The Evening Blues - 2-17-20


The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: TV Slim

Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features TV repairman turned blues singer and guitarist TV Slim. Enjoy!

TV Slim and his Heartbreakers - Flatfoot Sam

"If you can’t take it from me, take it from the cold, hard numbers: if Democrats want to beat Trump, they need to nominate a centrist. Someone who rejects the extremes of Bernie’s far left and Trump’s far right and instead espouses sensible, middle-of-the-road values like endless war and military expansionism, rapacious ecocide, corrupt plutocracy, crushing domestic austerity measures, new cold war nuclear escalations, continued deregulation of sociopathic financial and commercial institutions, police militarization, unprecedented levels of imprisonment, Orwellian surveillance programs, internet censorship, and ever-mounting authoritarianism.

You know, the moderate position."

-- Caitlin Johnstone

News and Opinion

AIPAC Is Helping Fund Anti-Bernie Sanders Super PAC Ads in Nevada

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee is helping to fund a Super PAC launching attack ads against Sen. Bernie Sanders in Nevada on Saturday, according to two sources with knowledge of the arrangement. The ads are being run by a group called Democratic Majority for Israel, founded by longtime AIPAC strategist Mark Mellman. The Nevada attack ads, which will air in media markets in Reno and Las Vegas, follow a similar spending blitz by DMFI ahead of the Iowa caucuses. Like the ads that aired in Iowa, the Nevada ads will attack Sanders on the idea that he’s not electable, Mediaite reported.

DMFI spent $800,000 on the Iowa ads, while the spending on the Nevada ads remains private. AIPAC is helping bankroll the anti-Sanders project by allowing donations to DMFI to count as contributions to AIPAC, the sources said. As is typical with most big-money giving programs, the more a donor gives to AIPAC, the higher tier they can claim — $100,000 level, $1 million level, and so on — and the more benefits accrue to them. A $100,000 donor gets more access to members of Congress at private functions, for instance, than someone who merely pays AIPAC’s conference fee. A $1 million donor gets still more, which means that it is important to donors to have their contributions tallied. There is also status within social networks attached to one’s tier of giving. The arrangement allows donors to give directly to DMFI, which is required to file disclosures naming its donors, without AIPAC’s fingerprints.

AIPAC denied the arrangement. ...

On Wednesday, Rep. Betty McCollum slammed AIPAC as trafficking in “hate speech” for a recent social media ad campaign that warned that “radicals in Congress” presented a threat “maybe more sinister” than the Islamic State, along with photos of Reps. Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, and McCollum. Representatives of AIPAC spent Wednesday and Thursday on Capitol Hill apologizing in private meetings with House Democrats for those ads, claiming that they were made by AIPAC’s Democratic digital firm (though how that shifts responsibility from AIPAC is unclear). Omar, Tlaib, and McCollum were not invited to — nor even aware of — those meetings, despite being the subjects of the ads, Tlaib and Omar told The Intercept.

The DMFI ads have been controversial and represent one of the first Super PAC interventions by a Democratic group against a Democratic presidential candidate in the post-Citizens United era. (Hillary Clinton in 2016 had the benefit of the group Correct the Record, which was legally a Super PAC and attacked Sanders. The group  coordinated with the Clinton campaign, rather than operating independently, yet that coordination went unpunished.) But the revelation that AIPAC has been encouraging donors to fund DMFI suggests how seriously the lobby is taking Sanders’s candidacy and that it is willing to intervene in the Democratic primary. On Thursday night, news leaked that a Super PAC connected to the Democratic group EMILY’s List had been contemplating an attack ad against Sanders.

Foreign-Funded Dark-Money Groups Lobby IRS to Repeal Remaining Reporting Requirements

Dark-money groups backed by foreign corporate donors are supporting the Trump administration’s decision to roll back one of the last remaining ways for authorities to monitor the flow of unlawful campaign cash in American elections.

In recent years, 501(c) nonprofits have become the entities of choice for secret campaign spending. These nonprofit groups, which do not have to report any donor information to the public, can receive unlimited contributions from any source and, thanks to the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, spend unlimited amounts on elections.

Foreign spending, whether by a foreign national or a foreign-owned corporation, is still illegal under federal law. But the law has been poorly enforced, and the few instances in which penalties have been applied in recent years have come in reaction to publicly reported foreign corporate spending to Super PACs, such as The Intercept’s reporting on Chinese corporate donations in 2016 and the recent federal indictment over a shell company owned by a Russian national that gave to President Donald Trump’s Super PAC in 2018.

The one check on foreign contributions to dark-money groups has been the Schedule B form, which reports 501(c) donor information confidentially to the Internal Revenue Service. Under a new rule proposed last September by the Treasury Department and the IRS, nonprofits will no longer be required to report donor information, even to the government, allowing an unprecedented level of secrecy.

Lobbyists for foreign-funded groups have pushed the administration to move forward with the rule, which is close to being finalized.

White House Memo Justifying Suleimani Strike Cites No Imminent Threat

The White House told Congress on Friday that President Trump authorized the strike last month that killed Iran’s most important general to respond to attacks that had already taken place and deter future ones, contradicting the president’s claim that he acted in response to an imminent threat.

In a legally mandated, two-page unclassified memo to lawmakers, the White House asserted that the strike that killed Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani was “in response to an escalating series of attacks in preceding months” by Iran and Iran-backed militias.

“The purposes of this action were to protect United States personnel, to deter Iran from conducting or supporting further attacks against United States forces and interests, to degrade Iran’s and Quds Force-backed militias’s ability to conduct attacks, and to end Iran’s strategic escalation of attacks,” said the report, which was transmitted on Friday to the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

The document confirmed what lawmakers had privately suspected as the Trump administration has offered a shifting set of justifications for the strike against General Suleimani in Baghdad — taken with no congressional consultation — which brought the United States and Iran to the brink of war.

“This official report directly contradicts the president’s false assertion that he attacked Iran to prevent an imminent attack against United States personnel and embassies,” Representative Eliot L. Engel of New York, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement. “The administration’s explanation in this report makes no mention of any imminent threat and shows that the justification the president offered to the American people was false, plain and simple.”

US military offers Iraq a partial pullback

The US military has offered senior Iraqi security officials plans for a partial pullback of troops from Iraq in response to January’s parliamentary vote calling for foreign forces to leave the country, Middle East Eye can reveal.

A meeting between the two sides, held in great secrecy last week, heard that Washington was prepared “in principle” to discuss withdrawal. A representative of the US military told the Iraqis present that the United States was prepared to leave positions in or near Shia-majority areas, such as Balad Air Base, which is located 80km north of Baghdad and houses US trainers and contractors. Washington, the Iraqis were told, could even consider reducing its presence in Baghdad. ...

However, the US side categorically ruled out withdrawing from their biggest air base in Iraq, and the indeed the whole Middle East, Ain al-Assad. ... For the US side, Ain al-Assad was its “red line”. The representative said: “We cannot even start talking about withdrawing [from that base]. Withdrawal is out of the question.”

U.S. Maintains Support for Yemen War as Saudi Airstrike Kills 31 Civilians

Nayib Bukele's military stunt raises alarming memories in El Salvador

Soldiers in combat fatigues marched into El Salvador’s parliament, before the country’s popular young president, Nayib Bukele, sat down in the speaker’s chair and gave the assembled deputies an ultimatum: approve a loan for new security equipment or be summoned back in seven days for another session. “Pray,” he told supporters. “Ask God to grant us patience for a week.”

The episode last weekend stunned El Salvador, where memories are still vivid of the 1979-1992 civil war between US-backed military dictatorships and leftist guerrillas. ...

Bearded, millennial and fond of slick suits, Bukele has captured international attention with his social media skills and a penchant for publicity stunts – even taking a selfie during his speech to the UN general assembly. Bukele, 38, a former mayor of the capital, San Salvador, won a landslide victory last year on the promise of cracking down on corruption and improving security.

El Salvador has a population of just 6.45 million, but rampant gang violence, corruption and extrajudicial executions have helped push its murder rate to one comparable with a country at war. His popularity hit a staggering 91% shortly after taking office and he has 1.3 million Twitter followers. But the episode at the assembly has cast a critical spotlight on the young president, and raised fears that his public persona is cover for authoritarian tendencies.

Bukele had tried to convene a special session of the assembly so lawmakers could approve a $109m loan to pay for security equipment, including police vehicles, uniforms, surveillance equipment and a helicopter. But the deputies called for more time to study the issue. The country’s supreme court later ordered Bukele to abstain from using the military “contrary to constitutional purposes and which jeopardise the republican, democratic and representative form of government”.

Brexit: Britain and EU 'will rip each other apart' in trade talks

Britain and the European Union are going to rip each other apart in talks over a future trade deal, the French foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, has predicted, while also holding out hope that UK defence co-operation with Europe will continue. Speaking at the Munich security forum, he added it would be tough for Britain to achieve its aim of a free trade deal by the end of the year given the differences between the two sides.

Le Drian said: “I think on trade issues and the mechanism for future relations, which we are going to start on, we are going to rip each each other apart.”

He added that on his desk in his office he had massive files showing the issues of contention between the UK and France, including over fishing rights. He said it was normal in negotiations for each side to protect their interests. ... The remaining 27 EU states are drawing up their mandate for the talks on the future relationship, and France, determined to bring about greater European Union integration, is likely to be leading calls for a tough stance on issues such as financial services and fishing.

France and several other countries want to be able to keep fishing in British waters, while London wants full autonomy and limited access for European fishermen. ...

In earlier preliminary warnings of tough talks ahead, the EU chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, told London not to kid itself about EU access for its prized financial services sector. Barnier firmly rejected a British suggestion that City of London companies could be given broad, permanent access to the EU market.

Max Blumenthal on the imperial NGOs that ignore Julian Assange - and the billionaires behind them

Mike Bloomberg in 2014: “We Should Hope” the NSA Is “Reading Every Email”

In October 2014, on a stage in San Francisco in front of a live audience, Katie Couric asked Mike Bloomberg whether he had ever “sexted on Snapchat.” The former New York City mayor, speaking alongside Snapchat co-founder Evan Spiegel at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit, joked that he “couldn’t answer the question.” But the question prompted Bloomberg to describe his views on data collection, and a personal “Richard Nixon lesson” about record-keeping.

What followed was a lighthearted discussion of digital privacy, in which Bloomberg, now a candidate in the Democratic presidential race, praised the National Security Agency and said he doesn’t have a problem with apps selling users’ personal data, as long as consumers understand what is happening.

“Look, if you don’t want it to be in the public domain, don’t take that picture, don’t write it down. In this day and age, you’ve got to be pretty naive to believe that the NSA isn’t listening to everything and reading every email,” Bloomberg said. “And incidentally, given how dangerous the world is, we should hope they are, because this is really serious, what’s going on in the world.”

Bloomberg’s comments in 2014 came more than a year after the first disclosures of documents by NSA contractor Edward Snowden, but before a federal appeals court ruled that the bulk collection of Americans’ phone records was illegal. Bloomberg did not describe any specific NSA program or form of data collection in detail, but the lighthearted conversation contains insights into his views on digital privacy.

Bloomberg mentioned Snowden by name, saying that because hackers or whistleblowers can obtain and leak records, he joked that he has a rule against keeping records. “And when you write something, you take a picture and somebody leaks it,” Bloomberg said. “How many times does that have to happen before you realize it’s gonna happen again and it could happen to you? And so whether it’s Snowden or some hacker or something, it’s what I call the Richard Nixon lesson: Don’t record it.”

Sanders Applauds New Medicare for All Study: Will Save Americans $450 Billion and Prevent 68,000 Unnecessary Deaths Every Year

Sen. Bernie Sanders on Saturday applauded a new study published today by a team of epidemiologists in the peer-reviewed medical journal The Lancet, which found that Medicare for All will save Americans $450 billion and prevent 68,000 unnecessary deaths each and every year.

“This study confirms that Medicare for All will save the American people $450 billion on health care costs and will prevent 68,000 unnecessary deaths – each and every year,” Sanders said. “In other words, guaranteeing health care as a human right by creating a Medicare for All system will cost substantially less than our current dysfunctional health care system. It will save working class families thousands of dollars and it will prevent tens of thousands of Americans from dying each year. While the CEOs in the pharmaceutical and health insurance industry may not like it, we will end their greed and enact Medicare for All when I am president.”

According to the study, by replacing premiums, deductibles, co-payments and out-of-pocket costs with a progressive tax system, Medicare for All will save the average family thousands of dollars each year and will provide lower-income households the greatest relief.

Struggling hospitals serving low-income communities would be particularly helped by Medicare for All by eliminating uncompensated care, increasing Medicaid reimbursement rates to Medicare levels, and reducing administrative overhead, according to the study.

Federal Appeals Court Strikes Down Trump's 'Work-or-Die' Medicaid Requirements in Arkansas

Healthcare advocates on Friday applauded a federal appeals court decision striking down the Trump administration's Medicaid work requirements in Arkansas after a three-judge panel unanimously ruled that the proposed rule fundamentally disregarded the purpose of the safety net program.

Judge David Sentelle, a conservative Reagan appointee, handed down the ruling on behalf of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, vehemently rejecting the administration's argument that requiring Medicaid recipients to work would make poor Arkansas residents more self-sufficient and reduce the need for the program.

Medicaid, Sentelle wrote, "includes one primary purpose, which is providing healthcare coverage without any restriction geared to healthy outcomes, financial independence, or transition to commercial coverage."

Critics of the temporarily-imposed restrictions, which the Trump administration has adopted in 10 states but which have faced legal challenges and have been halted across the country, applauded the challenge to what disability rights advocate and attorney Matthew Cortland called "work-or-die requirements."

The ruling could portend similar challenges to other items on the healthcare agenda of President Donald Trump and Seema Verma, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Last month, Verma urged state Medicaid officials to reduce spending for the program by converting its funding into block grants.

"The appeals court decision makes clear that the [administration] cannot make up new objectives for the program and that the text of the law is clear that the central purpose of Medicaid is to provide coverage," wrote Joan Alker, executive director of the Center for Children and Families at Georgetown University. "This suggests that other harmful waiver policies which have the effect of limiting coverage (such as lockouts, limiting retroactive eligibility, premiums, etc.) may suffer a similar fate."

Under the rules, Medicaid recipients would be required to work or attend job training courses for at least 20 hours per week in order to qualify for health coverage.

Pete Buttigieg Says He Wants to Repeal Trump’s Tax Law, but He’s Heaped Praise on a Controversial Aspect of It

Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg has called for the repeal of Donald Trump’s 2017 tax law, but he has repeatedly praised one fixture of it: a federal tax break program that was supposed to revitalize impoverished communities but instead enriched the wealthy and politically connected. The so-called opportunity zone program is the latest version of a decades-old idea that luring businesses into lower income areas, with massive tax breaks and subsidies, will spur revitalization. In practice, it helps investors accelerate gentrification and further consolidate their wealth while displacing poor communities and communities of color.

Last month, Buttigieg called for a repeal of Trump’s 2017 tax reform, which largely benefited profitable corporations and the wealthiest 1 percent, to help pay for his $1 trillion infrastructure plan. During an interview with the New York Times editorial board, Buttigieg described his proposal as a “wholesale” rollback of the tax cuts with a “special focus on what’s going on in the corporate-rate tax cut.” His statements on the repeal did not specifically address the opportunity zone program — which he heaped praise on as mayor and helped bring to South Bend, where he served as mayor until the beginning of this year.

In a 2018 op-ed for Accelerator for America, the former mayor described opportunity zones as “inclusive economic growth,” saying they have the potential to “tremendously improve” areas of South Bend. “As we further experiment with new ideas and refine our approach to economic development, we hope other cities can learn from ideas that have succeeded in South Bend, and vice versa,” he wrote. His support for opportunity zones has not previously been reported on. ...

Indiana’s Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb nominated areas of South Bend to become opportunity zones in 2018, and all seven, which included parts of the city’s south, southwest, and east sides, were approved. ... Though the final decision on which areas of the city to nominate for opportunity zones came from the governor’s office, Buttigieg advocated for investment in areas that were already developed, like the University of Notre Dame and Ignition Park, rather than communities that needed it, according to former South Bend Common Council Member Regina Williams-Preston, who was on the council until 2019. ... Though many Democratic lawmakers have been supportive of opportunity zones — including New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, who added the program to the 2017 tax bill with Republican Sen. Tim Scott — Buttigieg’s position is in stark contrast with progressives in the party, who unequivocally condemn it as a scam. Booker, despite his early support for the program, requested, along with Democratic Reps. Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri and Rep. Ron Kind of Wisconsin, that the Treasury Department’s Office of Inspector General open an investigation into the program in response to a series of articles from ProPublica and the New York Times that revealed the money was going into luxury projects in affluent neighborhoods instead of poor ones.

the horse race

How Bloomberg-Funded Center For American Progress Censored a Report on NYPD Surveillance of Muslims

'Grotesque Corruption': Emily's List, Center for American Progress Sold Out to Michael Bloomberg

[I]n a headline titled "Bloomberg’s Billions: How the Presidential Candidate Built His Influence" the New York Times exposes the corruption of two faux-progressive DNC-affiliated organizations, Emily's List and the Center for American Progress who sold out their organization's missions in return for millions of Bloomberg's influence buying:

"In the fall of 2018, Emily’s List had a dilemma. With congressional elections approaching and the Supreme Court confirmation battle over Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh underway, the Democratic women’s group was hosting a major fund-raising luncheon in New York. Among the scheduled headline speakers was Michael R. Bloomberg, the former mayor, who had donated nearly $6 million to Emily’s List over the years."

"Days before the event, Mr. Bloomberg made blunt comments in an interview with The New York Times, expressing skepticism about the #MeToo movement and questioning sexual misconduct allegations against Charlie Rose, the disgraced news anchor. Senior Emily’s List officials seriously debated withdrawing Mr. Bloomberg’s invitation, according to three people familiar with the deliberations, who spoke on the condition of anonymity."

"In the end, the group concluded it could not risk alienating Mr. Bloomberg."

And the Times on the Center for American Progress:

"In interviews with The Times, no one described being threatened or coerced by Mr. Bloomberg or his money. But many said his wealth was an inescapable consideration — a gravitational force powerful enough to make coercion unnecessary."

"“They aren’t going to criticize him in his 2020 run because they don’t want to jeopardize receiving financial support from him in the future,” said Paul S. Ryan, vice president of policy and litigation at the good-government group Common Cause."

"That chilling effect was apparent in 2015 to researchers at the Center for American Progress, a liberal policy group, when they turned in a report on anti-Muslim bias in the United States. Their draft included a chapter of more than 4,000 words about New York City police surveillance of Muslim communities; Mr. Bloomberg was mentioned by name eight times in the chapter, which was reviewed by The Times."

"When the report was published a few weeks later, the chapter was gone. So was any mention of Mr. Bloomberg’s name."

"Yasmine Taeb, an author of the report, said in an interview that the authors had been instructed to make drastic revisions or remove the chapter, and opted to do the latter rather than “whitewash the N.Y.P.D.’s wrongdoings.” She said she found it “disconcerting” to be asked to remove the chapter “because of how it was going to be perceived by Mayor Bloomberg.”"

Aaron Mate' exposes Bloomberg's neocon Iraq views

Michael Bloomberg rocked by re-emergence of sexist remarks

The presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg has insisted he is a “champion for women in the workplace”, after the republication of a 30-year-old booklet purporting to contain his “Wit and Wisdom” cast an uncomfortable spotlight on the billionaire former New York mayor.

The Washington Post made the 1990 booklet available online as it published an investigation of how Bloomberg has “for years battled women’s allegations of profane, sexist comments”. The booklet was presented as a gift to Bloomberg on his 48th birthday party and contains a catalogue of sexist remarks attributed to the billionaire during his time at the company he founded.

The renewed attention on Bloomberg – who has for years been the subject of allegations that his company fostered a hostile and sexist environment towards women – comes as he has surged in the race for the Democratic nomination to face Donald Trump in November. ...

On Saturday the rightwing Drudge Report website caused a stir when it said “sources close to the Bloomberg campaign” said he was considering Hillary Clinton, the Democratic candidate beaten by Trump in 2016, as his running mate this year. But with such increasing prominence, fuelled in part by a massive TV and Facebook advertising effort, has come increasing scrutiny of the former Republican’s record in office and his comments and views. ...

The Post said Bloomberg declined to be interviewed. A spokesman was quoted as saying: “Mike openly admits that his words have not always aligned with his values and the way he has led his life and some of what he has said is disrespectful and wrong.

How Bloomberg's Deep Pockets Let Him Win Friends and Buy Influence

Leading Democrats take aim at Bloomberg as Nevada caucuses loom

A week out from the Nevada caucuses, leading contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination came out swinging – at each other, but also at Michael Bloomberg.

“$60bn can buy you a lot of advertising,” former vice-president Joe Biden told NBC’s Meet the Press, about the former New York mayor’s fortune and massive campaign spending.

“But it can’t erase your record.” ...

This week, Bloomberg has been confronted with past comments about the stop-and-frisk policing policy which many deemed racist, questions over his analysis of the 2008 financial crisis and, on Saturday, a bombshell Washington Post report on his past comments about women and minorities while at the helm of his eponymous company. ...

Needless to say, the attacks kept coming. Speaking in Las Vegas on Saturday night, the Vermont senator and New Hampshire winner Bernie Sanders said Bloomberg implemented “racist policies like stop-and-frisk” and opposed the minimum wage and higher taxes on the wealthy during the Obama administration.

Chuck Todd Says People Of Color Love Billionaires & Not Bernie!

Prominent Obama donors will hold Chicago event for Bloomberg

Two prominent Democratic donors in Chicago with deep ties to Barack Obama will next week co-host an event for former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg. John Rogers and Mellody Hobson will co-host a briefing in downtown Chicago.

Rogers is a philanthropist, investor and founder of Ariel Investments who was co-chair of the former president’s Illinois finance committee. Hobson, a prominent Chicago businesswoman, is a former chair of DreamWorks Animation and a major Democratic donor. ...

The briefing, an invitation for which was obtained by the Guardian, will be on Tuesday 18 February and will be addressed by Steve Benjamin, the mayor of Columbia, South Carolina, and Kimberly Peeler-Allen, director of the Committee for Mike. Benjamin, the first African American mayor of Columbia, endorsed Bloomberg in late 2019. Peeler-Allen is a co-founder of Higher Heights, a group which seeks build leadership and power among African American women.

The Chicago event comes as Bloomberg looks to gain support in the African American community. After a week featuring controversy over Bloomberg’s record in office in New York and comments about his stop-and-frisk policing policy, on Thursday his campaign launched Mike for Black America, a national outreach effort.

Lots more at the link:

Ahead of South Carolina Vote, Joe Biden Faces Questions Over Claims of Civil Rights Activism

As Joe Biden campaigns in South Carolina, ahead of a primary contest later this month he must win to revive his hopes of becoming the Democratic nominee for president, the former vice president is facing questions over claims that he took part in the civil rights movement as a student in the 1960s.

Shaun King, a prominent surrogate for Sen. Bernie Sanders (and former Intercept columnist), drew attention to Biden’s often confusing and at times contradictory statements about what role he played as a young man in the struggle for racial equality in his home state of Delaware. As King noted in his newsletter, during Biden’s first run for the presidency, in 1987, the then-senator frequently described himself as a teenage civil rights activist, only to withdraw those claims later. More than three decades later, having served under the first black president, Biden seems to have reversed himself again, and now describes himself as a participant in desegregation protests in his youth.

In King’s account of Biden’s career, King highlights numerous inconsistencies in the former vice president’s recent claims that he was involved in the struggle to desegregate movie theaters and restaurants in Delaware in the 1960s, and accuses him of lying to curry favor with black voters.

Biden’s campaign insists that the attack is unfounded, pointing to testimony from old friends who say that he took part in at least two protests against segregation as a young man: walking out of a diner in Wilmington, Delaware in 1961 that refused to serve a black classmate, and then picketing the segregated Rialto movie theater in 1962.

Nevada's Caucus Could Implode Like Iowa: ‘They Were Handed a Complete Shit Sandwich’

Nevada’s Democratic caucuses begin Saturday, and no one seems quite certain how — or if — things are going to work. As they watched Iowa’s caucuses melt down last week, Nevada Democrats made the quick decision to scrap an app designed by the now-notorious Shadow, Inc, whose technology failed on election night and left Iowa Democratic officials unable to provide vote and delegate counts for days.

That decision solved one problem — but it created a bigger one. Nevada spent the better part of a year planning out an even more complex process than Iowa around the app, including the release of multiple results (like Iowa) as well as a system to include four days of in-person early voting with those results then relayed back to voters’ original caucus sites to be included in same-day caucus vote totals. With early voting starting Saturday and the official caucuses just over a week away on Feb. 22, the party is scrambling to design a functional caucus system in less than three weeks.

Like Iowa, Nevada Democrats will for the first time release not one but three sets of numbers: Who caucus goers backed in the first round of voting, who they supported in the second round after candidates who don’t reach 15% of the vote in the first round are eliminated from contention at each caucus site, and a third number which actually calculates how many delegates each candidate gets. That created major problems in Iowa when glaring math mistakes by precinct captains, once kept private, were exposed for all to see.

But that’s not even the hard part. The Nevada Democratic Party is allowing early voting for the first time. That’s a good pro-democracy reform — it if works. But counting those early votes is harder than it sounds. Those votes have to be tabulated back to the caucus sites where they would have voted on caucus day, and early voters’ second, third, and even fourth or fifth choices will have to be taken into account in case their top candidate doesn’t reach the 15% threshold required to receive delegates at those sites.

The early voting part was enabled by the Shadow app, which Nevada scrapped last week and replaced with a Google form on party-issued iPads. ... It’s very hard to predict exactly how things might go wrong in Nevada. One failure at any point in the complex system could cascade to the next, avalanching into a systemic failure like what happened in Iowa.

the evening greens

Climate Crisis Could Cause a Third of Plant and Animal Species to Disappear Within 50 Years: Study

The human-caused climate crisis could cause the extinction of 30% of the world's plant and animal species by 2070, even accounting for species' abilities to disperse and shift their niches to tolerate hotter temperatures, according to a study published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

University of Arizona researchers Cristian Román-Palacios and John J. Wiens analyzed data on 538 plant and animal species and 581 sites worldwide, focusing on species surveyed at the same locations over time, at least a decade apart. They found that 44% of the species had local extinctions at one or more sites.

"The study identified maximum annual temperatures—the hottest daily highs in summer—as the key variable that best explains whether a population will go extinct," said a statement from the university. "Surprisingly, the researchers found that average yearly temperatures showed smaller changes at sites with local extinction, even though average temperatures are widely used as a proxy for overall climate change."

As Wiens explained, "This means that using changes in mean annual temperatures to predict extinction from climate change might be positively misleading." ...

The university statement noted that "previous studies have focused on dispersal—or migration to cooler habitats—as a means for species to 'escape' from warming climates. However, the authors of the current study found that most species will not be able to disperse quickly enough to avoid extinction, based on their past rates of movement."

The researchers found that species were able to tolerate hotter conditions at their original locations to a point, but the local extinction rates increased as maximum temperatures did. About half of the species they studied experienced extinctions if the maximum temperature rose over 0.5°C; that figure jumped to 95% of species when maximum temperature rose by over 2.9°C. ...

While the researchers' new projections are similar for plant and animal species, they found that extinctions could be up to four times more common in the tropics compared with more temperate regions. Román-Palacios said that "this is a big problem, because the majority of plant and animal species occur in the tropics."

"In a way, it's a 'choose your own adventure,'" said Wiens. "If we stick to the Paris agreement to combat climate change, we may lose fewer than two out of every 10 plant and animal species on Earth by 2070. But if humans cause larger temperature increases, we could lose more than a third or even half of all animal and plant species, based on our results."

Video Reveals Threat of "Wholesale Transfer and Privatization of America's Public Lands" on Trump's Agenda, Says Watchdog Group

Watchdog group Western Values Project said Friday that audio it obtained of a June 2019 event at Trump's Interior Department provides more evidence that public lands are under threat of being privatized by the former reality star and his crew of "anti-public land zealots."

The event (pdf) in question was the American Agri-Women Symposium entitled "Federal Land Policies: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly," which took place at Interior's Sidney Yates Auditorium. Myron Ebell—the climate crisis-denying former head of President Trump's EPA transition team who serves as head of environmental and energy policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute—was keynote speaker.

HuffPost, with whom Western Values Project shared the video, described the remarks as "a 40-minute rambling assault" on the agency where the event was taking place. ...

In his remarks, Ebell took swipes at the Land and Water Conservation Fund and National Park Service and suggested the government has "a constant incentive to fail."

Privatization, he made clear, is the apporach he favored for federal lands. From HuffPost:

"I think the real solution to the federal lands is eventually to either transfer them to the states or," he paused to acknowledge two lawmaker friends who don't support the second option he was about to mention, "privatize them, put them into private ownership."

He shared a Power Point Presentation that included his desire—since fulfilled by the Trump administration—to weaken the Endangered Species Act.

HuffPost added:

Shifting to lands already under federal control, Ebell fumbled to locate a slide about transferring and selling off lands in the West. Undeterred, he declared that the "ultimate solution" was being championed by Ken Ivory, a former Republican state representative from Utah and longtime leader of the pro-land-transfer movement, and the American Lands Council. The Utah-based nonprofit, which Ivory co-founded in 2012 and led until 2016, advocates for the "timely and orderly transfer of federal public lands to willing states for local control that will provide better public access, better environmental health, and better economic productivity."

Groups Challenge Louisiana Permits for Formosa Plastics' Giant Petrochemical Complex in Cancer Alley

A coalition of local and national groups on Friday launched a legal challenge to a Louisiana state agency's decision to approve air permits for a $9.4 billion petrochemical complex that Taiwan-based Formosa Plastics Group plans to build in the region nationally known as "Cancer Alley."

Louisiana residents and environmental justice advocates have pressured local, state, and federal officials to reject permits for the proposed project in St. James Parish. Critics have raised concerns that the complex would adversely affect public health and the environment by emitting cancer-causing chemicals and producing an estimated 13.6 million tons of planet-heating emissions annually.

Earthjustice filed the new lawsuit (pdf) in the Louisiana 19th Judicial District Court on behalf of RISE St. James, the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, Center for Biological Diversity, Healthy Gulf, No Waste Louisiana, Earthworks, and the Sierra Club. The suit appeals the air permits issued by the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ).

"Louisiana violated the Clean Air Act when it gave Formosa the greenlight to double toxic air pollution in St. James," Earthjustice attorney Corinne Van Dalen said in a statement. "It's time for LDEQ to put Louisianans first and reject more pollution that puts their health, safety, and environment at risk."

German court orders Tesla to stop felling trees for Gigafactory

A German court has ordered Tesla to stop clearing forest land near Berlin to build its first European car and battery factory, in what is being hailed as a victory for environmental activists. The US electric carmaker announced plans last November to build a “Gigafactory” in Grünheide in the eastern state of Brandenburg. ...

In a statement, the court said it had issued the order to stop the tree-felling because it would have only taken three more days to complete the work. Otherwise the clearance would have been completed before judges made a final decision on the complaint brought by a local environmentalist group called the Grüne Liga Brandenburg (Green League of Brandenburg). ...

Local and national lawmakers have been caught out by the strength of opposition to the Gigafactory, with hundreds of demonstrators protesting over the threat they say it poses to local wildlife and water supplies.

Also of Interest

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

How AIPAC is losing bipartisan support in Washington

Why Syria's M5 is Assad's highway to victory

Mistrial in Trump admin’s biased case against Venezuelan embassy protectors is win for sovereignty

Fed Chair Powell Is a Member of a Private Club with a History of Racism and Sexism

The Public’s Right to Know: HA! How Courts and Federal Agencies Stonewall on Citizen Access to Government Information

‘The only uncertainty is how long we’ll last’: a worst case scenario for the climate in 2050

Propagandists Cry About Bernie’s Online Base Because It’s Effective, Not Because It’s Mean

Pundits Look to Bloomberg as Their Anti-Sanders Savior

TV Executives Celebrate Unprecedented Flood of Bloomberg Campaign Spending

Is Michael Bloomberg, Jewish Dem. candidate, good for Israel?

DCCC-Backed Incumbent Henry Cuellar Gets Support From Koch Network As Progressive Primary Challenger Jessica Cisneros Picks Up Union Endorsements

Bernie Sanders' success has Democratic centrists sounding the alarm

Op-Ed: Dems Should Do The Sensible Thing And Nominate A Moderate Rapacious Psychopath

Rising: Was the Sunrise Movement key to Bernie's victories

Rising: What will a Trump, Bernie matchup look like?

A Little Night Music

T.V. Slim - Don't Reach Across My Plate

T.V. Slim - Can't Be Satisfied

T.V. Slim - Gravy Round Your Steak

T.V. Slim - To Prove My Love

T V Slim - You Can't Buy A Woman

T.V. Slim - Dream Girl, Your Kisses Send Me

TV Slim and The Soul Bros - Juvenile Delinquent

TV Slim & His Heartbreakers - Flatfoot Sam Met Jim Dandy

T V Slim - Hold Me Close To Your Heart

TV Slim & his Heartbreakers - Tired Of Your Cheatin' and Lying

T-V Slim - My Ship Is Sinking

T-V Slim - Flatfoot Sam Is Back

T.V. Slim & his Bluesmen - You Won't Treat Me Right

23 users have voted.


No substance just slander.

It appears as if this image does not show up in the Dogs4MayoPete tweet and it is key.

Thanks for another informative edition of the EB.

15 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


heh, i think that it's a sign of sanders' success that the only things that his opponents have to push against him with are inane complaints about mean people on the internet that say that they support him and chris matthews style hissy fits about sanders being stalin in disguise.

11 users have voted.
ggersh's picture

the 07-08 gfc when the barely billionaires became Oligarchs that could by the usa all on their own, just cuz

As we wander through the fog of history in the making, unsure who is lying and who is telling the truth, seemingly blind to what comes next, I look to previous Fourth Turnings for a map of what might materialize during the 2nd half of this current Fourth Turning. After a tumultuous, harrowing inception to this Crisis in 2008/2009, we have been told all is well and are in the midst of an eleven-year economic expansion, with the stock market hitting all-time highs.

History seemed to stop and we’ve been treading water for over a decade. Outwardly, the establishment has convinced the masses, through propaganda and money printing, the world has returned to normal and the future is bright. I haven’t bought into this provable falsehood. Looking back to the Great Depression, we can get some perspective on our current position historically.

13 users have voted.

this time it's different

empty suit on Kapernick

"“Kapernick needs to think about the pain he’s causing military families."

joe shikspack's picture


heh, i think that it's pretty obvious to anybody who pays attention that the current central bank-driven prosperity is not sustainable. nobody knows when it will end, but we all know that it will.

i suspect that jerome powell will wind up being remembered as another arthur burns who jacked up the economy with easy money at nixon's behest to support his re-election only to create a messy, long-term economic unwinding and stagflation. fsm only knows what powell's allowing the ny fed to pump up the stock market with easy money is going to lead to.

8 users have voted.
Wally's picture

If Democrats nominate this guy, the jig is up:

12 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


it's nice of bloomie to display his ignorance.

i think that i'd like to put him on a piece of land with a shovel, some seeds and a watering can and see how he does.

12 users have voted.

@joe shikspack

7 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


heh, my guess is that he won't need the fork or plate and giving it to him would just be cruel. perhaps he can fashion them from his bootstraps if he succeeds in making a crop. Smile

6 users have voted.
smiley7's picture


9 users have voted.
smiley7's picture

Thanks for the news and blues, be back later to read the copy, thought folks may enjoy this retort from Bernie to Bloomberg, i got a warm smile from his wit and truth in one word and photo.

15 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


heh, a man with as much baggage as bloomberg has might want to reconsider trying to smear sanders.

i've seen quite a number of pictures of mike and donald and i bet there are more. heck there is probably video evidence of bloomberg saying nice things about trump and vice versa.

14 users have voted.

@joe shikspack They are good buddies.

10 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


it looks like bloomberg is quite comfortable in trump's world and will have no trouble doing an election as pro-wrestling schtick with him.

12 users have voted.
mimi's picture

It is a terrible thing to lose

It is a living thing. Indeed.

May be I have lost it, but I thought this song is fitting tonight.
Good Night. Thanks for the excellent EB. Lots of things in it I will read tomorrow monring.

9 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


i hope that you haven't lost anything that you might need later. Smile on the other hand there are lots of great loser songs ...

10 users have voted.
mimi's picture

@joe shikspack
they are like a home to me, especially the old blues you present so often here. Smile

4 users have voted.
burnt out's picture

Irony anyone? How about; Billionaires, millionaires, and super pacs spending millions to stop an unelectable candidate from being elected. Is anybody really buying this nonsense?

13 users have voted.

All I want is the truth. Just give me some truth. John Lennon

joe shikspack's picture

@burnt out

heh, it's a pretty funny show - and like pro wrestling, i think that there are people that think it's real or suspend their disbelief because it's such a compelling drama for them.

but, yeah, it's quite ridiculous how hard people are working to keep somebody who "can't win an election" from, uh, winning an election.

11 users have voted.
Bollox Ref's picture

Suleimani assassination justifications were bollox at the time.

And yet here we are, with no consequences for the bullshitter-in-chief. Good job he's shameless.

What a world.

14 users have voted.

from a reasonably stable genius.

joe shikspack's picture

@Bollox Ref

of course there will be no consequences. there were no consequences for trump's predecessors for starting illegal wars under false pretenses. it's as american as apple pie flavored depleted uranium munitions.

13 users have voted.
Bollox Ref's picture

@joe shikspack

He 'offed' someone because he wanted to and could.

Anyway, keep going with the Blues (I'll pass on the apple pie).

12 users have voted.

from a reasonably stable genius.

Raggedy Ann's picture

The news, blah, blah, blah, I get to the comments and you say that you want to give Bloomy a shovel, seeds, and see how he does - I laughed out loud! Thanks for that.

It's going to be interesting to see how much scrutiny he can take because it's only just begun. Isn't that a song..... I'm cracking myself up.

Have a jolly evening, folks! Pleasantry

11 users have voted.

"When will our conscience's grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?" Eleanor Roosevelt

"The secret of change is to focus all your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new." Socrates (469-399 BC)

joe shikspack's picture

@Raggedy Ann

heh, i was only half-kidding. i've had the opportunity to work in both blue and white collar worlds and i have deep respect for people who perform skilled labor. it pisses me off when people who have never soiled their hands dismiss the knowledge and value of farmers or machinists or other skilled labor.

10 users have voted.
Raggedy Ann's picture

@joe shikspack
been a blue collar worker. I've been both, too. It's why I cracked up - I could just envision him out in our pasture trying to create a garden. I fear the only green thumb he possesses got that way from ink, although in the age of digital money, even that doesn't apply anymore. Unknw

7 users have voted.

"When will our conscience's grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?" Eleanor Roosevelt

"The secret of change is to focus all your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new." Socrates (469-399 BC)

the dnc could be bought?

7 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


well, they've certainly dropped enough hints.

6 users have voted.

@joe shikspack

sold to the highest bidder
democracy be damned

5 users have voted.