The Evening Blues - 10-8-19



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The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: Blind John Davis


Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features Chicago blues and boogie piano player Blind John Davis. Enjoy!

Blind John Davis - Everybody's Boogie

"There are no permanent alliances, only permanent interests."

-- Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston


News and Opinion

See article for detailed account of the previous seven U.S. betrayals of the Kurds.

The U.S. Is Now Betraying the Kurds for the Eighth Time

Nothing in this world is certain except death, taxes, and America betraying the Kurds.

The U.S. has now betrayed the Kurds a minimum of eight times over the past 100 years. The reasons for this are straightforward. The Kurds are an ethnic group of about 40 million people centered at the intersection of Turkey, Syria, Iran, and Iraq. Many naturally want their own state. The four countries in which they live naturally do not want that to happen.

On the one hand, the Kurds are a perfect tool for U.S. foreign policy. We can arm the Kurds in whichever of these countries is currently our enemy, whether to make trouble for that country’s government or to accomplish various other objectives. On the other hand, we don’t want the Kurds we’re utilizing to ever get too powerful. If that happened, the other Kurds — i.e., the ones living just across the border in whichever of these countries are currently our allies — might get ideas about freedom and independence. ...

With Trump’s thumbs-up for another slaughter of the Kurds, America is now on betrayal No. 8. Whatever you want to say about U.S. actions, no one can deny that we’re consistent.

The Kurds have an old, famous adage that they “have no friends but the mountains.” Now more than ever, it’s hard to argue that that’s wrong.

Trump's shock Syria retreat reverberates as Turkish troops mass

“It appears that the Turks are intent on some sort of military operation, possibly combined with an effort to resettle refugees,” a senior administration official said. “The president made it very clear publicly and privately that the US does not endorse or support any Turkish operation in northern Syria, or there’ll be no US Armed Forces involvement, or support for any operation that the Turks undertake.”

In a sign of disapproval, the Pentagon ended a two-week old confidence building effort in which US and Turkish air forces collaborated in counter-terrorist operations, and the US also cut Turkey off the flow of intelligence from drone video feeds over Syria. “That doesn’t mean the Turks can’t fly over Syria. That just means they can’t fly with the US,” said Aaron Stein, the director of the Middle East programme and the Foreign Policy Research Institute. “The DoD [defence department] is trying to signal the consequences to Turkey, and they don’t want to look complicit in what is about to happen.”

The administration official said that an estimated 50 to 100 US special forces soldiers were being pulled back from the 30km safe zone on the border, but would not be leaving Syria, but redeployed instead to more secure positions inside the country. “This does not constitute a withdrawal from Syria,” the official said. “We’re talking about a small number of troops that will move to other bases within Syria.”

“The fact that we’re removing them is not a green light,” the official said. He added that Turkey would be held responsible if Isis detainees held by the SDF were able to escape as a result of the Turkish offensive, or if war crimes were committed. He pointed to a tweet on Monday by the president warning of repercussions. “As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!),” Trump’s tweet said. ...

The background briefings provided by officials appeared to be at odds with what Trump himself has said. The White House statement issued on Sunday night gave no hint that the president disapproved of a Turkish offensive. Furthermore in his later tweets, Trump was adamant that the US troops withdrawn from the border would be brought back to the US, not redeployed inside Syria. “I held off this fight for almost 3 years, but it is time for us to get out of these ridiculous Endless Wars, many of them tribal, and bring our soldiers home,” the president said.

Trump threatens Turkey after giving green light to Syria invasion

Trump’s Pullout From Northern Syria Is a Disaster for the Kurds and a Gift to ISIS

U.S. troops began withdrawing early Monday from Syria’s border with Turkey, following a phone call between Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. U.S. forces had been supporting Kurdish fighters in Syria, which are stalwart allies in the battle against ISIS. Critics say the pullout green-lights a Turkish military assault on the Kurds, who Turkey views as terrorists, raising fears of potential ethnic cleansing.

It also raises serious concerns about the security of an estimated 80,000 ISIS prisoners currently held in Kurdish prisons. U.S. officials have previously warned the prisoners — about 12,000 fighters and their families — could form the basis of the next “caliphate.” ...


On Monday morning, Trump addressed the withdrawal in a series of tweets which, like the White House statement, pointedly blamed European nations for not having repatriated and prosecuted their nationals who are being held by the Kurds for alleged ISIS crimes, despite repeated requests from the U.S. and the Kurds. “Europe did not want them back, they said you keep them USA! I said “NO, we did you a great favor and now you want us to hold them in U.S. prisons at tremendous cost,’” Trump tweeted, adding that Europe had been taking the U.S. for “suckers.” ...

Macer Gifford, an anti-ISIS campaigner who fought for Kurdish forces against the Sunni terror group, said the withdrawal had raised fears of ethnic cleansing for Kurds and other minorities like Syriac Christians from the region, especially given that Turkey was likely to make heavy use of its proxy forces, which contained many Islamist extremists. Gifford called the move a gift to ISIS, which “thrives on chaos” and would be expected to try to liberate its supporters from Kurdish prisons and regroup. “ISIS has been waiting for this,” he said. “It’s going to be a nightmare.”

Syria: "Erdogan doesn't want to be left to deal with this entire mess on his own"

Reports Indicate Turkey's Bombing of Kurdish Forces Has Begun

As President Donald Trump was being denounced from all political sides—both domestically and on the international stage—for his decision to rapidly withdraw troops from northeast Syria, reporting on Monday indicated Turkey has already launched bombing raids across the border in order to target the very Kurdish forces which long acted as key coalition allies and foot soldiers against the Islamic State (ISIS).

As the Jerusalem Post reports:

Turkish forces carried out attacks against Kurdish forces and the anti-Assad Syrian Democratic Forces militia in Syria and Iraq near the Turkish border on Monday evening.

Turkish forces attacked SDF positions in the city of al-Malikiyah in the Hasakah area in northern Syria, according to Syrian state news agency SANA.

The SDF includes Kurds and others in eastern Syria which the US has helped train, assist and advise during the war on ISIS.

...

Despite the reports from SANA, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights later denied that attacks by the Turkish military had taken place in the area. "According to the SOHR," the Jerusalem Post reported, "the airstrikes hit targets in Iraq.  A White House official stated later on Monday night that the US has not seen any signs of a Turkish operation in Syria yet, according to Steve Herman, a reporter from Voice of America news."

Fox News in Disarray as Hosts Struggle to Digest Trump’s Betrayal of the Syrian Kurds

Donald Trump’s late-night decision to abandon the Syrian Kurds who helped the United States destroy the Islamic State caliphate in Syria prompted a rare outburst of dissent on Monday on the president’s favorite television program, “Fox and Friends.” The news of Trump’s complete reversal of his pledge in June to defend the Kurds from a threatened Turkish invasion of their enclave in northern Syria outraged one of the president’s most diehard boosters, the Fox host Brian Kilmeade.


“What a disaster, I mean, the president’s statement through Stephanie Grisham is, you know, ‘We defeated the caliphate, the caliphate’s destroyed.’ We would not have done that without the Kurds, who did all of our fighting,” Kilmeade said to his stunned co-hosts on the morning show. “Now we’re saying, ‘Okay Turks, go wipe them out, or force them out.’ What kind of message is that to the next ally that wants to side with us?” he asked. When another of the show’s hosts, Steve Doocy, tried to defend Trump, saying, “I think the president is doing exactly what he wants to, because he has made from the get-go very clear, campaign promises–” Kilmeade interrupted to ask sarcastically, “to release ISIS fighters?” ...

Later Monday morning, the hosts of “America’s Newsroom,” Bill Hemmer and Sandra Smith, looked taken aback when Fox Middle East correspondent Trey Yingst offered a clear and unstinting description of Trump’s about-face as a broken promise. “Bill, the Kurds had an agreement with the Americans: help the West battle ISIS in exchange for protection of their people. This was a promise made by President Trump, and a promise that today, according to the White House, will not be kept.” Yingst reported live from Jerusalem.


“Overnight the administration did confirm, following a phone call with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, that Turkey will soon attack Kurdish forces in Syria,” Yingst continued. “President Trump has signed off on the withdrawal of U.S. forces in the area that were meant to prevent such an attack.”

“So what does this mean?” Yingst said at the end of his report. “This means that Turkey plans to annex parts of a sovereign country, Syria, with the support of President Trump.” When the camera switched back from Jerusalem to New York, Hemmer and Smith looked somewhat befuddled about how to process these facts.

In a further indication that Fox’s dedicated pro-Trump opinion hosts might have their work cut out for them if they try to cast the president’s move in a positive light, “America’s Newsroom” also aired commentary from a retired general, Jack Keane, who railed against Trump’s decision to cut the Kurds loose. “There’s one word that describes this for me, betrayal,” Keane said. “I think it’s a strategic blunder that will have significant implications.”

The stories the media doesn't want you to know about

Imperfect, but interesting and worth a full read:

From Baghdad to Kyiv to Haiti, people everywhere are rising up. The U.S. is a big part of the problem.

Heard about Baghdad? Heard about Haiti? Heard about Kyiv, Ukraine? It’s life during a wartime, of sorts, against the 21st century rot of corrupt governance, inequality and injustice, and in accelerating fashion over the course of 2019 it’s been spreading across every time zone and every major continent, from the now-bloodied streets of Iraq to the faded capitals of South America to the vast central squares of Eastern Europe.

If you hadn’t heard about this, blame the myopic and shorthanded American media which for the most part ignores cataclysmic events on the other side of the world, even when it doesn’t have an understandably massive distraction in the impeachment of President Trump. So let me fill you in on the something is most definitely happening here: The autumn of 2019 is fast becoming the most revolutionary season on Planet Earth since 1989 (with 2011 in the argument) when the Berlin Wall fell and it took a dictator’s tanks to subdue protesters at Tiananmen Square. This time, the fires burn differently from place to place, but the sparks are pretty much the same everywhere.

The people we’ve tasked with running the world have, for the most part, turned out to be corrupt. Did they really think that citizens wouldn’t notice? ...

Needless to say, with dozens of nations in a state of upheaval, there are substantial differences from place to place. Although many of the marchers lean to the left or (more often) center-left, a few of the movements — like a massive recent rally in South Korea and arguably those French Yellow Vests — are more like the Tea Party than Occupy Wall Street. Some of the more courageous of those in the streets — like those in Hong Kong — are standing up to unelected dictators, but even more are speaking up against so-called democratic leaders who have failed to represent the people. ...

It’s worth noting that — for the most part — the fate and the future of 2019's global protests are very much up in the air. It wouldn’t be melodramatic to say the next few months will be among the most important in human history. If the world’s autocrats send tanks into Hong Kong or ignore centuries of British democratic tradition to ram through Brexit, or if Trump’s warnings of a second American civil war somehow come to pass, our children and grandchildren may face a grim, Orwellian future. Or this can finally be the year of People Power that so many of us hoped for — and didn’t quite see realized — in 1989.

Ecuador shuts down 3 oil fields amid violent protests

Brazil’s uncontacted tribes face 'genocide' under Bolsonaro, experts warn

Brazil’s last uncontacted tribes face “genocide” thanks to Jair Bolsonaro’s efforts to overturn existing policies to protect the country’s indigenous people, a group of leading experts have warned in an open letter to the far-right president. The alert came after one of the country’s leading experts on isolated and recently contacted indigenous people was abruptly dismissed from Brazil’s indigenous affairs agency, with no reason given.

Bruno Pereira, who this year successfully led the biggest expedition in decades to contact a voluntarily isolated indigenous tribe, was fired last week. No reason was given, but the move has been interpreted as another step in Bolsonaro’s campaign to strip back protections from the country’s indigenous people. Pereira’s sudden dismissal “represents another backwards step in the policy to protect isolated indigenous peoples”, the letter reads. ...

Isolated or recently contacted indigenous people have little or no contact with the outside world, but are under increasing threat from illegal loggers, land-grabbers and miners who encroach on their territories. Experts say that under Bolsonaro, violent land invasions have increased significantly. According to a recent report by Brazil’s Indigenous Missionary Council, 153 indigenous territories had been invaded since January – compared with 76 last year.

Last week, Bolsonaro’s mining minister, Bento Albuquerque, announced that draft legislation to allow mining and agriculture on indigenous lands should be ready later this month.

Julian Assange’s life is in danger

In an interview with the World Socialist Web Site last week, John Shipton, the father of WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange, spoke of his fear that his son “may die” as a result of the conditions under which he is being imprisoned in Belmarsh Prison in London. Shipton’s statement is not an exaggeration. Serious concerns about Assange’s physical and mental health have been raised by others who have been able to visit him since he was sent to Belmarsh, including his brother Gabriel Shipton, journalist and filmmaker John Pilger, fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, actress Pamela Anderson and United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer.

The conclusion that must be drawn is that Julian Assange—an Australian citizen, journalist and publisher responsible for bringing into the light of day US war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq, the diplomatic intrigues and corruption of governments around the world and the scale of CIA spying and black operations—is the victim of a slow-motion attempted murder by the combined forces of the American, British and Australian state apparatuses. There are ample grounds to accuse Washington, London and Canberra of calculating that Assange’s death is preferable to the years-long and politically fraught process of extraditing him from the United Kingdom to the US for a show trial on charges of espionage.

Assange is being kept in solitary confinement for up to 21 to 23 hours per day. He has next to no access to outside information or telephone calls, a library and, above all, human interaction apart from with guards. When he does leave his cell, he is prevented from speaking with inmates and minimal time outside is spent alone. He is allowed only two one-hour personal visits per month, and even those have been subjected to provocative interference by the prison authorities. He has suffered significant weight loss and, according to those closest to him, some signs of mental disorientation, despite his determination to stand by his principles and his actions. ...

The custodial period of the vindictive and rare 50-week sentence imposed on Assange for violating his bail terms ended on September 22. Under normal circumstances on a minor bail-related matter, a person would have been released. But in the case of Julian Assange, nothing has proceeded in a “normal” fashion. Fundamental, and in some cases centuries-old democratic and legal rights and precedents have been cast aside. The latest example, of too many to list in one article, was on September 13. British judge Vanessa Baraitser pre-empted even an application for Assange’s release and ordered that he remain incarcerated on the pretext he would “abscond again” from the extradition trial that is set to begin on February 25, 2020.

The ruling effectively condemned Assange to Belmarsh for years. His legal team would be expected to appeal all the way to the highest court to prevent his rendition to the US, where he faces a life sentence of 175 years on 17 charges of espionage and one of conspiracy.

Is Trump on the way out? - George Galloway

The ‘Whistleblower’ Probably Isn’t

Start with the initial headline, in the story the Washington Post “broke” on September 18th:

TRUMP’S COMMUNICATIONS WITH FOREIGN LEADER ARE PART OF WHISTLEBLOWER COMPLAINT THAT SPURRED STANDOFF BETWEEN SPY CHIEF AND CONGRESS, FORMER OFFICIALS SAY

The unnamed person at the center of this story sure didn’t sound like a whistleblower. Our intelligence community wouldn’t wipe its ass with a real whistleblower. ...

With that in mind, let’s look at what we know about the first “whistleblower” in Ukrainegate:

  • He or she is a “CIA officer detailed to the White House”;
  • The account is at best partially based upon the CIA officer’s own experience, made up substantially by information from “more than a half dozen U.S. officials” and the “private accounts” of “my colleagues”;
  • “He or she” was instantly celebrated as a whistleblower by news networks and major newspapers.
  • That last detail caught the eye of Kiriakou, a former CIA Counterterrorism official who blew the whistle on the agency’s torture program. “It took me and my lawyers a full year to get [the media] to stop calling me ‘CIA Leaker John Kirakou,” he says. “That’s how long it took for me to be called a whistleblower.” ... When Kiriakou first saw the “whistleblower complaint,” his immediate reaction was to wonder what kind of “CIA officer” the person in question was. “If you spend a career in the CIA, you see all kinds of subterfuge and lies and crime,” he says. “This person went through a whole career and this is the thing he objects to?” ...

    The Ukraine complaint seems to be the work of a group of people, supported by significant institutional power, not only in the intelligence community, but in the Democratic Party and the commercial press. ... Imagine the mania on the airwaves if Donald Trump were to have his Justice Department arrest the “whistleblower” and charge him with 35 years of offenses, as Thomas Drake faced. Trump incidentally still might try something like this. It’s what any autocrat of the Mobute Sese Seko/Enver Hoxha school would do, for starters, to mutinying intelligence officials within his own government. Trump almost certainly is not going to do that, however, as the man is too dumb to realize he’s the titular commander of an executive branch that has been jailing people for talking too much for over a decade. On the off chance that he does try it, don’t hold your breath waiting for news networks to tell you he’s just following an established pattern. ...

    The argument that’s supposed to be galvanizing everyone right now is the idea that we need to “stand up and be counted,” because failing to rally to the cause is effectively advocacy for Trump. This line of thinking is based on the presumption that Trump is clearly worse than the people opposing him. That might prove to be true, but if we’re talking about the treatment of whistleblowers, Trump has a long way to go before he approaches the brutal record of the CIA, the NSA, the FBI, as well as the cheerleading Washington political establishment. Forgetting this is likely just the first in what will prove to be many deceptions about a hardcore insider political battle whose subtext is a lot more shadowy and ambiguous than news audiences are being led to believe.

    EU's Tusk tells Johnson to stop playing 'stupid blame game' on Brexit

    No-deal Brexit would 'push national debt to levels last seen in 60s'

    Emergency tax cuts and higher public spending to offset the impact of a no-deal Brexit would send government debt to its highest level in more than half a century, according to Britain’s leading experts on the public finances. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said the scale of the government response required to firefight a flatlining economy in the event of a disorderly departure from the EU would come with a hefty price tag for the public purse.

    In a warning to Boris Johnson as his Brexit plan risked unravelling in the face of stiff opposition at home and abroad, the thinktank said government borrowing was already set to more than double next year regardless of the outcome of negotiations with Brussels.

    It also said the national debt – the sum total of all borrowing accumulated by the British state – would hit almost 90% of GDP if Britain crashed out of the EU without a deal, its highest level since the mid-1960s.

    Coming as the prime minister increases funding for healthcare, schools and police, the IFS said a mini-boom in public spending would be followed by another bust because the government would likely struggle to handle the impact of no-deal Brexit, which would shrink the size of the economy and cause debt levels to rise. In a warning that a new wave of austerity could be introduced in the future to limit further debt increases, Paul Johnson, the director of the IFS, said: “You could well be on an upward spiral of debt and deficit – and in a world in which we have to go through another period of austerity to undo it.”

    Keiser Report: Velocity of Money at All Time Low

    Fed Says It Will Offer $310 Billion More in Term Loans to Wall Street as Over 68,000 Job Cuts Planned at Mega Banks

    One or more U.S. or foreign banks that are primary dealers to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York is in need of longer-term loans that they are unable to get anywhere else – at least at an affordable rate of interest. That’s the only reasonable conclusion that can be drawn from the Fed’s announcement on Friday that it is extending its money pumping program to Wall Street until at least November 4 and will be offering an additional $310 billion cumulatively in term loans (most for 14-days at a time) as well as offering at least $75 billion daily in overnight loans.

    The Fed’s money sluicing operation that began abruptly on September 17 is taking on the distinct appearance of its machinations during the early days of the 2008 crash – a time when it also refused to name the banks that were receiving the money until a multi-year court battle and congressional legislation forced its hand.

    The open money spigot at the Fed comes at a time when global banks, including many that are among the Fed’s 24 primary dealer banks that are able to borrow from the New York Fed under its current repo (repurchase agreement) operations, have announced large job cuts. The most recent news came from the Financial Times over the weekend in a report that says HSBC is planning another 10,000 job cuts on top of the 4,700 it had previously announced. Another European bank that is heavily interlinked via derivatives with Wall Street, Germany’s biggest lender, Deutsche Bank, has seen its stock set new historic lows all year. (See Lordy, Deutsche Bank Is Having a Helluva Bad Month.) In July, it confirmed plans to cut 18,000 jobs.

    According to a chart published by Bloomberg News on September 24, job cuts planned by global banks at that point tallied up to 58,200. That was before the Financial Times reported this past weekend another 10,000 job cuts at HSBC. Securities units at both HSBC and Deutsche Bank are among the Fed’s primary dealers that are eligible to participate in its current repo loan program. ...

    The Fed’s money pumping operation today is reminiscent of the controversial program it set up in 2008 known as Single Tranche Open Market Operations or ST OMO. The name was cleverly designed to make it sound like part of the New York Fed’s routine open market operations when it was actually a massive bail out program to teetering Wall Street investment banks that the Fed refused for years to name. On July 7, 2011, Bloomberg News, following a Freedom of Information Act request, reported that Lehman Brothers “borrowed as much as $18 billion in four separate loans…three months before its parent filed the biggest bankruptcy in U.S. history.”

    Workers Stuck 'Paying the Ultimate Price' as GE Freezes Pensions for 20,000 Employees

    Workers are stuck "paying the ultimate price for executives' poorly-timed deals," said Our Revolution on Monday after General Electric announced it was freezing the pensions of roughly 20,000 employees with salaried benefits. The company is also offering a lump sum payout option to approximately 100,000 workers who've not yet begun taking pension payments, GE said in its Monday statement.

    The changes become effective January 1, 2021. At that point, affected workers will neither accrue additional benefits nor be able to contribute to the plan.

    The actions, as CNN Business reported, were made "to help clean up the company's beleaguered balance sheet." Yet, as progressive observer Miles Grant, they contrast greatly with the sweet deals the company gives its CEOs.


    GE closed its pension to new entrants in 2012, adding to a trend of companies shifting away from traditional pensions. It's a shift progressive observers say bolsters the case for expanding Social Security.

    'Maddening' Graphic Shows How 400 Richest Americans Paid Less In Taxes Than Any Other Income Group

    For the first time in U.S. history, the 400 wealthiest Americans paid less in taxes last year than people in any other income group, thanks to decades of tax cuts and loopholes benefiting the rich.

    A year after the Republican tax plan—often called the #GOPTaxScam by critics—was passed into law, the richest people in the country were subject to a 23 percent rate in local, state, and federal taxes.

    As New York Times columnist David Leonhardt showed Sunday in a graphic accompanying his op-ed, "The Rich Really Do Pay Lower Taxes Than You," the tax rate wealthy Americans are forced to pay has plummeted over the last seven decades while middle-income households have paid roughly the same share of their incomes each year.


    In 1950, rich Americans paid 70 percent of their income in taxes—a system that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) has suggested returning to, drawing derision from conservatives. By 1980, the 400 wealthiest people paid 47 percent of their incomes in taxes. Leonhardt called the trend "maddening."

    "Over the last 75 years the United States tax system has become radically less progressive," Leonhardt wrote.

    The op-ed also refers to the fact that billionaire Warren Buffett was dismissed by economists and journalists in 2012 when he said his secretary paid a larger share of her income in taxes than he had to pay. Office workers who pay a greater share of their earnings to contribute to services for the greater good than the wealthy CEOs of their companies pay are "the norm now," Leonhardt wrote.


    Judge rejects Trump's 'repugnant' immunity claim in tax-return ruling

    Donald Trump suffered a major setback in the long struggle to conceal his tax returns on Monday, when he lost a federal court ruling in New York. A judge ruled that the president’s claim to immunity while in office was “repugnant” and said Manhattan’s district attorney could subpoena eight years of Trump’s personal and corporate tax returns from his accountants, Mazars USA.

    An appeals court blocked any immediate handover of the records but the escalating court battle leaves Trump with less room for manoeuvre.

    Last month the office of the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus Vance, investigating hush money payments to women including the pornographic actor Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential election, subpoenaed eight years of Trump’s tax returns.

    Trump’s lawyers argue the president is immune from such an investigation while in office and the US constitution requires Vance to wait until after Trump has left the White House. On Monday, the US district judge Victor Marrero in Manhattan described the immunity argument as “extraordinary” and as “an overreach of executive power [that was] repugnant to the nation’s governmental structure and constitutional values”.

    In a 75-page decision, the judge added: “The court cannot square a vision of presidential immunity that would place the president above the law.”



    the horse race



    Jimmy Dore rips Democrats on impeachment

    'Money Is Not Speech and Corporations Are Not People': Sanders Unveils Plan to Get Corporate Money Out of Politics

    Holding up the small-donor campaign model his campaign has revolutionized as proof alternatives exist, Sen. Bernie Sanders on Monday unveiled an ambitious new plan to get "corporate money out of politics." The Sanders plan aims to end the corrupting influence of dark money by dramatically curbing the ability of corporations to dominate giving to political parties, replacing the Federal Election Commission with a new enforcement agency, establishing public funding for all federal elections, and pushing for a Constitutional Amendment that makes clear that "money is not speech and corporations are not people."

    The Sanders campaign said in a statement that the new slate of proposals—which can be read in full here—are designed to end "the greed-fueled, corrupt corporate influence over elections, national party convention, and presidential inaugurations" that currently exists and deliver to the public an election system the puts the America people at the center.

    "Our grassroots-funded campaign is proving every single day that you don't need billionaires and private fundraisers to run for president," Sanders said. "We've received more contributions from more individual contributors than any campaign in the history of American politics because we understand the basic reality that you can't take on a corrupt system if you take its money."

    The plan would specifically target corporate giving by banning companies from donating to the Democratic National Convention and related committees, a change that would dramatically upend how the DNC has traditionally operated the quadrennial party gathering.

    The proposal would also abolish corporate giving to presidential inaugurations and cap individual donations to $500.

    In its statement announcing the new plan Monday, the campaign outlined other key elements of the 'Corporate Money Out of Politics Plan' which includes:

    • Enacting mandatory public financing laws for all federal elections.
    • Updating and strengthening the Federal Election Campaign Act to return to a system of mandatory public funding for National Party Conventions.
    • Passing a Constitutional Amendment that makes clear that money is not speech and corporations are not people.
    • Ending the influence of corporations at the DNC.
      • Banning donations from federal lobbyists and corporations.
      • Institute a lifetime lobbying ban for National Party chairs and co-chairs.
      • Banning chairs and co-chairs from working for entities with federal contract, that are seeking government approval for projects or mergers, or can reasonably be expected to have business before Congress in the future.
    • Banning advertising during presidential primary debates.
    • Instituting a lifetime lobbying ban for former members of Congress and senior staffers.

    Sanders 2020 National Campaign Co-Chair Nina Turner responds to criticism of heart attack disclosure



    the evening greens

    Extinction Rebellion protesters pour fake blood over New York's capitalist bull

    More than 20 people were arrested by police in New York City’s financial district after Extinction Rebellion climate protesters poured fake blood over the famous Charging Bull statue, a symbol of American capitalist might.

    The protesters launched a wave of disruptive protests in the city on Monday. A smaller number of arrests were made at a “die in” outside New York’s stock exchange, with protesters subsequently blocking a nearby road to traffic.

    Protests are also taking place in other US cities, including Washington DC and Chicago, as part of a global week of action by the UK-founded activist group, which is seeking to make its first major mark in America. ...

    The stock exchange protest featured a mock funeral with people strewn on the ground, covered in blood. Tombstones mentioning hurricanes and fires made worse by the climate crisis were held aloft, along with a coffin with the words “Our future” written on the side. A New Orleans-style funereal band played for the several hundred protestors.

    “It’s a powerful message,” Landowne said. “But more than death I fear living amongst the terror of people killing each other for water and food.”

    This is Not A Drill: 700+ Arrested as Extinction Rebellion Fights Climate Crisis With Direct Action

    Bolivian Amazon fires: relief as rains douse two-month inferno

    Heavy rains over recent days in the Bolivian Amazon have helped put out forest fires that have raged for two months across the land-locked South American nation, charring more than 4m hectares of land, local authorities said on Monday.

    The storms helped Bolivia’s military contain blazes in the region of Chiquitania, home to large areas of dry forests and indigenous communities that have lived in them for centuries.

    “Satellite images no longer detect burning or reactivated fires,” said Cinthia Asin, an official for environmental issues for the provincial government of Santa Cruz, a farming province in eastern Bolivia hard-hit by the fires.

    Indigenous groups have marched through the province, while in the capital city on Friday hundreds of thousands of people protested against what they said had been a slow response to the fires by the national government. ...

    Armed forces commander Williams Kaliman said there was no immediate plan to withdraw about 5,000 troops that had been sent to battle the worst fires Bolivia has had over the last two decades. Critics say deforestation, caused by the government’s policy of increasing farming, is to blame for the disaster.


    Also of Interest

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

    Chris Hedges: Time to Rebel

    Ecuador’s ‘Drone Revolution’ Meets IMF Austerities

    Iran Says Arak Heavy Water Reactor Section Will Be Operational Soon

    Murdoch-Funded Anti-Gerrymandering Group Hired Lobbyists With a History of Gerrymandering

    Will swing voters who went from Obama to Trump stay loyal in 2020?

    Saturn overtakes Jupiter as host to most moons in solar system


    A Little Night Music

    Blind John Davis - How Long Blues, Cow Cow Blues

    Blind John Davis - Alley Woman Blues

    Blind John Davis - Magic Carpet

    Blind John Davis - Hey Hey Mama

    Blind John Davis - Your Love Belongs to Me

    Blind John Davis - Rocking Chair Boogie

    Blind John Davis - Anna Lou Breakdown

    Blind John Davis - When The Blues Birds Come Out To Sing

    Blind John Davis - My Own Boogie


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    mimi's picture

    'Money Is Not Speech and Corporations Are Not People': Sanders Unveils Plan to Get Corporate Money Out of Politics|'

    I wish him all the luck and strength to go through with that plan.

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    Ich schreibe was mir paßt - in memory of Steve Biko

    joe shikspack's picture

    @mimi

    getting corporate money out of politics has been what left-leaning folks have been pushing for as long as i can remember. the removal of corporate personhood is something that more informed left leaning people have been wanting for years, too.

    if sanders accomplishes no more than that, it will be a huge accomplishment.

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    studentofearth's picture

    while their self declared champion Joe Biden has been in office. Interesting graph in the linked New Your Times article.
    1973 to 2009 Senator Biden was part of a political body that decreased the tax load of top 400 richest taxpayers from nearly 50% to about 30%.
    2009-2017 Vice-President Biden was part of an administration that initially saw higher tax collection for a few years from the top 400 but by 2016 taxes were once again similar to the 2008 levels.

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    Still yourself, deep water can absorb many disturbances with minimal reaction.
    --When the opening appears release yourself.

    joe shikspack's picture

    @studentofearth

    biden has been enormously helpful to our dark corporate overlords for virtually his entirely too long political career. his love of and support for the banksters has been one of the hallmarks of his career (he is know as the senator from mbna) and the banksters have loved him back in many ways filling his coffers and helping out his influence peddling relatives.

    hopefully, this time his corruption will be brought out for a full disinfection in the sunlight.

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    @joe shikspack
    is how I remember it. No doubt he served both. Or rather "serviced" as a corporate pimp.

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    Azazello's picture

    Krystal Ball was on fire this morning.
    I thought both of those clips were good.
    Greg Palast at truthdig: The Las Vegas Shooter, Two Years Later
    Maté/Blumenthal, Part 2:
    US arming of Ukraine is a scandal on its own

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    joe shikspack's picture

    @Azazello

    yep, krystall ball has been doing a great job. like jimmy dore, i can hardly believe that she has been getting away with covering real news.

    thanks for part 2!

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    Wally's picture

    I've often noted that various polls are still showing wildly disparate results and that Bernie pretty much always polls considerably lower than his actual level of support.

    But this new poll struck me as mighty interesting. I think it shows percentages from the definite voter category but looking back and forth at the crosstabs is making me dizzy. I'm finding it very difficult to figure out what the tweet is reporting coz the crosstabs don't seem to correspond to l all the total percentages in the tweet. At any event. if you look at the tabs, you'll see that Biden beats Warren 43 - 41 among definite voters. WARNING: If you're like me, you'll get a headache trying to figure out the numbers in the crosstabs in correspondence to the numbers in the tweet. Arrrgh. Sorry about this. (multiple edits coz of total confusion).

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    joe shikspack's picture

    @Wally

    glad to see that the polls are showing sanders doing better. as i've said before, i don't put much stock in polling at this point, though.

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    snoopydawg's picture

    Our intelligence community wouldn’t wipe its ass with a real whistleblower. ..

    Hillary is on Twitter saying Trump did what he did in Syria to change the subject from impeachment. lol..didn't Bill lob a few bombs in a few countries and was accused of wagging the dawg?

    Krystal Bell's two shows were great. Jimmy has a point that everything that is happening in Ukraine was done first by Obama and his democratic friends. But his point on Bernie is the question Bernie needs to answer. Will he roll over if he gets cheated again?

    We are being held hostage by sociopaths through a corrupt system. What will it take for Americans to don their yellow vests? Maybe when the war on the poor finally hits the middle class? Thousands of kids just got thrown off school lunches and the country yawns.

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    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

    Hillary is on Twitter saying Trump did what he did in Syria to change the subject from impeachment.

    perhaps he should have taken tips from hillary and just changed his hairdo. Smile

    Will he roll over if he gets cheated again?

    god, i hope not. if the corrupt democrat party robs him again, it should be third party time. if he refuses to do it, then the berners should mount a serious write-in campaign organization in all 50 states and out-organize the corrupt democrats and whatever lame-assed centrist candidate they put forward.

    What will it take for Americans to don their yellow vests?

    americans don't revolt because they fear losing what they have. they will revolt when enough of the formerly enfranchised can't meet their existential needs.

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    George Galloway.

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    joe shikspack's picture

    @randtntx

    indeed. the guy has a way of expressing himself that is really impressive.

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    Bollox Ref's picture

    And the Monster Raving Loony Party used to be the ultimately silly party in UK elections.

    De Piffle and his 'Conservative and Unionist Party' now deserve that moniker.

    I think I'll go and parade around in my Coldstream Guards bearskin, being silly....

    (Good grief!).

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    Gëzuar!!
    from a reasonably stable genius.

    joe shikspack's picture

    @Bollox Ref

    i keep wondering if bojo is really pondering that he can get away with crashing out of the eu without all hell breaking loose and he and his cronies paying a price.

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    @joe shikspack
    Either he or those paying him or both stand to make out financially and to Hell with the people of the UK!

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    snoopydawg's picture

    are losing their housing rent money soon even though they are nowhere close to rebuilding their homes. I read that they still have to pay off their original mortgage even though they don't have a house to live in. This seems odd. Why keep paying for something that is no longer there?

    On the second anniversary of the disaster, survivors of those fires said they were poised to lose the insurance coverage that allowed them to pay for temporary housing while they waited out the rebuilding process of their new homes.

    In the Santa Rosa area – which was heavily affected by the fires – only 20% of reconstruction has been completed while 62.5% is still in process.

    California utility will shut off power to 800,000 people to prevent wildfires

    There has got to be a better way for PG&E not to burn down the state.

    This is a better sourced article

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

    @snoopydawg the cost of rebuilding your home? Isn't that why we pay for it?

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    @randtntx while we are doing the rebuilding.

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    joe shikspack's picture

    @randtntx

    heh, like all insurance benefits, the rental allowance in most insurance policies is limited, generally both in the amount of the allowance and the duration. my guess is that the time is running out on most people's allowances.

    what will probably happen is that a lot of people will just default on their mortgages and walk away from the properties losing everything, allowing the aptly named fire sector (finance, insurance, and real estate) to pick up a whole bunch of properties for (if you'll excuse the expression) fire-sale prices.

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    @joe shikspack that the rental coverage is limited, but the replacement cost of one's home is a given...it is agreed upon in the contract... people should not walk away. I'm not expecting you to be an insurance agent here...I'm just saying.... something is not right.

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    joe shikspack's picture

    @randtntx

    people should not have to lose their homes, but, capitalism.

    this is how capital gets returned to its "real" owners, so to speak. tragedy is quite often a great help in assisting the flow of wealth upwards.

    some people whose houses have been burnt are going to wind up without housing while the home that they insured gets rebuilt. they will still owe the bank for the mortgage and if they can't find a way to pay rent while they wait, the bank will foreclose. depending upon how much equity they have in the house, they will probably lose some or all of the insurance money (which is often far less than a property is worth, because it covers only the cost of rebuilding structures and replacing personal property, not the value of the land) in the process. the bankers acquire the property cheap and the people get screwed.

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    @joe shikspack the flaw in the system is evident. Insurance policies need to cover the rent payments until the home is rebuilt and livable. It is not possible for people to pay a rent payment and mortgage payment ...not in this economy. Insurance companies work for us, right? We pay those premiums after all.

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    for the EB news roundup and music. I love Blind John Davis' comment about working for Truman Capotes' brother; "no comment, I didn't see anything".

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    snoopydawg's picture

    @randtntx

    to see what your coverage is. A few companies have agreed to pay longer and others haven't contacted the news Guy who wrote the article. It's not in the one I posted but on zero Hedges. But yeah it doesn't seem right that people can lose their homes after they were totaled.

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

    @snoopydawg for sure. I do have some questions about how it impacts people (including me).

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    joe shikspack's picture

    @randtntx

    i completely agree with you that this is wrong. totally wrong. generally speaking, a state's insurance commissioner (i think that all states have them) regulate the insurance industry and are supposed to prevent them from selling rip-off policies to people, many of whom never read the fine print and just assume that they are fully covered no matter what happens. that is not to say that the fine print is easy to read or comprehensible to the average person. that answer, that "it was there in black and white, we can't help it if you didn't read it," is a dodge that regulators should not allow.

    Insurance companies work for us, right?

    they should, but they don't. capitalism. they represent the interests of capital while they take your money.

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    @joe shikspack I just wanna know what happened to my American Dream. Smile

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    joe shikspack's picture

    @randtntx

    the question is are you the dreamer or the dreamee? Smile

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    @randtntx
    your Insurance should cover it. Some policies exempt fire in fire zones and flood in flood zones. You have to know that when you buy the policy.
    Instead of rebuilding, you can demand the original purchase price in many states.
    California is Democrat Heaven, why did your (D) reps sell you out?

    I had to fight State Farm to have my hail damaged aluminum siding replaced with vinyl siding at no cost to me. I told them, "Okay, I demand aluminum that's what I lost. I'll pay the deductible and you pay the balance". It was cheaper for them to replace with vinyl and waive the deductible. The adjuster was standing pat, but I went over his head. Management sa3 I was offering a win-win.

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    Glad to hear Bolivia's fires are out.
    I would love to know more about farming, lumber industry, and grabs of the forest under Morales. Has he, too, been bought?
    Dammit.
    I sent an email to my tour company, Gate 1 Travel, with whom I recently used to escort me around Ecuador and Peru.
    I asked them to call my tour director, Javier, to see if he and his child are safe and sound in Quito. I am on a list with 26 people, and will send them all the update.
    He was such a nice man, educated, sophisticated, so maybe he had a plan.
    Stay safe, Javier and child!

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    joe shikspack's picture

    @on the cusp

    yep, the fires are out for now thanks to the rain. the area is still in danger when the moisture dries up and the heat returns.

    I would love to know more about farming, lumber industry, and grabs of the forest under Morales. Has he, too, been bought?

    i'll keep an eye out for reports about it. i get the impression from some things that i've read that morales is no longer the champion one would hope for.

    i don't think from what i've read that he's been "bought" in the way that so many latin american leaders are, but his refusal to accept term limits and working the system to get around them does not smell good.

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    @joe shikspack government that functions is always welcome news.
    Evo was always portrayed as that one little guy, poor as could be, that just wanted government to work for people like him.
    Lumber from the rainforest, aside from land grab farmers, seems to be a "thing" in rainforest countries down south. I think they were shipping lumber for very high price from Central America.
    In Ecuador, when I travelled there last time, log trucks were critically inspected, monitored, etc...the tour director made a big deal of it, gave the tour group all the details about shutting down the diminution of the trees in the rainforests. Laws, penalties, security measures, and on and on.
    This time, not a single mention.
    We observed log trucks being pulled over by police then, but not a few weeks ago.
    I heard noises from guides in Panama, Chile, Brazil, and Argentina that echoed concerns about the lumber of the forests.
    What goes on there, goes to here.
    We must all breathe, drink water, not die from extreme heat, and we must figure out some way to eat.

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