The Evening Blues - 11-7-19
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features jazz, blues and r&b singer and saxophone player Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson. Enjoy!
Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson - They Call Me Mr. Cleanhead
"I knew that people would respond to the program being brutal, terrible, wrong, ineffective. But I always thought people would be shocked on a bipartisan basis about the lies the CIA told the Department of Justice and two presidents from two different parties. In other words, holy shit, what else are they lying about? How do we know that whatever the CIA is doing on nuclear proliferation or drone programs or other counterterrorism or whatever it is, that they're providing accurate information to the president of the United States? How can we trust this organization to act in a responsible and ethical manner in terms of providing accurate information to those who need to know it? The CIA essentially cannot submit to civilian oversight, because it treats civilian oversight with disdain."
-- Daniel J. Jones
News and Opinion
It seems like a bad idea for a movie: A guy spends five years in the windowless basement room of a nondescript office building in Virginia reading through 6 million documents. He and his small team then write a 6,700-page report — with 38,000 footnotes and a table of contents that’s hundreds of pages long — based on what they learn. Only a handful of people ever bother to read the report, and it’s then basically locked away. The end.
But it isn’t just any office building; it’s a CIA installation. The documents are classified CIA emails and cables. And the report seeks to uncover information about the agency’s post-9/11 “enhanced interrogation” program, a yearslong torture campaign in which more than 100 detainees were brutalized in secret blacksite prisons all over the world, and which remains a horrific stain on America’s reputation.
“The Report,” which comes out Nov. 15, tells the story of Daniel J. Jones, a staffer on the Senate Intelligence Committee who was the lead author of the report — and who, by the time he finished, had become one of the CIA’s least favorite people.
The report itself remains classified, but in 2014, a 500-page summary was released that detailed shocking abuse and revealed that the CIA never received the kind of life-saving intelligence they claimed to have obtained via torture.
Two former Twitter employees have been charged with spying after they reportedly obtained personal account information for critics of the government of Saudi Arabia.
A complaint unsealed on Wednesday in US district court in San Francisco detailed a coordinated effort by Saudi officials to recruit employees at the social media giant to look up the private data of thousands of Twitter accounts.
One of the former Twitter employees, Ahmad Abouammo, was arrested on Tuesday on charges of spying and falsifying an invoice to obstruct an FBI investigation. He is a US citizen. The other former employee, a Saudi citizen named Ali Alzabarah, was accused of accessing the personal information of more than 6,000 Twitter accounts in 2015 on behalf of Saudi Arabia.
Alzabarah accessed accounts of a number of prominent government critics including that of Omar Abdulaziz, a prominent journalist with more than 1 million followers who was close to late Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
Iran now has an effective military advantage over the US and its allies in the Middle East because of its ability to wage war using third parties such as Shia militias and insurgents, according to a military thinktank. In one of the most detailed assessments of Iran’s strategy and doctrine across Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen, the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) concludes Iran’s “third party capability” has become Tehran’s weapon of choice.
The 16-month IISS study called Iran’s Networks of Influence claims these networks are more important to Iranian power than either its ballistic missile program, putative nuclear plans or its conventional military forces.
Overall, conventional military balance is still in favour of the US and its allies in the region, the report concludes, but the balance of effective force is now in Iran’s favour.
Despite US sanctions, the report says, Iran has met little international resistance for its strategy, even if it is now facing a fresh challenge from anti-Iranian nationalist protesters within some of the countries in which it wields influence. The findings are likely to strengthen the position of Western diplomats who argue that any new nuclear deal with Iran will have to include not only updated constraints on the country’s nuclear program, but also commitments on its regional behaviour.
The report claims the application of conventional force cannot counterbalance Iran’s sovereign capability over the past 40 years, since most conflicts in the Middle East are not defined by state-on-state warfare involving parity of forces subject to international law, “but are instead complex and congested battle spaces involving no rule of law or accountability, low visibility and multiple players who represent a mosaic of local and regional interests”.
Foreign fighter jets are suspected by United Nations arms experts of launching precision missiles that killed at least 53 refugees housed in a Libyan refugee detention centre near Tripoli in July, one of the worst single atrocities of the Libyan civil war.
The allegations, first published by the BBC, led the former British ambassador to Libya, Peter Millett, to call on the UN security council to discuss at ambassadorial level how outside powers are prolonging the conflict in Libya and extending the suffering of the Libyan people. No nation is directly named in the report.
“The only two countries with capacity and motive to mount the strike were the UAE and Egypt,” Millett told the Guardian. “It is clear the finger of blame is being pointed to the UAE. It is time the security council called this out. If this war continues much longer Libya will have become a failed state, and the responsibility will lie with the outside powers.”
He added that Turkey was the third country pouring arms into Libya in support of the UN-backed Government of National Accord which has been under attack in Tripoli from Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar’s forces, the Libyan National Army. Libya is subject to a UN arms embargo.
Millett said the coordinates of the detention centre had been given to Haftar’s forces so the strike against the detention centre was either the product of a dreadful accident or a terrible crime.
Algerian Protesters Are Still in the Streets, Months After Pushing Out Longtime President Bouteflika
In this Autumn of Discontent, people from Chile, Haiti and Honduras to Iraq, Egypt and Lebanon are rising up against neoliberalism, which has in many cases been imposed on them by U.S. invasions, coups and other brutal uses of force. The repression against activists has been savage, with more than 250 protesters killed in Iraq in October alone, but the protests have continued and grown. Some movements, such as in Algeria and Sudan, have already forced the downfall of long-entrenched, corrupt governments.
A country that is emblematic of the uprisings against neoliberalism is Chile. On October 25, 2019, a million Chileans—out of a population of about 18 million—took to the streets across the country, unbowed by government repression that has killed at least 20 of them and injured hundreds more. Two days later, Chile's billionaire president Sebastian Piñera fired his entire cabinet and declared, "We are in a new reality. Chile is different from what it was a week ago."
The people of Chile appear to have validated Erica Chenoweth’s research on non-violent protest movements, in which she found that once over 3.5% of a population rise up to non-violently demand political and economic change, no government can resist their demands. It remains to be seen whether Piñera’s response will be enough to save his own job, or whether he will be the next casualty of the 3.5% rule.
It is entirely fitting that Chile should be in the vanguard of the protests sweeping the world in this Autumn of Discontent, since Chile served as the laboratory for the neoliberal transformation of economics and politics that has swept the world since the 1970s.
When Chile’s socialist leader Salvador Allende was elected in 1970, after a 6-year-long covert CIA operation to prevent his election, President Nixon ordered U.S. sanctions to “make the economy scream.” In his first year in office, Allende’s progressive economic policies led to a 22% increase in real wages, as work began on 120,000 new housing units and he started to nationalize copper mines and other major industries. But growth slowed in 1972 and 1973 under the pressure of brutal U.S. sanctions, as in Venezuela and Iran today.
U.S. sabotage of the new government intensified, and on September 11th, 1973, Allende was overthrown in a CIA-backed coup. The new leader, General Augusto Pinochet, executed or disappeared at least 3,200 people, held 80,000 political prisoners in his jails and ruled Chile as a brutal dictator until 1990, with the full support of the U.S. and other Western governments.
Under Pinochet, Chile’s economy was submitted to radical “free market” restructuring by the “Chicago Boys,” a team of Chilean economics students trained at the University of Chicago under the supervision of Milton Friedman for the express purpose of conducting this brutal experiment on their country. U.S. sanctions were lifted and Pinochet sold off Chile’s public assets to U.S. corporations and wealthy investors. Their program of tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations, together with privatization and cuts in pensions, healthcare, education and other public services, has since been duplicated across the world.
The Chicago Boys pointed to rising economic growth rates in Chile as evidence of the success of their neoliberal program, but by 1988, 48% of Chileans were living below the poverty line. Chile was and still is the wealthiest country in Latin America, but it is also the country with the largest gulf between rich and poor.
The governments elected after Pinochet stepped down in 1990 have followed the neoliberal model of alternating pro-corporate “center-right” and “center-left” governments, as in the U.S. and other developed countries. Neither respond to the needs of the poor or working class, who pay higher taxes than their tax-evading bosses, on top of ever-rising living costs, stagnant wages and limited access to voucherized education and a stratified public-private healthcare system. Indigenous communities are at the very bottom of this corrupt social and economic order. Voter turnout has predictably declined from 95% in 1989 to 47% in the most recent presidential election in 2017.
If Chenoweth is right and the million Chileans in the street have breached the tipping point for successful non-violent popular democracy, Chile may be leading the way to a global political and economic revolution.
The Intercept's Glenn Greenwald was assaulted during a live broadcast Thursday by a right-wing Brazilian journalist and defender of the country's far-right President Jair Bolsonaro.
Greenwald, whose reporting this year has exposed unethical and possibly criminal behavior by Bolsonaro and his government, repeatedly called journalist and columnist Augusto Nunes a "coward" during a segment on Jovem Pan News, one of Brazil's largest right-wing radio and Youtube outlets.
In a tweet ahead of his appearance, Greenwald said he had "many questions" for Nunes, who suggested in September that a juvenile judge should investigate Greenwald and his husband, Brazilian lawmaker David Miranda, for neglecting their adopted children.
"We have a lot of political differences, I have no problem being criticized for my work, I criticize him too, but what he did was the ugliest and dirtiest thing I've ever seen in my career as a journalist," Greenwald said of Nunes' comments during Thursday's show.
This is genuinely horrifying, as have been all the threats/intimidation Bolsonaro and his goons have directed towards Glenn and his Intercept colleagues. https://t.co/9s4A6KnVQI
— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) November 7, 2019
Facebook has been under investigation by California officials over its privacy practices for more than a year, the state attorney general Xavier Becerra said on Wednesday, and may now be forced to turn over key documents.
In a press conference on Wednesday, Becerra said the attorney general’s office has been investigating since spring 2018 whether Facebook violated California law by “deceiving users and misrepresenting its privacy practices” and that the company has continued to “drag its feet” and refused to comply with requests.
The investigation included a subpoena for documents related to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which, as the Guardian has reported, included improper data practices by the third party data firm. Facebook has not provided a response to 19 interrogatories or the six document requests issued by the attorney general’s office over the past 18 months. ...
The investigation comes as Facebook faces increasing scrutiny following a number of privacy-related scandals. In July the company was fined $5bn for violations related to Cambridge Analytica and in October the chief executive, Zuckerberg, faced hours of interrogation in Congress over the company’s proposed cryptocurrency venture, Libra. Across the US there are 47 attorneys general investigating Facebook for antitrust violations.
After the White House cut off military aid to Ukraine, Donald Trump’s top officials scrambled to get it restored but were unable to organise a meeting with the president, in part because his staff were too busy pursuing his interest in buying Greenland, according to newly released congressional testimony.
The acting US ambassador to Ukraine, Bill Taylor, told Congress that Trump’s order in mid-July to cut off security assistance triggered a series of high-level meetings with cabinet members on how to get it resumed, given the urgency of the Russian military intervention in eastern Ukraine.
Taylor testified on 22 October, but the House committees holding impeachment hearings released a full transcript on Wednesday. The veteran ambassador told congressional investigators it was the “unanimous opinion of every level of inter-agency discussion” that the aid should be restored and that the secretaries of state and defence as well as the CIA director and the national security adviser work together to arrange an urgent meeting with Trump “to convince him to release the hold”.
However, no meeting could be arranged until September. Taylor said part of the reason was the cabinet secretaries involved went on work trips abroad during the period, but he added: “I think this was also about the time of the Greenland question, about purchasing Greenland, which took up a lot of energy in the NSC [National Security Council].”
Public impeachment hearings will begin next week, it has been announced in Congress, marking a new phase in the investigation into Donald Trump’s effort to compel Ukraine to investigate his political opponents.
The chair of the House intelligence committee, Adam Schiff, said that three US diplomats would testify on their account of a shadow foreign policy, orchestrated by Trump and his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, aimed at using military aid and the prospect of a White House visit to convince the government in Kyiv to implicate the former vice-president Joe Biden and his son in corruption investigations.
The acting ambassador to Ukraine, William Taylor, and the deputy assistant secretary for Europe and Eurasia, George Kent, will testify on Wednesday. Marie Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Kyiv ousted in May on Trump’s orders, will speak on Friday, Schiff said.
“Those open hearings will be an opportunity for the American people to evaluate the witnesses for themselves, to make their own determinations about the credibility of the witnesses, but also to learn firsthand about the facts of the president’s misconduct,” Schiff told reporters.
He also said that the committee would release a full transcript of Taylor’s closed-session testimony.
Joe Biden, the faith-based campaigner:
Despite Front Seat to Last Four Decades of US Politics, Biden Repeats Claim That GOP 'Epiphany' Coming Soon
Former Vice President Joe Biden, one of the three frontrunners for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, on Wednesday repeated the assertion that if President Donald Trump was not in office the Republican Party would happily work alongside Democrats in Congress and the White House to get things done.
"With Donald Trump out of the way, you're going to see a number of my Republican colleagues have an epiphany," said Biden. "Mark my words. Mark my words."
Biden's comments came as part of a longer soliloquy on rival Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who Biden has been hammering since the senator suggested last week the former vice president was in the wrong party's primary. ...
The comments follow remarks over the weekend where Biden reportedly said that "the road is clear for significant change."
"The only thing that stands in the way is Donald Trump," said Biden, who served in the President Barack Obama administration. "The only thing." ...
It's not the first time Biden has made such comments. On May 14, Biden told reporters that once Trump was out of office, "You will see an epiphany occur among many of my Republican friends."
At a fundraiser on June 10, Biden again hit the theme of GOP rebirth.
"With Trump gone, you're going to begin to see things change," said Biden. "Because these folks know better. They know this isn't what they're supposed to be doing."
Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Ayanna Pressley on Wednesday announced her endorsement of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., for president.
Pressley made the announcement in a one-minute video, drawing on her ties to her home-state senator. “I’m proud to call her my senator,” she says. “I can’t wait to call her our president.” Pressley is the last member of the so-called Squad to weigh in on the 2020 presidential race. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan all endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., last month. ...
Pressley’s split with the rest of the Squad over the presidential endorsement will be seen by some on the left as further proof that she’s relatively more moderate than her fellow progressive first-term representatives. In 2016, she was a surrogate for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in her primary battle against Sanders. During her congressional campaign last year and since entering office, Pressley has supported policies that have come to represent something of a litmus test for the left, like abolishing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and supporting Medicare for All and debt-free college. As The Intercept reported during the campaign, she’s moved further left since her time in Boston politics on issues like corporate money in politics and the advisability of Medicare for All.
Still, in Congress, she’s faced criticism over breaking with progressive members and voting for a resolution that condemned the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement. California Rep. Ro Khanna, a campaign co-chair for Sanders, also voted for that measure. These differences are particularly noteworthy, critics say, because Pressley’s district leans more heavily blue than those of Omar, Ocasio-Cortez, or Tlaib, who each represent districts that voted for Donald Trump at higher percentages than Pressley’s.
Elizabeth Warren, who has welcomed, and even rejoiced in the ire of billionaires who oppose her plans to tax the wealthy, can now count the second richest person in the world among her skeptics.
Speaking at the New York Times DealBook conference on Wednesday, Bill Gates balked at Warren’s tax policies. “I’ve paid over $10bn in taxes. I’ve paid more than anyone in taxes,” he said. “If I had to pay $20bn, it’s fine.” “But when you say I should pay $100bn, then I’m starting to do a little math over what I have leftover.”
Warren, who has proposed a 6% tax on wealth over 10 figures, reassured Gates that he wouldn’t have to pay $100bn, and offered to meet with him to explain.
If Elizabeth Warren passed her extra 6 percent wealth tax on fortunes over $1 billion and Bill Gates never gained a single dollar again from any of his investments, he'd still be a billionaire 60 years from now https://t.co/rcAZCLthkx
— Lee Fang (@lhfang) November 6, 2019
This isn’t the first time Warren has contended with disgruntled billionaires. Last week, the billionaire money manager Leon Cooperman exchanged tense words with Warren on Twitter and sent her a letter criticizing her “vilification of the rich”.
“Leon can and should pitch in more,” she responded, “so that every kid has the same opportunities he did to succeed”.
A Seattle city council race between socialist Kshama Sawant and business-backed Egan Orion that saw unprecedented financial contributions from Amazon and some of its top executives was too close to call on Wednesday – although Orion was ahead in early counting.
The tech giant, which is headquartered in the city, funneled $1.5m into the local city council elections by way of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce’s political action committee, which backed Orion and six other candidates considered to be business-friendly. In 2015, the tech corporation and its employees only contributed about $130,000 to the city council candidates, according to the New York Times.
But despite the incredible amount of money contributed to the races by Amazon, there is no sign that the candidates endorsed by the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce’s Pac, the Amazon-backed political action committee, will come away with a landslide victory.
With more than half of Seattle’s ballots counted, incumbent council member Sawant trailed Orion by about eight percentage points. But given that later voters in the city often lean far left, it remained difficult to predict which candidate would ultimately prevail. ...
“We have run a historic grassroots campaign, with working people, community members rejecting Amazon and billionaires’ attempt to buy this election, and that doesn’t mean we’re going to win every battle against the billionaires,” said Sawant. “What matters is the political clarity that the billionaires are not on our side and that this is going to be a struggle.”
On Tuesday night in Kentucky and Virginia, abortion was a losing issue for Republicans. Republicans in both states went all in on the issue of abortion to save their candidates, believing that painting their Democratic opponents as proponents of “infanticide” would be enough to win. Democrats claimed victories anyway in the Kentucky gubernatorial race and in Virginia, where they now control the state House and Senate for the first time in over two decades.
In Kentucky, where just one abortion clinic remains, Attorney General Andy Beshear ousted Republican Gov. Matt Bevin, despite anti-abortion groups massively outspending reproductive rights groups when it came to messaging on abortion. The anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List and its political action committee spent over $100,000 in an independent expenditure in Virginia legislative races and over $750,000 on digital ads, mailers, and canvassers to try to reelect Bevin, who had signed a controversial heartbeat bill that is tied up in court.
NARAL Pro-Choice America, meanwhile, ran a five-figure digital ad campaign targeting Bevin for “wanting to criminalize abortion and punish women.” The ad campaign, which ran from October 24 up until Election Day, followed a survey from Public Policy Polling that found a majority of Democrats and independents, along with 45 percent of Republicans, believe that abortion should be legal and that the government should not prevent a woman from making the decision.
Beshear campaigned primarily on issues like health care and protecting teacher pensions, which Bevin had tried to cut. He was also openly in support of abortion, contrary to what conventional wisdom says about how a Democrat should run in a GOP stronghold. Though the race has been too close for some outlets to call, Beshear topped Bevin by a margin of about 5,000 votes with all precincts reporting. Bevin, who touted himself as “America’s most pro-life governor,” accused Beshear of taking “blood money” and his supporters, as Politico noted, gave the Democratic candidate the nickname “Abortion Andy.”
As Bevin Refuses to Concede, Critics Warn Kentucky GOP 'Totally Gearing Up to Steal' Gubernatorial Election
Kentucky's Senate President Robert Stivers suggested Tuesday night that the close race between Gov. Matt Bevin and Democratic challenger Andy Beshear could ultimately be decided by the state's Republican-controlled legislature, sparking warnings that the GOP could attempt to "steal" the election.
"There's less than one-half of 1 percent, as I understand, separating the governor and [Beshear]," Stivers, a Republican, told reporters after Beshear declared victory. "We will follow the letter of the law and what various processes determine."
Stivers pointed to Section 90 of the Kentucky state Constitution, which says: "Contested elections for Governor and Lieutenant Governor shall be determined by both Houses of the General Assembly, according to such regulations as may be established by law."
According to the New York Times, Beshear is leading Bevin by more than 5,000 votes with 100 percent of the precincts reporting. Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, a Democrat, called the race for Beshear Tuesday night.
Stivers' comments were met with alarm on Twitter. The Intercept's Ryan Grim warned that Republicans are "totally gearing up to steal the KY governor's election." David Roberts of Vox echoed Grim, writing: "Pay attention. They're going to try to steal the Kentucky election right out in the open, in front of everyone."
Bevin, a fervent backer of President Donald Trump, told his supporters Tuesday night that he has no plans to concede the election. The Republican governor claimed without evidence that there were "more than a few irregularities" in the race. Bevin's campaign officially requested a recanvass of vote totals Wednesday afternoon. The local Courier Journal reported that Bevin has 30 days under state law to "formally contest the outcome once it is certified by the State Board of Elections."
As Fires Rage in World's Largest Rainforest, NASA Warns 'Human Activities Are Drying Out the Amazon'
As thousands of intentional fires continued to burn up swaths of the world's largest and most biodiverse rainforest Tuesday, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration warned that based on 20 years of ground and satellite data, "human activities are drying out the Amazon" and jeopardizing its ability to sustain itself.
The findings have experts at NASA and beyond concerned about the implications for the Amazon, a rainforest that annually pulls billions of tons of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, which helps to limit global temperature rise and prevent more catastrophic climate change.
"We observed that in the last two decades, there has been a significant increase in dryness in the atmosphere as well as in the atmospheric demand for water above the rainforest," said Armineh Barkhordarian, a researcher at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and lead author of the study published last month in Scientific Reports.
"In comparing this trend to data from models that estimate climate variability over thousands of years," she continued, "we determined that the change in atmospheric aridity is well beyond what would be expected from natural climate variability."
Barkhordarian pointed to elevated greenhouse gas levels and ongoing human activity—specifically, fires set to clear forest land for agriculture and other uses—as key drivers of the increase in dryness, or what the study described as a "recent increasing trend in vapor pressure deficit (VPD) over tropical South America in dry months." As for how the drying trend impacts the rainforest's ability to sustain itself and help regulate the global climate, NASA researcher and study co-author Sassan Saatchi explained that "it's a matter of supply and demand."
"With the increase in temperature and drying of the air above the trees, the trees need to transpire to cool themselves and to add more water vapor into the atmosphere. But the soil doesn't have extra water for the trees to pull in," Saatchi said. "Our study shows that the demand is increasing, the supply is decreasing and if this continues, the forest may no longer be able to sustain itself."
Over the last 20 years, the atmosphere above the Amazon rainforest has been drying out, leaving ecosystems vulnerable to fires and drought, and it's primarily the result of human activities.
Here's how we know and why it matters. https://t.co/ShQZ40oJgc
— NASA Climate (@NASAClimate) November 5, 2019
Biologist and activist Sandra Steingraber, who was not involved in the NASA study, told Newsweek that "fully half of the the carbon dioxide that is pulled out of atmosphere by the biosphere on land is pulled out by tropical forests."
"The Amazon is a big carbon sink but its ability to scrub carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is declining," Steingraber warned. "This will contribute to climate chaos, turning tropical forests from a global carbon sink to a global carbon source."
Sea level rise is set to challenge human civilization for centuries to come, even if internationally agreed climate goals are met and planet-warming emissions are then immediately eliminated, researchers have found.
The lag time between rising global temperatures and the knock-on impact of coastal inundation means that the world will be dealing with ever-rising sea levels into the 2300s, regardless of prompt action to address the climate crisis, according to the new study.
Even if governments meet their commitments from the landmark 2015 Paris climate agreement, the first 15-year period of the deal will still result in enough emissions that would cause sea levels to increase by around 20cm by the year 2300.
This scenario, modeled by researchers, assumes that all countries make their promised emissions reductions by 2030 and then abruptly eliminate all planet-warming gases from that point onwards. In reality, only a small number of countries are on track to meet the Paris target of limiting global heating to 2C above the pre-industrial era.
Excellent article, worth a full read:
Democratic Sweep Sets Up Confrontation With Corporate Giant That Has Loomed Over Virginia Politics for a Century
The stunning victory on Tuesday by Virginia Democrats, seizing control of both chambers of the state legislature and bringing the state under unified party control, sets up a new confrontation with a powerful adversary: Dominion Energy. Dominion Energy, the privately owned utility company, has long cast a shadow across the state, buying favor in both parties as the most generous donor in state history, writing its own lax regulatory rules, and funneling consumer bills into billions of dollars of investor dividends and executive compensation.
The election results mark a turning point that will likely transform into a brutal legislative fight in 2020 over the future of energy policy, corporate consolidation, and climate change. Virginia Democrats were once just as loyal to the energy giant as Republicans, dutifully passing nine-figure tax breaks year after year for Dominion, alongside other giveaways directly requested by the company’s lobbyists. Dominion lobbyists have crushed attempts to allow consumers to use “net metering,” or the use of rooftop solar power to send electricity back to the grid in exchange for credits, and passed laws specifically crafted to dodge limits on pollution by coal power plants.
Over the last two election cycles, however, an increasing number of General Assembly Democrats have declared that they will reject campaign donations from Dominion and Appalachian Power, a subsidiary of another utility giant, AEP. Since 2017, the Democratic Party of Virginia has rejected Dominion money as well. In order to force the company to return money to consumers and comply with the demand to eventually generate all of its energy from carbon-free sources, Democratic legislators say they need to break free of Dominion’s political grip.
Gov. Ralph Northam has called for standards this year that would require utilities to eventually source 100 percent renewable energy over the next three decades. Now, with his first Democratic legislature, that may finally be feasible and enforced through law.
Clean Virginia, an advocacy group, boasted after the results last night that nearly 50 candidates who rejected Dominion money won elections, including many running in competitive seats.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Cootie Williams w/Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson - Cherry Red Blues
Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson - Somebody Done Stole My Cherry Red
Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson - Juice Head Baby
Eddie Cleanhead Vinson - I Had a Dream
Eddie Cleanhead Vinson - Gonna Send You Send Where I Got You From
Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson - Kidney Stew
Eddie Cleanhead Vinson - Suffer Fool
Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson - Lonesome Train
Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson - Hold It Right There