The Evening Blues - 1-28-20
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features Chicago blues musician Eddie Taylor. Enjoy!
Eddie Taylor - Going to Virginia
"The press doesn't stop publishing, by the way, in a fascist escalation; it simply watches what it says. That too can be an incremental process, and the pace at which the free press polices itself depends on how journalists are targeted."
-- Naomi Wolf
News and Opinion
Snowden Warns Targeting of Greenwald and Assange Shows Governments 'Ready to Stop the Presses—If They Can'
In an op-ed published Sunday night by the Washington Post, National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden connected Brazilian federal prosecutors' recent decision to file charges against American investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald to the U.S. government's efforts to prosecute WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Snowden, board of directors president at Freedom of the Press Foundation, is among those who have spoken out since Greenwald was charged with cybercrime on Jan. 21. Reporters and human rights advocates have denounced the prosecution as "a straightforward attempt to intimidate and retaliate against Greenwald and The Intercept for their critical reporting" on officials in Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's government.
Greenwald, who is also on Freedom of the Press Foundation's board, is one of the journalists to whom Snowden leaked classified materials in 2013.
As Common Dreams reported last week, the NSA whistleblower, who has lived with asylum protection in Russia for the past several years, is also among the political observers who have pointed out that although even some of Greenwald's critics have rallied behind him in recent days, Assange has not experienced such solidarity. Assange is being held in a London prison, under conditions that have raised global alarm, while he fights against extradition to the United States.
Edward @Snowden writes an important op-ed in the @WashingtonPost in support of @ggreenwald and warning of the extreme dangers in the Trump admin's prosecution of WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange: https://t.co/j0h6BerGJz
— Freedom of the Press (@FreedomofPress) January 27, 2020
In his Post op-ed, "Trump Has Created a Global Playbook to Attack Those Revealing Uncomfortable Truths," Snowden wrote of Greenwald's case that "as ridiculous as these charges are, they are also dangerous—and not only to Greenwald: They are a threat to press freedom everywhere. The legal theory used by the Brazilian prosecutors—that journalists who publish leaked documents are engaged in a criminal 'conspiracy' with the sources who provide those documents—is virtually identical to the one advanced in the Trump administration's indictment of [Assange] in a new application of the historically dubious Espionage Act."
Snowden—who said in December that he believes that if he returned to the United States, he'd spend his life in prison for exposing global mass surveillance practices of the U.S. government—explained:
In each case, the charges came as an about-face from an earlier position. The federal police in Brazil stated as recently as December that they had formally considered whether Greenwald could be said to have participated in a crime, and unequivocally found that he had not. That rather extraordinary admission itself followed an order in August 2019 from a Brazilian Supreme Court judge—prompted by displays of public aggression against Greenwald by Bolsonaro and his allies—explicitly barring federal police from investigating Greenwald altogether. The Supreme Court judge declared that doing so would "constitute an unambiguous act of censorship."
For Assange, the Espionage Act charges arrived years after the same theory had reportedly been considered—and rejected—by the former president Barack Obama's Justice Department. Though the Obama administration was no fan of WikiLeaks, the former spokesman for Obama's Attorney General Eric Holder later explained. "The problem the department has always had in investigating Julian Assange is there is no way to prosecute him for publishing information without the same theory being applied to journalists," said the former Justice Department spokesman Matthew Miller. "And if you are not going to prosecute journalists for publishing classified information, which the department is not, then there is no way to prosecute Assange."
Although Obama's administration was historically unfriendly to journalists and leakers of classified materials, President Donald Trump's administration has taken things a step further with its indictment of Assange. "The Trump administration," he wrote, "with its disdain for press freedom matched only by its ignorance of the law, has respected no such limitations on its ability to prosecute and persecute, and its unprecedented decision to indict a publisher under the Espionage Act has profoundly dangerous implications for national security journalists around the country."
Highlighting another similarity between the cases of Greenwald and Assange—that "their relentless crusades have rendered them polarizing figures (including, it may be noted, to each other)"—Snowden suggested that perhaps "authorities in both countries believed the public's fractured opinions of their perceived ideologies would distract the public from the broader danger these prosecutions pose to a free press." However, he noted, civil liberties groups and publishers have recognized both cases as "efforts to deter the most aggressive investigations by the most fearless journalists, and to open the door to a precedent that could soon still the pens of even the less cantankerous."
"The most essential journalism of every era is precisely that which a government attempts to silence," Snowden concluded. "These prosecutions demonstrate that they are ready to stop the presses—if they can."
A word that could once not be mentioned in court — torture — was front and center on Friday as a military tribunal prepares to take on the long-delayed trial of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the confessed chief plotter of the 9/11 attacks, and four other defendants. "I know torture's a dirty word," defense attorney Walter Ruiz told the tribunal. "I'll tell you what, judge, I'm not going to sanitize this for their concerns."
Ruiz repeatedly used the word "torture" — and gave vivid descriptions of what had been done to his client, Mustafa Hawsawi, in secret CIA-run black-site prisons — something that would have been unthinkable for most of the eight years the case has been ongoing. Ruiz forged ahead through a storm of objections both from the prosecution team and the witness, CIA psychologist James Mitchell. He read a list of abuses against his client, asking Mitchell if he was aware that Hawsawi had been plunged into a freezing ice bath, had his head slammed against the wall, was hung nude from the ceiling and was slapped in the face. He later added charges of anal rape and waterboarding.
"Did it matter in your assessment that Mr. Al Hawsawi had been tortured in this many ways? Did it matter to you?" he asked.
Torture has been the overriding issue in these hearings since this version of them began in 2012, but for most of that time it was an issue that could not be discussed openly. This week's testimony from Mitchell brought the issue front and center. The hearing included an extended debate between Ruiz and the military judge, Air Force Col. W. Shane Cohen, on Ruiz's tactics. Ruiz was adamant he didn't care if the witness and the prosecution objected to his descriptions.
Cohen has relaxed restrictions on what can be said in his courtroom since taking over the 9/11 case seven months ago. He seemed to explain his reasoning Friday. Cohen said he didn't care what anybody called the interrogation techniques. What mattered ultimately, he said, was what he and he alone decided. ... In short, if Ruiz wanted to call it torture, he could. And he did. Repeatedly.
US officials are investigating the cause of a crash in Afghanistan after a US Air Force plane went down in Taliban-controlled territory, according to reports.
A Taliban spokesman said the plane crashed in the Ghazni province and killed "lots" of US service members, which has not been verified.
Images and video circulating on social media from Taliban-affiliated journalist Tariq Ghazniwal show the burning remains of a Bombardier E-11A, used for electronic surveillance and radio communication. US Central Command and Secretary of Defence Mark Esper say they are "aware" of reports of the crash.
According to a spokesman for the provincial governor, the plane crashed at 1.10 pm roughly 80 miles southwest of Kabul. Taliban statements claim fighters have recovered the bodies and identification cards of service members onboard the aircraft.
Catalonia’s parliament has stripped the head of the region’s pro-independence government of his rights as a regional lawmaker, angering supporters who scuffled with police outside the assembly. The parliament’s speaker, Roger Torrent, said the assembly in Barcelona had to comply with a Spanish court ruling against regional leader Quim Torra to ensure future votes are not deemed invalid, but said he would seek ways to overturn the decision.
Torra will now be unable to vote in parliament but will remain head of the Catalan government, despite opposition parties’ demands that he be removed from the post, Torrent said. ...
Scuffles broke out on Monday night when several hundred people, some of them waving Catalan flags, protested against the decision to strip Torra of his rights as a lawmaker. Spain’s Socialist Workers’ party prime minister, Pedro Sanchez, is due to attend a meeting in Barcelona next week to set the agenda for negotiations to address Catalonia’s independence drive.
Matteo Salvini, the leader of Italy’s far-right League party, has failed to overturn decades of leftwing rule in the northern region of Emilia-Romagna in an election that brought relief to the embattled centre-left.
With 98% of the ballots counted, the incumbent Democratic party (PD) governor Stefano Bonaccini had won 51.4% of the vote compared to 43.7% for Lucia Borgonzoni, the candidate backed by the League and its allies, interior ministry data showed.
Salvini had campaigned relentlessly in the region since the start of the year, seeking a shock victory that he hoped would bring down the national government, which includes the PD and is riven by internal strife.
“The ruling majority comes out [of the regional elections] stronger,” said the PD leader, Nicola Zingaretti, adding that Salvini had failed in his attempt to “shove the government out”. ...
The League’s defeat in Emilia-Romagna, which has been governed by the left in various guises since the end of the second world war, is a massive setback for Salvini, the former deputy prime minister who turned the elections into a referendum on the fragile national coalition between the PD and M5S as he plots a return to power.
President Donald Trump says John Bolton is only trying “to sell a book” after it emerged that the former national security adviser will claim in his forthcoming memoir that the U.S. president withheld military aid to the Ukraine government to get it to investigate Joe Biden and his son.
In a trio of tweets just after midnight on Sunday, Trump lashed out at reports that Bolton’s new book contains claims that last August the U.S. president told his then-national security that he wanted to continue freezing $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine until officials there helped with investigations into Democrats, including the Bidens.
“I NEVER told John Bolton that the aid to Ukraine was tied to investigations into Democrats, including the Bidens. In fact, he never complained about this at the time of his very public termination. If John Bolton said this, it was only to sell a book,” Trump tweeted.
The contents of Bolton’s book, “The Room Where It Happened; A White House Memoir,” which is not set to be released until March, were reported by the New York Times, but have subsequently been confirmed by multiple media outlets.
'The Rich Have Class Solidarity': Bezos Party Features Billionaires Rubbing Shoulders With Trump Admin Officials, Journalists
A party in Washington, D.C. on Saturday night hosted by Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos featured a who's-who of Trump administration officials, billionaires, and journalists—leading observers to note the "class solidarity" on display between members of the American ruling elite.
"Democracy dies at Jeff Bezos' house," tweeted journalist Dan Froomkin.
The Bezos party came after the Alfalfa Club annual dinner at Cafe Milano in Washington, a yearly event that on Saturday honored Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah). Romney brought actor Ben Stiller to the party as a guest; both men were also seen arriving at the Bezos party after the event.
Also in attendance at the party were a number of current and former officials in President Donald Trump's White House. The president's daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner, both advisers to the president, Transportation Secretary and wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Elaine Chao, White House adviser Kellyanne Conway, former Trump administration Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, and former National Security deputy adviser Dina Powell were all at the event at Bezos' $23 million D.C. mansion.
— Andrew Perez (@andrewperezdc) January 26, 2020
The administration officials were joined by a number of wealthy executives and billionaires. Beyond Bezos, the party featured Microsoft founder Bill Gates, JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon, Bridgewater Associates co-CEO David McCormick, billionaire businessman David Rubenstein, Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon, AOL founder Steve Case, and others. ...
Members of the media, including CBS Evening News anchor Norah O'Donnell, Politico founder Robert Allbritton, and Good Morning America correspondent Claire Shipman, were guests of Bezos. Former President Barack Obama's Press Secretary Jay Carney and former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan also attended the party.
Such a concentration of elite wealth and power, tweeted Crooked Media's Brian Beutler, appeared tailor-made for a campaign ad for the 2020 Democratic presidential candidacies of Sanders and Sen. Sanders and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).
"Very strange of Jeff Bezos to make such a huge in-kind donation to the Sanders and Warren campaigns," said Beutler.
The Trump administration can move forward with a rule to make it harder for immigrants who rely on public assistance to gain legal status while a court challenge plays out, the Supreme Court ruled on Monday. The Supreme Court voted 5-4 along ideological lines to lift a nationwide injunction on the proposal imposed by a federal judge in New York while the case is playing out in the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals.
The rule, from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), would make it easier for immigration officials to deny entry or legal status to people likely to rely on government assistance.
Under current regulations, the criteria for deciding if an immigrant would become a public charge is whether they are likely to rely on certain cash benefits. The new rule would expand that, defining public charge as someone who relies on cash and non-cash benefits such as housing or food assistance for more than 12 months in a three-year period.
The rule also allows immigrants to be declared a "public charge" and denied green cards even if they are employed. ...
New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) said on Monday that she is still working to put a permanent end to the rule. “Generations of immigrants have come to this country with little more than a dream in their pockets, but the president’s Public Charge Rule is an egregious attempt to infringe upon the values of our nation," James said in a statement. "We have already received a favorable decision in the district court and are continuing our fight against the Trump Administration in the Court of Appeals.”
Rights Advocates Demand National Attention to 'State of Emergency' in Mississippi Prisons, Where 12 Inmates Have Died In Less Than a Month
Human rights groups are decrying a "human rights crisis" that has been unfolding in Mississippi's state prison system over the past several weeks, with at least a dozen inmates dying in their decrepit cells and in outbursts of violence since late December.
A majority of the deaths have happened at Mississippi State Penitentiary, also known as Parchman, where a 26-year-old inmate was found hanging in his cell over the weekend.
At least five inmates in the state prison system were killed in gang violence earlier in the month, and prison reform advocates have linked the violence and deaths to understaffing and inhumane conditions in the facilities, particularly at Parchman.
The violence at the prisons must be recognized as "a state of emergency, a human rights crisis," tweeted Vanita Gupta, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Sunday night.
Gupta's call was joined by other human rights advocates who made urgent calls for immediate and far-reaching reforms to the state's prisons, which have faced overcrowding and understaffing in recent years as Republican leaders have passed dozens of tax cuts and slashed funding.
In a federal lawsuit filed earlier this month, 29 Parchman inmates described a facility overrun by rats, plagued by flooding, sewage, and black mold, and frequently lacking running water and electricity.
"Plaintiffs' lives are in peril," reads the lawsuit, which rappers Jay-Z and Yo Gotti funded on behalf of the inmates. "Individuals held in Mississippi's prisons are dying because Mississippi has failed to fund its prisons, resulting in prisons where violence reigns because prisons are understaffed... These deaths are a direct result of Mississippi's utter disregard for the people it has incarcerated and their constitutional rights."
Survivors of the Holocaust in the UK and a second world war veteran have warned that the lessons of the atrocities that took place are being forgotten, as they marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz concentration and extermination camp.
The national commemorative event in Westminster on Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) was attended by more than a dozen Holocaust and genocide survivors, as well as Boris Johnson, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and high profile political and religious figures. It was one of 10,000 events taking place to mark the day around the UK. ...
The event also commemorated the 25th anniversary of the genocide in Srebrenica, where about 8,000 Muslim men and boys over the age of 12 were murdered. Survivors of genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur were present.
A British man has died while being held in US immigration detention in Florida, the Guardian has confirmed. The death was first reported by BuzzFeed News, which said the man was 39 years old and that the cause was initially attributed to asphyxiation due to hanging. The incident was reported to have occurred on Saturday last week. ...
In a statement to BuzzFeed, the agency identified the deceased man as Ben James Owen and clarified he had died at the Baker county detention center in Macclenny, Florida. Officials said Owen had entered the US on a temporary visa in July and had been arrested on suspicion of felony aggravated stalking, felony false imprisonment, domestic assault, and violating the conditions of his pre-trial release. The agency said the case remained under investigation.
This weekend, a video of Trump’s spiritual adviser, Paula White, surfaced showing her preaching some potentially ungodly words.
“We command any satanic pregnancies to miscarry right now!” she says, before clarifying: “We declare that anything that’s been conceived in satanic wombs that it will miscarry, it will not be able to carry forth any plan of destruction, any plan of harm.”
“We command all satanic pregnancies to miscarry right now” — Special Adviser to the White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative Paula White pic.twitter.com/gtdZyGfkxy
— Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons (@GuthrieGF) January 25, 2020
White has since claimed that her words were taken out of context – she wasn’t praying for literal miscarriages, just metaphorical ones! Right. Whatever the case, it’s not the most outlandish thing she’s ever advocated.
White has a close relationship with the president and his family. She offered a prayer at Trump’s inauguration; brags about how she calls Trump first thing in the morning; and reportedly visits the White House once a week.
But despite all of her talk about rejecting self-serving actions, she has called her appointment as Trump’s adviser an “assignment from God”. She has also stated that the Lord wanted her to go on national television.
Kevin Gosztola delivers the details. There's far too much detail to decently abstract, so here's a bit to get you started. It's worth a full read, especially if you missed his twitter thread about this the other day.
To rig primary against Bernie, DNC chair Tom Perez nominates regime-change agents, Israel lobbyists, and Wall Street consultants
Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez has nominated dozens of lobbyists, corporate consultants, think tank board members, and former officials linked to the presidential campaigns of Barack Obama and Bill and Hillary Clinton to serve on the Democratic National Convention (DNC) nominating committee this July. Many of Perez’s nominees are vocal opponents of Senator Bernie Sanders and spoke out against his campaign when he challenged Hillary Clinton for the nomination in 2016.
Just as it did in 2016, the DNC appears determined to sabotage a Sanders nomination, foisting a collection of neoliberal and imperialist hacks onto the convention committee to hold back a popular rebellion against the policies of endless war and corporate free trade they have personally presided over. Only a small percentage of those on the roster, such as Communications Workers of America President Larry Cohen, are even remotely aligned or sympathetic to Sanders’ progressive agenda, and many of them are 2020 superdelegates.
Though the Democratic Party reduced the influence of superdelegates after a backlash from Sanders supporters, more than 700 superdelegates will be able to vote as part of a brokered convention if the Vermont senator is not the nominee after the first ballot. They would not have to vote for Sanders, even if he won a majority of pledged delegates in their state’s caucus or primary.
Sanders could secure enough pledged delegates to win on the first ballot and still find his agenda thwarted by the standing committees. For example, members of the DNC’s Platform Committee beholden to corporate interests could vote against measures including Medicare For All or a ban on natural fracking in the agenda of policies they plan to fight for in 2020.
A close look at the list Perez issued offers a gruesome vision of morally repugnant operatives rigging the game on behalf of a desperate and increasingly discredited party elite.
In a 1998 speech, then-Sen. Joe Biden called 100,000 juveniles who had been arrested for violent crimes in the U.S. “predators” who “warrant exceptionally, exceptionally tough treatment.” Biden — who spent decades championing tough-on-crime legislation that escalated mass incarceration — made the comments, which have not previously been reported, during an address to the National Association of Attorneys General conference in March 1998. ...
By that time, Biden had already become a face for tough-on-crime legislation, playing a critical role in the passage of a 1994 overhaul of the criminal justice system, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which devastated low-income communities and communities of color for decades. In 1996, Biden, a longtime chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, also co-authored and pushed a tough-on-crime bill that targeted juveniles. The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1996 would have permitted the jailing of repeat truants and runaways. An editorialist for The Tennessean described the legislation as being aimed at “literally making men and women out of children.” In the 1998 address, he went on to give his support for the ability to try “these 100,000 bad kids” in the adult criminal justice system rather than a separate juvenile system. ...
Several early polls show that Biden has been losing support in key primary states, with Sen. Bernie Sanders surpassing him as the frontrunner. The former vice president’s decline has likely been fueled, in part, by his refusal to grapple with his past positions. (In the case of his record on Social Security, he flat-out lied.)
Though Biden’s tough-on-crime rhetoric was in line with the panic of the 1990s, his use of the term, “predator,” even then, puts him at odds with a Democratic Party that largely denounces the language as racist. During the 2016 Democratic primary, the Trump campaign resurfaced Hillary Clinton’s 1996 use of the term “superpredator” to describe children involved in gangs. Black Lives Matter activists confronted the candidate over her use of the term during a private fundraiser, demanding an apology. And in an essay for The Nation, author and law professor Michelle Alexander called the comments “racially coded rhetoric to cast black children as animals.” At a Democratic primary debate in April 2016, Sanders was asked why he criticized Clinton for using the word 20 years prior. “Because it was a racist term, and everybody knew it was a racist term,” Sanders responded to cheers.
....Super Predator was the term associated with the 1994 Crime Bill that Sleepy Joe Biden was so heavily involved in passing. That was a dark period in American History, but has Sleepy Joe apologized? No!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 27, 2019
Biden also used the term “predator” to justify aggressive sentencing in a 1993 speech, which CNN wrote about in March 2019, when he warned of “predators on our streets” who were “beyond the pale,” arguing that the justice system did not know how to rehabilitate them. He described tens of thousands of young people as “born out of wedlock, without parents, without supervision, without any structure, without any conscience developing because they literally … because they literally have not been socialized, they literally have not had an opportunity.”
In a 1993 speech, Joe Biden warned of "predators on our streets" and said that "those people" were "beyond the pale" and that they must be removed from the rest of society pic.twitter.com/v3pkUyGt6J
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) May 27, 2019
'The Facts Are Just the Facts': Sanders Campaign Hits Back After Biden Claims He—Not Bernie—Has Consistently Protected Social Security
Sen. Bernie Sanders's presidential campaign took aim at primary election opponent former Vice President Joe Biden Monday after Biden claimed Sanders hasn't been "consistent" in his efforts to protect and raise Social Security benefits. A reporter with local New Hampshire news station WMUR challenged Biden on air about his claim that the Sanders campaign had misinformed the public about the former vice president's attacks on Social Security with a "doctored" video last week.
Biden told the reporter he had advocated for cuts "20 years ago" and said Sanders "hasn't been consistent on Social Security," without elaborating on the Vermont senator's alleged inconsistencies, before explaining his current plan for the benefits which millions of retired Americans rely on for at least 90% of their income.
Biden’s new comments on his record pushing to cut Social Security: “That was 20 years ago.” Then the reporter says Biden’s position has changed and Biden says it “hasnt changed.” Then Biden falsely claims “(Bernie) hasnt been consistent on Social Security” pic.twitter.com/bnJ9gHsxXm
— David Sirota (@davidsirota) January 27, 2020
"The facts are indisputable: Biden repeatedly pushed to freeze Social Security funding, cut Social Security benefits and raise the Social Security eligibility age—and he bragged about it on the floor of the U.S. Senate," countered Faiz Shakir, Sanders's campaign manager, in a press statement.
The WMUR reporter suggested that Biden's claims of consistency on Social Security don't hold up, considering he acknowledged advocating in the 1990s for a freeze on cost-of-living adjustments for the program, and now claims he wouldn't support such a freeze.
Biden tried to use the interview as an attempt to "distort his own decades-long effort to cut Social Security," the Sanders campaign said.
Last week, Bloomberg News published an article saying Sanders also pushed for Social Security "adjustments" as Biden and the Republican Party did, suggesting he meant benefits should be cut.
"He may be borrowing a word but he's speaking a totally different language," Sanders's communications director, Mike Casca, told Bloomberg.
On Monday, Sanders's speechwriter, David Sirota, posted a 2007 "Meet the Press" interview in which Biden defended his earlier deal with Republicans including former Kansas Sen. Bob Dole, in which Biden promised GOP leaders he would defend them from attacks on their proposals to cut Social Security and Medicare funding, and vice versa.
Raising the retirement age to cut Social Security "absolutely" had to be considered, Biden told NBC journalist Tim Russert at the time.
"This wasn't '20 years ago,'" Sirota tweeted. "This was 2007."
Meanwhile, the Sanders campaign detailed in a press release the senator's long record of voting to protect senior citizens who rely on Social Security.
When Biden boasted on the Senate floor in 1995 about how he tried to cut benefits "once, I tried it twice, I tried it a third time, and I tried it a fourth time," the campaign wrote, Sanders opposed the balanced budget amendment Biden backed and said it would mean "the destruction of the Social Security system."
Biden's interview in New Hampshire and the Sanders's campaign's response came days after Biden told voters at Iowa's Black & Brown Forum, "I didn't propose a freeze," despite widely-available footage of him proposing just that.
Contrary to Biden's claims, Shakir said Monday, "Bernie Sanders fought those efforts every single step of the way, and has fought his entire career to protect and expand Social Security."
"The facts are just the facts," he added.
Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg is taking pains to distance himself from McKinsey, the elite consulting firm where the former South Bend mayor worked after graduate school. But Buttigieg’s ties to McKinsey run still deep throughout his campaign, including through the ranks of deep-pocketed donors who help fund it. Forty McKinsey employees have donated to Buttigieg’s campaign, including those involved in the firm’s corporate restructuring, banking and biotech, private equity, pharmaceutical, defense industry and oil and gas divisions.
Those donors include top-tier employees for the firm. Gary Pinkus, the chairman of McKinsey in North America, donated $2,800. Adam Barth, from McKinsey’s Houston office who consults utilities for the company, donated $2,800. Rajesh Parekh, a senior partner who heads McKinsey’s pharmaceuticals and medical products practice, donated $2,000. Kurt Chauviere, a partner who specializes in banking and corporate restructuring for McKinsey, gave $1,000.
McKinsey employees have also headlined or been slated to headline fundraising events for Buttigieg. And according to multiple analyses of Federal Election Commission filings, Buttigieg has received more donations from McKinsey employees than any other Democratic candidate in the 2020 presidential field.
In the past Buttigieg more closely tied himself to the firm. When he ran unsuccessfully for state treasurer in Indiana he leaned heavily on his three years at McKinsey. But as some of the firm’s controversial dealings have come to light, he has taken extra steps to demystify anything he did at the company and also voice disagreement with some of the firm’s practices in recent years.
Two environmental groups published an analysis Monday that calls a national climate plan unveiled earlier this month by the Democratic chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee "extremely disappointing" and "a failure of climate leadership."
The analysis (pdf) from Friends of the Earth U.S. and the Partnership for Policy Integrity details the "dirty secrets" of a legislative framework for the draft Climate Leadership and Environmental Action for our Nation's (CLEAN) Future Act, which Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.). announced on Jan. 8 with other members of his committee and discussed at an event in New Jersey the following week.
Instead of taking real climate action, Democrats like @FrankPallone are continuing to rely on fossil fuels. @EnergyCommerce MUST aim higher to prevent climate catastrophe. #FrackPallonehttps://t.co/wb6UgUtO2W pic.twitter.com/Ar2XXQbw9z
— Friends of the Earth (@foe_us) January 27, 2020
A memo (pdf) from Pallone's office about the CLEAN Future Act explains that the Energy and Commerce Committee "will continue to develop and refine" the legislative proposal in the coming months. It notes that "there are several important policy areas that are not yet included in the draft bill" and welcomes "policy solutions from across the political spectrum."
Broadly, Pallone's climate plan—which came after 15 committee hearings about the human-caused crisis—aims to enable the United States to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas pollution by 2050. It would direct all federal agencies to use their existing authorities to meet that goal, and includes provisions for the power, building, transportation, and energy sectors.
The proposal would require states to develop plans to meet the 2050 target that must take into account the needs of communities on the front lines of the climate crisis. It would also establish a first-of-its-kind National Climate Bank to help states, municipalities, and companies transition. ...
Despite the congressman's passionate rhetoric about the need for ambitious climate action, the new analysis explains how "the Pallone proposal is a failure of climate leadership in at least five key regards."
- The Pallone standard sets a target rate for carbon intensity at 1,807 CO2e lbs/MWh, nearly twice as dirty as the current national average. This is a significant failure of ambition at a time of climate crisis.
- Beginning from this dangerously lax definition of clean energy, the plan leaves the door wide open for fracked gas and potentially even some coal to qualify as "clean."
- The proposed target for emissions intensity is significantly less ambitious than the 2030 targets in the Clean Power Plan, the Obama administration's signature regulations under the Clean Air Act.
- The proposed Pallone target is barely more stringent than emission standards recently proposed by the Trump administration for supercritical coal plants.
- If the Pallone proposal is similar to existing emissions trading systems, it will likely include a loophole for woody biomass, effectively allowing massive emissions from burning wood to be treated as carbon neutral.
Based on these points, the analysis concludes that "this framework should really be called the Dirty Future Act. In every way possible, Pallone's proposal fails to address the climate crisis, which is extremely disappointing considering the congressman considers himself to be an environmental leader."
"Actual climate leadership would involve goals to achieve 100% clean renewable energy for the electricity and transportation sectors by no later than 2030 and the complete decarbonization of the economy by 2050, at the latest," says the analysis. "It would simultaneously prioritize a just transition for workers, justice for front-line communities, and reduce our share of global emissions in line with our disproportionate historic contribution."
"Pallone was right about one thing, now is the time for bold action," the analysis adds. "We just need something dramatically better than the so-called CLEAN Future Act."
Hundreds of Amazon employees defied corporate policy to publicly criticize the company for failing to meet its “moral responsibility” in the climate crisis. More than 340 tech workers at Amazon used the hashtag #AMZNSpeakOut in public statements that condemn the company for not taking sufficient action on the climate crisis. ...
Employees at Amazon have increasingly criticized the company in recent years for its contracts with large oil and gas firms. In spring 2019, more than 8,700 employees signed an open letter to the CEO, Jeff Bezos, urging him to take bolder action on climate change. The presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have also offered support of employees for speaking out. ...
Meanwhile, other companies appear to be responding to employee unrest. In January 2020, Microsoft announced it would be “carbon negative” by the end of the decade after a number of global actions orchestrated by employees.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Eddie Taylor - Ride ' Em On Down
Eddie Taylor - Bad Boy
Eddie Taylor - Peach Tree Blues
Eddie Taylor w/Dave Myers, Louis Myers, Odie Payne - Mean Old World
Eddie Taylor - Bigtown Playboy
Eddie Taylor - Crossroads
Eddie Taylor - Jackson Town
The Eddie Taylor Blues Band - My Heart Is Bleeding
Eddie Taylor - Don't knock at my door
Eddie Taylor w/Dave Myers, Louis Myers, Odie Payne - For You My Love