The Evening Blues - 5-29-20


The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: Aretha Franklin

Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features soul singer Aretha Franklin. Enjoy!

Aretha Franklin - Think

"Corruption dominates the ballot-box, the Legislatures, the Congress and touches even the ermine of the bench. The fruits of the toil of millions are boldly stolen to build up colossal fortunes for a few, unprecedented in the history of mankind; and the possessors of these, in turn, despise the Republic and endanger liberty."

-- National platform of the Populist Party, 1892

News and Opinion

Pelosi Accused of 'Trying to Do an End-Run Around Her Own Party' by Sending Spy Powers Bill to Conference

After the U.S. House voted Thursday to request a conference with the Senate for legislation to reauthorize controversial government surveillance powers, civil liberties advocates called out Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic Party leaders, warning that the move could further weaken a measure that already lacks crucial privacy protections.

"This outrageous move by Speaker Pelosi does nothing but endanger protections specifically designed to protect religious groups and the press," Demand Progress senior policy counsel Sean Vitka declared in response to the 284-122 vote.

"That's exactly what's at stake here, and it's all to prevent representatives from having any chance to strengthen the weak privacy protections in this bill," Vitka added.

The step toward a conference came after Democratic House leadership on Wednesday night postponed a vote on the Senate-approved USA FREEDOM Reauthorization Act of 2020 (H.R. 6172). The bill would reauthorize until December 2023 three Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) authorities that expired on March 15: Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001 as well as the "lone wolf and "roving wiretap" powers.

Privacy advocates had praised the Senate for approving an amendment from Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) to increase protections for political or religious groups and journalists, but condemned the chamber for failing to pass an amendment from Sens. Steve Daines (R-Mt.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) prohibiting the use of Section 215 for warrantless surveillance of internet search and browsing history.

Faced with pressure from advocates and progressive policymakers to reconsider the Daines-Wyden amendment, Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, worked out watered-down compromise. The narrower proposal was intially celebrated, but once it was fully understood, it was widely condemned, including by Wyden. That led to a revolt among progressives, which—along with GOP opposition—forced Pelosi to postpone the vote.

The delay was welcomed as "a winning moment for civil-liberties advocates across the political spectrum" by Free Press Action government relations director Sandra Fulton. However, she noted, "this is just a temporary reprieve"—and it didn't last long.

As Vitka put it Thursday: "Speaker Pelosi and Chairman Schiff have done everything in their power to ensure the House cannot vote on the warrantless surveillance of Americans' internet activity, and worse, to ensure Congress doesn't know what it's reauthorizing."

In a series of tweets Thursday, Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future, detailed the recent moves by Schiff and Pelosi, and accused the speaker of "trying to do an end-run around her own party" with the conference request.

Greer also raised alarm about the uncertain future of the Lee-Leahy amendment. Privacy advocates had celebrated after the Senate passed that measure 77-19.

"Speaker Pelosi has a tremendous amount of power," added Greer. "She should be using it to protect the people the Trump administration is targeting, not hand the Trump administration more power to target them."

Nuclear watchdog says any US test would be 'grave challenge to peace'

The head of the international watchdog monitoring nuclear tests has warned that a US return to testing being contemplated by the Trump administration would present a “grave challenge to global peace and security”. Lassina Zerbo, the executive secretary of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO), was responding to the news that staging the first US underground test in 28 years had been discussed at a high-level White House meeting on 15 May.

The idea was shelved for the time being, but appears not to have been rejected outright. Drew Walter, acting deputy assistant secretary of defence for nuclear matters, said this week that an underground nuclear test could be carried out within months “if the president directed”.

Arms control advocates said that the fact such a step was contemplated was disturbing, as it would be likely to lead to a return to nuclear testing by the world’s other nuclear weapons powers, and the demise of the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban treaty (CTBT).

Asked about the implications of a US nuclear test, which would be the first since 1992, Zerbo told the Guardian: “For more than 20 years the CTBTO has worked closely with US National Laboratories, which have regularly indicated that there was no need for nuclear testing.

“In general, any actions or activities by any country that violate the international norm against nuclear testing, as underpinned by the CTBT, would constitute a grave challenge to the nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament regime, as well as to global peace and security more broadly.”

US government is funding website spreading Covid-19 disinformation

The US government is funding a website in Armenia which is spreading disinformation about the coronavirus pandemic, including warnings that Armenians ought to “refuse” future vaccine programmes.

The website,, was launched with the help of a US State Department grant meant to promote democracy, but instead has been used to promote false information about Covid-19, according to an investigation by the British news website openDemocracy.

Among Medmedia’s most popular articles are pieces that have called Covid-19 a “fake pandemic” and falsely reported that a morgue offered to pay hundreds of dollars to a dead patient’s family if they claimed the death had been caused by the coronavirus.

The grant was awarded by the State Department to a group called the Armenian Association of Young Doctors, which launched the website last year and is led by a controversial doctor called Gevorg Grigoryan. He has been known for his strong criticism of the government’s health ministry and its vaccine programmes, and has a history of anti-LGBT statements, including remarks posted on Facebook in 2014 in which he called for gay people to be burned.

Twitter Warns Trump Tweet Glorifies Violence as He Signs Executive Order to Weaken Social Media

Here’s the full text of Trump’s executive order, in case you're interested.

Twitter Bogusly “Fact Checks” Trump So He Repeals Their Legal Protections

Trump signs executive order to narrow protections for social media platforms

Donald Trump has fired a shot across the bows of “big tech” companies by signing an executive order that aims to narrow their protections from liability over the content posted on their services. The move came as the US president stepped up his attacks against social media giants after Twitter fact-checked him for the first time over a false assertion that mail-in voting leads to widespread voter fraud.

However, critics said it was the president’s latest effort to spur controversy and create a distraction as the country passed the grim milestone of 101,000 deaths from Covid-19. The Trump administration has faced widespread accusations that it has mishandled the crisis.

“Currently, social media giants like Twitter received unprecedented viability shield based on the theory that they are a neutral platform, which they are not,” the US president said in the Oval Office on Thursday. “We are fed up with it. It is unfair, and it’s been very unfair.” Under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, tech companies currently enjoy broad immunity from civil lawsuits stemming from what users post because they are treated as “platforms” rather than “publishers”.

Trump’s executive order is designed to pressure regulators, including the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission, to come up with new rules that would curtail that immunity. It is likely to face legal challenges.

"It Was Murder": Minneapolis Demands Charges in George Floyd Killing as Calls Grow to Defund Police

After Days of Protest, Police Officer Derek Chauvin Charged With 3rd Degree Murder for Killing George Floyd

Following three days of intense demonstrations in Minneapolis over the death of George Floyd, police officer Derek Chauvin—one of four officers involved in the killing—was taken into custody by state authorities Friday afternoon and charged with third degree murder and manslaughter. ...

Chauvin and the three other officers at the scene—Thomas Lane, Tou Thao, and J. Alexander Kueng—were fired after the killing, but human rights advocates across the country and protesters in Minneapolis and other cities this week demanded the officers be charged with murder. ...

Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is representing Floyd's family, called Chauvin's arrest "a welcome but overdue step on the road to justice."

"We expected a first-degree murder charge. We want a first-degree murder charge," said Crump in a statement. "And we want to see the other officers arrested. We call on authorities to revise the charges to reflect the true culpability of this officer. The pain that the black community feels over this murder and what it reflects about the treatment of black people in America is raw and is spilling out onto streets across America."

Organizers in Minneapolis said after the arrest that they were "not satisfied with one officer" being detained, and protests continued Friday.

"Don't think for a minute that Derek Chauvin would have been arrested if people in Minneapolis weren't standing up and fighting," tweeted Jonathan Smucker of the advocacy group PA Stand Up.

Minnesota governor calls in national guard as city braces for more protests

Minnesota’s governor, Tim Walz, called in the national guard on Thursday as the city of Minneapolis braced for a third night of mass protests over the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man whose neck was knelt on by a white police officer for almost eight minutes despite his cries of “I can’t breathe”.

Thousands protested in the city on Wednesday night. Though most demonstrators were peaceful, rioting in the Longfellow neighborhood saw buildings burned, stores looted and angry graffiti scrawled on walls demanding justice. Amid the violence, a man was found fatally shot near a pawn shop, possibly by the owner, authorities investigating said. ...

Another protest was announced for Thursday evening near county offices downtown. Some stores in Minneapolis and the suburbs planned to close early. The city shut down its light-rail system and planned to stop all bus service “out of concern for the safety of riders and employees”, a statement said. ...

Around midday on Thursday, the violence spread to a Target store several miles away in the Midway neighborhood of St Paul, where police said 50 to 60 people rushed the store and attempted to take merchandise. St Paul police and state patrol squad cars later blocked the entrance, but looting then spread to shops along nearby University Avenue, one of St Paul’s main commercial corridors, and other spots in the city. A St Paul spokesman, Steve Linders, said authorities had been dealing with unrest in roughly 20 different areas throughout the city. ...

Protests also spread to other US cities. In California, hundreds of people protesting Floyd’s death blocked a Los Angeles freeway and shattered windows of California Highway Patrol cruisers. Memphis police blocked a main thoroughfare after a racially mixed group of protesters gathered outside a police precinct.

George Floyd killing: DoJ says inquiry a 'top priority' after thousands protest

The US Department of Justice said it had made its investigation into police involvement in the death of George Floyd a “top priority” after thousands took to the streets for a second day of protests in Minneapolis.

Prosecutors and investigators from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have been assigned as part of a “robust” inquiry into whether the police officers involved had violated federal laws, the department said in a statement. ...

The White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, said in a Thursday afternoon briefing that Donald Trump had watched the video of Floyd’s killing and that the president thought it was “egregious, appalling, tragic” and that “he wants justice to be served”.

Krystal Ball: The populist uprising arrives

Amy Klobuchar didn't prosecute officer at center of George Floyd's death after previous conduct complaints

George Floyd's death in police custody is renewing criticism of Sen. Amy Klobuchar's (D-Minn.) prosecutorial record.

Before she became a senator and a top contender for former Vice President Joe Biden's vice presidential spot, Klobuchar spent eight years as the Hennepin County attorney, in charge of prosecution for Minneapolis. And while in that position, Klobuchar declined to prosecute multiple police officers cited for excessive force, and did not prosecute the officer who kneeled on Floyd's neck as he protested, The Guardian reports. ...

As The Washington Post noted in March, Klobuchar "declined to bring charges in more than two dozen cases in which people were killed in encounters with police" as Hennepin County attorney. Instead, she "aggressively prosecuted smaller offenses" that "have been criticized for their disproportionate effect on poor and minority communities," the Post continues.

Did Protesters Identify Police Infiltrator Breaking Windows?

Why the officers fired for the George Floyd killing could ultimately get their jobs back

The four Minneapolis officers involved in the killing of George Floyd were swiftly fired after footage of his death went viral. But that doesn’t mean they’re permanently losing their badges. Officers in the US are frequently rehired after their termination for misconduct, a problem that experts say increases the likelihood of abuse and killings by police.

Despite the decision on Tuesday to fire the policeman who knelt on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes, along with three other officers at the scene, it’s uncertain if the officers will face long-term repercussions. On the contrary, some civil rights advocates warn the men could ultimately avoid legal and financial consequences, continue working in other police departments or even win back their positions.

That’s how policing works across America, researchers and activists said, and it’s a process that can drag victims’ families through years of court proceedings and media attention, with minimal relief at the end. “The officers are afforded every opportunity to clear their name and regain everything they lost – their reputation, their status and their jobs,” said Adanté Pointer, a California lawyer who represents police brutality victims. “The family has to endure disappointment after disappointment.” ...

Floyd’s family has called for murder charges, though in the US prosecution and conviction of officers is rare, since the law gives officers wide latitude to kill, and prosecutors often have close ties with police. Prompt termination is also uncommon – and often doesn’t last. Officers can appeal firings, typically supported by powerful police unions. The outcome is frequently decided by arbiters in secretive hearings.

A recent analysis by a local Minnesota paper, the Pioneer Press, found arbiters reversed 46% of police terminations in the last five years. Police chiefs across the US have publicly complained that the process forces them to put officers back on the street after firing them for egregious conduct such as unjustified killings, sexual abuse and lying.

David Sirota: Why is it only looting when poor people do it?

'People Know Who Real Looters Are': Not Those Angry Over Police Killings, But Oligarchs Robbing Nation Blind

As protests in Minneapolis and other U.S. cities over the police killing of George Floyd turned violent overnight, resulting in damage to some storefronts and buildings, complaints about "looting" sparked backlash from progressives who pointed to the billions in wealth accumulated by corporations and the super-rich in the past three months alone as the country grapples with the coronavirus pandemic.

"Americans know who the real looters are," progressive radio host Benjamin Dixon told Common Dreams. "It's the billionaires who plundered America for $434 billion during the pandemic while the essential workers keeping our country  afloat make barely over minimum wage."

So-called riots exploded on the streets of Minneapolis on Wednesday during the second consecutive day of protests against the city's police department for killing Floyd, who died after Officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for at least ten minutes despite Floyd's pleas that he couldn't breathe. Protests against the killing in Los Angeles and Memphis also resulted in violence; in Los Angeles the violence was precipitated by police officers driving their cars into demonstrators.

As It's Going Down News and Unicorn Riot reported, demonstrators "are fed up with this racist system" and see the movement as part of a broader, "organic uprising."

"This is just the start, tweeted It's Going Down News.

Mainstream media and right-wing commentators decried what they described as "looting" as some people poured into Target, AutoZone, and other stores, taking some items and leaving the buildings damaged.

Progressives pointed to the disconnect between condemnation of those acts and the lack of critical reaction to the country's richest people and corporations gaining billions in wealth since the beginning of the coronavirus. According to a recent Institute of Policy Studies report, U.S. billionaires have added $434 billion in wealth since the onset of the outbreak.

"Absolutely terrible to hear about all the looting happening right now," journalist Kate Aronoff tweeted Wednesday night, linking to a report of the billionaires' increase in wealth. "Someone should intervene."

Progressive activist Peter Daou chimed in, sarcastically invoking calls for no more looting to make a broader point about who is benefitting from the pandemic and putting Wednesday's events in context.

"I heard there was looting and I'm furious," said Daou. "Republicans and Democrats stealing from the poor to bail out the rich in a #pandemic. That kind of theft is unacceptable."

While 41 Million People Lost Jobs Due to Covid-19, US Billionaires Grew Nearly $500 Billion Richer

Statistics released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Labor show that with 2.1 million new unemployment claims filed last week, a staggering 40.7 million Americans have lost their jobs over just the past 10 weeks as mass layoffs induced by the coronavirus pandemic continue.

During that same 10-week period, according to a new analysis by the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), the combined net worth of America's billionaires soared by nearly half a trillion dollars, bringing their total wealth to $3.4 trillion.

"Billionaire wealth is surging at the same time that millions face suffering, hardship, and loss of life," IPS, a progressive think tank, said Thursday, noting that more than 100,000 people have died of Covid-19 in the United States. "This is a grotesque indicator of the deep inequalities in U.S. society."

IPS, which has been publishing weekly updates on billionaire "pandemic profiteering," found that the combined net worth of U.S. billionaires grew by $485 billion between March 18 and May 28, an increase of 16.5%.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos—the richest man in the world—and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg saw their combined wealth soar by $63 billion over the last 10 weeks.

Meanwhile, as Common Dreams reported, a $2-an-hour hazard pay increase for Amazon warehouse workers is set to expire at the end of the day Sunday.

IPS found that there are currently 16 more billionaires than there were in mid-March, when many U.S. states began locking down their economies as Covid-19 spread rapidly across the country.

"This isn't just unsustainable," IPS tweeted of the surge in billionaire wealth. "It's unconscionable."

the horse race

Biden Confronted Over a Crime Bill So He Lies

Right-Wing Group Seeks to Purge Up to 800,000 Voters in Pennsylvania, a Key Battleground State

Six states are facing federal lawsuits and threats of litigation from the ultra-conservative nonprofit Judicial Watch that could jeopardize the integrity of upcoming primary and general elections. The suits claim that states are not properly maintaining voter rolls as required by federal law, and raise the specter of voter fraud, arguing that improper maintenance could leave the door open to “dirty elections.”

Judicial Watch, which focuses on the courts and is funded primarily by large grants from conservative foundations, is suing Pennsylvania’s chief election official, along with county legislators and election officials in three of the state’s six counties with the most registered voters. Pennsylvania was critical to Donald Trump’s win in 2016. He won by less than 1 percentage point, losing only 11 counties, including the three suburban Philadelphia counties being sued by Judicial Watch. It was the first time Pennsylvania went red since 1988. Democrats almost certainly need to win the state — where former Vice President Joe Biden was born, and where his campaign is headquartered — to take back the White House.

The group has filed similar suits in North Carolina and Maryland. The Pennsylvania lawsuit follows notices Judicial Watch sent to 19 counties in Pennsylvania, California, Virginia, Colorado, and Kentucky last December, threatening lawsuits unless they removed ineligible voters from rolls. One Pennsylvania county buckled under pressure and made changes to its voter rolls, while the three that are currently being sued did not. Counties in California and Kentucky, facing pressure from Judicial Watch, last year started the process to remove close to 2 million voters from their rolls. ...

In Pennsylvania’s Middle District Court, Judicial Watch sued the Department of State, along with election officials in Bucks, Delaware, and Chester counties. The group argued that Pennsylvania has “abnormally low number of removals” under procedure mandated by the National Voter Registration Act, or NRVA, “to identify voters who have changed residence,” and cited low removal numbers as evidence that the state “is not removing inactive registrations as the law requires.” In other words, Judicial Watch is claiming that county officials are not properly maintaining voter rolls and implying without evidence that this leaves open the door to voter fraud. The suit claims that there are up to 800,000 inactive voters in the three counties, meaning they are ineligible to vote. That would amount to more than 65 percent of all registered voters across the three counties.

Possibly Getting Infected With COVID-19 Isn’t a Good Enough Reason to Allow Vote by Mail, Texas Court Rules

Texas has some of the strictest regulations on mail voting in the country — and its supreme court just made sure they won’t be loosened in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Texas Supreme Court ruled Wednesday evening that lack of immunity to COVID-19 does not qualify the state’s voters to apply for a mail-in ballot, siding with Republicans who are seeking to force almost everyone in the state to vote in person in spite of possible health risks.

“We agree with the State that a voter’s lack of immunity to COVID-19, without more, is not a ‘disability’ as defined by the Election Code,” the court’s majority wrote in its opinion.

Texas is one of 18 states where voters have to have an excuse to request a mail ballot. But while a number of other states with similar laws have sought to loosen them in the face of the pandemic to make it easier for people to vote safely, including a number with GOP leadership, Texas Republicans have steadfastly refused to do so.

The only people who can ask for a mail ballot without an excuse in the state are those aged 65 or older, can prove they have a valid need to be out of their home county on election day, have a disability or illness preventing them from being able to vote in-person, or are imprisoned but still eligible to vote.

Yang endorsed UBI candidate takes on Mitch McConnell

With Trump-Aligned Votes as 'Anvil Around Her Neck,' Susan Collins Down 9 Points to Likely Dem Challenger

New poll results released in a Bangor Daily News column Thursday shows Democratic Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon leading Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins by nine points—just the latest sign that the November election could deny Collins a fifth term.

Conducted by nonpartisan Victory Geek, the poll had voters consider Collins versus Gideon and Betsy Sweet, an activist and political organizer also seeking the Democratic nomination for the Senate race in the July 14 primary. A third Democratic candidate, attorney Bre Kidman, was not included in the survey.

Voters preferred Gideon to Collins 51%–42%, with 7% undecided. Voters also preferred Sweet to Collins, though the outcome was much closer at 44%–43%, with 12% undecided. Ultimately, voters preferred any Democrat to Collins 49%–39%, with 12% undecided. The margin of sampling error was ±4.32%.

The polling was commissioned by "Swing Hard. Run Fast. Turn Left!," a progressive group run by Ethan Strimling, a former mayor and state senator from Portland who co-authors the "Agree to Disagree" Bangor Daily News column with Phil Harriman, former town councilor and state senator from Yarmouth.

Collins, a self-described "centrist" who was re-elected in 2014 with 68.5% of the vote, has seen her popularity plummet during Donald Trump's presidency, particularly since her decisive vote in October 2018 to confirm U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh after he was accused of sexual assault. That decision provoked protests in Maine and a national effort to unseat Collins.

In a January Morning Consult poll, Collins displaced Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) as the nation's least popular senator, with a disapproval rating of 52% in Maine. The Hill reported at the time that "Collins' net approval rating has dropped 10 points in Maine since the end of September, a sign of the intense fire she has taken from critics since the House launched its impeachment inquiry."

the evening greens

New Trump public land rules will let Alaska hunters kill bear cubs in dens

The Trump administration is finalizing rules that will allow hunters in Alaska’s national preserves to shoot bears and wolves, and their cubs and pups, while they are in their dens.

The National Park Service is reversing regulations written by the Barack Obama administration, which banned some of the much-criticized practices for hunting the predators, including luring bears with food like doughnuts.

Jesse Prentice-Dunn, policy director for the Center for Western Priorities, called the rule change “amazingly cruel” and said it was “just the latest in a string of efforts to reduce protections for America’s wildlife at the behest of oil companies and trophy hunters”. ...

The regulation is expected to be formally published this week. Alaska laws would still apply. The state generally prohibits killing bear cubs, but it allows some exceptions in Alaska’s interior region.

AOC Now Open To NUCLEAR Green New Deal!?

Studies add to alarm over deforestation in Brazil under Bolsonaro

Two studies have raised further alarm about deforestation in Brazil during the first year of the far-right president Jair Bolsonaro’s government.

One study showed the country lost 12,000 km2 (4,633 sq miles) of forest last year and also provided important information about those behind deforestation. The other research flagged a 27% increase in the destruction of tropical forests in eastern Brazil.

Both studies were released days after it was revealed that the environment minister, Ricardo Salles, had advocated that the government use the cover of the coronavirus pandemic to further weaken the country’s increasingly shaky environmental protection laws. Amazon deforestation and fires have soared since Bolsonaro took office in January 2019, vowing to end the “fines industry” of environment agencies and develop the rainforest.

“We need to make an effort while we are in a quiet moment for press coverage because they only talk about Covid,” Salles said in a ministerial meeting in April. Video of the meeting was released on Friday and showed the minister using an expression about cattle to push for “changing all the rules and simplifying norms”.

Environmentalists had warned that this was what the government had been doing.

Fears rise of ‘murder hornet' spreading in western Canada after sighting

When officials in western Canada received the squashed remains of a hornet in late May they immediately knew trouble was in their hands. With its hulking orange and black body, the insect sent in by a concerned resident was unmistakably an Asian giant hornet – an aggressive predator increasingly known as the “murder” hornet.

Fears have grown that the hornet – given the “murder” moniker by Japanese media – is spreading throughout the Pacific north-west. And the latest discovery suggests that the species has reached far deeper into British Columbia than previously thought. ...

In 2019 bee keepers spotted – and subsequently eradicated – a nest near the city of Nanaimo on Vancouver Island, sustaining numerous painful stings in the process. Soon after, beekeepers near the American border city of Blaine also found thousands of dead honeybees – the first evidence that the hornets had spread into the US.

Also of Interest

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

A Chronicle of a Lost Decade Foretold

A Growing Wave of Bankruptcies Threatens U.S. Recovery

At Least 9 Million US Households With Children Are 'Not At All Confident' They'll Be Able to Afford Food Next Month, Census Survey Finds

'All-out combat' feared as India, China engage in border standoff

COVID-19 Cases and Deaths Surge: The Impact of Wisconsin’s In-Person Primary Vote

EU green recovery package sets a marker for the world

Former Federal Reserve Governor Rebukes Central Bank for Using Covid-19 Lending Power to Bail Out 'Dying' Fossil Fuel Industry

Carrying Out Trump's "When the Looting Starts, the Shooting Starts" Order Would Violate 4th Amendment, Warn Legal Experts

Krystal and Saagar REACT: CNN reporter arrested on LIVE TV in Minneapolis

Saagar Enjeti: BOMBSHELL Bill Clinton revelation ignored by mainstream media

Andrew Yang reacts to protests, reveals details of UBI project

A Little Night Music

Aretha Franklin - Chain of Fools

Aretha Franklin - I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)

Aretha Franklin - It Was You

Aretha Franklin - You Send Me

Aretha Franklin- Mockingbird

Aretha Franklin - Do Right Woman, Do Right Man

Aretha Franklin - Rough Lover

Aretha Franklin featuring Duane Allman - It Ain't Fair

Aretha Franklin featuring Duane Allman - Keep Me Hanging On

Aretha Franklin - People Get Ready

26 users have voted.


Pluto's Republic's picture

It's a great site that delivers the daily news to its Readers.

Politicians running under the Democratic Brand better start looking for another party. That's what I see coming down the pike.

24 users have voted.

Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.

— Martin Luther King

joe shikspack's picture

@Pluto's Republic


i dunno, i think that there's going to be a party realignment coming up soon, but how it shakes out seems completely up in the air. there are a bunch of factions that could coalesce in different ways.

i could see some disaffected progressives going populist and perhaps joining up with a populist former faction of the republicans perhaps with some libertarians and paleoconservatives.

at the same time, the neoliberal warmongering factions of both major parties might coalesce into one or the other party, probably the dems and maybe leave their identity politics/culture war to smaller faction parties.

on the other hand, it could go lots of other ways, with the loonies of the right making common cause with the china and russia hating democrats so that they can make them pay for whatever sins successive administrations accuse them of. hell, it doesn't really need to make sense or be supported by evidence, sometimes you just need a good enemy.

15 users have voted.
mimi's picture

@joe shikspack @joe shikspack
to not know anything, to not understand anything, to stop thinking any further, to have to feel guilty being silent? I'll take that for a while.

I think I constantly get confused about the double negatives I am unconsciously using. Sorry about that. But my math teacher taught me that double negatives equal to something positive.

JImmy Dore, a few good comedians, a few good musicians are worth more than a few good men. Combined in one gang on my favorite blog makes my day any day. I am so glad for it.
Thanks. Don't leave.

PS. I never could forgive some person, who I forgave larger sins, to have thrown away a box with my old records of Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles and Chuck Berry together with some rare letters of my mother-in-law she wrote to her son some 55 years ago. These were my little treasures never unpacked in some basement of a house I had no access to. When the house was open for sale by a real estate company (after my ex had died), I went into the open house to look for what was left in there. I even got threatened by a lawyer, representing the 'wife after me women', of trespassing. Well, I sent that lawyer a well seasoned letter and made her shut up any further. I think I was in an Aretha Franklin "Think" mood of sort. Smile

10 users have voted.

It's quite amusing to see all the right-wing military lovers who support American capitalism bombing, destroying and killing all over the world complaining like little snowflake bitches when a tiny handful of black people engage in those very same tactics.
We right-wingers fucking hate looters! Well, I mean, not rich, capitalist Wall Street looters. Them we love.

I wish I could take credit

23 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


it looks like the rich-as-looters concept is spreading pretty well. glad to see it.

16 users have voted.
lotlizard's picture


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

4 users have voted.

Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.

— Martin Luther King

Azazello's picture

This adds another element to the George Floyd murder:

Somebody screwed up, allowing this to appear in the NYT:
The ‘Liberal World Order’ Was Built With Blood
Blues on a four-string:

14 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


that does offer an interesting wrinkle in the story. i saw a piece that said that the owner of the restaurant didn't know if chauvin and floyd knew each other, since they worked different shifts. it seems unlikely that it all the years that they worked there that they wouldn't have crossed paths, but i guess we will find out in time what the truth is.

heh, the new york times has to print a piece like that from time to time to maintain its credibility. it's not like it reflects the opinion of the owners or that such opinions will appear often.

heh, 4 strings and an open tuning. cool!

11 users have voted.
gulfgal98's picture

with third degree murder. Give me a break. What he did was definitely premeditated as he continued to suffocate Floyd for nearly three minutes after Floyd was unresponsive. Chauvin ignored FLoyd's pleas for help and the screams of bystanders that Floyd was suffocating.

I am so disgusted to live in a country where police show such blatant disregard for another human being's life, especially when that person is black. Chauvin committed first degree murder. He killed a man with malice and purposefully.

Last night I needed a reprieve from all the bad news, so I watched the Tedeschi Trucks Band's 2017 concert at Red Rocks. They have to be the best band around. They play everything from blues to rock to contemporary jazz. Great musicians all under the direction of the masterful Derek Trucks and featuring Susan Tedeschi's gritty and soulful lead vocals. At one point about midway in the concert, John Medeski sits in with them on the organ. And wow, it was magic.

Edit to add: I am not sure how long this video will be up, but if it is no long available, check the Tedeschi Trucks Bank out.

15 users have voted.

"I don't want to run the empire, I want to bring it down!" ~ Dr. Cornel West

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." ~ President John F. Kennedy

@gulfgal98 The police bastard tortured his co-worker to death. How is that a negligent homicide? What person over the age of 5 doesn't understand that cutting off air supply results in death?

My own break from the bad news was to clean a commode.

17 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


it was cold-blooded murder. and the son of a bitch didn't care who watched him do it. first degree doesn't really cover it. it was an execution under the color of law and there probably isn't a penalty on the books sufficient.

heh, back not too long ago, in what now almost seems like another life, i caught tedeschi-trucks at the 50th anniversary concerts at woodstock, they were quite good. i saw both tedeschi and trucks both occasionally as solo acts years ago, too. they are better together, i think.

16 users have voted.
Dawn's Meta's picture

@gulfgal98 a family favorite. Hubby and my daughter sang it on my 50th, now twenty years ago. Time is flying friends.

The Joe Cocker tribute by this band is terrific.

Yes 1st degree murder, but what do I know? Legal people? What say you?

Oh and the guys just standing there: what the heck?

2 users have voted.

A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit. Allegedly Greek, but more possibly fairly modern quote.

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@gulfgal98 @gulfgal98 @gulfgal98 25 year maximum.
The standard is "depravity", and the defense is "I did it recklessly, but without intent to kill".
Very similar to the Texas standard of manslaughter, which in common parlance means reckless disregard for human life.
First degree requires intent to kill.
Most likely, the prosecutor went for the most obvious, although, I think he should have proceeded with first degree, and put the 3rd degree on a grand jury and later a trial jury as a lesser included offense. Ask for it all, settle for less.
I seldom brag on Texas for anything, but our murder statues are very well written, easy for a grand jury or jury to identify the 4 elements of a crime: that it took place; (dead guy) that it occurred on this date; (statute of limitations hasn't run)that it occurred in this county;(we are charging the defendant in the correct county of jurisdiction) and the defendant is the perp. (We charged the correct person.
I know we are way more punitive here. A divorce client got drunk, ran a red light and killed 2 women. He got 28 years, mandatory serving of half the time before parole eligibility. (I didn't represent him in his manslaughter case.)
I didn't check out their statutes on co-defendants.
In Texas, you have a legal duty to stop a crime unless it endangers your life.
Under our statutes, the officers watching who took no steps to save the man's life would be charged with 3rd degree murder as well.
I must have told at least one guide or hotel staff member in 85 to 90 countries the world over, "The US is a shitty country."

UPDATE: Autopsy shows no strangulation, says he died from restraint, age, underlying health condition, blah blah...
This extremely favorable to the killer cop. The family will get a second, independent autopsy.
This TOTALLY deflects from whether or not the cop needed to restrain him as done for a non-violent crime.
I doubt if the cop will even be indicted now.
It was just all an unfortunate death of a sick black man, right?
I will not type what I am thinking. I can say, the cops defense attorney is a very happy camper at the moment, and can charge a huge fee, win, get his/her name out there.
Even if the second autopsy comes back with strangulation, there will always be a reasonable doubt. That's all it takes to get a case tossed.
And the torture will never be addressed.

2 users have voted.
Unabashed Liberal's picture

Elnora--a Birmingham AL wedding dress designer--for her part in a project to supply the elderly, folks with co-morbidities, or, just frail health, generally, and first-liners of all stripes with face masks. They are equivalent to MERV-13, if one uses a recommended A/C filter with it.

We're particularly grateful, since they came through for us at a time when we couldn't scare up nary a one--online, or, from any brick and mortar stores, locally. Especially, since we gave only a TN mailing address--IOW, they couldn't have known that we reside on the Eastern Shore, part-time, but, still were gracious enough to help us out.

So, for Ms Elnora Give rose and 'thank you!'

Some website glitch, last evening, prevented me from ordering out for Pizza. Finally, figured out the problem (but, couldn't fix it), so, went another route this afternoon, and looking forward to it landing here in a few minutes. (It's contactless delivery--they either text or call you, once they deliver. Kewl.)

Hope to drop back by to read, and watch more. Saw 'most' of Yang's video, though, had to run outside a couple of times during it. If he mentioned 'how' he'd pay for it, I missed it. If I can get back by, I'll edit this comment, and, post what CBO said about how much of a monthly UBI his proposed 10-11% VAT would actually cover.

Hope Everyone has a great weekend. Weather here has been pretty decent, lately--IOW, not real hot or humid. (lots of rain, but, at least, temps have been very moderate)

BTW, just heard that crowds are attacking the CNN Center in Atlanta. Anderson is talking to a reporter on the scene, in real time. There are even explosions going off around him.

Stay safe; be well.

Oops! Just realized that I forgot to use 'small caps.' Heh, knew it'd be a challenge! Smile


"Those who choose the lesser of evil, tend very fast to forget they have chosen the evil."
~~Hannah Arendt, Philosopher

“I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me, they are the role model for being alive.”
~~Gilda Radner, Comedienne

12 users have voted.

Everyone thinks they have the best dog, and none of them are wrong.

joe shikspack's picture

@Unabashed Liberal

heh, happy pizza night!

i'm really unconcerned with how ubi gets paid for. the us has a treasury and a federal reserve, either on can create the money. it would be cheaper if treasury did it, rather than borrowing it from the fed.

what concerns me is how you control inflation, particularly of existential needs if there is a ubi. rentiers will just gobble up the free government cash if allowed to and poor people with a steady ubi income will still be screwed.

it got hot here today, into the mid 80's. i guess it's going to be summer, now. Smile

have a good one and give rambo a scritch for me.

16 users have voted.
Unabashed Liberal's picture

@joe shikspack

Rambo says 'thanks.' Pleasantry

Regarding UBI, I'm not necessarily against the policy, just Yang's proposed funding mechanism (if it's still a VAT).

Don't know if you recall that WJC and Volcker were running around together trying to drum up support for a VAT--until word got out, and 'O' put a stop to it, for fear of progressive backlash. The only way that I'd support UBI, is if it's financed by a wealth tax, or, even from general tax revenue--not by implementing a regressive tax like a VAT Even WJC acknowledged it might be a tough sell,

Both Clinton and Volcker, who is an outside adviser to President Barack Obama, told a private forum on fiscal issues that they saw benefits for the United States from a VAT, a tax on goods at each stage of production.

But they also acknowledged that a VAT would be a tough sell politically.
“It’s a big leap,” Clinton told the Peter G. Peterson Foundation 2010 Fiscal Summit. “A lot of things that are good in theory require so much change that people just can’t make the mental leap.” . . .

The U.S. budget deficit hit $1.4 trillion in 2009, or nearly 10 percent of the economy. Some experts warn a crisis could erupt if the shortfall is not brought under control.

I've read that CBO projections were that Yang's 10% VAT would only pay for about one-quarter of his proposed $1000 per month. But, haven't, yet, had a chance to verify that was CBO's conclusion.

Also, at Politifact, it states:

Yang says the payments would be offset by a 10% value-added tax, or VAT, and, by replacing duplicative social-welfare spending. Current recipients could choose between their existing benefits and $1,000 in cash.

Some writers claim that he's not just referring to "duplicative social-welfare spending." IOW, that it wouldn't just replace SNAP, TANF, and other traditional welfare programs, but, that it would also include entitlement programs, such as Social Security. Now, don't know if that's accurate. But, when Yang talks about it, he rarely speaks in specifics, so, that makes it rather confusing. And, concerning.

BTW, I'm referring to a 'permanent' UBI--not a temporary UBI program due to the fall-out from COVID-19. If a UBI program is short-term, or, for just a couple years, the funding of it wouldn't be an issue (for me)--unless, 'Pay-Go' Nancy should feel inclined to include offsets in the legislation, and target so-called entitlement programs. Frankly, I wouldn't put it past her.

Your current weather sounds like the weather heading our way. If I'm not mistakne, tomorrow will be pretty mild and pleasant, then, temps ramp up next week. Heh, it was nice, while it lasted! Biggrin

Have a nice weekend.


8 users have voted.

Everyone thinks they have the best dog, and none of them are wrong.

Lookout's picture

so odd not to be at my Friday night session, but becoming more common and accepted. What choice is there?

I've been wondering about a low dose infection instead of vaccine. Thinking a vaccine may not ever be developed. I mean the SARS and MERS never had a vaccine developed. I think I read in yesterday's EB that the US and UK want a patent but international groups want it to be free for all. After all health is all about profit. Right?

thanks for the news and the blues. I appreciate all your work putting this together for us!

12 users have voted.

“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

joe shikspack's picture


yeah, it's an odd new circumscribed life. it's kind of sunk now that i'm probably going to be stuck in the house for quite a while yet to come. sorry that you're missing your jam sessions, i hope that you're finding other ways to enjoy making music.

i dunno whether low-dose infection would be effective. i've read lots of conflicting reports about whether immunity is built by exposure or infection and/or whether whatever immunity antibodies impart lasts long enough to be worthwhile. it may turn out that there is no shortcut for this particular virus.

9 users have voted.

@Lookout @Lookout
There was a SARS vaccine developed but SARS was eradicated before human trials were started. This work has really helped speed up vaccine development against Covid-19.

Next fall China may start using a vaccine they have in human trial right now--if things go well. Testing shortcuts make this and a couple other vaccines more risky. The risk would not be a good idea for kids and healthy young people, but there may be a good risk/benefit ratio for people at higher risk. Informed consent will be important for anyone taking a vaccine next fall. I may take one of the vaccines if they become available so I can get back in the classroom next spring. This decision will be based on information from refereed technical journals carefully read.

9 users have voted.
dystopian's picture

Great sounds JS! Love Aretha's voice, since I was 12. It is almost funny how us little mostly lower to middle middle class white kids in socal in the 60's were nuts about R & B and Motown, and the blues. The later stuff with Duane Allman is really neat too.

Thanks for your work here!

Have a good one!

10 users have voted.

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
both - Albert Einstein

joe shikspack's picture


yep, it wasn't just in socal. motown particularly was popular in my newly-integrated elementary school in small town, redneck country, maryland. it was a force that brought together kids whose parents weren't particularly thrilled that they were in the same classroom.

have a great weekend!

10 users have voted.

Thanks for the music and the news.

4 users have voted.

I am making a valiant attempt to clean house, in anticipation of a guest.
I read something here, so take a pumice stick to a bath tub, come back here, go back to the tub, ad nauseum.
While I do not advocate violent protests, I do UNDERSTAND why people go there.
I just wish people would stay at home for 2 or 3 weeks, not show up to work, not spend a dime.
But we are a nation of poors.
We do not have 3 weeks supplies to survive.
Thanks, js.
We shall see if "guests" are overrated or not.
I am leaning very strongly toward underrated. That is, if I am ambulatory and coherent. My friends and associates think I might not be up to the challenge.
My Dad survived D-Day, I can survive the house guest. (who happens to be very handsome, but also, very polite and sometimes shy! Lol)
As Aretha would say.

7 users have voted.

Was just reading tweet stream from Ryan Grim and somebody mentioned why the umbrealla when no rain. Appears it is a common tactic so that police helicopters can know where the undercover agents are working.

6 users have voted.
Unabashed Liberal's picture


Hope you get a nice rest this weekend.


2 users have voted.

Everyone thinks they have the best dog, and none of them are wrong.