The Evening Blues - 10-15-18
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features The Mother of the Blues, Gertrude "Ma" Rainey. Enjoy!
Ma Rainey - "Ma" Rainey's Black Bottom
“And what sort of lives do these people, who pose as being moral, lead themselves? My dear fellow, you forget that we are in the native land of the hypocrite.”
-- Oscar Wilde
News and Opinion
The Washington Post, as it Shames Others, Continues to Pay and Publish Undisclosed Saudi Lobbyists and Other Regime Propagandists
In the wake of of the disappearance and likely murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, some of the most fervent and righteous voices demanding that others sever their ties with the Saudi regime have, understandably, come from his colleagues at that paper. “Why do you work for a murderer?,” asked the Post’s long-time Editorial Page Editor Fred Hiatt, addressing unnamed hypothetical Washington luminaries who continue to take money to do work for the despots in Riyadh, particularly Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, or “MbS” as he has been affectionately known in the western press.
Hiatt urged these hypothetical figures to engage in serious self-reflection: “Can I possibly work for such a regime, and still look at myself in the mirror each morning?” That, said Hiatt, “is the question that we, as a nation, must ask ourselves now.” But to find those for whom this question is directly relevant, Hiatt need not invoke his imagination or resort to hypotheticals. He can instead look to a place far more concrete and proximate: his own staff. Because it is there – on the roster of the Washington Post’s own columnists and Contributing Writers – that one can find, still, those who maintain among the closest links to the Saudi regime and have the longest and most shameful history of propagandizing on their behalf.
Carter Eskew is a former top-level adviser to Al Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign and a Founder and Managing Director of Glover Park Group which, according to the Post’s own reporting, is one of the Saudi regime’s largest lobbyists. Glover Park, says the Post, has “remained silent amid growing public outrage over reports that Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi Consulate.” Indeed, as the New York Times reported this week, Eskew’s firm, “which was started by former Clinton administration officials,” is the second-most active lobbying firm for the Saudi regime, “being paid $150,000 a month.” In addition to his work as a Managing Director in one of the Saudi regime’s most devoted lobbying firms, Eskew is also a Contributing Opinion Writer at the Washington Post. His last column was published just three days ago, on October 12 – ten days after Khashoggi disappeared after entering the Saudi consulate in Turkey, and the same day that Eskew’s editor, Hiatt, published his righteous column demanding to know how anyone with a conscience could maintain ties to the Saudi regime (raising a separate but equally important ethical quandary, Eskew’s last Post column was an attack on “Medicare for All,” even though Glover Park clients include corporations with direct financial interests in that debate, none of which was disclosed by the Post). ...
Even more awkward for the Post is that – with the possible exception of Tom Friedman – the most influential media figure who devoted himself to depicting MbS as a noble reformer was the Post’s star foreign affairs columnist, David Ignatius. Ignatius has built his career on cultivating an extremely close relationship to the CIA, whose agenda he typically parrots and rarely contradicts. It is not at all surprising that Ignatius would be a devoted propagandist to the Saudi regime, for decades one of that agency’s most cherished allies and partners. ... But in light of Khashoggi’s disappearance and the Post’s new posture toward the Saudis, it is two recent columns by Ignatius – touting MbS as an admirable reformer – that are now causing substantial embarrassment for the Post’s attempts to moralize on this issue. The first, published in April of 2017, was headlined “A Young Prince is Reimagining Saudi Arabia” and assured Post readers that MbS’s “reform plans appear to be moving ahead slowly but steadily.” The second one, from March of this year, is even worse, as reflected by its headlined: “Are Saudi Arabia’s reforms for real? A recent visit says yes.” ...
Then there is the even more uncomfortable fact that the Post’s owner, Jeff Bezos, played host to MbS during his star-making trip to the U.S. this spring, and was photographed laughing it up with the Saudi tyrant. ... Much has been made of the glaring and truly infuriating hypocrisy that so many western elites were perfectly happy doing all sorts of business with Saudi tyrants while they murdered Yemeni civilians and domestic dissidents en masse (with the direct help of numerous administrations from both parties, led by Trump’s predecessor), and only became outraged once one of the Saudis’ victims was someone with whom they empathized. And all of that is true enough. But the Washington Post’s particular righteous fury as expressed in words, while understandable in one sense, is very difficult to reconcile with their actual actions, including their ongoing relationship with numerous individuals who either work directly for the Saudi regime, financially benefit from propaganda and lobbying work performed on their behalf, or have a history of taking the lead in doing P.R. work for Saudi tyrants under the guise of journalism.
In Saudi Arabia, major media outlets have cast the disappearance and apparent murder of Saudi dissident and Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi as a foreign conspiracy to denigrate the image of the kingdom. The media accounts, which come from outlets run with the backing of Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf monarchies, are spinning the coverage of Khashoggi’s disappearance as a plot by rival governments and political groups to hurt the kingdom — going so far as to make false claims about the Washington Post’s owners.
The English-language arm of the news channel Al Arabiya, for instance, claimed that reports of Khashoggi’s detention inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul were pushed by “media outlets affiliated with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood and Qatar” — the pan-Arab Islamist political movement and rival Persian Gulf monarchy, respectively. A subsequent story on Al Arabiya casts doubt that Khashoggi’s fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, is truly who she says she is, claiming that her Twitter profile shows that she follows “critics of Saudi Arabia.”
Al Arabiya is owned by the Saudi royal family and based in Dubai, one of the Gulf monarchies that has sided closely with Saudi Arabia amid the regional row with Qatar and others. It’s among a handful of other Saudi- and Gulf-controlled outlets — such as Al Riyadh Daily, Al-Hayat, and the Saudi Gazette — that toe their governments’ line, including frequently casting a conspiratorial light on critics of the governments’ human rights records. In recent months, as tensions have boiled over with Qatar, Saudi Arabia is increasingly scapegoating its Persian Gulf adversary. Recent news articles in Al Arabiya blamed Qatar for Saudi Arabia’s brutal war in Yemen against Houthi militia forces, a conflict that has killed over 15,000 people and brought at least 7 million to the brink of starvation.
With a public relations crisis erupting over Saudi Arabia’s alleged role in Khashoggi’s disappearance, these Gulf-linked outlets are kicking into overdrive to both deny any Saudi involvement and disparage Khashoggi.
'You Couldn't Make This Up': A Bunch of Mops, Cleaners, and Trash Bags Delivered to Saudi Consulate Ahead of Khashoggi Murder Probe
What does it say about the credibility of an investigation when a cleaning crew fully equipped with boxes of chemicals, mops, trash bags, and... milk arrives at the scene of the alleged crime right before the probe begins?
At around the same time Saudi King Salman insisted in a Monday morning phone call with U.S. President Donald Trump that his regime had nothing to do with the disappearance and alleged murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi—a denial Trump dutifully echoed to reporters while suggesting that perhaps "rogue killers" were behind the gruesome crime—video cameras captured a team of cleaners hauling several buckets of mops, two large cases of trash bags, Dixi cleaning solution, another carton of what appears to be bleach, and two cases of Pinar milk through the front door of Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul.
The cleaning crew was seen entering the consulate shortly before Turkish investigators were set to arrive to carry out an "inspection" in search of additional evidence of who was behind the disappearance of Khashoggi, a frequent critic of the Saudi royal family.
Cleaning crew was brought in to #SaudiArabia consulate in Istanbul before Riyadh reportedly agreed to #Turkey's demand for a search of the premise where journo #Khashoggi was las seen entering. pic.twitter.com/xTMGIB8Vfs
— Abdullah Bozkurt (@abdbozkurt) October 15, 2018
If the Saudis were concerned about the optics of a well-prepared cleaning crew arriving on the scene of an alleged murder just moments before the start of an investigation that is being closely watched by the international community, they did not show it—the crew walked in the front entrance of the consulate in full view of Reuters and Associated Press cameras and journalists.
Independent reporter Borzou Daragahi joked in a tweet that "the way to preserve the integrity of a possible crime scene and bolster confidence in the investigation is to bring in a bunch of cleaners through the front door before the detectives arrive."
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman wanted to be seen as a reformer, the man who transformed the repressive Saudi regime into a modern, outward-looking state. Yet the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, allegedly murdered by Saudi assassins on orders from the Kingdom, has decimated the image revamp. And with stock prices plummeting, threats of U.S. sanctions and Western businesses looking for distance, the blowback for Saudi Arabia could be devastating. ...
In an interview with “60 Minutes” broadcast Sunday, President Donald Trump warned of “severe punishment” if the Saudis were responsible for Khashoggi's reported death, while a bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers last week raised the possibility of halting arms sales to the Kingdom pending an investigation.
Riyadh hit back Sunday, warning the U.S. that any sanctions would lead to swift and severe reprisals. In a op-ed published Sunday, Turki Aldakhil, general manager of the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya news channel, warned Washington that any sanctions on Riyadh would “stab” the U.S. economy. Aldakhil said the regime would spike oil prices to $200 a barrel, let the Russian military establish a base in the city of Tabuk, and even push Saudi Arabia to forge closer ties with its enemy Iran. ...
Trump responded Monday, saying the King of Saudi Arabia “denies any knowledge of whatever may have happened” to Khashoggi. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was being dispatched to Saudi Arabia “to meet with King!” Trump added. Trump later told reporters it could have been “rogue killers” responsible for Khashoggi’s disappearance. ...
Any decision to kill Khashoggi by the Saudis was likely a “miscalculation,” according to Dr. Sanam Vakil, a senior consulting research fellow in the Middle East and North Africa Programme at U.K.-based think tank Chatham House. “I don't think they expected such an international reaction, which says a lot about [Prince Mohammed’s] level of understanding of the red line in the international community,” Vakil told VICE News.
Saudi Arabia enjoys a privileged position both in geopolitical and economic terms. It will have a powerful hand to play if tensions with the US and the west escalate and it follows through with Sunday’s warning of retaliation. Its vast oil reserves – it claims to have about 260bn barrels still to extract – afford the most obvious advantage. The kingdom is the world’s largest oil exporter, pumping or shipping about 7m barrels a day, and giving Riyadh huge clout in the global economy because it wields power to push up prices.
An editorial in Arab News by Turki Aldhakhil, the general manager of the official Saudi news channel, Al Arabiya, offers a hint of what could be in the offing. He said Riyadh was weighing up 30 measures designed to put pressure on the US if it were to impose sanctions over the disappearance and presumed murder of Jamal Khashoggi inside the country’s Istanbul consulate. These would include an oil production cut that could drive prices from around $80 (£60) a barrel to more than $400, more than double the all-time high of $147.27 reached in 2008. This would have profound consequences globally, not just because motorists would pay more at the petrol pump, but because it would force up the cost of all goods that travel by road.
Saudi Arabia also supports thousands of US jobs via its arms purchases. It is the world’s second-largest arms importer after India and 61% of those imports come from the US. It was the US’s biggest arms customer last year, signing $17.5bn worth of deals, a trend that looks set to continue after Donald Trump signed a $110bn defence agreement in Riyadh last year. The alliance stands to benefit US employers such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Electric and ExxonMobil. Some of the firms are reported to have expressed concern to Trump already about the impact that a freeze in Saudi-US relations might have. Riyadh could, for example, simply switch its purchases to other major arms exporters such as Russia and China.
Trump’s trip to the Arabian peninsula last year also yielded an agreement that the kingdom’s Public Investment Fund, which manages its vast oil wealth, would invest in US infrastructure programmes. The PIF is to stump up $20bn of a $40bn pot overseen by the global asset manager Blackstone. The fund, however, has yet to gather any serious momentum.
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) October 15, 2018
The grand coalition government headed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel is once again on the brink of collapse after two of its three parties suffered brutal election losses in the state of Bavaria. The Christian Social Union dropped 10 points in Sunday’s vote to lose its overall majority for just the second time since taking power in the 1960s. Another one of Merkel’s coalition partners, the Social Democrats, also dropped to less than 10 percent of the vote — or half their former support — during the Bavarian state elections.
The results mean that the fragile coalition between the Christian Social Union, Social Democrats, and Merkel’s Christian Democrats now hangs in the balance and could face even more uncertainty later this month when voters go to the polls on Oct. 28 in central Hesse state, home to the financial hub Frankfurt. Opinion polls say Merkel’s ally Volker Bouffier will face an uphill battle to stay on as the state’s premier. German daily Die Welt has labeled the Hesse vote the “litmus test” for Merkel ahead of her party’s annual conference in December where she will be seeking re-election.
“Merkel's future could be decided in Hesse,” according to the newspaper, “because a loss there would imperil her re-election at the party congress.”
Results of the Bavarian state elections where two of the three parties in German Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition government suffered heavy losseshttps://t.co/vwP5sL0hWo pic.twitter.com/YqzHCZK1ge
— AFP news agency (@AFP) October 15, 2018
Two New Zealand women who were ordered to pay damages by an Israeli court for their role in Lorde cancelling a Tel Aviv concert have raised the sum through donations – but plan to give the money to the Gaza Mental Health Foundation instead. Last week an Israeli court ruled Justine Sachs and Nadia Abu-Shanab of New Zealand must pay damages to Israeli teenagers Shoshana Steinbach, Ayelet Wertzel and Ahuva Frogel totalling more than NZ$18,000 ($11,700) for writing a letter urging Lorde to cancel her gig, which she did.
The court found the two New Zealand women damaged the “artistic welfare” of the three Israeli teenagers, and perpetrated “damage to their good name as Israelis and Jews”. Sachs and Abu-Shanab said in the hours following the ruling they were inundated with offers of financial assistance from around the world, intended to help the two young women pay the fine.
But Sachs and Abu-Shanab have said they have no intention of doing so, and have been advised by legal experts there is little chance of Israel having the recourse to force them, because they were not in Israel when they penned the open letter and did not participate in the court case in any way. ... “We will not be paying the court-ordered amount,” Sachs, who is Israeli, and Abu-Shanab, a Palestinian, said in a statement. “Instead, we would like to redirect the support extended to us back to Palestinians in need of mental health support.”
Military Officials Aren’t Supposed to Associate With Hate Groups. So Why Are These Generals Speaking at Frank Gaffney’s Confab?
Over the past decade, the Center for Security Policy has emerged as one of the most notoriously bigoted and conspiratorial think tanks in Washington, D.C. Under its founder and president, Frank Gaffney, the organization regularly found itself in the news for promoting anti-Muslim conspiracies — including farcically paranoid ones. Yet, unlike similar organizations that remain on the political fringes, the Center for Security Policy is remarkably close to the halls of power — not just to President Donald Trump, for whom Gaffney was an informal adviser during the campaign, but also to the traditional power brokers of the defense establishment.
That closeness will be put on display in Virginia on October 17, when the Center for Security Policy will be co-hosting a symposium on “asymmetric threats.” Organized with the Institute for the Study of War, the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, and the government contractor CACI International (whose employees have been accused of detainee torture in Iraq), the confab includes scheduled speakers who are high-ranking officials in several branches of the military. The presence of those government officials is raising eyebrows.
“Frankly speaking, this is a hate group,” said James Zogby, president of the public policy research group the Arab American Institute, in reference to the Center for Security Policy. “Its activities have been documented for years and are well-known, but under this administration, it is making a comeback.”
In addition to Gaffney himself, the list of scheduled speakers includes a number of high-ranking active duty military officials. The anticipated participation of four active duty lieutenant generals — the Air Force’s VeraLinn “Dash” Jamieson and David. D. Thompson, Daniel J. O’Donohue of the Marine Corps, and Michael K. Nagata of the Army — at an event sponsored by Gaffney’s group might stand in contrast to the equal opportunity manuals issued by each of their respective service branches. ...
The Center For Security Policy’s recent history is littered with calls for religious discrimination; officials, right up through its executives, routinely stoke hate against Muslims. A 2010 CSP report described sharia, Muslim religious code, as “an alien legal system hostile to and in contravention of the U.S. Constitution,” and CSP Vice President Clare Lopez claimed in a 2013 speech that “when Muslims follow their doctrine, they become jihadists.” Gaffney, for his part, has explicitly called for the persecution of observant Muslims, saying in a 2011 interview that that those who follow Islamic religious code are practicing “an impermissible act of sedition, which has to be prosecuted under our Constitution.” ... CSP’s track record of promoting conspiracy theories and advocating various forms of discrimination against practicing Muslims appears to fall squarely within the military’s definitions of the sort of “extremist group” with which active duty member of the military are forbidden from associating.
The New York Police Department is looking for three “persons of interest” who were caught on camera beating people and shouting homophobic slurs following an appearance by Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes at the Metropolitan Republican Club Friday evening.
“The NYPD is fully investigating last night’s attack involving the Proud Boys. If you know anything, the NYPD wants your help,” New York Mayor Bill De Blasio said in a statement. “Hate is never welcome in NYC, and we will punish those responsible — whether they threw punches or incited violence — to the fullest extent of the law.”
McInnes’ appearance was met by crowds of anti-fascist protesters, who clashed with Proud Boys on the Upper East Side of Manhattan after the event. A couple dozen Proud Boys – many clad in their trademark black Fred Perry shirts and red MAGA hats —– roamed the streets after McInnes’ speech, picking fights with protesters, and at points chanting “I like beer” in an apparent reference to Supreme Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s defense against charges of binge-drinking and sexual assault. The Proud Boys were also seen pummeling one man while he was on the ground, calling him a “faggot.” In another video, they were heard bragging about kicking a “foreigner” in the head.
The NYPD was initially criticized for its handling of the incident, because only three people were arrested – all of whom were anti-fascist protesters.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement on Sunday that he’d asked the State Police hate crimes unit and the FBI to look into the brawl, which resulted in the arrest of three anti-racist protesters.
Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts is reportedly referring ethics complaints brought against Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Colorado. ...
Roberts reportedly made the request in a letter sent to the chief judge of the 10th Circuit, Timothy Tymkovich, who was also on the list of President Trump’s possible Supreme Court nominees, along with Kavanaugh and Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch.
According to the news service, Roberts received three complaints on Sept. 20, just days before Kavanaugh’s combative testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, in which he vehemently denied allegations of sexual assault brought by Christine Blasey Ford and other accusers.
Roberts reportedly made no action on the complaints, which eventually totaled 15, while Kavanaugh’s confirmation was pending.
Trump on mimicking Christine Blasey Ford: "It doesn't matter. We won." (via CBS) pic.twitter.com/lDxuWixA6U
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) October 15, 2018
At a conference in Whitefish, Montana, on Saturday Ammon Bundy, a leader of a group which occupied federal land in 2016, shared a stage with Republican politicians, campaigners against Indian treaty rights and other rightwing groups. The event, A New Code of the West, was hosted by The West is Our West, a group created in 2016 that has opposed environmentalism and federal land management. The conference attracted around 100 people from five western states.
Speakers addressed the issue of public lands, the administration of which by the federal government they see as constitutionally illegitimate, a belief at odds with most constitutional scholars and supreme court decisions. Speakers also evinced hostility to the news media and the federal government. Some expressed conspiratorial beliefs. ...
In a wide-ranging presentation, the Republican Washington state legislator Matt Shea connected the Council of American Islamic Relations to Hamas; said a mosque in Spokane was owned by the Muslim Brotherhood; characterized the grassroots progressive organization Indivisible as communist; and demanded the management of public lands be “transferred back to the states”. Shea once said journalists were “dirty, godless, hateful people”. ...
A Montana state legislator, Kerry White, appeared on a panel featuring Dan Happel, who uses his radio show, Connecting the Dots, to promote the “Agenda 21” conspiracy theory, which holds that the United Nations environmental initiative is a tool to establish world government. White claimed increased wildfires in the west were caused by reduced forestry, not climate change.
The Montana Human Rights Network (MHRN) characterized the conference as a platform for “anti-government extremism and anti-Indian bigotry”. It helped organize a protest a mile from the conference venue, in a park in downtown Whitefish. Around 300 people attended.
Ford wants Detroit's school money to build itself a nice building.
For three decades, the 18-story, beaux arts Michigan Central Station sat vacant on downtown Detroit’s edge, a hulking, decaying symbol of the economic struggles in the city around it. Today, as greater downtown rebounds, it’s one of the last vestiges of an era the city is trying to put behind it. But that’s likely to change. In May, the Dearborn-based automaker
On Tuesday, the Detroit city council will consider $103m in incentives that would come from the city, and, ahead of the vote,
[Oh looky, Ford is to become Detroit's biggest welfare queen! - js]
However, there’s debate over whether a city that emerged from bankruptcy just three years ago and only has $169m in its unassigned fund balance should approve a lucrative tax deal for a multinational corporation with nearly $17bn on hand. The council president pro tem, Mary Sheffield, called parts of the package “excessive”, while a range of residents and community groups are vocally opposed. “In a perfect world, we wouldn’t have these incentives at all, but that’s not our political reality in Detroit,” said Linda Campbell of Equitable Detroit, a group pushing for a stronger community benefits agreement for the deal. She called the $10m community benefits agreement Ford is offering “meager”.
An interesting article, worth a full read:
In April, the Congressional Progressive Caucus announced that it was going to be drawing a line: Its political action committee would no longer accept corporate campaign donations. “If we are going to end the influence of corporations and special interests in government, we have to start by not relying on their support,” said caucus co-chair Mark Pocan, D-Wis. “Only by being fully independent of their financial influence can we prioritize people over corporations.”
The development was largely ignored by the press, but for those who heard about it, the move raised an immediate question: Wait, the Congressional Progressive Caucus was taking corporate money?
Yes, it was. And not only did the Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC accept corporate contributions until recently, but also, almost all of its 78 members — including Pocan — still take corporate money individually, even as their caucus shuns it. Just four caucus members who will be returning to the House next session have pledged to decline corporate funds: Reps. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash.; Ro Khanna, D-Calif.; Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii; and David Cicilline, D-R.I. That number, however, is about to balloon to as many as 40 or more, as a wave of successful progressive insurgents — including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jahana Hayes, Rashida Tlaib, and Ilhan Omar — are poised to join the House of Representatives.
The new push to go cold turkey on corporate cash is creating tension within the caucus, as progressive members take offense at the implication that their votes might be influenced by big money. “People feel like you’re saying that they are bought and sold — and some are, but many aren’t,” Jayapal told The Intercept. “It’s not like everybody who takes corporate PAC money is bad or only does what the corporations want. … But that’s not what this is about. It’s about re-establishing trust with voters, changing the system, working from multiple angles.”
But while the voting records of Congressional Progressive Caucus members are better on democracy reform issues compared with those outside the caucus, that might be setting the bar too low. Aaron Scherb, the legislative affairs director for the watchdog group Common Cause, told The Intercept that 17 of the 28 members of Congress who earned perfect scores on his organization’s “Democracy Scorecard“ are in the Congressional Progressive Caucus. But there are 78 representatives in the caucus, meaning that nearly 4 in 5 caucus members actually failed to earn a perfect score.
In a direct reply to President Donald Trump’s taunts, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., revealed on Monday that a DNA test provides compelling evidence that she does, in fact, have Native American ancestry. Warren announced the test results in a highly produced biographical video that looks like the opening salvo in a campaign against Trump for the presidency, which the Massachusetts senator said last month she would “take a hard look at” pursuing after her likely re-election in November. ...
Warren is [...] shown getting the test results from Carlos Bustamante, a professor of biomedical data science, genetics, and biology at Stanford University, who has advised the genetic testing services Ancestry.com and 23andMe, as well as the PBS series “Finding Your Roots.”
“The president likes to call my mom a liar,” Warren tells Bustamante. “What do the facts say?”
“The facts suggest that you absolutely have a Native American ancestor in your pedigree,” Bustamante replies.
“In the senator’s genome,” Bustamante explains to the video crew, “we did find five segments of Native American ancestry with very high confidence, where we believe the error rate is less than 1 in a 1,000.”
A copy of the full report from Bustamante’s lab, posted online by the Boston Globe, makes it clear that the “identity of the sample donor, Elizabeth Warren, was not known to the analyst during the time the work was performed.”
As news of the test results spread on Monday, Warren also reminded Trump of his promise at a rally on July 5 that he would donate $1 million to a charity of her choice if she took a DNA test that supported her claim to Native American ancestry. When a reporter tried to ask Trump on Monday if he would now make the donation, the president cut him off and denied ever making such a promise, even though he made it just three months ago, during a televised rally.
More conclusively than it tells us anything about her genetic heritage, Senator Elizabeth Warren’s neatly choreographed release of her own DNA analysis makes one thing abundantly clear: she’s running for the White House in 2020.
That’s the primary takeaway from political pundits in the wake of a slick, five minute campaign video, in which the firebrand liberal from Massachusetts openly discussed her family background, specifically her Native American ancestry. Technically it was released by her Senate campaign against the Republican Geoff Diehl, but it’s clear it has nothing to do with that race, which Warren is expected to win handily.
Instead, the release was a direct rebuke to Donald Trump, who has made a habit of mocking her claims of Native American ancestry by referring to her by the racist monicker “Pocahontas”. Warren’s move is a clear gambit to get out in front of a controversy that has dogged her political career and could be a big stumbling block in the future.
David Axelrod, a top adviser in Barack Obama’s campaigns and administration, called the ad “extraordinary” and said it meant Warren was “100% running,” for president in 2020. The New York Times political correspondent Jonathan Martin said on Twitter: “It’s not ‘I’m running’, it’s ‘I’m running and won’t be swift-boated’,” referring to the discredited ads questioning John Kerry’s military service that ran during the 2004 presidential election. “Swift-boating” subsequently entered the American political lexicon as a term for a campaign of disingenuous or false attacks on a candidate’s background.
The young presidency of Donald Trump has produced an impressive new popular literature on fascism, from Cass Sunstein’s Can it Happen Here? to Madeleine Albright’s Fascism: A Warning, to Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt’s How Democracies Die. Any reader for whom that previous sentence anticipates a debate – honestly, do Trump’s offences of pettiness and corruption warrant such historico-political alarm? – might do well to open [“The Politics of Us and Them” by Jason] Stanley, who reassures us that it is OK to use the F-word, even when applied to regimes that do not appear to seek to mobilize populations for world domination.
Fascist politics – which evoke a mythic past, which rely on a sense of unreality and victimhood, and which use the cloak of “law and order” to hide corruption and attack scapegoats – can be used to flexible ends, writes Stanley, a professor of philosophy at Yale whose previous book was an analysis of propaganda. What if a regime, for example, used a dismal us-versus-them divide in national politics to destroy faith in institutions capable of containing its power – elections, an independent judiciary, the public forum – thereby eliminating checks on its own self-enriching schemes? “Publicizing false charges of corruption while engaging in corrupt practices is typical of fascist politics, and anti-corruption campaigns are frequently at the heart of fascist political movements,” Stanley writes, helpfully, without once mentioning “Drain the swamp”.
What if the regime used the same divisive politics to build popular support for a tax system that preserves wealth for the most privileged while creating no new opportunities for everyone else? Would that warrant the term “fascism”? “Since I am an American,” writes Stanley, “I must note that one goal appears to be to use fascist tactics hypocritically, waving the banner of nationalism in front of middle-and working-class white people in order to funnel the state’s spoils into the hands of oligarchs.” ...
The book provides a fascinating breakdown of the fascist ideology, nimbly interweaving examples from Germany, Italy and Hungary, from Rwanda and Myanmar to Serbia and, yes, the US. As he proceeds through his framework of the broadest features of his subject, Stanley includes smaller observations that may for some readers land bracingly close to home.
Donald Trump has reiterated his doubts about climate change, suggesting that the climate could “change back again,” and that climate scientists are politically motivated. The US president has long questioned man-made global warming. In an interview with CBS programme 60 Minutes that aired Sunday night, he said that he no longer believes climate change is a hoax, as he tweeted in 2012.
“I think something’s happening. Something’s changing and it’ll change back again,” he said. “I don’t think it’s a hoax. I think there’s probably a difference. But I don’t know that it’s manmade. I will say this: I don’t want to give trillions and trillions of dollars. I don’t want to lose millions and millions of jobs.”
The White House has previously declined to clarify Trump’s position. He tweeted in 2017 during a cold snap that “perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming.”
One month after the French channel port of Dunkirk introduced free public transport for all, a small revolution is taking place. ... One month ago, Dunkirk – with a metropolitan population of 200,000 – became the largest city in Europe to offer free public transport. There are no trams, trolleybuses or local commuter trains, but the hop-on-hop-off buses are accessible and free – requiring no tickets, passes or cards – for all passengers, even visitors . ...
One month on, the Dunkirk mayor, Patrice Vergriete, who promised free public transport in his 2014 election campaign, says the project has been an overwhelming success, with a 50% increase in passenger numbers on some routes, and up to 85% on others. ...
Money, he says, is the obvious inconvenience. Before the buses were free, fares raised around 10% of the network’s €47m (£41.6m) annual running costs. A further 60% was funded by the versement transport, a French public transport levy on companies and public bodies with more than 11 employees, and 30% came from the local authority. Vergriete says a rise in the company transport tax has made up the fare shortfall – meaning no rise in taxes for local households.
Bus routes have been extended, with special lanes and city centre priority introduced. The fleet has been expanded from 100 to 140 buses, including new greener vehicles which run on natural gas. “The increase in passengers since it went free has surprised us; now we have to keep them. We’re trying to make people look at buses differently. We have put the bus back into people’s head as a means of transport, and it has changed attitudes. “Before, when they paid, it was a service and they were customers. They may have been only contributing 10% of the cost of running the service but they thought it was theirs. Now it’s a public service they look at it differently. They say ‘bonjour’ to the driver, they talk to each other. We are changing perceptions and transforming the city with more vivre ensemble. We are reinventing the public space.
“Before the bus was for those who had no choice: the young, the old, the poor who don’t have cars. Now it’s for everyone.”
Trouble is brewing for the world’s beer drinkers, with climate change set to cause “dramatic” price spikes and supply shortages, according to new research. Extreme heatwaves and droughts will increasingly damage the global barley crop, meaning a common ingredient of the world’s favourite alcoholic beverage will become scarcer. Key brewing nations are forecast to be among the worst hit, including Belgium, the Czech Republic and Ireland.
The researchers said that compared with life-threatening impacts of global warming such as the floods and storms faced by millions, a beer shortage may seem relatively unimportant. But they said it would affect the quality of life of many people.
[Will this spur Justice Rapey "I like beer" McPerjurer to take climate change seriously? - js]
The research, published in the journal Nature Plants, used climate models to examine the impact of extreme weather on barley yields over the next 80 years. The team then used economic models to estimate the impact on beer supply and price in different nations. If carbon emissions are not curbed, the analysis found that beer consumption will fall by about a third in Ireland, Belgium and the Czech Republic. In the UK, a quarter fewer pints would be sunk, with 14% fewer bottles being opened in the US.
In China, now the world’s biggest beer consumer, consumption is forecast to fall by 9%. In Australia, just 7% fewer cold ones would be downed, partly because it is one of few places where climate change may make barley growing easier in some regions. Globally, the cut would be 16%.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
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Ma Rainey and her Georgia Band - Down In The Basement
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