The Evening Blues - 12-22-17



eb1pt12


The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: potluck

Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features an assortment of tunes that I have always meant to post in other contexts but haven't gotten around to it yet. Enjoy!

Mac Rebennack - The Point

“The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced Communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (i.e., the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false (i.e., the standards of thought) no longer exist.”

-- Hannah Arendt


News and Opinion

Masha Gessen’s Warning Ignored as Dreams of Trumpeachment Dance in Our Heads

In an important commentary in The New York Review of Books last March, the anti-Putin Russian dissident Masha Gessen tried to warn U.S. liberals and progressives against putting their anti-Trump eggs in the Russia basket. Gessen felt that the Russiagate gambit would flop, given a lack of smoking-gun evidence and sufficient public interest, particularly among Republicans.

Gessen also worried that the Russia obsession was a deadly diversion from issues that ought to matter more to those claiming to oppose Trump in the name of democracy and the common good: racism, voter suppression (which may well have elected Trump, by the way), health care, plutocracy, police- and prison-state-ism, immigrant rights, economic exploitation and inequality, sexism and environmental ruination—you know, stuff like that. ... Here we are now, half a year later, careening into a dystopian holiday season. With his epically low approval rating of 32 percent, the orange-tinted bad grandpa in the Oval Office has won a viciously regressive tax bill that is widely rejected by the populace. ...

The dismal, dollar-drenched Democrats, the party of “inauthentic opposition,” are hardly more popular than the radically regressive Republicans. Their approval mark was 37 percent in a recent CNN poll, their lowest level in 25 years. Pervasive scorn for the not-so leftmost of the two great capitalist parties is richly appropriate, given its continuing champion role as “the graveyard of social movements” and its long history of serving the nation’s financial, corporate and imperial ruling class. ... As the GOP has moved forward aggressively with this horrific measure (Merry Christmas, One Percent!), the Inauthentic Opposition party, which essentially elected Trump last year (see this remarkable new volume), has continued to blather breathlessly about Russiagate while whining that Trump is not being more “bipartisan.” ...

It’s Christmas time – a season for magical thinking. So let us sing along with that great liberal Russophobe Rachel Mad Dog Maddow: on Dasher, on Dancer, on Rachel, on Mueller! Let us all sleep snug in our beds, while dreams of Trumpeachment dance in our heads. Perhaps MSNBC would like to air a Christmas special starring Vladimir Putin as The Grinch Who Stole Our Glorious Democracy?

'Russiagate' Exposes America's Loss of Integrity -- Jill Stein and Robert Scheer

Russiagate Is Making Everyone Stupid

The Guardian recently published an amazingly deceitful hit piece on skeptics of the establishment Syria narrative who point to the piles of evidence that the so-called White Helmets are nothing other than a western-backed propaganda firm for the destabilization efforts in Syria.

The piece is simultaneously shocking in the brazen amount of dishonesty a mainstream publication can pack into one little article, and entirely unsurprising in the tactics it uses. It follows a pattern which will be exhaustingly familiar to anyone who engages in online debate against establishment narratives with any regularity: it paints anti-establishment speakers as “Russian propaganda” simply because they advance opinions that run counter to western establishment interests, and cites “experts” to counter those opinions who are considered experts solely because their opinions are endorsed by the mainstream establishment. The message is never attacked, only the messenger, and the attacks are imbued with legitimacy solely because they are pro-establishment.

We saw the exact same tactic used in NPR’s recent hit job on Lee Camp’s Redacted Tonight, attacking the show as Russian propaganda solely on the basis that it is aired on RT America despite the fact that everyone involved in its production are Americans who happen to espouse anti-establishment viewpoints. To support their attack NPR brought in neoconservative empire loyalist Julia Ioffe, who last month published a deceitful article in The Atlantic using doctored quotes to make it appear as though WikiLeaks attempted to cover up loyalties to the Russian government in conversations with Donald Trump Jr. Ioffe’s “expertise” was used to legitimize the assertions that Redacted Tonight is Russian propaganda and its staff are “useful idiots” of the Kremlin.

You can read Lee Camp’s brutal beatdown of Ioffe and NPR’s obnoxious smear segment here.

Chris Hedges: The Permanent Lie, Our Deadliest Threat

The most ominous danger we face does not come from the eradication of free speech through the obliteration of net neutrality or through Google algorithms that steer people away from dissident, left-wing, progressive or anti-war sites. It does not come from a tax bill that abandons all pretense of fiscal responsibility to enrich corporations and oligarchs and prepares the way to dismantle programs such as Social Security. It does not come from the opening of public land to the mining and fossil fuel industry, the acceleration of ecocide by demolishing environmental regulations, or the destruction of public education. It does not come from the squandering of federal dollars on a bloated military as the country collapses or the use of the systems of domestic security to criminalize dissent. The most ominous danger we face comes from the marginalization and destruction of institutions, including the courts, academia, legislative bodies, cultural organizations and the press, that once ensured that civil discourse was rooted in reality and fact, helped us distinguish lies from truth and facilitated justice.

Donald Trump and today’s Republican Party represent the last stage in the emergence of corporate totalitarianism. Pillage and oppression are justified by the permanent lie. The permanent lie is different from the falsehoods and half-truths uttered by politicians such as Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. The common political lie these politicians employed was not designed to cancel out reality. It was a form of manipulation. Clinton, when he signed into law the North American Free Trade Agreement, promised “NAFTA means jobs, American jobs and good-paying American jobs.” George W. Bush justified the invasion of Iraq because Saddam Hussein supposedly possessed weapons of mass destruction. But Clinton did not continue to pretend that NAFTA was beneficial to the working class when reality proved otherwise. Bush did not pretend that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction once none were found.

The permanent lie is not circumscribed by reality. It is perpetuated even in the face of overwhelming evidence that discredits it. It is irrational. Those who speak in the language of truth and fact are attacked as liars, traitors and purveyors of “fake news.” They are banished from the public sphere once totalitarian elites accrue sufficient power, a power now granted to them with the revoking of net neutrality. ... The permanent lie turns political discourse into absurdist theater. Donald Trump, who lies about the size of his inauguration crowd despite photographic evidence, insists that in regard to his personal finances he is “going to get killed” by a tax bill that actually will save him and his heirs over $1 billion. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin claims he has a report that proves that the tax cuts will pay for themselves and will not increase the deficit—only there never was a report. Sen. John Cornyn assures us, countering all factual evidence, that “this is not a bill that is designed primarily to benefit the wealthy and the large businesses.”

The permanent lie is the apotheosis of totalitarianism. It no longer matters what is true. It matters only what is “correct.”

With future of military prison in doubt, Mattis visits Guantanamo Bay

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis met with troops at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on Thursday, the first time an American defense chief has visited the U.S. naval outpost since scores of terrorism suspects were imprisoned there in 2002. ... The visit highlights the Trump administration’s evolving approach to the prison and to prosecuting and detaining terrorism suspects.

Since taking office, President Trump appears to have backed off earlier promises to fill Guantanamo with “bad dudes.” His administration has taken little visible action to renew military detentions there or to overcome the hurdles holding up the military commissions that are supposed to try suspects in the 9/11 attacks.

“Guantanamo remains a symbol of torture and illegal and illegitimate detention and trials,” said Raha Wala, director of national security advocacy at Human Rights First. “So it’s unsurprising that the Trump administration is figuring out what prior administrations already knew: Guantanamo is a big headache and an unattractive option compared to detention using normal procedures,” Wala said.

While political leaders including Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who visited Guantanamo in July, have voiced support for continuing detentions at Guantanamo, resistance from agencies involved in trying and housing terrorism suspects appears to have helped quash any steps to renew detentions there.

North Korea vows retaliation over US sea blockade

North Korea warned the United States any imposition of a maritime blockade would be an act of war that would push the current standoff towards nuclear confrontation. Discussion of a possible American sea blockade off the Korean Peninsula has emerged in media reports and academic circles in recent weeks, further ratcheting up tensions between Washington and Pyongyang.

The threat of nuclear war between the arch enemies has grown more real since US President Donald Trump took office in January. He has threatened to "totally destroy" North Korea - demanding it surrender its nuclear and missile programmes.  

Pyongyang has baulked at the demand saying it needs a functioning "state nuclear force" to prevent "invasion and plunder" by the United States, which has 28,500 troops stationed in neighbouring South Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War.

"The gang of Trump … is driving the situation on the Korean Peninsula more and more close to the brink of war, acting recklessly without any sense of reason," the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said in a Thursday report. "A naval blockade is an act of wanton violation of the sovereignty and dignity of an independent state, and an act of war of aggression which cannot be tolerated."

Heh, now what could possibly go wrong with this?

The UAE Is Paying Ex-CIA Officers to Build a Spy Empire in the Gulf

Not far from the northeastern Zayed Port in Abu Dhabi, in a typical modern Gulf villa framed on one side by an elegant swimming pool, Westerners are teaching Emiratis the tools of modern spycraft. ...

The Emirati recruits [train at a] site about 30 minutes outside downtown Abu Dhabi called “The Academy” — complete with gun ranges, barracks, and driving courses — reminiscent of the CIA’s “Farm” at Camp Peary, a training facility located in southeastern Virginia. The details of the training are contained in an official course schedule reviewed by Foreign Policy and were described by former U.S. intelligence officials who have been involved in the effort. The facilities and courses are part of the United Arab Emirates’ nascent efforts to create a professional intelligence cadre modeled after the West’s.

Former CIA and government officials were drawn to the Gulf nation by the promise of interesting work and, perhaps even more importantly, lucrative careers. “The money was fantastic,” one former employee told FP. “It was $1,000 a day — you could live in a villa or in a five-star hotel in Abu Dhabi.”

The key figure behind this growing intelligence training operation, according to multiple sources, is Larry Sanchez, a former intelligence officer who helped kickstart a controversial partnership between the CIA and the New York Police Department that tried to pre-empt the radicalization of potential terrorists by tracking people — many of them Muslims — in mosques, bookstores, and other places around New York. Sanchez, a veteran of the CIA clandestine services, has been working for the crown prince of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates for the past six years to build large pieces of its intelligence services from the ground up, six sources with knowledge of the matter tell FP.

But Sanchez is just one of many former Western security professionals who has made his way to the Gulf nation to provide security training. Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater, famously moved to the UAE to create a battalion of foreign troops serving the crown prince, details of which were first revealed by the New York Times in 2011. And Richard Clarke, the former White House counterterrorism czar, is also a longtime top advisor to the crown prince of Abu Dhabi as the CEO of Good Harbor Security Risk Management.

Rashid Khalidi: U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital Means It Cannot Be a Peace Broker

Mahmoud Abbas calls on France to step up as he rejects US as peace broker

The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, has said that he would “no longer accept” any peace plan proposed by the United States, instead calling on France and Europe to play a stronger role in peace efforts between Israel and the Palestinians.

His comments on Friday came after the UN general assembly voted overwhelmingly to denounce Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, largely ignoring Trump’s threats to cut off aid to any country that went against him.

One Palestinian man was killed and another four were wounded on Friday, during renewed protests over Trump’s Jerusalem announcement.

Washington’s unilateral change of policy on Jerusalem continues to reverberate in the Middle East and European diplomats are pessimistic about the Trump administration’s peace plan which is being prepared behind closed doors and will be presented to both sides in 2018.

“The United States has proven to be a dishonest mediator in the peace process and we will no longer accept any plan from it,” Abbas told a joint press conference with the French president, Emmanuel Macron.

Catalan Separatists Win Slim Electoral Majority Despite Jailing & Exile of Pro-Independence Leaders

Spanish PM defends handling of Catalan crisis after election blow

Spain’s prime minister has defended his handling of the Catalan crisis after the snap election he called in an attempt to settle the secessionist challenge resulted in pro-independence parties holding on to their absolute majority in parliament. Speaking the day after the three Catalan separatist parties won a total of 70 seats in the 135-seat regional parliament, Mariano Rajoy stood by his strategy of taking control of the region in response to an illegal independence referendum and subsequent declaration of independence.

Asked whether he accepted responsibility for the disastrous poll showing of his conservative People’s party, whose presence in the Catalan parliament was reduced from 11 seats to three, Rajoy replied: “The prime minister accepts responsibility for anything that happens to the People’s party, just as all members of the People’s party across Spain do.” He shrugged off suggestions that his use of article 155 of the Spanish constitution to suspend Catalan autonomy had proved costly and counterproductive. ...

“The negative thing about these results, from my point of view, is that those of us who wanted change haven’t won enough seats to bring that to a successful conclusion,” he said at a press conference in Madrid. He said the separatist bloc had lost two seats since the last regional election and had taken a combined 47.6% of the vote, and thus could not claim to represent all Catalans.

He said the Spanish government would be prepared to collaborate with any Catalan government that observed the law and worked to restore stability, security and social harmony to the region. “Without respect for the law, and without a responsible Catalan government that respects it, it won’t be possible to guarantee security and certainty,” he said.

Earlier on Friday, Puigdemont, who fled to Brussels at the end of October, said he was ready to meet Rajoy to find a way out of the crisis, but stipulated that the meeting could not take place in Spain, where he faces arrest on possible charges of sedition, rebellion and misuse of public funds. ... Rajoy gave short shrift to Puigdemont’s offer, pointedly saying the leader he should meet was Inés Arrimadas, of the Catalan Citizens party, which won 37 seats and 25.4% of the vote. Madrid’s direct rule over Catalonia is due to expire when a new Catalan government is formed. Pressed on whether article 155 could be used if the next regional administration pushed on with a unilateral quest for independence, Rajoy said he would not focus on the “worst possible situation” but added that the law had to be obeyed.

US Pressure Led to Massacre of Colombian Farmers

Heh, now there's a giant surprise. Oh lookee, the State Department post-Hillary still can't quit loving the fascist dictatorships "Her" helped put into place.

US recognizes re-election of Honduras president despite fraud allegations

The United States has recognized the re-election of Honduran president Juan Orlando Hernández, despite widespread allegations of fraud in last month’s election and calls from the Organization of American States (OAS) and US Congress to hold a new vote.

The state department issued a statement on Friday congratulating Hernández on his victory, but also urged the country’s electoral commission to fully review any challenges to the results.

“The close election results, irregularities identified by the OAS and the EU election observation missions, and strong reactions from Hondurans across the political spectrum underscore the need for a robust national dialogue. A significant long-term effort to heal the political divide in the country and enact much-needed electoral reforms should be undertaken,” said spokesperson Heather Nauert.

Nauert also urged “all sides” to refrain from violence amid unrest that has claimed at least 17 lives – most of whom were protesters killed by security forces.

Armed by Israel, Honduras’s illegitimate regime returns the favor at the U.N.

Once again, Israel is supporting a repressive regime in the Global South, this time in the poor Central American nation of Honduras — and Israeli activists are protesting vigorously.

Just after the November 26 election in Honduras, the results started to show a commanding margin for the pro-democracy opposition — until the vote-tabulating computers mysteriously went down. Many days later, the incumbent president, Juan Orlando Hernandez, had miraculously gained the lead, and Hondurans poured into the streets in nationwide peaceful demonstrations against the obvious theft. ...

Israel hides its arms exports. But last year, the Honduras regime revealed that it had bought $209 million worth of weapons from Israel, including surveillance drones for the army.

Honduras just repaid Tel Aviv for the weapons sale — by casting one of the only 9 votes against the United Nations resolution condemning the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Stoked! Journalist Alexei Wood & First J20 Defendants Found “Not Guilty” as 188 Still Face Trial

More details on the acquittal of the J20 defendants:

Jury Acquits First Six J20 Defendants, Rebuking Government’s Push for Collective Punishment

... Although the jury had lots of careful discussion over the past three days, a juror who only gave his name as Steve told the media collective Unicorn Riot it was not ultimately a close call. “The prosecution admitted the morning of day one that they would present no evidence that any of the defendants committed any acts of violence or vandalism,” Steve said. “From that point, before the defense ever uttered a sound, it was clear to me that ultimately we would find everyone not guilty.”

The jury’s decision heartened those still facing charges — even as they steeled themselves for more battles ahead. “I think most defendants are feeling vindicated right now,” said one defendant who, still facing charges, asked for anonymity to speak frankly. “What’s frustrating is it took these acquittals to prove to everybody the abuses we’ve endured for a year. From the moment of Trump’s inauguration, we were tortured by police, terrorized by the prosecutors, stalked by the ‘alt-right,’ vilified in the press and alienated from friends and family.” ...

At every step of this prosecution, critics have said, the government has relied on undermining core principles of the American justice system that posit individualized suspicion and individualized punishment. Instead of identifying and arresting the handful of individuals breaking windows, the police indiscriminately arrested a crowd. Instead of individually charging those who engaged in criminal behavior, the state charged some 212 people — holding the entire group responsible for the acts committed by a select few. Yet liberal jurisprudence is supposed to hold as a fundamental value that individuals are responsible for their own concerted acts.

If the prosecution’s theory of the case had prevailed, it would have signaled that anyone who attends a protest at which criminal behavior takes place can be held responsible for that behavior — even if they did nothing but express their beliefs. The acquittal is a vindication of the defendants’ decision to fight the charges as a group and refuse to submit to pleas, which by acknowledging guilt, undermine the message that these charges were politically motivated and unjust from the start.

Beauregard rides again:

Jeff Sessions gives OK for towns like Ferguson to hit the poor with heavy fines

President Trump’s Justice Department took another civil rights U-turn Thursday rescinding a 2016 guideline that advised courts against slapping poor people with unnecessary, hefty fines and fees. ...

The fines and fees guidance, put in place in March 2016 by Vanita Gupta, former head of the Justice Department Civil Rights Division, and Lisa Foster, former director of the Office for Access to Justice, was meant to prevent municipalities from issuing tickets and excessive fees to raise city revenue. The guidance to courts in all 50 states came one year after the Justice Department published its scathing investigation into fines and fees abuse in Ferguson, Missouri. That report found a "pattern and practice" of city officials repeatedly targeting black people with tickets for small infractions like jaywalking, and then ratcheting up the fees for partial payment or non payment.

Congress passes short-term spending bill to avert government shutdown

Congress has averted a shutdown of the federal government, narrowly passing a temporary spending bill that will now go to Donald Trump to sign but that will only delay the reckoning for a month and will kick contentious issues such as immigration and healthcare into the new year.

Congress had until midnight on Friday to pass a “continuing resolution” to keep government operations running. The House bill passed by 231-188 and the Senate shortly afterwards by 66-32. The concerted Republican effort will push the deadline back by funding the government through 19 January.

The bill passed mostly on party lines with only 13 Democrats in the House voting to fund the government and only 16 Republicans voting against the resolution. In the Senate, the 60-vote threshold was just passed with the help of Democrats in more conservative states. ...

The spending bill unveiled by House Republicans on Thursday includes a short-term reauthorization of the children’s health insurance program, which provides free or low-cost healthcare to roughly 9 million children annually. It also funds a program that enables veterans to receive healthcare services from community providers rather than within the confines of the Veterans Affairs system.

The bill does not, however, address the future of Barack Obama’s healthcare law. Republicans undermined the Affordable Care Act this week by repealing the law’s individual mandate, which required Americans to purchase health insurance or pay a penalty, as part of their tax plan.

“Undocumented Youth Are Not Bargaining Chips,” Say Dreamers Arrested on Capitol Hill

Thirty-year-old [Erika] Andiola made national headlines when she was arrested on Capitol Hill last Friday along with a group of Dreamers, undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as minors who won protections under an Obama-era program rescinded by President Donald Trump. Capitol Police arrested the seven Dreamers, and one ally, after they staged a sit-in outside the offices of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla. Andiola and her fellow protestors were on a hunger strike while in jail, and her Facebook post about being detained went viral over the weekend.

The group was demanding that Schumer and Curbelo vote against a must-pass federal spending bill unless it contains a measure known as the DREAM Act, which would bring protections for Dreamers, without any compromises on harsher immigration policies. “Our lives are at stake,” said Andiola, a former presidential campaign staffer for Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., in an interview with The Intercept minutes after she left the jail. “Undocumented youth are not bargaining chips.”

In a sign of intra-party tension on the issue, more than a dozen members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus followed the Dreamers’ lead and stormed Schumer’s office Thursday afternoon before demanding answers for the delay on measure addressing the Dreamers. Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., told Bloomberg that Schumer had agreed more Senate democrats should vote down the bill but said he feared the party being blamed for a government shutdown. “We were very clear: Don’t throw our dreamers under the bus,” Rep. Luis Gutiérrez, D-Ill., said after the meeting.

On Thursday evening, a day after the Dreamer activists were released, Congress passed a temporary stopgap spending bill to avoid a government shutdown. The bill merely extends government funding until Jan. 19 and did not include any measures on the Dreamers. Schumer and Curbelo kept their word by voting against the bill, but reports circulated Thursday evening indicating that Schumer had failed to whip his caucus against the bill. Seventeen Democrats voted for the bill in the Senate, allowing the measure to pass without any fix for the Dreamers.

Mick Mulvaney Tells CFPB Staff He’s Bringing Six Trump Loyalists On Board

Mick Mulvaney, whose ability to direct the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is still an open legal question, told the agency Thursday afternoon that he plans to bring in six loyalists from the Trump administration, according to agency sources, as well as a review of a memo Mulvaney circulated. ...

President Donald Trump named Mulvaney as acting director of the CFPB despite the succession plan set up by Congress, which would have the deputy director assume the duties in the case of a vacancy. Leandra English, who was deputy under former CFPB Director Richard Cordray, has challenged Trump’s appointment in court. Mulvaney’s proposal earlier this month to embed political staffers throughout the agency was met with an uproar.

The president won the first round of the legal battle, but the case remains pending, and Trump’s continuing takeover of the agency leaves little room to continue to call it independent. ...

It’s doubtful that major banks would look so favorably on a future Democratic president — say, CFPB founder Elizabeth Warren — weighing in publicly on matters before the powerful agency or installing a Cabinet member as acting director. But the precedent is now set, at least until the courts weigh in.



the horse race



'Holiday Gift to Trump': Federal Judge Dismisses Emoluments Suit Against President

A watchdog group is vowing to press forward after a federal on Thursday dismissed its lawsuit against President Donald for allegedly violating the Constitution's emoluments clause.

Manhattan-based Judge George Daniels said the plaintiffs lack the necessary legal standing.

The suit was led by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which called the ruling "a setback" but said it would "not walk away from this serious and ongoing constitutional violation."

Deepak Gupta, one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs, said, "We respectfully disagree with the district court's decision. There is no question that there will be an appeal, and our legal team is in the process of exploring our next steps."

CREW argued (pdf) that Trump's "business interests are creating countless conflicts of interest, as well as unprecedented influence by foreign governments." The suit singled out:

a) leases held by foreign-government-owned entities in New York's Trump Tower; (b) room reservations and the use of venues and other services and goods by foreign governments and diplomats at Defendant's Washington, D.C. hotel; (c) hotel stays, property leases, and other business transactions tied to foreign governments at other domestic and international establishments owned, operated, or licensed by Defendant; (d) payments from foreign-government-owned broadcasters related to rebroadcasts and foreign versions of the television program "The Apprentice" and its spinoffs; and (e) property interests or other business dealings tied to foreign governments in numerous other countries.

Judge Daniels, however, ruled against CREW's argument that the group had been harmed by Trump's actions, and wrote, "As the only political branch with the power to consent to violations of the Foreign Emoluments Clause, Congress is the appropriate body to determine whether, and to what extent, Defendant's conduct unlawfully infringes on that power."



the evening greens


Humidity will make some parts of the world unlivable in 50 years

Some say the world will end in fire, others say ice — but it’s the humidity that’ll do us in, according to a new study.

As the earth warms, temperatures and seas aren’t all that will rise. Very humid days will occur at about double the rate of high-temperature days alone, according to researchers at Columbia University’s Earth Institute in a study published Friday. That, they think, will make parts of the Earth essentially uninhabitable for at least part of the year.

It’s often been suggested (or, at least, hoped) that no matter how much the climate warms, that humans might be able to adapt. But there’s a hard upper limit on that: If the “wet-bulb temperature” — measured by wrapping the bulb of a thermometer in a wet cloth and taking the temperature of the air — exceeds 95 degrees Fahrenheit (or, 35ºC), humans are pretty much toast. It might seem like an odd way to measure the upper limit of human survivability, but that’s the simplest way to measure how much a human body could theoretically cool itself, assuming a perfectly healthy body. “You rapidly approach a situation where it’s thermodynamically impossible to keep your body cool,” Radley Horton, an associate research professor at Columbia University’s Earth Institute and the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, a co-author of the study, told VICE News.

As humidity increases, so does the wet-bulb temperature. Because we never hit a wet-bulb temperature of 95 degrees Fahrenheit in today’s climate, it’s hard to say what the societal effects would be. But wet-bulb temperatures between 84 degrees and 88 degrees Fahrenheit (29–31ºC) have been responsible for tens of thousands of deaths around the world. A wet-bulb temperature of 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30ºC) was recorded during a heat wave in 2015 in the southeastern coastal Indian state of Andhra Pradesh that killed at least 2,500 people.

UN poised to move ahead with landmark treaty to protect high seas

The world’s oceans are set for a long overdue boost in the coming days as the United Nations votes for the first time on a planned treaty to protect and regulate the high seas. The waters outside national maritime boundaries – which cover half of the planet’s surface – are currently a free-for-all that has led to devastating overfishing and pollution. But after more than five years of negotiations, UN members are poised to agree to draw up a new rulebook by 2020, which could establish conservation areas, catch quotas and scientific monitoring.

“This is the biggest opportunity to change the status quo we have ever had,” said Will McCallum, the head of oceans at Greenpeace. “It could change everything.” A debate on whether to move ahead with a High Seas Treaty has been tabled before the end of the year at the UN headquarters in New York. The motion is supported by 140 nations, which is more than the two-thirds needed for passage.

“This is great news. This vote could open the way to create a Paris Agreement for the ocean,” said Maria Damanaki, a former European Union Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries who is now working for The Nature Conservancy. “This could be the most important step I have seen in my 30 years working on oceans.” Only 3.5% of the world’s oceans are currently protected. The remainder is increasingly over-exploited and contaminated by pollution, fishing and seabed mining. “There are multiple stressors and they are all getting worse,” said Damaki. ...

If the vote passes as expected, the UN will host four meetings over the next two years to draft the treaty. Ocean activists hope this will lift the subject to the same level as climate and land biodiversity and ultimately result in a legally binding set of regulations. But the scale and scope of a treaty is not yet decided. There are also doubts about how effective it will be given the difficulties of enforcement, which will rely on national governments.

Norwegian herder ordered to put down dozens of reindeer in controversial cull

Days before Rudolph and his team set off with Santa’s sleigh on their annual round-the-world dash, a Norwegian reindeer herder has been ordered to put down dozens of their real-life relatives in a controversial cull.

The supreme court in Oslo rejected an appeal by Jovsset Ante Sara, a small reindeer herder from the indigenous Sami community in the Norwegian Arctic, ruling he must comply with an earlier order to cull 41 of his 116-strong herd. Sara, who had twice successfully challenged the order, argued he would be unable to sustain himself and his family with such a small number of reindeer and that the government’s herd reduction policy was an infringement of indigenous rights.

The ministry of agriculture and food has vigorously defended its policy, saying it is necessary to prevent Norway’s estimated 220,000 reindeer overgrazing the fragile tundra landscape of the country’s high north. The court said the order did not violate Sara’s rights, ruling in a majority decision that the reduction policy was “in the interests of the whole reindeer husbandry industry” and regulation was “reasonable and objectively justifiable”.

But Sara’s lawyer, Trond Pedersen Biti, said the ruling did not take the rights of the Sami people into account. “It shows the court does not believe the Sami people can decide on their own destiny,” he said. “The government seems to believe that the reindeer herders do not know best,” Biti said, adding that his client was “obviously disappointed” but had no intention of abandoning his claim and would take it to the European court of human rights.

The case, which has been running since 2014, has become something of a cause célèbre in Norway, setting indigenous and ancestral rights against broader environmental rights and the importance of ecological biodiversity.


Also of Interest

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

Intel Vets Tell Trump Iran Is Not Top Terror Sponsor

Trump Botches It On Iran. Again.

When Washington Assured Russia NATO Would Not Expand

Snowden’s New App Uses Your Smartphone To Physically Guard Your Laptop

New Study Evaluates Climate Models — Best Ones Also Show the Most Global Warming

New highways in remote Amazon risk ‘ethnocide’, say Peruvians


A Little Night Music

Mac Rebennack - Storm Warning

Mac Rebennack - Sahara

Dave "Baby" Cortez - Hurricane

Dave "Baby" Cortez - Hot Cakes

Dave "Baby" Cortez - Gettin' To The Point

Imps - Uh Oh

The Nightmares - GreyHound

Harvey Fuqua - Any Way You Wanta

Johnny & Jackey - Someday We'll Be Together (Original version)

Al Simmons - Old Folks Boogie

Aaron Neville - Over You

Johnny and the Hurricanes - Red River Rock

The Shadows - Apache

Link Wray - Commanche


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orlbucfan's picture

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Inner and Outer Space: the Final Frontiers.

joe shikspack's picture

@orlbucfan

thanks, have a great weekend/holiday!

oh, btw, i forgot to mention elsewhere, mac rebennack is also known as dr. john.

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QMS's picture

@joe shikspack in NOLA...throw me somethin' mista !

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orlbucfan's picture

@joe shikspack @joe shikspack been major Dr. John/Mac Rebennack freaks for decades. Plus, had the great honor of seeing him live.

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Inner and Outer Space: the Final Frontiers.

smallaxe's picture

@joe shikspack
That clarifies what my ears were telling me!

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OLinda's picture

Funny, I'm retired, but I still like Fridays!

Thank you for the news and blues, joe. What is your holiday schedule? I assume there will be no blues on Monday. ? Merry Christmas to you and all Bluesters! Or, Happy Holidays if you prefer. Just be Merry and Happy.

We are in a cold snap here west of Denver. Super cold evenings and overnight, under 20 degrees, some nights a lot under. A few days around 40, but mostly lower in the forecast for the next week. A little snow. I probably won't go out to get something special for Christmas dinner. I do have food on hand though, so it will be okay, just not Christmasy food or special.

I really hibernate when the weather turns cold.

Hope everyone has a warm and cozy holiday.

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- - - -
If you don't like the Mafia, why don't you join it and change it from the inside?

joe shikspack's picture

@OLinda

howdy! i plan to put up a music only eb monday and probably tuesday as well. news will return by midweek if not sooner.

it's moderately chilly here now, but far from as bad as it could be. i hope that you stay warm and toasty out there in denver.

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QMS's picture

Old Folks Boogie sounds like con-temporaries

Any Way You Wanta, Uh Oh, making any sense? Gettin' To The Point, Storm Warning--

The United States has proven to be a dishonest mediator in the peace process

a deadly diversion from issues that ought to matter

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joe shikspack's picture

@QMS

heh, the conflation of the music and the news was unplanned, but i see how you got there. Smile

have a great weekend/holiday!

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enhydra lutris's picture

and some I never expected to hear again unless I dug it up off of old tapes of mine (Red River Rock). Thanks tons.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

joe shikspack's picture

@enhydra lutris

oftentimes i run across stuff on youtube that begs to be heard, but it doesn't fit into something that i'm currently working on. i have been thinking about writing them down and when i get enough of them, just putting them out as i did today. it could work.

anyway, glad you liked it, have a great weekend/holiday!

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enhydra lutris's picture

@joe shikspack
that there was a period there with a ton of instrumentals, Reveille Rock, Red River Rock, Happy Organ maybe was in there, Bongo Rock, and more, but maybe I'm conflating various periods. Happy weekend and happy holidays.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

Meteor Man's picture

Very disappointed in The Guardian and milquetoast NPR going full McCarthyite. First time I ever heard of NPR going to extreme. Maybe their funding is being threatened. I also read that the British media is accusing Jeremy Corbyn of being under the influence of Russia.
Hedges is always a breath of fresh air.

Thanks for the tunes js. Especially Max Rebennac. Using a different name was probably a good move.

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"They'll say we're disturbing the peace, but there is no peace. What really bothers them is that we are disturbing the war." Howard Zinn

joe shikspack's picture

@Meteor Man

sadly, the guardian has been somewhat spotty for a while now. it used to be a great, progressive paper, but it's been declining in reliability for a few years now. i parted ways with npr as a news source during occupy when their coverage was beyond poor, and rarely reflected the reality in front of me.

have a great weekend/holiday!

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Raggedy Ann's picture

I'm so happy to be off. I hope to be semi-retired this time next year. We'll see what the world has in store.

We're experiencing a cold front like Olinda. It will be zero or below by the evening of the 24th.

A happy season to all. Thanks for all you do, joe!

Have a beautiful evening and weekend, everyone! Pleasantry

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"The “jumpers” reminded us that one day we will all face only one choice and that is how we will die, not how we will live." Chris Hedges on 9/11

joe shikspack's picture

@Raggedy Ann

glad that you made it to the school break, ra. i hope that your plans for semi-retirement work out well and liberate you from the stuff that you've grown out of.

stay warm and have a wonderful weekend/holiday!

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mimi's picture

... would not expand". I started wandering around and read a lot of articles about what happened in 1989-1990 with regards to those assurances, as I also remember that once I was asked to search for visuals (video clips - not online ones but real video material made for TV broadcasting) about it and had a very hard time to find them. Anyhow wandering through the articles I ended up reading this one:
NATO Expansion: What Gorbachev Heard
and this older one
Did the West Break Its Promise to Moscow?
and then somehow landed on this one:
NukeWatch
And on this page there is a chart, which caught my eyes. It shows the reduction of the nuclear weapons stockpiles per president.
stockpile-changes-by-presidents.jpg
"It's a funny thing: the administrations that talk the most about reducing nuclear weapons tend to reduce the least."

I thought that is around the same as the promise to not expand NATO to the east way back. The more you promise it the less it happens. May be I find a chart under which US president the NATO had expanded the most towards the East.

Good Night.

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mimi

QMS's picture

@mimi we need to wake up to the broken promises of the "good guys" aka US. Links like yours help lift that veil. Good yule to ya'.

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joe shikspack's picture

@mimi

glad that you read that article. andrew bacevich is an excellent writer with a really good grip on u.s. diplomacy and military policy.

heh, perhaps gorbachev should have checked with native americans before accepting the word of the u.s. government about territorial encroachments.

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snoopydawg's picture

@joe shikspack

This is why Putin interfered with the election. The US interfered with Russia's election and they had to put up with Gorbachev. As they say, pay back is a bitch Smile

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

Azazello's picture

@mimi
I watched that DW documentary on Russia's empire. I thought it was OK and much more balanced than you might expect coming from a "western" news organization. It kind of fell apart in the fourth hour though, no mention of Saudi meddling in Chechnya or US meddling in Kiev. Still, it was worth a look.

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We wanted decent healthcare, a living wage and free college.
The Democrats gave us Biden and war instead.

mimi's picture

@Azazello
may be during our German two legal Christmas holidays 25th and 26th....2018?

What's your secret? How can you read so much? I am thinking right now about "What would Jesus say"?

Jesus ... that's a hard one. I will post the question. And you can try to answer.

See you the day after ... Christmas.

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mimi

lotlizard's picture

@mimi  

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Thanks as usual for the news and music. Woke up this morning to an unexpected snowfall of about 1 inch at our place. The coverage was spotty throughout the city and much had melted by afternoon but was still a breezy 36 outside! Have a Happy Holiday weekend.

Hope the good news for the first of the protesters continues for the rest of them. Was really glad to read this.

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Life is what you make it, so make it something worthwhile.

This ain't no dress rehearsal!

joe shikspack's picture

@jakkalbessie

we're supposed to possibly get a little snow that turns to rain xmas day, but i think it's more likely that we'll just get rain and slush mixed.

i am delighted that the government was trounced so decisively by the first jury that they ran their unusual theory of collective guilt before. it would be nice if they would just give up now, but i suspect that they will keep trying for a sympathetic jury. i hope that future juries find their theory just as repellent.

have a wonderful weekend/holiday!

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divineorder's picture

We flew in and out of Helsinki when I was involved with the Citizen 'Track II" Diplomacy efforts in the 80's. The harbor froze over back then to the point could drive tractor trailers on it. Not sure that happens today.

Cool people, living like they did for decades next to the former USSR and still ended up with one of the best societies around.

Wondering what the #TaxScam will do to US alternative energy interests?

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A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

joe shikspack's picture

@divineorder

no, i've never been to finland, but i've always wanted to go. anyplace that could be the birthplace of the leningrad cowboys has got to be great. Smile

thanks for the renewables info!

have a great weekend/holiday!

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snoopydawg's picture

this country has turned full bore for fascism and has completely been derailed by our government? We have the UN stating that the US is going to become a third world country when the republicans' tax bill takes full effect. The cuts to social security, Medicare, Medicaid and the other social programs will lead to deaths for thousands of Americans.

The assaults on our civil liberties have been accelerated in the last decade when protesters were met with the militarized police forces and we saw them attacking the people that they swore to protect. Starting with the OWS protests we saw the police becoming more brutal each time there was a new protest. The forces against the BLM protesters paled in comparison to the DAPL protesters and now there are close to 200 people on trial for just being in the vicinity of the J20 protests. Good on that juror who saw through what the prosecution was trying to do.

The people who Trump put in the agencies that were created to protect us are rolling back every action that has happened since the 60's where Trump is saying that is where he wants to take this country. The EPA is dismantling regulations for clean air, water and the other restrictions put in place after cities were clogged with air pollution and rivers could burn because corporations could dump whatever they liked in them.

The weak bank regulations that were created after the global economic crisis are also being repealed by this administration and congress. Both parties are just as complicit in what is happening.

Finally, does this action remind you of another country doing things like this?

'Beyond the Pale': Outcry as Trump Administration Considers Separating Immigrant Families at Border

Families have generally been allowed to stay together in family detention centers under the current policy. The new proposal would see parents sent to adult facilities after being apprehended at the border while their children would be sent to juvenile shelters.

Undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. would also be singled out for deportation if they attempt to retrieve their children from detention centers, under the new rules.

What is the difference between the men and women who work for ICE who will continue to work for the department when they are ordered to separate parents and children to be put in separate detention centers and the men who worked in Hitler's agencies who did this same thing with Jewish families? I don't see any difference at all.

How many people are going to die if Trump blocks North Korea? There are already heavy sanctions against it now and we know that sanctions never affect government officials, just people who have no say in what their government does. 500,000 Iraqi children died from our sanctions while Saddam still lived in luxurious palaces and dined on fine foods. We're helping starve millions of people in Yemen and for what? What can possibly warrant this type of action? Nothing. Yet the leaders of other countries have stayed silent about this. The liberation of Mosul cost 9,000 people their lives and the comments on that article here were full of "That's what happens in wars. There will always be some casualties during them." I have already been banned from this website because I can't hold my tongue. The stupidity and arrogance of some people in this country is staggering.

There is more disgusting news on this website about all the things that this administration is doing on the orders of the Koch brothers and their friends.

When will other countries decide to get off destroying the planet so a few hundred people can make even more obscene amounts of money on the lives of people who live on natural resources? Is there a limit to their greed and sociopathic behavior? If not, there should be!

Yes this is a rant. No I don't feel better after it.

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

QMS's picture

@snoopydawg it is not that your opinion is not shared by the majority of the human population of this planet, our voices are squelched before a crescendo is heard, imo. Keep on keeping on to overcome the silence.

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divineorder's picture

@snoopydawg

The following article includes quotes from Chinese leaders.

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A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

joe shikspack's picture

@snoopydawg

it is just getting worse and worse. it is not your imagination. others see it, too.

let's cut to the chase:

Is there a limit to their greed and sociopathic behavior?

yes and no.

there is no internal limit that has been exhibited by that group of people.

however, that group of people is very similar to groups that have existed throughout history in other countries and cultures.

external limits have been found; possibly the most humane of them was the guillotine.

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Creosote.'s picture

@snoopydawg -- your strong, deeply informed posts always help me think more clearly. And as an old person with a humanities background I am starving for coherent analysis of what we are facing.
I send you and all of us as many rays of light and sanity in the New Year as we can find a way to build and preserve.

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lotlizard's picture

@snoopydawg  
https://duckduckgo.com/?q=children+detention+israel&t=ffsb&ia=web

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snoopydawg's picture

@Creosote.

I hope that you will have a good holiday season too and that we all can find a way to stop the madness that's happening everywhere. There is nothing that justifies this violence and killing of innocent civilians for whatever reason. I wish I had been able to ask the community if they would feel the same way if it was our country that was being attacked for no fault of our own.

@lotlizard

How utterly horrible for the Palestinian children and the whole population to have to live under those conditions. Especially when they are being done by another population whose ancestors had been treated just as heinously. This is another thing I can not understand. The commentary I read on Jewish websites is the same as what I read on my local one. When did it happen that so many people lost their humanity and compassion for others? We have seen so many genocidal actions during our lifetime and it just keeps on happening. What do all those deaths accomplish?

Unlike Israeli children living in illegal settlements in the West Bank, Palestinian children are not accompanied by a parent and are generally interrogated without the benefit of legal advice, or being informed of their right to silence. They are overwhelmingly accused of throwing stones, an offense that can lead to a potential maximum sentence of 10 to 20 years depending on a child’s age.

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

divineorder's picture

been in Congress re: Continuing Resolution ?? Seems like the Republicans got electoral punishing for shutting the government down one time.

Dems may get some as well for the ones who did not vote against.

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2017/12/22/pathetic-democratic-leaders...

All in all, 18 Democrats in the Senate and 14 in the House voted with Republicans to pass a short-term stopgap measure that keeps the government funded through January 19.

But the ire of immigrant rights activists—who made their voices heard in the Capitol building ahead of Thursday's vote with sit-ins and mass demonstrations—was trained less on rank-and-file members and more on the Democratic Party leadership, who they argue failed to listen to the grassroots and punted on an issue that requires immediate action.

FWIW I probably would have voted against.

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A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

joe shikspack's picture

@divineorder

if maybe it wouldn't be better to shut it down and keep it shut down. surely, once it is dead, we can create something better.

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Raggedy Ann's picture

@joe shikspack
with your comment. A thousand recs!

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"The “jumpers” reminded us that one day we will all face only one choice and that is how we will die, not how we will live." Chris Hedges on 9/11

snoopydawg's picture

@divineorder

I placed in my essay about how DACA was eliminated? She went on quite a rant about it not passing, but failed to mention that 14 democrats voted against it or for its exclusion.

Pelosi had been saying for months that this was the issue she would shut down the government on and yet she folded once again. I didn't make this clear last night, early this morning, but that's the gist of my essay was supposed to be.

Fwiw, I would have done the same as you.

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

Azazello's picture

Twenty-five cents for the beer.
Fifteen cents for the morphine that's gonna' take me away from here.
That's Soldier's Joy, my friends, Soldier's Joy.
Great interview with Dr. Jill on truthdig, so glad I voted for her.
Looks like winter has come and gone here in Baja Az. We had 29 for a low last night, we'll have 34 tonight, but the "cold" is going away. A high of 75 is predicted for Christmas day. Weather people are saying that 2017 will be the warmest year in recorded history, hotter than the previous warmest years of 2016 and 2014.

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We wanted decent healthcare, a living wage and free college.
The Democrats gave us Biden and war instead.

joe shikspack's picture

@Azazello

yep, i hope that jill creates some memorable moments for the idiot congressworms that have called her to testify. i'm glad to have voted for her a couple of times.

have a great weekend/holiday whatever season it decides to be.

thanks for reminding me of my favorite bluegrass guitarist ever, clarence white:

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smiley7's picture

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joe shikspack's picture

@smiley7

have the best one of those ever!

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Unabashed Liberal's picture

to thank you for tonight's EB! We're packing now--gonna delay traveling until late, late Saturday, or really, Sunday a.m., due to rain and massive flooding. Don't like it, but driving conditions would be too risky to travel now. It's beginning to get really dicey taking 'the B' out--there's only a very small strip of an acre, that we can even walk on. And it's continuing to shrink! Sad

Anyhoo, after next week, hope to do a 'Transcript Tuesday' and 'Fake News Friday' blurb from time to time. I'll be trying out an avatar or two this evening to see which ones I like best. Lately, feel rather badly that I'm mostly showing up with 'mindless banter'--or, with nothing substantial to add to the discussion relating to (entitlement) policies/legislation.

Small Fake News Avatar.png

Your holiday plans sound like ours--mostly quiet, spending time with Family. Safe travels to all who'll be on the road. Mr M just got back in town, and said the Interstates he was on were a madhouse. Of course, most folks will likely be where they're going, by time we're on the road--thank goodness!

Everyone have a nice and safe long holiday weekend!

Bye

Mollie


"Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage."--Lao Tzu
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Everyone thinks they have the best dog, and none of them are wrong.

joe shikspack's picture

@Unabashed Liberal

safe travels! i hope that the weather eases up on you.

as usual, give the b a scritch for me. have a great weekend/holiday!

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about people.
What a disgrace she is being disparaged.
Peru, the road...
That made me want to cry.
A guide in Kenya listened to American tourists in the van gripe about dirt roads, no highways.
He said, "When the roads come, the animals die."
"Apache" makes me feel like a kid again.
I will listen to that at least once more tonight.
As defense attorney, the "not guilty" verdicts give me a major boost in morale, and faith in jurors.
I am stoked.

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joe shikspack's picture

@on the cusp

it's interesting to pay attention to who it is that is creating the frenzy about jill stein. i saw a couple of twitter threads that ms shikspack shared with me that looked like troll storms. it had the smell of orchestration.

anyway, have a wonderful weekend/holiday!

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