts Are Devouring Crops and Slamming Into Planes in East Africa

Swarms of locusts in east Africa have devastated crops and sent a passenger plane off course, and now the UN is warning that without international intervention the voracious insects threaten the food security of tens of millions of people.

Ethiopia, Somalia, and Kenya are all struggling to deal with the food-munching insects and if efforts to eradicate them are not increased, the infestation will “threaten the food security of the entire subregion,” the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N. said this week.

The swarms of insects are the worst seen in Ethiopia and Somalia for 25 years, while Kenya has not seen a locust infestation on this scale this size for 70 years. Uganda and South Sudan are also under threat.


"The speed of the pests' spread and the size of the infestations are so far beyond the norm that they have stretched the capacities of local and national authorities to the limit," the U.N. said in a statement.


Also of Interest

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

The Establishment Doesn’t Fear Trump, And It Doesn’t Fear Bernie. It Fears You.

Adam Schiff Is a Dangerous Warmonger

Mosul, Epicenter of ISIS Conflict, is a Devastated Iraqi City

Associated Press Sees "Hundreds" Where Pictures Show Millions

'Mexico has become Trump's wall': how Amlo became an immigration enforcer

3 Billionaire Republican Families Are About to Buy the Dot-Org Domain. That's Terrifying Nonprofits.

In Open Letter to Brazilian Authorities, 40+ Rights Groups Condemn 'Attempt to Intimidate and Retaliate Against' Glenn Greenwald

Ring Ukraine News Suppressed at Amazon’s Request, Journalists Say

Jamie Dimon Gets $31.5 Million Pay Despite Bank’s Criminal Charges as U.S. Slides Below Uruguay on Corruption Index

‘Whitewashed’: how gentrification continues to erase LA's bold murals

Insurance Lobby Talking Points Don’t Come With Warning Labels

A rewilding triumph: wolves help to reverse Yellowstone degradation

Has physicist's gravity theory solved 'impossible' dark energy riddle?

Corporate Media Equate Sanders to Trump—Because for Them, Sanders Is the Bigger Threat

"A Who's-Who" of People Against Progressive Agenda: DNC's Perez Under Fire for Convention Committee Picks

Democracy Now: Law Professor: Trump Could Also Have Been Impeached for War Crimes, Assassinations & Corruption

Jimmy Dore: Why Tulsi’s Vote On Impeachment Was Correct


A Little Night Music

Cash McCall - Don't Change on Me

Cash McCall - I'm Ready

Cash McCall - Gypsy Woman

Cash McCall - I'm In Danger

Cash McCall - S.O.S.

Cash McCall - Let's Get A Good Thing Going On

Cash McCall - It hurts me too

Cash McCall - No More Doggin'

Cash McCall - The Blues Just Won't Let Me Be

Cash McCall - Bring It on Home


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Comments

Raggedy Ann's picture

A week to go to Iowa. Kitchen sinks will be flying!

Coronavirus - let's wipe out Earth's population! Honestly, this is frightening. You can get it through your eyes! The things they will do to control us.

Try and have a peaceful evening, folks, but it's gonna start getting tricky! Pleasantry

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8 users have voted.

“The trouble [with injustice] is that once you see it, you can’t unsee it. And once you’ve seen it, keeping quiet, saying nothing, becomes as political an act as speaking out. There is no innocence. Either way, you’re accountable.”
-- Arundhati Roy

joe shikspack's picture

@Raggedy Ann

heh, from what i see, the kitchen sinks have been flying for a couple of weeks now and the toilets are not far behind. Smile

i can't imagine what sort of slime that people who watch teevee must be exposed to these days, especially those in early states or swing states. i bet it's grisly.

i haven't been following the details of the coronavirus closely, but i did see that some expert types think that it originated with bats and crossed the species barrier. i can't wait to see what sort of odd viruses might await us that have been locked up in permafrost or ice layers for thousands of years.

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9 users have voted.
mimi's picture

a live stream, in which Trump’s Lawyers Present Impeachment Defense Amid John Bolton Bombshell

I find lots of details in there that just make me wonder, why my son had this strange life to know a couple of the actors in Ukraine from their highschool years and college years. No wonder he lost his mind. No wonder I am lost and can't quite believe what I am hearing. I hope I can analyze later when the live stream is finished, what has been said. Because ... I have memories.

No other comment so far.

Have a very good Evening and many thanks for your work.

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10 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@mimi

i've been unable to listen to much of the impeachment drama. i've caught some bits of it on the car radio, which i shut off before i start yelling at whomever is droning on about presenting warped, incomplete narratives.

i salute your ability to pay attention to them.

have a great evening!

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10 users have voted.
mimi's picture

@joe shikspack
we were neighbors to a couple of actors meddling in Ukraine today. Otherwise I wouldn't give a damn.

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3 users have voted.

msdnc_0.PNG

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18 users have voted.
mimi's picture

@gjohnsit

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14 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@gjohnsit

what a bunch of inane, mind-rotting yammering. we should all mourn for the chicken that died to provide the brain transplant to chris matthews.

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13 users have voted.

@joe shikspack

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2 users have voted.

I have been waiting for the 'stache to have his turn as the next #McResistance hero dropping that bombshell that will surely be the one to take Trump down, no really, this time we mean it. A book deal that has to go through the WH censors seems to be the perfect way to get him on the list. What a shitshow our country is.

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13 users have voted.
enhydra lutris's picture

@Dr. John Carpenter
Jimmie & Krystal, but first a big round of applause for the Guillotine. It should be noted that the lower one is the original, classic and more efficient and effective model, the upper unit with the central point is not a good design.

Fracked wells cut corners, true, but many fields that have been untapped for so long are also high pressure fields, such as those that started the great drilling rush that lead to the Continental Illinois failure. Such fields are prone to blow up rigs and blow out wells.

As noted above, in a ?? mood, so, in that vein, I suggest that we send a few boatloads of Mormons to East Africa to help them out.

have a good one

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9 users have voted.

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 --

joe shikspack's picture

@enhydra lutris

yep, i've been thinking that most of our modern problems could be resolved with two solutions from the past, the guillotine and the catapult. Smile

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10 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@Dr. John Carpenter

yeah, it's sad. i bet the democrats would elect john bolton president if he provided the testimony that led to trump's removal.

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8 users have voted.
mimi's picture

@joe shikspack

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5 users have voted.

Man, what a take down by Kevin Gosztola...wow, just wow...Need to go his twitter page to find endless list of corporate lackies appointed to the DNC by Perez.

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13 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@MrWebster

yep, it looks like obamaworld and clintonworld are uniting to form a firewall at the dnc convention.

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14 users have voted.
Azazello's picture

@MrWebster
He did it live this afternoon.
Look for them to drop it on YouTube in the next few days.

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11 users have voted.
Azazello's picture

One more reason not to trust her.
Evening all,
Here's some Kremlin talking points:

Yes, Iran must behave like a normal nation.
I think we all suspected this: 'The Only One I Didn't Want Her to Pick"
Here's some good news, I think: Population of endangered ocelots discovered In Sonora near Arizona border

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11 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@Azazello

woke wonk? nah! wolf in sheep's clothing. and i say that with apologies to wolves.

glad to hear about the ocelots!

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8 users have voted.
Azazello's picture

@joe shikspack
this afternoon, in the car.
I gotta' say, the Republicans are making a better case.
With the Dems it was speaker after speaker, all the same, national security and Russia.
This guy I heard today was pretty good, made better points.
This just came up on YouTube:

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13 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@Azazello

when i went out to pick up ms. shikspack from work today, i heard corruption expert (because she has personal experience at it) pam bondi take a crack at hunter biden and burisma. the media can try to spin it any way they want, but bondi exposed simple facts that any reasonable person will hear and determine that there is something not right about hunter biden getting 83k per month for a "job" that he had absolutely no qualifications for. it may not be illegal, but it's not right - and the democrats better get used to hearing about it.

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13 users have voted.
mimi's picture

@Azazello
Adam Schiffs Russian Derangement Syndrome.

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6 users have voted.

@Azazello I caught that earlier, and man it helps to hear a real Russia expert say many of the things I have been thinking about Russia/Foreign policy and Russiagate. Schiff doesn't fare so well in the discussion.
There's a bonus for Tulsi Gabbard supporters there at the end as well. Highly recommended.

And separately, Thanks Joe!

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7 users have voted.
enhydra lutris's picture

@Azazello
which makes the wall just that much more foul and wrong.

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11 users have voted.

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 --

Azazello's picture

@enhydra lutris

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10 users have voted.
dystopian's picture

@Azazello Incredible! What a beautiful animal. I heard of them at Alamos, long time ago, along the Rio Cuchahachi in the Sierra Madre of southern Sonora (a wonderful place). Had no idea they were that close to AZ, and there have been sightings in AZ! There is a small well-studied population in south Texas. Mostly at Laguna Atascosa NWR. Thanks for the great news!

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10 users have voted.

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

ggersh's picture

an anti govt demonstration rather than what it truly is an anti-ameriKan demonstration, Yankee go home

https://ejmagnier.com/2020/01/27/the-usa-was-the-kingmaker-in-iraq-but-n...

Iraq and the Iraqis have spoken: Iraqi Major General Jafar al-Battat, head of Baghdad area security, estimated at “more than one million” the number of protestors who filled up the Karradah and Jadriyeh in Baghdad. Protestors called for the total withdrawal of the US-led foreign forces from the country. They mobilised in response to the call of the Shia cleric Sayyed Moqtada al-Sadr, in concert with all Shia groups and other Iraqi minorities who want to see the departure of US forces and an end to US hegemony and domination of Iraq. The cost of pushing the execution button launching deadly missiles from a US drone to assassinate Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani and his companions and the Iraqi commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandes at Baghdad airport will weigh heavily on the US and its presence in the Middle East. The Trump administration is expected to pay a heavy price and the President himself will suffer from it in his forthcoming electoral campaign.

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12 users have voted.

trump amerika's last president

The CIA website has a kids section with games where children can “solve puzzles, crack codes, and discover clues like a real CIA officer”.

This is like ISIS starting an ice cream truck business.

Caitlin

joe shikspack's picture

@ggersh

i suspect that the yankees will go or suffer a death of a thousand cuts. i suspect that iraq might be waiting trump out, figuring that he will be gone soon, to be replaced by a more stable genius. if trump stays, i'm guessing that things are going to be ugly.

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9 users have voted.

Good blues and enjoyed many of the articles in tonight's Blues. Really do like to listen to Aaron Mate and Pushback. Tonight was a good example of how two very different points of view can have a conversation and still be civil. Course, toward the end it was hard for Aaron to keep his views under wraps but still let a person hear what a senior fellow had to say that actually might have the ear of the government.

Voices for freedom of the press.........the Yellow Vests and the prisoners at Belmarch...what a country we live in.

Did like the Guardian article about the return of the wolves to Yellowstone. Right now there is a great concern because some want to remove them from the endangered list but most of us think this is too soon. Just finished reading a book about the first wolves released into Yellowstone by one of the Wolf Watchers that was very interesting to those of us that follow the wolves around in Yellowstone.

Hope all have a good evening and can stay above the fray about the very thought that Sanders is answering the call of many Americans!

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12 users have voted.

Life is what you make it, so make it something worthwhile.

This ain't no dress rehearsal!

joe shikspack's picture

@jakkalbessie

yep, as i was listening to mate talk with doran, i was thinking that the problem with the conversation was that doran had alternate facts. it is going to continue to be a problem for the u.s. - we really can't create coherent policy when we can't agree on what the facts are and increasingly large groups of americans are divided with different facts.

yep, trump, at the behest of western ranchers and other ne'er-do-wells wants to take wolves off of the endangered species list. it's time to get western ranchers off of welfare (ridiculously cheap land rents) and bring back the balance of nature in the west.

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11 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

Ring's Neighborhood watch....

I don't get why people would willingly put in a device that spies on them, but they do. Alexa listens to conversations whether it's awake or not and now neighborhoods are filled with the ring doorbell camera that police can tap into without a warrant. Then there's all the smart appliances that spy on people who must not give a rat's ass about their 4th amendment. I just don't get it.

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15 users have voted.

America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
- strife delivery

enhydra lutris's picture

@snoopydawg

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11 users have voted.

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 --

joe shikspack's picture

@snoopydawg

yep, it's pretty bad. if it isn't stopped, it will eventually turn us into a nightmare authoritarian state.

here's an article i just ran across. i will link it tomorrow night, there's probably too much to fairly abstract.

The Rise of Smart Camera Networks, and Why We Should Ban Them

I don't get why people would willingly put in a device that spies on them, but they do.

vast numbers of americans carry around spies in their pockets 24/7/365. few of them even consider protecting themselves with a faraday bag when the damnable thing is not in use.

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10 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

@joe shikspack

It's been 70 years since he died and just about every thing he wrote about has come true hasn't it? But instead of the government putting cameras in people's homes they buy them themselves.

The rise of all-seeing smart camera networks is an alarming development that threatens civil rights and liberties throughout the world.

I watch a lot of British crime shows and they rely on the CCTV that seems to be everywhere. Now they are doing live facial recognition and people are trying to stop it. Horses and barns come to mind.

Good article.

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11 users have voted.

America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
- strife delivery

@snoopydawg
I leave the batteries out of the remote until I use it. It is very handy to not wade through the tedious menus.
I watch what I say when the batteries are in. Usually I say noting except to "Alexa".

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5 users have voted.

Tulsi Gabbard 2020 !

snoopydawg's picture

@The Voice In the Wilderness

I thought it was just connected to the fire stick? I have the box, but I live alone and only talk to Charlie or yell at the plot holes.

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8 users have voted.

America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
- strife delivery

@snoopydawg
The internet is two way. And supposedly the mic is controlled by the switch but it's a digital switch not a physical switch. So it's under control of the microprocessor in the remote which gets it's orders from the stick.

This doesn't prove that it does listen. It only proves that it can listen even when supposedly off. Taking the batteries out ensures that it's off.

Samsung Smart TV's with voice input are the same. Samsung has admitted letting :national security" have access. But don't worry, as long as you only say things that Big Brother likes.

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5 users have voted.

Tulsi Gabbard 2020 !

lotlizard's picture

@snoopydawg  
https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2019/11/stealing-amazon-p...

(Found via an item in the Unz Review — California residents, is it really true that someone can steal up to $949 per day in California and law enforcement is not allowed to charge them with a felony as long as they stay under that limit, because of something called Proposition 47?)

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4 users have voted.

@lotlizard
States attorney Kim Foxx has told police not to bring her shop-lifting cases under $1000.
Cook county Board President Preckwinkle is issuing I-bonds to first arrest gun violators., in order to save money at Cook County Jail. Now even babies are being shot.

https://www.foxnews.com/us/baby-shot-critically-wounded-in-parked-car-in...
https://chicago.cbslocal.com/2020/01/28/infant-shot-in-uptown-police-say/
https://abc7chicago.com/4-shot-including-6-month-old-baby-in-south-loop-...

This is the picture that suburbanites get of Democratic Administration.

Not to mention this, that Republicans are going berserk over:
https://www.lawenforcementtoday.com/illinois-officials-admit-automatic-v...

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3 users have voted.

Tulsi Gabbard 2020 !

enhydra lutris's picture

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5 users have voted.

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 --

enhydra lutris's picture

@enhydra lutris

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5 users have voted.

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 --

joe shikspack's picture

@enhydra lutris

cadet records:

Cadet Records was an American record label that began as Argo Records in 1955 as the jazz subsidiary of Chess Records. Argo changed its name in 1965 to Cadet to avoid confusion with the similarly named label in the UK.[1] Cadet stopped releasing records around 1974, when its artists were moved to Chess.

There was also Cadet Concept Records, for rock and more adventurous music, such as the Rotary Connection, and the experimental psychedelic Electric Mud album by Muddy Waters.

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4 users have voted.
dystopian's picture

Great guitar player... sang well too.

I loved Caitlin's article title:

Belmarsh Prison Inmates Prove More Ethical Than Entire Western Empire

We have to come up with something more accurate for this fn oxymoron:

DC-based think tanks

Thanks again for the music!

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9 users have voted.

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

joe shikspack's picture

@dystopian

heh, i generally call 'em "stink tanks," for obvious reasons.

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3 users have voted.

and, the Guardian article on wolves in Yellowstone was pretty damned good. I love the experiment and experimental results the saw of adding the wolf back as the apex predator and damned if the environmental degradation wasn't quickly reversed!

Which also reminds me...I was reading up on the good old 1973 Endangered Species Act, for reasons I've forgotten, and there was quoted Nixon's signing statement for the act. And...holy shit! but it was actually pretty good. And I remember my old man could not stand that "capitalistic SOB". Nixon was a son of a bitch, and then we look back through the Reagan, Bush x 2 and now Trump...old Nixon looks better and better. (My old dad, is rolling in his grave). Hell go read this, Nixon's letter to Congress about environmental law expectations for the coming year. I think if President Sanders submitted the same letter in 2021, no one would blink an eye...

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8 users have voted.
lotlizard's picture

@peachcreek  
In 1971, Nixon blew up Bretton Woods, the international monetary system dating back to 1944 based on fixed exchange rates.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nixon_shock

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bretton_Woods_system#Nixon_Shock

In 1971 more and more dollars were being printed in Washington, then being pumped overseas, to pay for government expenditure on the military and social programs. In the first six months of 1971, assets for $22 billion fled the U.S. In response, on 15 August 1971, Nixon issued Executive Order 11615 pursuant to the Economic Stabilization Act of 1970, unilaterally imposing 90-day wage and price controls, a 10% import surcharge, and most importantly "closed the gold window", making the dollar inconvertible to gold directly, except on the open market. Unusually, this decision was made without consulting members of the international monetary system or even his own State Department, and was soon dubbed the Nixon Shock.

Nixon was actually a lot bolder (more shameless?) than Obama or Trump, on all fronts.

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7 users have voted.