The Evening Blues - 2-19-20


The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: Cookie & His Cupcakes

Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features Louisiana swamp pop group Cookie & His Cupcakes. Enjoy!

Cookie & His Cupcakes - Mathilda

“The joke on these players of the Great Game was that their employers knew what they wanted and used their passion for anonymity for ordinary spying. But this triumph of the profit-hungry investors was temporary, and they were duly cheated when a few decades later they met the player of the game of totalitarianism, a game played without ulterior motives like profit and therefore played with such murderous efficiency that it devoured even those who financed it.”

-- Hannah Arendt

News and Opinion

US-Europe conflict erupts at Munich

The 56th Munich Security Conference was dominated by a breakdown of the NATO alliance amid the resurgence of preparations for “great power conflict” and a new scramble by the imperialist powers to recolonize the world. In a blunt statement, the opening report to the conference made clear that “major interstate war is not necessarily a thing of the past.” Rather, “the return of more intense great power competition may make war more likely again.” ... While there was universal agreement among the imperialist powers on the need to prepare to fight wars, equally striking were the divisions over whom the targets should be. ...

In a series of speeches, US officials sought to bully and cajole their NATO allies into joining the United States’ anti-Chinese axis. The threats of Defense Secretary Esper were combined with the moralizing of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the empty triumphalism of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who declared, “the West is winning.” So intense were the divisions between the US and its NATO allies that when a Chinese diplomat asked a question challenging US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s claim that Huawei was exporting digital “authoritarianism,” applause rang out throughout the room.

The presence of Pelosi and that of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who had just concluded a failed effort to remove Trump on the grounds that he was insufficiently aggressive against Russia, presented a united front over what Esper called “the Pentagon’s top concern: the People’s Republic of China.” When asked whether she agreed “with the China policy of President Trump,” Pelosi answered that “we have agreement in that regard.” ...

Important as it is in itself, the conflict over Huawei is in many ways a proxy for even more fundamental divisions. As in the period preceding the First World War, the major powers are scrambling for a redivision of the world, using the colonial language of “spheres of influence.” As an article in Foreign Affairs recently pointed out, “Unipolarity is over, and with it the illusion that other nations would simply take their assigned place in a US-led international order. For the United States, that will require accepting the reality that there are spheres of influence in the world today—and that not all of them are American spheres.”

Here we go AGAIN: Pelosi heads to EU to 'protect' them from Huawei

Netanyahu Boasts That He Destroyed Free Speech in America

Israeli caretaker prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who has been indicted for corruption and is facing an election soon, just boasted that his ministry of strategic affairs has managed to undermine First Amendment protections for free speech in the United States by lobbying state legislatures to pass laws forbidding the boycott of Israel.

Anti-boycott laws of the Old South were used against Martin Luther King Jr. and other activists in the civil rights movement to keep African Americans subordinate and segregated. The right to boycott establishments over civil rights was upheld by the Supreme Court in 1982 in NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware.

Some 28 U.S. states have passed laws prohibiting the boycott of Israel and are attempting to punish this action by denying such individuals state contracts.

Gilad Erdan is the head of the ministry of strategic affairs, which has spearheaded the attempt to undermine the U.S. Constitution and make criticizing Israeli policy illegal in the United States. This effort is allegedly being aided by Mossad, Israeli intelligence. Mossad intensively spies on Washington, D.C., and may have compromising information on U.S. politicians.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, is the main instrument of such Israeli policy pushes in the United States, and has never been forced to register as the agent of a foreign state, as U.S. law requires.

President Erdogan issues ultimatum to Russia and Syria over Idlib operation

Assad’s forces make advances, further securing Aleppo region

Syrian troops have made significant advances against the last rebel held enclaves in the country’s northwest, state media said on Sunday, consolidating the government’s hold over the key Aleppo province.

The Syrian government advance also appeared to put the provincial capital of Aleppo out of the firing range of opposition groups for the first time in years, another sign of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s growing control of the area.

The armed opposition had been driven out of Aleppo city’s eastern quarters in late 2016, which they controlled for years while battling government forces who were in charge in the western part. Rebel groups had continued to harry government forces, however, from outside the city with mortar rounds.

State news agency SANA reported 30 villages and towns around the city in the western Aleppo countryside were captured on Sunday.

Rami Abdul-Rahman, the head of the Britain-based war monitor Syria Observatory for Human Rights, confirmed the report.

Democratic senator meets with Iranian foreign minister

Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) met with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on the sidelines of this weekend’s Munich Security Conference, the senator confirmed Tuesday. In a post on Medium, Murphy said he wanted to discuss Iranian-backed forces in Iraq, the war in Yemen and U.S. prisoners being held in Iran.

“I have no delusions about Iran — they are our adversary, responsible for the killing of thousands of Americans and unacceptable levels of support for terrorist organizations throughout the Middle East,” Murphy wrote. “But I think it’s dangerous to not talk to your enemies. Discussions and negotiations are a way to ease tensions and reduce the chances for crisis.”

The meeting was first reported by conservative outlet The Federalist and quickly criticized by right-wing circles. Speaking to reporters at Joint Base Andrews, President Trump questioned whether Murphy violated the Logan Act, which bans private U.S. citizens from conducting unauthorized diplomacy with foreign governments.

Legal scholars generally agree the Logan Act does not apply to members of Congress, and there is lengthy precedent of lawmakers meeting with foreign government officials. ...

Murphy said he wanted to meet with Zarif to “gauge whether he thinks the reprisals for the Soleimani assassination are over.”

Australian court backs police raids on journalists

In a chilling ruling, a Federal Court judge yesterday bluntly dismissed a legal challenge by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) to a police raid on its Sydney headquarters last June 5. Justice Wendy Abraham ruled that “national security” overrode media freedom and the right of the public to know the truth about the secret crimes being committed by the government and the military-intelligence apparatus.

The eight-hour Australian Federal Police (AFP) raid sought to incriminate two ABC reporters, Daniel Oakes and Sam Clark, over alleged leaks of documents exposing war crimes committed by Australian Special Forces in Afghanistan. It caused outrage among journalists and the public in Australia and internationally. It followed the raid the previous day on the Canberra home of a News Corp journalist, Annika Smethurst, over her report of government plans to legalise domestic surveillance by the electronic spy agency, the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD). The judge not only threw out the legal case. She ordered the ABC to pay costs—which could run into tens of thousands of dollars—and allowed the AFP to keep all the material it seized.

Speaking outside the court, the ABC’s director of news, Gaven Morris, said: “I think fundamentally the court ruled that the AFP have the right to enter a newsroom, to fossick around in confidential files, [and] to take information about the way it undertakes its journalism with its sources. This should send a chill down all of our citizens’ spines.” The trade union covering media workers, the Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA), stated: “This decision, while not unexpected, is another blow to press freedom in Australia.” Likewise, the Labor Party and the Greens voiced disappointment at the legal verdict. ...

In her 103-page judgment, Justice Abraham rejected all the ABC’s legal arguments that the warrant issued to authorise the raid was unlawful, including that it breached an implied freedom of political communication in the 1901 Australian Constitution. Citing previous decisions by the High Court, Australia’s top court, the judge insisted that the protection of classified military secrets “justified any burden on the implied freedom.” She also quoted a 1963 British ruling that “the public interest in national security necessarily outweighs the public interest in the free flow of information.” In other words, “national security”—a codeword for the interests of the ruling corporate elite and its military-intelligence agencies—overrides basic democratic rights, including the right to free speech, freedom of communication, and the protection of journalists’ confidential sources.

Turkey re-arrests Gezi park activist hours after acquittal on terror charges

Turkish authorities have detained a prominent philanthropist, just hours after a court acquitted him on terrorism-related charges and ordered his release from jail. Osman Kavala was one of nine activists accused of terror charges over their involvement in Istanbul’s Gezi park protests who were acquitted on Tuesday in a surprise ruling.

But within hours, a new warrant from the Istanbul prosecutor’s office called for his re-arrest as part of an investigation into a failed 2016 coup against Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government, and under the charge of attempting to overthrow the constitutional order. After his release from the the Silivri maximum security prison on the outskirts of Istanbul, Kavala was taken by police to an Istanbul hospital for health checks before being formally detained again. ...

The high-profile case had already drawn strong criticism from Turkey’s western allies and human rights groups, including the European court of human rights, which in December called for Kavala’s immediate release, saying his extended time in custody served the ulterior purpose of reducing him to silence with a chilling effect on civil society. ...

The 2013 demonstrations were held over the future of Gezi park, a rare green space in central Istanbul, which was slated for redevelopment into a shopping mall. The discontent soon blossomed into nationwide protests against Erdogan’s increasingly strong grip on Turkey, in which an estimated 3.6 million people took part. The demonstrations were met with a police crackdown in which the Turkish Bar Association says 15 people were killed and about 5,000 more were arrested.

Group of more than 1,000 judges calls emergency meeting amid Trump concerns

A national association of federal judges has called an emergency meeting to address growing concerns about the intervention of Donald Trump and justice department officials in politically sensitive cases, according to US media reports. Cynthia Rufe, a Philadelphia US district judge who heads the independent Federal Judges Association, which has more than 1,100 members, told USA Today the group “could not wait” until its spring conference to discuss the matter.

“There are plenty of issues that we are concerned about,” Rufe told USA Today. “We’ll talk all of this through.”

The meeting comes after more than 2,000 former US justice department officials, including some of the top government lawyers in the country, called on the attorney general, William Barr, to resign in the wake of the Roger Stone scandal. Alumni of the Department of Justice posted to Medium on Sunday a group letter that tore into Barr for “doing the president’s personal bidding” in imposing on prosecutors the recommendation of a reduced sentence for Stone, a longtime friend of Trump who was convicted of lying to and obstructing Congress and threatening a witness in the Russia investigation.

Heh, I guess the Attorney General (head of DOJ and formerly chief law enforcement officer of the US) Barr has been demoted to chopped liver.

Spain risks US ire after approving digital services tax

Spain’s government has approved a digital services tax, after a similar move by France that prompted threats of retaliation from the US. The levy will place a 3% tax on earnings from online ads, deals brokered on digital platforms and sales of user data by tech companies with at least €750m (£623m) in global revenue such as Facebook and Google.

The budget minister, María Jesús Montero, said on Tuesday the tax would not be implemented until December, to allow the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to reach an agreement on a separate, global tech tax.

Washington initially threatened to impose high retaliatory duties on $2.4bn (£1.8bn) of French products, including wines and leather handbags, after Paris introduced its digital tax last year. But both sides agreed last month to pursue a global framework under the aegis of the OECD, and Paris suspended collecting the revenue until the end of 2020.

Walmart Workers Demand Fair Pay and Hours at Protest Outside Alice Walton's Penthouse as Retail Giant Cuts Jobs

Walmart workers issued a "wake up call" to Alice Walton, an heir to the retailer's $500 billion fortune, in New York on Tuesday by marching to Walton's New York penthouse and demanding her company pay its 1.5 million workers a living wage and give them reliable, stable work schedules.

The protest was partially a response to the company's so-called "Great Workplace" restructuring initiative which Walmart began testing last year and plans to roll out in at least 1,100 of its 5,300 U.S. stores by the end of 2020.

According to internal documents obtained by the Washington Post Tuesday, employees are bracing for job cuts under the program, which will consolidate multiple workers' responsibilities into single roles with hourly pay staying the same or even going down in some cases.

"Associates worry Walmart is using the 'Great Workplace' to cut costs by reducing overall staffing and the general number of mid-level store managers," said United for Respect in a press statement. "Walmart has deliberately been pursuing a part-time strategy for more than a decade. In 2005, 80% of Walmart's associates were full-time. By 2018, an estimated 50% of Walmart's U.S. workforce were part-time."

The group is focusing its attention on the Walton family because, with a combined net worth of $191 billion, they are the biggest beneficiaries of Walmart's stock buyback program. If funds from the program were divided among workers instead, one million Walmart workers could have benefited from a $5.66 per hour pay raise in 2018, according to the Roosevelt Institute.

"We're here taking on the billionaires who are destroying our economy and our democracy," said Melissa Love, a United for Respect member and Walmart associate who attended the protest. "Now with the unveiling of the Great Workplace, we see Walmart quietly eliminating more full-time positions. It's time for the Waltons and Walmart CEO [Doug] McMillon to stop hoarding company profits to enrich themselves through share buybacks."

Millionaires Stop Paying Into Social Security for the Year Tomorrow, Highlighting Need to Scrap Payroll Tax Cap

On Wednesday, not even two full months into 2020, millionaires will stop paying into Social Security for the year due to the program's payroll tax cap.

The cap limits annual wages subject to the Social Security payroll tax to the first $137,700. Sarah Rawlins, program associate at the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), wrote Tuesday that the cap means "someone who makes $1,000,000 per year stops paying into the program on February 19, 2020."

"That makes a millionaire's effective tax rate well below the 6.2% of income that most Americans pay," Rawlins noted. "Instead, it is less than 1% of a millionaire's income. The Social Security tax is only levied on wages, excluding income from other sources like capital gains, meaning those with wages over the cap likely have an effective tax rate even lower than this estimate."

"The burden of Social Security taxes falls more heavily on those who make less," Rawlins added.

Rawlins suggested that one way to make the Social Security financing system more progressive is "scrapping the payroll tax cap entirely and making everyone pay the same tax rate."

Yale Study Says Medicare for All Would Save U.S. $450 Billion, Prevent Nearly 70,000 Deaths a Year

Here’s Mike Bloomberg’s Soon-to-Be-Released Higher Education Plan

Billionaire Mike Bloomberg’s presidential campaign is planning to release a higher education plan on Tuesday that pledges to make community college free, increase subsidies for low-income students, and end the practice of legacy admissions — but falls far short of what much of the Democratic pack has so far laid out on the campaign trail.

The plan also goes backward in some places and would also slash the benefits borrowers receive under an income-driven student loan repayment program, capping the amount that can be forgiven after 20 years for people in income-driven repayment plans. Currently, there is no cap. The plan also includes an apprenticeship proposal that is geared to the private industry, which is likely to anger union leaders.

The Bloomberg plan is scheduled for public release at 9 a.m. on Tuesday but was leaked to a rival campaign by multiple Bloomberg staffers, which then provided it to The Intercept. (Bloomberg may be able to hire thousands of party operatives, but he apparently can’t buy all of their loyalty.)

[See link for document. - js]

The Bloomberg forgiveness provision, instead of wiping out all remaining federal student loans after 20 years of income-driven repayments, as is current law, would cap the amount that would qualify for forgiveness at $57,000. This would leave many borrowers in income-driven repayment plans with just as much debt or more than what they first started with. Though his plan also reduces the monthly repayment amount to 5 percent of discretionary income, down from the current 10 percent, it’s still significantly less generous than current law to a significant portion of the estimated 8 million borrowers who rely on income-based repayment plans to pay off their student loans.

Out of the current Democratic primary field, only Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are proposing to eliminate student loan debt, which currently burdens more than 44 million Americans. Sanders’s universal plan goes the furthest on the issue, vowing to cancel every last dollar of student debt.

Artist Trolling ‘Skid Rodeo Drive’ With Chanel- and Gucci-Branded Homeless Tents

The sort of tents that typically dot Los Angeles’ Skid Row were driven down the famously luxurious Rodeo Drive this past weekend. And much like the shops nearby, they were emblazoned with Chanel, Supreme, and Gucci logos.

The tents are an installation by the artist Chemical X to draw attention to the radically different homeless populations on Rodeo Drive and Skid Row, which are only about 12 miles apart. ...

“It’s a piece of art and people need to just see it and reflect on it,” Chemical X, who wears a mask and doesn’t disclose their identity, told CBSLA. “I think people have stopped seeing the homeless or, if they do, it doesn’t engage them anymore.”

All profits from the art will be donated to the Los Angeles Community Action Network, which advocates for the homeless.

the horse race

Nevada Culinary Workers Union Member: I Would Trade My Union Healthcare for Medicare for All

Bloomberg Gains in Democratic Primaries, But Has History of Hostility to Unions Key to Voter Turnout

Bloomberg plunges into new controversy as race and gender comments resurface

Mike Bloomberg has been plunged into fresh controversy over his comments on race and transgender people, as scrutiny intensifies over the presidential candidate’s past remarks ahead of his Democratic debate debut.

On Tuesday, a 2011 PBS interview resurfaced in which Bloomberg stated that there was an “enormous cohort of black and Latino males” who “don’t know how to behave in the workplace”. ...

A NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll published on Tuesday shows Bloomberg with 19% support among Democrats for the presidential nomination, enough to join the debate stage alongside other leading contenders in Las Vegas on Wednesday. ...

In a March 2019 video, first reported by BuzzFeed News, Bloomberg criticized Democrats for focusing on transgender rights, saying it was “not a winning formula for most people”.

“If your conversation during a presidential election is about some guy wearing a dress and whether he, she, or it can go to the locker room with their daughter, that’s not a winning formula for most people. They care about healthcare, they care about education, they care about safety, and all of those kinds of things.”

The revelation comes on the same day Bloomberg’s campaign released a video touting the former New York mayor’s record on LGBTQ issues, BuzzFeed notes.

Bloomberg lays out why he can't win

Mike Bloomberg has a terrible past. Will his money stop scrutiny of it?

During his tenure as mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg oversaw one of the most discriminatory surveillance programs in our nation’s history. His police department’s “Demographics Unit” mapped out Muslim American communities and infiltrated and spied on everything from kebab shops to Muslim student whitewater rafting trips. Not only was the program offensive to American values – even the then New Jersey Republican governor, Chris Christie, an ally of President Trump’s, was outraged upon learning of it – it did nothing to keep New Yorkers safe. The Demographics Unit’s work did not generate a single terror lead.

But Bloomberg himself has always been unapologetic, insisting the program was justified.

During the 2016 Democratic national convention, Bloomberg was given a primetime speaking role. Working with a colleague, I interviewed many key Democrats – from members of Congress to representatives of the Clinton campaign – and asked them if Bloomberg should at least apologize for overseeing this program. Almost no Democrat I talked to would call on Bloomberg to apologize – foreshadowing his growing power over the party.

There’s plenty of other reasons for Democrats to be skeptical of Bloomberg. For one, he is only a part-time member of their party, having served as a Republican mayor of New York City. He endorsed George W Bush and the Iraq war, and gave money to Rudy Giuliani’s presidential campaign. He tried to keep Elizabeth Warren out of the Senate by supporting the Republican senator Scott Brown. He spent millions of dollars re-electing Michigan’s Republican governor, Rick Snyder, who oversaw the state’s failed response to the Flint water crisis. As recently as 2018, he was funding some GOP congressional campaigns.

And yet at the very same time, he is facing very little criticism from the Democratic party’s establishment. “I think that his involvement in this campaign will be a positive one,” said the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, one of the country’s most powerful Democratic party figures. Not long after the stop and frisk controversy resurfaced, a slew of African American politicians endorsed Bloomberg.

The reason Bloomberg is able to float above criticism is because he’s the eighth richest person in the country. In 2018, he spent $100m backing various House Democrats in their congressional races. ... The people are imperfect, and democracy is messy, which may be why Bloomberg thinks he can replace our democratic process with the process of writing a check. We’re about to find out if Americans let him.

Labor Reporter: How union leaders are grappling with Bernie

College Poll: Bernie consolidates lead, Bloomberg's meme blitz epically fails.

Sanders takes aim at Bloomberg as Washington state rally draws thousands

Bernie Sanders railed against his fellow Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg during his first 2020 campaign visit to Washington state, as the billionaire continues to rise in the polls despite mounting criticism over his past remarks about women and minorities. ... More than 17,000 attendees packed into the arena in Tacoma, a city south of Seattle, on Monday evening to see Sanders, who took aim at Bloomberg’s much criticised stop-and-frisk policy during his tenure as New York mayor.

Sanders called the programme “racist” and said it “caused communities of colour, African Americans and Latinos, to live in fear and humiliation in New York City”.

Speaking about inequality in America, he also called out Bloomberg’s wealth (he is estimated to be one of the 10 richest people in the world), which has repeatedly been a point of contention for many of his Democratic opponents. ...

Bloomberg has also received recent criticism for comments he made four years ago in which he seemingly questioned the intelligence of American factory and farm workers, as well as comments he made in 2013, in which he compared local members of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and New York’s teachers union to the gun lobbying group the National Rifle Association (NRA). ...

Sanders said: “As a United States senator, I truly appreciate the power of the corporate elites and the 1%; they have endless and I mean endless amounts of money. They own, to a large degree, the media; they have tremendous control over our economy; they are very, very powerful. But at the end of the day, we are the 99%.”

Buttigieg caught faking black support AGAIN

the evening greens

Hive heists: why the next threat to bees is organized crime

Mike Potts was aware he was at risk of being a victim of crime, he just didn’t think it would happen to him. But Potts is an owner of an increasingly valuable commodity that thieves are targeting with growing sophistication in the US: bees.

A booming demand for honeybees for pollination drew Potts, owner of Pottsy’s Pollination in Oregon, to load 400 hives of his bees on trucks and drive them down to California’s agricultural heartland last month. He unloaded them to a holding area just outside Yuba City and returned just a few days later to find 92 hives had been whisked away by thieves.

“I pulled in the yard and noticed that there was some stuff missing,” said Potts, who estimated the theft cost him $44,000. Police subsequently pulled over three suspicious beekeepers traveling late at night, to no avail. “I’ve heard that there had been some stealing but didn’t think it would happen to me. It’s frustrating because it’s getting harder and harder to keep bees alive. And then you transport them down and they just get taken.”

The theft is the latest in a string of beehive heists, often undertaken at the dead of night using forklifts and trucks. Hives are regularly split open or dismantled, interventions that can kill tens of thousands of the kidnapped bees. The problem has become severe enough in California that certain police officers now specialize in hive crime.

“Hive theft has always been an issue but it has definitely increased over the last eight years,” said Rowdy Freeman, a Butte county police officer who is commonly referred to as “bee theft detective”. Freeman has compiled figures showing there was an explosion in California hive thefts in 2016, with 1,695 being taken, compared with 101 in 2015. In 2017, the figure was 1,048 hives.

Justin Trudeau urges 'dialogue and mutual respect' to end rail blockade

Justin Trudeau has called for patience and dialogue as his government seeks a peaceful end to a rail blockade that has shut down freight and passenger traffic. But the Canadian prime minister is under increasing pressure from the Conservative opposition to clear the tracks. For almost two weeks, protesters across the country have taken up the cause of the Wet’suwet’en indigenous people of British Columbia in their campaign against the C$6.6bn (US$4.98bn) 40-mile Coastal GasLink gas pipeline project.

In Ontario, Tyendinaga Mohawk protesters have stopped service along a major eastern Canada rail line.

“I know that people’s patience is running short. We need to find a solution and we need to find it now,” Trudeau told parliament on Tuesday. The dispute should be settled by “dialogue and mutual respect” and not through force, he added. Canadian National Railway Co (CN) has obtained a court injunction to end the blockade in Ontario, but police have so far refrained from using force to uphold it.

Police in British Columbia did clear out protesters, turning the situation into a flashpoint for indigenous demonstrators. The standoff is testing Trudeau’s pledge to repair Ottawa’s relations with First Nations and champion their causes.

You Only Think You're Recycling These Plastics

All those yogurt cups, plastic film, and takeout boxes we’re dutifully gathering every week because they're labeled as recyclable? A survey of every residential recycling facility in the U.S. found that they're mostly just getting trashed. And don’t even bother trying to save those plastic coffee pods.

Only your water and soda bottles, and the thicker plastic that serves as packaging used for shampoo bottles and laundry detergent jugs, are functionally recyclable, according to a report from Greenpeace. While it’s possible to recycle other types of plastic, there’s no market for it and local recycling facilities wind up trashing it.

“Most types of plastics are not recyclable in the United States, and in fact appear to be illegal to even refer to as recyclable,” Greenpeace USA Oceans Campaign Director John Hocevar told VICE News. “Recycling isn’t broken, but plastic is choking it.”

The researchers surveyed all 367 residential recycling facilities in the U.S. In order for a product to be labeled as “recyclable,” 60 percent of the recycling facilities need to be able to recycle it, per Federal Trade Commission guidelines. In order to label a product as recyclable, the company that’s marketing it needs to prove to the government that it can be recycled. But most types of plastics aren’t getting recycled. The report claims that much of the plastic that’s labelled as recyclable is illegally labeled. ...

Democrats in Congress, just last week, introduced legislation that would ban the use of several types of single use plastics — an effort to cut off plastics pollution at its source rather than promoting recycling after the fact. The new bill, the Break Free from Plastics Act, takes cues from the states, which, in the last several years, have begun to regulate plastics more aggressively: New York’s plastic bag ban, passed last year, will go into effect at the end of the month, and California and Maine have already instituted restrictions on the use of plastic straws and single-use plastics.

Also of Interest

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

Mike Pompeo’s Latest Delusion

Afghan Election Drama Threatens Trump's Deal With The Taliban

Scandal-Ridden OPCW Now Using Twitter’s “Hide Replies” Function

Strange Stuff on Wall Street: Big Job Cuts, Fed Bailout, Record Markets

Fed Slashes 14-Day Repo Loans to $25 Billion; Will Cut Further in March

On February 6 Antarctica Was Warmer Than Orlando, But Mainstream Democrats Fiddle as the Planet Burns

World leaders urged to 'step back from precipice' of ecological ruin

Virginia Delegate: How corporate Dems sold out workers

When Bloomberg News’s Reporting on China Was Challenged, Bloomberg Tried to Ruin Me for Speaking Out

Progressives Will Stay Home for Michael Bloomberg

Latinx Group Mijente's First-Ever Presidential Endorsement: Bernie Sanders

Democracy Now: Latinx Group Mijente Backs Bernie Sanders in First-Ever Presidential Endorsement

Factchecking NPR’s Attempted Takedown of Bernie Sanders

Rising: Will Bernie, Warren ROAST Bloomberg tonight?

Rising: Sanders leads with African-American voters for the first time

Scientists discover Neanderthal skeleton that hints at flower burial

A Little Night Music

Cookie & His Cupcakes - Got You On My Mind

Cookie & His Cupcakes - Heard That Story Before

Cookie & His Cupcakes - Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

Cookie & His Cupcakes - I've Been So Lonely

Terry Clinton The Berry Cups (Cookie & His Cupcakes) - Hurt By A Letter

Cookie & His Cupcakes - I'm Twisted

Cookie & His Cupcakes - Belinda

Cookie & His Cupcakes - Betty & Dupree

Cookie and the Cupcakes - Cried Boo Hoo Hoo Hoo Hoo

Cookie and the Cupcakes - Married Life

15 users have voted.


This song was way ahead of its time

Hardcore formulas are dogshit
Change and caring are what's real
Is this a state of mind
Or just another label

The joy and hope of an alternative
Have become its own cliché
A hairstyle's not a lifestyle
Imagine Sid Vicious at 35

Who needs a scene
Scared to love and to feel
Judging everything
By loud fast rules appeal
Walk tall, act small
Only as tough as gang approval
Unity is bullshit
When it's under someone's fat boot

Where's the common cause
Too many factions
Safely sulk in their shells
Agree with us on everything
Or we won't help with anything
That kind of attitude
Just makes a split grow wider
Crossover is just another word
For lack of ideas
Maybe what we need
Are more trolls under the bridge

Will the metalheads finally learn something-
Or will the punks throw away their education?

No one's ever the best
Once they believe their own press
"Maturing" don't mean rehashing
Mistakes of the past


The more things change
The more they stay the same
We can't grow
When we won't criticize ourselves

6 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


heh, the punks are still ahead of their time.

2 users have voted.
Pricknick's picture

She goes to bat for trump against Huawei.

“You cannot sell the privacy of the people of your country down the river.”
Nancy Pelosi

9 users have voted.

Regardless of the path in life I chose, I realize it's always forward, never straight.

joe shikspack's picture


as if you needed any more evidence that there's not a dime's worth of difference between the two parties.

2 users have voted.
Raggedy Ann's picture

Tonight should be interesting. I won't watch, but I'll catch the headlines or if someone does an open thread, I'll participate, I just can't watch cuz I'll end up screaming at the teevee.

Well, what do you know - Israel protects pedophiles. Who knew?

Well, have a popcorn eating evening, folks! Pleasantry

7 users have voted.

"When will our conscience's grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?" Eleanor Roosevelt

"The secret of change is to focus all your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new." Socrates (469-399 BC)

@Raggedy Ann
Glad you like popcorn!
Gets stuck in my gums so...
tonight is our local library monthly cookbook club meet up.

Made a shrimp and olives dish to share...
fresh garlic, onion flakes, crushed red pepper (careful)
Old Bay, white wine and a splash of Key West lime juice
toppled with dried parsley
about 1 3/4 lb. wild gulf shrimp, peeled and chopped
and about 10 ounces of pitted Kalamata olives
Sauteed in the cast iron pan. Yumm.

ain't popcorn, but almost better than the wife's attempt
at a Sausage Cassoulet. The jury is still out.
We'll see!

Good luck!

4 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@Raggedy Ann

i'm thinking that i might watch tonight in hopes of seeing a billionaire get dunked on by a bunch of millionaires. Smile

ms shikspack is getting ready to make the popcorn, now.

3 users have voted.

Evening Joe & buddies.
Joe, you whipped up my appetite with "Cookie & His Cupcakes". If I snack, it's all your fault, hehe. Thanks for the music & news anyways.

4 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


heh, it's been my experience that people with an overactive sweet tooth rarely need prodding ... Smile

1 user has voted.

Today from the chronicles of Klobocop, courtesy Yasha Levine.

The excerpt is reg her 2016 trip to Ukraine with her Repub buddies McSame & Lindsey

In photos and videos of the trip, McCain seems like he’s barely holding on to life — he’s got that unfocused death stare. But everyone else, including Klobuchar, is smiling and having a good time. And why not? The weapons, the sturdy young Ukrainian soldiers, the smell of gunpowder and sweat, the New Year festivities, the snow, the dangerous Russians so near — it must have been an intoxicating mix.

Klobuchar would later joke that maybe the three of them were having a bit too good of a time there: “I spent the last week of last year with John McCain and Lindsey Graham in the Baltics and in Georgia and in Ukraine. And we were literally on the frontline with the Ukrainian troops on New Year’s Eve. Right? Which one do you kiss? We got both those guys there?” Which one do you kiss?

That one trip to the trenches made her an expert on Russia and Ukraine and a firm supporter of the “Ukraine Doctrine” — the idea that if America doesn’t fight Russia and kill Russians in Ukraine, Russia is going to invade the free world. From that point on there doesn’t seem to be a single speech in which she doesn’t mention it as an example of her deep foreign policy experience — and the reason why she takes the Russian threat so seriously. She’s been on the frontline, man! In the trenches! With John McCain! In a blizzard! What have you done?

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joe shikspack's picture


the whole idea of people advocating that we "fight them there so we don't have to fight them here," is just such a laughable concept in an era where even cave-dwellers from (is there something lower than third world?) backwards countries can make effective airstrikes on "the homeland." in a sensible country, it ought to get them laughed out of the room.

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Azazello's picture

I got some stuff to add tonight.
Bloomberg an oligarch ? Respectable Racism: Only backward savages in Russia have oligarchs. Civilized Americans have "rich guys."
From the border: Smugglers use 'camouflage' ladders to cross border wall
Jimmy Dore is going live soon, here:

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joe shikspack's picture


i saw that jackass on msdnc going after nina turner about using the term "oligarch," but i hadn't realized that it had become "a thing."

somebody tell those folks that they can turn anything into an epithet with the proper inflection, but they don't get to edit the dictionary. words mean things, you can look them up and shit. Smile

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snoopydawg's picture

"national security” overrode media freedom and the right of the public to know the truth about the secret crimes being committed by the government and the military-intelligence apparatus.

This leaves out hope that Australia will step up and protect Assange doesn't it? A few MPs have spoken for him as have more U.K. politicians, but he is running out of time. The trial starts on the 24th but he was in court this morning. Well by video. Chicken shits don't want to look him in the eyes!

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"It seems to me that the problem is that group party interests, in this case, are placed above the interests of the entire society and the interests of people,"

joe shikspack's picture


i am pretty sure that you are right on target about the implications for assange. australia clearly values its participation as a member of the 5 eyes group far more than the lives and wellbeing of its citizens. what a bunch of disgusting toadies.

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TheOtherMaven's picture

@joe shikspack

he can never go home again. I don't know where he'll wind up - maybe Iceland.

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There is no justice. There can be no peace.