The Evening Blues - 11-20-20


The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: James Cotton

Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features blues harmonica player James Cotton. Enjoy!

James Cotton - Angel Of Mercy / Blues in my sleep

"I would like to see every single soldier on every single side, just take off your helmet, unbuckle your kit, lay down your rifle, and set down at the side of some shady lane, and say, nope, I aint a gonna kill nobody. Plenty of rich folks wants to fight. Give them the guns."

-- Woody Guthrie

News and Opinion

Top Government Adviser in Iran Warns Military Action by Trump Would Lead to 'Full-Fledged War'

A day after the Trump administration slapped Iran's government with new sanctions and amid reporting that President Donald Trump has considered military strikes against the country since losing the 2020 election earlier this month, a top adviser to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei warned that the U.S. would risk "full-fledged war" in the Middle East should it attack Iran.

Hossein Dehghan, who is a possible presidential candidate in Iran's upcoming June 2021 election, told the Associated Press that the country does not seek a violent conflict with the U.S. but that the government would not welcome "a situation in which [the other party] buys time to weaken our nation."

"We don't welcome a crisis. We don't welcome war. We are not after starting a war," Dehghan told the outlet. "But we are not after negotiations for the sake of negotiations either."

Earlier this week the New York Times reported that Trump considered a military strike against Iran's Natanz uranium enrichment plant after the Nov. 3 election, following reports from international inspectors that there was a "significant increase" in the country's uranium stockpile. The International Atomic Energy Agency reported the supply is 12 times larger than the threshold imposed by the nuclear deal that Trump withdrew from in 2018 permitted.

The president also reportedly considered strikes against Iran's other assets and allies, including militias in Iraq.

"A limited, tactical conflict can turn into a full-fledged war," Dehghan told the AP. "Definitely, the United States, the region, and the world cannot stand such a comprehensive crisis."

Iran has maintained that its nuclear program is peaceful and not aimed at developing weapons, but the Trump administration has persisted in imposing sanctions on the Iranian government—most recently on Wednesday, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saying that any move by the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden to reverse Trump's actions against Iran would be "a dangerous choice, bound to weaken new partnerships for peace in the region and strengthen only the Islamic Republic."

Pompeo added that the administration plans to impose more sanctions in the coming weeks leading up to Inauguration Day.

Biden has signaled that he would be willing to rejoin the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran.

Glenn Greenwald has an excellent article up on his substack site about the new war party coalition between the Democrat Party, Silicon Valley mega-corporations and neocon warmongers. It's absolutely worth a full read.

Here are some excerpts to get you started:

The New Ruling Coalition: Opposition to Afghanistan Withdrawal Shows Its Key Factions

This is not the first time the Trump administration has been condemned after unveiling its plans to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. In July, pro-war Democrats on the House Armed Services Committee, led by their Lockheed-and-Raytheon-funded Chairman Adam Smith, partnered with Congresswoman Liz Cheney and her pro-war GOP allies to block the use of funds for removing troops (not only from Afghanistan but also Germany), as part of a massive increase in military spending. The oppositional left-right coalition of anti-war Democrats such as Ro Khanna and Tulsi Gabbard and America-First Trump supporters such as Matt Gaetz were no match for the bipartisan pro-war coalition which attempted to block any end to the war.

A crucial weapon which Smith, Cheney and the other anti-withdrawal Committee members wielded was a widely-hyped New York Times scoop published days before the Committee vote, which — in its first paragraph — announced:

American intelligence officials have concluded that a Russian military intelligence unit secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing coalition forces in Afghanistan — including targeting American troops — amid the peace talks to end the long-running war there, according to officials briefed on the matter.

Repeatedly citing this New York Times story, based on the claims of anonymous “intelligence officials,” the bipartisan pro-war wing of the Committee insisted that to leave Afghanistan now would be particularly inappropriate and dangerous in light of this dastardly Russian interference. (Top military officials and the commander in Afghanistan later admitted the bounty program “had not been corroborated by intelligence agencies and that they do not believe any attacks in Afghanistan that resulted in American casualties can be directly tied to it,” but by then, the job was done). ...

As Trump again signals that he intends in the lame-duck session to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, this same united coalition is working desperately to block it. First, Democratic Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois angrily condemned the withdrawal plan with deranged reasoning: that Generals are against withdrawal (as though we have no civilian control of the military); troops will come home “in body bags” not by staying in Afghanistan but by leaving it; and that withdrawing U.S. forces after a mere nineteen years of fighting will endanger “our national security.” The new ruling coalition then stepped forward to fortify Duckworth’s demand that troops remain. Obama’s former National Security Advisor Susan Rice — reportedly slated to become Biden’s Secretary of State — pointed to the pronouncement by Brett McGurk, an early ruler of post-invasion Iraq and key advocate of the Bush/Cheney “surge” who now works (of course) for NBC News, denouncing Trump’s withdrawal plan as “diplomatic malpractice” that “erodes trust and confidence in the United States.” Playing the role of Liz Cheney in this debate was GOP Congressman Dan Crenshaw of Texas, who supported Rice and Duckworth by attacking independent Congressman Justin Amash for advocating troop withdrawal.

From there, Bill Kristol — a key neocon ally of McGurk during the Bush/Cheney years who is also now a beloved MSNBC pundit — not only denounced the efforts to withdraw troops from Afghanistan but in general warned of the dangers of Trump’s attempt to remove troops from other parts of the world. As they usually do, Kristol’s pro-imperialism tweets went massively viral due to the large social media following he has amassed from MSNBC appearances and his liberal fan base.

Here we see the new coalition of power that has formed during the Trump era: hawkish and corporatist Democrats, united when necessary with pro-war/neocon Republicans, Bush/Cheney operatives, the national security state and large corporate media outlets outside of Fox News. Democratic national security luminaries have spent the last four years formally uniting with Bush/Cheney neocons to prepare to take power in a new Democratic administration (though it must be remembered that neocons, as this 2014 New York Times Op-Ed by Jacob Heilbrunn explained, saw the writing on the wall long before Trump that the growing anti-war strain in the GOP (as evidenced by the success of Ron Paul’s candidacy) meant that their best hope for a posture of Endless War resided in re-migrating back to what they thought at the time would be the Hillary-run Democratic Party).

The other key components of this coalition are Silicon Valley giants and Wall Street, both of which overwhelmingly donated to the Biden/Harris campaign and the Democratic Party generally. The primary weapon tech companies offer is not just huge sums of money — though that of course is welcomed and useful — but information control: I continue to regard the decision of Twitter and Facebook to block and suppress the ability to disseminate The New York Post story on Hunter Biden’s laptop as one of the most shocking and alarming events of the last four years: political censorship cheered by most of the pro-Biden press.

“A Huge Blow to Civil Society”: Egypt Arrests Leading Human Rights Monitors in Latest Crackdown

Washington Post Publishes Names and Details of 1,400 Civilians Killed in US-Led Bombings of ISIS

The Washington Post on Wednesday published an extraordinary interactive report that names hundreds of civilians killed by coalition airstrikes during the U.S.-led war against the so-called Islamic State.

The report, which contains harrowing survivor testimonies, draws upon data from the U.S. military and the U.K.-based journalistic monitor group Airwars to name each victim, as well as when and where they were killed. The paper mentions "thousands" of civilian casualties since President Barack Obama launched the war against ISIS militants in Iraq and Syria in 2014, but focuses only on the approximately 1,400 deaths acknowledged by both the Pentagon and Airwars.

The Post cites the military's figure of 1,398 civilian deaths caused by the more than 34,000 U.S.-led air and artillery strikes in the two countries, and in the small print of one of the report's interactive images the paper acknowledges that "others say the actual number is much higher."

Those "others" include Airwars itself. The group estimates that between 8,310 and 13,187 civilians, including as many as 2,361 children, have died in coalition strikes during the course of the anti-ISIS campaign. Airwars has named 3,712 of these victims. The Post report ignores these figures.

Instead, the paper focuses on notoriously conservative Pentagon casualty figures, as well as Airwars incident reports that have been rated "confirmed" by the group. Airwars' methodology ranks casualty reports in six levels of certainty: "confirmed," "fair," "weak," "contested," "discounted," and "no civilian harm reported." The problem with the "confirmed" category is that U.S. military officials often fail to investigate or acknowledge (pdf) deaths and injuries caused by coalition airstrikes. Many of the casualty incidents reported by local and international media fall into Airwars' "fair" category.

Airwars' own reporting paints a very different casualty picture from the Post's. In August 2015 the group published Cause for Concern (pdf), which counted between 459 and 1,086 Iraqi and Syrian civilians killed by coalition airstrikes in just the first 11 months of the anti-ISIS campaign. By the end of the Obama administration, the group reported (pdf) "at least 1,500 non-combatants" killed in Syria and Iraq.

Then came President Donald Trump, who infamously promised to "bomb the shit out of" ISIS militants and "take out their families." Trump loosened rules of engagement meant to protect civilians, with former Defense Secretary James Mattis—who earned his "Mad Dog" moniker during the atrocity-laden First Battle of Fallujah in 2004—declaring in May 2017 that the U.S. was shifting from a policy of "attrition" to one of "annihilation" in the war against ISIS.

"Civilian casualties are a fact of life in this sort of situation," Mattis said at the time.

As coalition forces gained the upper hand in the war against ISIS, U.S.-led troops moved to liberate the terror group's two de facto capitals, Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa, Syria. This objective was achieved through sheer overwhelming firepower—and tremendous death and injury. The Associated Press reported 9,000 civilians killed by all sides during the battle for Mosul, which it called a "graveyard." Raqqa suffered a similar fate. ...

In a nation whose military claims it doesn't "do body counts" and whose corproate media more often than not ignore or bury reports of civilian casualties, it is difficult if not impossible to say exactly how many innocent people are killed during its wars. In February 2019, the Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights said around 11,800 Iraqi and Syrian civilian, including some 2,300 children, were killed in U.S.-led bombing. These numbers closely mirror Airwars' figures.

This, on top of the at least hundreds of thousands—and possibly as many as two million (pdf)—men, women, and children killed in at least seven nations since the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. And since waging the world's only nuclear war in 1945, the U.S. military has killed more foreign civilians than any other armed force on the planet—by far.

US records highest number of daily coronavirus deaths since May

The US recorded 2,015 deaths from Covid-19 on Thursday, the highest number of new deaths in a single day since May, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, as a top White House expert warned of worsening spread of the disease – even as America is just weeks away from the expected beginnings of vaccinating its people.

The country also saw more than 187,000 new confirmed cases on Thursday, another record for the daily count of infections.

Just weeks after the US first exceeded 100,000 new cases in a single day earlier this month, new cases are now on track to reach a grim daily milestone of 200,000. ...

Unlike previous surges of the virus, the uptick in cases is not concentrated in a single region. Cases have been rising in nearly every state, a concerning scenario as the US holiday season kicks into gear.

Dr Deborah Birx, a senior scientist on the White House’s coronavirus taskforce, told CNN Friday morning that more than half of the country is in the “red zone”, meaning more than 101 new cases per 100,000 residents.

“It’s faster, it’s broader and what worries me is it could be longer,” Birx said of the spread of the virus.

Coronavirus taskforce briefing: Fauci urges vigilance as vaccine is in sight

Anthony Fauci, America’s top infectious diseases expert, has promised that “the cavalry is on the way” in the form of a coronavirus vaccine but urged one last great national effort to stop the spread.

Fauci was speaking at the White House coronavirus taskforce’s first press briefing since July. He was joined by Vice-president Mike Pence and response coordinator Deborah Birx, but there was no sign of Donald Trump or his controversial adviser Scott Atlas.

The taskforce broke its long silence as the virus surges to new highs, infecting more than 158,000 Americans – and killing in excess of 1,100 – every day. The total death toll now stands at a quarter of a million. Trump, little seen in public and refusing to accept election defeat, has been accused of all but giving up on the fight.

Taskforce members said they did not support a new national lockdown or school closures. But Fauci noted the “extraordinarily impressive” efficacy of vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna in clinical trials and told reporters that he wants to “put to rest any concept that this was rushed in an inappropriate way. This is really solid”.

Fauci continued: “We now, as the vice-president said, are telling you that help is on the way, which has two aspects to it. It means that we need to actually double down on the public health measures as we’re waiting for that help to come, which will be soon. We’ll be getting vaccine doses into people at a high priority at the end of December.”

Biden DRAWS RED LINE 'There Will Be No National Lockdown"

California enacts coronavirus curfew for majority of state's 40m residents

California is imposing a curfew affecting nearly all of its 40 million residents beginning this weekend, as the state tries to control a surge in coronavirus cases.

The state’s governor, Gavin Newsom, announced what officials are describing as a limited stay-at-home order on Thursday, saying that all nonessential work and gathering must stop from 10pm to 5am. The order will apply to the 41 counties currently in the most restrictive tier of reopening rules, which accounts for 94% of the state’s 40 million residents.

“The virus is spreading at a pace we haven’t seen since the start of this pandemic and the next several days and weeks will be critical to stop the surge. We are sounding the alarm,” Newsom said in a statement.

The order will last until 21 December, but could be extended if infection rates and disease trends don’t improve.

Tyson Foods managers bet on how many workers would get Covid, lawsuit alleges

As hundreds of its employees were falling ill to Covid-19, managers and supervisors at a Tyson Foods pork processing plant in Waterloo, Iowa, were placing bets on how many of their employees would contract the virus, a lawsuit filed against one of America’s largest meat producers alleges.

The wrongful death lawsuit was filed last week by the son of a Tyson Foods employee named Isidro Fernandez, who died on 26 April after contracting Covid-19. The lawsuit included an alleged bet between managers as an example of the company’s negligence towards its workers during the pandemic, along with having employees work “elbow to elbow; most without face coverings”. ...

At the end of April, Tyson closed or reduced production at several of its facilities, including the plant in Waterloo, after local officials pressed the company to halt production as cases rose. ... Before the plant closed, more than 1,000 employees out of about 2,800 at the plant had tested positive for Covid-19. At least five other employees who worked at the plant died during the pandemic. Families of three of the dead are also suing the company, according to the Associated Press.

Republican governor Kristi Noem rigidly follows Trump strategy of denial as Covid ravages South Dakota

Since Trump’s defeat, Kristi Noem, the Republican governor of South Dakota, has still clung to the president and to his policies as though her political life depends on it. The actual lives of many South Dakotans could depend, in turn, upon that decision given the terrifying surge of Covid-19 cases that is battering the state under Noem’s contentious leadership. South Dakota has been listed by Forbes as one of the 10 most dangerous states in the Union, all of them in the Midwest. ...

Amid this devastating contagion, Noem is rigidly sticking to the strategy she has adopted since the pandemic began. It consists of a refusal to accept mask mandates and repeated denial of the science around the efficacy of wearing masks; resistance to imposing any restrictions on bars and restaurants; no limits on gatherings in churches or other places of worship; and no orders to stay at home.

While the statistics are clear – the virus is running wild in South Dakota – Noem has turned a public health emergency into an issue of “freedom” and “liberty”, consistently lying about the trajectory of the disease under her watch. “We’re doing really good in South Dakota. We’re managing Covid-19,” she has said. She has also embraced the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for Covid, even after it was proven to be ineffective and potentially dangerous. ...

“From the get-go, her approach was mirroring the Trump administration,” said Lisa Hager, a political scientist at South Dakota State University. “She’s been adamant about people making their own choices and that it’s not the government’s role to step in – and it has played very well for her in her political career.” ... Unlike other parts of the country, Trump’s backing in South Dakota has remained steadfast since 2016 at 62% of the electorate, forcing her to remain on good terms with Trump supporters should she want to run for a second term as governor in two years’ time.

A more likely explanation though lies with her growing national platform. Apart from cultivating her profile on Fox News and at Trump rallies around the country, Noem has surrounded herself with a coterie of staffers drawn from Beltway strategists and lobbyists.

Biggest trade deal in history excludes United States

GAO Report Details How Taxpayers Subsidize Cruel Low Wages of Corporate Giants

Pinpointing a reality denounced as "morally obscene" by Sen. Bernie Sanders, a new government study shows how some of the nation's largest and most profitable corporations—including Walmart, McDonald's, Dollar General, and Amazon—feast upon taxpayer money by paying their employees such low wages that huge numbers of those workers throughout the year are forced to rely on public assistance programs such as Medicaid and food assistance just to keep themselves and their families afloat.

According to a statement from Sanders' office, the study he commissioned the Government Accountability Office to carry out—titled "Millions of Full-time Workers Rely on Federal Health Care and Food Assistance Programs"—found that an estimated 5.7 million Medicaid enrollees and 4.7 million SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) recipients who worked full-time for 50 or more weeks in 2018 earned wages so low that they qualified for these federal benefits. In addition, an estimated 12 million wage-earning adults enrolled in Medicaid and 9 million wage-earning adults living in households receiving SNAP benefits worked at some point in 2018.

Upon the study's release Wednesday, Warren Gunnels, staff director and policy adviser for Sen. Sanders, tweeted: "The real looting in America is the Walton family becoming $63 billion richer during a pandemic, while paying wages so low that 14,541 of their workers in 9 states need food stamps—all subsidized by U.S. taxpayers. Yes. The Walton family is the real welfare queen in America."

David Sirota: Biden's Reported Budget Pick Tried To CUT Social Security

Social Security Defenders Tell Biden to Keep Austerity-Obsessed Bruce Reed Far Away From the White House

With a mission to defend Social Security against all threats, progressives in the U.S. sounded the alarm Thursday in response to reports that President-elect Joe Biden is considering senior campaign advisor and deficit hawk Bruce Reed for a top job in the Democrat's White House.

At particular risk should Reed, also a former chief of staff to the former vice president, get the job, said Social Security Works, is the protection of Social Security—a program Biden has pledged to defend, despite his record of proposing cuts to it.

"Joe Biden ran for president on a promise to protect and expand Social Security," Alex Lawson, executive director of Social Security Works, said in a statement. "Seniors listened, and delivered his margin of victory in key states like Arizona and Michigan."

"Appointing Bruce Reed to head the Office of Management and Budget would betray that promise," Lawson added.

Detailing some of Reed's background giving driving progressives' worry, The Intercept reported in January:

Reed, a longtime Biden aide, played a central role in advocating cuts to the New Deal-era program as a co-founder of the Democratic Leadership Council, as the top staffer for a controversial commission dedicated to slashing the deficit, and then as Biden's chief of staff during the Obama administration. In Washington, D.C., he would be the last high-level staffer a campaign would bring aboard if it was genuinely intent on expanding, not cutting, Social Security.

That commission refers to the Obama-era Bowles-Simpson Commission, which proposed an austerity package including cuts to Social Security.

"As executive director of the Bowles-Simpson Commission," Robert Kuttner wrote at The American Prospect Wednesday, "Reed was not only an austerity advocate himself. He brought on unpaid staffers from leading austerity organizations funded by Pete Peterson," a longtime deficit fearmongerer.

"If Biden has his head screwed on, he'll keep this guy far away from White House policymaking," wrote Kuttner.

Lawson, in his statement, concurred with that assessment. Reed "has a decades-long obsession with austerity, at a time when we need massive government spending to bring us out of the worst national crisis since the Great Depression."

"Biden must keep his promises to seniors by keeping Reed far away from the White House," he continued.

BuzzFeed agrees to buy HuffPost in latest online media merger

BuzzFeed has agreed to buy HuffPost the companies said Thursday, uniting two of the largest players in digital media in the latest example of consolidation in the sector. The acquisition is part of a larger deal between Verizon Media, HuffPost’s owner, and BuzzFeed, with the media arm of the telecoms giant taking a minority shareholder in BuzzFeed. ...

The news comes after both companies have made deep cuts after years of phenomenal growth but falling online advertising revenues. The partnership follows other online deals. Vox Media acquired New York Media last September and Vice Media bought Refinery29 the following month. ...

The two companies were once seen as “disruptors” of the traditional media landscape but as Facebook and Google swallowed up ever larger shares of online advertising, they too have struggled.

FBI investigating former Navy SEAL, improvised explosive tossed at Portland protesters

The FBI has joined the Portland Police Bureau’s investigation into explosive devices that detonated in a park in Southeast Portland early on Aug. 8.

While no one was injured, a former U.S. Navy SEAL and CIA contractor who has boasted on social media about infiltrating “ANTIFA” was filmed leaving the scene. Law enforcement officials have confirmed that person is Louis Garrick Fernbaugh but said no eye witnesses have come forward connecting Fernbaugh to the immediate scene where the explosives were thrown. ...

The PPB official said in addition to eye witness accounts, they are also pursuing forensic leads to try to connect Fernbaugh to the explosive devices.

A PPB spokesperson confirmed that investigators have spoken with Fernbaugh and that he has not been cleared. Fernbaugh told Task & Purpose, a military- and veteran-focused media outlet, that he did not throw any devices, but confirmed he was there that night conducting “reconnaissance.”

Utah Lawmakers Accused of Seeking to Legalize Drivers Running Over Street Protesters

Utah lawmakers are being condemned this week for advancing a bill with provisions penalizing demonstrators who obstruct traffic during a "riot" while absolving any driver who injures or kills a protester, as long as the motorist was fleeing in fear of their life, which critics denounced as an attempt to legalize running people over.

John Hawkins, the Republican lawmaker who introduced the bill that the state legislature will consider during its upcoming general session, claimed that he doesn't "think that purposefully using your vehicle to cause bodily injury is a normal situation that falls into this bill."

But William Carlson, chief criminal justice policy adviser for the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office, pointed out that "creating a criminal defense for drivers" would make it "much more complicated" to prosecute drivers such as James Fields, the "white supremacist who in 2017 plowed his car into a crowd of peaceful anti-racist protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia," killing Heather Heyer.

That's because Fields might have qualified "for the legal defense proposed by Hawkins" if it were deemed that he was "fleeing from a riot and 'under a reasonable belief' that he [was] in danger of serious injury or death," the Salt Lake Tribune reported.

Tribune cartoonist Pat Bagley quipped that "Utah legislators are considering a bill that would let drivers off the hook for mowing down protesters."

Critics say that decriminalizing vehicular homicide in some instances, as state legislators have proposed, might encourage violence against protesters, especially given that, as the ACLU's Marina Lowe put it, "one person's protest is another person's riot."

Utah legislators' lenient position on deadly car attacks is related, some observers noted, to their disapproving views on civil disobedience. Carlson argued that the bill would "create an affirmative defense for... individuals who may disagree with the protests."

"The legislation... would also make it a third-degree felony to obstruct traffic during a riot," the Tribune reported. "Protesters found guilty of the offense could face up to five years in prison."

the horse race

Joe Biden confirmed as Georgia winner after recount

President-elect Joe Biden has been confirmed as the winner of Georgia, after the state conducted a hand recount.

The first Democrat to take the state since Bill Clinton in 1996, Biden wins its 16 electoral college votes as part of a victory by 306-232.

The Associated Press called the race on Thursday evening following the recount, which election officials said reaffirmed Biden’s victory more than two weeks after election day.

The recount resulted in officials in four counties discovering a total of about 5,800 votes. Trump has inched about 1,400 votes closer to Biden as a result, but remains the loser. The Georgia secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, has said that the discount was due to human error, and there was no evidence of rigging or widespread fraud.

Tucker Carlson, Fox News TRASH Giuliani Press Conference

Donald Trump mounts all-out assault on election result in Michigan

Donald Trump has mounted an all-out assault on the election result in Michigan, reportedly planning to fly state lawmakers to meet with him in Washington and phoning county officials in an apparent attempt to derail the certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s 150,000-vote victory in the state.

On Tuesday night, Trump placed phone calls to two Republican members of a county-level vote certification board the night before the pair tried to reverse their previous endorsement of a large chunk of the vote in Michigan.

The news emerged as Republican lawmakers in Michigan prepared to fly to Washington on Friday to meet with Trump at his request, the Washington Post first reported.

While no explanation for the meeting has been given, Trump has been pressuring Republican state lawmakers to try to hijack the electoral college by advancing slates of electors that could compete with those selected by the states’ voters.

Democratic Super PACs Are Getting Wildly Outspent by GOP Groups in Georgia Senate Runoffs

Despite underperforming in congressional races across the board on Election Day, Democrats still have a chance to win control of the Senate and give themselves the fleetingly rare opportunity of controlling both chambers of Congress while having an ally in the White House. If Democrats prevail in both of the Georgia Senate runoff races that are set to take place on Jan. 5, the Senate would have a 50/50 split and Senate President-elect Kamala Harris would be able to break tie votes.

But so far Democratic spending groups are staying on the sidelines while their GOP counterparts have begun spending millions of dollars on ads, mailers, and door-to-door canvassing efforts to support Republican candidates Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue. Outside groups backing the Republicans have reported spending more than $2.5 million since Election Day, according to a Sludge review of Federal Election Commission filings. No groups have yet reported spending any money supporting Democrats in the races.

the evening greens

AOC & Cori Bush Join Climate Protest Outside DNC Urging Activists to "Bring the Heat"

Outside DNC, Progressives Demand Biden Go Big for Green New Deal

Progressives elected to Congress joined grassroots climate action leaders from across the country on Thursday at a rally outside the Democratic National Committee's headquarters in Washington, D.C., demanding that President-elect Joe Biden "be brave" and work to pass a bold agenda aimed at combating the climate crisis.

Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) were among the lawmakers who kicked off the 24-hour #BidenBeBrave rally, along with Reps.-elect Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.), Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), and Cori Bush (D-Mo.), the Sunrise Movement, Climate Justice Alliance, and other grassroots groups. The groups displayed signs reading, "The People Have Spoken" during the rally.

"We're calling on the Biden administration right now to save lives because there's no other alternative," said Bush, who spoke about environmental racism in her community, where Black children are 10 times as likely as white children to be hospitalized for asthma. "And we're asking you because we voted for you. Black and brown communities showed up...So we're asking you to show up for us."

"For the first time in our lifetimes, we have the opportunity with the Biden-Harris administration to avoid and avert climate catastrophe and ensure a livable future," said Jones during his remarks.

After Biden won the Democratic primary, members of the Sunrise Movement and progressives who had advised Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on his presidential campaign met with members of the Biden campaign team and successfully pressured the former vice president to adopt a more ambitious climate action plan than the one he had put forward in the primary.

Biden committed to spending $2 trillion to help fight the climate crisis and environmental racism and released a plan that called for the elimination of carbon pollution from electricity sources by 2035.

But this week, the Sunrise Movement accused Biden of a "betrayal" when he named Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), the fifth-largest recipient of fossil fuel money in the House Democratic Caucus, as his liaison between corporations and climate change activists.

The appointment flew in the face of Biden's campaign promise that he "understands the urgency" of the climate crisis and will work together with advocates, critics said.

Democrat Party Hacks ATTACK Young Activists!

Endangered animals get entangled in plastics that riddle US oceans – study

Endangered marine mammals and sea turtles are routinely being entangled in or are swallowing pieces of plastic that now riddle the oceans off US coastlines, a new report has found.

The plastic-induced toll stretches from Florida, where a manatee was found dead with a stomach filled with plastic bags and straws, to Virginia where a sei whale died after swallowing a DVD case causing stomach lacerations, to California, where a juvenile elephant seal was discovered with a packing strap wrapped around its neck. In South Carolina, a loggerhead sea turtle defecated out almost 60 pieces of plastic while being rehabilitated.

In total there is evidence of more than 1,800 marine animals from 40 species suffering from contact with plastics over the past decade, according to the first formal tally drawn from government and NGO data. Some examples of this phenomenon become well known – such as the whale that washed up with 40kg of plastic in its stomach last year – but the true toll is certainly far higher, with most entanglements unseen by humans.

“We may never know the true number but the details we do have are heartbreaking,” said Kimberly Warner, a senior scientist at Oceana, the conservation organization that collated the report. “The plastic is everywhere, even within deep-diving animals that you rarely see, and it is getting worse.” ...

The Oceana report found that plastic bags, balloons, recreational fishing line, plastic sheeting and food wrappers were the most commonly ingested items, causing internal injuries or hampering the ability of the animals to feed. Other pieces of plastic can become wrapped around necks, fins or flippers, causing deep injuries or hampering movement.

Also of Interest

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

From the stupid headline department, though the article itself is worth a read:

Did the US Commit War Crimes in Afghanistan?

After Australian Report It’s Time for Serious US War Crimes Probes

The Forever War In Afghanistan Will Soon Re-escalate

Coronavirus is evolving. Whether it gets deadlier or not may depend on us

Elections Proved Americans Are Done with the Drug War

CounterSpin interview with Josh Bivens on pandemic unemployment

Wall Street Ally Next In Line to Lead Committee Overseeing Derivatives

Biden Treasury Pick Could Defund the Fossil Fuel Industry, Climate Organizers Say

Freedom Rider: The Real Trump Coup

Trump Holds Coup Meeting With DeVos-Funded Lawmakers

Erin Brockovich: Dear Joe Biden: are you kidding me?

Rediscover nature: winners and finalists – in pictures

'Peecyling': Is urine the new liquid gold?

Jimmmy Dore: Biden's Cabinet of CORRUPTION -- Latest Big Oil Cabinet Pick.

Krystal and Saagar: AOC Destroys Nikki Haley's Weak Attack On Paying People To Stay Home

Krystal and Saagar: Kentucky Senate Loser, Amy McGrath, Takes Her Millions To Georgia

Rising: NYT Columnist Says He's DONE Trying To Understand Trump Supporters

Georgia Reporter: It's OFFICIALLY Over For Trump In Georgia

A Little Night Music

James Cotton - Rocket 88

James Cotton - Dealing With The Devil

James Cotton Blues Band - Jelly Jelly

The James Cotton Band - One More Mile

James Cotton - Ain't Nobody's Business

James Cotton Band - Cotton Boogie (Live)

James Cotton - Blues For Koko

The James Cotton Blues Band - Somthin' You Got

James Cotton - Hit Man

James Cotton - The Creeper

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QMS's picture

thanks for that Joe Wink

6 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


heh, the pleasure is all mine. i am a big fan of james cotton.

have a great weekend!

4 users have voted.
mimi's picture

never felt a more soul touching piece of blues to represent my current mood. Thank You so much. I can't comment or say anything else. I feel the time for words are over. I don't want to talk. How I wished the Guthrie's wishes became a reality.

Hoping you and your family are healthy and cope with these times.

Thank You so much for the quote and the blues.

6 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


so far everybody at chez shikspack is doing well and dealing with what has come along, thanks.

take care and have a great weekend!

6 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

As she should.

Aaron Mate:


-Person Who Has Spent Four Years Claiming That the Election Was "Stolen" From Me By Vladimir Putin and That Bernie Sanders "Hurt" My Campaign.



10 users have voted.

The donor class doesn’t want it, and Americans elect the bribed. So suck it up.

Suffering only makes you a great guy if you come away from it with empathy, a quality that Biden lacks any trace of.

joe shikspack's picture


heh, hillary probably provided the motivation for trump's behavior:

Trump told ally he's trying to get back at Democrats for questioning legitimacy of his own election

President Donald Trump told an ally that he knows he lost, but that he is delaying the transition process and is aggressively trying to sow doubt about the election results in order to get back at Democrats for questioning the legitimacy of his own election in 2016, especially with the Russia investigation, a source familiar with the President's thinking told CNN on Thursday.

The President's refusal to concede, as CNN has previously reported, stems in part from his perceived grievance that Hillary Clinton and former President Barack Obama undermined his own presidency by saying Russia interfered in the 2016 election and could have impacted the outcome, people around him have said.

Trump continues to hold a grudge against those who he claims undercut his election by pointing to Russian interference efforts, and he has suggested it is fair game to not recognize Joe Biden as the President-elect, even though Clinton conceded on election night in 2016 and the Trump transition was able to begin immediately.


damn, where are my manners?

have a wonderful weekend, snoopy!

10 users have voted.

@joe shikspack to remain angry over the Clinton/DNC Putin/Russiagate hoax. A shame those that bought into it aren't also angry over being duped, but in their case, they displayed for the whole world that they are as gullible as the Bushies once were and the Trumpsters still are; so, I don't have any empathy for them.

Doubt that Hillary doesn't still hold a grudge against Trump for beating her. Expect Trump's gudge over Putin/Russiagate and Biden beating him to last as long as Hillary's grudge. The open question is how they'll manage their grudges when "The Club" gathers for important events such as funerals.

4 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


i don't disagree that trump has cause to be angry with hillary, obama, the democrats and all of their enablers in the media and the alphabet soup.

what it looks like to me is two teams of grifters lead by assholes with titanic egos playing nasty games with each other and sucking millions of bystanders into their hissy fit.

they deserve to be exiled together to a relatively small island where they can't avoid each other easily to fight it out. of course it should be televised. Smile

4 users have voted.
mimi's picture

@joe shikspack
seems to me their entourage is already there and prepared for the greatest show ever. Diablo

4 users have voted.
lotlizard's picture

Hosting the Obama clan’s second oceanfront spread, Oahu / Hawaii is just a bigger, warmer Martha’s Vineyard to them.

As Jerri-Lynn Scofield of Naked Capitalism remarked about this article,

This too is typical. Assuming the rules don’t apply to his highness nor his family.

2 users have voted.

@mimi hi, how is everything over there in Hungary and Poland? Was is los? omg I feel sorry for Merkel in her last year as dear EU leader, whatever the title is I'm not sure. I liked her, still do. Saw a photo after Biden won where she looked totally relieved, almost happy. cheers

California Sen. Bill Dodd defends trip to Hawaii as virus surges

“I’m not apologizing for going on the trip,” Dodd, a Napa Democrat, said in a telephone call from the Fairmont Kea Lani, where the Independent Voter Project is holding a four-day legislative conference that mixes lawmakers and lobbyists.

Am I under curfew now? I think I am. Yestidday I walked to the "hardware" store to get some, but all I saw was plastic. AcePlastic. "Ace is the place with the helpful plastic man." jingle hell rock
Hope their fancy meeting does not cause any island outbreaks, doesn't HI have strict quarantine rules? I am thinking of you and family every day, sending out peaceful loving thoughts. {hug}

McGuire calls state’s $5 billion estimate for Great Redwood Trail ‘hogwash’
LOL! Oh fk just kill me now! The article talks about how great the Joe Rodata Trail in west county turned out, but they didn't include the hundreds of homeless campers that moved on to it. And cost millions to move along somewhere else. They are just moving people around now, like cattle. chattel
And then it talks about the toxic debris north of Willits "from years of rail traffic" WTF!? now they tell us (taxpayers)? After "we" just bought it? I missed that detail, thanks a lot. I can't believe (broken belief system again) California Democrats are so cruel. I'm sorry to have ever been associated with such people. Sorry.

Peace and Love

5 users have voted.
Lookout's picture

I can't help but sing along.

We used to play this one on Friday nights....maybe we will again. I hope so.

Take care and be well!

9 users have voted.

“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

joe shikspack's picture


heh, lord willing and the creek don't rise, friday nights will be full of music again someday soon.

have a great weekend!

5 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture


Someone had to have given him his business license.

Parcells is a self-taught pathology assistant with no formal education. From 1996 to 2003, Parcells worked as a pathology assistant for the Jackson County Medical Examiner’s Office in Missouri.

Parcells owned National Autopsy Services in Topeka, where he provided private autopsy services. Clients using his service typically paid Parcells $3,000 plus expenses up front for a full pathological study and diagnosis of the cause of death of a family member, according to U.S. Attorney for Kansas Stephen McAllister.

From May 2016 to May 2019, Parcells received payments from at least 375 clients for a total of more than $1.1 million, but never provided a full report in most of the cases, the indictment said.

Michael Brown? This might open a can of worms.

6 users have voted.

The donor class doesn’t want it, and Americans elect the bribed. So suck it up.

Suffering only makes you a great guy if you come away from it with empathy, a quality that Biden lacks any trace of.

joe shikspack's picture


now there is a man possessed of more than his share of the entrepreneurial spirit.

6 users have voted.
lotlizard's picture

@joe shikspack

3 users have voted.
enhydra lutris's picture

I'm so glad that there will be no National Lockdown. Glad Biden isn't seemingly going to use RCEP as grounds for war with all the signers, yet, but, all the same, he's a maga man too, he just spells it more like pnac. It's too bad about South Dakota getting the government that it seemingly deserves, having picked it themselves.

be well and have a good one. Have a wonderful weekend too.

6 users have voted.

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 --

joe shikspack's picture

@enhydra lutris

yeah, i'm of two minds about south dakota. i feel sorry for the natives that live there who are doing their best to control the outbreak in their communities (allegedly sovereign territory) and are being sabotaged by the state government.

i visited south dakota a few years back and met some really nice folks (both native and non) who seemed to have a clue. unfortunately, they are surrounded by idiots.

have a great weekend!

4 users have voted.
dystopian's picture

Hi JS! Hope all is well! Great tunes man! James Cotton was a world class blower, incredible playing... out of this world greatness. What sounds he could generate.

We need to immediately change all packaging to hemp based. Everything that can be. I was cutting plastic off birds in 1980, it is a million times worse now. The anthropogenic layer in the rock will be plasticized.

If we just had a world of Woody Guthries.

Thanks for the great sounds!

Be well bluesers!

7 users have voted.

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
both - Albert Einstein

joe shikspack's picture


heh, earth may become the first shrink-wrapped planet.

have a great weekend!

2 users have voted.
mimi's picture

@joe shikspack

4 users have voted.
lotlizard's picture

@joe shikspack  
about Christo wrapping the Reichstag in plastic.

3 users have voted.

One of my attorney pals is in the hospital for Covid-19. He may not make it.
I didn't cast a November vote that won, with the exception of one guy who was a Republican running for Chief Justice of my districts' appellate court. He is a good lawyer, lots of appellate experience, he should be good.
I am so glad you give me and all of us the opportunity to be observant!

3 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@on the cusp

heh, i haven't checked the county-level ballot questions yet, but none of my votes were for successful candidates, either. i guess there's probably a lot of that going around. Smile

good luck to your friend with covid, i hope that he beats the odds and recovers.

take care and have a great weekend!

4 users have voted.
TheOtherMaven's picture

@joe shikspack

Low-level stuff mostly, but included keeping the same mayor (no complaints about him even if no rave reviews either).

2 users have voted.

There is no justice. There can be no peace.

travelerxxx's picture

I'm not really convinced that Trump is threatening war with Iran "...because of losing the election," as so many opine. Rather, I'm wondering whether he's not simply speeding up what he intended to do if he had won the election. If it seems like they're rushing it, maybe it because it was in the works all along, but now they have only two months to launch it and have thrown the process into overdrive.

Perhaps more on financial grounds rather than moral grounds, there is a large segment of Trump's base that has been anti-war - or perhaps more likely, anti-empire. As he stood for re-election, he needed these folks in his camp. Now? Win or lose, not so much. He can ignore them. They have no influence on him at this point. I'm sure Pompeo and Netanyahu have far more influence on him than all of them combined.

4 users have voted.

"Outside the DNC" LOL ding ding ding! Winner winner chicken dinner, hello useless Ds. Done much? NOPE, got rich from real estate and book deals talking trash for and against capitalism? YES isn't democracy great? Overton window? Look under your chair! Everyone gets a house and book deal! BE BOLD

Smash your nose against the window, from the outside looking in it is a long way to see that private club picking losers out of their smoke filled back room. Elite super-delegates are so much smarter than regular people, isn't the Democrat version of democracy great? Yeah, no. This ain't no fun no more.

good luck

P.R. (post rant) Stopped watching DemcracyNow! some years ago after the Tubbs wildfire when Amy just swooped in with her vulture crew and cranked the crisis to eleventy. Page clicks PU go get your sensational news elsewhere, that's how I felt about it. And then she was gone, on to the next. Not helpful for regular people left destitute. And then came Netflix to Sonoma County, and 13 ways to commit suicide or whatever that disgusting series promotes. Minimum wage is what they advertised on Craigslist for extras, twelve bucks an hour if you got lucky you could buy a new tent. Crank up the fame seekers why not. "This is America." our brand is crisis

This is what now? The United States last time I checked. of America the bigly continent. Viva Bolivar Revolution! Isn't his wife a retired school teacher? BIDEN read a geography book or look at a map. Aim the teleprompter away from your navel, eh? BE BOLD

3 users have voted.