The Evening Blues - 10-11-19



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The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: R.L. Burnside


Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features North Mississipi blues musician R.L. Burnside. Enjoy!

R.L. Burnside - Ramblin on My Mind

“Ancient boundaries are meaningless, except for political purposes; old divisions of clan and tribe are sentimental remnants of the pre-atomic age; neither creed nor color nor place of origin is relevant to the realities of modern power to utterly seek and destroy.”

-- Sydney J. Harris


News and Opinion

US warns Turkey of red lines as Syria offensive death toll mounts

The US has set down red lines for the Turkish offensive into Syria that would trigger sanctions against Ankara, including “ethnic cleansing” and indiscriminate fire directed at civilians. On Thursday, a senior US official also condemned the Turkish invasion on Thursday, saying “it endangers our allies in the fight against terror ... and then thirdly, it creates tremendous insecurity for the entire region”.

According to multiple reports, the civilian death toll was rising on the second day of the Turkish invasion, as a result of shelling of residential areas along the Turkish-Syrian border. It was unclear what the US threshold would be for imposing sanctions given the mixed signals Donald Trump and his administration had sent over the past few days. ...

The US official said a joint security mechanism worked out by the US and Turkey, involving a demilitarised zone and joint patrols, had been working well but that Erdogan had abruptly rejected it in a telephone conversation on Sunday with Donald Trump. “We thought that this was a good compromise outcome,” the senior official said. “But on Sunday, President Erdogan told President Trump that he was not satisfied with it. And he said that he would go off on his own and do what the Turks had always said was their maximalist position, that is – to push out 30 kilometres.”

“Within that zone, Turkey alone would be responsible for security and various other things,” the official said adding that the plan laid out by Erdogan included moving up to 4 million Syrian refugees currently living in Turkey back to their homeland. The official insisted Trump had not given the offensive a “green light”, and said the US had refused any kind of military support for the Turkish offensive. ...

The UN security council failed to agree on a common stand on the Turkish incursion on Thursday. European countries issued a joint statement calling for an immediate halt to the offensive. The US circulated talking points that were more mildly critical, but the Russian mission wanted language included condemning the “illegal occupation” of Syria, that would apply to the US and allied presence alongside the Kurds in north-eastern Syria. The talks broke down without agreement.

Turkish Offensive in Syria: Tens of Thousands of Civilians Flee as Turkey Presses Assault

Syria: Erdogan's eyes more likely to be on Putin than Trump

[T]he west has been losing traction in Syria over the past two years, and it may be the reaction of Russia and Iran, who have forces on the ground in Syria, that will most concern the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Their reaction may also reveal more about the long-term future of Syria’s eight-year civil war. So far both Tehran and Moscow have urged Erdogan to show restraint, but they will also see opportunities amid the chaos created by Trump’s impulsiveness.

At its simplest, the Russian president, Vladmir Putin, who is seeking to embed Russia’s influence across the Middle East, will see a chance to exploit what is viewed as Trump’s betrayal of the Kurds, the US’s bloodied battering ram in the fight against Isis. The lesson is clear: when the crunch comes, the US will not have your back, Putin will argue. Riyadh, take note. But Putin also wants to see an end to the Syrian civil war. With the US leaving the scene, he may try to forge his own “deal of the century” between Erdogan, the Syrian regime and the Kurds. ...

Putin’s specific proposal, backed by the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, is to revive the Adana agreement signed by Syria and Turkey in 1998. It is an idea he has been pushing for three years. In essence, this acknowledges that Turkey has legitimate concerns about the PKK, but the solution is not a Turkish-administered safe zone inside Syria, rather it rests on security guarantees from the Syrian government to control the PKK. Similarly, the way to handle the Syrian refugees inside Turkey is not to forcibly move them into north-east Syria, only to meet a hostile reception, but to end the civil war.

But at the heart of the conundrum is an agreement between the Kurds, Assad and the Turks. If Putin can pull it off, it will indeed be the deal of the century. If he cannot, he may end up in agreement with Trump that the Middle East brings nothing but “sand and death”.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard on Syria, also, slams the DNC, explains why she might boycott the 4th debate

'Dangerous Act': Iranian Oil Tanker Reportedly Struck by Two Missiles Off Saudi Coast

An Iranian oil tanker was reportedly struck by two missiles off the coast of Saudi Arabia early Friday morning in what Iran's state media said may have been a "terrorist attack." Iran has not officially assigned blame for the incident, which sparked explosions and an oil spill that is now reportedly under control.

"The National Iranian Tanker Co., which owns the oil tanker Sabiti, said the vessel was in the Red Sea, about 60 miles off the Saudi Arabian port of Jeddah, when it was likely hit by missiles that damaged its main tanks," the Wall Street Journal reported. "The ship's crew were unharmed, NITC said on its Telegram account."

NITC said it "looks like" the incident could have been caused by a missile attack but it is not yet sure.

Abbas Mousavi, spokesman for Iran's foreign ministry, called the incident a "dangerous act" and said Iran is working to determine the culprit.

"The investigations conducted by the National Iranian Tanker Company indicate the Iranian tanker has sustained damages after being targeted twice, at half-hourly intervals, from a place near its shipping route in the east of the Red Sea," Mousavi said during a press conference. "All the responsibility for the act, including the extensive environmental pollution in the region, fall on those behind the dangerous adventure."

North Korea Threatens to Resume Nuke Tests: "There's a Limit to Our Patience"

North Korea is ratcheting up its rhetoric against the U.S. by threatening to resume long-range missile and nuclear tests and warning there’s a “limit to our patience.” The warning comes just days after talks between the two sides in Sweden, designed to kickstart stalled negotiations on denuclearization, failed once again. ...

North Korea halted nuclear and long-range missile tests following the June 2018 summit in Singapore between Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump. However, it has in recent months conducted 11 short-range missile tests, the latest a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) capable of hitting Japan and South Korea.

While Trump has dismissed the recent tests as insignificant, the European members of the U.N. Security Council strongly condemned the latest tests in a statement issued Tuesday. ... The North Korean spokesman also pointed to a U.S. Air Force test of a Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile this month, noting the U.N. Security Council did not condemn that test, even though it was “clearly carried out in order to pressure us.” ...

While Sweden did invite the two sides to return for further talks later this month, North Korea said it would not hold “such sickening negotiations” until Washington takes a “substantial step” to withdraw its “hostile policy.”

Ecuador: defiant protesters parade captured officers as unrest drags on

Indigenous protesters in Ecuador have paraded a group of captured police officers on stage in a brazen show of defiance to the government of Lenín Moreno, as protests against austerity-measures dragged into a second week.

Eight uniformed officers were brought onto a stage and forced to address a crowd of thousands of activists who have occupied the Casa de Cultura theatre in the capital Quito. A group of journalists, including the Guardian, were also temporarily prevented from leaving the theatre. The officers looked scared but were not physically harmed as they were asked to remove their helmets, bulletproof vests and boots. The lone female officer in the group was seen wiping away tears.

Jaime Vargas, leader of the indigenous confederation Conaie called on the officers to join opposition protesters in their campaign against the removal of fuel subsidies which has triggered Ecuador’s worst unrest in a decade. “We’re going to radicalise with more force, my friends,” said Vargas, before sending a direct message to the president: “Don’t play with indigenous people.”

Vargas, complained that media coverage of the protests had ignored police brutality, before calling local television crews on stage and ordering that they broadcast live. ...

[Lenin] Moreno, 66, has accused his predecessor and one-time mentor Rafael Correa of fomenting the unrest. He has also accused Venezuela of backing a plot to topple his government, without providing evidence.

Bolivia, the Evo Morales years

EU challenges Poland over judicial independence

Poland is being taken to the EU’s highest court over a law said to violate the principle of judicial independence. Just three days before parliamentary elections on Sunday, the European commission announced it was referring Poland to the European court of justice over its disciplinary regime for Polish judges.

Under the law Polish judges can be investigated and sanctioned for their court rulings. Announcing the decision to go to court, the European commission said the law did not “guarantee the independence and impartiality of the disciplinary chamber of the supreme court”. It added: “Judges are not insulated from political control and thus judicial independence is violated.”

The latest referral opens a new front with Poland’s nationalist Law and Justice government that is already embroiled in an intractable dispute with the rest of the EU over the rule of law.

The Law and Justice (PiS) party is expected to easily win the most votes in Sunday’s election, but it is unclear whether the party will be able to form a government again, either by itself or in coalition, or be replaced by a broad opposition coalition.

Boris Johnson and Leo Varadkar say they 'see pathway' to Brexit deal

Boris Johnson and Leo Varadkar have agreed there is a “pathway to a possible Brexit deal”, surprising sceptical EU officials with their upbeat assessment after more than three hours of private talks.

The British prime minister hosted his Irish counterpart at a country house in the north-west of England for talks on Thursday that had been expected to break down. But when the pair emerged from discussions they painted a more optimistic picture, suggesting the Brexit logjam could be broken by the end of the month.

The pair issued a positive joint statement, although Varadkar said afterwards that while he believed the outline of a deal would be possible in time for the crunch summit of EU leaders next week, serious challenges remained and there was “many a slip between cup and lip”.

The relatively warm words from the taoiseach came just days after he said finding an agreement would be “very difficult”, suggesting Johnson would have to move on the issue of customs and how Northern Ireland consented to the Brexit plans.

Downing Street declined to comment on whether Johnson had shifted, but any concessions to the EU could prove problematic for the prime minister as he seeks the support of Eurosceptic hardliners and the Democratic Unionist party (DUP) in getting his deal through parliament.

Are you a Russian plant?

I've previously posted another article about this, but this one is much better and more detailed. Here are a couple of excerpts to remind you what it's about. Worth a full read:

A Declassified Court Ruling Shows How the FBI Abused NSA Mass Surveillance Data

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court found that the FBI may have violated the rights of potentially millions of Americans — including its own agents and informants — by improperly searching through information obtained by the National Security Agency’s mass surveillance program. U.S. District Court Judge James E. Boasberg, who serves in the District of Columbia and the FISA court, made his sweeping and condemnatory assessment in October 2018 in a 138-page ruling, which was declassified by the U.S. government this week. ...

The ruling concerns the FBI’s ability to access communications obtained through the NSA’s mass surveillance program, the existence of which was revealed in documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden. Critics of Snowden’s decision to leak classified NSA documents noted at the time that safeguards existed to prevent Americans’ communications from being searched improperly. The declassified FISA court ruling, however, shows that few safeguards existed at all. The NSA’s mass surveillance program operates as a series of technologies and authorities that allow the government to intercept communications while in transit over the internet, as well as obtain communications directly from at least eight large technology companies without the need for warrants. These authorities, created in 2008 and renewed in 2018 with some minor reforms, are the result of the expansion of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The law created the secret FISA court to oversees its application.

The expansion of FISA authorities, known as Section 702, allows for monitoring to be approved in bulk by the court through what is essentially a recipe for mass surveillance. This surveillance cannot legally target Americans but sweeps up all communications that fit the so-called selectors — akin to search terms, as well as other data based on patterns — and can produce enormous amounts of incidentally collected information, including communications from U.S. citizens. This data is stored and can later be searched by government agencies. The declassified FISA court ruling revealed that the FBI is the most prolific miner of data about “U.S. persons,” a legal term that means any U.S. citizen or foreign national legally in the country. Queries of this data are known as “backdoor searches.” In 2017, the FBI ran approximately 3.1 million searches related to U.S. persons, compared to 7,500 combined searches by the CIA and NSA during the same year. Many of the FBI’s searches were not legally justified because they did not involve a predicated criminal investigation or other proper justification for the search, as required by law, according to Boasberg’s FISA court ruling.

Among the abuses noted in the ruling:

  • During a four-day period in March 2017, the FBI searched mass surveillance data for communications related to an FBI facility, suggesting that agents were spying on other agents.
  • On one day alone, on December 1, 2017, the FBI conducted 6,800 queries using Social Security numbers.
  • A contract linguist for the FBI conducted searches on himself, other FBI employees, and relatives.
  • The FBI regularly used mass surveillance data to investigate potential witnesses and informants who were neither suspected of crimes nor national security concerns.

In a statement to the FISA court, the FBI blamed these problems on “fundamental misunderstandings by some FBI personnel [about] what the standard ‘reasonably likely to return foreign intelligence information’ means.”

Chris Hedges on Impeachment, Plus Matt's Take on Whistleblowers | Useful Idiots

Ukraine's president holds 14-hour press conference

Ever since reports of a telephone call with Donald Trump emerged last month, the news has been bad for the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy. ... What was needed, his administration decided, was a grand gesture to recapture the narrative of a young, outsider president with a 70 per cent approval rating.

That gesture came on Thursday, as Ukraine’s president held what his office called a “marathon” press conference lasting more than 14 hours, with 300 journalists in attendance, which looked more like a forced march by the end. ... Eight hours into the event, a man in a vest bearing the word “expert” presented Zelenskiy with an award for holding the world’s longest press conference, an honour previously held by the leader of Belarus.

Over the course of the day, Zelenskiy told shifts of journalists he had not been blackmailed by Trump in their phone call on 25 July and did not know US military aid had been delayed at the time. ...

Zelenskiy said he was ready to investigate Ukraine’s role in the 2016 US elections if served with an official request by the US. He also said he knew he had needed to secure a meeting with Trump, saying US relations with Ukraine were “tired” and the Americans “wanted to know where their money had gone”.

But Zelenskiy’s main message to the US was: leave us out of it. “Choose your own president yourself,” Zelenskiy told American reporters in an attempt to stake neutral ground in a Democratic impeachment inquiry. “And if possible, we ask you not to influence elections in a free Ukraine.” [Said the man whose presidency was made possible by a U.S.-backed coup. -js]

Ukraine gas company at heart of US impeachment scandal

The Intercept's Ryan Grim gives most detailed timeline of Hunter Biden's 'soft corruption'

Here's Why Trump Should Be Freaked Out by the Arrest of Rudy Giuliani’s Associates

Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, the Soviet-born businessmen and associates of Rudy Giuliani, didn’t seem to think twice about defying Congressional investigators this week. But they’ll have a much harder time blowing off New York prosecutors, following their indictment on alleged campaign finance violations. The shock arrest of Parnas and Fruman, caught trying to flee the country Wednesday evening, throws an explosive new element into the impeachment inquiry into the president’s sprawling Ukraine scandal, and reveals yet another dangerous juncture for Trump and Giuliani, former prosecutors told VICE News. ...

The indictment connects Parnas and Fruman directly to a key moment in Trump’s impeachment drama: the recall of the former American ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, this spring. The document asserts that the two men, who are both American citizens, followed up a hefty $325,000 donation to a Trump-friendly super PAC in May 2018 with an attempt to get the U.S. government to remove Yovanovitch — at the behest of an unnamed Ukrainian politician.

The indictment says a “Congressman 1,” who has been identified by CNN and others as Pete Sessions, former Republican representative from Texas, received $3 million from that same super PAC. Parnas and Fruman then met with “Congressman 1” and pressed him for help getting rid of the ambassador. Trump ultimately recalled Yovanovitch in May, shortly before calling her “bad news” on a now-infamous phone call with Ukraine’s President in late July. She’s now scheduled to testify before Congress on Friday.

Those actions took place around the time when both men were busy connecting Giuliani with officials in Ukraine. The two men reportedly helped link Giuliani up with three top Ukrainian prosecutors during his quest to pressure Ukrainian officials to open up an investigation into the Biden family. Giuliani has publicly identified Parnas and Fruman as his “clients.” But with their indictment on charges of foreign influence peddling and campaign finance violation, Giuliani has brought two men accused of outright crimes directly into Trump’s orbit.

Prosecutors Allege Vast Criminal Conspiracy by Giuliani Associates to Funnel Foreign Cash to Trump and GOP

Federal prosecutors on Thursday charged two associates of President Donald Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani with a sprawling scheme to oust the former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine by funneling foreign money into the campaign coffers of Trump and an unnamed congressman believed to be former Republican Rep. Pete Sessions.

"These allegations are not about some technicality, a civil violation, or some error on a form. This investigation is about corrupt behavior, deliberate lawbreaking," William Sweeney, assistant director in charge at the FBI's New York field office, said Thursday during a press conference detailing campaign finance charges against Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman. ... Parnas and Fruman, both witnesses in House Democrats' impeachment inquiry into Trump, had lunch with Giuliani at the Trump International Hotel in Washington hours before they were arrested Wednesday, according to the Wall Street Journal.

CNN reported that "prosecutors were not intending to unseal the indictment against the Giuliani associates" on Thursday, but "their hand was forced by an attempt by Fruman and Parnas to leave the country."

Geoffrey Berman, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said during Thursday's press conference that Fruman and Parnas "broke the law to gain political influence while avoiding disclosure of who was actually making the donations and where the money was coming from."

"They sought political influence not only to advance their own financial interests," said Berman, "but to advance the political interests of at least one foreign official, a Ukrainian government official who sought the dismissal of the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine [Marie Louise Yovanovitch]."

The 21-page indictment (pdf) unsealed Thursday alleges that Parnas and Fruman "met with Congressman-1 and sought Congressman-1's assistance in causing the U.S. government to remove or recall the then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine." HuffPost reported that "Congressman-1 is former Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), who sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo asking for Marie Yovanovitch to be removed as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine" following his meeting with Parnas and Fruman in May of 2018.

That same month, the two men also made a $325,000 donation to a pro-Trump super PAC through Global Energy Producers LLC, which prosecutors said is a shell corporation that claimed to be involved in the liquified natural gas industry.

Trump personally ordered Yovanovitch removed from her post in May of 2019, according to the Wall Street Journal, following complaints from Giuliani and others that she was undermining the U.S. president and "obstructing efforts to persuade Kyiv to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden." ...

Paul S. Ryan, vice president for policy and litigation at watchdog group Common Cause, said in a statement that the charges against Parnas and Fruman "paint a troubling picture of the free flow of foreign money into our elections due to insufficient safeguards and lax enforcement."

"Today's indictments, though, likely represent only the tip of the iceberg in terms of foreign meddling in general but also by Parnas and Fruman," said Ryan. "Both men were also heavily involved in the efforts by the White House and President Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate unsubstantiated allegations against Trump's political rival Joe Biden."

'All the Way Up to POTUS': Ousted Ambassador to Ukraine Names Trump in Testimony Over Smear Campaign Led by Giuliani

Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, told House impeachment investigators during a closed-door session Friday that President Donald Trump pressured the State Department to oust her after a "concerted campaign" of attacks led by Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.

"After being asked by the department in early March to extend my tour until 2020, I was then abruptly told in late April [of 2019] to come back to Washington from Ukraine 'on the next plane,'" Yovanovitch said in her opening statement to members of the House Intelligence, Oversight, and Foreign Affairs Committees, according to a copy of her remarks obtained by the Washington Post.

Read Yovanovitch's prepared statement in full here.

Yovanovitch said Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan told her after she was recalled that Trump "lost confidence" in her and no longer wanted her to serve as ambassador to Ukraine.

"He added that there had been a concerted campaign against me, and that the department had been under pressure from the president to remove me since the summer of 2018," Yovanovitch told House investigators. "He also said that I had done nothing wrong and that this was not like other situations where he had recalled ambassadors for cause."

Yovanovitch said the "concerted campaign" of attacks was led by Giuliani and his allies, who "may well have believed that their personal financial ambitions were stymied by our anti-corruption policy in Ukraine."

"Although I understand that I served at the pleasure of the president," Yovanovitch testified, "I was nevertheless incredulous that the U.S. government chose to remove an ambassador based, as best as I can tell, on unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives."

FBI & CIA Implementing Coup On Trump?

Why Trump Has No Fear Of Impeachment

Don't start 'wage war' for workers, top executive warns, raising antitrust fears

A top executive at a petrochemical plant visited this summer by Donald Trump called on his industry not to fight a “wage war” for workers, in remarks that raised antitrust concerns with labor advocates and legal experts.

“Just driving up wage rates and focusing only on monetary attraction as a solution has impacts that outlast our projects long after they’re built,” Paul Marsden, a senior vice-president of Bechtel, which is currently building the Shell Pennsylvania Chemicals plant in Potter Township, Pennsylvania, said at an industry conference on 20 June. “But as an industry, my ask is that we’ve got to think broader than this.

“What we can’t afford, especially as an emerging and growing region, is a wage war,” Marsden added, during a talk at a petrochemical industry conference. “Because I can tell you, we will lose.”

Marsden’s remarks were made to a room full of executives from plastics and petrochemical companies, at a time when the petrochemical industry is planning a massive expansion into Appalachia, backed by the Trump administration, and US unemployment has hit a 50-year low. ...

During his remarks in Pittsburgh, Marsden displayed a slide showing the logos of the 15 specific trade unions working for Bechtel at the Shell chemical plant. “I believe there are real wage-fixing concerns here,” Sandeep Vaheesan, legal director of the corporate watchdog organization Open Markets Institute, told the Guardian. “This type of activity is collusive or a prelude to collusion,” Vaheesan said. “At a minimum, the remarks should be treated as inviting rivals not to compete for workers.”

American laws prohibit companies from agreeing not to compete against each other and even extending that invitation to competitors.



the horse race



Report: Biden campaign plans to lose Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada

'Heaven Help the Opposition': Team Bernie Says Progressive Champion Emerging From Minor Heart Attack Stronger Than Ever

If the emerging corporate media narrative is to be believed, Sen. Bernie Sanders's minor heart attack last week dealt a devastating, and possibly insurmountable, blow to the Vermont senator's bid for the White House.

But prominent campaign surrogates, advisers, and supporters in recent days have forcefully pushed back against that notion and argued Sanders—with his grassroots army as enthusiastic and motivated as ever—is well-positioned to compete for and ultimately win the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

In a video statement released on Thursday, Sanders himself spoke to supporters and the American public directly about his recent heart attack and said that he's "feeling really good and getting stronger every day."




the evening greens

Major Media Bury Groundbreaking Studies of Pentagon’s Massive Carbon Bootprint

In 2010, Project Censored (10/2/10) found that the

US military is responsible for the most egregious and widespread pollution of the planet, yet this information and accompanying documentation goes almost entirely unreported.

Almost a decade later, Project Censored’s observations are still applicable, with two major studies published in June remaining buried by most major media outlets. The first study, “Pentagon Fuel Use, Climate Change, and the Costs of War,” by Neta Crawford for Brown University’s Costs of War Project, confirmed previous findings that the US military is “the single-largest producer of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the world,” and that the Pentagon is responsible for between “77% and 80% of all US government energy consumption” since 2001, and that from the beginning of the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 to 2017, the US military emitted approximately 1.2 billion metric tons of CO2 equivalent. The second study, “Hidden Carbon Costs of the ‘Everywhere War’: Logistics, Geopolitical Ecology, and the Carbon Bootprint of the US Military,” published by Oliver Belcher, Benjamin Neimark and Patrick Bigger from Durham and Lancaster universities in the Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers (6/19), found that if the US military were a country, its “fuel usage alone would make it the 47th largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, sitting between Peru and Portugal.”

Yet these groundbreaking studies received no coverage in virtually all the US’s biggest newspapers and TV news channels. An initial search in the Nexis news database from June 1 to October 4 of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, NPR, PBS, ABC, MSNBC, CBS and CNN turned up nothing.

A broader Nexis search of all the English-language outlets only confirmed that the biggest media outlets in the country, with much better resources for reporting, are burying the study. ...

Although the authors of both studies acknowledge that the US military has been cutting its emissions over the years, they both note how “existing military aircraft and warships” are “locking the US military into hydrocarbons for years to come,” and that the “Pentagon does not acknowledge that its own fuel use is a major contributor to climate change.” That shouldn’t be surprising. Given corporate media’s propagandizing for starting and staying in wars (FAIR.org, 10/23/17, 9/11/19) and for neverending arms races (FAIR.org, 5/17/19, 7/12/19), one should expect corporate media to bury evidence that the US military is a threat to itself and its citizens with its massive carbon output.

Trump administration's new lead rules in water dismissed as 'window dressing'

The Trump administration is proposing new rules for lead in drinking water, overhauling the regulations for the first time in three decades, following crises in Flint, Michigan, and other US communities, but critics say the changes appear to give water systems decades more time to replace pipes leaching dangerous amounts of toxic lead.

The Environmental Protection Agency would require water systems to notify customers if levels exceed 15 parts per billion. And it would require water testing at schools and daycares. But it would not require the removal of an estimated 6m or more lead service lines – pipes connecting a home to water mains – in the US.

Betsy Southerland, a senior EPA water official under the Obama administration, said the new proposals failed to boost the urgency of the country’s rules, issued in 1991, for cleaning up lead in water systems. “It’s really just like window dressing to try to make it look like they were being much more stringent by adding a trigger level. In fact, the real action level stayed exactly the same, and they lowered the percent of annual lead line replacements to 3% from 7%. That means full replacement will take 33 years instead of 15 years. That’s very disappointing,” said Southerland, who now belongs to the Environmental Protection Network, a bipartisan non-profit.

Two-thirds of bird species in North America could vanish in climate crisis

Two-thirds of bird species in North America are at risk of extinction because of the climate crisis, according to a new report from researchers at the Audubon Society, a leading US conservation group. The continent could lose 389 of the 604 types of birds studied. The species face threats to their habitats from rising temperatures, higher seas, heavy rains and urbanization.

Those at risk include the wood thrush, a well-known songbird, and the Baltimore oriole, the mascot of Maryland’s baseball team. The recognizable common loon could disappear, as could the vibrant mountain bluebird.

Bird extinctions are yet another face of the human-caused biodiversity crisis threatening up to a million animal and plant species. A related study from Cornell University last month found the US and Canada lost one in four birds – or 3 billion total – since 1970.

“Birds are indicators of the health of our environment, so if they disappear, we’re certainly going to see a lot of changes in the landscape,” said Brooke Bateman, the senior researcher who wrote the report. “If there are things changing with birds we have to understand that the environment is changing for us as well.” Bateman said birds are an excellent lens for viewing environmental destruction, because they are visible and respond quickly. In the 1970s, humans realized the pesticide DDT was dangerous when birds were unable to successfully breed, she noted.

Birds pollinate plants, control insects and help forests flourish, so their disappearances could have ripple effects.

New Study Warns 5 Billion People Could Face Higher Risk of Climate-Related Coastal Storms, Water Pollution, and Crop Losses by 2050

By 2050, five billion people across the globe—disproportionately those in poorer communities—could face a higher risk of enduring coastal storms, water pollution, and crop losses linked to the human-caused climate crisis, warns a study published in the journal Science and reported on Thursday by The Scotsman.

"Our analyses suggest that the current environmental governance at local, regional, and international levels is failing to encourage the most vulnerable regions to invest in ecosystems," said study co-author Unai Pascual, co-chair of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

"If we continue on this trajectory," Pascual added, "ecosystems will be unable to provide natural insurance in the face of climate change-induced impacts on food, water, and infrastructure."

According to The Scotsman:

The research team set out to understand and map where nature contributes the most to people's lives, and how many people might be impacted by climate change and changes in the way fossil fuels are used.

They focused on three areas in which nature is considered to be hugely beneficial to people—water quality regulation, protection from coastal hazards, and crop pollination—and analyzed how they might change using open-source software.

People in Africa and South Asia were projected to be most disadvantaged by "diminishing contributions" from nature.

"Determining when and where nature is most important is critical to understanding how best to enhance people's livelihoods and well-being," said study co-author Stephen Polasky of the University of Minnesota.

The researchers have developed an online, interactive map for their findings. Lead author Becky Chaplin-Kramer of Stanford University said the group hopes the study will help inform and "further galvanize global action."


Also of Interest

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

'Betrayal leaves a bitter taste': spurned Kurds flee Turkish onslaught

How the Secretive “Discipline” Process for Federal Prosecutors Buries Misconduct Cases

Where Are the Hundreds of Billions in Loans from the Fed Actually Going on Wall Street?

'Intentionally Placing Children in Harm's Way': Report Details How Trump Policy Put 13,000 Kids in Tent Cities

Impeachment and the Long Road to a Democratic Party Defeat in 2020

Actually, Giuliani Has Always Been Like This

Congratulations, Nobel Committee, You Just Gave the Literature Prize to a Genocide Apologist

"Top Secret" Russian Unit That "Destabilizes Europe" Is A Well Known Small Arms Training Base

Fossil Fuel Firms Spend Millions on Social Media Ads Against Climate Regulations While Portraying Selves as Green Heroes

California: north and south battle wildfires as preventive shutoffs hit millions

Unsustainable California: No Easy Remedy for PG&E Blackouts, Fire Risks

'Remember When Google's Thing Was DO NO EVIL?': Report Reveals How Internet Giant Funds Climate Villains

US mayors seek to bypass Trump with direct role at UN climate talks


A Little Night Music

R L Burnside - Long Haired Doney

R L Burnside - Fireman Ring The Bell

R L Burnside - Georgia Women

R.L. Burnside - Early in the Morning

R.L. Burnside - Poor Boy A Long Way From Home

R.L. Burnside - Got Messed Up

R.L.Burnside - It's Bad You Know

R.L.Burnside - Po' Black Mattie

R.L. Burnside and family - Boogie instrumental


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reading and video viewing for tonight.
All of it looks so interesting.
Thanks for the music and the education!
It is our first cool day of the fall season, low 50's. It will go right back up into the 80's tomorrow and next week, but it is at least a day of relief from the relentless heat and humidity of East Texas.

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13 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@on the cusp

heh, the france 24 video on bolivia/morales is a pretty good. it doesn't engage in the sort of hysterics you might get from a u.s. perspective (socialists! bad!) and lays out some of the case for and against evo morales.

glad to hear that a change of seasons has come to relieve the suffering millions of texas. Smile

take care!

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10 users have voted.

@joe shikspack I am tempted to go on a tour there, but my travel buddies say altitude sickness might be a problem. I should compare it to lake Titicaca...I didn't get altitude sickness there.
Or in Ecuador, or in Peru.
Imodium is your friend.

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7 users have voted.
Raggedy Ann's picture

A cold front moved in over night. We got down to 21. High in the low 50's. We will be back to the mid 70's by mid-week. We brought in all the potted plants from outside. My trees got whacked - mostly brown leaves today. Fall is upon us. I hope we don't have snow soon. My granddaughter drove down from Denver in a snow storm yesterday. She witnessed many spin-outs. I'm glad she got home safe.

I enjoyed the interview with Matt Taibi and Chris Hedges, however, Chris Hedges interrupts people too much. He does it on his show "On Contact," too. It bugs me.

Hope all are doing well and enjoying October. My son and his wife are here from Boston. We went to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta yesterday. It was great fun. My son remembers going in the early days, in the 70's when it was in an open field and everyone just showed up all week. It's so formalized now, but they've reinvested the money well.

Have an autumn-y weekend, everyone! Pleasantry

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14 users have voted.

“The trouble [with injustice] is that once you see it, you can’t unsee it. And once you’ve seen it, keeping quiet, saying nothing, becomes as political an act as speaking out. There is no innocence. Either way, you’re accountable.”
-- Arundhati Roy

@Raggedy Ann
no chance to turn colors
serious nor'easters hitting new england coastal areas
not normal this wether.

Stay calm

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12 users have voted.

May we be united and strong -- laurel

Raggedy Ann's picture

@QMS
They get home Sunday after it blows away!

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3 users have voted.

“The trouble [with injustice] is that once you see it, you can’t unsee it. And once you’ve seen it, keeping quiet, saying nothing, becomes as political an act as speaking out. There is no innocence. Either way, you’re accountable.”
-- Arundhati Roy

Azazello's picture

@Raggedy Ann
October is my favorite month. High temps below 90, at last, and lows below 60, I can read the Afternoon Blues on my back porch in perfect comfort.

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11 users have voted.
Raggedy Ann's picture

@Azazello
It gets much colder in the high desert. I’d prefer your temps, though!

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8 users have voted.

“The trouble [with injustice] is that once you see it, you can’t unsee it. And once you’ve seen it, keeping quiet, saying nothing, becomes as political an act as speaking out. There is no innocence. Either way, you’re accountable.”
-- Arundhati Roy

snoopydawg's picture

@Raggedy Ann

Very cold and we only got to the 40's today. Brought my plants in too. Hard to find a place for them to live during the winter and my small house gets smaller. But it's so beautiful this time of year.

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13 users have voted.

America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
- strife delivery

Raggedy Ann's picture

@snoopydawg
The plants survived and will stay in tonight. Some will go back out tomorrow or Sunday and then back in for good when we quit warming. Luckily, we have a sun room to winter them.

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7 users have voted.

“The trouble [with injustice] is that once you see it, you can’t unsee it. And once you’ve seen it, keeping quiet, saying nothing, becomes as political an act as speaking out. There is no innocence. Either way, you’re accountable.”
-- Arundhati Roy

joe shikspack's picture

@Raggedy Ann

we haven't dropped below freezing here. i am hoping to get a few more tomatoes out of the garden yet before it's all over. it has been dropping down into the 40's some nights, though.

i thought that the interview with hedges was pretty good, they are going to post another part of it sometime soon. hedges does pretty much always seem to have a lot to say.

i've always wanted to see the balloon launch. i've seen photos and video of it and it looks like a pretty cool event. not sure that i want to get up before dawn, though. morning is not my best time of day.

have a great weekend!

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8 users have voted.
Raggedy Ann's picture

@joe shikspack
when we have company but I’m always so happy I went because it’s such a wonderful event. You get to stand right next to the balloons as they event and launch. It hasn’t been tainted by our nasty world. It is the most photographed event in the world. I encourage you to attend someday, joe!

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7 users have voted.

“The trouble [with injustice] is that once you see it, you can’t unsee it. And once you’ve seen it, keeping quiet, saying nothing, becomes as political an act as speaking out. There is no innocence. Either way, you’re accountable.”
-- Arundhati Roy

snoopydawg's picture

@Raggedy Ann

I did a few decades ago when they were affordable and it was incredible. My uncle flew a prop plane when I was growing up and took me with him for years. I loved flying with him and even got to take off a few times. But going up in a balloon is so quiet and peaceful and slow. If anyone gets the chance to go up in one take it.

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7 users have voted.

America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
- strife delivery

Azazello's picture

Evening all,
Here's another vid from one of Dore's live shows:

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11 users have voted.

@Azazello n/t

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7 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@Azazello

jimmy's doing a great job revealing the dirt. thanks for the vid!

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7 users have voted.
Azazello's picture

@joe shikspack

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14 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@Azazello

it's a lesson that i learned when i criticized obama for his war crimes at the great orange satan.

most democrats have no fixed principles. they are just partisans and only care about how any given event affects their team.

they can get into high moral dudgeon when it suits their interests, but not if it hurts the interests of their party.

they are as useless to a decent society as a surfboard is to a moose.

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17 users have voted.

Had it right.
It's bad ya know.
Good Burnside.

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7 users have voted.

May we be united and strong -- laurel

joe shikspack's picture

@QMS

both sydney and r.l. had a good understanding of how the world works. but r.l. delivers the truth with a good beat. Smile

have a great weekend!

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4 users have voted.

voter.pngironic.jpg

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15 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@gjohnsit

great illustration in the class divide in the democrat base. thanks!

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8 users have voted.

@gjohnsit @gjohnsit
I once told my good friend and colleague from China that in the '50s, American mothers would encourage their children to eat with "Eat! People are starving in China." He laughed uproariously and then told me, "In China, it was was "Eat! The workers are starving in America!" Not that his life was a bed of roses. His father was sentenced for "counter-revolutionary wrecking". He had been a small businessman before the revolution so it might even been true. He (the father) was sent to a prison camp where his two tent mates died. His (my friend) mother was ordered to divorce his father or join him in the camp. He (my friend) had to prove his loyalty to the Communist Party because his father was a traitor. This gave him problems with his naturalization process.
At a client I worked with a young(er) lady whose father had been a Peking professor. During the Cultural Revolution they were sent to Mongolia to live as peasants. She told me with real venom in her voice, "Do you know what's in Mongolia? GOATS! And people who smell like goats!" Once we were strolling back from the main building where the cafeteria is, we were talking about free speech. I tilted my head back and shouted, "Bill Clinton is a pig and should be impeached!" She cringed and whispered "No No Tone-ee! Please don't say that. They will take you away!" I tried to explain that it is different in America but she was so upset that I desisted. Another time she told me of being required to memorize passages from "this stupid little book!", with more venom. I said, "The little red book?" She said, "Yes yes You know of it?" I told her some American college students voluntarily memorized the little red book. She didn't believe me. She thought I was joking. "No one is that stupid!"

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4 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

Negligent manslaughter? If PG&E deliberately diverted funds from equipment safety and upgrades to give bonuses and dividends to their CEO and shareholders then I think there is enough evidence to put them on trial. All it's going to take to rein in our corrupt owners is for one of them to be put in prison. And not some low level flunky who is setup to be the goat, but the head of Citibank, JP Morgan or PG&E. Pipe dream maybe.

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12 users have voted.

America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
- strife delivery

joe shikspack's picture

@snoopydawg

while it is highly unlikely to happen, it would be nice to see the pg&e board of directors and the controlling financial executive authorities of the company charged with however many counts of negligent homicide or wrongful death (don't know what they call the crime in california) as there are people who died in the fires pg&e caused. i hope that california has a felony statute that covers the sort of thing that pg&e is guilty of.

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10 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

First off I thought we removed our troops from the area?

Turkey Attacks US Special Forces in Syria, Apparently by Mistake

A contingent of U.S. Special Forces was caught up in Turkish shelling against U.S.-backed Kurdish positions in northern Syria, days after President Donald Trump told his Turkish counterpart he would withdraw U.S. troops from certain positions in the area. A senior Pentagon official said shelling by the Turkish forces was so heavy that the U.S. personnel considered firing back in self-defense.

Newsweek has learned through both an Iraqi Kurdish intelligence official and the senior Pentagon official that Special Forces operating on Mashtenour hill in the majority-Kurdish city of Kobani fell under artillery fire from Turkish forces conducting their so-called "Operation Peace Spring" against Kurdish fighters backed by the U.S. but considered terrorist organizations by Turkey. No injuries have been reported.

Instead of returning fire, the Special Forces withdrew once the shelling had ceased. Newsweek previously reported Wednesday that the current rules of engagement for U.S. forces continue to be centered around self-defense and that no order has been issued by the Pentagon for a complete withdrawal from Syria.

The Pentagon official said that Turkish forces should be aware of U.S. positions "down to the grid." The official could not specify the exact number of personnel present, but indicated they were "small numbers below company level," so somewhere between 15 and 100 troops. Newsweek has reached out to the Pentagon for comment on the situation.

Maybe Turkey thought that there were no troops in this area cuz Trump told us he moved them out?

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10 users have voted.

America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
- strife delivery

joe shikspack's picture

@snoopydawg

first i've seen it, thanks!

my guess is that there will be lots of these "mistakes" if u.s. troops are positioned anywhere near where kurds are.

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9 users have voted.
Unabashed Liberal's picture

to say 'hi.' Taking break from working with Mr M to cull unnecessary items--a long overdue task--in anticipation of relocating.

This'll be brief, since typing is still a chore. (Have to correct every other word, due to typos. Hopefully, in a week or two, can reduce bandage size/girth.)

BTW, although it'll be several days (when all info is available) before can get down to business selecting 2020 Part D plan, want to share something I've noticed,

Beware of "Humana" pharmacy networks. Their pharmacy 'list' is bogus in one of our residences (now our main). No excuse for it, that I can think of, since the '3' pharmacies incorrectly listed, went out of business/merged 1-2 years ago!

(Rite Aid, Fred's Pharmacy--bought out by Walgreen's, I believe. Also, local Medicine Shoppe closed.)

So, I'm gonna do even more checking, this year--on every insurer pharmacy list.

And, BTW--checked out several Medicare Advantage (MA) plans--talk about gimmickry. Phew! Hope folks are taking the time to read the fine print, before enrolling. (Which is not to say there are none that are good--from what I've seen, some MA plans offered to retirees, are quite decent.) But, they are not the norm, regarding those plans sold on the individual private market.

Weather's turning nippy, very soon. Yeah!

Everyone have a nice evening, and weekend. Good luck to those folks who're expecting foul weather.

ByePleasantryMollie

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

Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.
~~Cicero

The obstacle is the path.
~~Zen Proverb

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7 users have voted.

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

joe shikspack's picture

@Unabashed Liberal

happy weeding! i hope that you guys are better at it than i am. i have no talent for throwing things out. i grew up with depression-era parents who didn't believe in throwing anything away that could conceivably be reused or reconfigured into something vaguely useful.

i hope that your finger is making progress by leaps and bounds.

have a great weekend!

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7 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

This is what passes for journalism now.

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8 users have voted.

America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
- strife delivery

joe shikspack's picture

@snoopydawg

for that?

that is just pitiful.

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5 users have voted.

@snoopydawg
I'll try later on Linux.

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3 users have voted.
Deja's picture

@snoopydawg
Luckily the video stops before he starts talking, but he appears to have showered and shaved. Now he doesn't look like he smells like liquor and cigarettes. Always reminds me of the movie Barfly, otherwise.

I'm so glad I don't have cable.

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4 users have voted.