The Evening Blues - 12-4-19



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The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: Slim Gaillard

Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features Jazz multi-instrumentalist and singer Slim Gaillard. Enjoy!

Slim Gaillard Dunkin Bagels & History

“Remember when nurses, carers, teachers and students crashed the stock market, wiped out banks, took billions in bonuses and paid no tax? No, me neither.”

-- Fuad Alakbarov


News and Opinion

Lots more detail at the link.

House Democrats Poised to Rubber-Stamp the “Achilles’ Heel of Dodd-Frank”

Last month, members of the House Agriculture Committee passed a bill reauthorizing the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, or CFTC: a little-known regulatory agency struggling under the weight of an expansive mandate. In the wake of the financial crisis, the CFTC was handed oversight of the $280-trillion U.S. market for derivatives, whose unchecked proliferation on Wall Street helped trigger the crash. While the agriculture committee lauded the voice vote as a rare example of agreement across the aisle, not everyone is pleased with the bipartisan cooperation. Financial reform advocates are decrying what they see as a missed opportunity to repair some of the leaks sprung in the Dodd-Frank regulatory structure during eight years of a Republican-controlled House. Since the 2010 passage of the law, which overhauled financial regulation, banks have steadily chipped away at its framework.

Though the bill hasn’t yet been scheduled, the reauthorization process has caught the eye of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. “We hope that the House will take this opportunity to strengthen the CFTC,” said CPC co-chairs Mark Pocan and Pramila Jayapal in a statement to The Intercept. “As we prepare to negotiate with the Senate on a final reauthorization, it is critical that we do all we can in the House to protect consumers from reckless Wall Street gambling.”

In a letter to House leadership, Americans for Financial Reform, or AFR, a progressive group that advocates for Wall Street regulation, warned that the 10-year CFTC reauthorization would preserve loopholes in derivatives regulation while leaving the agency under-resourced and vulnerable to industry lawsuits. “The CFTC has become the Achilles’ heel of Dodd-Frank,” AFR policy director Marcus Stanley told The Intercept. “We expected that a Democrat-controlled House would’ve been making at least an effort to reverse some of the big defeats in [the law’s] implementation.” ...

The Center for American Progress has also urged House leadership to either improve the bill before it moved forward or consider it on the floor under an open amendment process. “The CFTC’s role as the chief regulator of U.S. derivatives markets makes it a critical protector of economic stability,” wrote CAP, a center-left policy institute, in a letter to House leadership. “The agency’s reauthorization deserves full and careful consideration, and should include measures to resist and reverse loopholes in derivatives regulation won by big banks in the past and being proposed by the Trump Administration today.”

Policy analyst Gregg Gelzinis, who co-wrote the CAP letter, told The Intercept and the American Prospect that the markup of the bill lasted just 40 minutes. “This isn’t the bill that a Dem-controlled House should be saying, here’s our agenda on derivatives regulations,” Gelzinis said, noting that the bill weakens the House’s negotiating position with the Senate.

Trita Parsi: Iran protest update, new threat to the war machine

Bolivia unveils anti-terror unit to fight 'threatening' foreign groups

Bolivia's interim government on Tuesday unveiled a new anti-terrorism police force it said was aimed at dismantling foreign groups "threatening" the troubled South American country. "This anti-terrorist group has a mission of dismantling absolutely all the terrorist cells that are threatening our homeland," Interior Minister Arturo Murillo said during an official ceremony to present the 60-strong force. ...

The minister said the state had to act to "free Bolivia from these narcoterrorists who have settled in the country in the last 14 years" -- a pointed reference to ex-president Evo Morales' term in office. ... Morales wrote on Twitter that "the coup plotters who attacked power in Bolivia are now inventing incredible stories to blame others for the terror that they themselves are imposing from the state." ...

The new interim government of right-wing president Jeanine Anez has denounced foreign influence in the country since taking power, naming Colombians, Peruvians, Cubans and Venezuelans at different times. Her government has blamed foreigners for provoking violent clashes during more than a month of post-election violence in Bolivia that has left dozens of people dead.

More Austerity for Developing Countries

After years of austerity, a number of Eurozone countries are now considering expansionary fiscal policies. And in the UK, government spending is set to return to levels last seen in the 1970s. But austerity abounds elsewhere in the world, including in some of the poorest countries. Since 2010, governments around the world have been cutting public expenditure. New research found that about 75 per cent of the global population, or 5.8 billion people, will be in countries undergoing austerity by 2021.

This new wave of austerity will commence next year and will affect 130 countries, most of which are in the developing world. As many as 69 countries will undergo “excessive contraction”, cutting expenditure below levels achieved prior to the global financial crisis of 2007. The list includes countries with dire development and human needs, such as Burundi, Djibouti, Eritrea, Iraq, the Republic of Congo, and Yemen.

Rather than investing in a robust recovery to bring prosperity to citizens, governments are cutting pensions, public sector wages (including those of teachers and health workers), social assistance, and labour protections. Yet, the social consequences of austerity policies are already painfully clear. Millions of people will be pushed into poverty as a result, many of them women, children, and persons with disabilities. ...

Austerity does not need to be the “new normal.” One of the most disturbing conclusions after the past decade of austerity is that these budget cuts were never actually necessary. Governments could—and should—have pursued alternative policy options. These would have brought prosperity to citizens and avoided the current wave of social discontent.

Lots more detail at the link.

Ukrainian neo-Nazis flock to the Hong Kong protest movement

Neo-Nazis from Ukraine have flown to Hong Kong to participate in the anti-Chinese insurgency, which has been widely praised by Western corporate media and portrayed as a peaceful pro-democracy movement. Since March 2019, Hong Kong has been the site of often-violent protests and riots that have run the city’s economy into the ground. The US government has funded many of the groups leading the pro-Western and anti-Beijing movement, and opposition leaders have coordinated closely with conservative political figures in Washington like Marco Rubio and Steve Bannon, lobbying for sanctions and other punitive measures against China.

Numerous delegations of far-right groups from across the world have traveled to Hong Kong to join the violent insurgency against Beijing, in which secessionists have attacked police with bows and arrows, shot gasoline bombs out of catapults, and burned numerous people alive. With their flamboyant waving of US and British colonial flags and tendency to belt out the American national anthem on megaphones, anti-China separatists in Hong Kong have made themselves a magnet for the US far-right. Staff of the website InfoWars, right-wing social media personality Paul Joseph Watson, and the ultra-conservative group Patriot Prayer are among those who have made pilgrimages to the protests.

The latest collection of extreme-right activists to reinforce the ranks of the Hong Kong separatists are from Ukraine. They call themselves Gonor and have tattoos on their upper torsos with undeniable symbols of white supremacy and neo-Nazism. These extremists previously fought in a notoriously brutal neo-Nazi militia called the Azov Battalion, in Ukraine’s war against pro-Russian militants.

Azov has also helped train American white supremacists, who have plotted terrorist attacks back at home in the United States.

Defying NATO allies, Turkey calls to brand Kurdish militias as 'terrorists'

Macron clashes with both Erdogan and Trump at Nato summit

Nato disunity was on full display on the opening day of the alliance’s summit in London as the French president, Emmanuel Macron, accused Turkey of colluding with Islamic State proxies while Donald Trump described Macron’s criticisms of Nato’s “brain death” as insulting and “very, very nasty”.

The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, for his part threatened again to veto Nato’s defence plan for the Baltics unless Nato endorsed its own assessment that Syrian Kurdish fighters on Turkey’s borders were terrorists, a definition that Macron and the Pentagon rejected. ...

The sense of disarray, reflecting wider differences about Nato’s future post-cold war purpose, emerged through a series of revealing rolling press conferences hosted by Trump. ...

Macron on Tuesday repeatedly warned that Isis was making a comeback in Syria because of the Turkish invasion since it had weakened the mainly Kurdish Syrian Defence Forces, including the YPD fighters, that have formed the backbone of the fight against Isis. At one point Macron accused Turkey of sometimes working with Isis proxies.

Macron said he supported Nato developing wider goals including combating terrorism but said: “I am sorry we do not have the same definition of terrorism around the table. When I look at Turkey, they now are fighting against those who fight with us, who fought with us, shoulder to shoulder, against Isis. And sometimes they work with Isis proxies.” Turkey has to end its ambiguities towards these groups, he said. He added: “I understand they now want to block all the declarations of this summit unless we agree their definition of terrorism. It is not our definition.”

Trump Vs Macron: Leaders clash at NATO summit

Trump says China-US trade deal could wait until after 2020 election

Donald Trump has warned that a trade deal with China could be more than a year away in comments that sent shares in Britain’s top 100 companies and US stock markets tumbling.

Speaking at the Nato summit in London, the US president said the US was doing “very well” from the trade war and he was in no hurry to sign an agreement before he runs for re-election next November.

“In some ways it’s better to wait until after the election for the China deal. But they want to make a deal now,” he said.

The FTSE 100 dropped 1.75%, or more than 100 points, and US stock markets were also sharply lower, the Dow Jones ended down over 1%, as traders digested the president’s view that the uncertainty surrounding the US-China trade talks – which have been blamed for cutting global trade growth by as much as three-quarters since 2017 – could drag on into 2021.

More & more countries restore their gold reserves

Is the Fed’s $3 Trillion in Loans to Trading Houses on Wall Street Legal?

The House Financial Services Committee has released its memorandum outlining the topics that will be raised in its hearing tomorrow with Federal bank regulators, which will include Randal Quarles, Vice Chairman of Supervision at the Federal Reserve. Noticeably absent from the list of topics is what legislative authority the Federal Reserve has that gives it the legal power to be pumping out hundreds of billions of dollars each week in revolving loans to the trading houses of Wall Street.

Since September 17, the Federal Reserve has allowed its New York Fed branch to funnel approximately $3 trillion to unnamed trading houses on Wall Street, much of it at interest rates of less than 2 percent while the behemoth banks that own those trading houses charge their mom and pop credit card customers 17 percent on their credit cards. This looks like more of what Senator Bernie Sanders calls “socialism for the rich, and rugged, you’re-on-your-own individualism for everyone else.”

Since the Fed turned on its money spigot to Wall Street on September 17, not one hearing has been called in Congress to examine what gives the Federal Reserve, the central bank of the United States, the legal authority to provide cheap loans to the trading houses on Wall Street. These are the same Wall Street trading houses that blew themselves up with derivatives in 2008 and took down the U.S. economy in the greatest financial collapse since the Great Depression. Why should the Federal Reserve encourage more of that activity by providing cheap money?

Most of these trading houses are units of mega Wall Street banks that have publicly traded shares. If a publicly traded company cannot obtain loans from anywhere other than the cheap money spigot of the Federal Reserve, it needs to publicly disclose that to its shareholders and potential buyers of its stock. That’s a material fact that legally must be disclosed. The legal argument could be made that the Federal Reserve is aiding and abetting a fraud upon the investing public by failing to name the trading houses that are receiving these massive loans. The loans started out as just overnight loans but they have since morphed to include 15-day and 42-day loans, strongly suggesting that one or more of these firms can’t obtain long-term funding elsewhere.


Lots more detail at the link.

Alec, Rightwing ‘bill mill’ accused of sowing racist and white supremacist policies

Alec, the rightwing network that brings conservative lawmakers together with corporate lobbyists to create model legislation that is cloned across the US, has been accused of spreading racist and white supremacist policies targeted at minority communities.

A report published on Tuesday by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and other advocacy groups charges Alec with propagating white supremacy. In one of the sharpest criticisms yet levelled at the controversial “bill mill”, the authors warn that “conservative and corporate interests have captured our political process to harness profit, further entrench white supremacy in the law, and target the safety, human rights and self-governance of marginalised communities”.

The publication comes on the eve of the latest gathering of Alec, officially known as the American Legislative Exchange Council, which will be attended by hundreds of largely Republican state-level legislators and their big business allies. ...

The Alec summit will be picketed by protesters convened by organisations at the forefront of the race equality movement such as Black Lives Matter and Puente Arizona. The demonstrators will seek to highlight one of the most contentious legislative moves made by Alec: 2010 Arizona law SB1070, which heralded the most extreme crackdown on undocumented migrants then seen in the US under a model bill drafted at an Alec conference the previous year.

Florida Republican condemned for suggesting Ilhan Omar be executed for treason

A Florida Republican with national party ties has been condemned after becoming the latest political opponent of the Minnesota congresswoman Ilhan Omar to suggest that the Minnesota representative be put to death. A fundraising letter sent by George Buck, a Republican running for Congress, suggests that Omar, a Democrat, be executed for treason. “We should hang these traitors where they stand,” the email reads.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, Buck initially blamed the email on an errant staff member before seemingly backtracking and sending the newspaper a statement that referenced the death penalty for treason. “Anyone who commits treason against the United States should be tried to the full extent of the law,” said Buck, who is a member of the Young Guns program run by the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC).

On Wednesday the NRCC and Kevin McCarthy, Republican House minority leader, removed Buck from the program in the wake of his comments. Buck is the second Republican to reference the hanging of Omar, a Somali-born Muslim, in the past week. A campaign account for Danielle Stella, a pro-Trump Republican candidate for Congress, was banned from Twitter after suggesting Omar be hanged, along with a depiction of a stick figure hanging from the gallows.

Trump abused presidency for own gain, Democrats' impeachment report concludes

The US House intelligence committee voted on Tuesday evening to adopt Democrats’ damning 300-page impeachment report, moving the inquiry into Donald Trump into its next phase.

Trump “abused the power of his office for personal and political gain, at the expense of [US] national security”, congressional Democrats concluded in the report released on Tuesday, which laid out incriminating conclusions after two weeks of public hearings.

Saying evidence made plain that the president improperly pressured Ukraine to influence the 2020 election, the Trump-Ukraine Impeachment Inquiry Report used language that seemed to lay the groundwork for several potential articles of impeachment.

The US House intelligence committee voted on Tuesday evening 13-9 along party lines to approve the report for referral to the judiciary committee, which would weigh articles of impeachment the full House could vote on by the end of the year. Republicans now have two days to submit “minority views” before the intelligence committee chairman, Adam Schiff, transmits the report and its appendices to the House judiciary committee.

The report also accuses Trump of a cover-up in which he “ordered and implemented a campaign to conceal his conduct from the public and frustrate and obstruct the House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry”.

Congressman Duncan Hunter pleads guilty to stealing campaign funds

The Republican representative from California pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges relating to his misuse of more than $200,000 in campaign funds. ...

Hunter had previously said that he was the victim of a “witch hunt”.

An Oregon Town Can't Afford a Police Force, So Regular People Are Taking Over

A small town of less than 2,000 people in southern Oregon doesn’t have the money for a full-time police force. Instead, it might allow regular citizens to access new security cameras so they can monitor the town. The local sheriff’s department monitors Cave Junction, Oregon, during weekdays, but a group of crime-watching volunteers called Cave Junction Patrol will take over at night. They’ll use eight new security cameras, to be installed on the town’s street lights, according to the Oregonian.

The citizen patrol, whose members do not undergo background checks, is capable of spotting “hardcore criminals” on looks alone, as Cave Junction City Recorder Rebecca Patton told Jefferson Public Radio. But they don't make any arrests themselves; they refer people to the sheriff's department. “They can identify them by the way that they dress, because they have a certain apparel that they wear all the time, or the way they walk,” Patton told the public radio station. “Sometimes they carry things all the time — it could be something as simple as a skateboard. They have learned how to identify these people very, very quickly, then they know how to respond.” ...

The presence of the group, which already conducts regular street patrols, is considered necessary by some in the city because calls to local police after dark tend to go unanswered for at least 45 minutes, according to Jefferson Public Radio. The town has failed to pass ballot measures that would fund a police force through higher taxes, according to the Oregonian. ...

Cities and their respective police forces increasingly use surveillance technology to monitor crime, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. That’s spawned privacy concerns in towns like Newark, New Jersey, where non-law enforcement personnel have access to live security feeds. And, similar to Cave Junction, some cities like Lancaster, Pennsylvania, have encouraged “crime watch” groups to use those surveillance feeds to alert actual police to any wrongdoing.



the horse race



NY DNC Vice Chair ENDORSES TRUMP Over Tulsi

'He's Just...Erased': PBS 2020 Segment Finds Time for Klobuchar, Sestak, and Bullock—But Completely Ignores Bernie Sanders

A Monday night PBS NewsHour segment on the state of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary highlighted Sen. Amy Klobuchar's new ad campaign in Iowa, the departure of marginal candidates Steve Bullock and Joe Sestak, a tender campaign moment with Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and Joe Biden's "No Malarkey" bus tour—but did not once even mention Sen. Bernie Sanders despite recent key endorsements and a surge in the polls.

Sanders' presidential campaign has repeatedly accused the corporate media of ignoring the senator from Vermont, a phenomenon Sanders supporters have dubbed the "Bernie blackout."

The PBS segment, led by NewsHour correspondent Yamiche Alcindor, offered "a real taste of what Bernie is talking about," Current Affairs editor Nathan Robinson wrote Tuesday.

"Remember that Sanders has been #1 in two out of three recent New Hampshire polls, and is currently second in Iowa, ahead of 'frontrunner' Joe Biden," Robinson noted. "Alcindor found time to talk about Joe Sestak and Steve Bullock, plus plenty of candidates struggling to get out of single-digit poll numbers. And yet: not even a photo of Bernie Sanders. Incredible. He's just... erased. He's gone. Bernie who?"

[At the link there's an embed of the broadcast, but i refuse to give the propaganda broadcast network any help. - js]

Robinson described the NewsHour segment as an example of "manufacturing consent in action":

Political commentator David Pakman recently asked, looking at Pete Buttigieg's rising poll numbers, 'What do you think is behind Pete's rise?' My own answer to that is simple: the manufacture of consent by a media apparatus invested in selling a candidate that will not disrupt the economic status quo.

So much of our understanding of the world and what matters is filtered through the media, because that's how we get access to things that are not in our direct experience. If nobody talks about Bernie Sanders' campaign, how are you supposed to learn about it unless Bernie people come and knock on your door?

The NewsHour segment came just weeks after a detailed analysis of MSNBC's coverage of Sanders by In These Times found that the Vermont senator received both the least frequent and most negative coverage of the top 2020 Democratic presidential contenders. ...

Sanders' lack of corporate media coverage compared to his 2020 rivals does not appear to have dampened his campaign's momentum. Last week, Sanders regained the number two spot behind Biden in RealClearPolitics' national polling average and came out on top in an Emerson New Hampshire poll.

Joe Biden goes from 'No Malarkey' tour to NYC fundraiser

Iowa's Largest Progressive Group Endorses Sanders

With only about two months left before Iowa's first-in-the-nation 2020 caucuses, the political arm of the state's largest grassroots progressive group endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination on Monday.

"From standing with us on strike lines with fast food workers to touring rural Iowa plagued by factory farms, Bernie has helped build the political revolution we've been building for decades. And we could not be more excited to have him build it with us in Iowa in 2020," said the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (CCI) Action Fund.

The Iowa CCI Action Fund plans to formally voice support for Sanders (I-Vt.) at an endorsement rally and Medicare for All action at its headquarters in Des Moines on Thursday. The decision to back his campaign for the Democratic nomination followed a seven-month endorsement process.

"Some 2020 presidential candidates have been embracing or acknowledging movement politics. But only one of them has been doing it for decades, just like Iowa CCI Action and our sister organization Iowa CCI," the action fund said. "That's why Iowa CCI Action is endorsing Bernie Sanders. We're standing with Bernie because Bernie stands with us." ...

On the heels of the action fund's announcement Monday, Iowa Student Action announced on Twitter that it was following the group's footsteps and supporting Sanders' second run for the White House.

Krystal Ball: Which neoliberal will drop out next?

Progressives Fire Back at Buttigieg's 'Bad Faith' Claim That Tuition-Free College Proposals Are Elitist

Progressives and supporters of tuition-free public college plans on Wednesday denounced South Bend, Indiana Mayor and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg's recent claim that offering a free public college education furthered an "elitist" worldview.

At a campaign stop in South Carolina on Monday, Buttigieg told the press that plans to offer public college to all Americans tuition-free push a "narrative" that one must attend college to succeed in the United States.

"Where I come from, three out of four people don't have a college degree," the South Bend, Indiana mayor told NBC reporter Priscilla Thompson. "And if the message we're sending to them is that you need a college degree in order to get by in life, in order to prosper, in order to succeed, we're leaving most Americans out."

Buttigieg's communications adviser, Lis Smith, added on Twitter that the plans of Buttigieg's primary rivals, Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), to make public college accessible to all Americans, represented "the height of elitism."

Several officials on Sanders's presidential campaign took issue with that characterization, noting that the senator's public college proposal explicitly included tuition-free trade school enrollment, which, like two- and four-year college, would be funded by a Wall Street speculation tax. "Bernie's plan also explicitly eliminates existing trade school debt—and Buttigieg's plan does not," wrote Sanders speechwriter David Sirota in his newsletter, "Bern Notice," on Wednesday.

Sanders has long held the position that not all Americans may want to attend a two- or four-year college, campaign spokesman Mike Casca told the Huffington Post. "In fact, technical colleges and trade schools can be essential to the lives of working class Americans," Casca said. "Unlike Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Bernie believes essentials should be guaranteed to all people—not just those who can afford it."




the evening greens


Decade of 'exceptional' heat likely to be hottest on record, experts say

The last decade has been one of “exceptional” heat around the world, and was almost certainly the hottest on record, while the oceans have also warmed to record levels and grown markedly more acidic, the World Meteorological Organization has said.

Temperatures for the years from 2010 to 2019 were about 1.1C above the average for the pre-industrial period, showing how close the world is coming to the 1.5C of warming that scientists say will cause dramatic impacts, extreme weather and the loss of vital ecosystems.

The preliminary findings of the State of the Global Climate, an annual publication by the WMO, show that this year is on course to be the second or third warmest since records began. ...

The findings came as the world’s governments gathered in Madrid for a critical UN conference on the climate. On Monday, the UN secretary general, António Guterres, warned that though the technology and economic means to fight climate chaos were available, political will was lacking.

Brazilian Indigenous Leader Davi Kopenawa: Bolsonaro is Killing My People & Destroying the Amazon

Trump deploys 'surge' of park rangers to patrol Mexican border

The Trump administration is sending a new “surge” of rangers from US national parks such as Zion, Yosemite and the National Mall to patrol the southern border for crossings by illegal immigrants. Continuing a controversial policy initiated in 2018, rangers who work in law enforcement will be dispatched to Organ Pipe Cactus national monument on the Arizona and Mexico border as well as Big Bend national park on the border in south-west Texas.

Donald Trump has been unable to obtain funding for his border emergency plan, which includes an increase in immigration enforcement officials as well as large sums for border wall construction. Diverting rangers from national parks is a way to direct federal resources to the border without the need for congressional approval.

Valerie Naylor, a former National Park Service (NPS) superintendent who worked for the agency for 31 years, said she was troubled by the idea of rangers being tasked with arresting migrants instead of protecting the parks where they work. “My concern is sending rangers from parks that are already understaffed specifically to work with border patrol in areas that are outside the mission of the National Park Service,” she said. “This potentially puts visitors at risk, certainly resources at risk, in the parks they are leaving.”

Since the fiscal year 2011, the National Park Service has seen an 11% reduction in staff while experiencing a 19% increase in visitation. Trump’s proposed 2020 budget, which includes considerable increases in border security spending, cuts the NPS budget cut by $481m. ...

he “pilot” program was initially set to last just 90 days but has been extended into the fall of 2020, according to High Country News. Federal officials have been tight-lipped about the number of rangers taking part in three-week rotations at national parks on the border. The NPS declined to provide the number of rangers reassigned to these duties since 2018 to the Guardian.

Trump Quietly Provides Offshore Drilling Industry 'Sweetheart Giveaway'

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt was condemned Monday for a proposed policy shift on offshore drilling panned as a "sweetheart giveaway" for a former client. The new extraction-encouraging proposal was announced last month in a report (pdf) by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), two agencies within the Interior Department and occurred, according to transparency group Western Values Project, "under the cloud of impeachment."

Bernhardt's announcement followed longstanding fears that the former lobbyist would use his position in the federal government to serve the interests of the fossil fuel lobby above those of the American people and public lands. The recommendations laid out in the report pertain to royalties for offshore leasing and drilling.

"Federal officials," as Louisiana's Houma Today reported, "are offering oil and gas companies a discount on the fees they pay the government to drill in the Gulf of Mexico's shallow waters." If enacted, the policy to "ensure maximum resource recovery" would benefit the oil and gas industry National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA), on whose behalf Bernhardt previously lobbied, said Western Values Project.

Also noteworthy, said the advocacy group, is that the report was co-authored by BSEE Director Scott Angelle, who also has ties to the fossil fuel industry. Western Values Project said that, during the government shutdown, Angelle—who has NOIA's stamp of approval for his current position—green-lit 53 permits for offshore drilling for companies that sit on the board of directors for NOIA.

"Since day one, Secretary Bernhardt has operated as though Interior was his own personal lobby shop by doling out favors for his former clients with impunity. This offshore royalty rate reduction deal is short selling our shared resources and ripping off taxpayers," said Jayson O'Neill, deputy director of Western Values Project. "With Trump's own corruption dominating headlines," he continued, "Bernhardt probably thought this sweetheart giveaway to his former oil and gas client would slip by unnoticed."


Also of Interest

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

Excellent: Capitalism’s Suicidal Trajectory

George Soros and Charles Koch take on the 'endless wars'

Questions Cloud Story Behind U.S. Sanctions

The Times' Middle East Columnist Fails On Basic Facts

The Intercept has a number of articles up about the death penalty that are worth a look.

Race Looms Ever Larger as Death Sentences Decline

What Happens When a Reform Prosecutor Stands Up to the Death Penalty

Report Details How Social Security Has Become Rigged for the Wealthy While Leaving Behind Those It Was Designed to Help

Fox News host Tucker Carlson: Putin does not hate America like liberals do

A Surefire Cure For Despair

Jimmy Dore: Top Tier Candidate Kamala Drops Out!!

Rising: Will Tulsi, Yang make the debate stage?

Rising: Media's Kamala, Beto wishcasting fail

Rising: White feminists blame racism, sexism for Kamala Harris' failure


A Little Night Music

Slim Gaillard & His Orchestra w/Charlie Parker - Flat Foot Floogie

Slim Gaillard and His Peruvians - Laughing in Rhythm

Slim Gaillard - Vout Oreenie

Slim Gaillard - Chicken Rhythm

Slim Gaillard - Slim's Jam

Slim and Slam - Chinatown, My Chinatown

Slim Gaillard Quartette - Atomic Cocktail

Slim Gaillard - Cement Mixer

Slim Gaillard - Groove Juice Special (Hit The Jive Jack)

Slim Gaillard - A Traveller's Tale

Slim Gaillard's Civilisation: How High The Moon

Slim Gaillard's Civilisation: My Dinner With Dizzy

Slim Gaillard's Civilisation: Everything's OK in the UK


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enhydra lutris's picture

immediately began to smile; cement mixer puti puti to you. Thanks for the evening blues, news too.

Have a good one.

edit, changed that to thanks, which was what was intended.

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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

slim gaillard always brings a smile to me, too. a talented musician with a really interesting life. the video, "a traveller's tale" from his bbc series is quite impressive.

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mimi's picture

Trump deserves to be taken to the shack and been thoroughly beaten on his behind.

The way he talked to Macron, he just was asking for it. I am looking for my rug beater. It's more effective to beat someone's behind with it instead of using your bare hands. Geez. He just feels so great behaving like a big creepy worm of nastiness.

PS ''Nothing for Ungood' is my silly literal translation of the German saying 'Nichts für Ungut', which a more sane person would translate to "No harm (or no offense) meant".

But Trump made me lose my sanity. So ... this is the time where I would say 'Everything for Ungood'. But this guy helped me to laugh it off.

I want me my Icise with freedom fries, please, and some French Grey Poupon and Heinz Ketchup.

I think Macron was crying like the waiter watching Heinz Ketchup messing up his meal at Trump Towers most posh restaurant.
Got to get some sleep. Thank you, Joe, for the EB's list of mashed potatoes news with 'pees' and brown sausage.

Have a good night.

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“Trauma is not what happens to you.
Trauma is what happens inside you,
as a result of what happens to you.”
— Dr. Gabor Maté

janis b's picture

@mimi

Thanks for all the laughs. I think you found a good strategy for dealing with all the Dreck ; ).

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mimi's picture

@janis b
from TOP. One of them was of Scottish decent. Don't remember his name or the year. He spoke about something being "Dreck".

At those times I was still a better behaved pearl clutching girl and tried to explain to him that in the German language usage the word "Dreck" is a pretty strong word for condemnig someone or something. He just said in the English language usage "Dreck" is a harmless expression.

I shut up. Over the years I have learned to live with the "Dreck" and don't faint anymore, when a person of my respect uses it.

Smile

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“Trauma is not what happens to you.
Trauma is what happens inside you,
as a result of what happens to you.”
— Dr. Gabor Maté

janis b's picture

@mimi

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joe shikspack's picture

@mimi

heh, regarding trump/macron. i see two overprivileged, authoritarian 1%ers pandering to their political bases.

yes, trump is acting like a buffoon, but i assure you that here in the states there are numbers of people who enjoy watching trump stick his thumb in the eye of the global elite.

and you can see macron silently calculating that his interjections will play well in his own political neighborhood - defending france from the ugly american louts - a great reason to support his program to increase french and european militarization and back away from the u.s./nato.

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janis b's picture

@joe shikspack

a goldmine of material to use for whatever agenda anyone has, unfortunately.

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mimi's picture

@joe shikspack
If I just could be a homeless, alcoholic woman sleeping in her car on the beautiful US West Coast all would be just dandy ...

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“Trauma is not what happens to you.
Trauma is what happens inside you,
as a result of what happens to you.”
— Dr. Gabor Maté

mimi's picture

@joe shikspack
demonstrate against Macron, because he wants to change their statuary social welfare and pension programmes towards a more unfair and unequal system as such increasing the divide between rich and poor. imo, France and some other European countries have a much better system than Germany and if I understand it correctly better than the US system.

But what do I know? I am constantly confused about what people say. Sorry.

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“Trauma is not what happens to you.
Trauma is what happens inside you,
as a result of what happens to you.”
— Dr. Gabor Maté

lotlizard's picture

@mimi  
https://www.newstatesman.com/world/europe/2019/11/year-gilets-jaunes-hav...

So the technocrat and bully Macron ran into a bigger bully? I have a hard time feeling any sympathy.

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mimi's picture

@lotlizard @lotlizard
you are not that unsympathetic that you lose your mind and want to beat him up as I had an impulse to beat up and step on 'The Donaldy-Worm'.

So, who would you vote for, if you could? Can you blame the American and French (or German) people that they always seem to have only two of the lesser or worse evil options??

Now they have even more than ten of the supposedly 'gooder options' and the Dreck still doesn't turn into compost.

I believe in the end all the ones, who vote, brake down and compromise their ideas or they turn around, don't vote and are silent. Is silence then the new fashion thingy ? I still believe in "Saying Something".

The overall despondency of some C99p participatants is 'verboten' per decret of mimi.

One has to dig in the 'Dreck' and it will be turned into compost. In the name of the fruits of my garden for my grandkiddos, I vote for continuing digging in the 'Dreck', whereever you have it. As far as I can see, you find 'Dreck' everywhere worldwide. So, smarty Joe the Shikspack has plenty of work in front of him til God has mercy with him and gives him a nicer job on cloud No. 7 in the blue sky sitting on God's lap. Wink /s.

I hope you at least have a tiny, little smile left for us 'sympathizers'.
Peace.

Sigh.

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“Trauma is not what happens to you.
Trauma is what happens inside you,
as a result of what happens to you.”
— Dr. Gabor Maté

lotlizard's picture

@mimi  
Twenty-four plus five cheers for Trump and ICE, good on them for not putting any migrants’ eyes out or causing any migrants’ hands to have to be amputated …

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mimi's picture

@lotlizard
it happens too often, but often I don't get snark or sarcasm or jokes. Unfortunately.
As a younger woman from TOP (of native American decent) once said, I don't have enough of the cultural understanding of Americans to be able to follow. I guess I am a little on the slow side.

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“Trauma is not what happens to you.
Trauma is what happens inside you,
as a result of what happens to you.”
— Dr. Gabor Maté

Azazello's picture

So ALEC is coming back to Scottsdale. I remember when they were there in 2011 at the same venue. We drove up there to take part in the protests.

At that time one Debbie Lesko was a member of the AZ House of Reps and ALEC's legislative chair. Here she is back then on Phoenix's PBS affiliate defending this fine organization.

She has now taken her act to the next level and represents Arizona's 8th district in the US House. Mark Pocan has a similar trajectory. As a member of Wisconsin's state assembly he infiltrated an ALEC event in New Orleans earlier that year.

He has also moved up to the US House and is now co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. I wonder if there will be any protests this year. The event started today.

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It didn't have to be this way.

joe shikspack's picture

@Azazello

heh, one would hope that there would be protests.

i ran across this story this afternoon (i'll post an extract tomorrow) about ccr filing a lawsuit against alec claiming that it violates an arizona open meetings statute.

should be interesting.

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Azazello's picture

@joe shikspack
I really believed in the potential of blogging and the Daily Kos.
It was through that site that I "met" anti-ALEC activists from around the country.
Some of them flew in to Phoenix for the protest and we protested together and had dinners together and talked revolution. I thought that we could actually do some good with this blogging bullshit.
The scales fell from my eyes in 2015, in Phoenix, at Netroots Nation.
Live and learn.

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It didn't have to be this way.

janis b's picture

@Azazello

Too bad Marcus was a fraud, and manipulated a site that could have possibly achieved something. Instead, due to his utterly unscrupulous misdirection and the herd-like mentality of many, it failed.

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ggersh's picture

Where's Chuckie and the D's, on the proverbial milk carton

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2019/12/04/trumps-rightward-shift-fede...

Trump's Rightward Shift of Federal Courts Advances as Senate Confirms Anti-Choice Sarah Pitlyk

"Appalling."

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Buy a Bible don't read it and you'll be a Catholic
Buy a Bible read only what suits you and you'll be an Evangelical
Buy a Bible read it fully, analyze it, reason it and you will be
an Atheist

janis b's picture

@ggersh

The guy next to her looks a lot like this appalling leader of the NZ National Party. The National Party are the equivalent of the Republicans, and this guy is the almost the worst of them.
https://thedailyblog.co.nz/2019/12/03/simon-bridges-molasses-soaked-step...

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mimi's picture

@janis b
chest-beating male politicians. Putinchen, Donaldchen and companions ...

They all were babies once, so no problem. My babe had the cutest chest.

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“Trauma is not what happens to you.
Trauma is what happens inside you,
as a result of what happens to you.”
— Dr. Gabor Maté

joe shikspack's picture

@ggersh

yep, schumer and his democrat senaturds are proving to be spectacularly useless. it's almost like they want the project of turning over the court system to rightwing lunatics to succeed. cough, cough.

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snoopydawg's picture

Kalama dropped because people already had an Obama and rejected a Hillary, they didn't want a mixture between those two.

YouTube comment on Harris dropping out. Her supporters are out in droves today being as nasty as they can be and blaming her failing campaign on all the identity politics reasons. The first we heard about her running was when the Hamptons held that fundraiser for her and everyone knew that she was the next Wall Street, Clinton and Obama candidate. I think a lot of people rejected her right then because of Obama's presidency and because she would be a Hillary 2.0.

Money was her reason, but Krystal said that she had the most billionaires supporting her. But maybe if this silly season hadn't started so early people wouldn't be sweating how much money they have and need to get through it.

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“When police break the Law then there is no Law - just a fight for survival.” - Billy Jack

joe shikspack's picture

@snoopydawg

yep, well, i guess she wasn't going to get up and say, "ok, i give up. i guess americans can spot a phoney."

amazing, all of those identity qualifications ticked off the list and she's still monumentally inauthentic.

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snoopydawg's picture

@joe shikspack

It 'twas'nt the lack of money so much as it was Tulsi taking her down in the debate. Kudos, Tulsi for doing that.

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“When police break the Law then there is no Law - just a fight for survival.” - Billy Jack

snoopydawg's picture

A handful of Senate Democrats, including Elizabeth Warren, threatened to vote down the bill if the provision wasn’t removed. But Democratic leadership and the White House were ultimately willing to sacrifice swaps regulation in order to pass a budget deal.

This article once again shows how every member of congress has been bought by the corporations that they are supposed to be regulating. When the corporations can decide who chairs the committees then congress should just stay home and let them write and pass the legislation they want cuz that's pretty much what we have already isn't it? Since corporations are considered people then they should get the death penalty every time they kill someone. And kill they are.

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“When police break the Law then there is no Law - just a fight for survival.” - Billy Jack

janis b's picture

How did I ever miss this brilliant man! What a musical and co(s)mic trip he is! I look forward to listening to the rest, especially the rest of A Travellers Tale.

Thanks for the news also joe. It always makes me recoil in sorrow, sometimes it also generates a desire to try harder. It’s quite challenging to try and do your best in such dire times. Slim helped!

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joe shikspack's picture

@janis b

i guess slim is another of the many highly talented people who had a moment and then became lost to time in the public mind. i'm glad that you found him at last. Smile

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janis b's picture

@joe shikspack

you just have to cry, or try to regenerate it ; ).

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Not Henry Kissinger's picture

@janis b

Love that band! Dance 4

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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?

janis b's picture

@Not Henry Kissinger

Maybe we should collaborate on featuring the Melbourne Ska Orchestra?

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Bollox Ref's picture

Now, there's a dinosaur of a program. A bunch of aging washingtonians watching their aging selves.

When was the last time that hour of mediocrity broke a story? Actual real news, as opposed to just repeating stuff.

I haven't willingly listened to/watched MPR/PBS since the debacle that was the coverage of the build up to the debacle of Iraq in 2003. Please, don't subscribe.

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Gëzuar!!
from a reasonably stable genius.

joe shikspack's picture

@Bollox Ref

yep, the newshour is among the biggest reasons why i could care less if the republicans finally get their way and defund "broadcasting in the public interest." (what a cruel joke that is)

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lotlizard's picture

@joe shikspack  
It’s just a huge self-congratulatory boondoggle dispensing Atlanticist war propaganda and Washington consensus globalist economics.

MDR, the state-funded broadcaster for my region encompassing three states that used to be part of former East Germany, just fired a cabaret-style comedian and satirist named Uwe Steimle, and for what? For having criticized MDR and state-funded TV as being too much of a government mouthpiece — sort of proving his point.

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mimi's picture

(just edited some spelling and grammr mistakes)
Do you remember this?
Netroots Nation Star Quilt
It reminds me of Sarah and Winglion, who, I think stiched together the Star Quilt.

Whatever your feelings are of the do-gooder Sarah and Winglion quilting ladies, I have fond memories of their work and their peace-supporting intentions.

She made two quilts, one for me, which I use as my bed cover, and one for my niece, who died of cancer in the US at the end of 2012, as an effort to give her a 'healing quilt' a couple of years before 2012. I found a photo of my niece with that quilt covering her and wondered where that quilt has gone. (I am on a trip to go through my and my family's history of the last 80 years with regards of photos and memorabilia and letters).

Now I am that 'nutty' already, thinking the quilt was lost on the move of my niece from LA to NYC, and therefore my niece died.

Whatever it is, may be one of you could contact Sarah and tell her that I am very grateful for her work and still cherish my quilt. I have no way of contacting her.

Thanks.

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“Trauma is not what happens to you.
Trauma is what happens inside you,
as a result of what happens to you.”
— Dr. Gabor Maté