The Evening Blues - 12-13-19
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features blues and boogie woogie piano player and singer Katie Webster. Enjoy!
Katie Webster - The Katie Lee
"Our country is now taking so steady a course as to show by what road it will pass to destruction, to wit: by consolidation of power first, and then corruption, its necessary consequence."
-- Thomas Jefferson
News and Opinion
Glenn Greenwald weighs in with a must-read:
The Inspector General’s Report on 2016 FBI Spying Reveals a Scandal of Historic Magnitude: Not Only for the FBI but Also the U.S. Media
Before evaluating the media component of this scandal, the FBI’s gross abuse of its power – its serial deceit – is so grave and manifest that it requires little effort to demonstrate it. In sum, the IG Report documents multiple instances in which the FBI – in order to convince a FISA court to allow it spy on former Trump campaign operative Carter Page during the 2016 election – manipulated documents, concealed crucial exonerating evidence, and touted what it knew were unreliable if not outright false claims. If you don’t consider FBI lying, concealment of evidence, and manipulation of documents in order to spy on a U.S. citizen in the middle of a presidential campaign to be a major scandal, what is? ... In this case, no rational person should allow standard partisan bickering to distort or hide this severe FBI corruption. The IG Report leaves no doubt about it. It’s brimming with proof of FBI subterfuge and deceit, all in service of persuading a FISA court of something that was not true: that U.S. citizen and former Trump campaign official Carter Page was an agent of the Russian government and therefore needed to have his communications surveilled. ...
That Page was a Kremlin agent was a widely disseminated media claim – typically asserted as fact even though it had no evidence. As a result of this media narrative, the Mueller investigation examined these widespread accusations yet concluded that “the investigation did not establish that Page coordinated with the Russian government in its efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.” The IG Report went much further, documenting a multitude of lies and misrepresentations by the FBI to deceive the FISA court into believing that probable cause existed to believe Page was a Kremlin agent. ...
Moreover, the FBI’s heavy reliance on the Steele Dossier to obtain the FISA warrant – a fact that many leading national security reporters spent two years denying occurred – was particularly concerning because, as the IG Report put it, “we found that the FBI did not have information corroborating the specific allegations against Carter Page in Steele’s reporting when it relied upon his reports in the first FISA application or subsequent renewal applications.” To spy on a U.S. citizen in the middle of an election, one who had just been working with one of the two major presidential campaigns, the FBI touted a gossipy, unverified, unreliable rag that it had no reason to believe and every reason to distrust, but it hid all of that from the FISA court, which it knew needed to believe that the Steele Dossier was something it was not if it were to give the FBI the spying authorization it wanted. ...
Yes. I am telling you the dossier was not used as the basis for a FISA warrant on Carter Page.
— Shane Harris (@shaneharris) January 12, 2018
But the revelations of the IG Report are not merely a massive FBI scandal. They are also a massive media scandal, because they reveal that so much of what the U.S. media has authoritatively claimed about all of these matters for more than two years is completely false. ...
It’s long been the case that CIA, FBI and NSA operatives tried to infiltrate and shape domestic news, but they at least had the decency to do it clandestinely. In 2008, the New York Times’ David Barstow won the Pulitzer Prize for exposing a secret Pentagon program in which retired Generals and other security state agents would get hired as commentators and analysts and then – unbeknownst to their networks – coordinate their messaging to ensure that domestic news was being shaped by the propaganda of the military and intelligence communities. But now it’s all out in the open. It’s virtually impossible to turn on MSNBC or CNN without being bombarded with former Generals, CIA operatives, FBI agents and NSA officials who now work for those networks as commentators and, increasingly, as reporters.
The past three years of “Russiagate” reporting – for which U.S. journalists have lavished themselves with Pulitzers and other prizes despite a multitude of embarrassing and dangerous errors about the Grave Russian Threat – has relied almost exclusively on anonymous, uncorroborated claims from Deep State operatives (and yes, that’s a term that fully applies to the U.S.). The few exceptions are when these networks feature former high-level security state operatives on camera to spread their false propaganda, as in this enduringly humiliating instance:
John Brennan has a lot to answer for—going before the American public for months, cloaked with CIA authority and openly suggesting he’s got secret info, and repeatedly turning in performances like this. pic.twitter.com/EziCxy9FVQ
— Terry Moran (@TerryMoran) March 25, 2019
All of this has meant that U.S. discourse on these national security questions is shaped almost entirely by the very agencies that are trained to lie: the CIA, the NSA, the Pentagon, the FBI. And their lying has been highly effective. ... The narrative manufactured by the security state agencies and laundered by their reliable media servants about these critical matters was a sham, a fraud, a lie. Yet again, U.S. discourse was subsumed by propaganda because the U.S. media and key parts of the security state have decided that subverting the Trump presidency is of such a high priority – that their political judgment outweighs the results of the election – that everything, including outright lying even to courts let alone the public, is justified because the ends are so noble.
When a long-awaited inspector general report about the F.B.I.’s Russia investigation became public this week, partisans across the political spectrum mined it to argue about whether President Trump falsely smeared the F.B.I. or was its victim. But the report was also important for reasons that had nothing to do with Mr. Trump. At more than 400 pages, the study amounted to the most searching look ever at the government’s secretive system for carrying out national-security surveillance on American soil. And what the report showed was not pretty.
The Justice Department’s independent inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, and his team uncovered a staggeringly dysfunctional and error-ridden process in how the F.B.I. went about obtaining and renewing court permission under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, to wiretap Carter Page, a former Trump campaign adviser.
“The litany of problems with the Carter Page surveillance applications demonstrates how the secrecy shrouding the government’s one-sided FISA approval process breeds abuse,” said Hina Shamsi, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project. “The concerns the inspector general identifies apply to intrusive investigations of others, including especially Muslims, and far better safeguards against abuse are necessary.”
Civil libertarians for years have called the surveillance court a rubber stamp because it only rarely rejects wiretap applications. Out of 1,080 requests by the government in 2018, for example, government records showed that the court fully denied only one. Defenders of the system have argued that the low rejection rate stems in part from how well the Justice Department self-polices and avoids presenting the court with requests that fall short of the legal standard. They have also stressed that officials obey a heightened duty to be candid and provide any mitigating evidence that might undercut their request.
But the inspector general found major errors, material omissions and unsupported statements about Mr. Page in the materials that went to the court. F.B.I. agents cherry-picked the evidence, telling the Justice Department information that made Mr. Page look suspicious and omitting material that cut the other way, and the department passed that misleading portrait onto the court. ...
Mr. Horowitz largely blamed lower-level F.B.I. agents charged with preparing the evidence, but he also faulted high-level supervisors for permitting a culture in which the inaccuracies took place. And while Mr. Horowitz obtained no documents or testimony showing that the inaccuracies stemmed from any political bias — as opposed to incompetence and negligence — he also rejected as “unsatisfactory” the explanation that the agents were busy on the larger Russian investigation and that the Page wiretap order was only a small part of their responsibilities.
On Tuesday, congressional Democrats published two articles of impeachment against US President Donald Trump, centering on claims that the president “compromised the national security of the United States.” The fascist in the White House is being impeached not for ripping thousands of immigrant children from the hands of their parents, persecuting political dissidents Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning, or presiding over a global apparatus of extrajudicial murder. Rather, the impeachment is over Trump’s failure to pursue with sufficient vigor the conflict with Russia. ...
This is the first impeachment of a sitting president on the claim that he is a “threat to national security.” The types of extraconstitutional arguments used by the US intelligence agencies to justify mass warrantless wiretapping, torture, “rendition,” and the assassination of an American citizen, within the framework of the “war on terror,” are now being used in an effort to remove a president. The impeachment drive and the anti-Russia campaign that predated it have involved an enormous intervention by the CIA and FBI in domestic politics. The impeachment inquiry was itself triggered by a CIA agent working at the White House, while a recently-released report shows that the FBI justified a wiretap of a former Trump aide by citing a Ukraine policy change in the Republican Party’s platform.
This process is the first time—with the possible exception of the dark and murky events surrounding the assassination of John F. Kennedy—that the CIA and associated intelligence agencies have sought to remove a sitting president. ...
The most extraordinary element of the impeachment proceedings was its almost complete domination by US policy in Ukraine. It is of the greatest political significance, not to mention strangely ironic, that the United States’ instigation of the 2014 fascist-led coup in Kiev has had far reaching consequences for political life in the US. In order to carry through the implementation of the confrontation with Russia, which was the rationale behind the coup, the intelligence agencies that determine the policy of the Democratic Party have been compelled to seek the impeachment of Trump.
For all the Democrats’ talk of “corruption,” “obstruction of justice,” “bribery,” and an “organized crime shakedown,” the real reasons for the impeachment stand starkly revealed as differences over how best to conduct the predatory policies of American imperialism.
Bolivia’s exiled former president Evo Morales has landed in neighbouring Argentina having been granted asylum by its new leftwing leaders in a move likely to further vex Brazil’s far-right administration. “He’s just arrived. He has come to stay,” Argentina’s foreign minister, Felipe Solá, told reporters on Thursday morning.
Solá said Morales had requested refugee status and attributed his arrival to the fact that “he feels better here than in Mexico” where Bolivia’s first indigenous president initially sought shelter after fleeing his country on 11 November.
Soon after, Morales tweeted: “A month ago [when] I arrived in Mexico, our sister country which saved my life, I was sad and devastated. Now that I’ve come to Argentina to continue struggling for the most poor … I feel strong and energized. Thanks to Mexico and Argentina for all your support and solidarity.” ...
Some observers suspect Morales’s decision to base himself closer to Bolivia is part of a nascent bid to launch a political comeback in the country he governed for nearly 14 years from 2006. ...
Morales’s new hosts said they would ask him to refrain from interfering in Bolivian politics from his new home. “We want Evo to commit to not making political statements in Argentina,” Solá was quoted as saying by the newspaper La Nación. “This is a condition we have requested.”
But many doubt Morales will remain silent and expect his presence to further inflame tensions between Argentina’s new leftwing government and Brazil’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, who refused to attend this week’s swearing-in of Alberto Fernández.
Top Pentagon officials suggested Wednesday that President Trump’s goal of a full withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria may still be years away, conceding that “it’s hard to foresee anytime soon” that the U.S. and its allies will completely crush the threat posed by the Islamic State.
In wide-ranging testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark A. Milley argued that American troops are needed in Syria until regional forces are able to handle the fight entirely on their own. Given the chaos across Syria, such a U.S. handoff does not appear to be on the horizon.
The comments by Mr. Esper and Gen. Milley come just two months after Mr. Trump again said he was ordering the U.S. out of Syria, where ground forces have been stationed since 2015 in the U.S.-led battle against the terror group also known as ISIS.
The Chief of Staff of Libyan General Khalifa Haftar's navy has issued a strongly worded threat to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Saudi media reported Wednesday.
"I have orders to sink any Turkish ship which enters Libya's borders, and I will do so myself," said Major General Faraj Mahdawi.
The threat was issued in Greek, which could deepen the insult to President Erdogan.
General Mahdawi's orders to sink any Turkish ship that comes to explore oil within Libya's borders follows a controversial deal on maritime boundaries in the Mediterranean reached between Turkey and Libya's UN-supported Government of National Accord (GNA). ...
General Haftar's Libyan National Army and its allied tribes, militias and mercenaries are currently locked in a battle to capture the capital Tripoli and defeat the UN-recognised GNA led by Fayez Sarraj.
The US Senate has voted unanimously to recognize the genocide of Armenians by the Ottoman empire, in defiance of both Donald Trump and the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The Senate resolution formally acknowledges the mass killing of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians between 1915 and 1922 as an act of genocide. Coming after a similar measure adopted in October by the House of Representatives, it marks the culmination of more than 50 years of campaigning by Armenian Americans, who called on the president to follow Congress’s lead.
Until now, Turkey had used its leverage as a US Nato ally to stifle recognition of the Armenian genocide, and has threatened consequences for bilateral relations. The White House, anxious not to exacerbate an already tense relationship with Erdogan, had sought to stall a Senate vote. On three occasions over recent weeks, different Republican senators took to the Senate floor to block the Armenian genocide resolution. But on Thursday, Trump appeared unable to persuade any of his Senate supporters to oppose the measure.
“The president just ran out of Republican senators. He put the first three guys in a difficult spot because they didn’t want to do it,” Aram Hamparian, executive director of the Armenian National Committee of America, said. “Now it’s time of the president to defy Erdogan’s gag rule.”
The White House has reached a “deal in principle” with Beijing to resolve the 17-month US-China trade war, according to a source briefed on the trade talks. The White House was expected to make an announcement later on Thursday, the source said.
“The written agreement is still being formulated, but they have reached an agreement in principle,” the source said. No details were immediately available.
In an attempt to secure a “phase one” trade deal, US negotiators offered to cut existing tariffs on Chinese goods by as much as 50% and suspend new tariffs that were scheduled to go into effect on Sunday, two people familiar with the negotiations said earlier on Thursday.
The US-China trade war has slowed global growth and dampened profits and investment for companies around the world.
If Donald Trump does not suspend the new tariffs, Beijing officials will apply more tariffs on US goods and may suspend talks until after the US presidential election in November 2020, trade experts believe.
Since December 5, French public sector workers have been on strike against planned pension cuts opposed by two thirds of the population, shutting down mass transit, train transport and education. Yesterday, before trade unions and employers’ groups at the Economic, Social and Environmental Council (CESE), Prime Minister Edouard Philippe spoke and announced that he would ram the cuts through despite growing opposition. He demanded an end to strike action and stepped-up talks with the trade unions, who have been negotiating the cuts with Macron since 2017. Philippe provocatively rejected all the strikers’ main demands outright, vowing to impose a system of pensions “by points,” eliminate special pension systems in the public sector, and increase the legal retirement age from 62 to 64. ...
Macron is determined to cut the total sum retirees obtain from the French state by tens of billions of euros per year, massively redirecting wealth from the workers to the wealthiest in society. Bernard Arnault, now the world’s wealthiest man, saw his net worth increase by €23 billion last year alone. This would be enough by itself to fill the projected deficit of the pension system, which could grow to €8 to €17 billion by 2025. However, while it gives vast tax gifts to the super-rich, it plans deep cuts to pensions that would devastate tens of millions of workers. The system of pensions “by points” does not attribute a future monetary value to the pension a worker will receive in exchange for helping pay for current retirees’ pensions during his working life, but a vague number of “points.” A 2016 video of ex-Prime Minister François Fillon, now gone viral, explains the content of this change. He says that such a system “allows something that no politician will admit, to reduce each month the size, the value of the point and so to diminish the value of the pensions.” ...
Another key part of the reform is Macron’s attempt to buy off the security forces so that they will continue to try to crush growing social opposition to the diktat of the banks. Philippe announced that police, fire and military personnel will get an exception and be allowed to retire at 62. ...
Macron is working closely with international financial corporations that would reap enormous profits from the slashing of the current system and the introduction of private retirement accounts. In 2017 the satirical weekly Canard enchaîné revealed that Macron had met with management of BlackRock, a US-based global investment fund that is “highly interested in opportunities raised by the reform of French retirement system that are potentially worth several trillion.”
Britain’s prime minister, Boris Johnson, secured a crushing victory in the UK’s general election as voters backed his promise to “get Brexit done” and take the country out of the European Union by 31 January next year. Johnson’s Conservatives captured 364 of the 650 seats in the House of Commons with all bar one seat counted, a comfortable majority of 74 and the party’s best showing in a parliamentary election since Margaret Thatcher triumphed in 1987.
He addressed the nation just after 7am in London, saying Brexit was now the “irrefutable, irresistible, unarguable decision of the British people” and promising those who lent their vote to the Tories in traditional Labour areas: “I will not let you down.” ...
As results from across the country suggested the exit poll would prove correct and seat after seat in the opposition Labour party’s strongholds swung from Labour red to Tory blue, Johnson’s gamble on calling an early vote after long months of parliamentary deadlock over Brexit appeared to have paid off.
The prime minister will now move swiftly to ratify the Brexit deal he sealed with Brussels, allowing Britain to exit the bloc, more than 40 years after it originally joined, at the end of next month – nearly a year later than originally planned and three-and-a-half years after Britain voted to leave. ...
Labour, meanwhile, whose leader, the veteran socialist Jeremy Corbyn, had presented voters a manifesto offering a second Brexit referendum and a radical expansion of the state, was plunged into bitter recriminations after the party won just 203 seats, its worst result in 84 years. ... Corbyn, 70, said on Friday he would not lead the party into the next election. He said he was “obviously very sad at the result we’ve achieved” and suggested he will step down in the early part of next year, but insisted he had “pride” in the party’s policies. ...
The anti-Brexit Scottish National party was on course to win a sweeping victory in Scotland, seizing 48 of the 59 seats and setting the scene for it to campaign for a second vote on secession from England after rejecting independence in 2014.
Ladies and gentlemen I have here at my fingertips indisputable proof that egregious election meddling took place in the United Kingdom on Thursday. Before you get all excited, no, it wasn’t the Russians. It wasn’t the Chinese, the Iranians, Cobra Command or the Legion of Doom. I’m not going to get any Rachel Maddow-sized paychecks for revealing this evidence to you, nor am I going to draw in millions of credulous viewers waiting with bated breath for a bombshell revelation of an international conspiracy that will invalidate the results of the election.
In fact, hardly anyone will even care.
Hardly anyone will care because this election interference has been happening right out in the open, and was perfectly legal. And nobody will suffer any consequences for it. ...
The centrists and mainstream media outlets are responsible for the right wing win in the UK. They spent all their time bashing and smearing Jeremy Corbyn bc they will always prioritize smashing the left, even if it means allying with the far right. Shameful.
— Rania Khalek (@RaniaKhalek) December 13, 2019
As of this writing British exit polls are indicating a landslide victory for the Tories. Numerous other factors went into this result, including most notably a Labour Party ambivalently straddling an irreconcilable divide on the issue of Brexit, but it is also undeniable that the election was affected by a political smear campaign that was entirely unprecedented in scale and vitriol in the history of western democracy. This smear campaign was driven by billionaire-controlled media outlets, along with intelligence and military agencies, as well as state media like the BBC.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been described as the most smeared politician in history, and this is a fair description. Journalist Matt Kennard recently compiled documentation of dozens of incidents in which former and current spooks and military officials collaborated with plutocratic media institutions to portray Corbyn as a threat to national security. Journalistic accountability advocates like Media Lens and Jonathan Cook have been working for years to compile evidence of the mass media’s attempts to paint Corbyn as everything from a terrorist sympathizer to a Communist to a Russian asset to an IRA supporter to a closet antisemite. Just the other day The Grayzone documented how establishment narrative manager Ben Nimmo was enlisted to unilaterally target Corbyn with a fact-free Russiagate-style conspiracy theory in the lead-up to the election, a psyop that was uncritically circulated by both right-wing outlets like The Telegraph as well as ostensibly “left”-wing outlets like The Guardian.
Just as Corbyn’s advocacy for the many over the plutocratic few saw him targeted by billionaire media outlets, his view of Palestinians as human beings saw him targeted by the imperialist Israel lobby as exposed in the Al Jazeera documentary The Lobby. For a mountain of links refuting the bogus antisemitism smear directed at Corbyn, a lifelong opponent of antisemitism, check out the deluge of responses to this query I made on Twitter the other day. This interference continued right up into the day before the election, with the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg flagrantly violating election rules by reporting that early postal votes had been illegally tallied and results were “looking very grim for Labour”.
The historically unprecedented smear campaign that was directed at Corbyn from the right, the far-right, and from within his own party had an effect. Of course it did. If you say this today on social media you’ll get a ton of comments telling you you’re wrong, telling you every vote against Labour was exclusively due to the British people not wanting to live in a Marxist dystopia, telling you it was exclusively because of Brexit, totally denying any possibility that the years of deceitful mass media narrative management that British consciousness was pummelled with day in and day out prior to the election had any impact whatsoever upon its results.
Right. Sure guys. Persistent campaigns to deliberately manipulate people’s minds using mass media has no effect on their decisions at all. I guess that’s why that whole “advertising” fad never made any money.
The Trump administration will appeal a federal judge’s ruling that blocked the president from using Defense Department funds to construct a border wall, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said Wednesday.
The White House’s announcement comes a day after Judge David Briones of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas issued an injunction on using the Pentagon funds on the wall.
“The district court issued a nationwide injunction on the theory that building the wall is causing ‘reputational’ harm and economic disruption to a Texas county and an advocacy group in that county,” Grisham said in a statement.
“But the court’s injunction sweeps far broader than that and blocks multiple projects that are hundreds of miles away and have nothing to do with these plaintiffs,” she continued. “The Supreme Court has already stayed one erroneous injunction blocking the use of a different statutory authority to build the border wall and the Administration plans to immediately appeal this incorrect decision, too.”
Briones, a Clinton appointee, ruled in favor of El Paso County, Texas, and Border Network for Human Rights, which argued that Trump’s national emergency declaration using Pentagon money for the wall was an overreach.
Ocasio-Cortez Makes Connection Between 20% Jump in Healthcare Costs and Industry-Sponsored Spa Days for Congressional Staffers
After end-of-the-year reports showed healthcare costs for Americans rose an average of 20% in 2019, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Twitter highlighted evidence of the cozy relationship between the for-profit health insurance industry and U.S. lawmakers. The New York Democrat noted a retreat at a luxury resort in Virginia taken last April by more than 40 senior congressional staffers where they rubbed elbows with and listened to talks given by health insurance lobbyists.
"One of the sneaky and most corrupting aspects of lobbying is to court a member's staff," Ocasio-Cortez tweeted.
Staffers in attendance at the event came from both sides of the aisle and heard healthcare and pharmaceutical lobbyists' pitches for so-called "reforms" to the healthcare system—which did not include Medicare for All.
"This event wasn't about fixing the healthcare system," former health insurance executive-turned-Medicare for All advocate Wendell Potter told The Intercept at the time. "It was about protecting the healthcare industry, no matter the cost to patients, families, workers, or employers. The industry is the root cause of our healthcare crisis. A congressional staffer serious about finding solutions wouldn’t touch that retreat with a 10-foot pole."
The federal Consumer Price Index report revealing the rise in healthcare costs was released a day after CBS reported that more than half of American families are being forced to cut back on holiday spending because of expenses including medical expenses specifically. Many of the people surveyed faced high healthcare costs this year despite having insurance; 30% of the respondents who had visited the hospital this year reported that they had been responsible for at least $1,000 in out-of-pocket costs.
"One of the themes is medical expenses outpacing the amount of insurance people have," Shields said. "They are beyond what co-payments or deductibles will cover and that results in greater out-of-pocket costs."
After For-Profit College Agrees to Forgive $141 Million in Student Debt, Sanders Says: 'Good. Now $1,685,456,413,335 More to Go'
Following an announcement that the for-profit University of Phoenix has agreed to forgive $141 million in loans of former students, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders responded on Thursday: "Good. Now $1,685,456,413,335 more to go."
While Sanders has proposed cancelling all outstanding college and university debt in the U.S. as part of his plan to help revitalize the U.S. economy and re-level the playing field for working-class and low-income Americans, the move by Phoenix (UPO) and its parent company, the Apollo Education Group, comes in the form of a settlement deal reached with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) early this week and stems from charges of fraudulent and deceptive practices directed at students.
The overall settlement of $191 million includes the debt forgiveness portion and a separate $50 million in cash that will be used "for consumer redress" by the commission.
According to a statement by the FTC, the settlement—in which the companies admitted no actual wrongdoing—was levied because the for-profit chain and Apollo "relied heavily on advertising to attract students, including specific ads that targeted military and Hispanic consumers. The companies' ads featured employers such as Microsoft, Twitter, Adobe, and Yahoo!, giving the false impression that UOP worked with those companies to create job opportunities for its students and tailor its curriculum for such jobs."
The reality, however, was that the school had no such program. In a scheme that victimized students, the FTC alleged that "these companies did not partner with UOP to provide special job opportunities for UOP students or develop curriculum. Instead, UOP and Apollo selected these companies for their advertisements as part of a marketing strategy to drive prospective student interest." ...
In June, Sanders introduced a bill in the U.S. Senate that would used funds raised by a tax on Wall Street to fund the cancellation of the $1.6 trillion student debt burden in the country.
Interpreted by Young Progressives as 'Abject Contempt,' Buttigieg Says He Was Also 'Big Fan of Bernie Sanders' at 18
Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg on Thursday attempted to deflect a journalist's critique about his lack of support among younger voters by suggesting enthusiasm for Sen. Bernie Sanders' campaign stemmed from youthful naivete.
"You would be the youngest president in history, and yet you don't have a majority of young voters in this country according to polls," said "CBS This Morning" anchor Tony Dokoupil to the 37-year-old Democratic hopeful. "Is there a way in which you're out of touch with your own generation?"
"It's certainly the case that many of the younger voters are attracted to, for example the Sanders campaign definitely has more young voters. I was a big fan of Bernie Sanders when I was 18 years old," Buttigieg replied before adding moments later that unlike Sanders, he has not proposed eliminating student debt.
Dokoupil's question followed a number of recent polls showing Buttigieg's low-single-digit support among voters under the age of 45—a large chunk of the electorate. "You're at 3% and 4% among people under the age of 44 in South Carolina, it's almost as bad as minority voters," Dokoupil said, referring to Buttigieg's recent polling about black Americans, 2% of whom supported him in a recent Quinnipiac survey and 4% of whom favored him according to an Economist/YouGov poll last week. ...
As Molly Roberts wrote in the Washington Post last month, young voters' lack of enthusiasm for Buttigieg likely stems from his perceived lack of interest in leveling the playing field to benefit his own generation.
"We've all been taught to do what Buttigieg did: scramble toward success through accumulation—of degrees and other bona fides but also of money, of homes and other items, of anything that we can hold up to prove that we lived up to the high hopes of our own parents," Roberts wrote. "And we're afraid that once we make it, there will be no there there—that the whole thing is empty."
"Buttigieg hasn't managed to convince many young Americans that he stands for anything other than ambition, with a stale side of duty," she added, "and until he does, those Americans will see in him the scariest thing of all: the hollowness of our own achievement culture staring back at us from the mirror."
#RefundPete Trends as Early Backers Request Donations Back After Learning Buttigieg Not So Progressive After All
Though they initially viewed South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg as an intriguing and progressive newcomer when he began his presidential campaign early this year, the #RefundPete hashtag began trending Thursday morning on social media as a growing number of former donors started requesting their donations back in the wake of recent revelations about the 2020 Democratic candidate.
Kristen Hill, a volunteer community leader for the presidential primary campaign of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in North Carolina, was one of the first voters to kick off the viral hashtag #RefundPete.
"If Pete Buttigieg fooled you into thinking he was a progressive at the beginning of his campaign and you donated what he thinks is pocket change, you can ask for a refund by emailing your receipt to firstname.lastname@example.org," Hill tweeted.
The honeymoon is over. As Mayor Pete comes under increased scrutiny, some don't like what they see and are asking his campaign to refund their contributions. #RefundPete has been trending. https://t.co/V5iWPeLJsC
— BoldProgressives.org (@BoldProgressive) December 12, 2019
In October, Buttigieg criticized his progressive opponents, Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) for running their campaigns on "pocket change" by accepting mostly small donations of under $200. Buttigieg has raised 52% of his $50 million campaign dollars through large contributions, and has so far been outraised by both Sanders and Warren.
"Just got my refund from Pete's campaign," wrote one social media user as the #RefundPete hashtag took off. "It was just pocket change so he won't miss it."
Environmental Activists Target Exxon’s Lead Attorney in Climate Liability Case, a Prominent Democratic Donor
The lawyer who defended Exxon Mobil against a lawsuit brought by New York’s attorney general accusing the oil giant of misleading investors on climate change is a prominent Democratic donor who has given more than half a million dollars to Democrats over the last 30 years. Ted Wells Jr., a partner and co-chair of the litigation department at the New York firm Paul, Weiss, was Exxon’s lead attorney in the case that concluded on Tuesday, when a New York State Supreme Court judge ruled that the attorney general failed to show that the oil company broke the law. ...
Over the last few months, students at Harvard Law School have been mobilizing around Wells’s involvement in the Exxon lawsuit, as he is one of the 13 members of the Harvard Corporation, which consults with the university president to decide whether to pursue fossil fuel divestment. A university spokesperson told the Harvard Crimson that Wells recused himself from discussions or votes on divestment once he began representing the oil company. Wells did not return requests for comment. “By sitting on this board, Ted Wells can provide cover, and does provide cover, for the fossil fuel industry,” said Isa Flores-Jones, a recent Harvard graduate who is now active with the Sunrise Movement.
Attorneys like Wells and their law firms that represent fossil fuel interests while also contributing to Democrats and other liberal causes have been drawing increasing scrutiny from environmental activists who are calling on the Democratic Party to distance itself from the fossil fuel industry, either by swearing off donations from executives and lobbyists or by divesting from these companies. ... Beyond Wells, students have been thinking about how to pressure liberal firms that entangle themselves in the climate crisis. “We’re putting a plan together to organize around when these firms come to campus to recruit early next year,” said Aaron Regunberg, a Harvard law school student.
Decrying EU Proposal to Address Climate Crisis by 2050 as 'Too Little Too Late,' Greenpeace Activists Stage #HouseOnFire Demonstration
Greenpeace activists on Thursday dropped banners and held flares in an attempt to make the Europa building in Brussels, Belgium appear to be on fire as the continent's leaders gathered to address the planetary emergency.
"The world is on fire and our governments are letting it burn," Greenpeace EU director Jorgo Riss said in a statement.
BREAKING: 61 Activists set the EU summit on fire *figuratively* whilst governments argue about climate targets for...2050.
But that’s just too little too late. Our planet is *literally* burning and we need countries to take climate action NOW.#HouseOnFire #EUCO pic.twitter.com/PveD52Oqns
— Greenpeace Belgium (@greenpeace_be) December 12, 2019
Protesters arrived at the building Thursday morning in a vintage fire engine. The 61 demonstrators came from seven countries, according to Greenpeace EU. Twenty-eight climbers "scaled the summit venue and wrapped the building with images of giant lapping red and yellow flames, setting off billowing clouds of black and white smoke, red distress flares, and sounding a loud fire alarm," the group said in a statement.
WARNING: CLIMATE DELAYERS INSIDE
European leaders are stuck discussing climate targets… for 2050?!
— Greenpeace EU (@GreenpeaceEU) December 12, 2019
Climate Refugees: Climate-Fueled Drought, Sea Level Rise, Storms & Fires Displace Millions Worldwide
Move Over, Peak Oil. Scientists Say 'Peak Livestock' Must Arrive This Decade to Limit Global Heating
In an open letter to The Lancet Planetary Health journal Wednesday, a group of scientists called for setting a date to reach "peak livestock" production and pursuing dramatic efforts to restore vegetation in the next decade to curb planet-heating emissions, increase natural carbon sequestration, and avert climate catastrophe.
Referencing the primary temperature rise targets of the 2015 Paris climate agreement, the letter says that "continued growth of the livestock sector increases the risk of exceeding emissions budgets consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C and 2°C, limits the removal of CO2 from the atmosphere through restoring native vegetation, and threatens remaining natural carbon sinks where land could be converted to livestock production."
Specifically, the scientists warn that "if the livestock sector were to continue with business as usual, this sector alone would account for 49% of the emissions budget for 1.5°C by 2030, requiring other sectors to reduce emissions beyond a realistic or planned level."
Helen Harwatt, a fellow at Harvard Law School and lead author of the letter, has previously published research on the necessity of driving down meat and dairy consumption to achieve global climate goals.
"Countries should be looking for peak livestock within the next 10 years," Harwatt told The Guardian Thursday. "This is because we need steep and rapid reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, as we are reaching dangerous temperature tipping points."
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Katie Webster & Cookie with his Cupcakes - You Gonna Need Me
Katie Webster - Your Cheating Heart
Katie Webster w/ the Songettes - I Feel So Low
Katie Webster - I'm Still Leaving You
Katie Webster & Songettes - Sea Of Love
Katie Webster & Ashton Conroy - Baby, Baby
Katie Webster - Hoo Wee, Sweet Daddy
Katie Webster - Two-fisted mama
Katie Webster - Trouble Blues
Katie Webster - A Little Meat On The Side
Katie Webster & Gatemouth Brown - Every Day I Have The Blues
Katie Webster - San Francisco Blues Festival Fort Mason, California. 1990