The Evening Blues - 12-4-20
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features blues piano player Pinetop Perkins. Enjoy!
Pinetop Perkins - Pinetop's Boogie Woogie
"A shocking crime was committed on the unscrupulous initiative of few individuals, with the blessing of more, and amid the passive acquiescence of all."
News and Opinion
The United States and Israel have once again shown themselves to be the world’s foremost criminal organization. The assassination of Iranian scientist Mohsen Fakhrazideh is just the latest act carried out by two nations that behave like international mobsters. They aren’t content to deprive Iranians of food and medicine with crushing sanctions but they take no chance that peace may be allowed to break out in the region. While Donald Trump’s rants about staying in office and fears of a coup created anxiety, the threats from his foreign policy actions were largely ignored. In recent weeks that lack of attention has proven to be very dangerous as his administration ramped up efforts to tie the hands of the incoming president Joe Biden in regards to Iran. ...
There has been no official U.S. response to the assassination. A Trump twitter post is seemingly sufficient to confess to the crime and to alert the public to the risk of hot war involving Iran or its ally Russia, which could also involve Saudi Arabia or Israel. Nor has Joe Biden or his team said anything. Supposed progressives in Congress are silent. Democratic Senator Chris Murphy made the typical mealy mouthed case that the U.S. isn’t safer because of the killing. He said nothing about the violation of international law and the dangers of war created by this act.
Trump and Pompeo aren’t the only villains in this story. They know that Congress will either act as cheerleaders or remain silent. Even those who ordinarily boast of progressive credentials will not risk opposing their party leadership, corporate media, or the pro-Israel lobby in the U.S.
Iran will come back into full compliance with its nuclear deal immediately after the incoming Joe Biden administration in the US proves its bona fides by lifting all sanctions, the country’s foreign minister has said.
Setting out the parameters for a new relationship with Washington, Javad Zarif also said Iran would not require the US to rejoin the deal, known as the joint comprehensive plan of action (JCPoA), before lifting its sanctions, but would need some kind of assurance that once it has rejoined, the Biden administration would not simply leave the deal again in the same way Donald Trump did.
He appeared to rule out renegotiating the existing deal, even though the US believes that with many of its key clauses due to expire in 2025, new sunset clauses are required.
Zarif was speaking at the Roma Med 2020 conference by video link as the Biden team works on how to approach the Middle East.
He said: “The US must implement without preconditions its obligations under the JCPoA. It has to show its good faith, it has to establish its bona fides, then Iran will go back in full compliance with JCPoA.”
The window to prevent the return of famine to Yemen is rapidly closing, UN agencies have warned, with a new assessment showing millions could head further into hunger in the coming months.
The alert came as a World Health Organization food security assessment showed thousands of people are slipping into famine – a number that is predicted to triple in the first half of next year – while millions more have seen declining access to food.
An estimated 16,500 people are now facing a “catastrophic, famine-like situation”, which could increase to 47,000 people by June 2021.
The new figures were disclosed as aid agencies warned that less than a half of the emergency funds called for by the UN to help Yemen this year had been delivered. Last month, UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock told the UN security council that the $3.4bn (£2.5bn) appeal for 2020 for Yemen had received only $1.5bn, or about 45%. ...
According to the assessment released on Thursday, more than half of Yemen’s population of 30 million risks slipping into “worsening levels of hunger” by mid 2021, according to a joint statement by the World Food Program, Unicef and the Food and Agriculture Organization.
Well, it's something:
Joe Biden intends to call for all Americans to wear masks for 100 days after he becomes president in an attempt to bring down infection rates, as the coronavirus crisis continues to rage out of control in the US. The president-elect and vice-president-elect, Kamala Harris, have also committed to receiving coronavirus vaccinations as soon as possible when, as expected, the first vaccines are approved by US regulators.
Sitting for their first joint interview since the November election, with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Biden said he would be willing to join with the three previous US presidents who pledged on Thursday that they would be injected with the Covid-19 vaccine in public in order to boost faith in the inoculations among the American public. ...
Donald Trump has not spoken publicly about whether he will get the vaccine. On Thursday he remained silent about the record deaths and hospitalizations recorded in the US in the previous 24 hours, as the American death toll exceeded 275,000 and recorded cases crossed the 14m threshold, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
Biden also answered “yes and yes” when asked if he had spoken to Fauci since beating Trump in the November presidential election and whether he would keep Fauci on as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a role he has held since 1984, when Ronald Reagan was president. Biden said he spoke to Fauci on Thursday afternoon and his “Covid team” of health advisers had also spoken with him. He said he also asked Fauci to be his chief medical adviser and be part of the Covid team advising him on the pandemic.
California has unveiled plans to issue regional stay-at-home orders for areas in the state where intensive care units are expected to fall below a capacity of 15%, with the vast majority of the state expected to meet that criteria within the next few days.
Gavin Newsom, California’s governor, announced the new restrictions on Thursday as cases in the state reached the highest reported since the pandemic began. “The bottom line is if we don’t act now, our hospital system will be overwhelmed,” Newsom said. “If we don’t act now, our death rate will continue to climb.”
The state has been divided into five regions: northern California, the Bay Area, the greater Sacramento area, southern California and the San Joaquin valley. Every region but the Bay Area is expected to reach an available ICU capacity of below 15% within the next two days, Newsom said. The Bay Area should reach that point by mid-December.
The new stay-at-home order will include restrictions on business and gathering spaces – no salons, no gyms, no indoor worship, no playgrounds. Restaurants will be allowed to offer only take-out or delivery. Retail that is already limited to 20% will be allowed to remain open, but all non-essential travel is restricted.
I was criticized for pushing for the $1.8 trillion deal back in October. Now we are talking about compromising at $900 billion. What a loss. We must make a deal, but this is what I feared. It’s time for McConnell to offer something for people, not just $500b for businesses.
— Ro Khanna (@RoKhanna) December 3, 2020
It's a start, Raimondo will stick to killing people in Rhode Island rather than expanding her target environment:
Facing Opposition From Progressives, Gina Raimondo Withdraws From Consideration as Biden's HHS Chief
Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, a Democrat who had emerged as the frontrunner to be President-elect Joe Biden's health secretary despite overseeing one of the deadliest Covid-19 outbreaks in the United States, announced Thursday that she has removed herself from contention for the job, much to the delight of progressives who had strongly opposed her candidacy and potential nomination.
"My focus is right here in Rhode Island," Raimondo said during a press conference on Thursday afternoon, a development first reported by Politico.
Regardless of the motives behind Raimondo's decision to withdraw from being considered to run the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in the Biden administration, the news was welcomed by critics who said Raimondo would be a "disastrous and harmful" pick for HHS secretary, as well as the U.S. public writ large, 70% of whom oppose Biden appointing the Rhode Island governor to any Cabinet position, according to recent polling.
"Raimondo is exactly the wrong person to pick if the goal is to instill confidence that the Biden administration can bring a swift end to the pandemic," David Segal, executive director of Demand Progress and former member of the Rhode Island House of Representatives, said in a statement Thursday, prior to Raimondo's withdrawal.
"Her record on health is a total disaster—and because of her mismanagement, Covid-19 rates in Rhode Island are around twice the national average," Segal added. "Whether Covid-19, Rhode Island's Affordable Care Act insurance exchange, or a major benefits overhaul known as UHIP, she has a lengthy track record of failures in the healthcare space in particular."
Investigative journalist David Sirota, whose news outlet on Wednesday morning published a damning exposé of Raimondo, a former Wall Street executive who is opposed to Medicare for All and who cut public sector workers' pensions, tweeted Wednesday night: "We're in the middle of the worst public health crisis in modern history—it is absolutely amazing that a person with this particular record is even in CONTENTION for the nation's top healthcare job."
We're in the middle of the worst public health crisis in modern history -- it is absolutely amazing that a person with this particular record is even in CONTENTION for the nation's top health care job. Really think about what that says about our society. https://t.co/hhsr5Vc3bp
— David Sirota (@davidsirota) December 3, 2020
As Daily Poster reporters Julia Rock and Andrew Perez explained Wednesday, Raimondo "approved health insurance companies' steep premium increases... amid the pandemic in August." She also issued an executive order in April that "helped nursing home lobbyists shield healthcare companies from coronavirus-related lawsuits."
Demand Progress on Thursday called her effort to shield nursing homes, hospitals, and other healthcare providers from liability "the culmination of a decade-old effort by the Koch-funded American Legislative Exchange Council."
While Raimondo granted Rhode Island's nursing homes "legal immunity during the pandemic," the facilities' residents and workers have been left to face the "deadly consequences," noted Rock and Perez. "More than 70% of Covid-19 deaths in Rhode Island have been linked to long-term care facilities."
Worth a full read:
Last night, CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Joe Biden and Kamala Harris a straightforward question: “Who would you point to now as a leading progressive voice in the cabinet?” Harris had no answer, saying only that “we’re not even halfway there” on nominations. Biden touted only his Homeland Security nominee, who previously helped run Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The spectacle was revelatory and honest: A month after the election, Biden’s nominations make clear that the president-elect is most focused on trying to fulfill his promise to donors that nothing fundamentally changes.
And yet, that tacit admission may have stunned those who keep hearing from liberal and progressive groups in Washington that, in fact, the left has been notching monumental victories in Biden’s cabinet appointments. ... In some cases, liberal groups are naively trying to curry favor with an incoming Democratic administration. Others are probably just trying to demonstrate to their supporters and future donors they won’t be completely irrelevant in Biden’s Washington. Some are just too chickenshit to ever stand up and have any real fight with Democrats — and still others are just auctioning off their principles because the establishment counterrevolution offers better, stable career prospects.
The result, though, is the same: What little organized left political infrastructure exists in Washington is largely valorizing or publicly defending swamp creatures who at minimum deserve a loyal opposition. The good work being done by a small handful of under-resourced groups to mount a real opposition is getting trampled by a culture of obsequiousness. This culture of acquiescence gives swamp creatures a free pass — and it may not just deliver an incrementalist Biden administration that takes progressives for granted and consequently fails to address national emergencies.
The Trump administration recently used one of the most controversial surveillance provisions in U.S. history to record an unidentified person or group's visit to an unspecified website, the New York Times revealed Thursday.
The Times reports Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe wrote to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) on November 6 to inform him that Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act had not been used to collect internet search terms, and that none of the 61 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court orders issued in 2019 involved "web browsing" records.
However, Ratcliffe was later forced to change his story.
Under pressure from the Times and following clarification from the U.S. Justice Department, Ratcliffe wrote to Wyden to admit that "one of those 61 orders resulted in the production of information that could be characterized as information regarding browsing," and that one order approved the collection of data regarding computers "in a specified foreign country" that were used to visit "a single, identified U.S. web page."
Wyden responded to Ratcliffe's clarification—the director called it a "corrective action"—by urging Congress to enact more robust privacy protections.
"The DNI's amended letter raises all kinds of new questions, including whether, in this particular case, the government has taken steps to avoid collecting Americans' web browsing information, Wyden said in a statement on Thursday.
"More generally, the DNI has provided no guarantee that the government wouldn't use the PATRIOT Act to intentionally collect Americans' web browsing information in the future, which is why Congress must pass the warrant requirement that has already received support from a bipartisan majority in the Senate."
Section 215, which was passed in the fear-filled days following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, weakened protections put in place in 1978 with the enactment of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which was meant to correct the most egregious and illegal surveillance revealed by the Church Committee.
Armed with what privacy advocates have called flagrantly unconstitutional surveillance powers, "the executive branch has been in nearly constant violation of FISA and the rules governing surveillance since [9/11], and during this time, it has warrantlessly collected information on virtually every American," according to Demand Progress.
This is the entire difference between the left and everyone else.
The left: Things should be better and it’s possible.
Liberals: Things should be better but it’s not possible.
Conservatives: Things are fine and change is only for the worse. https://t.co/6SCODY20CX
— BJG (@briebriejoy) December 3, 2020
Progressives who have had their doubts about President-elect Joe Biden’s economic policies might get thrown a bone, with Democratic leaders noting that Biden could erase student debt without congressional approval (CNBC, 11/16/20).
The idea of canceling student debt, once championed by Occupy Wall Street and treated as a pipe dream when advocated by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren (FAIR.org, 7/25/19), is now thought to be viable, and progressives are pushing for it. At the same time, business journalists are churning out reasons why relieving student debt is bad: It’s unfair to people who don’t have debt, and it wouldn’t help the economy that much. ...
The business media’s fairness argument against forgiving student debts is made in bad faith: Canceling student debt doesn’t negate other policies that would benefit blue-collar workers or the unemployed. Sanders voters who want to forgive student debt also support increased jobless benefits and stimulus payouts across the board, as well as universal healthcare, which would untether medical costs from employment. ...
The business site The Street (11/21/20) offered more insight into the business sector’s trepidation, fuming, “A big cancellation of student debt might convince people that such forgiveness would become a regular occurrence.”
That is the idea, isn’t it? A great many backers of student loan forgiveness are in favor of reducing all sorts of debt; Astra Taylor, an organizer with Debt Collective, told Democracy Now! (11/20/20), “We need to couple relief programs with debt cancellation,” adding that “there are calls emanating from all over to cancel medical debt, cancel rent.”
Economic progressives have a bigger message: A simple college education shouldn’t mean a life of debt slavery, basic medical expenses shouldn’t lead to bankruptcy, public institutions deserve to be well-funded, and a home shouldn’t absorb the bulk of one’s income. Student loan forgiveness, if enacted properly and swiftly, would erode the economistic consensus that austerity is the only option.
The opponents of student loan forgiveness aren’t afraid that it won’t work; they’re afraid that it will work. If more people reap the benefits of student loan forgiveness, allowing them to enjoy freer lives with more chances for economic advancement, then other progressive and social democratic policies are going to be more appealing. Medicare for All, rent control, higher taxes on the rich to fund public schools, and union membership will become more popular, and more candidates like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will get elected to Congress.
Student loan forgiveness would not be a cure-all for the inequities of US society. But it’s a doable thing that can lead to other progressive economic reforms down the road, at a time when the pandemic and four brutal years of the Trump regime make these more desperately needed than ever. Let’s hope a Biden administration doesn’t listen to these bad-faith critics.
In recent weeks, dizzying statistics have circulated on social media about Amazon’s pandemic-era boom and the obscene wealth accrued by its CEO, and Earth’s richest man, Jeff Bezos. ... Warehouse workers in the U.S. and U.K., who have been forced into perilous proximity while dealing with the surge in orders, have been offered a $300 holiday bonus. Many who toil in other areas of Amazon’s vast supply chain will receive far less, if anything at all. Numerous business publications framed the trillion-dollar empire’s bonuses as a generous offering. “Amazon spends another $500 million on bonuses. Some of its workers are still going on strike,” read a CNN Business headline. The notion conveyed apparent incredulity that low-wage employees would fight for more from a corporation famed for worker abuses, such as pressure for productivity that saw warehouse employees reportedly urinating in bottles so as to avoid bathroom breaks.
The incredulity is misplaced. Yes, Amazon workers are escalating the ongoing struggle for their rights, protections, as well as fair pay — and, for the first time, the strategy is international. Black Friday saw the launch of a new wave of organizing by a global coalition of warehouse workers, trade unions, and activists under the banner Make Amazon Pay — the first such coalition of broad international scope. Coordinated strikes, work stoppages, and protests of varying size have taken place in Bangladesh, India, Australia, Germany, Poland, Spain, France, the U.K., the U.S. and beyond. The workers and organizers deserve vigorous support: The stakes of leaving Amazon’s power and practices unchecked — from the further decimation of the global working class, to irreversible environmental degradation — are intolerable. ...
Make Amazon Pay’s demands to the company are broad but no more than fair: permitting workers to organize; ending surveillance and harassment; improving pay and health and safety conditions; ensuring job security; committing to zero emissions by 2030; ending Amazon Web Services contracts with fossil fuel companies; ending partnerships with the forces of racist state violence, like police and immigration authorities; and paying taxes in full. The coalition has developed a robust policy platform, rich in references to existing laws and precedents, intended to guide lawmakers to use legislative tools to make the demands a reality. ...
A Joe Biden presidency, especially if a Republican-led Senate remains, with a far-right judiciary, does not offer great promise for radical legislative shifts away from the neoliberal norms. Labor-friendly politicians like Tlaib and other members of the Squad are in the minority. The belief that Amazon needs to be reined in, however, is a popular one: Polling agency Survation found that 70 percent of people believe that the company is too powerful. Amazon, of course, is not capitalism gone wrong, but capitalism doing as it’s supposed to. We don’t need every lawmaker to appreciate this to want to curb the company’s monopolistic control. “Even if you believe in free markets, it’s not healthy,” Gelderblom, of Progressive International, told me. In October, the House Judiciary Committee antitrust subcommittee — hardly a left-wing body — released a far-reaching report on how Apple, Facebook, Google, and Amazon capitalize on and abuse their market power to benefit themselves.
After a global coalition of workers and activists took to the streets in 15 countries on Black Friday last week to launch the #MakeAmazonPay campaign, 401 lawmakers from 34 countries around the world endorsed the effort on Thursday with an open letter to Jeff Bezos, the company's founder and CEO as well as the richest person on Earth.
"We, elected representatives and public officials from around the world, hereby put you on notice that Amazon’s days of impunity are over," says the letter, referencing the recent protests demanding justice from the company. "Today, we pledge to stand with this movement in every congress, parliament, and statehouse where we work."
From the United States, signatories include Reps. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) as well as Representative-elect Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.). Across the globe, others include former U.K. Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn; European Parliament Vice President Heidi Hautala; Ebru Günay of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) in Turkey; Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leader of La La France Insoumise; Canadian MP Niki Ashton of the New Democratic Party; and Yanis Varoufakis, leader of the Greek party MeRA25.
"The world knows that Amazon can afford to pay its workers, its environmental cost, and its taxes. And yet—time and again—you have dodged and dismissed your debts to workers, societies, and the planet," the letter charges. "While your personal wealth has risen by around U.S. $13 million per hour in 2020, these workers enter dangerous working conditions, enjoy little or no increase in their pay, and face retaliation for their efforts to defend themselves and organize their colleagues."
The lawmakers point out that Amazon's "rise to dominance has come with extraordinary costs to our environment," with a carbon footprint "greater than two-thirds of the world's countries." The company has also "undermined our democracies and their capacity to respond to collective challenges," the letter explains. "Your monopolistic practices have squeezed small businesses, your web services have disrespected data rights, and you have contributed a pittance in return."
"We urge you to act decisively to change your policies and priorities to do right by your workers, their communities, and our planet," the letter concludes. "We stand ready to act in our respective legislatures to support the movement that is growing around the world to Make Amazon Pay."
Demands for Probe, Possible Criminal Charges as Trump Accused of Withholding Data Needed to Reunite Families
Following what one attorney described as months of deliberate stonewalling, the Trump administration has finally handed over key data that could help legal advocates reunite immigrant families separated under the Justice Department's destructive "zero tolerance" policy.
In a court filing (pdf) Wednesday, attorneys with the ACLU said they have not yet been able to locate the parents of 628 children, down from 666 last month. The filing revealed that the Trump administration provided "information from another government database that had not previously been disclosed (the Executive Office for Immigration Review)" last Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving.
"Among other things, the information includes phone numbers that had not previously been disclosed," the court document reads.
Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project and one of the lawyers working to reunite families, told CNN that "we've been asking them for any additional information they have forever and we only finally got this information after outcry that parents still could not be found and the issue reached the presidential debate level."
"We hope we can find a significant number of parents and children through this information," Gelernt added. "But make no mistake about it: Not only has the Trump administration not been helping us, but it's now clear they failed to disclose information in their possession."
During the pre-election presidential debate in October, President Donald Trump claimed his administration was "trying very hard" to reunite the families it separated—contradicting the accounts of lawyers and advocates—but expressed no regret over ripping children from their parents, a practice psychiatrists and human rights organizations have denounced as torture.
"Children are brought here by coyotes and lots of bad people, cartels," Trump said, a claim immigrant rights groups refuted.
In response to the new court filing, government watchdogs and lawmakers demanded a probe into the Trump administration's intentional withholding of information that could prove critical to reuniting hundreds of families.
Eddie Benton-Banai, who helped found the American Indian Movement partly in response to alleged police brutality against Indigenous people, has died. He was 89. He died Monday at a care center in Hayward, Wisconsin, where he had been staying for months, according to family friend Dorene Day. Day said Benton-Banai had several health issues and had been hospitalized multiple times in recent years.
Benton-Banai, who is Anishinaabe Ojibwe, was born and raised on the Lac Courte Oreilles reservation in northern Wisconsin. He made a life of connecting American Indians with their spirituality and promoting sovereignty, and was the grand chief, or spiritual leader, of the Three Fires Midewiwin Lodge. Day said he was someone people looked to for guidance in the religious practice of the Anishinaabe Ojibwe people – and he gave countless babies their traditional names.
Benton-Banai’s place in the American Indian Movement, a grassroots group formed in 1968, can be traced to his launch of a cultural program in a Minnesota prison, said co-founder Clyde Bellecourt.
Bellecourt was in solitary confinement when he heard someone whistling You are My Sunshine, and he looked through a tiny hole in his cell and saw Benton-Banai, a fellow inmate, recognizing him as an Indigenous man.
Bellecourt said Benton-Banai approached him about helping incarcerated Indigenous people, and they started the prison’s cultural program to teach American Indians about their history and encourage them to learn a trade or seek higher education. Bellecourt said Benton-Banai thought they could do the same work in the streets, and the program morphed into the American Indian Movement, an organization that persists today with various chapters.
In 2019, after Democrats saw a handful of incumbents ousted by progressive opponents in the House in 2018, including Squad members Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley, the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Rep. Cheri Bustos, formalized a new policy: The DCCC would ban any political consultants or vendors working with candidates running primary challenges against incumbent Democrats. Since then, progressives have railed against the blacklist, saying the policy protects the status quo of the Democratic Party while discouraging women and people of color from running for office. The ban also had the unintended consequence of accelerating the progressive movement’s efforts to build its own political infrastructure.
Just days after the party’s disastrous performance in House races this year, Bustos stepped down from the DCCC chair position. The blacklist, it seems, will go with her. New York Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, who won the vote this morning, says he wants to end the ban. Maloney told Axios over the weekend that the blacklist “separated ourselves from some of the most creative and diverse people working in politics, particularly in the area of digital and social media.” His opponent, Rep. Tony Cárdenas of California, had also vowed to reverse the blanket ban.
No progressive candidate ran for the position.
In a recent Twitter thread about the Democratic Party’s underperformance in 2020, Ocasio-Cortez, who easily won her first reelection, pointed to an “awful execution on digital” and “underinvestment across the board,” including some campaigns that didn’t spend a dime on digital the week before the election. “Ironically,” she continued, the DCCC banned the firms that are “the best in the country at Facebook” because they work with progressives.
Wisconsin’s supreme court has refused to hear Donald Trump’s lawsuit attempting to overturn his loss to Joe Biden in the battleground state, sidestepping a decision on the merits of the claims and instead ruling that the case must first wind its way through lower courts.
The defeat on a 4-3 ruling on Thursday was the latest in a string of losses for Trump’s post-election lawsuits. Judges in multiple battleground states have rejected his claims of fraud or irregularities. Dissenting conservative justices said the decision would forever “stain” the outcome of the election.
Trump asked the conservative-controlled court to disqualify more than 221,000 ballots in the state’s two biggest Democratic counties, alleging irregularities in the way absentee ballots were administered. His lawsuit echoed claims that were earlier rejected by election officials in those counties during a recount that barely affected Biden’s winning margin of about 20,700 votes.
Trump had wanted the court to take the case directly, saying there wasn’t enough time to wage the legal battle by starting first with a lower court given the looming 14 December date when presidential electors cast their votes. But attorneys for the Democratic governor, Tony Evers, and the state department of justice argued the lawsuit had to start with lower courts.
The swing justice Brian Hagedorn joined three liberal justices in denying the petition without weighing in on Trump’s allegations. Hagedorn said the law was clear that Trump must start his lawsuit in lower courts where factual disputes can be worked out.
Trump's "Eyes and Ears" at DOJ Reportedly Banned From Building After Trying to Get Inside Information on Election Fraud
Within the past two weeks, as President Donald Trump spread lies about voter fraud and refused to accept his loss of the November election, White House liaison Heidi Stirrup was barred from the U.S. Department of Justice building in the nation's capital for pressuring staff to give her inside information about investigations into election fraud and other issues, the Associated Press revealed Thursday.
The move came just a few months after Stirrup "was quietly installed" to serve as the president's "eyes and ears" at the department, according to the AP, which noted that she is a close ally of Trump senior adviser Stephen Miller, the mastermind behind the administration's cruel immigration agenda. Stirrup was previously acting director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement and a deputy White House liaison at the Department of Health and Human Services.
"Stirrup had also extended job offers to political allies for positions at some of the highest levels of the Justice Department without consulting any senior department officials or the White House counsel's office and also attempted to interfere in the hiring process for career staffers, a violation of the government's human resources policies," the AP reported.
The outlet noted that though she was told to vacate the premises, Stirrup "technically still remains in her position after being placed at the Justice Department by the White House Office of Presidential Personnel." The report broke as the White House on Thursday announced her appointment to the board of visitors to the United States Air Force Academy.
The Trump administration has formally announced the go-ahead for the fiercely opposed sale of controversial gas and oil drilling licences in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. ... The sale of leases is planned for 6 January 2021, a few days before Trump leaves the White House.
While the Trump administration was known to be pushing ahead with the plans, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) confirmed in a press release on Thursday that it would publish a notice of the sale on Monday 7 December – timed to be just ahead of the inauguration of the US president-elect, Joe Biden, who opposes the move.
The announcement came earlier than expected and ahead of the end of the public comments process. The sale would be conducted via video livestream, according to the BLM. Trump had authorised sales of the gas and oil leases in the Alaska national park in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which he signed into law that year, calling for two leases of at least 400,000 acres each within the refuge’s coastal plain.
“Congress directed us to hold lease sales in the ANWR coastal plain, and we have taken a significant step in announcing the first sale in advance of the December 2021 deadline set by law,” said Chad Padgett, BLM Alaska state director, in the statement issued in Anchorage, Alaska. ... “The law makes oil and gas development one of the purposes of the refuge, clearly directing the secretary, acting through the Bureau of Land Management, to carry out a competitive leasing program for the potentially energy rich coastal plain.”
Pollution from car tires that washes into waterways is helping cause a mass die-off of salmon on the US west coast, researchers have found.
In recent years, scientists have realized half or more of the coho salmon, also known as silver salmon, returning to streams in Washington state were dying before spawning. The salmon, which reach 2ft in length, are born in freshwater streams before making an epic journey out to sea where they live most of their adult lives. A small number then return to their original streams to lay eggs before dying.
The cause of the die-off has remained a mystery but a new study, published in Science, has seemingly found a culprit. When it rains, stormwater carries fragments of old car tires into nearby creeks and streams. The tires contain certain chemicals that prevent them breaking down but also prove deadly to the coho salmon. ...
Samples taken from urban streams around Puget Sound, near Seattle, and subsequent laboratory work identified a substance called 6PPD, which is used as a preservative for car tires, as the toxic chemical responsible for killing the salmon. It’s currently unclear how it kills the fish but McIntyre said it was likely to be an “acute cardio-respiratory problem”.
The finding suggests that fish and other creatures elsewhere in the US and around the world are also at risk from the car tire chemical. Animals are being “exposed to this giant chemical soup and we don’t know what many of the chemicals in it even are”, said co-author Edward Kolodziej, an associate professor at the University of Washington.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Pinetop Perkins - Chicken Shack
Pinetop Perkins - Pinetop's Blues
Pinetop Perkins & Willie "Big Eyes" Smith - Walkin' Down The Highway
Muddy Waters & Pinetop Perkins - Soon Forgotten
Pinetop Perkins - I Keep On Drinkin'
Pinetop Perkins - Grinder Man Blues
Pinetop Perkins - Big Fat Mama
Pinetop Perkins - Hi Heel Sneakers
Pinetop Perkins - Yonders Wall
Pinetop Perkins & Blues Band