The Evening Blues - 2-24-20



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The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: Little Johnny Taylor

Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features blues and soul singer Little Johnny Taylor. Enjoy!

Little Johnny Taylor - Zig Zag Lightning

You've done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?

-- Joseph N. Welch


News and Opinion

Democratic Party deploys Russian meddling smear against Sanders

The victory of Bernie Sanders in the Nevada caucuses has escalated the anti-Sanders hysteria of the Democratic Party establishment and the Democratic-aligned media outlets like the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN and MSNBC. This has taken the form of a new round of fabricated allegations of Russian intervention into the 2020 elections to support Sanders’ candidacy. This fable is elaborated on the front page of Sunday’s New York Times in a lengthy article by David Sanger, the newspaper’s most reliable stenographer for whatever story the military-intelligence apparatus wants floated in the newspaper. Under the headline, “Seeking Chaos, Moscow Places Its Bets in U.S.,” Sanger smears Sanders as the beneficiary of supposed Russian support in the 2020 election. ...

In [Sanger's] latest thriller, Sanger does not produce a single fact in support of the contention that Russian President Vladimir Putin supports Sanders or has done anything to assist his campaign. Besides numerous unnamed “intelligence analysts,” “outside experts,” “analysts,” and “intelligence analysts,” Sanger quotes three current and former intelligence officials by name, including Angela Stent, national intelligence officer for Russia, now a professor at Georgetown University, and author of Putin’s World: Russia Against the West and With the Rest, who actually says nothing about Sanders. Victoria Nuland is also cited.

Nuland is certainly an expert on foreign subversion of elections, having played, as she boasted, a central role in 2014 in the $5 billion US effort to destabilize and oust the democratically elected government of Viktor Yanukovych in Ukraine. Nuland does not present any evidence to support Sanger’s storyline, beyond asserting, “Any figures that radicalize politics and do harm to center views and unity in the United States are good for Putin’s Russia.” In other words, Sanders is functioning as a Putin stooge because his policies are to the left of the Democratic Party candidates favored by the CIA. ...

Also named by Sanger is Christopher Krebs, head of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency in the Department of Homeland Security. Sanger cites his role in “documenting how Russian operatives are becoming stealthier, learning from the mistakes they made in 2016.” These Russki agents are so devilishly clever that they successfully conceal all traces of their insidious manipulation of American elections.

In Sanger’s make-believe world, the very absence of evidence of Russian interference is proof of their subversion. His story line is a modern-day version of Senator Joseph McCarthy’s anticommunist invocations of a “conspiracy so vast.”

Glenn Greenwald: MSNBC's laughable Russiagate meltdown

CIA Says Russia Is Boosting Bernie As Predicted!

Intelligence Sources: All Candidates Are Russian Agents But Pete Buttigieg

Following shocking reports from The New York Times and The Washington Post that Moscow is simultaneously working to both re-elect Donald Trump and ensure the nomination of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders in the Democratic presidential primary race, National News Conglomerate (NNC) has obtained further information confirming that nearly all candidates currently running for president are in fact covert agents of the Russian government.

According to sources familiar with the matter, the lone candidate not literally conducting espionage on behalf of the Russian government is Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana.

“Intelligence has revealed that Mr. Buttigieg is at this time the only candidate who we can count on not to place our nation’s interests square in the hands of Vladimir Putin,” an anonymous source in the Central Intelligence Agency told NNC on Saturday.

“In fact Mr. Buttigieg is the only candidate running with the skill, the experience and the multilingual relatability needed to bridge our nation’s deep divisions and bring Americans together in this time of uncontrolled hostility,” the CIA source continued.

“Because in truth, the unity of our togetherness is in the freedom of our democracy,” added the source. “The long and winding road to the American flag was built upon the steps of our founding fathers. You don’t have to be a big shot Washington insider to see that the problems our nation faces are tearing us apart at our own peril with radical divisive rhetoric saying you need to burn down the establishment and voice a concrete foreign policy position. And that’s why I for one believe we don’t have to choose between revolution and the status quo: we can come together and find solutions that help the working class and billionaires.”

Experts say these new revelations on Russian election interference should consume one hundred percent of all news coverage for the entirety of 2020, and that Democrats should definitely spend all their time from now until November focusing solely on President Trump’s suspicious ties to the Russian government.

Julian Assange's father John Shipton addresses the press

Julian Assange was ‘harassed’ by cell search, father claims

Julian Assange’s father has claimed his son was “harassed” by a prison cell search the day before his extradition hearing was planned to begin. John Shipton visited the WikiLeaks founder at Belmarsh prison in south-east London for two hours on Sunday.

Speaking to reporters afterwards, Shipton demanded Assange be released on bail. “For the life of me I can’t understand why Julian Assange is in jail having committed no crime, with family here that he can come and live with,” he said. “Bail ought to be given immediately if the extradition order isn’t dropped. ...

“This plague of malice that emanates from the Crown Prosecution Service to Julian Assange must stop immediately.”

Shipton was accompanied by Greek economist Yanis Varoufakis. They were met by representatives from Reporters Without Borders, an organisation that defends freedom of the press, as they left the prison. ... Varoufakis said Assange was in a “very dark place” due to spending more than 20 hours a day in solitary confinement. Describing the Australian as a “force of nature”, he said he was not being allowed to exercise in the gym with other inmates.

“We have to stop this extradition in the interests of 300 years of modernity, 300 years of trying to establish human rights and civil liberties in the west and around the world,” Varoufakis added.

Russiagate 2.0 drowns out Trump's reckless escalation of US-Russia nuclear arms race

Afghanistan: Trump ready to sign peace deal with Taliban if truce holds

Donald Trump said on Sunday he is ready to sign a peace deal with the Taliban in Afghanistan if a temporary truce holds in America’s longest war.

“Time to come home,” he said. “They want to stop. You know, they’ve been fighting a long time. They’re tough people. We’re tough people. But after 19 years, that’s a long time.” ...

There are more than 12,000 US troops in Afghanistan. According to the website icasualties.org, 2,448 Americans have died in combat there since the invasion in October 2001.

The US and the Taliban announced the truce earlier this month. It took effect last Friday and set the stage for a broader deal aimed at ending 18 years of war in Afghanistan and bringing US troops home.

If the truce proves a success, it will be followed by the signing of the peace accord on Saturday, wrapping up the longest-running US conflict and fulfilling one of Trump’s chief campaign promises.

Leaked Reports Show EU Police Are Planning a Pan-European Network of Facial Recognition Databases

A police investigator in Spain is trying to solve a crime, but she only has an image of a suspect’s face, caught by a nearby security camera. European police have long had access to fingerprint and DNA databases throughout the 27 countries of the European Union and, in certain cases, the United States. But soon, that investigator may be able to also search a network of police face databases spanning the whole of Europe and the U.S.

According to leaked internal European Union documents, the EU could soon be creating a network of national police facial recognition databases. A report drawn up by the national police forces of 10 EU member states, led by Austria, calls for the introduction of EU legislation to introduce and interconnect such databases in every member state. The report, which The Intercept obtained from a European official who is concerned about the network’s development, was circulated among EU and national officials in November 2019. If previous data-sharing arrangements are a guide, the new facial recognition network will likely be connected to similar databases in the U.S., creating what privacy researchers are calling a massive transatlantic consolidation of biometric data.

The report was produced as part of discussions on expanding the Prüm system, an EU-wide initiative connecting DNA, fingerprint, and vehicle registration databases for mutual searching. A similar system exists between the U.S. and any country that is part of the Visa Waiver Program, which includes the majority of EU countries; bilateral agreements allow U.S. and European agencies to access one another’s fingerprint and DNA databases. ...

European moves to consolidate police facial recognition data closely resembles similar efforts in the U.S., said Neema Singh Guliani, senior legislative counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union. Many U.S. law enforcement agencies work out of “fusion centers,” where they are co-located and able to share data. If you have an information-sharing agreement with the FBI or the Department of Homeland Security, said Guliani, “there’s a risk that functionally the information may be shared with additional levels of U.S. law enforcement.”

“It raises many questions,” she added. “How police are using facial recognition and gathering images, as well as in the U.S. with regard to due process and First Amendment expression. Given existing information sharing relationships, it’s very likely that the U.S. would want access to that information.”

Trump Cannot Believe He's Been Endorsed by the Kremlin Again: 'Hoax Number 7!'

President Donald Trump is pissed at new intelligence reports showing the Kremlin has picked its preferred 2020 candidate: him. The tweeter-in-chief railed Friday about new analysis by U.S. intelligence officials indicating Russia is already working to get Trump reelected. To him, it's just another partisan plot to discredit him.

“Another misinformation campaign is being launched by Democrats in Congress saying that Russia prefers me to any of the Do Nothing Democrat candidates who still have been unable to, after two weeks, count their votes in Iowa,” Trump tweeted Friday. “Hoax number 7!”

The outburst came a day after outlets including The New York Times reported that top intelligence officials warned lawmakers of a repeat of the Kremlin plot that sowed confusion and helped pave the way for Trump’s 2016 win.
Speaking to the House Intelligence Committee last week, an aide to Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire said that Russian operatives are working to shape the Democratic primary and general election — in Trump’s favor. ...

The potential threat came into clearer focus on Friday. The Washington Post reported that U.S. intelligence officials have also told Sen. Bernie Sanders that Russian operatives have tried to boost his campaign and sow division among Democrats. The Post didn’t publish additional details about what form the assistance is taking.

Trump reportedly calls John Bolton a 'traitor' and wants to block his book

John Bolton is “a traitor” and his book should not be published before the election in November, Donald Trump reportedly told aides and media figures.

The president’s views on news of a book deal for Marie Yovanovitch, another key figure in the Ukraine scandal which led to Trump’s impeachment, were not immediately clear. ...

The Room Where It Happened was slated for publication in March but it has been held up, the national security council telling Bolton’s lawyer it would “move forward as expeditiously as possible” with determining what could be published.

On Friday night, the Washington Post cited two anonymous sources as saying Trump had told his own lawyers the book should not come out before the election. Trump has attacked Bolton publicly on Twitter but the Post also reported notes of an off-the-record briefing of TV anchors on 4 February.

Trump Quietly Issues Memo That Could Abolish Union Rights for 750,000 Federal Workers

President Donald Trump on Thursday quietly issued a memo granting Defense Secretary Mark Esper the power to abolish collective bargaining rights for the Defense Department's 750,000 civilian workers, a move unions decried as part of the administration's far-reaching assault on organized labor.

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) condemned the memo, which was published in the Federal Register (pdf) Thursday, as "a travesty and a disgrace."

The memo argues that a unionized Defense Department workforce could pose a threat to "national security" and that, if necessary, collective bargaining rights at the department should be scrapped in the interest of "protecting the American people."

"When new missions emerge or existing ones evolve, the Department of Defense requires maximum flexibility to respond to threats," the memo states. "This flexibility requires that military and civilian leadership manage their organizations to cultivate a lethal, agile force adaptive to new technologies and posture changes."

"Where collective bargaining is incompatible with these organizations' missions," the memo continues, "the Department of Defense should not be forced to sacrifice its national security mission and, instead, seek relief through third parties and administrative fora."

It is unclear whether or how Esper intends to act on his legal authority.

Police, Prosecutors, and Republicans Are Looking to Undo a Criminal Justice Reform in New York

New Yorkers working on rolling back mass incarceration entered 2020 with a sense that the wind was strongly at their back. The previous year had been a momentous one: For the first time in decades, Democrats controlled both chambers of the legislature as well as the governor’s mansion. Reform advocates had taken the opportunity to pass a historic raft of criminal justice reforms. Money bail was eliminated for most, though not all, defendants. A host of minor offenses would now result in a notice to appear in court, rather than arrest. And a longstanding imbalance that allowed prosecutors to withhold their evidence against a defendant until the day of trial was finally righted.

Passed last spring, these reforms were set to go into effect January 1. In the meantime, the coalition that had helped push through last year’s reforms — community activists, public defense lawyers, civil libertarians — set their sights on what they wanted to accomplish in the new year to keep the momentum going: repeal the law that insulates police conduct from public scrutiny, reduce the use of solitary confinement, and open a legal avenue for people to challenge their wrongful convictions when exculpatory evidence comes to light. ...

These lofty ambitions, however, hit a snag. It soon became clear that the coalition of reformers had gravely underestimated the determination of pro-carceral forces to claw back the gains of last year and the eagerness of news media to cooperate in a statewide campaign of public fearmongering. They’d also underestimated the willingness of their erstwhile allies among Democratic state legislators to betray the poor, black, and brown New Yorkers overwhelmingly affected by the reforms, if it helps Democrats keep their seats. Far from building on their progress of last year, criminal justice reformers now find themselves exhausted, dispirited, and dismayed, caught in a 24/7 trench battle to defend the compromise measures they only just won.

If they fail, it’s increasingly possible that New York won’t just revert to the pre-reform status quo. The avenging counterreformation of police unions, police departments, district attorneys, Republicans, and Facebook fascists is currently poised to drive past that line, winning laws that will give prosecutors something they have never had in New York before. Under a proposal unveiled by Democratic senators last week, prosecutors would gain the ability to ask for people to be sent to jail before the benefit of a trial, based on speculation about what sort of crimes they might commit in the future.



the horse race



“A Stupendous Victory”: Bernie Sanders Wins Nevada After Heavy Organizing in Latinx Communities

Bernie Sanders Will Likely Win Nevada. Can He Be Stopped Afterwards?

Bernie Sanders seemed to be enjoying himself as he made his final pitch in Nevada ahead of Saturday’s caucuses. “As you may have noticed lately, the establishment is getting a little bit nervous,” he said to cheers at his Friday night rally before mimicking the hand-wringing Democrats panicking over his rise.

“‘Oh my god, they’re putting together a multi-generational, multi-racial movement of millions of millions of people! Oh my goodness, how can we stop them?’” he continued as his thousands-strong crowd laughed. “They’re getting nervous. But you know what? When we stand up together, they ain’t going to stop us.” Sanders appears to be cruising to an easy win in Nevada’s Saturday caucuses, buoyed by a fractured field of middling candidates struggling to break out against him. ...

[N]early everyone competing in Nevada not named Sanders is running low on resources and struggling to break out of a muddled field. A distant second place is unlikely to produce the bounce needed for anyone to break out of the pack.

In short (and since it’s Nevada), Sanders looks like he’ll be leaving Las Vegas the big winner. And the rest of the field are quickly running out of chips.

Sanders & Socialism: Debate Between Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman & Socialist Economist Richard Wolff

Outcry after MSNBC host compares Sanders’ Nevada win to Nazi invasion

MSNBC host Chris Matthews compared Bernie Sanders’ victory in the Nevada caucuses on Saturday to the Nazi invasion of France, spurring calls for his firing.


Matthews’ words prompted widespread anger.

“Bernie is Jewish and his family was killed by the Nazis,” tweeted David Sirota, a Sanders speechwriter and former Guardian contributor. “None of this is OK.”

“This is absolutely disgusting on [Matthews’] part,” tweeted Parker Molloy, editor-at-large at Media Matters for America. “Retire, get fired, whatever. Bottom line is that Matthews needs to be out of a job.”

Chris Matthews Says Bernie Is BUYING The Election!

'Deep Disdain Masquerading as Journalism': MSNBC Pundit Under Fire for Calling Sanders Staffers 'Misfit Black Girls'

Supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders, and the progressive community more broadly, voiced outrage and demanded an apology Friday after MSNBC contributor and Morgan State University journalism professor Dr. Jason Johnson referred to Sanders aides and defenders as "people from the island of misfit black girls" during a radio appearance.

"The man cares nothing for intersectionality," Johnson said of Sanders, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, on SiriusXM's The Karen Hunter Show. "And I don't care how many people from the island of misfit black girls that you throw out there to defend you on a regular basis."

"That's where you have crossed the line, sir," replied host Karen Hunter.

"I don't care," said Johnson.


Phillip Agnew, a Sanders surrogate, called Johnson's comments "deep disdain masquerading as journalism."

"This isn't analysis. This isn't insight," Agnew tweeted. "Hate to see it."

Sanders campaign national co-chair Nina Turner addressed Johnson's comments during the Vermont senator's rally in Las Vegas on the eve of Saturday's Nevada Democratic caucus:


Krystal Ball breaks down MSNBC stages of Bernie grief

Sanders Senior Advisor Chuck Rocha: How we got 73% of Latinos

Culinary Workers Bucked Their Leadership by Backing Bernie Sanders in Nevada. Here’s What They Knew.

Despite a high-profile battle with the leadership of Nevada’s powerful Culinary Union leading into the caucuses on Saturday, Bernie Sanders emerged with a decisive victory — even dominating other candidates among culinary workers themselves, according to entrance surveys.

The big fear expressed by union leadership was the loss of the health care plan workers fought for several years to achieve. But union members who caucused for Sanders against the advice of their leadership may have been better analysts of their own financial system than pundits expected: Indeed, if Sanders does manage to enact his Medicare for All plan as it’s written, their coverage will improve.

A review of the Culinary Union’s health plan documents, along with other data sources, shows that it’s done an excellent job under difficult circumstances. The review also shows that the union’s members would be much better off under Medicare For All, and that this plan – like virtually every plan – is held back by deep flaws in today’s healthcare system.

[See article for comparative details of MFA and the CU plan. - js]

Sanders Says He 'Welcomes Hatred of Crooks Who Destroyed Our Economy' After Blankfein Suggests He May Vote Trump Over Bernie

Sen. Bernie Sanders on Friday said he welcomes "the hatred of the crooks who destroyed our economy" after former Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein suggested he might vote for President Donald Trump in November if Sanders wins the Democratic nomination.

"I think I might find it harder to vote for Bernie than for Trump," Blankfein, a life-long Democrat, told the Financial Times in an interview published Friday. "There's a long time between now and then. The Democrats would be working very hard to find someone who is as divisive as Trump. But with Bernie they would have succeeded."


Blankfein said Sanders' proposed wealth tax on the ultra-rich is "just as subversive of the American character" as Trump's demonization of "groups of people who he has never met."

"I don't like that at all," Blankfein said. "I don't like assassination by categorization. I think it's un-American. I find that destructive and intemperate... At least Trump cares about the economy."

Blankfein, who has an estimated net worth of $1.3 billion, told FT that he is not rich, but "well-to-do."

"I can't even say 'rich,'" said the former banker. "I don't feel that way. I don't behave that way."

Bloomberg Caves to Elizabeth Warren and Says He'll Release Women From 3 NDAs

Mike Bloomberg promised to release women who’ve filed complaints about his behavior from three non-disclosure agreements, bowing to pressure after Democratic presidential primary rival Elizabeth Warren slapped him down ridiculously hard on the issue on the debate stage in Nevada.

Bloomberg said he’s done “a lot of reflecting on this issue over the past few days,” and decided non-disclosure agreements, or NDAs, won’t fly at all at his namesake company Bloomberg LP anymore. ...

“I’ve had the company go back over its record and they’ve identified 3 NDAs that we signed over the past 30-plus years with women to address complaints about comments they said I had made,” Bloomberg said in a statement Friday afternoon. “If any of them want to be released from their NDA so that they can talk about those allegations, they should contact the company and they’ll be given a release.”

Bloomberg’s “reflecting” follows a total shellacking from Warren during a debate in Nevada earlier this week over his reluctance to release those women from their NDAs.

Twitter suspends pro-Bloomberg accounts over 'platform manipulation'

Twitter has started suspending and restricting dozens of accounts posting content promoting the Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg. “We took enforcement action on about 70 accounts, which includes a combination of permanent suspensions and account challenges to verify ownership,” a Twitter spokeswoman said. ...

Twitter said the accounts violated its platform manipulation and spam policy, which prohibits coordination among accounts to amplify or disrupt conversation. ...

The billionaire’s campaign, which has been pouring unparalleled amounts of money into online advertising, is hiring hundreds of digital organizers to support the candidate, including by pushing content to their own social media channels.

Bloomberg Money Manager Steven Rattner Uses Media Appearances to Attack His Boss’s Rivals

On November 4, financier Steven Rattner published an op-ed in the New York Times headlined “The Warren Way Is the Wrong Way.” An Elizabeth Warren presidency is “a terrifying prospect,” Rattner wrote, for “she would extend the reach and weight of the federal government far further into the economy than anything even President Franklin Roosevelt imagined.” Warren might call herself a capitalist, but her “panoply of minutely detailed plans” shows that she would “turn America’s uniquely successful public-private relationship into a dirigiste, European-style system. If you want to live in France (economically), Elizabeth Warren should be your candidate.”

The Times identified Rattner thus: “Steven Rattner, a counselor to the Treasury secretary in the Obama administration, is a Wall Street executive and a contributing writer.” It did not mention Rattner’s current position: chair and CEO of Willett Advisors, which manages the personal and philanthropic assets of Michael Bloomberg. At the time, Bloomberg was very publicly considering a run for president. With Rattner attacking one of Bloomberg’s rivals, readers deserved to know of his financial relationship to him. (Since November 24, when Bloomberg entered the race, two columns by Rattner have mentioned the Willett connection.)

Rattner also appears regularly on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” (and, from time to time, on “Hardball With Chris Matthews,” “All In With Chris Hayes,” and “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell”). Only recently has Morning Joe begun to mention Rattner’s Bloomberg connections, and then but briefly. On January 28, Rattner went after Bernie Sanders on “Morning Joe.” While Elizabeth Warren’s Medicare for All plan had been closely scrutinized, Rattner said, Sanders’s version — though even more expensive — had not. He displayed a chart showing how much federal spending would (by his estimate) increase under each candidate over 10 years: 1.5 percent for Joe Biden, 2 percent for Pete Buttigieg, 12 percent for Warren, and 20 percent for Sanders. No one was discussing this, Rattner complained. The main reason, he ventured, is that Sanders is “like everybody’s eccentric uncle. We all have an eccentric uncle. Not a lot of people thought he was a serious contender for the nomination and so he has not been subjected, I don’t believe, to the same dissection of his plans and policies.” Rattner’s role as Bloomberg’s money manager was fleetingly noted.

Matt Stoller: How the Democratic Party functions as a monopoly

Pelosi Slammed for Boosting Koch-Backed Texas Democrat Over Progressive Challenger Jessica Cisneros

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stirred outrage Saturday by visiting Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar at his campaign headquarters in Laredo and voicing hope that the Koch-backed, anti-choice Democrat will ride to a "resounding victory" over progressive primary challenger Jessica Cisneros on March 3.

"We want this to be not only a victory, but a resounding victory for Henry Cuellar," Pelosi told dozens of Cuellar campaign workers and supporters. "Every step you take, every door you knock, every call you make, will make that resounding victory possible—and it includes getting out a big Democratic vote prepared to vote again in the general election so that we turn Texas blue."

"We assume that Henry will win, but we don't take anything for granted," Pelosi added. "The word 'assume'—ass of you and me. Assume nothing." Ahead of her visit to Cuellar's campaign office, Pelosi headlined a fundraiser for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which has also thrown its weight behind Cuellar in Texas' 28th congressional district.

Justice Democrats, which is supporting Cisneros, sent an email to supporters late Saturday blasting Pelosi's support for Cuellar as "utterly shameful."

"Nancy Pelosi is backing a 'Democrat' who votes with Trump nearly 70% of the time, has an 'A' rating from the NRA, is anti-choice, and has received tens of thousands of dollars from the Kochs," the group wrote.


Cuellar is the first-ever congressional Democrat to receive reelection support from Americans for Prosperity Action, a super PAC funded by billionaire Charles Koch.

As HuffPost reported, Cuellar's reelection bid is also backed by "large national and Texas corporations and business associations, including the American Bankers Association, Texas Bankers Association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the Laredo Chamber of Commerce."

By contrast, Cisneros—a 26-year-old immigration and human rights attorney—is running a union-backed campaign fueled by grassroots donors and supported by progressive members of Congress, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).



the evening greens


Worth a full read:

Why the lights are going out for fireflies

At dusk, graduate student Sara Lewis was sitting on her back porch in North Carolina with her dog. “We were supposed to be mowing our grass, but we never did, so we had long grass in our yard,” she recalls. “Suddenly this cloud of sparks rose up out of the grass and started flying around me.” Each spark was a firefly: a beetle that glows in the dark. Hundreds of fireflies had gathered in Lewis’s back yard and were soaring around her. “It was this incredible spectacle,” says Lewis, “and I just sort of gasped.” Then she became fascinated. “I started wondering what the heck was going on here, what were these bugs doing, what were they talking about?” She has spent much of the past three decades studying fireflies.

In recent years Lewis’s work has taken on a new urgency. All around the world, the lights of fireflies are going out. The dazzling beetles are disappearing from long-established habitats. Often it is not clear why, but it seems likely that light pollution and the destruction of habitats are crucial factors. Biologists are racing to understand what is happening to fireflies so we can save them before their lights fade permanently. ...

[F]ireflies are in trouble. In 2019, the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation published a report on North American fireflies, warning that “populations appear to be in decline”. It was co-authored by Lewis, who is now professor of evolutionary and behavioural ecology at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, and author of a book on fireflies, Silent Sparks: The Wondrous World of Fireflies.

The extent of the decrease is unclear because most firefly populations have not been tracked. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which monitors thousands of species, only created its Firefly Specialist Group in 2018. Fireflies are difficult to study: they are hard to find when not displaying.

“The best data we have is from the UK,” says Lewis. Citizen scientists have tracked the UK’s one firefly, the common glow-worm, Lampyris noctiluca, since the 1970s. For most species there are only anecdotes, but they all tell the same story, and biologists who study wild fireflies are convinced.

The Fires | Juice Pod 9: feat. Prof Michael E Mann

JP Morgan Economists Warn of 'Catastrophic Outcomes' of Human-Caused Climate Crisis

Climate campaigners on Friday expressed hope that policymakers who are stalling on taking decisive climate action would reconsider their stance in light of new warnings from an unlikely source: two economists at J.P. Morgan Chase.

Extinction Rebellion spokesperson Rupert Read revealed Thursday that he had obtained a report, entitled "Risky Business: Climate and the Macroeconomy," by J.P. Morgan economists David Mackie and Jessica Murray. The report issued warnings to bank clients similar to those promoted by climate action groups—describing extreme weather events and global conditions that could result from the continued extraction of fossil fuels.

In doing so, the economists implicated the bank's own investment activities in the potentially catastrophic effects of the climate crisis.

J.P. Morgan is the world's largest financial backer of fossil fuel companies, helping to fund fracking, pipeline projects, and Arctic oil and gas exploration. The company has contributed $75 billion to such projects since the Paris climate agreement was forged in 2015. The agreement called on governments to reduce fossil fuel emissions to help limit global heating to 1.5° Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures.

If activities like the ones funded by J.P. Morgan continue to release fossil fuels into the atmosphere, Murray and Mackie wrote, "We cannot rule out catastrophic outcomes where human life as we know it is threatened."

Failing to move away from global systems that scientists agree are causing the planet to warm "would likely push the Earth to a place that we haven't seen for many millions of years," they added.

California street shut down after 40,000 bees swarm from hotel

A swarm of as many as 40,000 Africanized bees sent several people to hospital and closed a street in California, after swarming from the eaves of a Howard Johnson Inn.

Police and firefighters were called to the scene after a report about a bee sting on a boulevard in Pasadena on Wednesday evening. Two firefighters, two police officers and one civilian ended up at hospital after being stung. ...

Africanized bees are descended from a cross-breed between African and European bees that was introduced in South America in the 1950s but which escaped and proliferated, breeding with local species. Due to their habit of aggressively defending their nests, the insects have acquired an familiar nickname: killer bees.

In Pasadena, police and firefighters first tried to calm the bees with smoke, then used fire extinguishing foam to kill the bees after they failed to calm down.


Also of Interest

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

Apparent US Intel Meddling in US Election, With ‘Report’ Russia is Aiding Sanders

Mike Bloomberg Is A Russian Asset

Andrew Bacevich: Pseudo-Events as a New Normal

Julian Assange extradition hearing sees US attack bravery, press freedom

Assange’s US Extradition Hearing Opens Monday: The Fight for the Free Press Is Now On

We’re Asking One Question In Assange’s Case: Should Journalists Be Punished For Exposing War Crimes?

With WikiLeaks, Julian Assange Did What All Journalists Should Do

There Was a Flash Crash in the Stock Market Yesterday: Here’s Why You Should Be Very Concerned

Inside Australia's climate emergency: the dead sea

After Police Defend a Gas Pipeline Over Indigenous Land Rights, Protesters Shut Down Railways Across Canada

60,000-Strong Fridays for Future Protest in Hamburg, Germany Prompts Question: 'Where Are You, USA?'

FBI Arrests Hacker Linked to Former Rep. Katie Hill’s Campaign

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Endorses Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez in Texas Senate Primary, Bucking Chuck Schumer

MSNBC in 'Full-Blown Freakout' Mode as Bernie Sanders Cements Status as Democratic Frontrunner

After Bernie Sanders' landslide Nevada win, it's time for Democrats to unite behind him

How Young Latinos Delivered Nevada to “Tío Bernie”

South Carolina: how black Americans' reverse migration is reshaping next state to vote

Krystal and Saagar react to Bernie's landslide, Marianne Williamson endorsement

Saagar demolishes Bernie-Trump Russiagate scare

Rising: Is Bernie the most electable?

Rising: Can Biden hang on in South Carolina?


A Little Night Music

Johnny Taylor - I Had A Dream

Little Johnny Taylor - I Ain't Particular

Little Johnny Taylor - Nightingale Melody

Little Johnny Taylor - My Heart Is Filled With Pain

Ted Taylor & Little Johnny Taylor - Cry It Out Baby

Little Johnny Taylor ?– Sweet Soul Woman

Little Johnny Taylor ?– Little Bluebird

Little Johnny Taylor ?– Somewhere Down The Line

Little Johnny Taylor ?– Next Time

Little Johnny Taylor ?– Make Love To Me Baby

Little Johnny Taylor - What You Need is A Ball


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ggersh's picture

WTF!!!

Under a proposal unveiled by Democratic senators last week, prosecutors would gain the ability to ask for people to be sent to jail before the benefit of a trial, based on speculation about what sort of crimes they might commit in the future.

WTF!!!

Blankfein said Sanders' proposed wealth tax on the ultra-rich is "just as subversive of the American character" as Trump's demonization of "groups of people who he has never met."

"I don't like that at all," Blankfein said. "I don't like assassination by categorization. I think it's un-American. I find that destructive and intemperate... At least Trump cares about the economy."

Blankfein, who has an estimated net worth of $1.3 billion, told FT that he is not rich, but "well-to-do."

"I can't even say 'rich,'" said the former banker. "I don't feel that way. I don't behave that way."

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13 users have voted.

tRump amerika's last president

voting in ameriKa is an illusion

I'm fairly sure that the R's have finally figured out
that the D's are no longer necessary

@ggersh Is what the crustiest of the upper crust love to call themselves. They think that it's being modest!

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11 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@ggersh

some real jaw-droppers there, eh?

new york democrats want to create the department of pre-crime and blankfein ...

Blankfein said Sanders' proposed wealth tax on the ultra-rich is "just as subversive of the American character" as Trump's demonization of "groups of people who he has never met."

"I don't like that at all," Blankfein said. "I don't like assassination by categorization. I think it's un-American. I find that destructive and intemperate... At least Trump cares about the economy."

here blanky, let me fix that for you ...

"i don't like people pointing out that the kleptocracy that i and my fellow vampire squids have created could be fixed by taxing vampire squids takings. i find that destructive of the kleptocracy for which we stand."

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13 users have voted.

point being made
f, over
the billionaires
and their court jesters
can't seem to share
their ridicules fortunes
without making the rest of us
feel guilty or something?

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8 users have voted.

May we be united and strong -- laurel

joe shikspack's picture

@QMS

no, they are worried that we will become unproductive. if we stop producing, there's nothing for them to steal.

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7 users have voted.
smiley7's picture

@QMS

Battle many, we, groomed for

a stead around, a steady hand

'reach out

touch person

ready to fight for someone

someone

you don't even know.'

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3 users have voted.
Azazello's picture

Evening all,
I might have said sobering or depressing.
This new Colorado River study is a buzz-kill for sure.
‘Eye-popping’ study: Colorado River down 2 billion tons of water due to climate change
Here's another discussion of Russia and 2020:

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10 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@Azazello

hmmm... perhaps it's a good time for folks in desert environments to consider moving to more water privileged areas to beat the coming rush.

i find the idea of russia interfering in the democrat national corporation's elections to be pretty amusing. why would russia waste their time?

"Never attempt to murder a man who is committing suicide."

-- Woodrow Wilson

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9 users have voted.
Azazello's picture

@joe shikspack
I like this place too much.
I've got the desert in my toenails, you might say.
We'll get by, we've only got a decade or so left.
Our kid bugged out, went to Oregon.
But he'll have climate change problems to deal with too.
There's no place you can really escape to,
and there's nothing you or I can do to change things.
The problem is over population.
The Southwestern US has a carrying capacity, the planet has a carrying capacity.
That capacity has been reached, that's all.
There's just too damned many of us.

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9 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@Azazello

i agree with you about the problem of carrying capacity. one way or another, that problem will be addressed. either we organize humanity and arrange a compassionate plan to share resources and diminish population by family planning and sustainable practices, or (far more likely) we will fight over resources and there will be huge die-offs.

one way or another, we will achieve a population that matches the carrying capacity.

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7 users have voted.
Pluto's Republic's picture

@Azazello

I collect them, and that's a new view.

Things got very strange after the Industrial Revolution. Humans lost their capacity for collective awareness. Not only could they not see the fatal mistake, they couldn't stop making it. It's not that birth control came too late, it's that people started washing their hands too soon.

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7 users have voted.

Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.

— Martin Luther King

Azazello's picture

@Pluto's Republic
on a global scale.
You can't stop people fucking but you can slow population growth,
if you can explain it to people and get religion out of the way.

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10 users have voted.
Pluto's Republic's picture

@Azazello

...that probably missed its window of opportunity. China is the only country that sacrificed to lower the birth rate. They will do it again. But, still, too late.

I put the point of change at hand washing and the invention of the microscope. Until then, the global population remained steady across thousands of years. Fact: One out of every two women died in childbirth until about 1890, culling the herd. It was about then that the microscope allowed people to see the animals crawling all over our hands. The news went global and midwifes and doctors everywhere began washing their hands.

The population shot straight up.
Birth control came in 1962.
The church people were all over that and they still are. Free contraception was outlawed as part of foreign aid in the US. And in many places.

z.WorldPopulation.png

Of course, it's just one theory that happens to fit the data.

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6 users have voted.

Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.

— Martin Luther King

Azazello's picture

@Pluto's Republic
It seems to have taken off around 1950.

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6 users have voted.
Creosote.'s picture

@Pluto's Republic
began in Vienna and meant that doctors who had just dissected corpses had for the first time to wash their hands before assisting women giving birth. The recommendation by Semmelweiss was viewed as an absurd affront

https://hardydiagnostics.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Semmelwise-and-H...

Bar soap would be best for this now.

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0 users have voted.
Creosote.'s picture

@Pluto's Republic
and a sensibility grounded in care. Then came WWI, a machine war, and the car and other machines, escapes from the needs of irreplaceahle real beings people had needed for millenia.

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0 users have voted.

@Azazello Maybe he has some counter attack that is brilliant. He has at one level opened up attacks on his supporters as being Russian bots, etc. He could have been much more explicit about the hearing that there was absolutely NO details, and started saying stuff to force the IC to provide real proof.

But being pessimistic, I can see something like the following fairly soon:

Headlines: FBI Arrests Three Sander Organizers For Being Unregistered Russian Agents.

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7 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

@MrWebster

interferes with not only our elections, but our whole government. Is there a Russian super PAC out there making ads against anyone like AIPAC is doing? This is what makes Russia Gate so damn silly. Vlad hasn't gotten legislation passed that keeps us from criticizing his foreign policies like bibi has been bragging how he got anti BDS legislation passed.

Bernie might have mentioned that it was Israeli listening devices found outside the White House not Russian. Nor did Vlad speak before congress and tell them to oppose Obama's Libyan, Syrian and Ukraine coups.

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11 users have voted.

"I will be the best, the best, you know, you know the thing!”
- Joe Biden

Azazello's picture

@MrWebster
Surely he understands what's going on.
Who am I to tell him what course to follow ?

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11 users have voted.
Pluto's Republic's picture

The odds are very high that you will catch the new Coronavirus, or COVID-19. It’s almost certain to break out as an epidemic in the US, and around the world. I’ve been trying to buy an anti-virus face mask for three weeks, with no luck. How does the US plan to distribute N-95 face masks to 300 million people? They probably don’t. That's something a communist nation would do.

Data suggests that it would be more profitable and less costly to the US business market to just allow the virus to run its course and cull its harvest — than it is to enforce containment, quarantines, shutdowns, and screenings. (The CDC found only three cities in the US that had the capacity to run screenings... so that's pretty much off the table.) Wake me up if the US announces it has a **Plan**. Otherwise prepare yourselves by setting up your home like a luxury hospital, bring in tons of healthy food, fruit, water, OTC remedies, herbs, and feel good medicines. (Try to get your hands on some anti-virals or AIDS meds, just in case.) And start boosting your immune system right now. Oh, and put no smoke in the lungs after today. Use edibles or patches instead. I don't know if the pneumonia vaccine is effective for this, but I don't think it's a bad idea to stop by your pharmacy and power up now.

The global pandemic alarm sounded today, but the US, the media covers the epidemic largely as a stock market issue. If government doesn’t want to cause a panic, they are doing a good job of it. When you watch the spread of COVID-19 on interactive charts, you realize that it could overtake an entire continent in a matter of days, in a non-contained, business-as-usual planes-in-the-sky environment.

Last week, 14 Americans tested positive on a cruise ship in Japan despite feeling fine—the new virus may be most dangerous because, it seems, it may sometimes cause no symptoms at all.

.

There’s a good chance that many people reading this will be infected. The betting odds are very good for that. Most will not feel sick enough to seek medical attention. (Just call your doctor and let them know.) About a quarter of those infected will never have any symptoms at all. These are the people who will spread the disease to the entire population: your postman, your barista, your pharmacist, and/or your cashier at the grocery store. They just keep on working. This is why COVID-19 cannot really be contained.

As you may have heard, COVID-19 is not as deadly as the typical flu that comes around yearly. The more I read about this, the more opaque it becomes to me. The stats change daily and over time. The majority of people who have symptoms experience the coronavirus as a typical cold or a mild flu. Most deaths are caused by a sudden pneumonia-like reaction. But the real danger of the disease is that people who get it do not develop any immunity. That means everyone can get it again and again and continue to infect each other.

Thus, the race for a vaccine. The fastest possible development of a tested vaccine is about 18 months out. That’s a whole ’nother story, however, and this is just a comment in an OT. (Thanks, Joe.)

See some starter links below.

On Saturday, Politico reported that the White House is preparing to ask Congress for $1 billion in emergency funding for a coronavirus response. This request, if it materialized, would come in the same month in which President Donald Trump released a new budget proposal that would cut key elements of pandemic preparedness—funding for the CDC, the NIH, and foreign aid.

.

Okay, then. Carry on with your small government ideology.

 

____________________________________
https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2020/02/14/805289669/how-covid...

https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2020/02/covid-vaccine/607000/

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10 users have voted.

Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.

— Martin Luther King

snoopydawg's picture

@Pluto's Republic

and found one at a construction site at the cemetery today. The thing is that they should be fitted for your face or they might not work as well. The hospital made sure that ours did.

One of the best things you can do too is wash your hands with soap and hot water for 30 seconds minimum. And keep your hands away from your face until you do.

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9 users have voted.

"I will be the best, the best, you know, you know the thing!”
- Joe Biden

Pluto's Republic's picture

@snoopydawg

I seem to be the only person I know that finds it spooky that every retailer in the United States of America is out of stock for N-95 masks. They have wire margins to press into your face, but for long-haul exposure, I don't think it would work well. A lot of medical personal has been getting sick, and they have procedures to follow, so maybe the problem is faulty masks.

Unfortunately, the construction respirator masks don't filter viruses. Those are still in stock. Or so I am told.

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7 users have voted.

Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.

— Martin Luther King

snoopydawg's picture

@Pluto's Republic

It looks way too big for me but I brought it home anyway. The ones I have were fitted for me. But you make a good point about how medical personnels are getting infected. Unless it's from people who don't have any symptoms. There is a lot we don't know about how people are.

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5 users have voted.

"I will be the best, the best, you know, you know the thing!”
- Joe Biden

Pluto's Republic's picture

@snoopydawg

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4 users have voted.

Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.

— Martin Luther King

joe shikspack's picture

@Pluto's Republic

thanks for the information!

i'm pretty sure that we are going to have an outbreak in the u.s. and it will probably be somewhat ugly. i was listening to national propaganda radio to pass the time in the car today and they had a feature about king county, washington which has a bunch of cases and has launched a program to assist the folks who have it in quarantining themselves in their homes. they are providing them with food deliveries and an assortment of services. king county is now asking the feds for money, because even with a small number of cases, the program is far too expensive for their county (not exactly a poor area, it includes seattle) to bear.

it's my sense that the lack of preparation is a feature, not a bug. it will give the feds an opportunity to militarize the response, put communities on lockdown, etc. - just the sort of thing that neoliberals dream about.

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11 users have voted.
Pluto's Republic's picture

@joe shikspack

It's an oldie but goodie out West, where all narratives end in lockdowns and FEMA camps. Except the villains are UN Security Forces or DHS. And replace neoliberals with just plain Liberals. They aren't that upscale out West.

it's my sense that the lack of preparation is a feature, not a bug. it will give the feds an opportunity to militarize the response, put communities on lockdown, etc. - just the sort of thing that neoliberals dream about.

My favorite 'angle' is the Depopulation Initiative. It seems to unlock every door.

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9 users have voted.

Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.

— Martin Luther King

joe shikspack's picture

@Pluto's Republic

the depopulation initiative angle is always going to pop up, since so many of the planner types are people whose masturbatory adoration of ayn rand is fueled by eyelid movies of the "useless eaters" being led off to the gas chambers.

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9 users have voted.
Pluto's Republic's picture

@joe shikspack

It's the Evening Blues and Dinner Show.

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3 users have voted.

Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.

— Martin Luther King

Granma's picture

@Pluto's Republic That is strange. I don't remember hearing of any other illness people have but do not develop some immunity to.
Thanks for this,Pluto. Ive been following the story from the beginning, but it is getting harder to find facts.

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6 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

@Granma

The body can't keep up with how it shifts so we can't build up any immunity to it. This virus has lots of components of the AIDS virus from what I have read. And lots of people are saying that it's been engineered if this is the correct word. Counterpunch has some articles on this. One article I read talked about all the times the scientists experimented on people without their knowledge. I was appalled at the cruelty and indifference.

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7 users have voted.

"I will be the best, the best, you know, you know the thing!”
- Joe Biden

snoopydawg's picture

.

Confession on the CIA's policies.

This is funny.

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9 users have voted.

"I will be the best, the best, you know, you know the thing!”
- Joe Biden

mimi's picture

@snoopydawg
Can't wait til the US has elected ... somebody, anybody, nobody, just a body. I need my nightsleep back.

Thanks Joe, much is too much and less than nothing. Just tried to talk like a media moron.

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6 users have voted.

Please disarm all the US police officers.

joe shikspack's picture

@snoopydawg

heh, i agree with one of the twitterers who replied, "it looks like a hostage video."

matthews looks like he spent last night in a reeducation camp.

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6 users have voted.
Pluto's Republic's picture

@joe shikspack

matthews looks like he spent last night in a reeducation camp.

.

So true.

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6 users have voted.

Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.

— Martin Luther King

Lily O Lady's picture

@snoopydawg

want him to be fired.

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10 users have voted.

"The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

Wally's picture

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8 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@Wally

heh, it's a great meme, but i don't think that bloomie cares enough about you to want to be your boss. his response to occupiers seems to be a good measure of what he wants to do with an uppity public.

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10 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

@Wally

Bloomberg said he'd defend the banks if he was president.

Oops hopefully this will leave a mark. He also said he was afraid of a Warren administration. I don't see why he would be. She gives great and fiery speeches against the banks, but she hasn't gotten any legislation passed from them. Besides most of the protections put in place have been rolled back. Some during Obama's tenure. Oops.

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10 users have voted.

"I will be the best, the best, you know, you know the thing!”
- Joe Biden

Raggedy Ann's picture

DUCK! The shit's flying! Gawddammit.

I cannot watch Matthews. Uh-uh ain't doing it. He's the dirt under my shoe.

Had a great weekend soaking in the hot springs. Ahhhh. Back to reality, but the weekend softens the blow.

Have a peaceful evening, folks! Pleasantry

edited because it looked like a line got cut off but maybe it's my computer...

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8 users have voted.

"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

glad to hear that you had a good soak!

i hope that the remnants of the calm help keep the lunacy at bay for a while.

have a great evening!

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6 users have voted.
janis b's picture

My favourite firefly story

Having grown up in two east coast states I have many special memories of fireflies. The most special one was the one I experienced with my sister on Monhegan Island, Me. It was immediately after sunset when the sky was lit by the pastel colours of blue, pink and yellow. Before us, as we were walking toward the coast through a field, we saw a very large expanse of lightly pulsating fireflies. The combination of a pastel sky, the ocean ahead, and a field filled with the vibrating light of fireflies was thrilling.

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10 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@janis b

i've always enjoyed lightning bugs. as a kid, they were always quite abundant in the fields around where i lived and i always looked forward to their appearing at sunset.

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8 users have voted.
janis b's picture

@joe shikspack

from National Geographic ...

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/invertebrates/group/fireflies/

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7 users have voted.
smiley7's picture