The Evening Blues - 2-14-20
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features New Orleans blues musician and songwriter Earl King. Enjoy!
Earl King - I'll Take You Back Home
“One of the hardest parts of my job is to connect Iraq to the war on terror.”
-- George W. Bush
News and Opinion
The Senate on Thursday passed a War Powers Resolution aimed at preventing President Donald Trump from launching military action against Iran without congressional approval.
"The nation should not be at war without a vote of Congress," said Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), the lead sponsor of S.J. Res. 68.
Kaine's measure directs the president to "terminate the use of United States Armed Forces for hostilities against the Islamic Republic of Iran or any part of its government or military, unless explicitly authorized by a declaration of war or specific authorization for use of military force against Iran."
Erica Fein, advocacy director at Win Without War, said in a statement that the Senate vote sends an unequivocal message to Trump: "We will not allow Donald Trump to drag the United States into another endless war of choice against the will of the people."
Trump's unilateral and likely illegal decision last month to assassinate Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani with a drone strike in Baghdad nearly sparked an all-out war with Iran. On Wednesday, the president threatened to veto the War Powers Resolution, claiming it would leave his hands "tied." Overriding the president's veto would require a two-thirds supermajority in the House and Senate.
Report: U.S. Military Rarely Visits Bomb Sites or Talks to Survivors When Investigating Civilian Deaths
Most U.S. investigations of alleged civilian casualty incidents never include even one [strike location investigation], according to a new analysis of 228 official U.S. military investigations conducted in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria between 2002 and 2015. The military conducted site inspections in only 16 percent of the casualty investigations reviewed for the study by researchers from the Center for Civilians in Conflict, or CIVIC, and the Columbia Law School Human Rights Institute, or HRI.
“Site visits are important opportunities for investigators to review physical evidence, including weapons remnants, impact sites, and forensic evidence. They help investigators understand the extent of harm an attack has caused and what exactly was damaged,” Priyanka Motaparthy of the Human Rights Institute and a co-author of the report, told The Intercept. “Investigations that don’t take into account this type of information risk underestimating the impact of an attack or failing to understand what exactly was hit.”
“In Search of Answers: U.S. Military Investigations and Civilian Harm” examines U.S. efforts to track, assess, and investigate reports of civilian casualties caused by its forces. The researchers found that while the U.S. military can effectively investigate civilian casualty allegations, its inquiries are often perfunctory and marred by serious deficiencies, if they’re carried out at all. “Civilians injured in U.S. military attacks, and the families of those who are killed, have endured long and painful struggles trying to find out why they or their loved ones were harmed and whether their communities are still at risk,” said Motaparthy. “They have a right to learn what steps the military has taken to investigate these often devastating losses.”
U.S. standard practice when it comes to collecting testimony may be even more troubling. While U.S. investigators regularly interview military witnesses, they almost totally ignore civilians — victims, survivors, family members, and bystanders — “severely compromising the effectiveness of investigations,” according to the study. U.S. military personnel interviewed civilian witnesses in just 21.5 percent of the investigations covered in the report. ... An unpublished internal Defense Department study reinforced the importance of such “ground truth,” finding that in 90 percent of the cases analyzed, initial aerial bomb damage assessments in Afghanistan missed civilian casualties that were later identified through investigations by ground forces, according to the CIVIC and HRI report.
Ro Khanna on Military Spending, FOSTA-SESTA, the Election, Plus Chris Matthews' Rant | Useful Idiots
Venezuela's top diplomat called on the International Criminal Court Thursday to open an investigation into sanctions imposed on his country by the Trump administration, saying the economic warfare has caused the suffering of millions of Venezuelans.
"Our government is seeking refuge with international law," Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said Thursday. "We are convinced the consequences of the unilateral measures [by the United States] constitute crimes against humanity against the civilian population."
Arreaza's remarks came less than a week after the U.S. announced its latest round of sanctions on the country, this time targeting state-run airline CONVIASA.
"What justifies sanctions on a transport company, a public service?" President Nicolas Maduro said after the sanctions were announced. "What harm do they do to me? The damage is done to the people of Venezuela."
The U.S. has targeted Venezuelan officials and state-run businesses with several rounds of sanctions since Maduro won re-election in 2018 in an election the Trump administration claimed was illegitimate.
In January 2019 the U.S. sanctioned state-owned oil company PDVSA in an attempt to pressure Maduro to resign as the Trump administration became the first of a few dozen countries to claim opposition leader Juan Guaido was the legitimate president of Venezuela.
The administration also froze the U.S. assets of Maduro and other top officials in his government.
Cutting the government off from revenues from its oil reserves—the largest in the world—has amounted to "a death sentence for tens of thousands of Venezuelans per year," Arreaza stated in a 60-page brief he presented to the ICC. This week, Venezuela gave up rights to its own oil in order to keep the economy afloat.
Venezuelan officials said that since the country is part of the court, crimes against humanity within its border fall under its jurisdiction and qualify as war crimes.
A federal court has ordered a temporary halt in Microsoft’s work on a $10bn military cloud contract that Amazon was initially expected to win. Amazon sued in December to revisit that decision, alleging that Donald Trump’s bias against the company hurt its chances to win the project.
Amazon requested the court injunction last month. The documents requesting the block and the judge’s decision to issue the temporary injunction are sealed by the court.
A public court notice, however, confirmed the injunction on the Pentagon and noted that Amazon will have to establish a security fund of $42m that will be used to pay damages if the court later finds the injunction was improper. No further details of the decision were immediately available.
Microsoft said in a statement on Thursday that it was disappointed by the additional delay, but said it believes that it will ultimately be allowed to move forward with the project.
Democrats are watching the sum of all their Trumpian fears unfold, as the post-acquittal president exacts revenge on whistleblowers and invites more foreign interference into American elections.
And it’s dawning on Democrats there’s very little they can do about it. ... “He's been emboldened and energized,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) told VICE News at the Capitol. “We're going to be strategizing and doing everything possible to protect democracy.”
That was on full display Tuesday when the vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Mark Warner of Virginia, along with a few other Democrats, went to the chamber floor and offered three bills intended to ward off election interference in 2020. One bill aims to safeguard elections from foreign interference while another requires campaigns to tell the FBI and Federal Election Commission if a foreign entity offers help in an election, and a third attempts to ban web-based voting machines in federal elections.
But Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) rebuffed the request for the Senate to unanimously approve the measures after dubbing them a "federal power grab."
All told, Democrats are almost numb this week, confronting the expansive executive power Trump continues to wield against them as he locks them out of one of Congress’ most basic duties: oversight. “Our tools have been pretty dramatically weakened,” conceded Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.) in the Speaker’s Lobby.
The US attorney general, William Barr, publicly rebuked Donald Trump on Thursday, saying that the president’s tweets about the case of Roger Stone “make it impossible for me to do my job” and that he would not be “bullied or influenced” over justice department decisions. In an interview with ABC News, the attorney general acknowledged his comments could leave him open to backlash from the president, who is notoriously intolerant of criticism from his aides. But Barr said he was determined to lead the justice department without being influence by outside forces, including the president.
“I think it’s time to stop the tweeting about Department of Justice criminal cases,” Barr told ABC. The attorney general emphasized Trump “has never asked me to do anything in a criminal case”, but he acknowledged the president’s comments undercut his authority.
Despite Barr insisting he will not be “bullied” by Trump on justice department matters, some commentators were skeptical that Barr was actually trying to distance himself from the president.
An Obama-era justice department official, Matthew Miller, wrote on Twitter: “Don’t be fooled by this one, people. Barr is telling the president that his impulsiveness is making it politically harder for him to deliver the results he wants. If Trump would just shut up, Barr could take care of him much more effectively.”
As Household Debt Hits $14 Trillion, Economists Say Fed Quantitative Easing Solution for Next Recession Insufficient
On the heels of reports that U.S. household debt hit $14 trillion for the first time in history, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell told lawmakers Wednesday that the central bank would use quantitative easing as the primary weapon to combat the next recession.
With interest rates hovering around 1.50% and 1.74%, quantitative easing—injecting more cash into the economy through buying back government bonds—is the best solution available, said Powell.
"We will have less room to cut [rates,]" Powell told the Senate Banking Committee. "That means it is much more likely that we will have to turn to the tools that we used in the financial crisis when we hit the lower bound."
As Market Watch reported:
In testimony before the Senate Banking Committee, Powell said the Fed had two recession-fighting tools; buying government bonds, known as QE, and communicating clearly with markets about interest-rate policy, routinely considered as "forward guidance."
"We will use those tools—I believe we will use them aggressively should the need arise to do so," Powell said.
Left economist Arash Kolahi took to Twitter to push back against the strategy, calling the tactic "basically upward wealth redistribution at the expense of the many."
"For most people, these policies will further increase in their cost of living, while their wages remain stagnant," Kolahi explained. "In effect, it's like taxing the many to further enrich the investor class."
Powell's testimony came a day after Bloomberg reported U.S. household debt topped $14 trillion in the last quarter, rising $601 billion in 2019. According to Bloomberg, delinquencies have risen alongside total debt—a worrying sign for the future. Five percent of auto loans are delinquent and credit card delinquencies increased in 2019 to 8.36%. ...
Economic observers fear that with the rise in quantitative easing, stocks are being overvalued and that the Federal Reserve is blocking the market from course correcting, possibly setting up a crash when the cash flow stops.
"The risk is what happens when the Fed stops increasing their balance sheet," Peter Boockvar, chief investment officer with Bleakley Advisory Group, told Reuters in January. "What will stocks do when that liquidity spigot stops? We'll have to see."
The publisher of the Miami Herald, the Kansas City Star and dozens of other newspapers across the country is filing for bankruptcy protection. McClatchy Co’s 30 newsrooms, including the Charlotte Observer, the News and Observer in Raleigh, and the Star-Telegram in Fort Worth, will continue to operate as usual as the publisher reorganizes under chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
The publisher’s origins date to 1857 when it first began publishing a four-page paper in Sacramento, California, following the California Gold Rush. That paper became the Sacramento Bee.
McClatchy has received $50m debtor-in-possession financing from Encina Business Credit. That, combined with normal operating cash flows, will provide enough cash for the company, still based in Sacramento, to continue to function. ...
McClatchy expects fourth-quarter revenues of $183.9m, down 14% from a year earlier. Its 2019 revenue is anticipated to be down 12.1% from the previous year. That would mean that the publisher’s revenue will have slid for six consecutive years.
The company expects to pull its listing from the New York Stock Exchange as a publicly traded company, and go private.
Mnuchin Admits Trump's Budget Cuts Social Security Even as President Claims He Is 'Not Touching' the Program
During a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin—using euphemistic language Democratic lawmakers described as "Washington-speak"—admitted that President Donald Trump's fiscal year 2021 budget proposal would cut Social Security days after the president insisted he is "not touching" the program.
Pressed by Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) on the budget's call for tens of billions in cuts to Social Security over the next decade, Mnuchin said, "I believe it's not a cut, it's a reduction in the rate of increase. And it's not to the benefits of people on Social Security."
"If that is not a cut, then I would love to talk to you about what it is this administration values and what they see, how these groups and important individuals in our communities are being affected," responded Cortez Masto. "My concern is this administration says one thing, but their actions are just the opposite."
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, tweeted in response to the exchange that "Mnuchin admits Trump's budget cuts your earned benefits in Social Security."
"'Slowing the rate of increase' is Washington-speak for cutting benefits and breaking the Social Security and Medicare guarantee," Wyden added.
The Trump admin claims there are no cuts to Social Security in the budget. So why wouldn't Sec Mnuchin answer a simple yes or no question about whether there are billions in cuts to Social Security, hurting seniors?
Answer: because there are cuts to Social Security in the budget pic.twitter.com/hS503RrSe0
— Senator Cortez Masto (@SenCortezMasto) February 12, 2020
Alex Lawson, executive director of progressive advocacy group Social Security Works, told Common Dreams that "only a true creature of Wall Street could try telling people that even though they are getting less money it isn't 'really' a cut.'
"When Steve Mnuchin or any other politician says that a 'reduction in the rate of increase' is different than a benefit cut, they are shamelessly lying," Lawson said. "If Social Security benefits were to stay flat every year, they would quickly begin losing value due to inflation. We need to make annual cost-of-living adjustments more generous, not less."
"Social Security's total spending also increases yearly due to growth in the population of beneficiaries, something that the program's actuaries have known about and planned for decades in advance," added Lawson. "Any 'reduction in the rate of increase' would lead to benefit cuts."
Mnuchin's comments came days after Trump said following the release of his $4.8 trillion budget on Monday that he is "not touching Medicare" and "not touching Social Security."
An obscure unit of the New York City Department of Education tasked with addressing “gang and youth violence” in the city’s public schools has been promoting a set of guidelines that reveal serious ignorance of adolescent behavior and perpetuate false and racist stereotypes.
The guidelines, which youth advocates warn put students’ rights and potentially lives at risk, were compiled in a handbook by the Gang Prevention & Intervention Unit, a division of the DOE’s Office of Safety and Youth Development, which relies heavily on schools’ formal relationship with the New York City Police Department. The 14-page handbook is an alarmist compilation of dubious and often absurd claims, listing “personality changes” and “alcohol/drug use” as warning signs of gang involvement and cautions that “females” joining gangs are at higher risk of pregnancy and sexual diseases. The handbook also repeats sensationalistic folklore about gangs, like the idea that initiations require the murder of “an innocent victim, rival gang member, or even a police officer.”
The “GPIU Gang Awareness Information” handbook is part of a set of documents that were obtained through a public records request by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and shared exclusively with The Intercept. It’s not clear how long the guidelines have been in place or how widely they have been used within the city’s schools. Little is known about the GPIU, a unit that dates back to the 1990s but remains largely unknown to the public. While the GPIU technically operates under the DOE, the documents appear to have been compiled at least in part by police officers and repeatedly encourage educators to reach out to law enforcement, raising questions about the collaboration between schools and police at a time when the city has ramped up the targeting of gangs.
As The Intercept has reported, in recent years the NYPD has massively expanded a secretive “gang database” that lists tens of thousands of New Yorkers, mostly black and Latino men, even as gang-related incidents make up a fraction of crime in the city. Police can add individuals to the database based on a set of broad and arbitrary criteria that include the people they associate with and locations they frequent — criteria that critics say effectively punish entire communities. You don’t even have to commit any crimes to be added to the database, and there is no clear way for people to learn whether they are listed on it or why.
An unaffiliated Democratic operative in Iowa provided Yahoo News with a copy of the contract between Shadow and the Iowa Democratic Party. The contract, which was signed on Oct. 14, 2019, and refers to Shadow as the “Consultant,” specified that the company had to work with the DNC and provide the national party with access to its software for testing.
“Consultant agrees to work with the DNC Services Corporation / Democratic National Committee (‘DNC’) on an on-going basis as Consultant develops the software,” the contract reads.
The contract also specifies that Shadow agrees to “provide DNC continual access to review the Consultant’s system configurations, security and system logs, system designs, data flow designs, security controls (preventative and detective), and operational plans for how the Consultant will use and run the Software for informational dissemination, pre-registration, tabulation, and reporting throughout the caucus process.”
[See documents at the link. - js]
An email provided to Yahoo News also appears to show that Seema Nanda, the CEO of the DNC, and Kat Atwater, the national party’s deputy chief technology officer, were involved in drafting the contract and requested the addition of the provision that gave them access to Shadow and the app. In the email, dated July 30, 2019, Atwater provided an IDP official with draft text for the provision detailing the DNC’s access to the app. Atwater, in the email, said the provision was specifically requested by Nanda. ...
In the days since the caucuses, Perez, the DNC chair, has laid the blame for the app debacle on the Iowa Democratic Party and Shadow for the issues with the results. “What happened last night should never happen again,” Perez said in a statement on Feb. 4. Yet the contract demonstrated that the DNC should have had the opportunity to foresee some of the problems. One provision in the contract says Shadow would provide “monthly written updates to the DNC regarding the Software status and timeline for implementation.” It also required Shadow to work with outside consultants and cybersecurity specialists, which the DNC could “choose in its sole discretion.”
'There Needs to Be Accountability,' Says Ocasio-Cortez as Documents Show DNC Involvement With Iowa Caucus App
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez demanded that the Democratic National Committee be held accountable after documents published by Yahoo News late Thursday detailed the DNC's involvement with the mobile app at the center of the Iowa caucus disaster.
"If this reporting is correct, then there needs to be accountability at the DNC," the New York Democrat tweeted. "Even if the DNC's access to the tool was 'solely for security testing' as they claim, ProPublica found major hackable vulnerabilities almost immediately—which means they didn't do their job."
I wonder if Bloomberg's strategy is to participate with Trump in sucking up all of the oxygen in the room:
Donald Trump and his fellow billionaire and would-be presidential challenger, Mike Bloomberg, traded insults on Twitter on Thursday, with Trump dismissing the former New York mayor as a “loser” and Bloomberg describing him as a “barking clown”. Using a now-familiar line of attack that misstates Bloomberg’s 5ft 8in stature, Trump tweeted: “Mini Mike is a 5’4” mass of dead energy who does not want to be on the debate stage with these professional politicians. No boxes please.”
In a subsequent salvo Trump compared Bloomberg to his 2016 Republican nomination challenger Jeb Bush. “Mini Mike Bloomberg is a LOSER who has money but can’t debate and has zero presence, you will see. He reminds me of a tiny version of Jeb ‘Low Energy’ Bush, but Jeb has more political skill and has treated the Black community much better than Mini!”
Twenty minutes later, Bloomberg returned fire, drawing attention to doubts that Trump is not as wealthy or as successful as he likes to portray himself. “@realDonaldTrump – we know many of the same people in NY. Behind your back they laugh at you & call you a carnival barking clown,” Bloomberg said in a posting. “They know you inherited a fortune & squandered it with stupid deals and incompetence.” ...
The two wealthy New Yorkers are honing their attacks as a once cordial relationship turns toxic. For more than a decade, the two businessmen appeared on friendly terms at charity golf tournaments, ribbon cutting events and even on Trump’s reality TV show.
I'm surprised that someone running for the Democratic nomination thinks the economy would be better off if we just let banks be more overtly racist. We need to confront the shameful legacy of discrimination, not lie about it like Mike Bloomberg has done. https://t.co/Lzavpie7Iy
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) February 13, 2020
This is appalling and disqualifying.
In resurfaced footage being reported tonight by the @AP, @MikeBloomberg describes redlining as a rational and prudent tactic -- and blames the end of that discriminatory practice against African-Americans for the 2008 crisis. pic.twitter.com/dWCGOKdtpP
— Anand Giridharadas (@AnandWrites) February 13, 2020
Ocasio-Cortez Rips Bloomberg on Stop and Frisk: 'Just a Billionaire Trying to Cover Up Authoritarian and Racist Policy'
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said Thursday that Democratic presidential candidate and businessman Michael Bloomberg is "just a billionaire trying to cover up authoritarian and racist policy" if he does not commit to providing relief to those ensnared by the racist stop and frisk policy he supported as mayor of New York City.
"Will people get their records expunged? Will young people sucked into the spiderweb of incarceration get their lives back?" Ocasio-Cortez asked on Twitter in response to a Bloomberg article about its owner's efforts to "move past" his record on stop and frisk, which has received renewed scrutiny in recent days.
"Unless there is restorative justice, there is no 'moving on' from stop and frisk," added Ocasio-Cortez, who endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders in the 2020 Democratic presidential race.
Ocasio-Cortez's comments came days after progressive radio host Benjamin Dixon posted to Twitter an audio clip of a 2015 speech in which Bloomberg defended stop and frisk as necessary and dismissed its harms as "unintended consequences."
After the clip went viral, Bloomberg issued a statement distancing himself from his past comments on stop and frisk.
Bernie Sanders’ campaign has accused the “Wall Street elite” of panicking after one of its leading figures attacked the presidential candidate in the wake of two straight victories in the nomination process. In a Twitter post on Tuesday Lloyd Blankfein, former chief executive of Goldman Sachs, said Sanders’ election would “screw up” the US economy and delight Russia.
“If Dems go on to nominate Sanders, the Russians will have to reconsider who to work for to best screw up the US. Sanders is just as polarizing as Trump AND he’ll ruin our economy and doesn’t care about our military. If I’m Russian, I go with Sanders this time around,” he wrote.
But the Sanders camp hit back on Wednesday. “This is what panic from the Wall Street elite looks and sounds like,” Faiz Shakir, Sanders’ campaign manager, responded in a tweet. ...
In 2012 Sanders called Blankfein the “face of class warfare” for supporting cuts to social security, Medicare and Medicaid and the two have previously sparred on Twitter.
The most powerful union in labor-heavy Nevada announced Thursday that it won’t endorse a candidate before the state's caucuses next Saturday. That’s a blow to Joe Biden, who’d hoped for their endorsement. And it’s a sign that in spite of the union’s dislike of Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All plan, it couldn’t get on the same page to push a single alternative.
“We’re not going to endorse a candidate,” Culinary Workers Union Local 226 Secretary-Treasurer Geoconda Argüello-Kline announced in a Thursday-afternoon press conference in front of the union’s Las Vegas offices. ...
But just because the union isn’t picking a horse doesn’t mean it won’t cause some major headaches for Sanders. Argüello-Kline wouldn’t say exactly how aggressive the union will be in trying to stop Sanders going forward, but it was clear that union leadership had major issues with Medicare for All. ...
Argüello-Kline denied that the union would try to kneecap Sanders ahead of the caucuses but made clear they'd continue to communicate their position that Medicare for All would hurt members.
Sanders Argues Medicare for All Is Vital for Union Workers: 'They're Losing Wage Increases Because Cost of Healthcare Is Soaring'
Responding to the powerful Nevada Culinary Workers Union's criticism of Medicare for All in new fliers—a critique that was readily seized upon by some 2020 Democrats—Sen. Bernie Sanders on Wednesday night made the case for why achieving single-payer is so vital for union workers and everyone else in the United States.
"Many, many unions throughout this country—including some in Unite Here, and the Culinary Union is part of Unite Here—absolutely understand that we've got to move to Medicare for All," Sanders, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, said in an appearance on MSNBC. "And the reason is, if you talk to union negotiators, they will tell you they spend half of their time arguing against cutbacks for the healthcare that they have."
"They're losing wage increases because the cost of healthcare is soaring," Sanders continued. "When everybody in America has comprehensive healthcare, and when we join the rest of the industrialized world by guaranteeing healthcare to all people, unions can then negotiate for higher wages, better working conditions, better pensions. So I think the future for unions is through Medicare for All."
Asked by MSNBC host Chris Hayes to respond to 2020 rival Pete Buttigieg's tweet Wednesday "piggybacking" on the Culinary Workers Union's criticism of Medicare for All, Sanders said, "My response is that I have a lot more union support than Pete Buttigieg has or I think ever will have."
Bernie also responded to this Pete tweet on @chrislhayes re: the culinary union vs. M4A.
"My response is that I have a lot more union support than Pete Buttigieg has or I think ever will have" https://t.co/lFuc9za5Pq pic.twitter.com/74xIMuKn3u
— Alex Thompson (@AlxThomp) February 13, 2020
The Culinary Union—a powerful political force in Nevada, which holds its Democratic presidential caucus on Feb. 22—echoed the common criticism that Medicare for All would "end" union healthcare in its new flyers. The union doubled down on the criticism in the face of backlash, claiming Medicare for All would "take away the system of care we have built over eight decades."
Union leaders and members supporting Medicare for All have repeatedly pushed back against that line of attack. "I really resent the 16 million workers who joined together and bargained for better health plans being pitted against millions of Americans struggling to get healthcare coverage," Service Employees International Union (SEIU) president Mary Kay Henry said last August.
In response to Buttigieg's tweet Wednesday touting his own "Medicare for All Who Want It" public option plan, Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, accused the former South Bend, Indiana mayor of "perpetuating" a "gross myth."
"Not every union member has union healthcare plans that protect them," Nelson tweeted. "Those that do have it, have to fight like hell to keep it. If you believe in labor then you’d understand an injury to one is an injury to all."
This is offensive and dangerous. Stop perpetuating this gross myth. Not every union member has union healthcare plans that protect them. Those that do have it, have to fight like hell to keep it. If you believe in Labor then you’d understand an injury to one is an injury to all. https://t.co/vOSOT037zF
— Sara Nelson (@FlyingWithSara) February 12, 2020
As HuffPost's Dave Jamieson reported Wednesday, "the Culinary membership itself is almost certainly divided on the issue" of Medicare for All, which would virtually eliminate private insurance and provide comprehensive care to everyone in the United States for free at the point of service.
Sanders' proposal would require that company savings from Medicare for All be used to increase workers' wages and pension benefits.
"Sanders faced some tough questions on Medicare for All and some heckling when he spoke before union members in Las Vegas in December," Jamieson noted. "But the Las Vegas Review Journal reported that he otherwise enjoyed an 'enthusiastic reception,' with the crowd 'firmly behind Sanders' and chanting 'Bernie! Bernie!' at times."
So many factories in China — including the ones that make iPhones and GM cars — have shut down due to the coronavirus outbreak that global demand for oil has tanked for the first time since the financial crisis of 2008.
Demand for oil is expected to drop by 435,000 barrels a day in the first quarter of this year compared to a year ago, according to the International Energy Agency. And the full-year outlook is dim: The agency slashed expectations for demand in 2020 by 30% from where they were before the pandemic. ...
— AFP news agency (@AFP) February 13, 2020
To deal with the crisis, China has quarantined entire cities, instituting “war-time measures” at the epicenter of the outbreak in the Hubei province. Some 60 million people are on lockdown. That, turns out, isn’t great for the economy.
Workers at Foxconn factories, which make iPhones and other electronics, were reportedly told to get back to work earlier this week, but only 10% of them did so, according to Reuters. Shipyards are facing labor shortages, the head of a Hong Kong–based shipping company told the New York Times. In Japan, Nissan said it would shut down one of its factories for four days because it couldn’t get supplies from China.
The outbreak is also affecting demand for other fossil fuels: Some Chinese companies are backing out of deals to import liquefied natural gas.
Last month was the hottest January on record over the world’s land and ocean surfaces, with average temperatures exceeding anything in the 141 years of data held by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The record temperatures in January follow an exceptionally warm 2019, which has been ranked as the second hottest year for the planet’s surface since reliable measurements started. The past five years and the past decade are the hottest in 150 years of record-keeping, an indication of the gathering pace of the climate crisis.
According to Noaa, the average global land and ocean surface temperature last month was 2.5F (or 1.14C) above the 20th-century average. This measurement marginally surpassed the previous January record, set in 2016. ...
Noaa said the four warmest Januaries on record have occurred since 2016, while the 10 warmest Januaries have taken place since 2002.
A research station on an island in the Antarctic recorded a new record-high temperature for the region — less than a week after the temperature record was shattered on the Antarctic continent.
It was 69 degrees Fahrenheit in the Antarctic on Sunday.
Brazilian scientists venture out to the remote Seymour Island every few days to take a temperature reading. But this reading floored them.
Images out of a northern region of Antarctica show a landscape nearly devoid of ice and snow after record-setting temperatures last week.
— ABC News (@ABC) February 13, 2020
The Brazilian researchers told the Guardian that temperatures at the station have been erratic: It cooled there during the first decade of the century, and is now getting dramatically hotter. That’s likely due to ocean currents shifting as the seas warm.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Earl King - You Can Fly High
Earl King - You'll Remember Me
Earl King - Come On
Earl King - Mama And Papa
Earl King - Street Parade
Earl King - Don't You Lose It
Earl King - Baby You Can Get Your Gun
Earl King - Baby Sittin'
Earl King - Big Foot
Earl King - Happy Little Nobody's Waggy Tail Dog
Earl King and Roomful of Blues