The Evening Blues - 10-9-15



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Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features two artists too obscure to have a wikipedia entry, blues, soul and r&b singer Tiny Powell who began his career singing in gospel groups, and Chicago blues harmonica player Little Willie Anderson. Enjoy!

Tiny Powell - Take Me With You

"In reality the workings of your governing system are opaque and covert, while hiding in the chattering spotlight of an ostensible transparency, even though the ultimate objective is clear."

-- Breyten Breytenbach


News and Opinion

Former CIA Officer Detained in Europe While Trying to Clear Her Name in Rendition Case

A former CIA counterterrorism officer who has spent nearly a decade trying to clear her name over her alleged role in the infamous rendition of a terrorism suspect was detained in Portugal this week after trying to leave the country.

Sabrina De Sousa, 59, was en route to see her mother in India on Monday when she was stopped by law enforcement authorities at Lisbon Portela Airport on an outstanding European arrest warrant issued in Italy. Days before she was detained, VICE News had been with De Sousa in Lisbon filming a documentary about her ordeal and the rendition case. ...

De Sousa traveled to Portugal seven months ago via Morocco without incident. Her arrival in the country was part of a new effort by the former intelligence officer to hold the CIA and Italy accountable for what she says was an "illegal rendition." ...

In a landmark 2009 ruling, De Sousa and nearly two-dozen other CIA officers were convicted in absentia in Italy on kidnapping and other charges in connection with the February 2003 abduction of Osama Mustapha Hassan Nasr, better known as Abu Omar, a radical cleric whose fiery anti-American speeches in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 attracted the attention of the CIA.

US Troops May Have Exceeded Authority in Bombing Afghan Hospital

Saturday’s US attack against the Doctors Without Borders hospital on the outskirts of Kunduz, Afghanistan, appears to have been a problem, and not just because it was an attack on a hospital full of civilians and killed at least 22 people, including a bunch of staff members.

The strike also may have exceeded the troops’ combat authority in Afghanistan, a point which is suggested by Gen. John Campbell talking up new training for special forces troops reviewing not only rules of engagement but “all of our operational authorities.

The US Massacre in Kunduz Exposes the Bankruptcy of Obama’s National-Security Policy

Beyond the obvious, immediate implications of this massacre—which serves as a reminder that for all of those 14 years, the United States has engaged in a brutal, mismanaged and ill-conceived war—more broadly the ruins of the Kunduz hospital are a symbol of America’s unfortunate reliance on air power, including drone strikes and bombers, to combat a host of insurgent groups in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and elsewhere in Africa. ...

If there’s such a thing as an “Obama doctrine” of US national security policy in place, it’s built around two pillars: first, using air power to counter “malign” actors such as the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and the Islamic State, rather than direct, on-the-ground involvement of US forces; and second, the arming and training of proxy forces and newly built national armies to carry out the battles on the ground. Yet both pillars are crumbling. Few if any experienced national security policymakers and military experts believe that airstrikes can do more than harass or disrupt well-organized insurgencies, and the doctrine of using air power—developed during and after World War II in the Strategic Bombing Survey, proselytized by Robert McNamara and the Vietnam-era Whiz Kids—has been thoroughly discredited, as argued convincingly this week by James Russell of the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. Just this week, The New York Times reported extensively on the failure around the world of US efforts to support proxy forces and fledgling national armies, ranging from the $65 billion spent to build Afghanistan’s crumbling army, tens of billions spent in Iraq to rebuild the army that the United States dismantled in 2003, and the $500 million effort to organize a rebel force in Syria against the Islamic State that managed to put only “four or five” fighters in the field. ...

Though President Obama has insisted that the rebooted Global War on Terror will take pains to avoid civilian deaths, the Kunduz bombing came just five days after another, even more extensive massacre, this one in southern Yemen. On September 28, the American-backed Saudi Arabian air force obliterated a wedding party, killing at least 131 civilians, including 80 women huddled under a desert tent. The war in Yemen, which pits a rebel force of Houthis against remnants of the toppled, pro-Saudi regime that formerly ruled the country, is devolving into a proxy battle between Iran, which nominally backs the Houthis, and a US-Saudi coalition that is intent on using military force to restore Saudi dominance of the Arabian Peninsula. In the latest in a series of what appear to be indiscriminate air attacks that have killed many civilians, calls for an independent inquiry into the massacre by the UN were blocked by Saudi Arabia, with American support.

The Obama administration appears to have learned the lesson that affairs in the Middle East cannot be reordered to conform with American ideas about democracy and civil society by deploying tens or hundreds of thousands of US troops in feckless “state building” missions. But it has yet to grasp the related lesson that Washington cannot defeat insurgencies, even terrorism-inclined ones, by remote control via drones or by air power that deploys fighter jets and AC-130 gunships.

The Doctors Without Borders bombing is a symptom of foreign occupation

The bombing should be a moment to reflect on the 14 years of US intervention. And what do we have to show for it?

The Kunduz bombing is a symptom of the underlying disease of foreign occupation. The prescription requires that President Obama keep to the timeline of withdrawing US troops by the end of 2016. The US military presence will not create long-term peace and stability in Afghanistan. On the contrary: as long as US troops are there, militants will fight to oust them. ...

The US government must be pressured to provide for the long-term healthcare needs of the wounded survivors and must compensate the families of the deceased. A new hospital must be built to replace the facility that was the only free trauma care hospital in northern Afghanistan, treating 22,000 and performing more than 5,900 surgical procedures in 2014.

The bombing should also be a moment to reflect on the 14 years of US intervention. This intervention has cost the lives of 2,350 US servicemen, plus the lives of thousands of Afghans and servicemen from our Nato partners. It has cost US taxpayers over a trillion dollars, money that could have made an enormous difference funding vital domestic needs.

And what do we have to show for it? Despite 14 years of US involvement at an estimated cost of $33,000 for every man, women and child in Afghanistan (or $14m per hour since 9/11, according to one study), Afghanistan remains mired in poverty, corruption and political strife. Despite the massive amount of effort spent on women’s empowerment, Afghanistan remains a deeply misogynist culture where only 17% of women can read and write. Despite the massive effort to train and equip the Afghan army, Afghan soldiers have not been able rout the Taliban. ...

Responding to public sentiment, President Obama promised to cut the current force of 10,000 US troops in half by 2016. In March, however, the president announced he would slow the pace of the troop withdrawal and now – with the resurgence of the Taliban – there is a call by many Congressional representatives to keep the troops there for years to come. There is even talk of sending more troops. ...

As Kunduz has shown, US involvement is not the answer to the instability and violence in Afghanistan.

14 Years In, NATO Talks Further Extension of Afghan War

14 years into their occupation of Afghanistan, NATO officials are once again talking about an extension of the conflict, with several officials echoing recent Pentagon calls for “flexibility” on the plan to withdraw most of the troops in the country sometime after 2016.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter said he believed a number of other NATO DMs were open to an even more open-ended deployment, and German DM Ursula von der Leyen talked up the idea of formal discussions on keeping NATO forces in Afghanistan longer.

It was only a few years ago that soaring antiwar sentiment across Europe had many countries looking to set a firm deadline on the war, but it seems that setting the deadline calmed the public enough that many believe they can now simply push the bar back and no one will really notice.

Making Money from Misery? Disaster Capitalism from the Migrant Crisis to Afghanistan and Haiti

Rand Paul: No-fly zone in Syria ‘could lead to World War III’

... Paul called a no-fly zone over [Syria], an idea floated by several Republican presidential candidates and by Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton, a "terrible idea" that could "lead to World War III" if anyone was stupid enough to follow through.

"That's drawing a red line in the sky," Paul said. Once you draw a red line, and people cross it, what happens? Now we're talking about an incident that could lead to World War III. We went 70 years having open channels of communication with the Russians, trying to avoid having one side shoot down the opposite side's plane. I think the people who call for a no-fly zone are naive. Right now, Russia's actually being invited by two of the neighboring countries, by Iraq and Syria. We're going to say we're going to stop Russia from flying in the area when two of the countries being flown over have invited that country in? This gets back to whether we want to diplomatically isolate ourselves, or whether we want to diplomatically engage."

A Syria Without Assad?

US Defense Secretary Predicts Terror Attacks on Russia

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, in comments mocking Russia’s “unprofessional” military for the way it is conducting airstrikes against ISIS, predicted that Russia would face “reprisal” terror attacks on Russian soil because of their military action.

Earlier this week a group of Saudi clerics issued a joint statement urging jihad against Russia for its support for the Assad government, and increasingly the narrative around the Gulf states is that Russia is taking sides with the Shi’ites against the Sunnis in general because of their Syria policy. ...

While it’s not unusual for wars in the Middle East to raise concerns about terror attacks at home, Carter’s attitude suggested that he was endorsing the idea as a sort of commuppance for its foreign policy, which ironically appears markedly similar to America’s own policy.

US axes $500m scheme to train Syrian rebels, says NYT

The US has axed its $500m (£326m) programme to train and equip moderate Syrian rebels to fight Islamic State in another move highlighting western failures as Russia seizes the initiative by launching direct military intervention in support of Bashar al-Assad.

Pentagon officials were expected to officially announce the end of the programme on Friday as the US defence secretary, Ashton Carter, left London after meetings with his British counterpart, Michael Fallon, about the conflicts in Syria and Iraq, the New York Times reported.

The programme was the most visible element of US backing for Syrian opposition groups but it has already suffered embarrassing setbacks. Last month, it transpired that it had trained only four or five fighters inside Syria and that others had surrendered to rival groups and handed over the their weapons when they crossed the border from Turkey. Other covert programmes are run by the CIA.

A senior US Department of Defense official said there would no longer be any more recruiting of moderate Syrian rebels to go through training programmes in Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates. Instead, a much smaller training centre would be set up in Turkey, where a small group of “enablers” – mostly leaders of opposition groups – would be taught operational methods such as how to call in airstrikes, the paper reported.

A Top Iranian General Has Been Killed by the Islamic State in Syria

An Iranian Revolutionary Guards general has been killed near Aleppo, where he was advising the Syrian army on their battle against Islamic State (IS) fighters, the guards said in a statement on Friday.

The Guards said General Hossein Hamedani was killed on Thursday night and that he had "played an important role ... reinforcing the front of Islamic resistance against the terrorists." ...

Iranian lawmaker Esmail Kosari said Hamedani helped coordination between Syrian armed forces and the voluntary forces in their fight against IS.

"For years, Hamedani played a very important role in Syria as an adviser... he played an important role in preventing the fall of Damascus. Then he returned home at the end of his assignment," Kosari told the semi-official Tasnim news agency.

"He returned to Syria for a few days because of his deep knowledge about the area ... and he was martyred in Syria."

You've really got to give it to dictator-wannabe Erdogan, he's organized and leaves little to chance.

Turkey bans TV channels close to Erdogan foe ahead of polls

A state prosecutor has banned Turkey's largest pay-TV platform from broadcasting channels close to an arch-enemy of President Tayyip Erdogan, heightening concern about press freedom weeks ahead of an election.

Digiturk is the third platform to ditch channels close to U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen on the orders of the Ankara prosecutor, including news services Bugun TV and S Haber, a children's channel, and four other general interest stations.

Erdogan, who wants the ruling AK Party to win back a majority in a snap Nov. 1 election, accuses Gulen of seeking to overthrow him by means of a "parallel structure" of supporters in the judiciary, police, the media and other institutions.

Gulen has denied such charges and Erdogan's opponents say the moves are an attempt to silence opposition before the polls.

Pinochet directly ordered killing on US soil of Chilean diplomat, papers reveal

General Augusto Pinochet directly ordered the 1976 assassination of a Chilean diplomat who was killed in a car bomb in Washington DC, according to secret US intelligence documents declassified by the Obama administration.

The documents, which were handed to the Chilean president, Michelle Bachelet, on Tuesday in Santiago by the US secretary of state, John Kerry, also show that the former dictator was so concerned with covering up his role in the murder that he planned to assassinate his own head of intelligence, General Manuel Contreras.

Orlando Letelier, a former defence and foreign minister under President Salvador Allende, was tortured and incarcerated after Pinochet’s 1973 coup. He later fled to the US and worked at the Institute of Policy Studies in Washington DC.

Letelier, who had once been Chile’s ambassador to the US, was murdered on 21 September 1976 by a car bomb planted under the driver’s seat of his vehicle just a mile from the White House.

Ronni Moffitt, an American colleague, was also killed in the blast. Her husband Michael survived but was badly wounded. ...

Investigators in the US and Chile are poring through the records searching for evidence that CIA officials had forewarning but did not stop the assassination plan.

Speculation that the CIA was aware of the plot to kill Letelier is based on previously declassified records showing that Manuel Contreras was paid by the CIA before the bombing and was in regular contact with top officials at the spy agency.

Saudi Arabia Remains Adamant On The Beheading and Crucifixion Of Political Dissident

Saudi Arabia has issued a statement telling the world that it has no business objecting to the planned execution of a religious dissident. The Saudi Arabian embassy in the UK has denounced “any form of interference in its internal affairs” regarding the case of 21-year-old dissident Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, who has been sentenced to death by beheading for engaging in pro-democracy protests.

Al-Nimr has been sentenced to death by beheading and crucifixion in Saudi Arabia for simply taking part in anti-government protests in 2012. He was just 17.

‘Classified Speech’: Purdue Destroys Video of Presentation on Snowden Documents

“Classified speech” is speech which contains or relies upon information, which is public but the United States government has not declassified yet. Colleges or universities that are part of the American security industrial-complex have “facility security clearances” or other obligations they have agreed to follow so administrators can maintain the stature of being a place where classified U.S. government research is conducted.

Yet, the result of such arrangements is what happened to Washington Post journalist Barton Gellman, who produced Pulitzer Prize-winning work on documents from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Gellman was invited to Purdue University in Lafayette, Indiana, to give a keynote presentation on Snowden and “national security journalism in the age of surveillance.” The presentation was part of a colloquium called “Dawn or Doom” on the “risks and rewards of emerging technologies.” It was live streamed, and Gellman was promised a link for sharing his presentation after the event.

Purdue University emphasized in its description of the event that Gellman would offer a “fresh account of the disclosures and their aftershocks, drawing upon hundreds of hours of work with the classified NSA archive and scores of hours of interviews with Snowden.”

As Gellman has recounted, Purdue “wiped all copies” of his video and slides from university servers on the grounds that Gellman “displayed classified documents briefly on screen.”

The "Justice Department" likens the entire American public to a collection of undifferentiated convicted criminals:

Government Likens Ending Bulk Surveillance to Opening Prison Gates

A Justice Department prosecutor said Thursday that ordering the immediate end of bulk surveillance of millions of Americans’ phone records would be as hasty as suddenly letting criminals out of prison.

“Public safety should be taken into consideration,” argued DOJ attorney Julia Berman, noting that in a 2011 Supreme Court ruling on prison overcrowding, the state of California was given two years to find a solution and relocate prisoners.

By comparison, she suggested, the six months Congress granted to the National Security Agency to stop indiscriminately collecting data on American phone calls was minimal.

Ending the bulk collection program even a few weeks before the current November 29 deadline would be an imminent risk to national security because it would create a dangerous “intelligence gap” during a period rife with fears of homegrown terrorism, she said.

Walter Scott's family to receive $6.5m settlement after police shooting

A city in South Carolina approved a $6.5m million settlement Thursday with the family of an unarmed black man shot dead earlier this year by a white police officer.

North Charleston city council approved the settlement by a 10-0 vote, and members of Walter Scott’s family were on hand when it was announced.

The council had met several times in the past few months to receive advice from city attorney Brady Hair on a potential lawsuit from Scott’s family. ...

In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, Scott’s family called for peace. Some have credited the family’s action – along with the officer’s speedy arrest – with staving off the protests and violence that have erupted in other cities where unarmed black men have died during encounters with police.

First Latino US Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera on Migrant Farmworkers, the Border and Ayotzinapa

The Brokers On Trial For The Libor Scandal Promised Each Other Curry And Champagne

"That's the big lesson of LIBOR. They can game the system and they know it."

A trial that started this week in London is revealing more evidence of the reckless frat boy culture that critics say is rampant in international banking.

Six financiers were charged on Tuesday with conspiracy to defraud in a scandal involving the London Interbank Offered Rate, or LIBOR — an interest rate big banks charge to loan each other money.

"Can you please get 3 and 6-month as high as is possible today," wrote Darrell Read, referring to different terms for loans, in a 2006 email to Colin Goodman, the Guardian reported. "We'll sort you out with a curry takeaway next week in recognition of your efforts. Thanks mate."

Read allegedly went by the nickname Nog or Big Nose, prosecutors allege. Goodman was known as Lord Libor. Referring to each other as "dudes" and "big boys," the financiers — all men in their forties and fifties — also promised each other beer, bottles of Bollinger champagne and other treats for rate rigging, the Wall Street Journal reported.

"It just confirms what was pretty obviously the case. The LIBOR system was rotten to the core," said Thomas Ferguson, a senior fellow at Roosevelt Institute. "It's a bank cartel. After all this nonsense about the increase of competition in the world economy thanks to the spread of financialization, at its heart you have a cartel. That's the big lesson of LIBOR. They can game the system and they know it."

Defeat and Demoralization in Greece



the horse race


Seriously? 2nd place in the national beauty contest goes to "Miss Historical Fantasy?"

Ben Carson dmonstrates a measure of his caliber

Claims Jewish people might have stopped Holocaust if they had guns

Carson was quizzed on CNN over comments in his new book, A More Perfect Union: What We the People Can Do to Reclaim Our Constitutional Liberties, which cites Nazi Germany to argue that the right to bear arms should not be curtailed.

CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked him: “Just clarify, if there had been no gun control laws in Europe at that time, would six million Jews have been slaughtered?”

Carson replied: “I think the likelihood of Hitler being able to accomplish his goals would have been greatly diminished if the people had been armed … I’m telling you that there is a reason that these dictatorial people take the guns first.”

The former neurosurgeon is currently polling in second place in the race to become the Republican presidential candidate, behind front-runner Donald Trump.

Hillary really wants to deprive Sanders of those Union endorsements and dollars...

Hillary Clinton's TPP deal disapproval is 'a critical turning point'

From the start, the Trans-Pacific trade pact that Barack Obama is trumpeting faced rough going on Capitol Hill, not least because some of Congress’s most powerful Republicans – among them the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell – were complaining about it.

But the pact’s chances of winning ratification in Congress diminished on Wednesday when Hillary Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner, said: “Based on what I know so far, I can’t support this agreement.” Clinton’s statement was a major rebuff to Obama, who wants to make the 12-nation pact, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a centerpiece of his diplomatic legacy and his strategy to expand America’s role in Asia to counter China.

“Her decision is a critical turning point, and will be invaluable in our effort to defeat TPP,” said Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, the main US labor federation.

The Pacific agreement, which includes Canada, Chile, Japan, Mexico and Vietnam, faces intense opposition from the left and the right in the US, as well as from many internet activists, while its most enthusiastic supporter is corporate America. On the left, opponents include Bernie Sanders, organized labor and most environmental groups, and on the right, its foes include Donald Trump, the Republican frontrunner, and some Tea Party Republicans reluctant to give any victory to Obama.

“Right now I don’t think TPP can get through Congress,” said Lori Wallach, a leading TPP critic and director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. “If the entire corporate coalition doesn’t line up in support and throw money at it and threaten to break knees, it’s going to have problems passing.”

Clinton Outdoes Tsipras in Kolotoumbas with Her Reversals on TPP, Bank Regulations

In the last two days, we’ve seen the faltering Democratic party front runner decide that it might behoove her to distance herself from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the centerpiece of her “pivot to Asia” strategy, and America’s most hated oligarchs, big banksters. Might the timing of this sudden change of heart have a wee bit to do with the Presidential debates next week, and it not being all that easy to defend the pet causes of the privileged classes in crowd-pleasing soundbites when challenged by Sanders?

As least Greek prime minister Alex Tsipras, who engaged in similar reversals, can at least be credited with fighting hard for what he’d promised Greeks, even if those promises were contradictory, and then retreating only in the face of overwhelming force, namely, having the ECB put a choke hold on the Greek banking system.

By contrast, Hillary’s sudden shift is simply a not-terribly-well-executed attempt to reposition herself. As Jeb Lund described her increasingly obvious problem in Rolling Stone:

In the last day, Hillary Clinton announced her opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a deal that she will likely claim she only championed as part of her duties as secretary of state and that, in reality, she just as likely helped to create. She probably opposes it as strongly as she did NAFTA, which her husband created, and which she and Barack Obama campaigned against in 2008 and then proceeded to do nothing about. This is a habit. She probably is doing this because, in spite of a career in which neoliberalism got her this far, Bernie Sanders is starting to eat her lunch among labor voters, progressives and anyone who is not a big-money donor. You know, the people who vastly outnumber the latter and do things en masse, like vote.

On the TPP, Clinton’s shift in position, while not exactly credible, also amounts to less than she’d like the great unwashed bottom 90% to believe. ... “Based on what I know now, I don’t like it.” That gives her plenty of leeway to claim she’s gotten more comfortable as she has learned more or contend that she’s won concession (say improved side deals) that allow her to support the pact. ...

The big problem with Hillary is it is hard to believe she stands for anything other than her desire to exercise power. How can you square her position on the issue she appears to care most about, women’s rights, with her warmongering? Economic progress is almost always a necessary but not sufficient condition for women to get more education, more access to jobs, and most important, more reproductive control. Men who feel their social and economic status is precarious are not going to accept increased competition from women in society and in the workplace. Wars devastate economies, lead to flight of the upper classes and educated professionals, and often produce a rise in rape and other types of violence against women. Yet she seems utterly blind to the hypocrisy of her claims of trying to advance the position of women abroad while being a rabid hawk.

Sanders Opposes FDA Chief Nominee Over Ties to 'Greedy' Big Pharma

While at Duke, Robert M. Califf received millions in funding and salary support from Eli Lilly, Merck, Novartis, and other drug companies

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Friday said he would vote against President Barack Obama's nomination to head up the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), citing Dr. Robert M. Califf's ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

Califf, a cardiologist and Duke University researcher, became FDA deputy commissioner earlier this year, and Obama announced plans to nominate him as the agency's chief last month. But in light of several recent industry scandals that brought national attention to price gouging of life-saving medications, Sanders—who is running for president as a Democrat—on Friday said he would not support the status quo when the vote comes before the U.S. Senate health committee.

"At a time when millions of Americans cannot afford to purchase the prescription drugs they need, we need a new leader at the FDA who is prepared to stand up to the pharmaceutical companies and work to substantially lower drug prices. Unfortunately, I have come to the conclusion that Dr. Califf is not that person," Sanders said following a meeting with the nominee this week.

A recent exposé by the New York Times revealed that Califf's multi-million dollar research center at Duke received more than 60 percent of its funding from the industry, while his 2014 financial disclosure documents showed drug companies like Eli Lilly, Merck, and Novartis paid him hefty fees for "consulting" and in salary support. And as the Boston Globe reported on Wednesday, Califf also took the "highly unusual" step of removing his name from a series of scientific papers criticizing the FDA's oversight of clinical trials—"a decision that could raise ethical concerns," explains the Globe's Sheila Kaplan.



the evening greens


Four more carmakers join diesel emissions row

Mercedes-Benz, Honda, Mazda and Mitsubishi’s cars are shown to emit significantly more NOx pollution on the road than in regulatory tests

Mercedes-Benz, Honda, Mazda and Mitsubishi have joined the growing list of manufacturers whose diesel cars are known to emit significantly more pollution on the road than in regulatory tests, according to data obtained by the Guardian.

In more realistic on-road tests, some Honda models emitted six times the regulatory limit of NOx pollution while some unnamed 4x4 models had 20 times the NOx limit coming out of their exhaust pipes.

“The issue is a systemic one” across the industry, said Nick Molden, whose company Emissions Analytics tested the cars. The Guardian revealed last week that diesel cars from Renault, Nissan, Hyundai, Citroen, Fiat, Volvo and Jeep all pumped out significantly more NOx in more realistic driving conditions. NOx pollution is at illegal levels in many parts of the UK and is believed to have caused many thousands of premature deaths and billions of pounds in health costs.

All the diesel cars passed the EU’s official lab-based regulatory test (called NEDC), but the test has failed to cut air pollution as governments intended because carmakers designed vehicles that perform better in the lab than on the road. There is no evidence of illegal activity, such as the “defeat devices” used by Volkswagen.

Lawmakers Slam Volkswagen Executive in Emissions Cheating Hearing

CEO of Volkswagen America, Michael Horn, appeared before Congress on Thursday to testify about how Volkswagen knowingly installed software that skirted emission regulations in 11 million of its cars, almost 500,000 of which are in the US. ...

"VW has betrayed a nation," said Representative Fred Upton, the chairman of the House committee on Energy and Commerce. "It's time to clean up or get off the road."

The company admitted last month that for the past six years the it has installed special software on VW diesel engines which detects when the vehicle is undergoing an official emissions test. The so-called "defeat devices" were programmed to limit car emissions for the duration of the test, after which the car would return to emitting nitrogen oxide at levels up to 40 times the legal limit. ...

Horn insisted that several rogue software engineers developed the defeat devices on their own and that he personally had no idea that they were being used. "This was not a corporate decision, to the best of my knowledge," said Horn.

But that answer did not please Horn's questioners. If that was true, responded Representative Chris Collins, a Republican from New York, "either your entire organization is incompetent, and I don't believe that for a second, or they are complicit, at the highest levels, in a massive cover up that continues today."

Horn himself later admitted in the hearing that his own claim that the devices were not a top-down decision was "hard to believe."

Apparently German investigators don't believe Horn either. As the hearing was proceeding on Capitol Hill, authorities in Germany were searching Volkswagen's offices in an attempt to find more information on who at the company had been involved in the design and implementation of the software, reported National Public Radio.

DuPont Found Liable in Teflon Toxin Trial

A jury has found Dupont liable for negligence in the case of Carla Bartlett, taking less than a day to award $1.6 million to the Ohio woman who developed kidney cancer after drinking water contaminated with a chemical formerly used to make Teflon. The jury declined to give Bartlett punitive damages in the federal case. Instead, the award included $1.1 million for negligence as well as $500,000 for emotional distress.

“This is brilliant,” one of Bartlett’s attorneys, Mike Papantonio, said of the verdict. “It’s exactly what we wanted.” Papantonio emphasized that Bartlett’s case, the first of more than 3,500 personal injury and wrongful death suits filed on behalf of people in West Virginia and Ohio who were exposed to C8, had been chosen by DuPont as the first to be tried and involved less egregious injuries than many others yet to be heard. ...

In a statement, DuPont said it expected to appeal the verdict. ...

Carla Bartlett lived much of her life in Coolville, Ohio, a tiny town a few miles across the Ohio River from a DuPont plant in Parkersburg, West Virginia. After years of drinking water that had been contaminated with C8, Bartlett, who is now 51, was diagnosed with a tumor on her kidney in 1997 and underwent a painful surgery that involved removing part of one of her ribs along with the tumor.

Bartlett’s attorneys argued that while she and tens of thousands of people living near Parkersburg, West Virginia, were drinking water contaminated with C8, DuPont was actively working to ensure they didn’t “connect the dots” about the chemical. One DuPont PowerPoint presented by Papantonio described the company’s strategy of keeping sensitive information from government agencies, community organizations, and “disgruntled employees.”


Also of Interest

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

Why the U.S. Owns the Rise of Islamic State and the Syria Disaster

Living in a steel box: are shipping containers really the future of housing?

Our prison debate team beat Harvard's. Here's how we did it

The Political Consequences of Mental Models


A Little Night Music

Tiny Powell - My Time After Awhile

Tiny Powell - On The Blue Side

Tiny Powell - Going Home

Tiny Powell - Done Made It Over

Tiny Powell - Bossy Woman

Tiny Powell - Get My Hat

Tiny Powell - On The Blue Side

Little Willie Anderson - Come Here Mama

Little Willie Anderson - Willie's Women Blues

Little Willie Anderson - Everything Gonna Be Alright

Willie Anderson & Barrelhouse Chuck - Westside Baby

Little Willie Anderson - Big Fat Mama



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tomorrow is Joe's birthday and since there will be no Evening Blues let's all wish him a big Happy Birthday today!!

Happy Birthday Joe!!

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joe shikspack's picture

i was wondering where that beaver got to. i heard that he was drag racing in florida or something.

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MarilynW's picture

all your handwork and consistent dedication. I appreciate your news selections.

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cybrestrike's picture

Turkey- Erdogan's soft dictatorship and slow dismantling of democracy is shaping up quite nicely for he and his. Wonder how far he can go before things become...interesting in Ankara.

Hillary Clinton- Her reversal on TPP is pretty much seen as b.s. to anyone who isn't a hard core Clinton partisan. This is what I mean whenever I say that neoliberals don't respect our intelligence. And paid "rubes" like Richard Trumka will believe it--hook, line, and sinker...and he'll sell it to enough rank and file folks in the AFL-CIO that they'll buy HRC's reversal scam. No need of tacit approval from the union's leadership because they were going to support HRC anyway.

Ben Carson- That man is a cartoon character playing at running for president. If and when Trump flames out (oh, and he will...quite spectacularly), who the hell are the Republican establishment going to put out there? Because I can totally seeing them pull off a soft coup and inserting someone like Rubio or Cruz in there, while giving whoever won the most votes a VP spot to calm the savages down.

Speaker of the House- This is a mess. Their fringe has basically held their breath, turned blue, and passed out on the House floor. I know we're probably a ways away from this, but could the Republican party go through some kind of transformation as the Tea Party faction just breaks off and forms their own party, leaving the Repubs behind as a rump faction? I don't know. Doubt it. But stranger things have happened, and we're long overdue a realignment. Even if that realignment leads to further madness. Or maybe my imagination is getting away from me (all signs point to 'maybe').

Konduz Bombing- MSF won't see any justice from this. Some nameless Lt. Colonel and Sgt Major somewhere may take a hit, but they'll be safely insulated from anything major. There has been too much ass-covering for anything to happen. We've seen this movie before. Yeah, the US will take a bit of hit in their international reputation, but it's a reputation that was already bad in the first place and artificially sustained by infinite money and superior firepower.

I posted a diary over at the GOS: Relax, It's Still Silly Season. It's Friday and everyone is still pissed off so I doubt anyone will actually read it, but I figured it'd help me get a lot of this crazy off of my chest. Therapy by writing. I like that.

This three-day weekend is going to consist of me checking out the Pride Parade in downtown Orlando (I missed it the last three years because of work travel) and lots of relaxing. Might drive to Clearwater Beach. Maybe I'll run into Tom Cruise or something.

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joe shikspack's picture

i agree with all you wrote. regarding trumka, hillary's tpp volte-face is just the excuse that trumka and other bottom-feeders were looking for. they can now safely endorse hillary. their membership, on the other hand, is unlikely to follow their lead.

have a great and relaxing weekend!

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Unabashed Liberal's picture

of your analysis, except I have a slightly different take regarding Trumka.

From what I've read and heard, Trumka isn't clueless--he's "sold out."

I've mentioned a couple of times (online) hearing (on XM Radio) the off-the-charts neoliberal and general #$!#$!#$!#, former Senator Alan Simpson, speak of his close friendship with 'Rich' Trumka when he addressed students at George Washington University, while trying to sell the Grand Bargain on college campuses.

He spoke fondly of his 30-year friendship with Trumka, and mentioned that they "hug and kiss" upon meeting.

Ugh!!!!!

Seriously, as someone who has experienced a "Baptism By Fire" story of my own, and who is generally supportive of unions, lately I've come to believe that many of them are a scam--just part of the Dem Party power structure, serving no one but the Union Bosses, the Bipartisan Party Establishments, the Dem Party GOTV Efforts, and the One Percent.

I'm waiting to get more details on the UAW/Fiat tentative agreement--reached the other evening to avoid a strike. The initial agreement would pretty much destroy their health care benefits by putting members in a "health insurance cooperative."

Very few 'details' were outlined in their first tentative agreement, so it's hard to judge the exact degree of damage that it would do. The same day that this was announced, the NYT had a piece on the failure of this particular health insurance 'alternative.'

*Sigh*

I rec'd and tipped your excellent DKos diary. I refrained from commenting, though, because I would categorize many of the recent 'squabbles' over there as almost juvenile. And I didn't want to cause a ruckus, when you're trying to quell one.

Wink

Mollie


"The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart."--Helen Keller

"Integrity and courage are powerful weapons. We have to learn how to use them. We have to stand up for what we believe in. And we have to accept the risks and even the ridicule that comes with this stance. We will not prevail any other way."

Chris Hedges, Journalist/Author/Activist, Truthdig, 9/20/2015

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

Close your ears JayRaye, but I just have to say that if I belonged to AFT, NEA or Trumpka's union, I'd refuse to pay dues.

Happy Birthday, Joe. Hope you have a great day.

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"Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

joe shikspack's picture

i tend to agree about the unions, the larger unions that i am familiar with tend to be poorly led by people whose interests seem not to be so well aligned with the rank and file. that is not to say that there aren't good unions, good locals within unions and very good people in the labor movement. it's just that like just about all of the institutions in our society, most of them could use a serious overhaul.

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Unabashed Liberal's picture

although I 'think' that JR already knows--I'm a former steward. (Partially, the result of my own case and award, several decades ago.) That's what the essay that I mentioned above is about.

(My union was mostly a white collar/professional union, which is true of the majority of federal unions. My time as a steward didn't last but about five years, because I accepted a supervisory position, and you can't belong to a union if you're a supervisor. Or, at least, that was DOD regulation, at the time. Haven't a clue what the rules are, today.)

Anyhoo, in no way, was I trying to take a 'potshot' at rank-and-file union members. Or, for that matter, as Joe mentions, stewards at the Local level.

Actually, IMO, the corruption lies more with the major legacy parties, than with the unions.

And, I imagine that, generally speaking, Trumka's actions are partly in response to our "pay to play" neoliberal corporatist governmental system, rather than of his own doing, or making.

Chances are that Trumka rationalizes that if he doesn't make the concessions demanded--our corrupt lawmakers will simply find another stool pigeon who will. And he may just be correct, sadly.

OTOH, his actions defeat the very purpose of an union. So, in no way do I mean to be a "Trumka apologist." Heck, I can't even look at the man, now, without hearing Simpson boast of their close relationship. And it was stated in Simpson's usual in-your-face manner--defiantly.

Frankly, I don't know what the answer is. I just know that, at one time, unions had very much to be proud of. (And, in some areas, still do.)

Sometimes, I just wish that we could turn back the clock.

*Sigh*

Mollie


"The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart."--Helen Keller

"Every time I lose a dog, he takes a piece of my heart. Every new dog gifts me with a piece of his. Someday, my heart will be total dog, and maybe then I will be just as generous, loving, and forgiving."--Author Unknown

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

Shahryar's picture

thinking back to 1992, nobody (i.e. voters) wanted Bill Clinton. He came across as a sleazy used car salesman. But the money people backed him so he became "The Comeback Kid".

Nobody wants Jeb but yes, Trump will flame out and we'll all have a good laugh. Then what? Carson's a loser, Cruz is too. Rubio might have a chance in a fair election. I think, though, those same money people will keep pushing Bush and he, too, will get propped up in the press as "resilient" or some such BS.

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joe shikspack's picture

it certainly sounds plausible - and money makes the world go 'round...

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enhydra lutris's picture

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

An Orwell\Huxley fusion

The Chinese government has mandated a rating system for all of its connected citizens. It looks like a credit rating but goes much deeper than just tying a measurement of financial risk to a number. It's a way of defining who someone in terms of the government's desires and aims. And its desires aren't all that honorable.
Everybody is measured by a score between 350 and 950, which is linked to their national identity card. While currently supposedly voluntary, the government has announced that it will be mandatory by 2020...

In addition to measuring your ability to pay, as in the United States, the scores serve as a measure of political compliance. Among the things that will hurt a citizen’s score are posting political opinions without prior permission, or posting information that the regime does not like, such as about the Tiananmen Square massacre that the government carried out to hold on to power, or the Shanghai stock market collapse.

Also used to calculate scores is information about hobbies, lifestyle, and shopping. Buying certain goods will improve your score, while others (such as video games) will lower it.

It will hurt your score not only if you do these things, but if any of your friends do them. Imagine the social pressure against disobedience or dissent that this will create.

Sadly, many Chinese appear to be embracing the score as a measure of social worth, with almost 100,000 people bragging about their scores on the Chinese equivalent of Twitter.

More soma for everyone!

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cybrestrike's picture

I'm impressed, in a "That's bloody diabolical" sense.

Somewhere, Orwell and Huxley exclaim in unison, "You idiots--it was supposed to be an allegory, not a prediction!"

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joe shikspack's picture

now if they could just introduce the concept of mojo and allow one's friends, acquaintances and random gangs of political partisans to up or down-rate...

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lotlizard's picture

But seriously…

Meanwhile, back in the U.S., if you work for the government you will be rated and profiled as a possible "Insider Threat" — but you never get to see that rating, or anything else they've got on you. It'll just silently poison your career.

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/special-reports/insider-threats/article2...

Even before a former U.S. intelligence contractor exposed the secret collection of Americans’ phone records, the Obama administration was pressing a government-wide crackdown on security threats that requires federal employees to keep closer tabs on their co-workers and exhorts managers to punish those who fail to report their suspicions.

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/special-reports/insider-threats/article2...

In an initiative aimed at rooting out future leakers and other security violators, President Barack Obama has ordered federal employees to report suspicious actions of their colleagues based on behavioral profiling techniques that are not scientifically proven to work, according to experts and government documents.

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/special-reports/insider-threats/article2...

U.S. agencies collected and shared the personal information of thousands of Americans in an attempt to root out untrustworthy federal workers that ended up scrutinizing people who had no direct ties to the U.S. government and simply had purchased certain books.

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/special-reports/insider-threats/article2...

A key congressional defender of the National Security Agency’s spying programs criticized federal officials Thursday for a separate initiative that collected and shared the personal information on thousands of Americans in an attempt to root out untrustworthy federal workers.

Digby weighs in, with some actual brochures distributed by government agencies:
http://digbysblog.blogspot.de/2013/06/the-brochure-insider-threats-comba...

I don't know whether to laugh or cry. These are so over-the-top paranoid that I can't help but wonder if it's some kind of a joke. But clearly, it isn't. And if you read the original McClatchy story, you'll see that each federal department — even the Peace Corps, has implemented this program.

Also note that this isn't just about national security. It's aimed at contractors as well as government employees and it's designed to protect against "intellectual copyright" and proprietary information. And the personal factors in the FBI's list encompass the whole of the human condition as suspicious behavior: financial need, anger, problems at work with lack of recognition, disagreements with co-workers, dissatisfaction with the job, ideology ("a desire to help the 'underdog' or a particular cause"), divided loyalty — allegiance to another person or company, adventure/thrillseeker, vulnerability to blackmail. Indeed the only person who would not from time to time come under suspicion is a robot or a person so paranoid about being suspected that they act like a robot and totally avoid any real relationships among the people they work with.

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cybrestrike's picture

In the circles that I work in (I'm not going to out what I do, but someone with enough time could figure it out if they wanted to), we had to do that training. And yes, we all laughed at how Orwellian it was.

Then I got a closer look at it than I wanted to when one of my coworkers spent a good two years actively trying to get me fired for what anyone would perceive as minor issues. Luckily nothing came of it because I basically manipulated a lot of things in plain sight to make myself unfireable.

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mimi's picture

thank God you succeeded to make yourself unfireable.
Stay put. Smile

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

StatelineAgingPrisonersLineGraph.jpg

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claims2_0.jpg

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joe shikspack's picture

where did that come from?

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Unabashed Liberal's picture

for all the hard work that you do year round, turning out the fabulous Evening Blues!

Happy Birthday cuccake gifs photo:  birthday_candles.gif
[Happy Birthday!, skez520mia, Photobucket]

Got some news for tonight's EB about a recently signed ACA amendment, as well as about pension "reform." I may have to post it over the weekend, though, depending upon a online course deadline that I have to meet.

Again, have a rollicking fun Birthday weekend, with lots of

Dance 4 Drinks

Mollie

Wink


"The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart."--Helen Keller
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Everyone thinks they have the best dog, and none of them are wrong.

joe shikspack's picture

i'll look forward to your news, though i won't be around much after this evening until sunday sometime.

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gulfgal98's picture

On the auspicious occasion of your birth, you deserve nothing but the best of greetings! HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Dirol

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"I don't want to run the empire, I want to bring it down!" ~ Dr. Cornel West

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." ~ President John F. Kennedy

joe shikspack's picture

thanks! that is certainly one of the most memorable birthday greetings of the 20th century. Smile

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lotlizard's picture

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joe shikspack's picture

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Reuters is reporting:

Europe must improve its relationship with Russia and should not let this be something decided by Washington, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Thursday.
[snip]
"We must make efforts towards a practical relationship with Russia. It is not sexy but that must be the case, we can't go on like this," he said at an event in the southern German town of Passau.
[snip]
"Russia must be treated decently," he said. "We can't let our relationship with Russia be dictated by Washington."

(emphasis added)

http://uk.mobile.reuters.com/article/idUKKCN0S22MF20151008?irpc=932

Is this good news? I do hope so. I could really do with some good news.

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Only connect. - E.M. Forster

joe shikspack's picture

if "old europe" gives the neocons the ol' heave ho, the empire is going to be much harder to maintain as is the new cold war with russia (that is the new/continuing economic competition with russia which seems to be doing a pretty good job of outmaneuvering the us).

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Can't do fancy graphics and all that from
my cell, but wishing you a spectacular
birthday nonetheless!

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Only connect. - E.M. Forster

joe shikspack's picture

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hecate's picture

for you, Mr. Pack. ; )

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joe shikspack's picture

thank you! that's one fine mess of musicians. it reminds me that it has been too long since i visited new orleans.

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hecate's picture

stayed around three weeks in New Orleans
never did see the light of day

; )

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joe shikspack's picture

that much good music in one place is pretty hard to resist. now i just have to get work and life to cooperate. Smile

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burnt out's picture

Has it really been a year already? Doesn't seem possible. While I'm logged in let me thank you again for all the time and effort you put into The Evening Blues. Don't know how you manage to pull it off night after night. You have my admiration, which of course will buy you absolutely nothing, but then again, it won't cost you anything either. ( : Have a good one man.

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All I want is the truth. Just give me some truth. John Lennon

joe shikspack's picture

yep, years and seasons seem to be zipping by much more quickly than they used to.

great to see you! thanks for the birthday wishes and the kind words!

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obomaeco.jpg

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joe shikspack's picture

that about covers it, in the sense that a picture is worth a thousand words.

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mimi's picture

many happy returns.

Hopefully you will never stop producing the Evening Blues. To me it's a gift.

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

joe shikspack's picture

thanks!

well, i don't know how long i'll be creating the evening blues, i suspect that it will fall short of forever, though. Smile

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mimi's picture

as long as I live or you live. Smile
Wishing for a long life ...

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

Shahryar's picture

Cilla Black! You all probably know her story....hatcheck girl at the Cavern, did an occasional number with several of the groups that played there, signed by Brian Epstein, produced by George Martin, went on to a very long career. Here she is with a song that suggests that life wasn't all that swell in Liverpool.

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It's all of them

Last week, the Guardian revealed that diesel cars from Nissan, Hyundai, Citroen, Fiat, Volvo, and Renault emitted significantly more pollution in realistic driving conditions than the tests supposedly allow. Now, we learn that vehicles from Mercedes-Benz, Honda, Mazda, and Mitsubishi emit substantially more than they should as well. For example: "Mercedes-Benz's diesel cars produced an average of 0.406g/km of NOx on the road, at least 2.2 times more than the official Euro 5 level and five times higher than the Euro 6 level. Honda's diesel cars emitted 0.484g/km of NOx on average, between 2.6 and six times the official levels."
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lotlizard's picture

Not yet, that is.

So far it's probably just the routine kind of corruption — regulatory capture, where the carmakers successfully lobbied for tests deliberately designed not to reflect anywhere near real performance.

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enhydra lutris's picture

US Defense Secretary Predicts Terror Attacks on Russia - See more at: http://www.caucus99percent.com/content/evening-blues-10-9-15#sthash.tMeD...

When I saw the first news article on that I couldn't help wonder if we had picked out a color or aroma yet. Of course there will be, we're already hard at work on them.

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

Crider's picture

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enhydra lutris's picture

Birfday

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