The Evening Blues - 12-27-19


The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: Earl Hooker

Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features Chicago blues guitarist Earl Hooker. Enjoy!

Earl Hooker Trio - Blue Guitar Blues

“The evil that is in the world comes out of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence, if they lack understanding. One the whole, men are more good than bad; that, however, isn't the real point. But they are more or less ignorant, and it is this that we call vice or virtue; the most incorrigible vice being that of an ignorance that fancies it knows everything and therefore claims for itself the right to kill.”

-- Albert Camus

News and Opinion

Excellent, worth a full read:

WaPo’s Afghan Papers Propagate Colonial Narrative of Noble Intentions Gone Awry

The Afghanistan Papers should also be considered an excellent case study of contemporary colonial propaganda, and yet another example of corporate media criticizing US wars without opposing US imperialism. Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky’s famous analysis of media coverage of the Vietnam War, in Manufacturing Consent, found that questions of the invasion’s “tactics and costs”—to the US—dominated the debate, because the media absorbed the framework of government propaganda regarding the “necessity” of military intervention, the “righteousness of the American cause” and the US’s “nobility of intent.” Decades later, Herman and Chomsky’s propaganda model of corporate media is still a useful tool in understanding the Post’s Afghanistan Papers.

The Post advanced the centuries-old colonial narrative of the empire’s good intentions gone awry when it argued that the US “inadvertently built a corrupt, dysfunctional Afghan government,” and that this illustrated that “even some of the most well-intentioned projects could boomerang.” In fact, the Post dedicated a whole section of the Afghanistan Papers to propagating this standard colonial narrative, called “Stranded Without a Strategy,” which argued at length:

US and allied officials admitted they veered off in directions that had little to do with Al Qaeda or 9/11. By expanding the original mission, they said they adopted fatally flawed warfighting strategies based on misguided assumptions about a country they did not understand….

Diplomats and military commanders acknowledged they struggled to answer simple questions: Who is the enemy? Whom can we count on as allies? How will we know when we have won?

Their strategies differed, but Bush and Obama both committed early blunders that they never recovered from, according to the interviews.

The Post is so eager to push this colonial narrative of noble incompetence that a later report (12/11/19) on “key takeaways” from the Afghanistan Papers claimed that US officials “failed to align policy solutions with the challenges they confronted,” having “strategic drift” in place of “coherent US policy for Afghanistan.” As noted earlier, one method of discerning whether US officials are being dishonest, not incompetent, is to check whether the pretexts for invading and occupying another country are constantly changing. But the imperial utility of a cost/benefit or tactical “critique” of US wars is the implication that immoral and illegal invasions like the Afghanistan War are justifiable if the US can achieve its goals, and it enables future invasions, provided US wars are better fought next time. ...

The Washington Post’s Afghanistan Papers and trove of documents are worth reading through, but it’s also a contradictory mess containing many distortions and lies by omission. The scandal of the Afghanistan War is not that the US entered into and prolonged an “unwinnable” war; the scandal is that the US empire’s invasion of Afghanistan is a war crime in violation of international law, and has inflicted imperial violence on the Afghan people, and it would remain a scandal even if the US accomplished all of its ostensible goals. Even as the Post’s scoop exposes US officials as liars—and highlights the danger of credulously accepting their ideological framework—because they rely so heavily on those officials’ narratives, the Afghanistan Papers still manage to propagate the old colonial narrative of the empire’s good intentions thwarted by backwards foreigners.

Heh, Trump's ending the "endless wars" is revealed as just a global shell game.

Pentagon Eyes Africa Drawdown as First Step in Global Troop Shift

Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper is weighing proposals for a major reduction — or even a complete pullout — of American forces from West Africa as the first phase of reviewing global deployments that could reshuffle thousands of troops around the world, according to officials familiar with internal deliberations.

The discussions of a large-scale pullback from West Africa include abandoning a recently built $110 million drone base in Niger and ending assistance to French forces battling militants in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso. The deliberations stem from a push to reduce post-9/11 missions battling terrorist groups, and instead to refocus Pentagon priorities on confronting so-called Great Powers like Russia and China.

With an initial decision about Africa expected in January, the plans are sure to draw criticism from lawmakers, allies and military officials, and could eventually affect most global missions in some way. About 200,000 American forces are currently stationed abroad, similar to the force posture when President Trump took office with a promise to close out the nation’s “endless wars.”

But Mr. Trump is not so much ending wars as he is moving troops from one conflict to another, and Mr. Esper’s initiative aims to carry out that rebalancing. Officials say the overhaul of Africa deployments will be followed by one in Latin America, and that drawdowns will happen in Iraq and Afghanistan, as has been expected.

The initiative reflects what has become the defining priority for Mr. Esper: moving away from 18 years of counterterrorism deployments in places troubled by militancy and insurgency where thousands of American troops cycle through in an attempt to maintain minimal stability but without much prospect of definitive solutions. ... Mr. Esper’s team has questioned the value of those efforts and wants to scale back missions to counter militants who lack the demonstrated ability and intent to attack the United States on its own soil, the officials said. None of the terrorist groups operating in West Africa are said to meet this heightened assessment standard.

Top Syrian Official Says US Has 'Absolutely No Right' to Occupy or Plunder Nation's Oil Fields

Citing U.S. President Donald Trump's openly stated plan to maintain a troop presence in Syria with the sole purpose of plundering the country's oil reserves, a top Syrian government official said America has "absolutely no right" to the nation's natural resources and warned of "popular opposition and operations" against foreign occupiers.

"It is our oil," Bouthaina Shaaban, a political and media adviser to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, told NBC News in an interview Tuesday.

"He's talking about stealing it," Shaaban said of Trump. "Our land should be totally and completely liberated from foreign occupiers, whether they are terrorists, or the Turks, or the Americans."

While Americans Slept in 2019, Uprisings Reshaped Iraq, Lebanon, Sudan, and Algeria

In 2019, the Middle East was shaken by a new round of street revolts. As the year began, Abdelaziz Bouteflika had announced a fifth run for the presidency of Algeria. Then the peaceful “revolution of Smiles” broke out and by April he had resigned. ... As 2019 began, Omar al-Bashir was president of the Sudan, as he had been for 30 years. A brutal dictator implicated in genocide in Darfur he was widely considered a war criminal after an International Criminal Court ruling. By April 11, continued urban unrest and strategic rallies led by the leftist Sudanese Professionals Association and, behind the scenes, by mystical Sufi orders, had pressured the officer corps into making a coup against al-Bashir. ...

As 2019 began, Adel Abdulmahdi was prime minister of Iraq. Although voters had indicated in the 2018 election that they were fed up with the handful of parties that has dominated Iraq since the Bush era, Abdulmahdi was nevertheless chosen as PM. He came out of the pro-Iranian Islamic Supreme Council. Massive protests broke out at the beginning of October in Shiite cities like Nasiriya and in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square. The Iraqi security forces and Shiite paramilitaries replied with deadly force, killing over 500 in October, November and December. Abdulmahdi was forced to resign. ... As 2019 began, Saad Hariri was prime minister of Lebanon. On 17 October small street protests broke out against corruption, gridlock, lack of services, failure to collect garbage, lack of electricity, sectarianism and new taxes on the Whatsapp messaging program. By 18 December, Hariri had bowed out of consideration for another term as prime minister. ...

All four of these popular revolts caused a sitting prime minister or president to step down. All four demanded an end to corruption and an end to government inaction on providing jobs and infrastructure. Many wanted more and better jobs. All were nationalistic rather than fundamentalist in character. Sudan’s Association of Sudanese Journalists is a leftist organization. Algeria, Sudan, and Iraq are all oil states where the distribution of oil proceeds was closely held by the state.

All the air in American politics seems to have been sucked up by Trump and his Power Tweets, so that cable television seemed to have little energy to spare for the big developments in the world that had the potential to affect the United States. In 2011 the American public was mesmerized by the youth street revolts that overturned governments in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen, and which plunged Bahrain into a further authoritarian miasma and kicked off an 8-year civil war in Syria. Yet they showed little interest in the similar movements this year.

[Heh, do you suppose that the difference in attention has to do with the U.S. role in arranging the uprisings? The revolts of 2011 got lots of U.S. press, likely because the U.S. government's hand was behind them, while the revolts of 2019 were organic movements that the U.S. was not orchestrating and, hence, the media wurlitzer was not lending its information warfare machinery to. - js]

Challenges await Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu following his election victory as head of Likud party

Israel: Netanyahu wins landslide in battle for Likud party leadership

Benjamin Netanyahu has won a landslide victory in a primary election for leadership of the ruling Likud party in Israel.

Official results announced early on Friday showed Netanyahu capturing 72% of the votes, compared with 28% for challenger Gideon Saar. Earlier, Netanyahu had declared a huge victory following an exit poll that put him on course for more than 70% of the vote.

The prime minister, head of Likud for the past 14 years, retained the famously loyal rightwing party’s leadership in the internal ballot, despite battling three damning corruption indictments.

He claimed victory shortly before the official result. “A giant victory,” he tweeted. “Thanks to the members of Likud for the trust, support and love,” he said. “God willing, I will lead Likud to a big victory in the coming elections.”

Trump Retweets Article Outing Name of Alleged Ukraine Whistleblower

President Donald Trump late Thursday retweeted an article that names the alleged whistleblower who came forward to sound the alarm about president's conduct toward Ukraine, which ultimately led to his impeachment by the House of Representatives.

The president retweeted a post by his 2020 reelection campaign's official "War Room" account, which linked to a Washington Examiner article that uses the alleged whistleblower's name in the headline.

"I believe tonight marks the first time president trump has retweeted a tweet featuring The Name before, and that tweet came from his campaign war room," said Daily Beast reporter Asawin Suebsaeng.

Unlike the Examiner and other right-wing publications, most news outlets have declined to publish the alleged whistleblower's name amid concerns for the person's safety.

Trump has suggested behind closed doors that the people who provided the whistleblower with information should be executed. The president has also publicly demanded to "meet" the whistleblower and claimed to know the person's identity.

World's 500 Richest People Gained $1.2 Trillion in Wealth in 2019: Analysis

The 500 richest people in the world, all of whom are billionaires, gained a combined $1.2 trillion in wealth in 2019, further exacerbating inequities that have not been seen since the late 1920s.

That's according to a new Bloomberg analysis published Friday, which found that the planet's 500 richest people saw their collective net worth soar by 25 percent to $5.9 trillion over the last year.

"In the U.S., the richest 0.1 percent control a bigger share of the pie than at any time since 1929," Bloomberg noted. "The 172 American billionaires on the Bloomberg ranking added $500 billion, with Facebook Inc.'s Mark Zuckerberg up $27.3 billion and Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates [rising] $22.7 billion."

According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, eight of the 10 richest people in the world are from the U.S.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos lost nearly $9 billion in wealth in 2019, according to Bloomberg, but he will still likely end the year as the richest man in the world with a total net worth of $116 billion.

Goldman Sachs Federally-Insured Bank Loses $1.2 Billion in Interest Rate Derivative Bets

A week before Christmas when Americans were focused on either the impeachment proceedings or holiday preparations, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) quietly released its quarterly report on the trading and derivative activities of Wall Street’s casino banks. It contained a humdinger in, literally, red ink. The report showed that Goldman Sachs Bank USA, which is, insanely, a federally-insured bank backstopped by the U.S. taxpayer that is part of the Goldman trading colossus, had lost $1.24 billion trading interest rate derivatives during the third quarter of this year. According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the bank only holds $149.8 billion in deposits while the OCC reports it has $49 trillion in notional derivatives (face amount). (See Table 7 in the Appendix at this link.)

Profits in other derivative trading areas, like the $1.14 billion Goldman Sachs Bank USA made trading foreign exchange derivatives, allowed the federally-insured unit of Goldman Sachs to eke out a $71 million net trading profit on the derivative bets it had made during the quarter, according to the OCC report. ...

After a decade of so-called financial reform, Wall Street and Washington are still flying blind and Goldman now has a federally-insured bank to gamble in derivatives as federal regulators yawn, Congress de-regulates further and the New York Fed relaunches its multi-trillion-dollar bailout funnel.

Trump's dark legacy: a US judiciary remade in his own image

Critics of Donald Trump make much of the fact that his legacy will forever bear the stain of impeachment, whatever the outcome of the prospective Senate trial next month. But Trump is positioned to bequeath a much more substantial legacy, one that progressive activists and civil rights advocates warn will harm the cause of equality in the United States for decades to come.

That legacy is a judiciary remade deeply conservative in Trump’s own image. In securing the confirmation of his 50th appeals court judge earlier this month, Trump cemented his status as the most accomplished sponsor of federal judges in the modern history of the presidency. No president has secured so many important judgeships as quickly. Barack Obama managed to confirm only 55 appeals court judges – in eight years. Trump’s presidency is not yet three years old. ...

With the US supreme court ruling in only a small fraction of federal cases each year, appellate and district court judges actually wield immense power over some of the most urgent issues in American life, from reproductive rights to voting rights to anti-discrimination protections and action on the climate crisis.

Trump condemned for trivializing homeless crisis in attack on Pelosi

Donald Trump has been condemned for “vile and reprehensible” tweets that trivialize America’s homelessness crisis in an attempt to rebuke the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, the architect of his impeachment. On Thursday the president, holed up at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida over Christmas, went on the offensive against Pelosi, whose home district includes San Francisco.

“Nancy Pelosi’s District in California has rapidly become one of the worst anywhere in the U.S. when it come [sic] to the homeless & crime,” Trump tweeted. “It has gotten so bad, so fast – she has lost total control.” In another post, he wrote: “Crazy Nancy should clean up her filthy dirty District & help the homeless there.”

The diatribe was criticized by advocates for homeless Americans, of whom there are more than half a million on any single night. The president is exploiting the issue for his own political gain, they argued.

Diane Yentel, president and chief executive of the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), said: “Trump’s tweets are vile and reprehensible. The only time he utters the word homelessness is to use it as a political cudgel to try to embarrass perceived political enemies.

“Homelessness in California is indeed a crisis, as it is in many other areas of the country – one that demands urgent action at the federal, state and local levels. Federal action to solve the crisis is long overdue, but President Trump has tried, time and time again, to worsen homelessness in our country.”

Reporter and Author William Greider Dies at Age 83

William "Bill" Greider, a veteran journalist and author who spent decades reporting on politics and economics for national media outlets, died Wednesday at his home in Washington, D.C. at the age of 83.

Born on Aug. 6, 1936 to Harold and Gladys, Greider was raised in Wyoming, Ohio and graduated from Princeton in 1958. He died from complications of congestive heart failure, according to his son Cameron. In addition to Cameron, Greider is survived by his wife Linda, his daughter Katharine, his sister Nancy, and four grandchildren.

A longtime national affairs correspondent for The Nation, Greider also spent 17 years at Rolling Stone and 15 years at The Washington Post. He was a correspondent for six Frontline documentaries on PBS and authored several books. During his tenure at The Nation, Greider was a frequently featured writer on Common Dreams.

the horse race

Forget the pundits, the 2020 swing states you didn't know about

Sanders Polling Surge Reportedly Forcing Democratic Establishment to Admit He Can Win

Sen. Bernie Sanders' recent surge in national and early-state polls, enthusiastic progressive base, and resilience in the aftermath of his heart attack have reportedly forced some within the Democratic establishment who were previously dismissive of the Vermont senator to concede—both in private and in public—that he could ultimately run away with the party's presidential nomination.

"For months the Vermont senator was written off by Democratic Party insiders as a candidate with a committed but ultimately narrow base who was too far left to win the primary," Politico reported Thursday. "But in the past few weeks, something has changed. In private conversations and on social media, Democratic officials, political operatives, and pundits are reconsidering Sanders' chances."

David Brock, a Democratic operative and long-time ally of Hillary Clinton who earlier this year discussed launching an "anti-Sanders campaign," told Politico that Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden have "both proven to be very resilient."

"It may have been inevitable that eventually you would have two candidates representing each side of the ideological divide in the party," Brock added. "A lot of smart people I've talked to lately think there's a very good chance those two end up being Biden and Sanders."

Former Obama adviser Dan Pfeiffer said "people should take him very seriously," referring to Sanders. "He has a very good shot of winning Iowa, a very good shot of winning New Hampshire, and other than Joe Biden, the best shot of winning Nevada," said Dan Pfeiffer, who served as a adviser to former President Barack Obama. "He could build a real head of steam heading into South Carolina and Super Tuesday."

According to Real Clear Politics polling averages, Sanders is in a close second place in Iowa, first place in New Hampshire, and virtually tied with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) for second in Nevada. A poll last week from the UC Berkeley Institute of Government Studies showed Sanders leading the Democratic field in California, a crucial Super Tuesday state. Sanders' polling strength, combined with the collapse of "other candidates with once-high expectations, such as Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and Beto O'Rourke," has begun to change the minds of Democratic insiders, according to Politico.

Faiz Shakir, Sanders' campaign manager, said figures within the Democratic establishment are not rethinking Sanders' chances to win the nomination "out of the goodness of their heart." They are doing so, Shakir said, because "it is harder and harder to ignore him when he's rising in every average that you see." ...

Sanders' campaign announced following the debate in Los Angeles that it raised more than a million dollars on debate day from tens of thousands of individual contributions. "The fundraising total and number of individual donations," the campaign said in a statement, "was the highest for Sanders' campaign during a debate day in 2019, which is just the latest sign of the momentum his campaign is seeing all over the country."

Harvey J. Kaye: How Bernie and Yang's policies are inspired by America's radical tradition

Citing Joe Biden's Troubling Voting Record, Bernie Sanders Warns 'My God... Trump Will Eat His Lunch'

Warning that President Donald Trump cannot be defeated by an establishment Democrat running a "same old, same old type of campaign," Sen. Bernie Sanders said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times editorial board published Thursday that Trump would have a field day with former Vice President Joe Biden's record of support for the Iraq War, job-killing trade deals, and other destructive policies.

"Joe Biden is a personal friend of mine, so I'm not here to, you know, to attack him," Sanders said. "But my God, if you are, if you're a Donald Trump and you got Biden having voted for the war in Iraq, Biden having voted for these terrible, in my view, trade agreements, Biden having voted for the bankruptcy bill. Trump will eat his lunch."

The Los Angeles Times interview was not the first time Sanders has distinguished his own record from Biden's by highlighting the former vice president's support for the 2003 invasion of Iraq. During a Democratic primary debate in September, Sanders noted that, unlike Biden, he "never believed what Cheney and Bush said about Iraq." ...

Sanders told the Times that defeating Trump in 2020 will require a candidate who embraces "ideas that are going to excite and energize millions of people who right now are not particularly active in politics, and who may not vote at all"—and the Vermont senator argued he is the Democratic contender best positioned to deliver such a campaign.

"The reason I believe that I am the strongest candidate, and the reason I believe our approach is right is if you want a large voter turnout, if we understand that there are tens of millions of people in this country who don't vote, who've kind of given up on the political process... I think I am by far the strongest candidate to reach out to those people," Sanders said. "I think I'm the strongest candidate to bring together a multiracial coalition of African Americans, of Latinos, of Asians."

Though Trump polls as one of the most unpopular presidents in U.S. history, Sanders warned against underestimating him, as many did in the 2016 election.

"Anyone who underestimates Donald Trump as a candidate, for a variety of reasons, will be very mistaken," said Sanders. "He is going to be a very, very strong candidate. He certainly has a very strong base. He will have unlimited amounts of money to campaign on. He is a pathological liar. He will merge in an unprecedented way agencies of government with his campaign, because he doesn't particularly believe in the rule of law. So he is going to be a very, very tough opponent."

"The only way that you beat Trump," Sanders added, "is by having an unprecedented campaign, an unprecedentedly large voter turnout."

Michael Bloomberg’s Blatant Lies About Terrorism Show That He’s a Mainstream Politician

Michael Bloomberg, now running for president of the United States, has never held any elected office except mayor of New York City. So he doesn’t have a concrete track record on foreign policy for Americans to evaluate. However, a largely forgotten episode from a decade ago demonstrates that, on this subject, Bloomberg is right in the mainstream of U.S. politics. That is, he lies about the motivation of terrorists attacking America.

On the evening of May 1, 2010, a Nissan Pathfinder SUV filled with fertilizer and propane was discovered in New York City’s Times Square. If it had exploded, it could have killed dozens or even hundreds, but it was disarmed and no one was hurt. ... When notified of the potential car bomb incident, Bloomberg hurried back to the city, where he declared, “Terrorists around the world, who feel threatened by the freedoms that we have, always focus on those symbols of freedoms — and that is New York City.”

Two days after the Nissan was found in Times Square, a 30-year-old Pakistani American named Faisal Shahzad was arrested at John F. Kennedy airport as he tried to board a flight to Dubai. ... Shahzad pleaded guilty the next month and used the occasion to attempt to explain why he had tried to kill New Yorkers. He did not say anything about hating America’s freedoms. Instead, he said, “Until the hour the U.S. pulls its forces from Iraq and Afghanistan, and stops the drone strikes in Somalia and Yemen and in Pakistan, and stops the occupation of Muslim lands, and stops killing the Muslims, and stops reporting the Muslims to its government, we will be attacking U.S.”

That October, Shahzad was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. He again sought to justify his attack — and again made no mention of American freedoms. “We are only Muslims trying to defend our people, honor, and land,” he told the judge in the case. “But if you call us terrorists for doing that, then we are proud terrorists, and we will keep on terrorizing until you leave our land and people at peace.” When asked by the judge why he had tried to carry out terrorism that would kill children, Shahzad responded, “Well, the drone hits in Afghanistan and Iraq … they kill women, children, they kill everybody.” ...

Despite these facts, Bloomberg never disavowed his initial statements. When asked whether Bloomberg today stands by his words from 2010, his campaign advisor Stu Loeser responded: “We are not backing off what the Mayor said about terrorists that night in Times Square, even though it wasn’t specifically directed to Shahzad.”

Emma Vigeland: Should candidates attack Joe Biden?

Pete Buttigieg Would Really Like You to Forget About That Wine Cave

On Christmas Eve, Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s campaign’s wisest innovators put on a competition: whoever gives donates the smallest amount of money wins.

The Buttigieg campaign sent an email to supporters on Dec. 24, asking them to give money — but as little as possible. Subject-lined, “An end-of-year guessing game with Pete’s Innovation Team,” the email told Pete’s supporters how the competition works: donate the smallest, unique amount, and you win. If two donors give exactly a buck, they both “lose.” If only one person gives exactly $.37, they “win.”

The email did not say what the prize would be.

Per Pete’s “innovation team,” the reason that they’re putting on this competition is because they just love data. “You might not be shocked to learn that we have more than a few numbers geeks in the group,” the email reads. A bunch of tiny donations, however, could bring down Buttigieg’s average donation figures. ...

In case you were concerned, you’re allowed to give as many tiny donations as you’d like without being disqualified from these sweepstakes. "Multiple donations are allowed,” the email reads. “Just be creative, pick a unique donation amount, and you could win."

Bloomberg and Steyer $200m spend on TV ads – but will it pay off?

Low-polling billionaire presidential candidates Mike Bloomberg and Tom Steyer have spent a collective $200m on political advertising in the 2020 election race – with the first state votes for the Democratic nomination still six weeks away.

Of the two, financial data mogul Bloomberg is firmly ahead, with the former New York mayor spending a record $120m since he formally joined the contest.

San Francisco billionaire Steyer hasn’t matched Bloomberg with his campaign’s $83m in ad buys, but that is still more than four times Pete Buttigieg’s $19m, the next big spender. Put together the $200m spend is more than double the spending of the rest of the entire Democratic field this year.

But the larger question for the billionaire duo is whether their ability to spend so much on media advertising is effective; both remain in the single digits among registered Democrats nationally. ...

Still, according to a Quinnipiac poll, Steyer’s spending in South Carolina is beginning to slowly move the polls: he is now placed fifth with 5% of projected Democratic voters. And he is at 4% among black voters – ahead of Buttigieg and Cory Booker. Bloomberg, too, is starting to see modest polling gains. In the latest Quinnipiac national poll published on Monday, he came in fifth nationally with 7% of the vote.

the evening greens

After Democrats Push Bill to Send Fracked Gas to EU, Trump Includes in Budget

The European Energy Security and Diversification Act, legislation offering $1B to promote sending U.S. fracked gas to EU countries, was inserted into the federal budget bill signed into law by President Donald Trump. Democrats invoked “Russiagate” in their PR push for the bill.

Hot blob: vast patch of warm water off New Zealand coast puzzles scientists

A spike in water temperature of up to 6C above average across a massive patch of ocean east of New Zealand is likely to have been caused by an “anti-cyclone” weather system, a leading scientist says. Appearing on heat maps as a deep red blob, the patch spans at least a million square kilometres – an area nearly 1.5 times the size of Texas, or four times larger than New Zealand – in the Pacific Ocean.

James Renwick, the head of geography, environment and earth sciences at Victoria University in Wellington, said the scale of the temperature spike near the sparsely populated Chatham Islands archipelago was remarkable, and had been building for weeks. “It’s the biggest patch of above average warming on the planet right now. Normally the temperatures there are about 15C, at the moment they are about 20C,” he said.

Renwick said the blob could be linked to rising atmospheric greenhouse gas emissions, as a result of climate change, but he expected it was overwhelmingly due to natural variability – a strong high pressure system and a lack of wind. “It’s not uncommon to see patches of warmer water off New Zealand but this magnitude of four, five, up to six degrees is pretty unusual,” Renwick said. “It’s probably a very thin layer of ocean that has warmed up and there hasn’t been any wind to cool it for several weeks.”

Australia weather and fires: statewide code red declared in SA as temperatures soar

A statewide code red has been declared in South Australia to provide extra help for homeless people as temperatures soar. Adelaide is forecast to reach 40C on Friday with the mercury tipped to stay at least in the high 30s until Monday. Human Services Minister Michelle Lensink said increasing services to the homeless was vital in the extreme heat.

“Keeping vulnerable South Australians safe and well in the extreme heat forecast over the next few days is our priority,” she said. “During a code red, agencies across Adelaide will extend their daytime operating hours to ensure people sleeping rough are keeping cool and well-hydrated during the extreme heat.”

SA’s looming heatwave is the second so far in December after last week’s run of four days with temperatures in the mid-to-high 40s. On Friday the hottest spots are expected to be in the state’s north with 45C maximums forecast for Oodnadatta, Oak Valley and Tarcoola.

Difficult bushfire conditions in New South Wales are also set to return over the coming days, with a forecast heatwave across south-eastern Australia and dry winds to re-elevate fire risk.

Planting trees is only a good news story if it’s done right

On the one hand, huge amounts of energy are going into reforesting the world. The amount of tree cover is actually rising. The 2011 Bonn challenge aims to bring 350m hectares (864.5m acres) of degraded land into restoration by 2030, and countries have already signed up 170m hectares. A impressive number of sometimes surprising countries have increased their forest cover by more than 20% over the last 25 years: China, Belarus, Chile, France, Greece, India, Iran, Morocco, the Philippines, Spain, Thailand and Turkey. It can really, at moments, seem like some kind of success story.

But the ancient forests, the original, complex, messy forests, continue to disappear, and some of the most enthusiastic signatories to the Bonn challenge have seen some of the worst losses. Argentina, for example, has committed to planting 1m hectares, but meanwhile the ancient Gran Chaco in the north continues to vanish, replaced by huge fields of soy to feed the farm animals of the world. Cameroon, which holds part of the precious Congo basin rainforest, is offering to create 12m hectares of tree cover by 2030, but since 1990 more than 20% of Cameroon’s forests have been cut down to make way for subsistence farmers and now, increasingly, for banana and palm oil plantations, to create products that end up in our supermarket shopping baskets. Nigeria may feel better about itself after pledging to plant a million hectares, but the fact is that over the last 25 years it has lost more than 10 times that amount, more than half its forests. For a number of years it even had the highest deforestation rate in the world, but it was overtaken this year by Ghana, where cocoa bean crops for our chocolate are replacing the rainforests. ...

Even the apparently cheering news that global tree cover is growing is less than it seems, explains Tim Rayden of the Oxford Forestry Institute. “There is a big difference between tree cover and forests.” A large number of countries, for example, are planning to fill their commitments with commercial plantations – but plantations, which are harvested every 10 years or more regularly, are very much less effective than tropical forests at capturing carbon. He points to recent research where scientists worked out the carbon capture potential of three different reforestation scenarios under the terms of the Bonn challenge. If the 350m hectares of reforestation are all natural forest, they can capture as much as 42 petagrams of carbon. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change believes that to keep global warming below 1.5C 199 petagrams must be removed from the atmosphere this century, so that is a significant contribution from the world’s forests.

However, if the trajectory of the plans already submitted carries on, at least 45% of that cover will be commercial plantation. If our natural forests are protected under that scenario, the storage potential will be 16 petagrams. But if we continue to chop into them in the same way that we do at present, the storage potential will dwindle to just three petagrams.

Also of Interest

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

The Coming Ethnic Cleansing and Genocide In India

Turkey's Wikipedia block violates human rights, high court rules

Golf club built on slaves' graves sparks debate on how to honor the dead

The Key to Solving the Climate Crisis Is Beneath Our Feet

Trawlers return to Pacific fishing area in rare environmental success story

A Little Night Music

Earl Hooker - Going On Down The Line

Junior Wells & Earl Hooker - You Don't Care

Johnny O'Neal & Earl Hooker - So Many Hard Times

Earl Hooker & Johnny Walker - Would You Baby

Earl Hooker - These Cotton Pickin' Blues

Earl Hooker - Swear To Tell The Truth

Earl Hooker - Wild Moments

Earl Hooker - Going Up And Down

Earl Hooker - Dynamite

John Lee Hooker & Earl Hooker - Messin' With The Blues

Earl Hooker - Universal Rock

19 users have voted.


QMS's picture

Nobility of intent has an especially nefarious barbed hook.
Tricky bit of torn flesh pulling that one out.

8 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


as they say, hell is paved with good intentions. frankly, in the case of our warmongering leaders, it's paved with bad intentions pretending to be good intentions, too.

8 users have voted.
Not Henry Kissinger's picture

One of my all time favorite bluesmen and albums.

8 users have voted.

The current working assumption appears to be that our Shroedinger's Cat system is still alive. But what if we all suspect it's not, and the real problem is we just can't bring ourselves to open the box?

joe shikspack's picture

@Not Henry Kissinger

i didn't post much of it this time, but i have always loved earl's slide guitar work.

have a great weekend!

6 users have voted.
Raggedy Ann's picture

Happy Friday - it's cold and blustery here. We are expecting some snow overnight - we'll see if it materializes!

Hope everyone has been safe and enjoying the season.

Have a lovely evening and weekend, folks! Pleasantry

8 users have voted.

"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

it's been pretty warm here the last few days, rising up to the low 50's most days. i guess it's ok, i mean i appreciate it when i get my utility bill, but it's not very christmassy.

enjoy your snow if it makes an appearance!

3 users have voted.
ggersh's picture

as I once believed ameriKa was exceptional Dash 1

"Gentlemen! I too have been a close observer of the doings of the Bank of the United States. I have had men watching you for a long time, and am convinced that you have used the funds of the bank to speculate in the breadstuffs of the country.

When you won, you divided the profits amongst you, and when you lost, you charged it to the bank. You tell me that if I take the deposits from the bank and annul its charter I shall ruin ten thousand families. That may be true, gentlemen, but that is your sin!

Should I let you go on, you will ruin fifty thousand families, and that would be my sin! You are a den of vipers and thieves. I have determined to rout you out, and by the Eternal, (bringing his fist down on the table) I will rout you out."

Andrew Jackson, From the original minutes of his meeting with the Philadelphia bankers, February 1834, from Andrew Jackson and the Bank of the United States (1928) by Stan V. Henkels

13 users have voted.

“Those who choose the lesser evil forget very quickly that they chose evil.”
— Hannah Arendt

snoopydawg's picture


If they hadn't been being stuffed with cash right now I bet the stock market would be much, much lower. Sure on paper it looks like the economy is doing swell. But low unemployment is just a number. This doesn't take into account how wages have been stifled and that most of the jobs are so low paying. With rising costs of health insurance and medications and cities raising property taxes everywhere I don't think that economic view is as rosey as people are being told.

What if the impeachment of tRumpolini is meant
to destroy the D party, makes sense doesn't it?

This sure does make sense. Don't you hate being this cynical? But then the democrats destroyed the party on their own didn't they? They know damn well what they need to do to get back in power again. That they aren't doing it shows how much they have sold themselves out to their donors.

10 users have voted.

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

OzoneTom's picture


But then the democrats destroyed the party on their own didn't they?

They just want to get their cut. This is just business folks.

6 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


heh, merka has always been an exceptionally bad deal for its working class people.

that andrew jackson was a peculiar bastard, but he certainly understood bankers.

5 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

Bernie has some 'splaining to do. But then I'm betting that he knew that he was lying. Too harsh?

This is a great ad.

Esper’s team has questioned the value of those efforts and wants to scale back missions to counter militants who lack the demonstrated ability and intent to attack the United States on its own soil, the officials said. None of the terrorist groups operating in West Africa are said to meet this heightened assessment standard.

Are there any serious threats to someone attacking us here? After all no terrorist group did it on 9/11....okay some Saudis did, but they wouldn't have been able to without the help from their government and the house of Saud. The FBI once published reports on who did support them. And I'm sure congress will get all over Trump for moving the troops without their permission. Right? Bueller?

That legacy is a judiciary remade deeply conservative in Trump’s own image


Trump and McConnell couldn't have done that without help from democrats. Schumer. DiFi. Manchin...

8 users have voted.

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

joe shikspack's picture


my guess is that sanders will not revisit his comments re: syria and chemical weapons. i figure that he knew that he was being lied to and that in toeing the party line he was in turn spreading the big lie. at this point it is probably most politic for him to ignore the hell out of it like the rest of the party is doing.

sanders has some courage, but it doesn't appear to extend as far as calling out the intel community for ratfuckery.

the dirty secret about "fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them here" is that any attempts at attacking us here will be in reaction to our imperialist actions over there. ending imperialism is the quickest and most effective means of providing security at home - also the cheapest.

yep, the remaking of the judiciary is a group project.

8 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

Belonging to intelligence means you never have to be held accountable for your actions, whether it's torturing human beings, arming & funding headchopping terrorists, or trafficking children to rich and powerful perverts for blackmail purposes.

But good lord. Every other tweet was about either he needs to testify against Trump or he's part of the deep state trying to take him down. Why can't people stay on topic? This drives me nuts.

Thanks Bush, Cheney, Gina, Yu, Obama and every person that did the soul sucking deed.

8 users have voted.

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

joe shikspack's picture


pompous maximus is so full of it that i expect him to explode like mr. creosote any day now.

7 users have voted.
Benny's picture

Fine round-up!
Regarding the horse race, I saw this tweet:

I can kinda relate.

8 users have voted.

One equal temper of heroic hearts, Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will. To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.--Tennyson

joe shikspack's picture


i have no regrets about my vote for jill stein, either. i am done with voting strategically against people, so if the democrats want my vote, they will just have to put up a candidate that appeals to me.

if the party is capable of learning from its mistakes, they won't run a centrist, warmongering, influence peddler like hillary clinton again.

6 users have voted.
Lookout's picture

A warm evening with rain due tomorrow here in the NE corner of AL. Not complaining just commenting on the oddity. Garden is loving it. Greens are kicking it out of the park. We'll have plenty of collards (and turnips/ mustards) for new years. No black eyed peas in stock, but plenty of crowder peas ready for soaking and cooking. Even got a little pork loin to cook from our young farmers grazed pigs. Ought to be a healthy new years feast here.

I don't really know how to comment on today's news. The election I keep thinking is a distraction. The Impeachment certainly is one. I continue to think we could walk away from this insane system, but don't see most folks ready to challenge the current operating system. Of course I'm warped by my place in the world...where waist are wide and minds are narrow. But even here people could be taught if given the opportunity. The many powerful (corporate) forces arrayed against the people are pretty discouraging, but there's more of us than there are of them in my view.

Another interesting story is the Russian pipeline under the Balkin Sea to Germany to avoid Ukraine...the Nord Stream I & II

Nord Stream 2 would allow Russia to bypass Ukraine and Poland to deliver gas under the Baltic Sea to Germany. Gazprom is taking on half of the project’s planned costs and the rest is divided between five European energy companies: Austria’s OMV, Germany’s Uniper and Wintershall, Royal Dutch Shell and France’s Engie.

TurkStream project, which is set to deliver natural gas from Anapa in Russia to Europe through a subsea pipeline that links to Turkey via the Black Sea, is to be inaugurated at a ceremony held on Jan. 8, 2020 and will be attended by the presidents of Turkey and Russia.

It consists of two pipelines that will have a total supply capacity of 31.5 billion cubic meters, corresponding to the annual energy demand of 15 million homes. Turkey will receive 15.75 billion cubic meters of the gas, while the remainder will go to southeastern Europe. The second line is expected to go from Turkey through Bulgaria, then on to Serbia, Hungary and Slovakia. The second section is expected to be completed in 2020.

The Trump administration, like the Obama administration before it, opposes the project on the grounds it would strengthen Russian President Vladimir Putin’s economic and political grip over Europe. Russia has cut the delivery of fuel to Ukraine and parts of Europe in winter during pricing disputes.

We need to get off of these fuels and yet they continent to play a control role in in global actions. Our demise is in clear view but we refuse to see it.

8 users have voted.

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

snoopydawg's picture


The election I keep thinking is a distraction. The Impeachment certainly is one. I continue to think we could walk away from this insane system, but don't see most folks ready to challenge the current operating system. Of course I'm warped by my place in the world...where waist are wide and minds are narrow. But even here people could be taught if given the opportunity. The many powerful (corporate) forces arrayed against the people are pretty discouraging, but there's more of us than there are of them in my view.

This election season is definitely a distraction, but of course that is why Warren started it so early. It is distracting most people from the democrats working with Trump on many issues. Bank deregulation. Appointment of the right wing judges. The military budget with no holds on what Trump can do with the money. No protection for dreamers and so many other things I can't remember.

Voting for the democrats in the primary is useless IMO because the DNC will just put in their own candidate. We saw them doing it all over the country after Bernie actually won the state, but because of the SDs they gave it to Hillary. Walk away from voting and let them know we're on to their game and we refuse to play it. Pluto mentioned that in the Bernie essay.

There are just a few hundred thousand sociopaths who are hell bent on destroying the planet, but there are millions of us who want to stop them from doing it. Of course they have the guns... but are we just going to go gently into the nightmare that they are creating for us? I watched a video on ToP this morning about the drought in Australia where people don't have water. The government refuses to help them. Why? Reasons. But citizens are bringing water to their homes because they care. Of course the people aren't white, but natives and very poor. Disposable.

I wish I knew a way to get more people on board with your thinking. I'm doing my part though and boycotting the election. Smile

11 users have voted.

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

joe shikspack's picture


yep, i am shocked at how much green there is here. just the other day the forsythia started pushing out some blooms.

yep, it's all a distraction. i was thinking about australia the other day and how their government refuses to act to assist the people in a time of emergency. i expect the same here when our future catastrophes arrive.

9 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

@joe shikspack

This is from a diary that Pakalolo wrote if you're interested. The video on the water situation is in this. It just remarkable that the Australian government will not take climate change seriously. Why do I feel that the PTB know that nothing can be done and are just going to get as much money as they can before the poo hits the fan?

6 users have voted.

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

joe shikspack's picture


Why do I feel that the PTB know that nothing can be done and are just going to get as much money as they can before the poo hits the fan?

presumably, they think that their ones and zeroes are going to save their sorry asses from the destruction they've wrought.

6 users have voted.
enhydra lutris's picture

and, post xmas recovery and New Year.

5 users have voted.

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

joe shikspack's picture

@enhydra lutris

i hope that your recovery is going well. i have one more xmas dinner to go this weekend, then there will be the recovery and the attempt to walk it off over the coming months.

have a great weekend!

6 users have voted.

Heard that statement earlier this morning and thought it appropriate for this evening. Saw the movie Dark Water today and it sums up a lot of what is being covered by Joe and others here on C99. Thanks for all the great work. The music brings a lot of nostalgia into my evening as this was the music DO and I danced to in our earlier days.

Hope there can be hope for the future as possibly more people become attuned to what is going on in this world and decide it is time for some change in our lives like the people did in so many countries around the world in 2019.

Looks like the weather may make me have a little bit of a bumpy ride as I head out to visit with friends in Hawaii. Will have to work on my peaceful breathing techniques! Peace out to all here at C99! Think a lot about OPOL and DO as this year comes to an end. Both were a big part of my life here at C99.

11 users have voted.

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

This ain't no dress rehearsal!

joe shikspack's picture


i went and saw dark water with ms. shikspack last week. it was quite excellent and i hope that lots of people watch it and come to an understanding of what damage the powers that be do when they are allowed to acquite too much money/power and go unregulated. the film really draws a line under the fact that self-regulation is no regulation and that there is no adequate mechanism for self-correction in our system.

i hope that you have a wonderful time in hawaii and that your travel is pleasant and safe. i think of both opol and do quite frequently and miss their voices greatly.

11 users have voted.
dystopian's picture

Earl Hooker was great... The Messin' with the Blues with John Lee is awesome... wow. Those guys were something else. Thanks for the Hookers. Have a good one!

7 users have voted.

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

joe shikspack's picture


heh, it's always a pleasure to serve up a steaming plateful of the blues.

have a great weekend!

6 users have voted.