The Evening Blues - 1-27-16


Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features jazz pianist Oscar Peterson. Enjoy!

Oscar Peterson - Boogie Blues Etude

“There’s an idea that hell is other people. My idea is that it might be repetition.”

-- Stephen King

News and Opinion

The U.S. Intervention in Libya Was Such a Smashing Success That a Sequel is Coming

The immediate aftermath of the NATO bombing of Libya was a time of high gloating. Just as Iraq War advocates pointed to the capture and killing of Saddam Hussein as proof that their war was a success, Libya War advocates pointed to the capture and brutal killing of Muammar Gaddafi as proof of their vindication. War advocates such as Anne-Marie Slaughter and Nicholas Kristof were writing columns celebrating their prescience and mocking war opponents as discredited, and The New York Times published a front-page article declaring: “U.S. Tactics in Libya May be a Model for Other Efforts.” It was widely expected that Hillary Clinton, one of the leading advocates for and architects of the bombing campaign, would be regarded as a Foreign Policy Visionary for the grand Libya success: “We came, we saw, he died,” Clinton sociopathically boasted about the mob rape and murder of Gaddafi while guffawing on 60 Minutes. ...

But the much bigger question was when (not if, but when) the instability and extremism that predictably followed the NATO bombing would be used to justify a new U.S.-led war – also exactly as happened in Iraq.

We now have our answer, from The New York Times:

Worried about a growing threat from the Islamic State in Libya, the United States and its allies are increasing reconnaissance flights and intelligence collecting there and preparing for possible airstrikes and commando raids, senior American policy makers, commanders and intelligence officials said this week. . . . “It’s fair to say that we’re looking to take decisive military action against ISIL in conjunction with the political process” in Libya, [Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Joseph] Dunford said. “The president has made clear that we have the authority to use military force.”

Just as there was no Al Qaeda or ISIS to attack in Iraq until the U.S. bombed its government, there was no ISIS in Libya until NATO bombed it. Now the U.S. is about to seize on the effects of its own bombing campaign in Libya to justify an entirely new bombing campaign in that same country. ... As it turns out, one of the few benefits of the NATO bombing of Libya will redound to the permanent winners in the private-public axis that constitutes the machine of Endless Militarism: it provided a pretext for another new war.

Pentagon on Afghanistan: US ‘Can’t Really Leave’

While presenting it as a shift in President Obama’s mindset, Pentagon officials are talking up the idea that the US occupation of Afghanistan, which began in late 2001, is not just extended for a couple of additional years but will continue for several more decades, and for all intents and purposes may as well be permanent.

“What we’ve learned is that you can’t really leave,” one Pentagon official was quoted in the Washington Post as insisting, while other officials openly talked about a “generational approach,” in which the US stays for generations more to create an entire new Afghanistan.

The change isn’t that the US is staying, but that the Pentagon is doing away with the pretense of leaving in any measurable timeframe. From the Afghan military’s widespread corruption to the growth of ISIS in the nation’s southeast, all the military talking points are now that the Afghans aren’t ready, but that these Afghans likely never will be.

Your tax dollars at work:

Saudi-led Bombing in Yemen Targets Civilians as Houthis Use Migrants as Human Shields

The Saudi-led coalition that has been bombing Yemen has engaged in "systematic" targeting of civilians in violation of international humanitarian law, while rebel forces in the country have employed African migrants as human shields, United Nations investigators have reported.

The Panel of Experts on Yemen, which was established by the UN Security Council to monitor sanctions on the country, delivered its final report to the council last week. VICE News obtained a copy of the report, which recommended that the council consider forming an international commission of inquiry to investigate human rights abuses in Yemen.

"The coalition's targeting of civilians through air strikes, either by bombing residential neighborhoods or by treating the entire cities of Sa'dah and Maran as military targets, is a grave violation of the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution," the report says. "In certain cases, the Panel found such violations have been conducted in a widespread and systematic manner."

The panel determined that roughly 60 percent of 2,682 civilian deaths since last March were caused by airstrikes. Among the sites hit by the Saudi-led coalition, according to the report, were "camps for internally displaced people and refugees; civilian gatherings, including weddings; civilian vehicles, including buses; civilian residential areas; medical facilities; schools; mosques; markets, factories and food storage warehouses."

The panel said that it "documented 119 coalition sorties relating to violations of international humanitarian law." In three cases, it documented "civilians fleeing residential bombings and being chased and shot at by helicopters." It found that coalition aircraft attacked hospitals on 22 occasions.

[See also: Saudi Arabia Is Killing Civilians With US Bombs - js]

Beware Biden’s ‘Trial Balloon’ on Escalation in Syria

Last Saturday, Vice President Joe Biden signaled the United States was open to military escalation in Syria. Speaking in Istanbul after a meeting with Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu of Turkey on the future of Syria, Biden said a political solution to the fighting was preferable, “but we are prepared. . . to have a military solution to this operation and taking out Daesh (ISIS, or the Islamic State).” If the United States desires to turn a difficult situation for the international community in the Middle East into an outright American disaster, then we should by all means pursue deeper military engagement.

It is astounding that after two decades of failing to achieve strategic objectives in the Middle East using armed force, that a military solution in Syria now would even be considered. ... The vice president is not going to float such an idea at a public briefing with the prime minister of an allied NATO power unless it has seen considerable contemplation in the White House. In all likelihood, his statement was a trial balloon to see what reaction it would get.

The vice president’s statement must be seen in context. It represents the latest step of a non-stop series of escalating military moves against the Islamic State that began in June 2014. [See article for synopsis of US military escalations. - js] ...

The United States had 160,000 troops on the ground in Iraq in 2008 and succeeded only in securing a temporary reduction in violence. There were 100,000 at the height of the surge in Afghanistan in 2010, and that deployment merely dented the violence. Today both countries are ablaze in a virtual civil war, and there is no end in sight for the violence. Moreover, in both of those conflicts, the United States was fighting for the governments against the rebels. In Syria we would likely be fighting against the government, but also opposing ISIS and Al Qaeda-linked groups. It is unclear what military success in such a chaotic environment would even look like.

Israeli defence minister accuses Turkey of buying IS oil

Speaking in Athens, Moshe Yaalon said IS had "enjoyed Turkish money for oil for a very, very long period of time".

Turkey denies allowing IS smuggling and the US recently rejected Russian claims that Turkish government officials were in league with the militants. ...

"It's up to Turkey, the Turkish government, the Turkish leadership, to decide whether they want to be part of any kind of cooperation to fight terrorism," Mr Yaalon told reporters after a meeting with his Greek counterpart.

"This is not the case so far. As you know, Daesh [Islamic State] enjoyed Turkish money for oil for a very, very long period of time. I hope that it will be ended."

Mr Yaalon also alleged that Turkey had "permitted jihadists to move from Europe to Syria and Iraq and back".

Badr Brigade Head: US Airstrikes Against ISIS Failing

Influential Iraqi MP and Badr Brigade leader Hadi Amiri today declared US airstrikes against ISIS to have been a failure, saying they’d killed some ISIS figures but that the group remains large, flush with cash, and in a state of high morale.

Today, ISIS is a state, it has command centers, their locations are known, their logistics are known,” Amiri said, saying the US is not attacking known ISIS sites and is subsequently not doing major harm to ISIS’ continued control of much of Iraq and Syria.

Facing Turkish Threats, Kurds Not Invited to Syria Talks

Despite holding materially the entire Hasakeh Province and some territory in nearby Aleppo Province, the Kurdish YPG will not be participating in this week’s Syrian peace talks. According to Saleh Muslim, the leader of the YPG’s political wing, the PYD, they were not even invited.

Russia had been pushing hard for the inclusion of the Syrian Kurdish faction, which is also closely allied with the US, saying it was “counterproductive” and “unfair” to exclude them and saying a deal was impossible without Kurdish involvement.

Turkey, however, threatened a last minute boycott of the talks if the Kurds were invited, saying they are a “terror group” and could not be allowed at the talks in any fashion.

French minister Christiane Taubira resigns after fallout over terror policy

François Hollande’s fraught battle to enshrine tough, emergency security measures into the French constitution has taken another twist after the French justice minister, Christiane Taubira, resigned.

Taubira, a well-established political figure from Cayenne in French Guiana, was seen as an outspoken voice on the left of the Socialist government who had championed a rights-based and increasingly open approach to the justice system. She was best known for her role in introducing France’s same-sex marriage law in 2013.

But since the January and November terrorist attacks in Paris, Taubira was seen as increasingly at odds with Hollande’s hardline security clampdown that had sought to confer more emergency powers on police and local officials and away from the legal process.

Her resignation smoothes the way for Hollande’s high-stakes bid to enshrine special emergency measures into the French constitution.

Christiane Taubira: Taking the moral high ground

Ai Weiwei shuts Danish show in protest at asylum seeker law

The Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei has closed down his exhibition in Copenhagen, out of protest against a new law that allows Danish authorities to seize valuables from asylum seekers.

“Ai Weiwei has decided to close his exhibition, Ruptures, at Faurschou Foundation Copenhagen, Denmark. This decision follows the Danish parliament’s approval of the law proposal that allows seizing valuables and delaying family reunions for asylum seekers,” a post on his official Instagram and Facebook accounts reads. The exhibition opened in March 2015 and had been due to close in mid-April 2016.

Jens Faurschou, owner of the Faurschou Foundation in Copenhagen, told the Guardian: “When I woke up today I did not expect to get that call, but I was not surprised by his [Ai’s] reaction. He called from a beach in Lesbos, where he is working, doing a documentary about refugees in the Middle East.

“He had been watching the news during the night and wanted to react. I didn’t try to dissuade him. This is not so much about which country does more or less for refugees, it is the symbolic importance of the new law. This [kind of thing] is spreading over Europe, and we in Denmark are taking the lead in this by making this law.”

Billions locked in poverty by public sector corruption, report shows>

More than 6 billion people live in countries where serious levels of public sector corruption are fuelling inequality and exploitation and locking millions of men, women and children into poverty, according to the annual index of perceived corruption.

Transparency International’s corruption perceptions index 2015 – which ranked 168 countries on a scale of 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean) – is once again topped by Denmark, which scored 91. Close behind are Finland (90), Sweden (89), New Zealand (88) and the Netherlands (87).

Least corrupt countries

Germany, Luxembourg and the UK are equal 10th with a score of 81, while the US comes in 16th on 76. The five countries at the bottom are: Somalia (8); North Korea (8); Afghanistan (11); Sudan (12), and South Sudan (15).

Although the report finds that two-thirds of all the countries rated have a serious corruption problem – judged to be a score of less than 50 – and acknowledges that corruption remains rife, Transparency International said there were grounds for optimism as more countries had improved their scores than seen them decline since the previous index.

US - FBI arrest Oregon militia siege leaders, one killed after gunfight

The Oregon Militia Spokesman Has Been Killed and Its Leaders Detained After FBI Confrontation

Robert "LaVoy" Finicum, a rancher who acted as a spokesman for the self-identified militia that has illegally occupied a federally owned wildlife refuge in Oregon since January 2, was killed on Tuesday during a confrontation with US authorities.

The FBI said gunshots rang out after officers stopped a car carrying protest leader Ammon Bundy and others near the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

Bundy and four other senior members were taken into custody following the confrontation along Highway 395, near the reserve in northeast Oregon around 4.25pm local time, the FBI said.

Activists said FBI agents were setting up a perimeter on Tuesday night around the refuge, where some people were still holding out, continuing their protest against federal control of large tracts of the country, a law enforcement official told Reuters.

One of the remaining occupiers, Jason Patrick, told Reuters by phone they would stay until the "redress of grievances." "I've heard 'peaceful resolution' for weeks now and now there's a cowboy who is my friend who is dead — so prepare for the peaceful resolution," Patrick said.

Ammon Bundy and others arrested

FBI officials said they arrested Bundy, his brother Ryan Bundy, Bryan Cavalier, Shawna Cox and Ryan Payne on Tuesday afternoon after they stopped them along the highway. ...

Reached by phone Tuesday night, Cliven Bundy, Ammon’s father, who led a standoff with the federal government in 2014, said he was devastated by the reports. “My sons are good people and they were there to help … It’s a rotten shame that people there are not trying to harm anybody and now they are shooting them dead.”

He added: “We’re not going to put up with this … This is a pretty big deal for America. This is the way they treat people who try to help? We are tired of the abuse.”

In a separate incident, Joe Oshaughnessy – another rightwing activist who earlier claimed he was trying to prevent violence from erupting at the refuge – was arrested in Burns, the closest town to the wildlife refuge.

At 6.30pm PST, FBI officials also arrested Pete Santilli, a conservative Ohio radio host who has been a vocal supporter of the Bundys and was earlier live-streaming the chaos outside of a hospital in Burns. ...

Jon Ritzheimer, another prominent occupation leader who often helped run the militia’s “security” team, was also arrested late Tuesday night. Officials say Ritzheimer turned himself in at a police department in Peoria, Arizona, and that he was arrested without incident. He is also facing a federal felony charge.

Oregon militia could face more than 10 years in prison, legal experts say

Leaders of the armed militia occupying federal lands in eastern Oregon could face hefty fines and more than 10 years behind bars if government officials decide to prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law, legal experts say.

Ammon Bundy and his crew of rightwing anti-government followers – who have refused to leave the Malheur national wildlife refuge since they took over its headquarters on 2 January – appear to have violated a number of laws that prohibit the unauthorized use and destruction of public property.

“There are a panoply of federal statutes that focus on trespassing on federal lands and misuse of federal property,” said David Hayes, a visiting lecturer at Stanford Law School and former deputy secretary of the US Department of the Interior. “I’m confident that they will be prosecuted.”

The militia argues that they are reclaiming public land to protest government regulations and that the occupation is defending the constitutional rights of local ranchers to use federally controlled lands in their back yard. But experts say the occupiers lack any legal arguments that would shield them in court and that if charges were brought, the Bundy bunch could face substantial punishments. ...

For starters, one federal statute regarding public property holds that if a person “knowingly converts to his use” property of the federal government, that person could face a fine and a prison sentence of up to 10 years if the value of the property is greater than $1,000.

Another federal law specifically governing wildlife refuges says that willful property destruction at protected sanctuaries could yield a six-month prison sentence. A separate statute says that if someone “willfully and maliciously” destroys property on certain federal lands, then he or she could face a fine of up to $250,000 and five years in prison.

Six Cleveland officers sacked after 137 shots killed two unarmed black people

Cleveland officials said on Tuesday that they were sacking six police officers involved in a 137-shot barrage that killed two unarmed black people after a high-speed chase.

Those officers included Michael Brelo, a patrolman acquitted of manslaughter charges in May for having fired the last 15 shots of the barrage in East Cleveland on 29 November 2012. The chase began when officers standing outside police headquarters mistook the sound of a beat-up Chevrolet Malibu backfiring as a gunshot.

Six more officers who fired during the barrage face suspensions ranging from 21 to 30 days, said public safety director Michael McGrath, the former police chief. A total of 13 officers had been notified they faced administrative discipline, and one of them has retired, McGrath said.

The president of Cleveland’s largest police union, Steve Loomis, vowed to fight the discipline and said grievances appealing the firings were filed with the city on Tuesday. He described the firings as unbelievable, unprecedented and politically motivated. ...

Of the officers who were fired, only Brelo faced criminal charges. Prosecutors said he stood on the vehicle’s hood and fired inside repeatedly after the car had stopped and its occupants were no longer a threat. ... Brelo’s disciplinary letter [...] notes that he fired 49 times, more than double any other officer involved.

The World’s Favorite New Tax Haven Is the United States

Last September, at a law firm overlooking San Francisco Bay, Andrew Penney, a managing director at Rothschild & Co., gave a talk on how the world’s wealthy elite can avoid paying taxes.

His message was clear: You can help your clients move their fortunes to the United States, free of taxes and hidden from their governments.

Some are calling it the new Switzerland.

After years of lambasting other countries for helping rich Americans hide their money offshore, the U.S. is emerging as a leading tax and secrecy haven for rich foreigners. By resisting new global disclosure standards, the U.S. is creating a hot new market, becoming the go-to place to stash foreign wealth. Everyone from London lawyers to Swiss trust companies is getting in on the act, helping the world’s rich move accounts from places like the Bahamas and the British Virgin Islands to Nevada, Wyoming, and South Dakota.

“How ironic—no, how perverse—that the USA, which has been so sanctimonious in its condemnation of Swiss banks, has become the banking secrecy jurisdiction du jour,” wrote Peter A. Cotorceanu, a lawyer at Anaford AG, a Zurich law firm, in a recent legal journal. “That ‘giant sucking sound’ you hear? It is the sound of money rushing to the USA.”

China accuses George Soros of 'declaring war' on yuan

Chinese state media has stepped up a salvo of biting commentaries against George Soros and other currency traders as the yuan comes under pressure, with the billionaire investor accused of “declaring war” on the unit.

At the annual World Economic Forum in Davos last week, Soros told Bloomberg TV that the world’s second-largest economy – where growth has already slowed to a 25-year low according to official figures – was heading for more troubles. ...

Soros – whose enormous trades are still blamed in some countries for contributing to the Asian financial crisis of 1997 – pointed to deflation and excessive debt as reasons for China’s slowdown.

The normally stable yuan, whose value is closely controlled by Beijing, has come under pressure in recent weeks and months in overseas markets and from capital outflows. Authorities have spent hundreds of billions of dollars to defend it. ...

An English-language op-ed in the nationalistic Global Times newspaper blamed “westerners” for not “accepting responsibility for the mess” in the world economy.

The comments came after the overseas edition of the People’s Daily, the official mouthpiece of the Communist party, published a front-page article Tuesday titled “Declaring war on China’s currency? Ha ha” that was widely shared on Chinese social media.

the horse race

Hillary Clinton Doing Finance Industry Fundraiser Just Before Iowa

Despite being dogged with questions about her ties to Wall Street, Hillary Clinton will take a detour from the campaign trail in Iowa to do a finance industry fundraiser on Wednesday.

Clinton will appear in Philadelphia at a “gala” fundraiser hosted by executives at Franklin Square Capital Partners, a $17 billion investment fund. Rocker Bon Jovi will reportedly play an acoustic set for “friends” who pledge $1,000 and hosts who bundle up to $27,000. (Giancarlo Stefanoni, a Clinton campaign staffer, confirmed that as of Tuesday afternoon, the event is still on.) ...

Clinton was then scheduled to head to New York City on Thursday, where she was to speak at a lunchtime “Conversations With Hillary” fundraiser, now set for next month. This one is co-hosted by Matt Mallow, a senior managing director and general counsel at BlackRock, the world’s largest asset management firm. As we’ve reported before, having a conversation with Hillary is not cheap.

BlackRock’s ties to Clinton go particularly deep: Cheryl Mills, one of Clinton’s closest advisers at the State Department, sits on BlackRock’s board, and perhaps not surprisingly, Clinton’s plans for the industry align with the company’s financial strategy.

Ha Ha: Hillary Clinton’s Top Financial Supporter Now Controls “The Onion”

Onion staffers may think twice before they produce more stories like Hillary Clinton Tries To Woo Voters By Rescinding CandidacyHillary Clinton To Nation: ‘Do Not Fuck This Up For Me,’ Hillary Clinton: The Merciless, Unrelenting March To The Presidency, or the signed Hillary Clinton editorial titled I’m Weighing Whether Or Not I Want To Go Through The Hell Of Appealing To You Idiotic, Uninformed Oafs.

Many news outlets covered Univision Communications’ purchase last week of a stake in The Onion, the world’s leading news publication. According to NPR, Univision bought a 40 percent controlling interest in the company, and also acquired the option to buy the remainder of The Onion in the future.

But what’s gotten no attention at all is that Haim Saban, Hillary Clinton’s biggest fan and financial supporter, is Univision’s co-owner, chairman, and CEO. Saban and his wife, Cheryl, are Hillary Clinton’s top financial backers, having given $2,046,600 to support her political campaigns and at least $10 million more to the Clinton Foundation, on whose board Cheryl Saban sits. ... An extensive New Yorker profile of Saban recalls how Saban publicly described his “three ways to be influential in American politics” in 2009. One was political donations. Another was establishing think tanks (he founded the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution in 2002). And the third was controlling media outlets.

Clinton in Denial About Impact of Trade Policy on Immigration

Robert Reich makes a good observation:

This election is about power

The Democratic contest has repeatedly been characterized as a choice between Hillary Clinton’s “pragmatism” and Bernie Sanders’s “idealism” – with the not-so-subtle message that realists choose pragmatism over idealism. But this way of framing the choice ignores the biggest reality of all: the unprecedented, and increasing, concentration of income, wealth and power at the very top, combined with declining real incomes for most and persistent poverty for the bottom fifth.

The real choice isn’t “pragmatism” or “idealism.” It’s either allowing these trends to worsen, or reversing them. Inequality has reached levels last seen in the era of the “robber barons” in the 1890s. The only truly pragmatic way of reversing this state of affairs is through a “political revolution” that mobilizes millions of Americans.

Is such a mobilization possible? One pundit recently warned Democrats that change happens incrementally, by accepting half loaves as being better than none. That may be true, but the full loaf has to be large and bold enough in the first place to make the half loaf meaningful. And not even a half loaf is possible unless or until America wrests back power from the executives of large corporations, Wall Street bankers and billionaires who now control the bakery. ...

The other day Bill Clinton attacked Sanders’s proposal for a single-payer health plan as unfeasible and a “recipe for gridlock.” But these days, nothing of any significance is politically feasible and every bold idea is a recipe for gridlock. This election is about changing the parameters of what’s feasible and ending the choke hold of big money on our political system. In other words, it’s about power – whether the very wealthy who now have it will keep it, or whether average Americans will get some as well.

Huge Crowds, Surging Polls for Sanders as 'Revolution' Revs Engine Ahead of Iowa

With wall-to-wall crowds, climbing poll numbers, and a wave of critical new endorsements, less than one week before the primary contests officially commence, Bernie Sanders is riding high.

Two new polls out on Wednesday show that the senator from Vermont is not only holding fast on his lead in Iowa, but also continues to gain against frontrunner Hillary Clinton nationally.

The voter enthusiasm that has defined much of Sanders' candidacy was on full display Tuesday evening when an overflowing crowd of 14,000 people rallied at an exhibition center in St. Paul, Minnesota, following an afternoon rally in Duluth that saw a crowd of 6,000 people. ...

A new Quinnipiac University poll (pdf) out Wednesday confirmed Sanders' viability in the February 1 Iowa contest. The survey found that Sanders leads Clinton 49 percent to 45 percent among likely Iowa Democratic caucus-goers, results which are "virtually unchanged" from the January 12 survey which had Sanders ahead of Clinton 49 to 44 percent.

Meanwhile, a new ABC News/ Washington Post poll (pdf) reveals that Clinton's lead over Sanders nationally has fallen to its lowest point yet, with 55 percent versus 36 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents who are registered to vote. Notably, Sanders gained 17 points among independent voters.

Trump’s Debate Boycott Throws Fox News Into Chaos

Tonight, Donald Trump’s months-long war with Fox News entered a chaotic and — for both sides — perilous new phase when Trump called Roger Ailes’s bluff and announced he was boycotting Fox’s debate to protest Megyn Kelly's aggressive coverage of his campaign. Instead, Trump said he would host his own Iowa town hall to raise money for veterans and let other networks cover it. One clear sign of the gravity of tonight’s development is the sense of confusion that is swirling throughout Fox.

For Trump, the political risks are obvious: His absence from the Fox stage just four days before the Iowa Caucus provides his rivals with a prime-time platform to tee off on him with no chance for him to fire back. For Ailes, the risks are less immediate, but potentially as consequential to maintaining his power. No matter how loudly GOP candidates complained about Fox’s loutish politics in private, none risked taking Ailes on in public for fear of losing access to this crucial constituency — until Trump, that is. Even if Trump's boycott backfires, he's already achieved a historic victory: exploding the myth that a Republican candidate can't openly challenge Fox.

the evening greens

Ohio state EPA chief blasts 'woefully inadequate' toxic water regulations

National water regulations are “broken” and need urgent repair to avoid a public health crisis, Ohio’s top environmental regulator has warned, amid growing criticism of the US Environmental Protection Agency’s failure to eradicate misleading tests for lead in drinking water.

The Ohio EPA said it has headed off the sort of toxic water disaster seen in the city of Flint by revoking the license of the head of water treatment for the village of Sebring, where elevated lead levels were discovered. ...

Craig Butler, director of the Ohio EPA, told the Guardian that the problem is far larger than the actions of one local official. He said the examples of Sebring and Flint, where a state of emergency has been imposed due to toxic water that went unheeded for more than a year, show that the federal EPA urgently needs to revise its lead and copper rule and set a stronger example for states.

“The federal system is broken and needs to be fixed,” he said. “The rule is hopelessly complicated, virtually no one understands it. And when it is triggered, you would think that because lead is such a concern due to its impact upon pregnant women and on developmental disabilities that we’d fix it immediately. But that’s not what happens.

“If there’s a breach, the only a requirement is that you hand out a fact sheet and study the problem for a year or longer. It’s a woefully inadequate response. Our state, and other states, mirror the federal rules. We need a national platform for the states to follow, to say that lead in water is just unacceptable.”

Flint Water Crisis: A Closer Look

Minority And Low-Income Communities Are Targeted For Hazardous Waste Sites, Research Confirms

Decades of research show a clear pattern of racial and socioeconomic discrimination when it comes to siting facilities for hazardous waste disposal, polluting industrial plants and other land uses that are disproportionately located in minority and low-income communities.

But what’s been less clear is whether the placement of these facilities was deliberate on the part of the facilities’ owners and public policymakers, or if the noxious facilities came first, leading to disproportionately higher concentrations of low-income residents and minorities moving into the surrounding community.

In order to test both theories, Paul Mohai of the University of Michigan and Robin Saha of the University of Montana analyzed 30 years of demographic data about the placement of 319 commercial hazardous waste treatment, storage and disposal facilities.

By looking at the demographic composition of neighborhoods at the time each hazardous waste facility was built and comparing that with the demographic changes that occurred after the facility began operation, they determined that existing minority and low-income communities were, without doubt, targeted.

The full results of Mohai and Saha’s studies were summarized in a pair of papers published by the journal Environmental Research Letters late last year, one in November, the other in December.

Act Now, Cry Later: Tim DeChristopher, Aria Doe & Josh Fox on Civil Disobedience & Climate Activism

With Order to Keep Gas in Leaking Facility, Regulators Anger Porter Ranch Residents

Fearing a depletion of its emergency fuel reserve California regulators ordered Southern California Gas Co. to stop pumping all natural gas out of its Aliso Canyon storage facility, the main way it has been reducing the amount of methane escaping from a ruptured well.

The drawdown has lowered the volume of leaking gas by 68 percent since emissions peaked Nov. 28, according to the California Air Resources Board, but regulators are now worried the effort might be tapping too much of Los Angeles’ emergency natural gas reserves. The leak has blown 4.8 billion cubic feet of natural gas into the atmosphere since it was detected Oct. 23, according to state regulators, and Democratic U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman, whose district includes a portion of the Porter Ranch neighborhood in northwest LA, said the regulators’ top priority should be stopping the leak.

“There is only one thing that has been successful or partially successful so far, and that is SoCal Gas has drained the facility down to about 25 billion cubic feet of working gas,” Sherman said at a Porter Ranch town hall meeting Friday. "Efforts to reduce the pressure and reduce the leak are [now] going to stop. Not only is that an outrage for anybody who breathes air in the North San Fernando Valley, it is also a violation of the governor’s emergency order.”

Also of Interest

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

Almost 12 Years After Calling a Reporter, DOJ Whistleblower Slapped With Ethics Charges

Bernie Sanders Meets With Obama Today: What They Might Talk About

Bernie Sanders and the Liberal Imagination

The Populist Revolution: Bernie and Beyond

How To Avert Real Change in Election 2016

Spinning US Voters to Stay Passive

The Implications of Foreign Minister Lavrov’s Snub of Victoria Nuland

The Iraq War’s Known Unknowns

Flint’s Water Crisis and the GOP’s Class War

Seeking Justice for Guatemalan Slaughter

Eight words that reveal the sexism at the heart of the English language

The world the settlers made

Zika: how the virus's ability to spread in the US is remarkably easy

A Little Night Music

Oscar Peterson - Cakewalk

Oscar Peterson & Count Basie - Jumpin' At The Woodside

Oscar Peterson - Eight Bar Boogie Blues

Oscar Peterson - Cool Walk

Milt Jackson + Oscar Peterson Trio 1961 - John Brown's Body

Oscar Peterson - C Jam

Oscar Peterson - The Backyard Blues

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Unabashed Liberal's picture

to say thanks for the excellent 'news and blues' roundup, this afternoon.

Dropped by 'to eat crow!' (after my recent proclamation that lightening would likely strike us all BEFORE the Feds did anything about the Bundys and their cronies)


I guess I stand corrected.

Seriously, I think that local pressure probably made it impossible for Federal agencies to continue to stay on the sidelines. The guy that was killed was one that I read the most about. Curious to know if they will release any details on the deadly confrontation. (Haven't seen any yet.)

Anyhoo, hope to stop by later. Gotta get 'the B' out, and run a quick errand.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

BTW, I just finished watching an excellent, but tragic, Netflix series--"Making A Murderer." Thought I'd post the video trailer here. I would highly recommend viewing this series, and will have a few comments on it in the days to come.

(I'm going to have to re-watch some of the segments, first. It was almost overwhelming.)

Here's the YouTube Trailer, below.

[video: width:560 height:315]
[Making A Murderer - Trailer - Netflix [HD], Netflix US & Canada, YouTube]

Hey, Everyone have a nice evening!


Postscript: What do you Guys think will happen with the Union Leader/Chuck Todd debate? Just heard Buzz Feed reporter Evan McMorris-Santoro say Bernie's campaign isn't interested, O'Malley's in, and FSC claims to want the debate to be DNC-sanctioned.


"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went."--Will Rogers
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Everyone thinks they have the best dog, and none of them are wrong.

joe shikspack's picture

i have to say that i was quite surprised that the feds finally decided to take some action and make arrests. i've been wondering what drove the decision to do it now, as opposed to weeks ago or weeks hence.

regarding the debate, if i heard correctly, it was reported on the radio that sanders didn't want to debate unless the democratic party sanctioned it as he felt it likely that the party (read debbie wasserman schultz) would seize upon his participation as an excuse to penalize his campaign later.

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Unabashed Liberal's picture

the Buzz Feed reporter's remarks earlier this afternoon.

Several months ago, it sounded like Bernie wasn't that worried, but one of his advisors, Tad Devine, didn't share that view. Here's a link to a Times magazine piece on this topic.

Totally agree about Pelosi. I wish she'd take a cue from Reid, and exit stage left.


Have a nice evening, All.


"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went."--Will Rogers
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Everyone thinks they have the best dog, and none of them are wrong.

hecate's picture

is they moved in because the Bundy slavers were on their way to a community meeting in neighboring Grant County, where the sheriff is in sympathy with their hallucinatory view of US law, and where said sheriff has "a practical plan for helping unravel the federal government,” and there they all planned to unite to form, among other things, a Common Law Grand Jury. Anything that might even look like conferring any sort of governmental blessing upon the Bundy slavers was something I think the feds decided could not be allowed to happen.

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Unabashed Liberal's picture


Paul Kane Tweet (About Single-Payer--Nancy Pelosi).png


"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went."--Will Rogers
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Everyone thinks they have the best dog, and none of them are wrong.

detroitmechworks's picture

She's wearing the other team's Jersey, and she's trying to make touchdowns in MY endzone!

And why are you trying to tie my hands behind my back, Mr. Media?

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I do not pretend I know what I do not know.

joe shikspack's picture

just like in professional sports, all of the teams are owned by billionaires.

(ok, not the cheeseheads in wisconsin, but you get the idea.)

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joe shikspack's picture

what a sick joke that was.

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enhydra lutris's picture

"anybody, anywhere, any time" AUMF for a new year's present before we attack Libya, not tht it would really matter.

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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

why would he need an aumf when congress is more than happy to ignore their constitutional obligations?

more and more i'm thinking that we don't so much need to vote as to flush.

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smiley7's picture

good evening sir.

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joe shikspack's picture

glad you enjoyed the music!

i hope that all is well and the skiing is good. if there is still any shortage of snow on your mountain, i know where you can get a great deal on some lightly-used snow in large quantities. Smile

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smiley7's picture

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