The Evening Blues - 11-14-19


The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: Lee Dorsey

Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features New Orleans r&b singer Lee Dorsey. Enjoy!

Lee Dorsey - Ya Ya

"There are leaks from the Embassy in Honduras. There was a coup in 2009. Obama broke with most of Latin America and even Europe and supported the military coup, still does. The ambassador in Honduras sent back a detailed analysis saying the coup was military, illegal, unconstitutional, and that the legitimate president was thrown out. Okay, we now know that Washington was perfectly aware of that and decided to support the military coup anyway. We should have known that at the time. The government has no right to keep that information secret."

-- Noam Chomsky

News and Opinion

Clashes in Bolivia as Morales supporters challenge interim president's legitimacy

Fresh clashes have broken out in Bolivia’s main city as the newly declared interim president Jeanine Añez faced challenges to her leadership in the senate and the streets from supporters of the exiled leader Evo Morales. Running battles broke out in La Paz as Morales supporters, throwing rocks and wielded wooden planks, squared off against riot police who set off teargas into the crowds of demonstrators. Huge crowds also mobilised in the adjacent city of El Alto, demanding his return.

Former senate head Adriana Salvatierra, a Morales loyalist who resigned just after he did, was prevented from entering the parliament building by police who scuffled with her supporters. Emboldened Movement For Socialism (MAS) lawmakers and senators, who hold a two-thirds majority, tried to hold sessions to declare Añez’s claim to the presidency illegal and block Morales’s resignation.

Meanwhile, Morales called for dialogue with his political rivals but repeated his allegation that he was the victim of a coup, as the country’s interim leader pledged to hold new elections as soon as possible. Speaking at a press conference in Mexico City, Morales called for an end to the violence that has racked Bolivia since elections last month plagued with allegations of vote-rigging.

“I have a message for the police and the armed forces: don’t stain yourselves with the blood of the people,” he said. At least eight people have been killed in three weeks of clashes across Bolivia.

Morales dismissed an Organisation of American States report that found there had been “clear manipulations” of the vote which would have handed him his fourth term in office. He saidhis rightwing opponents had plotted the coup from the night of the vote. “The OAS is not at the service of the people of Latin America. It is at the service of the USA,” he said. “We built a lot with so much sacrifice and now this coup is destroying Bolivia.”

How the OAS and US Just Helped Overthrow Another Government

The United States and the Organization of American States can add another coup to their scorecards, even if U.S. media refuses to recognize it as such. ...

Currently, indigenous and labor movements are on the streets in several Bolivian cities, demanding that President Morales be reinstated. Meanwhile, police forces are ripping the Wiphala flag (a flag that represents the indigenous peoples of the Andes) from their uniforms and from government buildings. Coup leader Luis Camacho entered the government palace with a Bolivian flag and a bible; upon leaving, one of his supporters, a Christian pastor, declared that “Pachamama will never return to the palace... Bolivia belongs to Christ.” (Pachamama is an Andean goddess representing Mother Earth.) The coup and its aftermath are not just a rejection of President Morales, but of Bolivia’s indigenous majority and the social gains of the last 13 years.

Morales’ resignation came hours after the head of the armed forces and the chief of Bolivia’s police “suggested” that he resign. The head of the army, General Williams Kalimán Romero, was Bolivia’s military attaché in Washington from 2013 to 2016. The chief of police, General Vladimir Calderón, was Bolivia’s police attaché in Washington until December 2018. As attachés they would have been in constant communication with the Pentagon and other agencies; it is no stretch of the imagination to wonder if they were still in contact with their U.S. counterparts as the overthrow of the Morales government unfolded.

The coup was carried out over three weeks after the October 20 elections, but it was months, if not years in the making. The United States first began targeting Evo Morales in 2001—five years before being elected president—when the US Embassy in La Paz warned that his political base needed to be weakened. Afterwards, USAID began funding right-wing political parties and “civil society” organizations that would feature heavily in attempts to overthrow President Morales. The first such attempt came in 2008, two years after Morales was first elected president and days after he survived a recall referendum with 67.4% of the vote. On that occasion, coup plotters in eastern Bolivia, a region rich in minerals where the white minority population is concentrated, attempted to secede from the country. According to the International Federation for Human Rights, the opposition in eastern Bolivia “promoted separatism and ethnically and socially based hatred through the Civic Committees (Comités Civicos), in particular the Pro-Santa Cruz Civic Committee.” Luis Camacho, the millionaire coup leader with ties to paramilitaries, is the current president of this committee, which has received U.S. funding in the past.

The desire to overthrow Morales has existed for years, but more immediate plans were finalized in the weeks before the election. Bolivian media outlet Erbol published leaked audio of conversations held from October 8 and 10 between civic leaders, former military officials and opposition politicians who discussed “a plan for social unrest, before and after the general elections, with the aim of preventing President Evo Morales from remaining” in office. One opposition politician mentioned being in close contact with Senators Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Bob Menendez.

The OAS also played an important role in stoking protests and ensuring that the coup was successful. On October 21, a day after the election, it issued a statement casting doubt on the process due to an “inexplicable” change in the trend of the vote count. This statement was thoroughly debunked by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), which found that trend did not change and that Morales widened the gap over his rivals due to late reporting rural precincts, where he enjoys a tremendous advantage. A later statistical analysis by CEPR found that there was “no evidence that the election results were affected by irregularities or fraud.” However, the damage was done: protestors took to the streets decrying electoral fraud. These claims were echoed by the State Department and Senator Rubio on Twitter. After being invited by President Morales to conduct an audit, the results of which he promised to respect, the OAS instead opted to destabilize the country. The full electoral audit was initially due by November 12, but on November 10, a day after Morales announced that a coup was taking place and amid political violence throughout the country, the OAS decided to issue a preliminary audit. This report, which did not include data that could be independently verified, repeated the false claims of the October 21 statement and called for new elections. In response, Morales agreed to new elections and to replacing the board of the electoral body, yet this offer was rebuffed by coup leaders. ...

The only way forward for Bolivia is to hold new elections, which will require independent electoral observation. Given that the OAS is unfit for such a role, the region should insist that the United Nations send an electoral mission. It is the only body that can carry this role out in an impartial manner.

Neo-Nazis, US-backed politician among forces behind Bolivia coup

There's far more detail than can be fairly extracted in this article. It's worth a full read.

Top Bolivian coup plotters trained by US military’s School of the Americas, served as attachés in FBI police programs

The United States played a key role in the military coup in Bolivia, and in a direct way that has scarcely been acknowledged in accounts of the events that forced the country’s elected president, Evo Morales, to resign on November 10. Just prior to Morales’ resignation, the commander of Bolivia’s armed forces Williams Kaliman “suggested” that the president step down. A day earlier, sectors of the country’s police force had rebelled. Though Kaliman appears to have feigned loyalty to Morales over the years, his true colors showed as soon as the moment of opportunity arrived. He was not only an actor in the coup, he had his own history in Washington, where he had briefly served as the military attaché of Bolivia’s embassy in the US capital.

Kaliman sat at the top of a military and police command structure that has been substantially cultivated by the US through WHINSEC, the military training school in Fort Benning, Georgia known in the past as the School of the Americas. Kaliman himself attended a course called “Comando y Estado Mayor” at the SOA in 2003. At least six of the key coup plotters were former alumni of the infamous School of the Americas, while Kaliman and another figure served in the past as Bolivia’s military and police attachés in Washington. Within the Bolivian police, top commanders who helped launch the coup have passed through the APALA police exchange program. Working out of Washington DC, APALA functions to build relations between U.S. authorities and police officials from Latin American states. Despite its influence, or perhaps because of it, the program maintains little public presence. ...

U.S. government agencies such as USAID have openly financed anti-Morales groups in the country for many years. But the way that the country’s security forces were used as a Trojan Horse by US intelligence services is less understood. With Morales’s forced departure, however, it became impossible to deny how critical a factor this was.

The coup plot could not have succeeded without the enthusiastic approval of the country’s military and police commanders. And their consent was influenced heavily by the US, where so many were groomed and educated for insurrection. ... The School of the Americas is a notorious site of education for Latin American coup plotters dating back to the height of the Cold War. Brutal regime change and reprisal operations from Haiti to Honduras have been carried out by SOA graduates, and some of the most bloodstained juntas in the region’s history have been run by the school’s alumni.

Chilean Activist: Same Elites Who Caused Social Crisis Can’t Be Trusted to Write New Constitution

Lots more detail at the link:

Capitol Police Attempted To Arrest Code Pink Activist Medea Benjamin For Allegedly ‘Assaulting’ Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Police in Washington, D.C. surrounded the home of Code Pink activist Medea Benjamin and attempted to arrest her for “assaulting” Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. But police did not have a warrant and apparently were uncertain whether an assault was even committed.

At the House Triangle by Capitol Hill, Wasserman Schultz and Republican Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart announced the formation of a “bipartisan Venezuela Democracy Caucus” to “support freedom for the Venezuelan people, who have endured years of suffering under brutal and illegitimate tyranny.” In other words, the members of Congress announced a caucus to ensure that support for the floundering coup attempt against President Nicolas Maduro remains strong in the legislative branch.

Activists from Code Pink and other groups were present at the press conference at the Triangle. A group of Venezuela opposition supporters waving Venezuela flags crowded closely around Wasserman Schultz and Diaz-Balart, and Benjamin was able to take a position right next to the congresswoman. Video was posted by the account for the Venezuela Embassy in D.C., which police helped the opposition seize in May. It shows Wasserman Schultz finishing her statement, and moments after, she yells, “Please, somebody get her out! Out! Out! Out!” She was referring to Benjamin.

It is not entirely audible, however, Benjamin can be heard yelling, “You’re hurting me!” Individuals, who were not police, pulled Benjamin away from Wasserman Schultz like she demanded. Benjamin shouted something about free speech, as Diaz-Balart tried to give his statement, and then clearly Benjamin was pulled down again. She cannot be seen in the video, but she put her hands on Wasserman Schultz to keep herself from falling on the ground. “Let go of me!” Wasserman Schultz yells. “Okay, we’re going to need to call the Capitol Police. This woman is assaulting me.” Then, Wasserman Schultz adds, “She is assaulting me,” and “Get off of me!” Like Benjamin, Wasserman Schultz is struggling to maintain her balance.

People gathered at the press conference were bunched so closely to each other that anyone pushing another person would cause several people to fall like dominos.

The press conference to announce the formation of a pro-opposition caucus occurred at 3 pm. Less than an hour later, Benjamin returned home and immediately realized police were deployed against her. She streamed the attempted arrest on her Facebook page.

CodePink Founder Medea Benjamin Threatened with Arrest After Protesting U.S. Foreign Interventions

The So-Called War on Terror Has Killed Over 801,000 People and Cost $6.4 Trillion: New Analysis

The so-called War on Terror launched by the United States government in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks has cost at least 801,000 lives and $6.4 trillion according to a pair of reports published Wednesday by the Costs of War Project at Brown University's Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs.

"The numbers continue to accelerate, not only because many wars continue to be waged, but also because wars don't end when soldiers come home," said Costs of War co-director and Brown professor Catherine Lutz, who co-authored the project's report on deaths.

"These reports provide a reminder that even if fewer soldiers are dying and the U.S. is spending a little less on the immediate costs of war today, the financial impact is still as bad as, or worse than, it was 10 years ago," Lutz added. "We will still be paying the bill for these wars on terror into the 22nd century."

The new Human Cost of Post-9/11 Wars report (pdf) tallies "direct deaths" in major war zones, grouping people by civilians; humanitarian and NGO workers; journalists and media workers; U.S. military members, Department of Defense civilians, and contractors; and members of national military and police forces as well as other allied troops and opposition fighters.

The report sorts direct deaths by six categories: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria/ISIS, Yemen, and "Other." The civilian death toll across all regions is up to 335,745—or nearly 42% of the total figure. Notably, the report "does not include indirect deaths, namely those caused by loss of access to food, water, and/or infrastructure, war-related disease, etc."

Indirect deaths "are generally estimated to be four times higher," Costs of War board member and American University professor David Vine wrote in an op-ed for The Hill Wednesday. "This means that total deaths during the post-2001 U.S. wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, and Yemen is likely to reach 3.1 million or more—around 200 times the number of U.S. dead."

Trump contradicts aides and says troops in Syria 'only for oil'

Donald Trump has insisted that the US military presence in Syria is “only for the oil”, contradicting his own officials who have insisted that the remaining forces were there to fight Isis.

Trump made his remarks while hosting Recep Tayyip Erdogan, just over a month after the Turkish president launched an offensive into northeastern Syria, which has been formally condemned as destabilising by state department officials. Sitting alongside Erdogan, Trump contradicted his own officials and the Republican leadership on a range of issues, most importantly on the US military mission in Syria. In a later press conference, the Trump declared himself a “big fan” of Erdogan, and made no criticism of the Turkish incursion. ...

Following Trump’s earlier insistence that his administration was solely interested in “keeping” Syrian oil, the US military deployed mechanised military units to oil fields in the east of the country.

However, seizing or benefiting from oil on a foreign territory, without permission from the sovereign authority, would be a violation of international law. Several US officials had sought to interpret the president’s remarks as the US meant to meaning that the denying Isis access to the oil.

As Trump and Erdogan meet, US hopes to resume F-35 arms sales to Turkey

As Turkey’s incursion into northern Syria continues, President Donald Trump is set to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the White House on Wednesday, and for the Trump administration, a top priority is pressuring Turkey to take necessary steps to rejoin the most expensive American weapons program in history.

Since Turkey launched its offensive in northern Syria against a U.S.-allied, Kurdish-led militia last month, reports have emerged accusing Turkish forces or their allies of summary executions, attacks on residential areas, and using white phosphorus munitions. According to the Wall Street Journal, American reconnaissance drones have witnessed evidence of Turkish-backed forces deliberately targeting civilians. Despite these reports of gross human rights violations, the priority for the Trump administration seems to be pushing Erdogan to reject the Russian-made S-400 missile defense system, which it first acquired this past summer. Instead, the United States would like to see Turkey resume its purchasing and manufacturing role in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program — a massive multinational weapons program that has been a major boon to U.S. defense manufacturers. ...

Officials in the Trump administration have repeatedly said they are monitoring reports of human rights violations in Syria, but they have stopped short of commenting on whether such reports should also affect Turkey’s future in the F-35 program, or Turkey’s role as a buyer of U.S. weapons. In recent days, senior Trump administration officials have suggested that they would consider reversing the F-35 decision if Turkey got rid of the S-400 system. ... Lawmakers have argued that the Trump administration should have already sanctioned Turkey for its purchase of the S-400 under a 2017 law called the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, but the Trump administration has been reluctant to do so. ...

For arms control experts, Trump’s reluctance to close the door on arms sales to Turkey is reminiscent of its relationship with Saudi Arabia. Jeff Abramson, a senior fellow at the Arms Control Association, told The Intercept by phone that Trump’s desire to pursue the F-35 program is consistent with a pattern of willingness to sell weapons to authoritarian regimes.

'Schools of Mass Destruction': Report Details 49 US Universities Abetting Nuclear Weapons Complex

Nearly 50 universities across the United States are abetting the "nuclear weapons complex" with involvement that is at times "direct and unabashed."

That's according to a new report released Wednesday by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), "Schools of Mass Destruction: American Universities in the U.S. Nuclear Weapons Complex." The report calls out 49 educational institutions, describes their direct and indirect involvement, and recommends steps the universities, students, and faculty can take to address the issue. 

The report names prestigious universities including Stanford, Georgetown, and MIT. The cited universities have reportedly engaged in four different avenues of complicity in nuclear weapons production, defying their own mission statements and international law.

In return, the report says, "universities receive funding, access to research facilities, and specific career opportunities for students."

The complicity, according to ICAN, falls into one of four categories: direct management, institutional partnerships, research programs and partnerships, and workforce development programs.

The dubious honor of "most complicit" goes to the University of California, Texas A&M University, Johns Hopkins University, and University of New Mexico. In a Twitter thread, ICAN highlighted those schools' involvement:

Hillary Clinton warns of path to 'fascism' after MPs stand down

Online threats which intimidate people into standing down as MPs are “the path to authoritarianism [and] fascism”, Hillary Clinton has said. Speaking to an audience in London, Clinton said she took “very seriously” the fact that significant numbers of female MPs had opted not to run again for parliament in the coming election, in many cases citing online intimidation and threats against their safety.

“When I heard about all these people, particularly the women, who weren’t going to run again [as MPs], and they attributed it to the threats they are going to face, that is not only a threat to individuals, that is a threat to democracies,” she said. “If people are intimidated out of running for office in a democracy because of these hatemongers on the left or the right … that is the path [to] authoritarianism, that is the path [to] fascism.”

In conversation with the former Australian prime minister, Julia Gillard, Clinton expressed deep concerns about the misuse of technology and its impact on politics. The former US secretary of state and defeated presidential candidate told an audience at King’s College London that she was particularly concerned about Facebook’s position that it will not regulate political speech, she said, “which means that it will take money for and run advertisements that are blatantly false”.

Citing a Trump campaign advert which she said contained “demonstrably false” claims about the Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden but which Facebook has refused to take down, she said: “It’s a deeply irresponsible decision and it is one that will make it increasingly difficult for people running for office to persuade voters to vote for them based on accurate information as opposed to falsified information.

Google to offer personal banking accounts in partnership with Citigroup

Google is preparing to launch a personal checking account service, a move that comes as its big tech rivals are increasingly focused on consumer finance. The project, in partnership with Citigroup and code-named Cache, is expected to launch next year.

The existence of project, which was first reported by the Wall Street Journal, comes as some of the world’s biggest tech companies are challenging the primacy of the banking industry. Over the past year, Facebook has announced it is working on a digital currency, Apple has introduced a credit card and Amazon has been in talks with banks to introduce personal accounts for consumers.

Each, in turn, is likely to stoke fears of consumers and regulators alike that technology companies are gathering too much information on their consumers. News of the project comes a day after a whistleblower revealed the existence of Project Nightingale – Google’s partnership with the healthcare giant Ascendant that could give Google access to personal medical data of up to 50 million Americans.

On Tuesday, the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, urged Europe to seize control of its data from Silicon Valley tech giants and establish “digital sovereignty” instead of relying on Amazon, Microsoft and Google. “So many companies have just outsourced all their data to US companies,” Merkel said. “I’m not saying that’s bad in and of itself – I just mean that the value-added products that come out of that, with the help of artificial intelligence, will create dependencies that I’m not sure are a good thing.”

Question begged: is the NYPD significantly different from other police departments around the nation and how many others improperly handle data?

The NYPD Kept an Illegal Database of Juvenile Fingerprints for Years

For years, the New York Police Department illegally maintained a database containing the fingerprints of thousands of children charged as juvenile delinquents — in direct violation of state law mandating that police destroy these records after turning them over to the state’s Division of Criminal Justice Services. When lawyers representing some of those youths discovered the violation, the police department dragged its feet, at first denying but eventually admitting that it was retaining prints it was supposed to have destroyed.

Since 2015, attorneys with the Legal Aid Society, which represents the majority of youths charged in New York City family courts, had been locked in a battle with the police department over retention of the fingerprint records of children under the age of 16. The NYPD did not answer questions from The Intercept about its handling of the records, but according to Legal Aid, the police department confirmed to the organization last week that the database had been destroyed. To date, the department has made no public admission of wrongdoing, nor has it notified the thousands of people it impacted, although it has changed its fingerprint retention practices following Legal Aid’s probing. “The NYPD can confirm that the department destroys juvenile delinquent fingerprints after the prints have been transmitted to DCJS,” a police spokesperson wrote in a statement to The Intercept.

Still, the way the department handled the process — resisting transparency and stalling even after being threatened with legal action — raises concerns about how police handle a growing number of databases of personal information, including DNA and data obtained through facial recognition technology. As The Intercept has reported extensively, the NYPD also maintains a secretive and controversial “gang database,” which labels thousands of unsuspecting New Yorkers — almost all black or Latino youth — as “gang members” based on a set of broad and arbitrary criteria. The fact that police were able to violate the law around juvenile fingerprints for years without consequence underscores the need for greater transparency and accountability, which critics say can only come from independent oversight of the department.

Keiser Report: Cash and debt pile

Congress can access 8 years of Trump tax returns, court rules

A federal appeals court ruled today that House Democrats can have access to Trump’s tax returns, and subpoena his longtime accounting firm. ...

A lower court ruled against Trump in May, and a three-judge panel of DC circuit judges upheld the decision in October. Trump’s lawyers asked the circuit court to rehear the argument once again, and today for a third time, judges stood by Congress’ right to subpoena.

Trump’s lawyers now plan to appeal to the Supreme Court.

GOP Congressman: the whistleblower doesn't deserve anonymity

Public impeachment hearings to escalate political warfare in Washington

The intensity of the impeachment conflict is indicated by the decision of both the cable and broadcast networks to suspend their regular programming and televise the hearings from gavel to gavel. This is a bitter conflict within the ruling class and the state between two right-wing factions that have been battling one another over foreign policy questions since Trump’s nomination as the Republican candidate for president in the summer of 2016.

There is no democratic or progressive content to the Democrats’ impeachment drive. They are appealing not to the broad popular opposition to the fascistic Trump administration, but rather to powerful sections of the intelligence, military and foreign policy establishment that oppose Trump on the grounds that he is insufficiently belligerent toward Russia and resistant to maintaining and expanding US military operations in Syria and Afghanistan. ... Trump’s real attacks on democratic rights and the social interests of working people are excluded from the impeachment inquiry, including his persecution of immigrants, his appeals to racist and fascistic forces, and his rejection of congressional oversight and arrogation of quasi-dictatorial powers. ...

All three State Department officials who are testifying this week are avid supporters of the right-wing nationalist regime in Kiev, which was installed in a US-backed and fascist-led coup in 2014, carried out as part of a drive to isolate Russia and reduce it to the status of a semi-colony of US imperialism. In a basic sense, the Democrats’ impeachment drive is a continuation of the anti-Russia hysteria that underlay the Mueller investigation into alleged Trump campaign collusion with Moscow, and which has been used to justify internet censorship in the name of combatting “fake news.”

The Democrats are not calling to testify parents of children imprisoned as part of Trump’s Gestapo-like war on immigrants. Nor are they holding Trump accountable for the thousands of family members of workers and youth killed by police, whose actions Trump regularly praises. Or those impacted by Trump’s cuts in food stamps and other social benefits, carried out in part to offset trillions of dollars in tax cuts for the rich. On the contrary, they are seeking to conduct what amounts to a palace coup in such a manner as to avoid encouraging any growth of working-class opposition to social inequality, war and attacks on democratic rights. They are petrified at the spread of strikes and protests and the growing support for socialism, particularly among young people.

Under Pressure From Left, New Jersey Democrats Back Off Vote to Gut Minimum Wage Law

Under pressure from activists, New Jersey Democrats on Wednesday postponed a vote on a bill that would almost certainly suspend the $15 minimum wage increase they signed into law in February.

Democrats passed the current minimum wage bill in 2016 under former Republican Gov. Chris Christie, who vetoed it. Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy signed a later version of the bill into law in February, initiating the scheduled phase-in for the increase. Under the plan, the state would reach a $15 minimum wage for most workers by 2024. New Jersey is currently one of at least 30 states with minimum wages above the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour, according to the Department of Labor.

But a measure that advocates say puts the wage increase schedule in jeopardy was scheduled to come up for a vote in the state Senate’s labor committee on Thursday. Advocates from two New Jersey groups say that after they raised concerns with some of the bill’s sponsors, staffers assured them the vote had been postponed. On Wednesday morning, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders joined the the bill’s critics on Twitter, urging state senators to “stand on the side of workers and their families,” saying that the proposed measure was a “threat to their livelihood.” By Wednesday morning, the proposal had been removed from the committee’s Thursday schedule. It is unclear when the committee will take the bill up again.

the horse race

Deval Patrick answers the cattle call for billionaires and their ass-licking flunkies:

Former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick to join Democratic 2020 race

The former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick has told Democratic party leaders and confidants that he will run for president and join an already crowded field, according to media reports. It is thought that Patrick will kick off his campaign on Thursday with a video, and then make an appearance in New Hampshire, so he can file paperwork to get on the state’s vital early primary ballot, reported CNN.

Patrick’s last-minute entry into the race marks yet another change in the Democratic contest where nearly two dozen hopefuls have been competing for nearly a year, reported the New York Times. ...

After leaving the governorship, Patrick also worked at Bain Capital – the financial firm in Boston co-founded by Mitt Romney. Bain could be problematic for Patrick, as other Democrats’ criticism of the wealthy and the banking industry has been well received by many voters.

Krystal Ball: Warren’s "own goal" could cost her New Hampshire

Pelosi's impeachment strategy could doom Bernie, Warren

'OK, Billionaire': Warren Campaign Shrugs Off Mega-Rich Investor Who Called 2020 Candidate 'Disgraceful'

Sen. Elizabeth Warren was unfazed by billionaire investor Leon Cooperman's objection to her latest ad promoting her proposed wealth tax in which the 2020 Democratic candidate ridiculed Cooperman's and other wealthy public figures' disapproval of the plan.

In a CNBC interview Wednesday, Cooperman called Warren "disgraceful" and accused the Massachusetts Democrat of trying to "demonize wealthy people because there are more poor people than wealthy people."

Warren's campaign team offered a succinct response on Twitter:

Warren struck a similarly sarcastic tone when she posted the ad on Twitter earlier in the day.

"Some billionaires don't like my Two-Cent Wealth Tax? I'm shocked," the Massachusetts Democrat wrote.

Panel explodes over Russian accusation about Tulsi

the evening greens

‘Insect apocalypse’ poses risk to all life on Earth, conservationists warn

The “unnoticed insect apocalypse” should set alarm bells ringing, according to conservationists, who said that without a halt there will be profound consequences for humans and all life on Earth. A new report suggested half of all insects may have been lost since 1970 as a result of the destruction of nature and heavy use of pesticides. The report said 40% of the 1million known species of insect are facing extinction.

The analysis, written by one of the UK’s leading ecologists, has a particular focus on the UK, whose insects are the most studied in the world. It said 23 bee and wasp species have become extinct in the last century, while the number of pesticide applications has approximately doubled in the last 25 years.

UK butterflies that specialise in particular habitats have fallen 77% since the mid-1970s and generalists have declined 46%, the report said. There are also knock-on effects on other animals, such as the spotted flycatcher which only eats flying insects. Its populations have dropped by 93% since 1967.

But conservationists said that insect populations can be rescued, by introducing firm targets to cut pesticide use and making urban parks and gardens more wildlife friendly. Scientists said insects are essential for all ecosystems, as pollinators, food for other creatures, and recyclers of nutrients.

“We can’t be sure, but in terms of numbers, we may have lost 50% or more of our insects since 1970 – it could be much more,” said Prof Dave Goulson, at the University of Sussex, UK, who wrote the report for the Wildlife Trusts. “We just don’t know, which is scary. If we don’t stop the decline of our insects there will be profound consequences for all life on earth [and] for human wellbeing.”

Air pollution nanoparticles linked to brain cancer for first time

New research has linked air pollution nanoparticles to brain cancer for the first time. The ultra-fine particles (UFPs) are produced by fuel burning, particularly in diesel vehicles, and higher exposures significantly increase people’s chances of getting the deadly cancer. Previous work has shown that nanoparticles can get into the brain and that they can carry carcinogenic chemicals.

Brain cancers are rare, and the scientists have calculated that an increase in pollution exposure roughly equivalent to moving from a quiet city street to a busy one leads to one extra case of brain cancer for every 100,000 people exposed.

“Environmental risks like air pollution are not large in magnitude – their importance comes because everyone in the population is exposed,” said Scott Weichenthal, at McGill University in Canada, who led the study. “So when you multiply these small risks by lots of people, all of sudden there can be lots of cases. In a large city, it could be a meaningful number, particularly given the fact that these tumours are often fatal.” ...

The discovery of abundant toxic nanoparticles from air pollution in human brains was made in 2016. A comprehensive global review earlier in 2019 concluded that air pollution may be damaging every organ and virtually every cell in the human body. Toxic air has been linked to other effects on the brain, including huge reductions in intelligence, dementia and mental health problems in both adults and children. The World Health Organization says air pollution is a “silent public health emergency”.

The new study, published in the journal Epidemiology, found that a one-year increase in pollution exposure of 10,000 nanoparticles per cubic centimetre – the approximate difference between quiet and busy city streets – increased the risk of brain cancer by more than 10%.

Extinction Rebellion: Causing Chaos For Climate Awareness w/Gail Bradbrook

Heh, not only does Elon Musk's Tesla run on fascism, the carbon footprint of his and other billionaires dreams is as out of proportion to the average person's as their income is.

The Great Gatsby's Tom and Daisy could (paraphrasing Fitzgerald) smash up things and creatures and then retreat back into their money or their vast carelessness, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.

We have reached the point where the wealth of our modern Toms and Daisys is so vast and destructive that there will be nobody left to clean up their mess. Bernie Sanders is right, billionaires should not exist.

New Analysis Shows Billionaires' Dream of Space Tourism Would Be Disaster for Emissions, Climate Crisis

A new analysis from travel website Champion Traveler shows how the burgeoning space tourism industry favored by many U.S. billionaires could severely worsen the planetary climate crisis by emissions that, in one rocket launch, are equal to nearly 400 transatlantic flights.

While the number of rockets blasting off from Earth's surface to the stratosphere—and beyond—are still low, recent reporting indicates there is a desire on the part of space tourism and shipping company SpaceX head Elon Musk to increase that number. "As rocket launches become more common and space tourism accelerates in you the reader's lifetime, as most experts predict, companies such as SpaceX will need to consider the environmental impact of their launches at scale," wrote Champion Traveler.

Musk's desire for an uptick in spaceflights is part of the billionaire's scheme to colonize Mars, according to Mic:

According to Musk, it would take about 1,000 SpaceX Starship rockets to transport all of the necessary cargo and crew to Mars. Then, he suggested, it would take about 20 years to set up all the necessary infrastructure to get the city up and running.

It's not just SpaceX—as Champion Traveler reports, "between Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic, NASA, and other, emerging non-US space agencies, the number of rocket launches will only increase each year." With more rockets likely to enter the skies in recent decades, emissions will also increase if an alternative fuel source is not found.

Also of Interest

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

Intercepted: Bolivia and Brazil at the Crossroads

Why is inequality booming in Chile? Blame the Chicago Boys

Neighbours meet to plot path out of Chile crisis amid exasperation at elite

“No No You Guys, THIS US-Backed Coup Is Perfectly Legitimate!”

Sanders Has Denounced Coup, But Biden, Warren, and Buttigieg So Far Silent on Overthrow of Bolivia's Morales

At least 32 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli air strikes on besieged Palestinian territory this week

Vindman, the Expert

The five ways Republicans will crack down on voting rights in 2020

Krystal and Saagar: Yang's warning to Democrats on impeachment

Unrest at French universities after student sets himself alight over debts

HHS Investigates Google-Ascension Secret Medical Records Project for Millions of Patients; Concrete Evidence of HIPAA Violations

JPMorgan Has Radically Changed Its Balance Sheet, Shrinking Its Cash at the Fed by $145 Billion

Climate change may be behind fall of ancient Neo-Assyrian empire, say researchers

Experts crack mystery of ancient Egypt’s sacred bird mummies

A Little Night Music

Lee Dorsey - Working In The Coal Mine

Lee Dorsey - Everything I Do Gone Be Funky From Now On

Lee Dorsey & Betty Harris- Take Care Of Our Love

Lee Dorsey - Do Re Mi

Lee Dorsey - Can You Hear Me

Lee Dorsey - Ride Your Pony

Lee Dorsey - Give It Up

Lee Dorsey - Yes We Can (pt 1 & 2)

Lee Dorsey - On Your Way Down

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Benny's picture

Somehow, I don't see Patrick nor Bloomberg running this kind of ad.

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One equal temper of heroic hearts, Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will. To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.--Tennyson

joe shikspack's picture



i would imagine that neither patrick nor bloomberg would be interested in entering the competition to demonstrate their bona fides to the working class by posting how much they intend to tax gift the rich. Smile

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mimi's picture

dictators are ... /s

Have to sleep over that. Thanks for the EB. Good night from Germany.

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joe shikspack's picture


it's a brutal world and leaders with a streak of humanity and decency are hard to find.

sleep well!

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ggersh's picture

Pelosi and the D's gotta go!

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Yes the DHS’s Ministry of Truth is headed by a weird ridiculous person. Please don’t let that distract from the vastly more significant fact that the DHS has a Ministry of Truth.


joe shikspack's picture


from your lips to the flying spaghetti monster's noodly ears. Smile

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lotlizard's picture

Sheesh — disgusting. Warmed-over slanderous bilge.

Any party that would hire such characters as consultants thinking they’re the smartest guys in the room, deserves to lose.

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Wally's picture


. . . first congressional campaign in 2012 and runs his own consulting firm in DC. I looked at his twitter for about 5 minutes and didn't get any solid sense of his political leanings other than that he loathes Tulsi. I'm guessing he's now consulting for Delaney's presidential campaign which is probably indicative that he's not the most sought after or well paid political consultant there is . . . .

Seems like he's somewhat frequently playing the role of Larry in the Three Stooges (a punching bag) as far as Rising goes . . .

Edit/add: His firm does the Rock the Vote campaign.

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joe shikspack's picture


yep, i debated about whether to include it, but in the end it was so refreshing to see idiocy like that called out, i decided to go with it.

have a good one!

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snoopydawg's picture

Google making it easier for doctors and hospitals to charge people more

Moreover, you can see that the effort is aggressive, with the aim of generating patient medical histories, linking individuals to family members, and making staffing and treatment suggestions….as well as identifying opportunities for upcoding and other ways to milk patients.

Specifically, the Journal repeats the claim from the joint press release that this data harvesting is permitted under HIPAA. The story not have any independent views, as in the expected expert quotes, but a bland, unsourced “privacy experts seem to think this is OK”. Huh?.

How that is permitted under hipaa law really escapes me because every person has to sign a form stating who else they want to have access to their information.

Google and Ascension are relying on the notion that Ascension can share data with a “business associate” under HIPAA, the misleadingly named Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which is more a data sharing law than a privacy law. But notice the caveats on the HHS website:

The Privacy Rule allows covered providers and health plans to disclose protected health information to these “business associates” if the providers or plans obtain satisfactory assurances that the business associate will use the information only for the purposes for which it was engaged by the covered entity, will safeguard the information from misuse, and will help the covered entity comply with some of the covered entity’s duties under the Privacy Rule. Covered entities may disclose protected health information to an entity in its role as a business associate only to help the covered entity carry out its health care functions – not for the business associate’s independent use or purposes, except as needed for the proper management and administration of the business associate.

The Wall Street Journal article is explicit that Google is not doing this major project for Ascension for free out of the goodness of its heart, but to develop a marketable product:

Google has assigned dozens of engineers to Project Nightingale so far without charging for the work because it hopes to use the framework to sell similar products to other health systems. Its end goal is to create an omnibus search tool to aggregate disparate patient data and host it all in one place, documents show.

That runs afoul of the HIPAA requirements. The fact that Google is not getting paid does not give it the right to use its work for Ascension for any purpose other than to help Ascension.

From the comments:

Who will Google sell this information to? If they can’t sell it in some form they wouldn’t bother with it. Google at it’s core has no ethics beyond how to get money – to heck with who gets hurts.


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It is not until the tide goes out that you discover who has been swimming naked.

joe shikspack's picture


yep, i posted it last night. and the night before, there was a guardian article covering the same material in less detail.

i'm watching it because it is part of a genuinely disturbing trend of big tech companies glomming on to vast databases of highly personal information. the obvious end of this trend is a total surveillance state run by big tech and used by the government (probably for a fee) to maintain its dominance.

it's a natural step in a progression that we all talked about a while ago when shoshana zuboff's book "the age of surveillance capitalism" came out. here's a link to an article about that.

meanwhile, here's a follow up piece in naked cap today that shows that google's data grab does indeed violate hipaa:

HHS Investigates Google-Ascension Secret Medical Records Project for Millions of Patients; Concrete Evidence of HIPAA Violations

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snoopydawg's picture

@joe shikspack

I got the article from the one you posted here. Twice. Thanks. The surveillance capitalism is interesting. I thought it was our being spied on, but it goes much further than that, but none of it for us.

Finally, surveillance capitalism depends upon undermining individual self-determination, autonomy and decision rights for the sake of an unobstructed flow of behavioural data to feed markets that are about us but not for us.

Wonderful. Plus people are buying the devices themselves that allows Google and Amazon to spy on them plus with the Amazon Ring on their neighbors and anyone who walks by. And then cops can get their hands on it too and more innocent people get caught up and...

I really thought I'd be dead before this crap that's happening happened. We are living in Orwell's nightmare world.

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It is not until the tide goes out that you discover who has been swimming naked.

joe shikspack's picture


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enhydra lutris's picture

long time since he last crossed my mind or playlist. Thanks for the news too, such as it is.
Have a good one.

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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 --

Shahryar's picture

@enhydra lutris

such fantastic music! If you walk around you can hear big-time (unknown!) talent on so many street corners.

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joe shikspack's picture


heh, yep, we should all get there before the place washes away.

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mimi's picture

@joe shikspack
I was there in 1994 and that's the year Besoz became the world's biggest, largest, bookselling con artist and built his empire on the base of a trick. May be we could destroy his empire from there too .... Smile

Ah, such sweet dreams in my head right now.
Good morning from Germany.

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joe shikspack's picture

@enhydra lutris

lee dorsey had a lot of hits, but it's funny how he's fallen off of our cultural radar. i mean, i go to restaurants and other businesses and hear music that was popular from 40 to 60 years ago (mostly a mix of classic rock and what they now call americana) but dorsey and indeed most new orleans artists except doctor john are absent from the mix. it's a sin and a shame.

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much Leon Cooperman gave away, but in how much he kept for himself. He doesn't seem terribly interested in discussing that figure though.

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The earth is a multibillion-year-old sphere.
The Nazis killed millions of Jews.
On 9/11/01 a Boeing 757 (AA77) flew into the Pentagon.
AGCC is happening.
If you cannot accept these facts, I cannot fake an interest in any of your opinions.

joe shikspack's picture


yeah, most of us give things away to people in need, but that blubbering moron claims to have given away lots of money, but he still retains more than he could possibly spend in a lifetime, even if he lasted as long as methuselah.

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snoopydawg's picture

Jordan makes sense.

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It is not until the tide goes out that you discover who has been swimming naked.

thing to fight food insecurity -- taking requests all day long, for a $25 donation (for a $105 donation, they'd put your request at the top of the stack). Not to dis them or anything, but unsurprisingly the overall quality of the music was rather a good bit higher than when they're just running their usual playlist.
So anyway, I was super-surprised when they played an excellent tune by a long-defunct Madison band called The Common Faces. I tried to find anything on youtube by these guys, but ... nada. (There's stuff by a completely different band of the same name.)
So instead, I grabbed something current by two of the original members, hubby-and-wife team Chris Wagoner and Mary Gaines. And here it is:

0 users have voted.

The earth is a multibillion-year-old sphere.
The Nazis killed millions of Jews.
On 9/11/01 a Boeing 757 (AA77) flew into the Pentagon.
AGCC is happening.
If you cannot accept these facts, I cannot fake an interest in any of your opinions.

joe shikspack's picture


nice mix of jazz and country blues, what in my neck of the woods we used to call redneck jazz.


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