The Evening Blues - 2-13-20


The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: King Curtis

Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features saxophonist and bandleader King Curtis. Enjoy!

King Curtis & The Noble Knights - Soul Twist

"Late stage capitalism is finding out just how late it really is. The oligarchs are afraid, which is why they are taking to the electoral field with their own money, to defend their dictatorship. In desperation and monumental hubris, they make huge mistakes that need to be captured and displayed. Outside the imperial homeland, they widen their wars with sanctions as well as bombs and bullets, attempting to terrorize the planet, but instead quicken the processes of their own decline."

-- Glen Ford

News and Opinion

US, Syrian and Russian forces involved in deadly checkpoint clash

One man was killed when US troops in north-east Syria returned fire after their convoy came under attack near a checkpoint manned by forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad on Wednesday. At one point in the standoff, a Russian army convoy also arrived at the scene in an apparent attempt to mediate the rare confrontation involving US and Syrian fighters.

A Pentagon spokesman said US-led coalition forces were conducting a patrol near the town of Qamishli when they encountered a checkpoint occupied by pro-government forces. “After coalition troops issued a series of warnings and de-escalation attempts, the patrol came under small arms fire from unknown individuals,” said Col Myles Caggins, a spokesman for the US-led coalition. “In self-defense, coalition troops returned fire,” he said.

One Syrian man was killed and another was wounded, according to Syrian state media.

A video posted on state news agency Sana’s website showed angry men firing small arms at a convoy of several armored US vehicles flying the US flag. Some residents pelted the convoy with stones, while another dumped a bucket full of dirt on the back of one vehicle. ...

In one video, a resident walked up to US soldiers at one of the vehicles, holding a US flag, screaming: “What do you want from our country? What is your business here?”

Replying in English, a soldier tells the shouting man to “back off!”

More Libyans are dying than ever due to 'UAE, Turkey military intervention'

Civilian deaths in Syria resulting from international military actions have decreased, but in Libya they have increased sevenfold, a new report has found. Research by Airwars found that at least 2,214 civilians were locally allegedly killed by foreign actions across Syria, Iraq, Libya and Somalia during 2019. This is a 42 percent decrease from the previous year.

However it is not a cause for celebration. From April, the Libyan National Army, lead by general Khalifa Haftar launched a series of violent offensives in an effort to capture Tripoli, the base of the UN-backed government. As a result of this increase in activity Haftar’s side found itself supported by a bloc of authoritarian states: the UAE, Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

Turkey backs government forces led led by Fayez Al-Sarraj.

This spike in foreign interference has led to a shocking 780 percent increase in alleged deaths in comparison to 2018. And between April and December last year, over 279 – and as much as 399 - civilians died as Haftar's forces push against a UN-backed government, with heavy involvement by the UAE and Turkey.

US Senate debates restricting Trump's Iran war powers

Trump Demands Senate Reject Iran War Powers Resolution as Lawmakers Debate Measure to Assert Constitutional Power

President Donald Trump doubled down Wednesday on his claims of unilateral power to wage war with a tweet urging the Senate not to pass the Iran War Powers Resolution.

The Senate on Wednesday debated and avanced the measure—introduced last month by Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.)—a day before it faces a vote in the chamber. It would require the president to remove troops from engaging in hostilities against Iran within 30 days "unless explicitly authorized by a declaration of war or specific authorization for use of military force."

Passing the resolution, Trump said, would send "a very bad signal. The Democrats are only doing this as an attempt to embarrass the Republican Party."

As Politico reported, the measure will likely pass, given the support it has from all Democrats and several Republicans—Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Todd Young (Ind.), Mike Lee (Utah), Rand Paul (Ky.), and Jerry Moran (Kan.)—though likely not with enough support to secure a veto-proof majority.

Delegates move along bill requiring congressional war declaration to activate W.Va. Guard for combat

Last week, Delegate Pat McGeehan lost — on a tie vote — a motion on the House floor to discharge from committee a bill that would prohibit West Virginia’s National Guard reservists from serving in non-declared war zones. But McGeehan, a former Air Force captain who served in Afghanistan, did secure a promise that the bill would be considered in committee. And on Tuesday afternoon, during the final 15 minutes of a committee meeting, a majority of delegates voted to pass the bill along.

“I’m just happy the discussion is still moving forward,” McGeehan, R-Hancock, said Tuesday in a hallway interview. “It’s been a difficult fight, an uphill battle here, with this particular bill.” ...

The bill would require an official declaration of war or an action to call up state militia by the United States Congress before members of the West Virginia National Guard could be released from state control to participate in active duty combat.

The last time Congress actually did that was June 5, 1942, when the United States declared war on Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania. Since then, the US has used the term “authorization to use military force,” such as against Iraq in 2003.

“Washington’s really a lost cause. We’ve been at war in this country for at least the last two decades,” McGeehan said. “So war has really been the status quo, where the founders really thought peace would be the status quo.”

The West Virginia National Guard and county governments where there are bases have expressed deep reservations about the bill, mostly over federal funding issues. “If passed, this bill would cause the Guard to lose the federal funding it needs to operate and would ultimately result in the loss of hundreds of jobs,” Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper stated last week.

Ilhan Omar Unveils Bold Proposal for US Foreign Policy 'Deeply Rooted in Justice'

Rep. Ilhan Omar, the Somali-born Democrat from Minnesota whose left-wing, justice-oriented positions on U.S. foreign policy have made her a lightning rod for criticism from the right and praise from the left, unveiled Wednesday her plan for a more just and humane way for America to engage the rest of the world in her "Path to PEACE" proposal. ...

The plan calls for the U.S. to cease the "go-it-alone" strategy that has dominated the country's foreign policy for decades and to instead seek rapprochement with other countries and to prioritize human rights and other areas of global cooperation.

Path to PEACE includes seven pieces of legislation calling for Congressional approval of sanctions, the end of arms sales to human rights violators, and instituting policies aimed at protecting and promoting rights of children, among other issues. ...

According to HuffPost:

The suite of proposals would initiate tighter scrutiny of U.S. support to countries that commit abuses and transfer $5 billion in wartime funding to a new Global Peacebuilding Fund. They would also give Congress new responsibility for approving and assessing economic sanctions that come via emergency declarations from the White House—bringing new accountability to a tool many experts feel presidents have overused. Successive presidents have treated sanctions as an ideal alternative to military intervention, even though they often lead to severe humanitarian crises.

Foreign policy experts and rights advocates heralded the congresswoman's bill package as a major step forward for left-wing foreign policy.

"Whatever Ilhan Omar does is going to be caricatured by the right-wing," Ben Rhodes, a one-time national security expert in former President Barack Obama's administration, told HuffPost. "Frankly, whatever Democrats do, even a centrist Democrat is going to be caricatured by the right wing. I think the best way to answer that is to be substantive."

Kate Kizer, policy director for Win Without War, said in a statement that Omar's proposal marks a significant advancement of left priorities and expressed hope the congresswoman is just the first of many lawmakers taking a moral approach to how the U.S. interacts with the rest of the world.

"Progressives have often been accused of lacking a coherent approach to foreign policy," said Kizer. "In reality, we have simply lacked the power and elected representation to demand progressive values be translated into foreign policymaking. Today, Representative Ilhan Omar has taken a significant step toward changing that."

UN publishes list of companies with ties to Israeli settlements

The UN has published a list of companies with business ties to Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, including the US-based TripAdvisor and Airbnb and the British truck and digger maker JCB.

Most of the 112 companies linked to settlements, which are regarded as illegal under international law, were Israeli. The list included 18 international firms, including the London-based online travel agency Opodo and the Netherlands-based

The UN statement made clear the report was not part of a judicial process and the database will have no immediate legal implications for the companies. However, an official list published by a UN agency could lend energy to pro-Palestinian efforts to pressure governments and consumers to take action such as boycotts against businesses linked to the occupation.

Matteo Salvini trial for kidnapping authorised by Italian senate

Italy’s senate has formally authorised a criminal case against Matteo Salvini, the far-right leader accused of kidnap last year when, as interior minister, he prevented 131 migrants from disembarking from a coast guard ship.

Last December, the Italian court of ministers in Catania, Sicily, ruled that Salvini should be tried for allegedly depriving the asylum-seekers onboard the Gregoretti coastguard ship of their liberty by refusing to allow them to leave.

But in order to start a trial, magistrates needed the backing of the senate, which, on Wednesday, had to decide whether to allow the criminal case against Salvini to go ahead by lifting his immunity or whether proceedings should be halted. At the end of a heated debate, the majority of the senators voted to lift Salvini’s immunity and authorise the trial. At the end of a heated debate, 152 senators voted to lift Salvini’s immunity and authorise the trial while only 76 voted to block the criminal case.

Before the vote, Salvini said the decision to prevent the migrants from disembarking was made with fellow members of government and, on Twitter he paraphrased a quote by the poet and fascist sympathiser Ezra Pound: “If a man is not willing to fight for his ideas either his ideas are worth nothing, or he is worth nothing.”

IMF arrives in Argentina amidst debt crisis

Did Venezuelan coup leader Ricardo Hausmann stage fake IDB resignation to keep cushy Harvard job?

The Grayzone has confirmed that nearly five months since Ricardo Hausmann announced his resignation from his position as Venezuela’s ambassador to the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), he remains in the job. Hausmann is a top advisor to Venezuelan coup leader Juan Guaidó and Harvard University’s Rafik Hariri Professor of the Practice of International Political Economy. He appears to have staged a faux resignation from the IDB in order to maintain his employment at Harvard.

Hausmann is the most senior member of Guaidó’s shadow administration, with a record of several high-level posts in Venezuela’s government in the years before Hugo Chavez’s election as president in 1997. Hausmann has lived in the United States since 1994, when he took a job as IDB’s first “Chief Economist,” before moving to Boston and joining Harvard in 2000. In March of 2019, Hausmann seized the opportunity to return to the IDB as Guaidó’s representative at the bank.

Curiously, Hausmann never resigned nor took a leave of absence from his Harvard position when he went to work for Guaidó. Pressed by this reporter in August of 2019 as to how he could occupy both a full-time government position and academic job without comprising his independence, Hausmann claimed he served “no government function” in his role at IDB.

Harvard seemed to disagree. Weeks after this reporter took similar questions regarding the professor’s apparent conflicts of interest to the university’s press office, Hausmann announced his resignation from the IDB post on September 26, 2019. His departure from the Guaidó shadow regime suggested the university had determined that his government gig violated Harvard’s ethics policy.

Despite his September resignation, Hausmann is still considered Venezuela’s governor by the IDB. The bank confirmed his position in an email to The Grayzone on February 6. ... When Hausmann appeared at the World Economic Forum in Davos this January, he was described by attendees as an official representative of Juan Guaidó’s shadow regime. While Guaidó’s own appearance at the annual financial gathering was regarded as a failure, Hausmann leveraged the opportunity to network with foreign government officials.

Trump Quietly Slashed Pay Raise for Federal Workers a Day Before Claiming US Economy Is Best In History

In a move that drew outrage from labor unions and progressives, President Donald Trump this week quietly took steps to slash a scheduled pay raise for millions of federal workers from 2.5% to 1% due to supposed concerns about "keeping the nation on a fiscally sustainable course."

"I have determined that for 2021 the across-the-board base pay increase will be limited to 1.0%," Trump said in a message to COngress on Monday. "This alternative pay plan decision will not materially affect our ability to attract and retain a well-qualified federal workforce."

The president's proposed "adjustment" to the scheduled pay raise will take effect in January 2021 unless Congress passes legislation to override the change.

Just a day after his message to Congress, Trump tweeted, "BEST USA ECONOMY IN HISTORY!"

White Supremacist Propaganda on College Campuses Is Rising at a Staggering Rate

Fliers with pictures of bald eagles and women draped in American flags, carrying messages like “Defend America!” “America is not for sale,” and “Embrace Your Identity,” have been showing up on college campuses across the country at an alarming rate — nearly doubling in one year.

On first impression, the highly-stylized leaflets might not immediately jump out as white nationalist propaganda. That’s by design, and a key recruiting strategy of youth-oriented white nationalist groups who mask their ugly agenda through patriotic iconography, and have sought to drum up name recognition among white, male college students by leaving their propaganda on campuses.

A new report by the Anti-Defamation League found that such efforts on college campuses nearly doubled in 2019 compared to the previous year. ADL counted 630 incidents of white nationalist propaganda on 433 different college campuses in 43 states plus D.C. in 2019, making up about a 25% of white nationalist flyering efforts overall. Most campuses (90%) were only targeted once or twice, and efforts were not limited to any particular region: The states where flyering was most prevalent were California, Texas, New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ohio, Virginia, Kentucky, Washington, and Florida. ...

Amid the surge in white supremacist propaganda on college campuses and other actions by members of these groups, federal agencies have taken serious steps to combat the threat. At a recent congressional hearing, FBI Director Chris Wray said that he'd elevated the threat from "racially motivated violent extremists" to a national threat priority, on par with groups like ISIS, and expanded resources for it.

the horse race

Tom Perez Gets Earful on Superdelegates at Congressional Progressive Caucus Meeting

Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez met privately on Tuesday with members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus to hear concerns over the nominating process from the party’s left flank. The conversation came in the wake of progressive frustration over the Iowa Democratic Party’s handling of the caucuses last week — in which Sen. Bernie Sanders topped former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, but a series of snafus prolonged and frustrated the process, obfuscated the results, and left Buttigieg claiming a two-delegate victory.

Perez, according to people in the room, brought up the debacle himself, criticizing the IDP for its handling of the caucus, promising the limited recanvass Sanders has called for would be carried out effectively and professionally. Last week, Perez had attempted to take belated control of the situation — at one point, he even called for a recanvass of the results — but was rebuffed by Iowa Democratic Party Chair Troy Price, who said Perez didn’t have the authority to do so. ...

The role of American oligarch Mike Bloomberg in the race also came up in the meeting. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., asked Perez what procedures he had in place to monitor conflicts of interest for the officials he names to key Democratic National Convention committees. Tlaib noted that the former New York City mayor had two paid surrogates on the DNC’s rules committee. The DNC had previously said the committee members had no say over a recent decision to change the rules for qualifying for Democratic debates — a rules change that would allow Bloomberg to participate. Perez did not spell out any particular conflict of interest provision the DNC uses, but instead said that he also named Larry Cohen, a supporter of Bernie Sanders, to a committee.

Reps. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., and Brenda Lawrence, D-Mich., told Perez they were frustrated by reports that some DNC members were considering changing the rules around superdelegates to allow them to vote in the first round at the convention, a clear effort to undermine a progressive candidate. Perez was emphatic that no such rules change would be made, arguing that the process had been allowed to play out through internal committees and that process would be respected.

Facebook Censoring Reporting On Buttigieg Cheating

Krystal and Saagar: Iowa chair resigns over concerns of cronyism or conspiracy

Iowa Democratic party chair resigns after caucus chaos

The chair of the Iowa Democratic party, who oversaw a chaotic caucus last week that still has not yielded final results, resigned from his position on Wednesday. Troy Price, who has been the head of the state’s Democratic party since 2017, apologized for what had happened on caucus night.

“As chair of this party, I am deeply sorry for what happened and bear the responsibility for any failures on behalf of the Iowa Democratic Party,” he said in a letter to the party’s state central committee. “It is time for the Iowa Democratic Party to begin looking forward, and my presence in my current role makes that more difficult.” ...

Price’s resignation will take effect on Saturday, according to the letter. Prior to leading the state’s Democratic party, he worked on Barack Obama’s and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaigns in Iowa.

Did Amy Klobuchar Send an Innocent Teenager to Life in Prison? Questions Mount over Her Record as DA

Sam Seder: Inside the room when Chris Matthews lost it about Bernie Sanders

With New Hampshire Behind Him, Sanders Looks to Nevada Workers as Vegas Union Bosses Rally Against Him

In 2016, if New Hampshire was the state where the Sanders campaign first came to life, Nevada was where it died. Sanders was hopeful for a victory in the caucuses there but fell just short, 53 to 47 percent, amid acrimony and allegations of misconduct. It dampened his momentum heading into South Carolina, where he was trounced. 2020 could be different. Nevada is also considered the first real test of a presidential candidate’s appeal to voters of color. Latinos make up almost a third of the state’s population, and Sanders is counting on strong support from the voting bloc to carry him to victory. Biden, meanwhile, ditched his own primary night party in New Hampshire to head over to South Carolina, which holds its contest a week after the Nevada caucuses.

At the same time, the leadership of the powerful casino workers’ Culinary Union — Unite Here Local 226 — ramped up its attacks against Sanders on Tuesday with English and Spanish-language flyers, texts, and emails to its 60,000 members. ...

The Culinary Union, which is mostly made up of women and Latinos, has been actively discouraging support for Sanders and Warren over Medicare for All, warning its members that a single-payer plan would “end” their health care — despite not yet having made an official endorsement in the race. Chuck Rocha, a senior Sanders adviser, said the campaign has been reaching out to culinary workers directly. “We’ve been directly calling them at their homes, talking to them at their work sites, and sending them mail, we’ve sent hundreds of thousands of pieces of mail to culinary workers who are Latino in Nevada talking about where Bernie Sanders stands,” Rocha said. “And we have huge support among the culinary rank-and-file.”

the evening greens

Study Shows Deepwater Horizon Oil Spread Much Further Than Previously Known

Ten years after BP's Deepwater Horizon disaster sent hundreds of millions of gallons of oil across the Gulf of Mexico, researchers say the reach of the damage was far more significant than previously thought.

In a study published Wednesday in Science, Claire Paris-Limouzy and Igal Berenshtein of the University of Miami revealed that a significant amount of oil was never picked up in satellite images or captured by barriers that were meant to stop the spread.

"Our results change established perceptions about the consequences of oil spills by showing that toxic and invisible oil can extend beyond the satellite footprint at potentially lethal and sub-lethal concentrations to a wide range of wildlife in the Gulf of Mexico," said Paris-Limouzy.

The "invisible oil" spread across an area roughly 30% larger than the 92,500 square miles experts previously believed it had reached, the study says.

"I think it kind of changes the way you think about oil spills," Berenshtein told the Washington Post. "People have to change the way they see this so that they know there's this invisible and toxic component of oil that changes marine life." ...

Since the 2010 blowout and platform explosion, which killed 11 people, scientists have estimated that the disaster spewed 210 million gallons of oil over the course of five months, with oil reaching Florida and Texas.

Much of the spilled oil that Berenshtein and Paris-Limouzy detected in their research, using a model that allowed them to trace oil in the Gulf from its source, spread below the water's surface and became toxic enough over time to destroy 50% of the marine life it came across.

"When you have oil combined with ultraviolent sunlight it becomes two times more toxic than oil alone," Paris-Limouzy told the Post. "Oil becomes toxic at very low concentrations."

Experts vastly underestimated the extent to which marine life was harmed, the researchers said.

The research was released as the Trump administration prepares to open up the Arctic, Atlantic, and Pacific Oceans to oil and gas leases and to expand leasing in the Gulf.

Worth a full read:

A Canadian Energy Company Bought an Oregon Sheriff’s Unit

At a casino in the small coastal town of North Bend, Oregon, dozens of law enforcement officers and corporate security personnel gathered for a two-day training on how to wage propaganda battles against protesters. The November 2018 event was organized by the National Sheriffs’ Association, one of the country’s largest law enforcement organizations, and hosted by the Coos County Sheriff’s Office, which has spent years monitoring opposition to the Jordan Cove Energy Project — a proposed liquid natural gas pipeline and export terminal that the Trump administration has named one of its highest-priority infrastructure projects.

The cost of the event, however — totaling $26,250 — was paid by Pembina Pipeline Corp., the Canadian fossil fuel company that owns the Jordan Cove project.

In fact, for nearly four years, Pembina was the sole funding source of a unit in the sheriff’s office dedicated to handling security concerns related to Jordan Cove — despite the fact that there is not yet any physical infrastructure in place to keep secure. The pipeline and terminal cannot begin construction without approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which is scheduled to vote on whether to license the project in February. Yet between 2016 and 2020, the department’s liquid natural gas division, known as a “combined services unit,” spent at least $2 million of Pembina’s money. The energy company put the funding on hold in April 2019 but left open the possibility that the arrangement could be revived in the future. Pembina and the sheriff’s department are currently discussing how they may continue to work together, and Coos County Sheriff Craig Zanni said he expects the partnership to be renewed.

In addition to hosting the law enforcement training, the unit used Pembina’s funds to purchase riot control equipment, monitor the activities of Jordan Cove opponents, and coordinate intelligence-gathering operations with private security companies that also worked for Pembina. Local residents, environmental activists, and tribal members have staged rallies and sit-ins and participated in public hearings in opposition to the project, which they say would exacerbate the global climate crisis, damage vital waterways, and violate Indigenous sovereignty. Dozens of property owners could see their land seized via eminent domain.

Law enforcement agencies often receive funding for equipment via corporate-backed professional associations and private foundations — a practice that civil liberties groups have criticized as enabling private influence with little oversight. The arrangement between Pembina and the Coos County Sheriff’s Office was unusual, however, given the department’s scrutiny of activists engaged in First Amendment-protected speech in opposition to its corporate benefactor.

The Wet’suwet’en Fight Against New Pipeline Spreads Across Canada with Blockades & Occupations

Canada: thousands of travelers affected as Indigenous-led rail blockade continues

Thousands of travelers in Canada have been affected and billions of dollars worth of freight traffic delayed as an Indigenous-led blockade of critical rail lines continues to cripple the country’s train network.

Via Rail, the crown corporation that operates much of Canada’s commuter rail service, announced on Wednesday that trains on the Toronto-Montreal and Toronto-Ottawa routes would be halted until at least Friday. More than 150 passenger trains have been cancelled since the blockade began, forcing an estimated 24,000 people to find alternate travel routes.

Canadian National Railway, which owns the tracks, warned it “will be forced to shut down significant parts” of its vast Canadian network, which moves oil, grain and forestry products to markets in Asia and the United States, unless a resolution is reached.

For the past week, Tyendinaga Mohawk protesters in Ontario have defied a court injunction and blocked railway tracks in support Wet’suwet’en activists in British Columbia who are locked in a standoff over a multibillion-dollar natural gas pipeline that would cross through their traditional territory.

CN moves billions of dollars in freight each year, and Canada’s transport minister Marc Garneau warned that the rail blockade could have grave economic consequences. ...

Tyendinaga Mohawk have told media they will not end their protest until the Royal Canadian Mounted police withdraw from Wet’suwet’en territory where a group of activists has been blocking the construction of the Coastal Gaslink pipeline.

'Mass Murder': New Report Says Air Pollution From Fossil Fuel Combustion Causing 4.5 Million Deaths Each Year

The burning of fossil fuels is responsible for 4.5 million premature deaths worldwide annually and costs the world $8 billion daily, research released Tuesday found, underscoring the cruelty and fiscal folly of the Trump administration's energy agenda.

The report from Greenpeace Southeast Asia and the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) concerns air pollution from fossil fuel combustion including fine particulate matter (abbreviated to PM2.5), ozone (O3), and nitrogen dioxide (or NO2), with particulate matter causing the biggest health risks and greatest financial costs.

Exposure to those pollutants has previously been linked to diseases including including ischaemic heart disease (IHD), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer, lower respiratory infections, premature birth (preterm birth), type II diabetes, stroke, and asthma, the report notes. ...

From the report:

The CREA/Greenpeace analysis suggests that an estimated 3 million premature adult deaths each year are attributed to cardiovascular diseases, respiratory diseases and lung cancer through exposure to PM2.5 air pollution from fossil fuels. An estimated 500,000 premature deaths from chronic diseases are attributed to fossil fuel-related NO2 pollution and 1 million premature deaths are attributed to fossil fuel-related ozone pollution annually. Combined, total premature deaths per year attributable to fossil fuel-related air pollution is estimated at 4.5 million.

The data calculated for this report estimates that 40,000 children may die before their fifth birthday due to illnesses related to exposure to PM2.5 from fossil fuels and shows that those deaths occur mainly in low-income countries.

Higher-income countries aren't immune to the problem, with the report calculating 398,000 annual premature deaths in the European Union and 230,000 deaths in the U.S. attributed to fossil fuel combustion-caused air pollution.

"The fossil fuel industry is committing mass murder and the Trump administration is helping them get away with it," said Greenpeace USA climate campaign director Janet Redman. "In the United States and around the world, Black, Brown, and Indigenous people are the first to feel the impacts of extraction and exploitation, including the devastating consequences of air pollution."

Democrats Are Finally Coming For Your Plastics

Democrats just dropped one of the most ambitious bills ever to tackle the growing threat plastics pose to the planet — and they want the biggest polluters to pick up the tab.

The Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act, introduced Tuesday, would ban single-use plastics, like bags and straws, in an effort to cut off pollution at its source rather than promoting recycling after the fact. Democrats also want to ban the construction of any new plastics production facilities, cash cows for the oil and gas industry.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico and Rep. Alan Lowenthal of California, also proposes to make polluters fund investment in U.S. recycling and composting infrastructure. The proposal would also create a national bottle recycling program, incentivized with a 10 cent refund paid for by industry; standardize recycling and composting labeling; and require a certain percentage of food and beverage containers to be made from recycled materials.

Although some 35 Democrats have cosponsored the bill, it currently has no Republican backers and faces opposition from industry groups, which have successfully fended off attempts to regulate plastics before. Still, it’s the most ambitious federal legislation on plastics introduced to-date, a response to the plastics piling up in the oceans and in our bodies.

Revealed: big oil's profits since 1990 total nearly $2tn

BP, Shell, Chevron and Exxon have made almost $2tn in profits in the past three decades as their exploitation of oil, gas and coal reserves has driven the planet to the brink of climate breakdown, according to analysis for the Guardian. The scale of their profits is revealed as experts say the fossil fuel boom is coming to an end, with big oil entering a “death knell” phase, according to one prominent Wall St commentator.

Analysis for the Guardian by Taxpayers for Common Sense in the US reveals that since 1990 – at which point the impact of fossil fuel extraction on the climate had been well known to industry leaders and politicians for years, experts say – the big four companies have accumulated $1.991tn in profits.

Critics say the findings highlight how a few corporations have generated extraordinary wealth by pursuing policies that were known to be driving the climate crisis. ...

The analysis shows that Exxon was the most profitable of the big four over the past three decades, making a total of $775bn. Shell was second with $524bn, followed by Chevron on $360bn and BP on $332bn. ...

Mel Evans, a senior climate campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said the big oil companies knew the danger that their products posed to the climate well before it became common knowledge but pursued profits above the wider interests of the planet. “Why did they continue to promote those products and dispute science they knew to be correct? Why are they still spending hundreds of billions of dollars on making the problem worse, drilling for new oil and gas we can’t possibly afford to burn?” Evans said. “These figures provide the answer. Money is like rocket fuel: burn through enough of it and you can escape the pull of the Earth. But there’s nowhere else to go.”

Also of Interest

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

Intercepted podcast: “It’s Armageddon Time for the Democratic Party”

Trump Plugs Military Spending for Reelection

The Belief That Everything Will Be Fine Once Trump’s Gone Is More Dangerous Than Trump

Andrew Yang fell short but outsider campaign's fresh ideas struck a chord

Bloomberg is avoiding all scrutiny. It's time to take a long, hard look at his views

The Pundits Wrote Off Bernie’s Candidacy. In Iowa and New Hampshire, He Proved Them Wrong.

Biden Attempts to Revive 'Doomed' Campaign in South Carolina After Fifth Place Finish in New Hampshire

Sanders’ Win in New Hampshire Is More Significant than Vote Tally Suggests

Free All Political Prisoners –- Including Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning

Senate Democrats' Plan for Net Zero Carbon Emissions by 2050 Is 'Wishful Thinking' on Solving Crisis, Climate Action Groups Say

We Should Be Wary of Blaming Overpopulation for the Climate Crisis

Lynching Preachers: How Black Pastors Resisted Jim Crow & White Pastors Incited Racial Violence

Krystal Ball: Warren's cynical attacks on Bernie are exactly why her campaign failed

New Poll: Half of all college students back Bernie

TNR Writer debunks media narratives about Bernie

Wendell Potter dismantles Pete's attacks on M4A

Rising: Will stop and frisk hurt Bloomberg?

Rising: Is it really all over for Biden?

Fossils shed new light on car-sized turtle that once roamed South America

Bernie ends James Carville live on CNN

Scientists find evidence of 'ghost population' of ancient humans

A Little Night Music

King Curtis - Jeep's Blues

King Curtis - The Weight

King Curtis - Instant Groove

King Curtis – Summer Dream

King Curtis – In The Pocket

King Curtis - Heavenly Blues

King Curtis - Da-Duh-Dah

King Curtis - Watermelon Man

King Curtis - Memphis Soul Stew

Aretha with King Curtis, Jerry Jemmott, Cornell Dupree, Bernard Purdie

18 users have voted.


I posted that Rising clip on Stop and Frisk in the Bloomberg diary earlier today. The sheer audacity of these political hacks is pretty breathtaking.

It really does appear that the Obama flunkies are all in on Michael Bloomberg, and it's really gross. Our racist Oligarch is better than yours is a guaranteed losing strategy, with so many contradictions that it makes my brain hurt just contemplating it.

Hopefully more leaks of his racist remarks, and push back by people who were affected by his policies will make a difference. Bloomberg is at least as scary as Trump, the difference is that the media elite love him.

11 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


well, bloomberg has a record and a lot of people who suffered under his administration will, i'm sure be willing to share their stories with the public. i don't know if it will make a difference.

people are pretty inured to the bad behavior of politicians and are accustomed to voting for a bad politician to neutralize a worse politician.

the film board of canada made a film about a cautionary tale that should probably be required viewing for rank and file democrats:

6 users have voted.

Really enjoyed the musical selection tonight. I had a job interview today for a position I'd really like, and I feel like I tanked. Ugh.

Anyway! Good to see Wendell Potter debunking myths about Medical4All. I'm still not sure why it doesn't have universal support from voters.

14 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@Le Frog

i hope that you did much better than you think and will be offered the position.

it's hard for me to figure out why voters continue to be bamboozled by the insurance industry, but i guess we'll see if bernie can cut through the insurance industry-allied media and talk some sense into them.

6 users have voted.

Thanks to Ilhan Omar
at least someone in congress
is working

10 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


i haven't seen the details of omar's plan, but it is good to see that somebody other than dennis kucinich will attempt to promote peace.

i suspect that her plan will be deep-sixed by the israel lobby, though, since it calls for the end of arms sales to human rights violators - which would cut off israel.

6 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

Just in case the Giant Meteor wins and you need to stock up on coffee for bartering it too survive...

Jim is not just selling the cure for the coronovirus, he's got coffee mugs for having coffee with Jesus too. The times are the most perilous they have ever been and thank Dawg that we have Trump!

Bibi is on Twitter bragging about how he got so many states to pass BDS laws. Now just imagine if Vlad had done that. Or you know go in front of congress and tell them to stop Obama's Ukraine coup.

8 users have voted.

Which AIPAC/MIC/pharma/bank bought politician are you going to vote for? Don’t be surprised when nothing changes.

snoopydawg's picture


Anything to say about this Hillary? Thought not.

9 users have voted.

Which AIPAC/MIC/pharma/bank bought politician are you going to vote for? Don’t be surprised when nothing changes.

joe shikspack's picture


i wuz talking to jeezus just last night on his special 900 number hotline and he tol' me that he drinks decaf.

6 users have voted.
dystopian's picture

Awesome music as always JS! What cool grooves. 'The Weight' with slide guitar and sax is awesome! I can't believe all the records he was on. The guy was great. Boy he could blow... Those changes in Heavenly Blues are nearly funny. I bet Zappa liked him. Amazingly he was on 'It's a Gas' the Mad Magazine soft vinyl insert single released in one issue. I thought that record was hilarious at age 8. What a tragic sad ending! Long live King Curtis.

5 users have voted.

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

joe shikspack's picture


yep, i love heavenly blues. it's like two songs mashed together - like the theme music for a 1960's teevee show complete with harp flourishes interrupted periodically by nightclub music from new orleans.

have a great evening!

2 users have voted.
Raggedy Ann's picture

On the PBS News Hour, Judy Woodruff asked Bernie why his supporters were attacking the culinary workers. Bernie said his supporters wouldn't attack the culinary workers and sometimes other people do things in other people's names. LOL! Go Bernie - he might be finding his voice.

After 14 inches of snow, we're slowing melting back to 50+ degree weather by the weekend. Glad we got the moisture!

Enjoy your evening, folks! Pleasantry

4 users have voted.

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

joe shikspack's picture

@Raggedy Ann @Raggedy Ann

thanks for the heads up! i think sanders acquitted himself quite well in the interview.

glad to hear you got your snow! we have gotten plenty of moisture here over the past few days as the temperatures have steadily risen, today up to the upper 50's. heh, we had a couple of days of february weather and now we're back to warm.

4 users have voted.

using every dirty smear tactic they can think of. They are frickin' panicking. Of course they are also going to use false flags against Bernie.

@Raggedy Ann

2 users have voted.

Even more fun than usual.

Facebook Censoring Reporting On Buttigieg Cheating

7 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


heh, yep, facebook went and made it personal. it'll be fun to watch a bunch of political hacks mixing it up with a comedian. popcorn time!

6 users have voted.