The Evening Blues - 12-10-19
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features New Orleans r&b singer Johnny Adams. Enjoy!
Johnny Adams - Operator
"People never lie so much as after a hunt, during a war or before an election."
-- Otto von Bismarck
News and Opinion
Hundreds of confidential interviews with key figures involved in prosecuting the 18-year US war in Afghanistan have revealed that the US public has been consistently misled about an unwinnable conflict. Transcripts of the interviews, published by the Washington Post after a three-year legal battle, were collected for a Lessons Learned project by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (Sigar), a federal agency whose main task is eliminating corruption and inefficiency in the US war effort.
The 2,000 pages of documents reveal the bleak and unvarnished views of many insiders in a war that has cost $1tn (£760bn) and killed more than 2,300 US servicemen and women, with more than 20,000 injured. Tens of thousands of Afghan civilians have died in the conflict. The documents have echoes of the Pentagon Papers – the US military’s secret history of the Vietnam war that were leaked in 1971 and told a similarly troubling story of the cover-up of military failure.
The interviews were collected, beginning in 2014, in addition to Sigar’s regular audits to identify what could be learned from successive policy failures in Afghanistan.
In his own damning intervention John Sopko, the head of Sigar, told the paper the assessments contained in the project suggested that “the American people have constantly been lied to”.
Two major claims in the documents are that US officials manipulated statistics to suggest to the American public that the war was being won and that successive administrations turned a blind eye to widespread corruption among Afghan officials, allowing the theft of US aid with impunity. The long-term nature of the manipulation of statistics was detailed in an interview with an individual identified only as a senior “National Security Council official”.
“It was impossible to create good metrics. We tried using troop numbers trained, violence levels, control of territory and none of it painted an accurate picture,” the official told interviewers in 2016. “The metrics were always manipulated for the duration of the war.” The papers depict the view of many people of a conflict with vague and unachievable war aims, pursued under three US presidents, George W Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump, whose alleged successes were presented repeatedly in inflated terms.
775,000 of our troops deployed.
2,400 American lives lost.
Over 20,000 Americans wounded.
38,000 civilians killed.
Rumsfeld in 2003: “I have no visibility into who the bad guys are.”
18 years later it’s time to get out. Now. https://t.co/f03vbPCnQB
— Ro Khanna (@RoKhanna) December 9, 2019
During the Vietnam war, the daily US military briefings were known to journalists as the Five O’ Clock Follies, described by one of the AP reporters who attended them as “the longest-playing tragicomedy in south-east Asia’s theatre of the absurd”. The Pentagon Papers, the Department of Defense’s secret history of that war, leaked by Daniel Ellsberg in 1971, only underlined the level of that deception under subsequent US presidents.
Now the Afghanistan Papers, published by the Washington Post after a three-year court battle, portrays a similar trajectory: of deliberate misinformation, wishful thinking, massaging of figures and cruel waste of lives – civilian and military – and a trillion dollars spent in pursuit of an unwinnable war.
What is important in these hundreds of interviews – given by key US players to a US federal agency without the expectation their words would see the light of day – is the shocking and often granular candour, detailing how politicians, commanders and senior diplomats lied to themselves as they lied to US voters. And while much confirms what has already been available in memoirs, reporting and testimony to Congress, what is valuable in this collection of documents is the detail – and the depiction of how the biggest lies in conflict are an accumulation of bad faith, groupthink and cowardice.
If one interview stands out, it is with Michael Flynn, the director of intelligence for the International Security Assistance Force [ISAF] in Afghanistan from June 2009 to October 2010, who would later serve briefly as Donald Trump’s national security adviser before leaving the post in disgrace. Describing a “positivity bias” in reporting back to Washington, Flynn concluded that the “rosy picture” being painted across the board from the conflict was as corrupt as the theft that was also going on, and condemned a “lack of courage in senior government officials to tell the truth”.
“For a while [the operational successes on a daily basis] might have made me feel good, but after 2006, for me, it was actually irrelevant because we were just killing so many people and it wasn’t making any difference at all,” Flynn told his questioners.
Take the time to read every word of this. Three administrations have lied to us about Afghanistan. How many lives have been lost and fortunes spent for nothing?? https://t.co/UUDt5xfX6q
— Krystal Ball (@krystalball) December 9, 2019
The Washington Post's publication of US government papers about the 18-year-long Afghan war is being compared to the Vietnam-era Pentagon Papers. And the man responsible for leaking the Pentagon Papers, Daniel Ellsberg, agrees with the analogy.
In both wars, "The presidents and the generals had a pretty realistic view of what they were up against, which they did not want to admit to the American people." Ellsberg said in a phone interview Monday, hours after the Post's Afghan war investigation was published.
Ellsberg had worked on the secret RAND study of the Vietnam War and came to the conclusion that the public needed to see it. He leaked the papers, first to the New York Times and then to the Washington Post, in 1971. He plans to read all of the raw material that the Post has published online. "A couple thousand pages? I'll read them all, even though it means reliving the terrible experience of Vietnam," he said.
Ellsberg, an anti-war activist, has been outspoken about his opposition to the war in Afghanistan. He said the Washington Post's report affirms his warnings that the war was similar to Vietnam. "Eighteen years ago, I was saying, when we got into Afghanistan, that Afghanistan is Vietnam," Ellsberg said. "In fact, I said that when the Russians went in more than twenty years earlier -- that it was going to be their Vietnam." ...
Ellsberg said he is glad that so many officials involved in the Afghan war spoke frankly to SIGAR, but asserted they should have been just as forthright in public. "Ask yourself, would it have made a difference if we had those statements ten years ago? Five years ago?" Ellsberg expressed his regret about not speaking out sooner during Vietnam. And he said he hopes the Post investigation will "factor into people saying, we really don't have a right to be killing more Afghans from the air, from the ground."
"Let Trump get out of Afghanistan, which he seems to want to do," Ellsberg said. "Let him take the responsibility for that. Better yet, let Congress take the responsibility."
North Korea insulted Donald Trump again on Monday, calling him a “heedless and erratic old man” after he tweeted that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un would not want to abandon a special relationship between the two leaders and affect the US presidential election by resuming hostile acts.
A senior North Korean official, former nuclear negotiator Kim Yong-chol, said in a statement his country would not cave in to US pressure because it has nothing to lose and accused the Trump administration of attempting to buy time ahead of an end-of-year deadline set by Kim for Washington to salvage nuclear talks. ...
Kim Yong-chol said Trump’s tweets clearly show that he is an irritated old man “bereft of patience”.
“As [Trump] is such a heedless and erratic old man, the time when we cannot but call him a ‘dotard’ again may come,” he said. “Trump has too many things that he does not know about [North Korea]. We have nothing more to lose. Though the US may take away anything more from us, it can never remove the strong sense of self-respect, might and resentment against the US from us.”
Amazon says Donald Trump’s “improper pressure” and behind-the-scenes attacks harmed its chances of winning a $10bn Pentagon contract.
The Pentagon awarded the cloud computing contract to Microsoft in October.
Amazon argues in a lawsuit unsealed Monday that the decision should be revisited because of “substantial and pervasive errors“ and Trump’s interference.
Amazon and its founder, Jeff Bezos, have been a frequent target of Trump, even before he became president. Bezos personally owns the Washington Post, which Trump has referred to as “fake news” whenever unfavorable stories are published about him.
Amazon said it lost the deal due to Trump’s “personal vendetta against Mr Bezos, Amazon and the Washington Post”.
The Pentagon spokeswoman Elissa Smith said in a statement Monday the decision to select Microsoft “was made by an expert team of career public servants and military officers” and without external influence.
This article from The Grayzone takes a deep-dive into the slimy netherworld of U.S. neoliberal-funded deep state psyop machinery. If you like that sort of thing, this article names names and connects dots.
The popular socialist leader of Britain’s Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, could be on the verge of becoming prime minister of the United Kingdom. And the mere possibility is terrifying British intelligence services and the US government. Since Corbyn was elected to the head of the Labour Party in 2015, in a landslide victory after running on a staunch leftist and anti-war platform, the corporate media has waged a relentless campaign to demonize and delegitimize him.
With just days remaining before UK’s national election on December 12, British intelligence agencies and US government-backed organizations have escalated their attacks on Corbyn, borrowing tactics from America’s Russiagate hysteria and going to great efforts to portray him — without any substantive evidence — as a supposed puppet of the dastardly Kremlin. These government-sponsored attacks on Corbyn, a lifelong anti-imperialist and former chair of the Stop the War Coalition, are far from new. In December, The Grayzone reported on the Integrity Initiative, a UK government-funded secret network of spies, journalists, and think tanks that rehabilitated Cold War-era information warfare to demonize Corbyn and smear anti-war leftists as Vladimir Putin’s unwitting foot soldiers.
But as polls show more and more popular enthusiasm for Labour and its socialist program on the eve of the vote, and as the prospects of a Corbyn-led government become increasingly plausible, Western government spooks have rapidly laundered avalanches of disinformation through the press, desperately trying to undermine the party’s electoral efforts. Dozens of misleading hit pieces are circulating in the press that treat PSYOP specialists and regime-change lobby groups funded to the hilt by Washington, NATO, and the weapons industry as trustworthy and impartial. British journalist Matt Kennard has documented at least 34 major media stories that rely on officials from the UK military and intelligence agencies in order to depict Corbyn as a threat to national security. ...
On November 27, the Jeremy Corbyn campaign revealed a 451-page dossier containing details of secret negotiations between the UK’s Conservative government and the US to privatize Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) as part of the Brexit deal. The explosive revelation put the lie to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s promise that the NHS was not up for negotiation. Less than a week later, a peculiar story dropped in the British media. A December 2 headline in the pro-Tory Telegraph blared that the NHS dossier deployed by Corbyn “points to Russia.” The liberal Guardian published a similar report asserting that the leaked papers had been “put online by posters using Russian methods.” And the story gravitated across the Atlantic thanks to the neoconservative Daily Beast tabloid.
[Lots more at link. - js]
U.S. Lobbyists Prepare to Seize “Historic Opportunity” in Tory-Led Brexit to Shred Consumer Safeguards, Raise Drug Prices
Corporate lobbyists now see an opportunity to use Boris Johnson’s proposed swift exit from the EU as a way to forge bilateral trade deals, including one between the U.S. and the U.K, that would outsource local authority to rules set by an array of international business interests. A wide range of industries are primed to take advantage of the deal to evade EU consumer safeguards and drug pricing rules. Representatives from American pork to Silicon Valley and everything in between are trying to influence the negotiations. ...
In January, a lengthy hearing hosted by trade officials from both countries provided a forum in D.C. for industry to lay out its agenda on what should happen after Brexit. Before the hearing, two major industry groups sent letters outlining their agendas for the Brexit negotiations in 2019. The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the lobby group that represents the largest drugmakers in the world, insisted that any U.S.-U.K. deal “must recognize that prices of medicines should be based on a variety of value criteria.” PhRMA called for changes in the way the U.K.’s National Health Service sets price controls through comparative effectiveness research, an effort to control the costs of drugs using clinical research.
The Biotechnology Innovation Organization, a lobby group for the biopharmaceutical industry, made similar demands in a letter to trade officials for the U.K., calling to do more in “shouldering a fair share of the costs of innovation.” BIO suggests that in order to ensure fair treatment for drugmakers, companies should have the right to petition an “independent body” to overrule decisions made by the NHS. ... Other corporate demands by U.S.-based groups are spelled out in a series of requests and testimony made by lobbyists before the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the federal agency entrusted with negotiating trade deals. Federal lobbying disclosures show a number of interests, including Cargill, IBM, Koch Industries, the Motion Picture Association of America, the Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association, Ford Motor Company, the National Association of Manufacturers, and Salesforce, have lobbied on the potential U.K. deal in recent months. ...
The potential for a Brexit deal to serve as a corporate Trojan horse became a campaign issue last month when Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn highlighted documents detailing ongoing negotiations between representatives from the U.K.’s Department for International Trade, trade officials from the Trump administration, and industry, discussing the ongoing U.S.-U.K. trade agreement. “We are talking here about secret talks for a deal with Donald Trump after Brexit,” Corbyn declared, citing the potential for higher drug costs and privatization of the NHS.
Dean Baker, a senior economist with the Center for Economic and Policy Research, noted in an email to The Intercept that such regulatory demands by industry are “always part of trade deals.” Baker said that U.S. trade to the U.K. is relatively trivial, at around 2.5 percent of GDP, making incentives for rushing a trade agreement relatively small. “On the other hand,” Baker wrote, “paying higher prices for drugs and being unable to regulate the Internet is likely to impose very substantial costs.”
“A government weighing these factors carefully would almost certainly refuse a deal, but a Johnson government that made Brexit front and center is likely to feel strong political pressure to have a deal with the hope few people will pay much attention to the content,” Baker noted. “Johnson could tout the deal as a big success. People would only see the negative effects years down the road.”
Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are calling on the Trump administration to block a drug company in its efforts to extend its patent on a crucial anti-HIV drug. In a letter to the US Patent and Trademark Office shared exclusively with the Guardian, the Vermont senator and the New York representative accuse the pharmaceutical company, Gilead, of “deceitful and immoral” behavior in holding back the drug, Descovy, from the market until its patent term for an earlier, allegedly less safe anti-HIV drug had been exhausted.
“It is an absolute disgrace that in America, a greedy drug company like Gilead can deprive hundreds of thousands of Americans of lifesaving HIV medicine to extract more profit, lie about it, and then have the audacity to ask the US government to award it with a longer monopoly to reap tens of billions more in profits,” Sanders said. “We have got to block this obscene giveaway for corporate wrongdoing. The Trump administration must not reward Gilead for this immoral behavior.” ...
“In the process of applying for patent extension,” they write, “Gilead withheld information on its true motives” for halting Descovy’s development. “Gilead should absolutely be denied a patent extension request for failing to disclose material information to the USPTO [patent office],” Ocasio-Cortez said. “They kept a safer drug off the market to extract profit. In doing so, they have inhibited efforts to end the HIV epidemic. I am proud to join Senator Sanders today in calling on the USPTO to deny their patent extension request.”
— GallupNews (@GallupNews) December 9, 2019
A day before a crucial hearing in the U.S. House of Representatives focused on crucial Medicare for All legislation, 2020 Democratic candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders on Monday denounced as an "abomination" the fact that crowdsourcing company GoFundMe has a page on its website offering "Six Cancer Fundraising Tips to Help You Raise More Money" for those suffering from the combined tragedy of a cancer diagnosis and being too poor to afford medical treatment.
Not upset with GoFundMe for providing resources to those in desperate need, Sanders lashed out against a system that creates the need for such campaigns in the first place.
"No one should be forced to use GoFundMe for health care," Sanders stated. "We are the richest country on Earth and we are going to take care of our people. Medicare for All now."
This is an abomination.
No one should be forced to use GoFundMe for health care.
We are the richest country on Earth and we are going to take care of our people.
Medicare for All now. pic.twitter.com/QhWZHH6P36
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) December 9, 2019
The GoFundMe resource page referred to by Sanders states, "Crowdfunding has revolutionized the way people fight cancer. Through crowdfunding, it's simple for people to quickly raise money to pay medical bills and find both financial and emotional support from their community. These cancer fundraising tips can help you find financial relief so you can focus on your health."
However—as Sanders suggests in his tweet and single-payer advocates have long argued—the fact that a whole U.S. industry has grown up around the need for crowdfunded healthcare campaigns simply illustrates just how grotesque the nation's for-profit system has become. It's not just GoFundMe. Other platforms like MedStartr, CoFundHealth, and YouCaring—just to name a few—are all built for the same purpose.
Absolutely worth a full read:
The Democratic Party and its liberal supporters are perplexed. They presented hours of evidence of an impeachable offense, although they studiously avoided charging Donald Trump with impeachable offenses also carried out by Democratic presidents, including the continuation or expansion of presidential wars not declared by Congress, exercising line-item veto power, playing prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner to kill individuals, including U.S. citizens, anywhere on the planet, violating due process and misusing executive orders. Because civics is no longer taught in most American schools, they devoted a day to constitutional scholars who provided the Civics 101 case for impeachment. The liberal press, cheerleading the impeachment process, saturated the media landscape with live coverage, interminable analysis, constant character assassination of Trump and giddy speculation. And yet, it has made no difference. Public opinion remains largely unaffected. ...
The liberal class and the Democratic Party leadership have failed, even after their defeat in the 2016 presidential election, to understand that they, along with the traditional Republican elites, have squandered their credibility. No one believes them. And no one should. ...
The problem is not messaging. The problem is the messenger. The mortal wounds inflicted on our democratic institutions are bipartisan. The traditional Republican elites are as hated as the Democratic elites. Trump is vile, imbecilic, corrupt and incompetent. But for a largely white working class cast aside by austerity and neoliberalism, he at least taunts the elites who destroyed their communities and their lives.
The shakedown that Trump clumsily attempted to orchestrate against the president of Ukraine in the hope of discrediting Joe Biden, a potential rival in the 2020 presidential election, pales beside the shakedown orchestrated by the elites who rule over America’s working men and women. This shakedown took from those workers their hope and, more ominously, their hope for their children. It took from them security and a sense of place and dignity. It took from them a voice in how they were governed. It took from them their country and handed it to a cabal of global corporatists who intend to turn them into serfs. This shakedown plunged millions into despair. It led many to self-destructive opioid, alcohol, drug and gambling addictions. It led to increases in suicide, mass shootings and hate crimes. This shakedown led to bizarre conspiracy theories and fabrications peddled by a neofascist right wing, deceptions bolstered by the lies told by those tasked with keeping the society rooted in truth and verifiable fact. This shakedown led to the end of the rule of law and the destruction of democratic institutions that, if they had continued to function, could have prevented the rise to power of a demagogue such as Trump.
There is zero chance Trump will be removed from office in a trial in the Senate. The Democratic Party elites have admitted as much. They carried out, they argue, their civic and constitutional duty. But here again they lie. They picked out what was convenient to impeach Trump and left untouched the rotten system they helped create. The divisions among Americans will only widen. The hatreds will only grow. And tyranny will wrap its deadly tentacles around our throats.
An FBI investigation into the Donald Trump election campaign’s alleged collusion with Russia was justified and not motivated by political bias against him, a government watchdog has concluded. A report by the justice department’s inspector general demolished three years of claims by the president that he was the victim of a “deep state” conspiracy and that the investigation was based on a dossier compiled by an ex-British intelligence operative, Christopher Steele. ...
But the inspector general Michael Horowitz’s report did pinpoint “serious performance failures” in the monitoring of a Trump aide, which the president’s allies seized on in an attempt to claim vindication.
Horowitz identified 17 “significant inaccuracies or omissions” in applications for a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance or Fisa court to monitor the communications of the former Trump adviser Carter Page and subsequent warrant renewals. The errors resulted in “applications that made it appear that the information supporting probable cause was stronger than was actually the case”, the report said, although the FBI had a legal “authorized purpose” to ask for court approval.
The attorney general, William Barr, rejected Horowitz’s conclusion that there was sufficient evidence to open the investigation. “The inspector general’s report now makes clear that the FBI launched an intrusive investigation of a US presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken,” Barr said.
However, the inspector general concluded there was no evidence to support the claim by Trump and his supporters that he would uncover bias in the top ranks of the FBI.
Horowitz found that the FBI had overstated the significance of Steele’s past work as an informant and left out information about one of Steele’s sources whom Steele called a “boaster” who “may engage in some embellishment”. The report also says law enforcement officials failed to offer “greater clarity on the political origins and connections” of Steele’s reporting, including the fact that the political research firm that selected him had been hired by Democrats.
You have to wonder why the Democrats are all aflutter with worry if Trump is sending Rudy out on a fool's errand to find something that doesn't exist.
Even the threat of impeachment hasn’t stopped President Trump from pressuring Ukraine into helping his 2020 election chances.
That was a key point House Democrats raised as they laid out their case for impeaching the president during a Monday hearing at the House Judiciary Committee. Their evidence: Rudy Giuliani’s recent trip to Ukraine, where Trump’s personal attorney broadcasted his attempts to dig up dirt on his political foes.
“Let me remind you that the president’s personal lawyer spent the last week in Ukraine, meeting with government officials in an apparent attempt to gin up the same so-called favors that brought us here today,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said in his opening statement. “This pattern of conduct represents a continuing risk to the country.”
Nadler was quickly followed by House Intelligence Committee Democratic counsel Daniel Goldman, who called Trump’s ongoing behavior a “clear and present danger” to American democracy.
“The allegations about Vice President Biden, and the 2016 election, are patently false. But that did not deter President Trump during his phone call with the Ukrainian president. And it does not appear to deter him today,” Goldman said, pointing out that just days ago Trump said he wanted Giuliani to report his findings to Congress and the Department of Justice.
Of course, this is not grounds for impeachment since the Democrats approve of these policies initiated by St. Obama:
The Government Has Taken At Least 1,100 Children From Their Parents Since Family Separations Officially Ended
The U.S. government is still taking children from their parents after they cross the border. Since the supposed end of family separation — in the summer of 2018, after a federal judge’s injunction and President Donald Trump’s executive order reversing the deeply controversial policy — more than 1,100 children have been taken from their parents, according to the government’s own data. There may be more, since that data has been plagued by bad record keeping and inconsistencies. The government alleges that separations now only happen when a parent has a criminal history or is unfit to care for a child, but an ongoing lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union argues that the current policy still violates the rights of children and families. Border Patrol agents, untrained in child welfare, make decisions that some parents are unfit to stay with their children based solely on brief interactions with them while they are held in custody. ...
In 2018, much of the world looked on aghast as U.S. immigration agents separated thousands of children from their parents in an unprecedented anti-immigrant crackdown. In one notorious instance captured on audio, Border Patrol agents laughed and joked at desperate children crying for their parents. The separations, part of a series of policy changes to limit total immigration and effectively shutter refugee and asylum programs, stemmed from the so-called zero-tolerance policy that began in El Paso in 2017 and was rolled out border-wide in the spring of 2018. The administration had announced that it would seek to prosecute all people who illegally crossed the border (despite the fact that, according to U.S. law, it is not illegal for an asylum-seeker to cross the border), but it later emerged that the government had specifically targeted families. A strict zero tolerance policy — prosecuting every individual who was apprehended — was always beyond capacity. The focus on families was part of a distinct effort by the Department of Homeland Security and the White House to try and dissuade — by subjecting parents and children to the terror of separation — more people from coming to the United States.
After widespread uproar and international condemnation, Trump issued an executive order to halt the separations on June 20, 2018. Six days later, U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw issued an injunction, demanding the reunification of parents with their children within 30 days. For children under the age of 5, the deadline was 14 days. For some, however, it was too late. Parents had already lost custody, been deported, or even lost track of their children. Even for those who were reunified, trauma had set in. In 2018, the number of publicly known separations was 2,800. In fact, as the government revealed this October after pressure from the ACLU lawsuit, that original count was over 1,500 children short. Furthermore, the government has admitted that more than 1,100 additional families have been separated since the executive order and injunction — bringing the total number of children impacted to at least 5,446. That number may still be an undercount and will continue to rise if immigration officials’ current practices continue.
The grounds for the ongoing separations — the 1,100 new cases — stem from a carve-out in Sabraw’s injunction: that children should not be separated “absent a determination that the parent is unfit or presents a danger to the child.” That language, the ACLU and others allege in an ongoing lawsuit, is being interpreted too broadly by the government, resulting in unwarranted separations. ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt, who has been litigating against the government on behalf of a class of separated families, called the ongoing separation policy “as shocking as it is unlawful.”
An Ohio legislator who said he had “no knowledge” of a rightwing Christian bill mill called Project Blitz is, in fact, the co-chair of the state branch of an organization behind the campaign.
The Ohio state representative Timothy Ginter sponsored a bill called the Student Religious Liberties Act. Opponents argued the bill would provide students with a religious exemption to facts, and would frighten teachers and school administrators into including religion in school functions.
The Guardian revealed the bill was nearly identical to one promoted by Project Blitz, a state legislative project guided by three Christian right organizations, including the Congressional Prayer Caucus (CPC), WallBuilders and the ProFamily Legislators Conference. Project Blitz aims to promote and help pass conservative legislation across the US to fulfil its rightwing Christian agenda.
When initially approached, Ginter told the Guardian in an email from a legislative aide that he had “no knowledge of ‘Project Blitz’ and has not been working with WallBuilders or the Congressional Prayer Caucus”. However, a screenshot shows Ginter was listed as the co-chair of the Ohio Prayer Caucus, the state chapter of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, as recently as January 2019. Ginter’s former chief of staff, Chris Albanese, is currently listed as the state director of the state chapter of CPC, Ohio Prayer Caucus.
“I would call it an outright lie,” said Frederick Clarkson, a senior research analyst with Political Research Associates, and an expert on the Christian right. “The Prayer Caucus in the states are the action arm of Project Blitz – it is Project Blitz,” he said. “When he told you, ‘I’ve never heard of Project Blitz,’ that was a lie,” said Clarkson.
Scholar Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor Applauds Sanders for Activating 'Typically Invisible' Multiracial Coalition With 'Class Warfare' Campaign
Scholar and activist Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor on Tuesday argued that Sen. Bernie Sanders' strong standing in the 2020 Democratic presidential race is attributable to his success in mobilizing a multiracial coalition of working class people who are often rendered invisible by the corporate media and political establishment.
"Neither the Democratic Party establishment nor the mainstream media really understand his campaign," Taylor, assistant professor of African-American Studies at Princeton University, wrote in the New York Times Tuesday. "That's because it disregards conventional wisdom in politics today—tax cuts for the elite and corporations and public-private partnerships to finance healthcare, education, housing, and other public services."
Building on his long-shot 2016 presidential bid that garnered 13 million votes, "the Sanders campaign has transformed into a tribune of the oppressed and marginalized," Taylor wrote.
The diverse grassroots composition of Sanders' base, Taylor wrote, is evident in the campaign's fundraising numbers. Sanders leads the 2020 Democratic field in donations from teachers, retail workers, farmers, nurses, construction workers, and drivers.
"Sanders is also the leading recipient of donations from Latinos," Taylor wrote. "According to Essence magazine, Mr. Sanders is the favorite candidate among black women aged 18 to 34. Only 49 percent of his supporters are white, compared with 71 percent of Warren supporters."
Taylor also highlighted Sanders' major endorsements, including the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD) Action, a coalition of more than 40 progressive community groups with over 600,000 members nationwide. CPD Action announced Tuesday that its members voted to endorse the senator from Vermont in the 2020 Democratic primary.
"Bernie Sanders is the powerful movement candidate we need to defeat Donald Trump," Jennifer Epps-Addison, co-executive director of the Center for Popular Democracy Action, said in a statement. "From ending mass incarceration and deportations to the $15 minimum wage and Medicare for All, Sanders is working hand-in-hand with our communities to champion the policies that we need to thrive."
Though Sanders has gained ground in the polls and garnered endorsements from prominent progressive organizations, corporate media outlets have often downplayed or ignored the Vermont senator's campaign—a phenomenon Sanders supporters have termed the "Bernie blackout." Taylor alluded to the media's sparse coverage of Sanders compared to the rest of the Democratic field, noting that, "under normal circumstances, the multiracial working class is invisible."
"This has meant its support for Mr. Sanders's candidacy has been hard to register in the mainstream coverage of the Democratic race," Taylor wrote. "Mr. Sanders has reached the typically invisible, downwardly mobile working class with his language of 'class warfare.' He has tapped into the anger and bitterness coursing through the lives of regular people."
"Without cynicism or the typical racist explanations that blame African-Americans and Latino immigrants for their own financial hardship, Mr. Sanders blames capitalism," Taylor added. "His demands for a redistribution of wealth from the top to the rest of society and universal, government-backed programs have resonated with the forgotten residents of the country."
South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg's presidential campaign will allow reporters into fundraisers.
That's the word from the mayor's campaign manager Mike Schmuhl, who said in a statement that the campaign would allow the press into the events.
In a continued commitment to transparency, we are announcing today that our campaign will open fundraisers to reporters, and will release the names of people raising money for our campaign. Fundraising events with Pete will be open to press beginning tomorrow, and a list of people raising money for the campaign will be released within the week.
The move follows a weekend of sustained activist pressure demanding Buttigieg open the events.
A quarter of the world’s population are at risk of water supply problems as mountain glaciers, snow-packs and alpine lakes are run down by global heating and rising demand, according to an international study. The first inventory of high-altitude sources finds the Indus is the most important and vulnerable “water tower” due to run-off from the Karakoram, Hindu Kush, Ladakh, and Himalayan mountain ranges, which flow downstream to a densely populated and intensively irrigated basin in Pakistan, India, China and Afghanistan.
The authors warn this vast water tower – a term they use to describe the role of water storage and supply that mountain ranges play to sustain environmental and human water demands downstream – is unlikely to sustain growing pressure by the middle of the century when temperatures are projected to rise by 1.9C (35.4F), rainfall to increase by less than 2%, but the population to grow by 50% and generate eight times more GDP.
Strains are apparent elsewhere in the water tower index, which quantifies the volume of water in 78 mountain ranges based on precipitation, snow cover, glacier ice storage, lakes and rivers. ... The study by 32 scientists, which was published in the Nature journal on Monday, confirms Asian river basins face the greatest demands but shows pressures are also rising on other continents. ...
The study says 1.9 billion people and half of the world’s biodiversity hotspots could be negatively affected by the decline of natural water towers, which store water in winter and release it slowly over the summer.
A Key Climate Justice Question at COP25: What Role Should Carbon Markets Play in Meeting Paris Goals?
Climate justice advocates at the UN climate summit this week are focusing their frustration over global climate inaction into one highly technical debate: What role should carbon markets play in meeting the promise of the Paris climate accord? Carbon markets started as a way to offer polluters more flexibility as they try to meet their countries' emissions reduction targets and, in theory, lower the cost. But past international emissions trading systems have failed to reduce emissions significantly, and representatives of vulnerable and indigenous groups argue that their communities end up bearing the brunt of pollution under such systems, as industries seek to make emissions reductions where it is easiest and cheapest. ...
"Over and over again, carbon markets have proven that they are not effective in reducing emissions," said Tere Almaguer, environmental justice organizer for PODER in San Francisco. Her group focuses on organizing Latino communities—including those who live near California refineries and feel that they bear the brunt of poor air quality from fossil fuel emissions. She says the state's carbon cap-and-trade system allows the oil companies to invest in far-flung carbon mitigation projects rather than cutting emissions at home, leaving the communities to continue suffering the consequences. Referring to industry investments in forest preservation projects in the developing world to earn credit for cutting emissions, Almaguer said: "You're privatizing forests in our Mother Lands so you'll be able to pollute more in our communities." ...
In theory, emissions trading gives nations a financial incentive to drive down emissions, because they'll get credits for their efforts—renewable energy projects, forestry conservation, and the like—that they can sell to other countries that are having trouble meeting their emissions targets. But in reality, international carbon markets established under the 1997 Kyoto accord have been plagued by mismanagement and outright corruption. European Union nations handed out too many free credits to their industries when they established the first and largest carbon market, the EU Emissions Trading System, in 2005. As a result, the price of polluting was too low to drive a dramatic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
The failure was more dramatic in the other big carbon market established under the 1997 Kyoto accord—the Clean Development Mechanism, which channeled $138 billion into some 8,000 projects in developing countries. Those investments were meant to cut carbon emissions, but one study estimated that 85 percent of the projects would have happened with or without the CDM—meaning the value of the system was questionable at best.
The World Bank report said there are 57 carbon tax or emissions trading initiatives underway in 2019, up about 10 percent over last year, mostly due to Canada's new carbon pricing policy. But only 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions are covered by a carbon price, and less than 5 percent of those are currently priced at levels that are "consistent with reaching the temperature goals of the Paris agreement," according to the World Bank.
'Corrupt & Corrupter': DC Billboard Ridicules Trump and Bernhardt as Two Greedy Idiots Destroying US Public Lands for Fossil Fuel Profits
"There is still a chance for Congress to save America's outdoor heritage and hold Secretary Bernhardt accountable for turning Interior into his own personal lobby shop."https://t.co/RMSdJN1PT2 #StopBernhardt #ProtectPublicLands
— Mighty Earth (@StandMighty) December 9, 2019
Lumping President Donald Trump and U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt together as a pair of hapless (yet dangerous) stooges working in service of the fossil fuel industry, an environmental watchdog group this week is driving a mobile billboard around Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. in order to call out the tenacious greed and corruption of the current administration.
Specifically citing Bernhardt's subservience to big oil and gas interests that puts the nation's public land, air, and water at risk, the billboard highlights how Bernhardt—a former lobbyist—has allowed previous clients of his, including the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA), to directly influence decision-making and policy at Interior, which manages the nation's public lands.
"To hold the dubious honor of being President Trump's most corrupt and conflicted cabinet member takes some serious swampiness," said Jayson O'Neill, deputy director of the Western Values Project. "But Secretary Bernhardt keeps one-upping Trump's other swampy members by allowing his former clients, like IPAA, to influence nearly every decision at Interior related to public lands, wildlife, and resources. There is still a chance for Congress to save America's outdoor heritage and hold Secretary Bernhardt accountable for turning Interior into his own personal lobby shop."
Numerous environmental and government watchdog groups have accused Trump of using the power of the Interior Department to exploit public lands for private industry profit with little to no regard for environmental degradation.
According to a statement by Western Values:
Bernhardt, the ultimate D.C. swamp creature and extractive resource mega-lobbyist by trade, declared some 26 conflicts-of-interest that he was to be recused from working on for two years under Trump’s so-called ethics order. Immediately after a historically controversial confirmation vote to become the department’s secretary, Bernhardt became the subject of a multi-faceted investigation by Interior’s internal watchdog for allegedly violating ethics rules after working on particular matters that benefited his former clients.
While the investigation is still ongoing, an Office of Government Ethics’ annual report released this summer and additional reporting from ProPublica confirmed that Sec. Bernhardt and other Trump political appointees at the department violated the administration’s so-called ethics pledge with impunity.
In addition to billboard, the group is circulating a petition—which has already received over 100,000 signatures—to hold Bernhardt accountable for his corrupt leadership and demand Congress investigate his severe abuse of office.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Johnny Adams - Ooh So Nice
Johnny Adams - A Losing Battle
Johnny Adams - Come On
Johnny Adams - Who's Gonna Love You
Little Johnnie Adams - No In Between
Johnny Adams - [Oh Why] I Won't Cry
Johnny Adams - One Foot in the Blues
Johnny Adams - I Feel Like Breaking Up Somebody's Home
Johnny Adams - A World I Never Made
Johnny Adams - Life Is Just a Struggle
Johnny Adams - Spunky Onions