The Evening Blues - 8-7-20


The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: Albert King

Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features one of the three kings of the blues, Albert King. Enjoy!

Albert King - I'll Play The Blues For You

“We are plagued by a corrupt polity which promotes unlawful and/or immoral behaviour. Public interest has no practical significance in everyday behaviour among the ruling factions. The real problems of our world are not being confronted by those in power. In the guise of public service, they use whatever comes to hand for personal gain. They are insane with and for power.”

-- Frank Herbert

News and Opinion

System Update: Coronavirus Strengthens Ruling Class Grip on the U.S.

The devastation of the coronavirus pandemic has unraveled American society, causing unprecedented death and financial ruin for many. Much of the destruction can be traced to the failures of the Trump administration, which cut back disease surveillance programs, refused to act on early warning signs, did little to secure needed medical supplies, and moved slowly to shut down borders.

But the government acted swiftly and decisively to secure the economic well-being of the wealthiest business and property owners, a policy response that has hastened growing inequality. Over the course of the pandemic, Congress and the Federal Reserve has maintained a laser focus on propping up asset prices on Wall Street, a successful intervention that has largely preserved the power of a small ruling elite.

Over 50 House Democrats Rip Fed for Allowing Mass Public-Sector Layoffs by Favoring Big Corporations Over Local Governments

A group of more than 50 House Democrats on Thursday slammed the Federal Reserve for allowing mass public-sector layoffs by refusing to offer state and local governments the same favorable lending terms it has granted private corporations.

In a letter (pdf) to Fed Chairman Jerome Powell, the lawmakers said the "harsh terms and penalty rates" the central bank set for its Municipal Liquidity Facility (MLF)—a $500 billion state and local aid initiative launched in April—has made the program "functionally unusable for the vast majority of the state and local governments that are technically eligible."

"There have been 1.5 million public-sector layoffs since March, and unless the Fed aligns its assistance to states and cities with its emergency lending to the private sector, mass unemployment, and emergency conditions will persist for years," the lawmakers wrote. "To that end, it must be noted that many of the Federal Reserve's corporate lending programs contain terms that are far more favorable than those included in the MLF."

"This includes, for example, far cheaper pricing, far longer terms, and even payment deferrals for corporations borrowing from the Main Street Lending Program, the Secondary Corporate Credit Facility, and the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility," the group of Democrats added, urging the Fed to establish more flexible and inexpensive lending terms for state and local governments.

The lawmakers also demanded that the Fed to extend MLF eligibility to smaller counties and territories.

"The Federal Reserve should make these fixes to the MLF before the damage to our economy and our communities becomes irreparable," the coalition of Democrats wrote.

Economists have warned that failing to rescue state and local governments as they face crushing budget shortfalls could send shockwaves through the entire U.S. economy and possibly lead to a "prolonged depression."

"The projected shortfall for 2021 fiscal year, which began on July 1 for most states, is much deeper than the shortfalls faced in any year of the Great Recession," the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities noted last month. "Without additional, substantial federal help, they likely will deeply cut critical program areas such as education and healthcare, lay off teachers and other workers in even greater numbers, and cancel contracts with many businesses."

Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and one of the letter's signatories, tweeted Thursday that "it's time for the Federal Reserve to stop treating corporations better than state and local governments."

"The World's Most Dangerous Man": Mary Trump on Her Uncle, President Trump, & Why He Must Be Ousted

US government shelves survey that painted bleak picture of Covid-19 life

The US Census Bureau has suspended a weekly survey that painted a bleak picture of American life during the Covid-19 pandemic, with no sign of when, or if, it will resume publishing the report.

The “household pulse survey” tracked various quality-of-life measures, such as food sufficiency, internet access and mental health, and was first conducted by the Census Bureau on 23 April to “quickly and efficiently deploy data collected on how people’s lives have been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic”, according to the agency’s website.

While data such as weekly unemployment claims released by the Department of Labor has shown how many people have lost their jobs, the survey provided a window into the effect the economic downturn is having on the lives of Americans.

US households were asked whether they had enough food to eat and internet availability for education, if they had experienced depression or anxiety over the last seven days, and whether they felt they could afford next month’s rent or mortgage payments, among other questions.

Over the past three months, the survey painted a desolate picture of what American households are experiencing during the pandemic – a picture that showed little sign of improvement.

Another 1.18m Americans file for unemployment as benefits expire

Another 1.18 million people filed for unemployment benefits last week as economists worry the expiration of enhanced unemployment benefits will lead to a sharp drop-off in household spending and set back the US economy’s near-term recovery.

Claims dipped last week after two weeks of rises and were the lowest since March but the latest figure from the department of labor marked the 19th week in a row that claims have topped 1m. Before the coronavirus pandemic gripped the US, the record for weekly claims was 695,000 in October 1982. The figures come ahead of Friday’s monthly snapshot of the job market. Economists expect the unemployment rate to have dipped to 10.6% in July from 11.1% in June, a significant drop but still three times the pre-pandemic level. ...

According to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) the knock-on effect of removing that cash from the economy could be severe. The EPI estimated 5mn jobs could be lost by July 2021 if it is cut as consumers are forced to cut back on spending.

Fauci tells of death threats as Birx pinpoints fresh areas of Covid concern

Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the US, has had to hire security to protect himself and his family after receiving death threats in response to his work to stop the spread of coronavirus. Fauci, a member of the White House coronavirus taskforce, told CNN that the pandemic has brought out “the best of people and the worst of people, and, you know, getting death threats for me and my family and harassing my daughters to the point where I have to get security”. ...

“I wouldn’t have imagined in my wildest dreams that people who object to things that are pure public health principles are so set against it and don’t like what you and I say, namely in the world of science, that they actually threaten you,” said Fauci.

Meanwhile, Fauci warned later on Thursday that even small rises in the percentage of people testing positive for Covid-19 in some US cities could signal problems. He urged local leaders to remain vigilant to avoid a surge. “This is a predictor of trouble ahead,” he told CNN. Fauci was speaking after Birx, in a telephone call with state and local officials on Wednesday, identified new areas of concern. ...

Baltimore and Atlanta remain at a “very high level,” as well as Kansas City, Portland, Omaha and the Central Valley in California, Birx said on the call, a recording of which was obtained by the journalism nonprofit Center for Public Integrity. White House data shows small increases in the percentage of positive coronavirus tests in Chicago, Boston, Detroit and Washington. Those cities need to “get on top of it,” Birx said.

Sanders Bill to Tax 'Obscene' Pandemic Windfall of Billionaires Would Empower Medicare to Cover Every American for One Year

Sen. Bernie Sanders on Thursday introduced legislation that would tax the "obscene wealth gains" America's billionaires have accumulated during the Covid-19 crisis and use the resulting revenue to empower Medicare to cover all out-of-pocket medical expenses for everyone in the United States for a year.

In a speech on the Senate floor Wednesday, Sanders said "if we taxed 60% of the windfall gains these billionaires made from March 18th until August 3rd, we could raise over $420 billion."

"That's enough revenue to allow Medicare to pay all of the out-of-pocket healthcare expenses for everyone in America over the next 12 months," said Sanders. "By taxing 60% of the wealth gains made by just 467 billionaires during this horrific pandemic, we could guarantee healthcare as a right for an entire year."

According to a fact-sheet released by Sanders' office, the Make Billionaires Pay Act would impose a 60% tax on all billionaire wealth gains between March 18, 2020 and January 1, 2021 and use the funds to cover the out-of-pocket healthcare expenses of all Americans for a full year. The legislation is co-sponsored by Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).

"While a record-breaking 5.4 million Americans recently lost their health insurance, 467 billionaires in our country increased their wealth by an estimated $731.8 billion during the pandemic," the fact-sheet reads. "Incredibly, as a result of the Trump tax giveaway to the rich, these billionaires currently pay a lower effective tax rate than teachers or truck drivers."

Under the Sanders proposal, Medicare would cover all out-of-pocket healthcare costs for the tens of millions of people in the U.S. without insurance for a year. For Americans with either public or private insurance, their providers would bill Medicare for all out-of-pocket expenses.

"Everyone has suffered during the pandemic—from lost lives, lost jobs, lost chances—everyone, that is, except America's billionaires," Frank Clemente, executive director of Americans for Tax Fairness, said in a statement. "Senator Sanders' bill recognizes that a good chunk of the obscene growth in wealth by the richest Americans during a national emergency should be used to help us all survive and recover."

New York attorney general sues to shut down NRA, alleging 'brazen illegality'

New York’s attorney general has sued to dissolve the National Rifle Association (NRA), alleging that senior leaders used the powerful gun lobby group as their “personal piggy bank” and illegally diverted millions of dollars from its charitable work.

Letitia James alleged that NRA leaders diverted funds to pay for family trips to the Bahamas and private jets, which contributed to a $64m reduction in the balance sheet in three years, turning a surplus into a deficit. She called for the organization’s leader, Wayne LaPierre, to be removed from his post.

“The NRA’s influence has been so powerful that the organization went unchecked for decades while top executives funneled millions into their own pockets,” James said at a press conference on Thursday. The NRA “has operated as a breeding ground for greed, abuse and brazen illegality,” she said, adding: “No one is above the law.”

LaPierre and three other current and former senior members of the organization are named in the 164-page civil lawsuit, along with the organization as a whole. James asked New York’s court to force the executives to repay NRA members based on the findings in her investigation. ...

The NRA president, Carolyn Meadows, said the lawsuit was a “baseless, premeditated attack” on the organization. She cast it as a politicized attack by a Democratic state attorney general on conservatives and the constitution’s second amendment, which enshrines the right to bear arms.

Pentagon Nominee Questioned About Company’s Reported Ties to Khashoggi Killers

The Trump administration’s nominee for a top special operations post at the Pentagon is facing questions about whether a company he helps oversee trained members of the Saudi team who killed journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

In May, President Donald Trump nominated Louis Bremer — a former Navy SEAL turned investment banker — to serve as assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict. In that role, Bremer would be the top civilian in the Defense Department overseeing the special operations community.

Bremer is currently a managing director at Cerberus Capital Management — a private equity company whose founder, Stephen Feinberg, has close ties to the Trump administration and was once considered for a high-up job in the intelligence community. Bremer also sits on the board of directors of Tier 1 Group, an Arkansas-based special operations training company that is owned by Cerberus.

In March 2019, the Washington Post — where Khashoggi was also a columnist — published a column by David Ignatius, which, citing “Saudi and American sources,” claimed that members of the Saudi rapid response team that killed Khashoggi in October  2018 had been trained in the United States. The column said that the CIA had warned other government agencies “that some of this special-operations training might have been conducted by Tier 1 Group” under a State Department license.

A U.S. government source confirmed the account at the time to The Intercept, saying that the CIA warning was intended to stop members of the Saudi team from being granted U.S. visas again for further training as part of defense liaison programs with the U.S. (The official asked for anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.) The CIA did not respond to an email requesting comment.

Protests in Bolivia | COVID-19 delays elections

Bolivian Regime Delays Elections a Third Time

In the Bolivian elections last October 20, incumbent President Evo Morales of the Movement Toward Socialism party (MAS in Spanish) won a 10-point victory over his nearest challenger, as pre-election polls predicted. The next day, the Organization of American States issued a statement challenging the legitimacy of the elections, asserting a “hard-to-explain change in the trend of the preliminary results.” Immediately, right wingers violently took to the streets to protest the president. The OAS issued a followup statement confirming their analysis on November 10. The same day, the military forced Morales to step down.

Senator Jeanine Añez declared herself president with the support of high-ranking members of the Bolivian military, as well as the US State Department—despite the fact that her conservative party earned a mere 4% of the vote during the elections.

This military coup was immediately decried by observers who have seen this familiar pattern of toppling governments. Mark Weisbrot, director of the Center for Economic & Policy Research, debunked the OAS statement, noting that it provided “absolutely no evidence — no statistics, numbers, or facts of any kind,” to support its conclusions. The CEPR objections were largely ignored by corporate media (, 11/18/19).

Immediately after Añez took power, security forces unleashed deadly violence against those who resisted. Añez began to sell off public resources and take loans from international creditors. ...

Añez came into power as an “interim” president, with a mandate to hold elections as soon as possible. The government instead delayed elections in March, then again in May, both times citing concerns about coronavirus. Notably, polls show that the MAS candidate, Luis Arce, has been leading in the polls for some time and would win fair elections.

Even the New York Times (3/30/20)  acknowledged that this delay was a way of consolidating power, publishing a piece headlined, “For Autocrats, and Others, Coronavirus Is a Chance to Grab Even More Power” that included the (first) delay of Bolivia’s “much anticipated” elections. It’s unclear whether Añez is meant to be considered an “autocrat” or one of the “others”; the piece only mentions that “a disputed election last year set off violent protests and forced President Evo Morales to resign.” ...

Last week, the Bolivian government announced that elections would be delayed for a third time. Critics again claim that the crisis is being used to further consolidate power. Former President Morales, who is currently living in exile in Argentina, said that “the de facto government wants to gain more time to continue the persecution of social leaders and against MAS candidates. It’s yet another form of persecution.” One of the coup leaders, far-right leader Fernando Comacho, is calling for elections to be canceled altogether.

In Western reporting on the latest election delay, outlets consistently failed to place it in the context of the coup. It is as if the Times and Post’s admissions never happened.

Lebanon's corrupt, colonial system leads to explosion catastrophe

Dems Rebuke 'Legislative Malpractice' of Trump Team as Talks Crumble and Tens of Millions Face Hunger, Joblessness, Possible Eviction

More than 20 million Americans don't have enough food to eat, 30 million have seen their incomes cut in half due to the expiration of boosted unemployment benefits, and 40 million could face eviction if Congress and the White House don't act.

But these coronavirus-induced human crises have not yet been enough to break the deadlock between the Trump administration and Democratic congressional leaders as the two sides remain far apart in relief talks that have dragged on for more than a week with little to no progress.

With their end-of-the-week deadline fast approaching, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows met Thursday with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and emerged after three hours seemingly no closer to a deal than they were before.

"We had what I would call a consequential meeting," Pelosi told reporters. "It was one where we could see the difference in values that we bring to the table. We have always said that the Republicans and the president do not understand the gravity of the situation and every time that we have met, it has been reinforced."

Though Schumer and Pelosi urged that negotiations continue until an agreement is reached on key issues like unemployment aid, money for state and local governments, and nutrition assistance, Mnuchin said Thursday that he is "not going to just keep on coming back every day if we can't get to a deal."

Politico reported this week that the White House offered Democratic leaders several "concessions," including $400-per-week in boosted unemployment benefits—an $800 monthly reduction from the previous level—and $150 billion in aid to state and local governments. Pelosi and Schumer rejected both as insufficient.

By the end of the day Thursday, many senators had already left Washington, D.C. for a long weekend with a green light from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who has largely remained on the sidelines throughout the bipartisan negotiations after unveiling a $1 trillion relief proposal that would have slashed boosted unemployment benefits by $1,600 per month.

"Is this just another Thursday?" Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) asked in a speech on the Senate floor Thursday evening. "You wouldn't know we're in a terrible economic collapse based on the fact that the Majority Leader is treating this period of time like just another Thursday when everything's fine, everything's good in America."

On Twitter, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) wrote that "Americans are dying and going hungry and Mitch McConnell just sent Republicans home for the weekend."

"Our country already has a public health crisis," Wyden added. "We've already got an unemployment crisis. And with Republicans skipping town, now we've got a crisis of legislative malpractice."

Failure by the White House and Congress to reach an agreement on additional relief spending could have catastrophic human consequences as Covid-19 infections continue to soar across the U.S. and the economic recovery sputters.

The Washington Post's Jeff Stein noted on Twitter that no deal means no additional aid to state and local governments, no new round of direct stimulus payments, no money for schools, no emergency funding for the U.S. Postal Service, no hazard pay for frontline workers, and no money for Covid-19 testing.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics announced Friday that the U.S. added 1.8 million jobs in July, a significant drop compared to 4.8 million in June and 2.7 million in May. Elise Gould, senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute, noted in a blog post that the U.S. is "still 12.9 million jobs below where we were in February, before the pandemic spread."

"Federal policymakers need to act now to reinstate the $600 unemployment insurance benefits to the 30+ million workers who are desperately trying to make ends meet," Gould wrote. "And, those benefits are supporting a huge amount of spending, which means, without it, the loss of about five million jobs."

"Federal policymakers also need to provide massive fiscal relief to state and local governments," added Gould, "so they can continue to provide necessary services and prevent unnecessary cuts to their budgets as their revenue falls."

In May, the Democrat-controlled House passed a bill proposing $1 trillion in aid to state and local governments and an extension of the $600-per-week unemployment insurance boost through January of next year. McConnell blocked the bill from even being considered on the Senate floor.

"They didn't act in the first week after the House acted," Merkley said of the Republican-controlled Senate. "Just treated it like another week. No concerns. Didn't act in the second week. Now we're 11 weeks since the House acted and still, the Majority Leader says, 'Don't worry, be happy.'"

Mnuchin and Meadows are planning to meet once more with Pelosi and Schumer Friday afternoon. Speaking to reporters ahead of the meeting, Mnuchin said the two sides remain "very far apart" on aid to state and local governments facing massive budget shortfalls due to the Covid-19 crisis.

"The president is not going to do a deal that has a massive amount of money to bail out state and locals," said Mnuchin.

If the two sides don't reach a deal, Mnuchin said the president will move ahead with legally dubious executive orders to suspend collection of the payroll tax, extend enhanced unemployment benefits at an unspecified rate, and revive an expired eviction moratorium. Trump said he could sign the orders as early as Friday afternoon.

The Post reported that "any executive actions the president might take would likely provide much narrower relief than what a congressional deal could produce, even if they survived court challenges."

Jobs Numbers Reveal STALLED Recovery As Stimulus Negotiations FAIL

Retirees Vow to 'Fight This Attempt to Gut Social Security' as Trump Announces Executive Order to Suspend Payroll Tax

An advocacy group representing more than four million American retirees warned Thursday that President Donald Trump took a dangerous step toward "single-handedly" dismantling Social Security by announcing he plans to sign an executive order suspending collection of the payroll tax as early as Friday afternoon.

With congressional negotiations over the next Covid-19 stimulus package still at an impasse, Trump told reporters Thursday that executive orders to suspend the payroll tax, extend boosted unemployment benefits, and reestablish an expired eviction moratorium are "being drawn now" despite questions over whether the president has the authority to unilaterally take any of those actions.

Trump said he expects to sign the orders "tomorrow afternoon or maybe the following morning" if White House negotiators and Democratic leaders don't reach a deal. Both Democrats and Republicans in Congress have rejected the idea of cutting the payroll tax, the primary funding mechanism for Social Security.

Richard Fiesta, executive director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, said in a statement that "after learning that Democratic and Republican congressional leaders would not go along with his harebrained scheme to cut Social Security's dedicated funding source, President Trump lashed out and announced he would begin dismantling the system single-handedly."

"Seniors pay for their housing, food, and medicine with their Social Security, putting $1 trillion into our economy every year," said Fiesta. "Older Americans have earned their benefits through a lifetime of work. Their retirement security should not be put at risk because President Trump is mad at Congress for not bending to his will."

As Prisons Across US Report Surge in Covid-19 Cases, Supreme Court Rules Jail Does Not Have to Provide Basic Protections to Inmates

As prisons and jails across the country continue to report Covid-19 outbreaks among inmates and staff, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled late Wednesday that a county jail in California does not have to provide its population with basic sanitary and protective equipment or test symptomatic inmates.

Responding to an emergency application by officials at Orange County Jail, the court handed down a 5-4 ruling along partisan lines and issued a temporary stay on an earlier ruling by federal Judge Jesus Bernal.

After the ACLU and several detainees filed a complaint that the jail was not providing safe conditions for its population of 3,000 people, Bernal issued an injunction in May requiring Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes to implement social distancing, test inmates if they showed symptoms, and provide disinfecting supplies—requirements which Barnes and other jail officials said amounted to "micromanaging" of the facility's daily operations.

University of Washington political science professor Scott Lemieux noted that the conservative justices issued their "absolutely indefensible" ruling while working from home "because it's not safe from them to go into work." The only principle behind the decision, Lemieux said, "is the belief of the Republican appointees to the Court that prisoners are subhuman and extraordinary measures need to be taken to expose as many of them to a deadly virus as possible."

The majority did not provide a reason for their ruling, giving the decision the appearance, Slate journalist Mark Joseph Stern tweeted, of "an exercise in raw power."

the horse race

DNC Appears Ready to Sideline Progressive Standout Ocasio-Cortez at Upcoming Convention

Progressives expressed their discontent with the Democratic establishment Friday after reporting from Politico indicated that it was "unclear" if popular Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez would be guaranteed a speaking slot at the party's convention.

"It would be stupid not to give" Ocasio-Cortez a role at the convention, Corbin Trent, a former top adviser to the New York Democrat, told Politico. "She's one of the best speakers the Democratic Party's got."

As Politico reported, the convention has lined up a number of party stalwarts and leaders, including more centrist types like former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State and 2016 nominee Hillary Clinton, as well as progressives like Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

The party has also invited former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, to speak in a show of anti-Trump unity that goes past party.

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, a powerful member of the party's centrist wing, told Politico that he doubted Ocasio-Cortez would be offered a role at the convention.

"I think Bernie and Warren will speak, and they'll represent the progressive wing of the party very ably," said Rendell.

Kasich's inclusion and Ocasio-Cortez's possible exclusion rankled advocates and activists on the left.

"You want Bill Clinton to speak but maybe not AOC," tweeted progressive activist Winnie Wong. "Okay, dummies."

Calling the decision "classic Dem shit," journalist Paul Blest opined it was unlikely that the party would ever see a repeat of former President Barack's famous keynote speech at the 2004 convention that propelled him to political stardom and the White House.

"She's one of the three most visible and culturally relevant politicians in the country," said Blest, "and she's particularly popular among young and left-leaning people, two blocs Biden needs even more in states like Wisconsin where the margin is narrow."

Cori Bush EXCLUSIVE: UBI Is My FIRST Priority In Congress

the evening greens

Green Groups Urge Insurers to Drop Coverage of Trans Mountain Pipeline

Over 140 advocacy groups released an open letter Thursday urging insurers of Trans Mountain to drop their coverage of the tar sands "megaproject" because it "puts Indigenous communities, drinking water, and our shared climate at grave risk."

"With the policy expiring at the end of August, now is the time to decisively say no to this destructive project," says the letter (pdf).

The call is addressed to AIG, Chubb, Energy Insurance Limited, Liberty Mutual, Lloyd's, Munich Re, Starr, Stewart Specialty Risk Underwriting, and W.R. Berkley. Spared from the list is Swiss insurance giant Zurich, which announced in a victory for campaigners two weeks ago that it would no longer cover the project

The demand from the groups including Rainforest Action Network, Greenpeace Canada, and the Union of BC Indian Chiefs is part of a tactic by climate activists to increase pressure on insurers to stop underwriting the fossil fuel project, which would triple the capacity of the Canadian government-owned existing pipeline and has faced multiple legal challenges and sustained resistance from First Nations communities.

The existing pipeline, groups wrote, "is a major public health and environmental hazard with a long history of spills and leaks," and the proposed expansion project "would multiply these risks tremendously."

Risks along supply chain abound, from releasing toxic pollutants and extracting vast amounts of fresh water resources to forest clearing to pipeline workers' threats to Indigenous women. ...

The groups further called on the insurers to not only discontinue coverage of Trans Mountain but "exit the tar sands sector entirely."

Last Fully Intact Canadian Ice Sheet Collapses

An ice shelf larger than Manhattan has collapsed in the Canadian Arctic.

The Milne Ice Shelf was the nation's last fully-intact ice shelf in the Arctic, and it lost more than 40% of its area in just two days in July, reports Reuters, the equivalent of about 50 square miles.

Researchers are predicting 2020 will be in the top five hottest years on record, and scientists have already labeled this year's hurricane season 'extremely active.' Experts are mourning the loss of the ice shelf, located near Canada's Ellesmere Island, though many predicted its demise.

"This was the largest remaining intact ice shelf, and it's disintegrated, basically," said Luke Copland, a glaciologist at the University of Ottawa who was part of the research team studying the Milne Ice Shelf.

News of the Milne collapse comes just over a week after Canada's St. Patrick Bay ice caps, also near Ellesmere Island in Nanavut, disappeared and a day after Italian authorities evacuated people from an alpine valley in northeastern Italy as the Planpincieux glacier in Mont Blanc massif threatens to collapse.

Bolstering Case for Transformational Green Recovery, New Study Finds Lockdown Emissions Had 'Negligible' Effect on Climate Crisis

A temporary fall in planet-warming emissions and pollutants triggered by the coronavirus pandemic will have a "negligible" effect on reining in the climate crisis, according to a study published Friday that underscores the need for a "green stimulus recovery" to fundamentally transform carbon-based economies.

For the study, published in Nature Climate Change, researchers looked at emissions—CO2 and nine others including methane and nitrous oxides—in 123 countries from February to June 2020. The international team estimated emissions fell roughly between 10%-30% globally, with peak emission reductions probably occurring mid-April.

But the blip will do little to address runaway warming and its impacts. The "direct effect of the pandemic-driven response will be negligible," the researchers wrote.

Study lead author Professor Piers Forster, director of the Priestley International Centre for Climate at Britain's University of Leeds, explained at The Conversation Friday:

even if some lockdown measures stay in place for the best part of two years, global temperatures will still only be 0.01°C lower than if we followed an emission pathway where the pandemic never happened.

So rather than helping to tackle climate change, lockdown has left us potentially picking up where we left off. It shows that, even if we lived in a world where the social and economic impacts of lockdown were acceptable, we still need far more serious measures to make a difference—we need structural change.

There's a clear opportunity to change course and right the path towards meeting a key limit of the Paris climate agreement, the researchers said.

While a fossil fuel-based recovery puts the world on a trajectory "to exceed 1.5 °C above pre-industrial limit by 2050," Forster and fellow researchers found that "choosing a pathway with strong green stimulus assumptions, including climate policy measures, has a good chance of keeping global temperature change above pre-industrial within the 1.5° C limit, saving around 0.3° C of future warming by 2050."

Also of Interest

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

How Not to Lose the Lockdown Generation

No lights, no glass, no money: Beirutis hamstrung in efforts to rebuild

The Fed Created an Emergency Lending Program to Hold Interest Rates Down; the Tiny Country of Sri Lanka Was the Major User

Superhawk Elliott Abrams Named Special Envoy on Iran

Trump Puts Iran-Contra VILLAIN In Charge Of Iran Policy

Addicted To Nuclear Weapons - Why U.S. Policies Never Change

The Filthy Hypocrisy of America’s “Clean” China-Free Internet

Saying ICE Has 'Lost the Right to Be Trusted,' Federal Judge Orders Mandatory Testing at Detention Center Hit by Covid-19

How the Navajo Nation won a hard-earned political voice in Utah

Progressive Prosecutor Movement Makes Major Gains in Democratic Primaries

Leftist Senate Candidate STUNS Establishment After Being Outraised By Millions

Would Susan Rice as VP be a death wish for the Democratic Party?

Winners and Losers: Biden Stumbles, Progressives Stun, Hollywood Sells Out

A Little Night Music

Albert King - Bad Luck Blues

Albert King - Oh, Pretty Woman

Albert King - Crosscut Saw

Albert King - I Love Lucy

Albert King - Everybody Wants to go to Heaven, But Nobody Wants to Die

Albert King - Cadillac Assembly Line

Albert King - I'm Gonna Call You as Soon as the Sun Goes Down

Albert King - Blues Power

Albert King - I Wanna Get Funky

Albert King - Killing Floor

Albert King - What Can I Do to Change Your Mind

Albert King - Got To Be Some Changes Made

Albert King - Live "Ohne Filter" (1992)

18 users have voted.


Lily O Lady's picture

I think is an epiphany. With the Lincoln Project supporting Biden, the GOP is essentially running two candidates. How nice for them.

17 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"

joe shikspack's picture

@Lily O Lady

... and how kind it was of the democrat national committee to rig the primaries for the republican! i wonder if any mainstream media outlet will ever report on the level of discrepancies of the exit polls in the 2020 primaries.

9 users have voted.

15 users have voted.
Lily O Lady's picture


The Establishment Strikes Back.

It seems that they just have to spit in our faces on a regular basis.

9 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"

@Lily O Lady
This isn't aimed at you Lily, but I need to rant.

the overwhelming majority of people here don't want to be hopeful about anything.
Every success against the corrupt establishment is just another reason to be cynical.
I would think that this would get exhausting after a while.

There is a leftist revolt going on within the Dems since 2016 unlike anything that has happened since the 60's.
If you respond "Remember when Obama..." or "I remember Clinton.." then you aren't paying close enough attention.
Yes, the Dem establishment is as bad or worse than ever before, but the voters are being fooled less than ever. And the latter matters far more.
Certainly the voters should have smartened up decades ago, but unless you've lived everywhere we don't get to judge that.

14 users have voted.

@gjohnsit but the comment you responded to might have something to do with the fact that Robin Kimbrough Hayes was the Our Revolution backed candidate. Both Bradshaw and Hayes were taking on the DSCC, etc. backed candidate James Mackler. This was a first time political run for Bradshaw and Hayes and other than briefly running in the 2016 Senate primary, Mackler also has no experience in electoral politics. Mackler's campaign raised over $2 million, no information of Hayes, and Bradshaw had less than $25 thousand (possibly spent less than $10 thousand).

There's so little information on all the candidates that only someone on the ground in TN could explain what ended up giving Bradshaw the edge. And if whatever it was could possibly resonate in the general election. (Do note that both Mackler and Hayes are attorneys.)

13 users have voted.

@gjohnsit @gjohnsit Whataboutism is a disease.

It cripples those who use it to respond to a new circumstance with tired automatic juvenile comebacks instead of coming to every situation with an open mind.

"He did it first." second grade, 7 year olds logic.

5 users have voted.


joe shikspack's picture


seeing schumer's corporate cash lose to grassroots elbow grease is a thing of beauty to behold.

11 users have voted.
mimi's picture

she explained the political corruption and incompetence of the Lebanese political system very well. I had only read German news papers, who covered it, and didn't read the NYT directly, I found all her explanations extremely clarifying.

Thanks for posting it, Joe. Have a good evening. Hope your family is not harmed by the current failures of your political powerful monsters. It is just too sickening to wrap one's mind around to what is happening.

Be well and safe. And Good Luck.

11 users have voted.

“Trauma is not what happens to you.
Trauma is what happens inside you,
as a result of what happens to you.”
— Dr. Gabor Maté

joe shikspack's picture


i hope that the people of lebanon wind up having a say in the reconfiguration of their government. there are certainly a lot of outside interests that are quite eager to reconfigure their government for them.

so far, so good at chez shikspack. we are all well. the virus and the nasty weather have so far not darkened my doorstep.

i hope all is well for you; have a great weekend!

8 users have voted.
Lookout's picture

We can't be honest and consistent about COVID, what hope do we have with climate chaos as the ice disappears?

As someone here's sig line goes - we are so screwed.

Got my road pulled back into shape today after a one inch rain in about 30 min last evening. Still mowing to do though. No end to it. Actually glad for the distraction from the insanity. Rumbling again this evening, but doubt there will be any rain. Had the oddest thing happen the other day. I've been planting American chestnuts, I have to cage them to keep the deer off of them. Well, I go out to other day and the cage is gone and one of my trees browsed down...almost defoliated. I've put in metal posts instead of the plastic electric fence step post that they (deer?) broke. Reckon they'll have a time getting it now. Hope so anyway.

Y'all be well and take care in these odd times! Thanks as always for the EB.

13 users have voted.

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

joe shikspack's picture


it appears to me that the only hope that we have of dealing with climate crisis is through rebellion. governmental figures may appear to take the problem seriously with their lips, but their policies never seem to be in step with the scope and scale of the problem.

given that much of the public in many countries (especially the u.s.) would probably rather die than give up their suvs and unsustainable lifestyles, our children and grandchildren have little to look forward to.

heh, those deer are pesky little vermin. they seem to find a way to get through most measures to keep them off of your food. between the deer and the follow up vermin, the squirrels, all of my blueberries disappeared this year. i've been thinking that deer are best kept in the freezer.

6 users have voted.
WoodsDweller's picture

Italian Valley Still in 'Red Zone'

This hasn't happened, yet, they're just trying to get people out of the way.

An Italian alpine resort remained on high alert Friday over fears a vast chunk of a glacier on the slopes of the Mont Blanc massif could plummet in high temperatures.
The huge ice block measuring around 500,000 cubic meters ... could yet break free of its perch ... The coming three days are expected to bring especially high temperatures as much of Europe sizzles under a heatwave.

13 users have voted.

"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function." -- Albert Bartlett
"A species that is hurtling toward extinction has no business promoting slow incremental change." -- Caitlin Johnstone

joe shikspack's picture


wow, that's a big ice cube!

i guess that town better figure on moving, because if the ice doesn't fall this year, it won't be many years before there's another dangerous heat wave that puts them in danger again.

8 users have voted.

@joe shikspack Canada's last intact Arctic ice shelf has collapsed

The last fully intact ice shelf in Canada has collapsed into the Arctic Ocean. It took just a couple of days for the shelf to lose nearly half of its area, scientists said Friday, sending large ice islands out into the ocean.

The 4,000-year-old Milne Ice Shelf, located at the edge of Ellesmere Island in the northern territory of Nunavut, collapsed at the end of last month, researchers announced this week. It lost 43% of its area in just two days.
A chunk of ice about 80 square kilometers in size broke off of the shelf — about 20 square kilometers larger than Manhattan in New York. Due to the pandemic, scientists were not out in the field studying the shelf when it calved, instead, observing it through satellite images.

7 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


heh, it's likely to fall on our heads, too. or perhaps rise up under our feet. just in much smaller pieces than the folks are facing that live under the mont blanc glacier.

4 users have voted.
Azazello's picture

Foreign policy under Biden ?
DNC Delegates Call Biden Foreign Policy Team ‘A Horror Show’ And Ask For New Hires
Maybe Pompeo will just stay on ?
Most balanced mainstream piece I've seen yet on Russiagate, with the small quibble that the DNC emails were actually leaked not hacked.
From Foreign Affairs: There Is No Russian Plot Against America
Some people don't believe in the virus. Some people don't believe in global warming.
They are the same people. They will kill us all with their stupidity.
Freedumb in Germany: Coronavirus rallies: Germany's growing anti-lockdown movement
How Voting "Blue No Matter Who" Helps Trump

11 users have voted.

It didn't have to be this way.

joe shikspack's picture


thanks for the links!

briahna joy gray is right on target, but it seems to me that the idea that the progressive faction of the democrat party can live with the idiot corporate conservative wing and get anything done with their dead-ass weight hanging on them is silly. it's time for them to split or get off the pot, so to speak.

12 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

I wonder where the values of sacrificing kids for profits fits in?

Seeing to me that Schumer’s values line up with his Wall Street donor’s values. I don’t think much of anything is being discussed between democrats and the WH team except for what’s the least possible amount we can give people to shut them up and how can we get them back to work?

Many of the schools that have opened have at least one person who became infected with COVID on day 1. But they are not shutting down schools yet. They are isolating kids and trying to figure out how many more got infected by them.

We are being told that kids must go back to school because it’s important for their mental health. Sure...they really care about that issue. This is why school districts only have 1-2 counselors for their whole districts and funding for mental health keeps getting cut.

Anyone hearing anything about how many meat factory workers have gotten sick and or died lately? And if gyms are being shut down again because of infection rates then how does it make sense to open schools? Churches are still shut down in many states too. More and more people are questioning whether this COVID nightmare is just a smoke screen for depopulation before climate change disasters strikes so that the elites don’t have to share dwindling resources.

14 users have voted.

“You know me. Do I look like a radical socialist with a soft spot for rioters? Really?” - Joe Biden 8/31/2020

joe shikspack's picture


More and more people are questioning whether this COVID nightmare is just a smoke screen for depopulation before climate change disasters strikes so that the elites don’t have to share dwindling resources.

it's good to see that more and more people are finally catching on.

10 users have voted.

@snoopydawg I couldn't agree more with this take on opening New York Schools.

New York has gotten control of the virus. Yesterday there were ZERO reported new cases.

So, sure, let's open the schools and ramp this plague up again.

The cockamamie plan devised with kids going to school 2 days on Week One and 3 days on Week Two and back and forth like this shows a disregard for common sense.

A better idea would be to open schools up for the youngest children spread out in all the classrooms yielding classes of 15 students or fewer. That has some chance of a safe procedure.

4 users have voted.


snoopydawg's picture


Her nose loves it.


12 users have voted.

“You know me. Do I look like a radical socialist with a soft spot for rioters? Really?” - Joe Biden 8/31/2020

joe shikspack's picture


now she doesn't have to strain to get her nose out the window - nice upgrade. Smile

7 users have voted.

Pretty sad state of affairs all around. The interview by Aaron Mate was as usual so very informative and very disturbing. Wonder how many of these potential time bombs are in the harbor in the Port of Houston and elsewhere?

Have moved back from Austin to my country property outside Austin. Needed some quiet time and wanted to get some things cleared out here before I hopefully head back to Santa Fe. Needed some quiet time and a pause to reflect on all that is going on around me. Don't know if it is because this is an older community but the Covid illness and deaths here are very low.

Have a good weekend. The grass here is burned up because so little rain but my pecan trees look OK. Maybe because they are native pecan trees!

12 users have voted.

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

This ain't no dress rehearsal!

joe shikspack's picture


good to hear from you! glad that all is going well and that you are in a safe area.

so far nobody in my neighborhood has wound up with the virus. i worry about what will happen when school opens up and thousands of college students suddenly descend on my town, though.

i was somewhat annoyed the other day when i drove past the mall and saw a gaggle of 50 plus college kids hanging out waiting to get into the mall - not a single mask among them. most of the regular residents in my area are quite good about wearing masks, there are not very many idiots who feel their liberty is being stolen from them by librul mask enforcers. i guess we'll see what happens at the end of the month.

be well and take care!

8 users have voted.
enhydra lutris's picture

be well and hae a good one.

have a great weekend too.

5 users have voted.

That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

joe shikspack's picture

@enhydra lutris

thanks, have a great weekend!

3 users have voted.
dystopian's picture

Great tunes JS! Who couldn't like Albert King? Amazing player, lots of times with such piercing intonation and 'attack' of the notes. Great sound. When I first heard him, I had to know who that was... soooo good. Lotta players playin' Albert...

Sorry about the shatshow as the world turns...

You may lose a glacier here, and ice shelf there, but ya got Elliot Abrams working on Iran! And hey Pete the Butt got a church gig!

Great to see the progressive wins around the country!

How telling no AOC, one of the hottest firebrands the dems have, not at the convention!?!?! But Clintons, Obamas, Kascich, etc., ad. nauseum??????????????? Surprised they are letting Bernie talk.

My heart hurts for the poor people of Beirut.

be well, play it safe!

livin' la vida quarantina!

7 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, albert king had a style all his own and a tone that cut right through any mix in any venue.

heh, yeah, welcome to the downbound handbasket. Smile

have a great weekend!

7 users have voted.
orlbucfan's picture

@joe shikspack Flat Tire is one of my favorite electric blues tunes. Anywho, Rec'd!!

2 users have voted.

Inner and Outer Space: the Final Frontiers.