The Evening Blues - 12-31-18


The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: Lazy Lester

Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features Louisiana blues harmonica player, guitarist and singer Lazy Lester. Enjoy!

Lazy Lester - Strange Things Happen!

"Ghosts of melodious prophesyings rave
Round every spot where trod Apollo's foot;
Bronze clarions awake, and faintly bruit,
Where long ago a giant battle was;
And, from the turf, a lullaby doth pass
In every place where infant Orpheus slept.
Feel we these things? - that moment have we stept
Into a sort of oneness, and our state
Is like a floating spirit's. But there are
Richer entanglements, enthralments far
More self-destroying, leading, by degrees,
To the chief intensity: the crown of these
Is made of love and friendship, and sits high
Upon the forehead of humanity."

-- John Keats

News and Opinion

Climate Crisis is “Existential Threat,” House Democrats Say — but Protecting Turf Comes First

The new House committee being created to confront the climate crisis is being stripped of authority in order to accommodate the parochial concerns of senior Democrats in the caucus, protecting their pieces of turf. On Friday, incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi confirmed rumors that she would be appointing Rep. Kathy Castor, D- Fla., to chair a revived select House committee on climate change, as more information on the select committee begins to trickle out on Capitol Hill. Pelosi named the panel the “Select Committee on the Climate Crisis.”

Paradoxically, though, the committee created to confront what Pelosi in her statement deemed an “existential threat” will likely not have the power to even issue subpoenas for records or to compel testimony. Those powers will remain solely among the powerful committees that have been dominant on the Hill for generations. “The problem is institutional—it’s a turf war. There’s only one reason the select committee didn’t get [more powers] and that is the jurisdictional concerns of Frank Pallone. Mr. Pallone has made it clear that he thinks this infringes on his committee’s jurisdiction.

That’s a very unfortunate way of looking at Congress,” said Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., an early signatory and booster of Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s resolution to create a Select Committee on a Green New Deal. Khanna also recently accused Pallone publicly of refusing to back separate legislation brought by Khanna based on his support for the Green New Deal resolution. “We heard that Rep. Pallone’s staff told the Senate staff that he will ‘not move a Khanna bill,’” Heather Purcell, a spokesperson for Khanna, said over email. Despite Pallone’s worries, supporters of Ocasio-Cortez’s resolution had never pushed for the Select Committee on a Green New Deal to be able to bring legislation directly to the floor, or to circumvent standing committees like Energy and Commerce. Anything the select committee produced would need to be routed through those standing committees, as the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade legislation—produced out of the select committee’s previous iteration—was in 2009.

Without subpoena power—a measure publicly opposed by current Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md.—the select committee will in fact be weaker than its previous iteration, created in 2007, which did the groundwork to produce Waxman-Markey. “The very industry that has lied about how big a problem climate change is shouldn’t be on a committee tasked with coming up with the solutions to climate change,” said Khanna, who has suggested Ocasio-Cortez herself chair it. “The committee should have subpoena power, and the ability to haul fossil fuel executives in front of it. I guarantee fossil fuel executives aren’t going to want to appear.” Full details on the committee haven’t been made public yet and more are expected to come this week, but statements from those close to the negotiations suggest it will omit several of the proposals brought in a resolution by Ocasio-Cortez with the backing of 45 current and incoming members of Congress and the Sunrise Movement. Assuming the committee wouldn’t be stripped of its ability to draft legislation, the issue now is what its mandate will be.

US War Party Won’t Accept Defeat in Syria

Lindsey Graham: Trump 'thinking long and hard about Syria'

A close ally of Donald Trump said on Sunday the president was “thinking long and hard” about his plan to withdraw US troops from Syria and his commitment to defeating Islamic State, and had provided reassurance in a White House meeting. Lindsey Graham did not say Trump had pledged to reconsider the withdrawal, which the senator earlier said he hoped to convince the president to do.

Stanley McChrystal, a retired commander of US and Nato troops in Afghanistan, meanwhile, criticised reported plans to withdraw thousands of Americans from that country and said the president himself was “immoral”.

Earlier this month, Graham used emotive language when he warned that the Syria withdrawal and mooted Afghanistan drawdown could pave “the way toward a second 9/11”. On Sunday morning, announcing his meeting with Trump, he was more measured, saying he would ask the president “to sit down with his generals and reconsider how to do this”. ... Whatever Trump told Graham, it seemed to have soothed him a little. Leaving the executive mansion, the senator told reporters: “We talked about Syria. He told me some things I didn’t know that made me feel a lot better about where we’re headed in Syria.

“We still have some differences but I will tell you that the president is thinking long and hard about Syria – how to withdraw our forces but at the same time achieve our national security interests.” The Department of Defense says it is considering plans for a “deliberate and controlled withdrawal”. One option, according to a person familiar with the discussions, is for a 120-day pull-out period.

Trump slows Syria pullout but claims 'hero' status

Donald Trump has appeared to water down plans for an immediate pullout of US troops from Syria, even as he defiantly claimed that his achievements in the conflict should make him a “national hero”.

The tweeted comment on Monday came the day after a senior Republican senator said the US president had promised to stay in Syria to finish the job of destroying the Islamic State group – days after he shocked allies, and his own military establishment, by saying troops were coming home.

“If anybody but Donald Trump did what I did in Syria, which was an Isis-loaded mess when I became president, they would be a national hero,” he tweeted. “Isis is mostly gone, we’re slowly sending our troops back home to be with their families, while at the same time fighting Isis remnants,” he said.

Following Report on Saudi Use of Child Soldiers in Yemen, Anti-War Voices Offer This Reminder: American Tax Dollars 'Help Pay for It'

"America is now aiding and abetting the use of child soldiers."

That was how Ari Rabin-Havt, deputy policy director for U.S. Sen Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), responded to a New York Times report on Friday detailing Saudi Arabia's use of Sudanese child soldiers as young as 14 years old to wage its vicious assault on Yemen, which has resulted in the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. According to the Times, "five fighters who have returned from Yemen and another about to depart said that children made up at least 20 percent of their units. Two said children were more than 40 percent."

"To keep a safe distance from the battle lines," the Times noted, "their Saudi or Emirati overseers commanded the Sudanese fighters almost exclusively by remote control, directing them to attack or retreat through radio headsets and GPS systems provided to the Sudanese officers in charge of each unit, the fighters all said." The Times report was met with horror by anti-war activists, who highlighted the fact that—by continuing to send the Saudis arms and provide other military assistance—the United States is directly complicit in the kingdom's use of children as soldiers in its years-long war on Yemen.

As the Times reported, nearly all of the Sudanese soldiers paid by Saudi Arabia to fight in Yemen "appear to come from the battle-scarred and impoverished region of Darfur, where some 300,000 people were killed and 1.2 million displaced during a dozen years of conflict over diminishing arable land and other scarce resources." Taking advantage of its "vast oil wealth," the Times noted, the Saudi kingdom has offered thousands of dollars to desperate Sudanese families in order to lure children to fight in Yemen, where millions of people have been pushed to the brink of famine.

Dozens killed in protests against austerity and repression in Sudan

At least 37 people have been killed and 219 injured during protests opposing the Sudanese government of president Omar al-Bashir. Hundreds more have been arrested in a brutal crackdown on demonstrations against the rising cost of basic commodities including bread. ... The protests initially broke out on December 19 over the tripling in the price of bread and fuel shortages in the northeastern city of Atbara, where protesters torched the ruling National Congress Party’s offices. ... The protests rapidly spread across Sudan’s major towns and cities, including the Riverain region—reputedly the regime’s stronghold—and the capital Khartoum, with demonstrators torching the party’s offices in Dongola. Within 24 hours, the demonstrations had escalated into a more generalized expression of opposition to years of austerity, economic hardship and suppression of the most basic democratic rights that make life intolerable for most Sudanese people, particularly the youth. In Khartoum, the average age of protesters is reportedly around 17 to 23 years.

Within two days of the protests starting, the government imposed curfews and states of emergency in several cities, deploying the army around the country. ... Earlier this week, with thousands demonstrating peacefully in what was described as the largest of its kind in years in central Khartoum calling for the ouster of President Bashir—in power since a military coup in 1989—and his regime, security forces fired live ammunition to prevent protesters reaching the presidential palace. The Sudanese Professionals Association had called Tuesday’s demonstration “to direct our voices and our strength towards removing this regime that has devastated us and divided our country.” Sudan’s workers and poor farmers face a massive hike in prices, with inflation running at nearly 70 percent last September. According to a Reuters report of market vendors’ prices last month, the cost of a kilo of flour had risen 20 percent, beef by 30 percent and potatoes 50 percent. ...

That Sudan’s ruling elite has responded with such ferocity to these demonstrations testifies to the depth of the economic and political crisis. Sudan, a country of more than 40 million people, has never recovered from South Sudan’s secession in 2011, after nearly 30 years of civil war. Secession was largely orchestrated by the US in an attempt to disrupt China’s growing economic influence in the Horn of Africa. Following the secession, Sudan lost three-quarters of its oil output, a crucial source of foreign currency. Although Sudan endured harsh US sanctions, imposed in the 1990s following allegations by Washington that Khartoum was aiding international terrorism, US-Sudan relations have warmed somewhat. Last year, the Trump administration lifted the sanctions, largely due to pressure from the Gulf monarchies, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, following Sudan’s dispatch of some 1,000 ground troops to fight with the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. There were promises of Saudi investment, after Sudan cut diplomatic ties with Iran in January 2016.

Nevertheless, Washington set conditions for the full normalisation of ties, with the result that Sudan’s economy has seen few benefits and there has been a falling out between different factions within the ruling clique. In January, the government introduced austerity measures that included cutting subsidies on wheat, electricity and other essential goods, sending prices soaring and sparking wide protests the government managed to suppress by arresting hundreds of people.

Tucker Carlson Dismantles Pro-War Stooge

Serbia: thousands rally in fourth week of anti-government protests

Around 25,000 protesters turned out for a fourth week of anti-government demonstrations in Belgrade, piling more pressure on the Serbian president, Aleksandar Vucic. ... The demonstrators marched without incident or overt signs of political affiliation in the centre of the capital, with some chanting “Vucic thief”, or waving placards that said “Enough lies”. ...

Vucic, a hardline nationalist-turned-European, is accused by the opposition and civil society of having established autocratic rule and total control over media, using it to campaign against opponents. The protests represent the biggest challenge to his rule so far, and were first called by opposition parties after one of their leaders was beaten ahead of a political gathering in central Serbia last month.

Cyber-attack disrupts printing of major US newspapers

A cyber-attack has caused printing and delivery disruptions to major US newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune and the Baltimore Sun.

The attack on Saturday appeared to originate outside the United States, the Los Angeles Times reported. It led to distribution delays in the Saturday edition of the Times, the Tribune, the Sun and other newspapers that share a production platform in Los Angeles.

Tribune Publishing, which owns the Chicago Tribune and the Sun, as well as the New York Daily News and Orlando Sentinel, said it first detected the malware on Friday. ...

A Tribune Publishing spokeswoman, Marisa Kollias, said the virus affected back-office systems used to publish and produce “newspapers across our properties”.

Centrist Democrat Who Lost Reelection Attacks Medicare for All

Despite losing reelection in November after running on a fervently anti-Medicare for All platform, outgoing Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) confidently declared during a CNN interview on Friday that the bold and increasingly popular solution to America's healthcare crisis does not inspire voters in states like Indiana. "When you talk 'Medicare for All'... you start losing the people in my state," Donnelly said. "The talk on the coasts just doesn't get it done in the middle."

The notion that an ambitious left-wing platform only resonates "on the coasts" and is not electorally viable in more conservative states has become a common trope among "moderate" Democrats, but progressives were quick to push back on Donnelly's evidence-free claim, noting that Medicare for All has high levels of support in Indiana and throughout the Midwest.

"Given that Sen. Donnelly lost saying stuff like this, perhaps the lesson is the opposite—Indianans don't want a Democrat who, like Republicans, opposes good policy," argued Ben Spielberg, co-founder of 34justice, in a tweet on Saturday.

According to the progressive policy shop Data for Progress and the Kaiser Family Foundation, Medicare for All polls at 55 percent support in Indiana—and many were quick to point to this data in response to Donnelly's remarks.

15 Lies Per Day in 2018: Analysis Shows Trump Put 'Unprecedented Deception" Into Overdrive This Year

Finding that President Donald Trump became "increasingly unmoored from the truth in 2018," the Washington Post reports that the president told lies to the American public at about three times the rate he did the previous year—when voters and the media were already expressing shock at the repeated false statements coming from the White House.

According to Glenn Kessler, author of the Post's Fact Checker column, during his "year of unprecedented deception," Trump told an average of 15 lies per day in 2018, bringing the total number of documented lies since he took office in January 2017 to 7,645. At the beginning of 2018, according to the paper's tally, the president had told about 2,000 lies while in office.

"Trump began 2018 on a similar pace as last year," reported Kessler. "Through May, he generally averaged about 200 to 250 false claims a month. But his rate suddenly exploded in June, when he topped 500 falsehoods, as he appeared to shift to campaign mode. He uttered almost 500 more in both July and August, almost 600 in September, more than 1,200 in October and almost 900 in November. In December, Trump drifted back to the mid-200s."

The president's rate of lying exploded around the time that his administration's family separation policy provoked international outrage. The president made two of his biggest false claims of the year at that time, saying that the White House had not adopted a policy of separating families who cross the U.S.-Mexico border but was simply following existing laws passed by Congress.

Noam Chomsky: Members of Migrant Caravan Are Fleeing from Misery & Horrors Created by the U.S.

'No to $5 Billion, No to $2.1 Billion, No to $1.6 Billion': Progressive Groups Pressure Democrats to Reject Any Funding for Trump's Anti-Immigrant Agenda

While applauding the Democratic leadership's refusal to give in to President Donald Trump's demand for $5 billion in border wall funding, a coalition of dozens of advocacy groups on Friday sent a letter to presumptive House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) expressing alarm that their proposals to reopen the government would still hand the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) billions of dollars to continue Trump's inhumane anti-immigrant agenda.

"The Trump shutdown is deeply unfair to hundreds of thousands of federal employees and contractors; it is a disgrace that the president chose to inflict distress on them and their families," the groups wrote (pdf). "As much as we all desire an end to the shutdown, however, rewarding Trump's DHS with border barrier money is the wrong course of action, especially at a time when its personnel are tear gassing toddlers, separating and detaining families, and presiding over custodial deaths, including those of a seven-year-old girl named Jakelin and an eight-year-old boy named Felipe in Border Patrol custody just this month."

The progressive coalition's letter comes as the government shutdown appears set to continue into the new year, leaving as many as 800,000 government employees without a paycheck.

With Democrats set to officially take control of the House on January 3, the advocacy groups declared: "Now is the time to truly say no to Trump's wall: no to $5 billion, no to $2.1 billion, no to $1.6 billion, no to $1.375 billion. And to reject any additional funding for detention beds, ICE and Border Patrol agents, or other harmful enforcement."

Democrats unveil bill to end shutdown – without money for Trump's wall

Democrats on Monday unveiled legislation designed to re-open the federal government, without providing money for Donald Trump’s border wall. According to an anonymous aide quoted by the Associated Press, the House is preparing to vote on the package on Thursday, when the new Congress will convene with Democrats in the majority in the lower chamber for the first time since 2010. It will include one bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security at current levels through 8 February, with $1.3bn for border security. Trump has demanded $5bn.

The package will include six other bills to fund the departments of agriculture, interior, housing and urban development and others closed by the partial shutdown. Some bills have already passed the Senate. Those will provide money through the remainder of the fiscal year, to 30 September.

Monday was the 10th day of the partial government shutdown forced by Trump’s demand for a wall. Hundreds of thousands of federal workers face increasing hardship and key government functions are cast into ever-increasing doubt.

Over the weekend, confusion reigned about whether Trump actually wants a physical wall along the border with Mexico. Three people close to the president suggested on Sunday he does not. On Monday the president returned to tweeting, stridently, that he does. Trump campaigned on the promise to build a wall and have Mexico pay for it. He and his allies have claimed a new trade deal with Mexico and Canada, being supposedly better for the US than its predecessor, fulfils the second part of the promise. Over the weekend, the Trump camp tried to explain the president’s thinking on the first.

El Paso aid agencies overwhelmed as 1,600 migrants are cast on to streets

The US government has released more than 1,600 migrants on to the streets of El Paso, Texas, this week, overwhelming aid agencies that have scrambled to find shelter for families left to fend for themselves. Advocacy groups said the mass release was “unprecedented”, as volunteers turned out in droves to bring food, water and medicine to migrants stranded in the border city. ...

The chaos began last Sunday night, when 214 people, all families, were released without the usual warning given by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) to Annunciation House, Ruben Garcia, executive director of Annunciation House, El Paso’s largest migrant shelter operator said. Volunteers worked until at least 2am or 3am trying to find shelter, Garcia said. Hundreds of people were then released on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Thursday. ...

El Paso’s incoming US representative, Veronica Escobar, a Democrat, told CBS News the situation could be exacerbated by an annual college football game, the Sun Bowl, taking place this weekend, because it will bring in tourists who have booked hotel space. She called on the government to build temporary holding facilities and to invest in programs that could help address the poverty and violence driving people to flee from Central America.

Trump refuses to budge on border wall demand as shutdown continues

With time dwindling before a new Congress is sworn in, Donald Trump refused to budge in his demand for billions for a border wall, narrowing prospects for a swift end to an increasingly damaging government shutdown. His claim that Democrats are to blame for the deaths of migrant children in US custody, meanwhile, sparked a nasty political controversy.

Democrats will take control of the House of Representatives on 3 January. Through Sunday, Trump stuck to his strategy of trying to foist blame for the shutdown, in its ninth day, on the opposition party. Senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said the president was waiting for Democrats to negotiate, telling Fox News Sunday: “It is with them.” Amid criticism that Trump has not spoken to the incoming speaker, Nancy Pelosi, since 11 December, Conway told CNN’s State of the Union the president was “in the White House. He’s in Washington ready to negotiate.” ...

In that last meeting with Pelosi, and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, the president said he would be proud to force a shutdown. Last week, Democrats said they had rejected a White House offer, made through Vice-President Mike Pence, to accept $2.5bn, down from $5bn. It is not clear if Trump would have supported that deal.

Democrats, when not pointing to Trump’s campaign promise that Mexico would pay for the wall, contend there is little need for any form of barrier. Voters appear to agree: at least 56% of Americans oppose Trump’s idea, according to a Harvard CAPS/Harris poll released on Friday.

One sixth of world’s people want to flee their home countries

The world is pulsing with hundreds of millions of people desperate to flee their homes under the weight of the crisis of world capitalism. According to a recent Gallup study, a sixth of the world’s adult population—some 750 million people, not including children—want to flee their home countries to escape war, poverty, conflict and disease. The statistics expose the devastating impact of decades of imperialist war and corporate exploitation. In the more than quarter-century since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the ruling classes of the major powers, led by the United States, have unleashed an unprecedented wave of military plunder and social counterrevolution, killing millions and laying waste to broad swaths of the world.

A third of the inhabitants of sub-Saharan Africa want to escape. The region, which is rich in minerals and oil coveted by French, Dutch, Belgian and American corporations, has a life expectancy of 46, while 70 percent of the population lives on less than $2 per day. In Latin America, 27 percent of people want to leave their home countries to escape the aftermath of US invasion, IMF austerity and US-backed dictatorships. Twenty-six percent of Eastern Europeans want to flee the near-universal devastation that has followed the privatization of state industries by the Stalinist bureaucrats-turned-oligarchs. Twenty-four percent of Middle Easterners and North Africans wish to leave in search of shelter from the storm of bombs and missiles that the US has rained down upon the region since the Persian Gulf War.

In 13 countries, nearly half or more of the adult population finds life unbearable. In Sierra Leone, a country ravaged by the bloody fight to turn over diamonds to European jewelers, 71 percent of adults want to flee. In Haiti, 63 percent want to leave after more than a century of American invasions and occupations. Fifty-two percent of Salvadorans and 47 percent of Hondurans want to escape the violence, poverty and corruption that dominate Central America following the civil wars of the 1980s and 1990s. Forty-eight percent of Nigerians want to leave their country, bled white from the extraction of crude oil by Chevron and Royal Dutch Shell.

This year, the ruling classes of Europe and North America implemented unprecedented anti-immigrant policies and inflamed xenophobic sentiment to distract from growing social inequality and strengthen far-right forces that will be used against the working class. In June, the European Union agreed to cut migration and erect concentration camps to house immigrants in North Africa. In August, French President Emmanuel Macron signed a law slashing asylum eligibility. Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini repeated threats to deport 500,000 immigrants and the entire Roma population. In the United Kingdom, the Tory government is preparing a Brexit deal that may cut the country off to Eastern European immigrants. In Germany, the neo-Nazi Alternative for Germany held anti-immigrant demonstrations this summer with the encouragement of the state.

Nowhere is the anti-immigrant scapegoating more fierce and dangerous than in the United States. In April, the Trump administration began separating children from their families at the US-Mexico border and erected tent-city internment centers to house the children. In October, Trump deployed thousands of troops to the southern border. Thousands of participants in the Central American migrant caravan have been sleeping in the streets of Tijuana for months. When two Guatemalan children died in US custody this month, the government blamed their impoverished indigenous parents.

the horse race

Elizabeth Warren is running for president

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren announced Monday that she’s setting up a committee to explore a bid for the White House in 2020, making her the first Democrat to enter what is shaping up to be a very crowded field with no clear frontrunner.

Warren announced the move with an email to supporters that included a video framing her mission as taking on big banks and corporations and fighting for America’s middle class, themes that helped make her a progressive star in the wake of the financial crisis a decade ago.

In her video, Warren sought to put economic and racial inequality at the center of her message, and position government as the solution. “Our government is supposed to work for all of us but instead it has become a tool for the wealthy and well-connected,” she said.

By setting up an exploratory committee, Warren can raise money and hire campaign staff before formally declaring for president. She enters the race as perhaps the best-known candidate other than Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and former Vice President Joe Biden, both of whom are also thought to be weighing bids for president.

Michigan Republicans’ lame-duck drive to hobble Democrats fails – mostly

A frantic lame-duck month in which the Republican-controlled Michigan legislature floated hundreds of bills concluded with the GOP largely failing to pass controversial laws that would have stripped power from incoming Democrats.

Two bills died during the legislative process just before Christmas, and on Friday outgoing Republican governor Rick Snyder surprised his party by vetoing a bill designed to shift power from attorney general-elect Dana Nessel to the legislature. He did so after a law designed to take authority from incoming secretary of state Jocelyn Benson failed to make it out of the state House. A plan to create a “shadow” state board of education controlled by Republicans met the same fate in the Senate.

Snyder did sign several bills that reduce voters’ power. They included significant alterations to citizen-initiated laws that mandated paid sick time and raised the minimum wage, and legislation to make ballot drives nearly impossible.

“They may not have taken power from incoming electeds but they did take significant power from people and that’s important to highlight,” Democratic state representative Yousef Rabhi told the Guardian, adding that he was stopping short of praising anyone in the Republican party. “They were planning to set the house on fire so it’s sort of weird to applaud them for not burning it down,” he said.

Millionaire Journo Dismisses Regular People’s Money Problems

the evening greens

Mass Extinction 252 Million Years Ago May Be Warning for Today

Forensic geologists have revisited the scene of one of the world’s great massacres to identify the means of death. The victims of the Permian era die-off found themselves increasingly in hot water, to die of overheating or suffocation. That is, in a rapidly warming globe, marine animals simply could not gasp fast enough to take in the increasingly limited dissolved oxygen. So they died in their billions.

It happened at the close of the Permian Era 252 million years ago: the planet’s worst single mass extinction event so far, in which up to 90% of marine species perished and 70% of land animals succumbed. And if the scientists who have reconstructed this epic event are right, then the prime cause of mass death and destruction was a dramatic rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide which raised tropical ocean temperatures by about 10°C [18 F].

Tropical species could move away from the equatorial zones to find cooler waters and a breathing space. Species adapted to cooler waters had nowhere to go. “Very few marine organisms stayed in the same habitats they were living in,” said Curtis Deutsch, an oceanographer at the University of Washington. “It was either flee or perish.”

And his co-author and colleague Justin Penn sees a warning for today – in which temperatures have begun to rise in response to profligate combustion of fossil fuels – in a desperate moment long ago. He said:

“Under a business-as-usual emissions scenario, by 2100, warming in the upper ocean will have approached 20% of warming in the late Permian, and by the year 2300 will reach between 35% and 50%. This study highlights the potential for a mass extinction arising from a similar mechanism under anthropogenic climate change.”

This latest study is unlikely to close the case: carbon dioxide build-up in the atmosphere has been proposed before, but other teams have suggested dramatic ozone loss in the upper atmosphere as a prime cause of death. Other candidate killers include increasingly acidic oceans, the mass release of metal and sulphide toxins, or the complete lack of oxygen.

Noam Chomsky: The Future of Organized Human Life Is At Risk Thanks to GOP's Climate Change Denial

Rare right whale calf spotted off Florida coast

Florida conservationists have reported a sighting of a right whale calf off the Atlantic coast. In a Facebook post, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute said it was the first calf sighting of the critically endangered whale’s winter calving season. ...

Right whales typically migrate from the North Atlantic to give birth off the coasts of Georgia and Florida from December through March. Scientists estimate only about 450 North Atlantic right whales remain. No newborns were reported during the last calving season, and just five calves were counted during the previous year.

Bloomberg slams Trump on climate change, which Jerry Brown likens to Nazism

Michael Bloomberg slammed Donald Trump’s inaction on climate change on Sunday and said any candidate for president in 2020 – he himself might be one – must have a plan to deal with the problem. At the same time, retiring California governor Jerry Brown likened the fight against climate change to the fight against Nazism during the second world war, saying: “We have an enemy … perhaps very much devastating in a similar way.”

Both men appeared on NBC’s Meet the Press. The billionaire former New York mayor said: “It would be a lot more helpful if we had a climate champion rather than a climate denier in the White House. “You know, I’ve always thought Trump has a right to his opinions. But he doesn’t have a right to his own facts.”

A vocal critic of the coal industry, Bloomberg, whose fortune is estimated at $40bn and who spent $100m on his last mayoral race, has said he plans to make climate change a leading issue in the 2020 race, whether or not he runs. “Any candidate for federal office better darn well have a plan to deal with the problem that the Trump science advisers say could, basically, end this world,” he said. “I can tell you one thing, I don’t know whether I’m going to run or not, but I will be out there demanding that anybody that’s running has a plan.”

Bloomberg paid his latest visit to Iowa, site of the first voting in the presidential election cycle, earlier this month. Joining him in a call on Sunday to make climate change a national priority was Brown, a presidential hopeful in the past now standing down after 16 years at the head of the Golden state. He said wildfires in California should serve as a wake-up call. “We see it in the fear in people’s eyes, as they fled, many elderly who died,” Brown told NBC. “This is real, it’s dangerous. And we’ve got to wake up the country, wake up the world.”

Also of Interest

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

Democrats and Neocons Are the Biggest Losers of Trump's Syria Withdrawal

Is Saudi Arabia Hiring Sudanese Children to Fight in Yemen?

Food Aid to Yemen 'Snatched From the Starving' by US-Backed Saudi Allies

The uncontacted tribes of Brazil face genocide under Jair Bolsonaro

Climate Change Refugees Share Stories of Escaping Wildfires, Floods, and Droughts

Palestinian superbug epidemic could spread, say doctors

How an Undercover Oil Industry Mercenary Tricked Pipeline Opponents Into Believing He Was One of Them

Palestinians decry rise in attacks by Israeli settlers

Wall Street, Banks and Angry Citizens

Chris Hedges: Resistance Is the Supreme Act of Faith

A Little Night Music

Lazy Lester - Through The Goodness Of My Heart

Lazy Lester - Go Ahead

Lazy Lester - I'm Gonna Leave You Baby

Lazy Lester - Raining In My Heart

Lazy Lester - Lester's Stomp

Lazy Lester - Ethel Mae

Lazy Lester - Nothing But the Devil

Lonesome Sundown + Lazy Lester - Don't Say A Word

Lazy Lester - They Call Me Lazy

Lazy Lester - The Sun Is Shining

0 users have voted.


NCTim's picture

Thanks for the news, I think.

I always liked the Lazy Lester version better than Slim Harpo.

0 users have voted.

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself. - Friedrich Nietzsche -

NCTim's picture


0 users have voted.

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself. - Friedrich Nietzsche -

joe shikspack's picture


heh, you're welcome. the news is always bad and the music is always good, sometimes great, occasionally transcendent. Smile

my fave:

0 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

Name one thing Obama did for mainstream Americans.

"The ACA which still left millions without health insurance."

But how do you feel about Rachel, Jimmy?

"Rachel Maddow is f'cking nuts!"

Can't disagree with that.

Heh ..

This had 383 re tweets when I first saw it and it now has over 1,4000.


0 users have voted.

America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
- strife delivery

CS in AZ's picture


Not to bring the mood down, hopefully, but I can try to answer your question. Given that it’s a sign of reasonableness to say complimentary things about politicians who we mostly do not like or respect, here is one. (Disclosure: I asked my husband; he still likes Obama, more or less). He said the consumer financial protection bureau. (Well, what he really said was “that financial board or whatever, that made credit forms and bills be in plain English.”)

Having been targeted (unsuccessfully) by predatory lenders in the past, and aware of their tactics, he feels strongly that the credit industry is evil. And he thinks the CFPB is something good that happened under Obama that benefits ordinary people.

I agree that in general, on credit and loan bills, the costs, interest rates actually being paid, potential penalties, etc., are all easier to find and understand now.

Thin gruel, yes... but you said one thing, so I thought I’d give it a try. Smile

What do you think?

I’m home with a cold on New Year’s Eve. Will hopefully be asleep by midnight. It’s wet and cold (for us) outside, so just hanging with hubs and the pups, making a cozy fire in the fireplace which we almost never use.

Oh, we started watching Line of Duty! Thanks for the suggestion yesterday!

Hope you are doing well and the new year brings you all the best!

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snoopydawg's picture

@CS in AZ

the cfpb did some good for people including me. Thanks for the reminder. I got money from my mortgage company after it was fined by it and by the amount I got I'd think it was a hefty one. And we can thank Warren for it too.

Just read the article: Wall Street, Banks and Angry Citizens

After what so many people went through before and after Obama was elected it really shows how out of touch Hillary was to give her paid speeches to the banks right before she announced she was running don't you think? And for anyone who knew about her pay for play when she was SOS it was a huge in your face.

Sorry to hear that your cold isn't better yet, but staying home in front of the fire sounds like a fun evening. Unless you're passing up more fun plans? Hope you feel better soon.

Yay for Line of Duty! I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did. My friend said it spoiled her for any show she watches after it. She kept asking what was going to happen or she would say what she thought was and she was always wrong... I didn't give her spoilers no matter how much I wanted to because I wanted her to be surprised by where it was going. Please keep me informed on how you like it. I've watched it twice because I missed a few things first time. And it's just as good the second time around.

Here's to next year being better for all of us. Give your pups a scritch or two from me.

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America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
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Azazello's picture

@CS in AZ
Looks like we'll get a little taste of winter over the next couple of days.
Low in the 20s ? Brrrrrr. Happy New Year.

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CS in AZ's picture


My weather app says we may have snow by tomorrow morning! That will be fun.

Because snow here is like 2 inches at most, and melts before noon. My kind of snow. Smile

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snoopydawg's picture


Tomorrow the high is going to be 19 and low down to 10. But it's the wind here that is making things difficult because it's coming from the northeast through the canyons that create it to 'funnel' and blow harder. Trucks are being warned not to drive in certain areas. The east winds have blown trains off the tracks.

Stay warm and enjoy your fire. I've lit candles.

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America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
- strife delivery

joe shikspack's picture


Name one thing Obama did for mainstream Americans.

well, heh, you know by now that i'm a tad bit cynical, but i have an answer for you.

obama invented "fake hope."

it's a concept i came up with the other night, and i think it might make a great retort to mainstream, centrist dems running in 2020.

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snoopydawg's picture

@joe shikspack

The ACA, CFPB and False Hope. Some way to take advantage of the mandate he had coming in eh? History will always show that Trump follows him in the list of presidents. This has to hurt.

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America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
- strife delivery

mimi's picture

@joe shikspack
Happy new year to you and your family.
Good riddance of the old one, the worst one I can remember.
On to the new one.
Better days ahead.

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joe shikspack's picture


best to you and yours!

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Unabashed Liberal's picture

everyone has a lovely day, tomorrow, and, obviously, a happy and very prosperous year in 2019.

Debated whether to bring up Sunday interview, Joe--'cause even I hate to bring up a topic that's a bummer right before a major holiday, but, I wanted to let you know, so you could watch out for 'news' regarding the House Budget Committee/committee hearings. Also, going to have my hands full for much of Jan, so, I may not be able to clip the video for several more weeks.

Bottom line, John Yarmuth, incoming Dem Budget Committee Chair (House), talked of "creating more tax revenue through doing away with tax expenditures"--one of the trade-offs in a so-called Grand Bargain.

As if that wasn't bad enough, he said,

I think, ultimately, we are going to have to "deal with" programs like Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security, and, uh, it's one of those things that's going to have to be done on a bipartisan basis, because nobody wants to walk the plank on those.


I'm not going to spoil folks holiday by posting the video this evening. But, when I get a chance to make clips, I'll Tweet them, then post them here at EB. Again, sorta hated to even mention it. But, because I anticipate that January will be particularly hectic, thought I should mention it, so, hopefully, folks will keep their eyes peeled.

Oh, he also told Greta Brawner (C-Span) that the Budget Committee will hold a bunch of hearings on these issues, including one with stakeholders like Aetna, if they look into MFA. What sense does that make? Tells me, he's talking about a Medicare "Buy-In." Not MFA.

Lately, we've done our best to not get washed away. Unfortunately, gonna have to travel by mid-week. Anymore, not sure what's worse--the monsoon-like rain, or the wind gusts. All this, on top of very seasonally warm temps in high 60's!

Everyone have a nice evening!


Blue Onyx

Post Script: Below is a link to the video. I'll post an embed later in January.

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Everyone thinks they have the best dog, and none of them are wrong.

joe shikspack's picture

@Unabashed Liberal

well, you know what divided government means... an opportunity for the 1% to steal social security in a bipartisan manner. it's bad news, but it's expected.

i certainly hope that the 99% grumpily swats them down, should they try to pull it off.

safe travels!

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enhydra lutris's picture

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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

a happy new year to you, too!

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Azazello's picture

Wishing you all a happy and prosperous 2019.
See ya' tomorrow.

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joe shikspack's picture


happy new years! ... and best wishes for the best new year ever.

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janis b's picture

Kia Kaha - Stand Strong.

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joe shikspack's picture

@janis b

happy new years to you, too!

heh, nobody said this better, so i defer to sly:

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