The Evening Blues - 2-21-20
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features zydeco singer and accordian player Alton Jay "Rockin' Dopsie" Rubin. Enjoy!
Rockin' Dopsie & The Zydeco Twisters - The Louisiana Two Step
"Bloomberg vs Trump would mean we’d lost and signal the start of centuries of locked-down dystopia where leadership is handed from billionaire to trillionaire as ceremonially as any monarchy and the rest of us are shipped off to giant rotating Amazon warehouses to work in space."
-- Caitlin Johnstone
News and Opinion
Worth a full read:
Bloomberg Spent a Decade Demanding Cuts to Social Security. His Campaign Plan Doesn’t Rule Them Out.
A review of Michael Bloomberg’s many statements on Social Security over the last 10 years makes two things clear. First, Bloomberg deeply and sincerely believes that the well-being of the United States requires cuts to Social Security benefits. Second, Bloomberg has no idea how Social Security works. Instead, his head is filled with a hodgepodge of right-wing talking points about the program.
On Sunday, Bloomberg’s presidential campaign released his official proposal for Social Security and retirement more generally. It’s written to give the impression that if elected, Bloomberg would not cut Social Security for anyone, and in fact, would expand benefits for everyone. However, the plan leaves the door open to benefit cuts for some beneficiaries — just as Bloomberg has advocated for years. ...
Bloomberg uses language similar to a 2010 proposal from Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, the chairs of a deficit reduction commission set up by President Barack Obama. Bloomberg vociferously supported the commission at the time. According to Bloomberg’s proposal, “Mike will strengthen entitlement programs.” Simpson and Bowles said their mixture of minor benefit increases and significant cuts would “strengthen Social Security.” Today, Bloomberg wants to “put the system on sound financial footing.” In 2010, Simpson and Bowles proclaimed that their goal was to “ensure Social Security’s soundness.”
Like Bloomberg today, Simpson and Bowles proposed increasing Social Security benefits for the poorest beneficiaries. Unlike Bloomberg, they explicitly advocated cuts that would have reduced the benefits of those further up the income ladder. This would have reduced overall costs and made the program more like traditional welfare — an outcome that would have weakened political support for Social Security and made it vulnerable to further cuts in the future.
The lack of a straightforward disavowal of cuts from the Bloomberg campaign, combined with Bloomberg’s history, suggests that his plan shares significant genetics with Simpson-Bowles.
Worth a full read:
The Trump administration is seeking extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the United States for trial on charges carrying 175 years in prison. On Feb. 24, a court in the U.K. will hold a hearing to determine whether to grant President Donald Trump’s request. The treaty between the U.S. and the U.K. prohibits extradition for a “political offense.” Assange was indicted for exposing U.S. war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. That is a classic political offense. Moreover, Assange’s extradition would violate the legal prohibition against sending a person to a country where he is in danger of being tortured. ...
The 2003 extradition treaty between the U.S. and the U.K. states, “Extradition shall not be granted if the offense for which extradition is requested is a political offense.” It is the “requested state” (in this case, the U.K.) that “determines that the request [by the U.S.] was politically motivated.”
Although there is no clear definition of “political offense,” it routinely includes treason, sedition and espionage, and offenses directed against state power. Assange published “true information obtained from a whistleblower, making the charges against him political in nature, rather than criminal,” Robert Mackey wrote at The Intercept.
The Obama administration did not indict Assange because it didn’t want to establish “a precedent that could chill investigative reporting about national security matters by treating it as a crime,” according to Charlie Savage of The New York Times. Obama could not distinguish between what WikiLeaks did and what news media organizations like the Times “do in soliciting and publishing information they obtain that the government wants to keep secret,” Savage noted. Indeed, many of the documents WikiLeaks released were published in collaboration with the Times, The Guardian, Le Monde, El País and Der Spiegel. The outlets published articles based on documents WikiLeaks had released, including “logs of significant combat events in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.”
Assange is being targeted for “political offenses” because WikiLeaks published evidence of U.S. war crimes. He cannot be extradited to the United States under the terms of the U.S.-U.K. extradition treaty.
So much for the White House insisting Julian Assange’s story about discussing a presidential pardon with a Republican congressman was “a total lie.”
The congressman in question just backed it up.
Hours after President Trump’s White House issued a blanket denial on Wednesday, former California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher piped up to say that, yup, actually, he did visit the now-jailed founder of the radical activist group WikiLeaks in London back in 2017 to say he’d try to score Assange a full pardon from Trump. And Rohrabacher’s version largely jibed with Assange’s claim Wednesday that he would only get the pardon if he denied that Russia hacked the DNC to get emails released by WikiLeaks before the 2016 election.
Rohrabacher cast himself as merely freelancing, and denied ever speaking to Trump directly about his trip to see Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where the WikiLeaks founder was hiding out at the time. But Rohrabacher said he did ring up the White House after he got back to tell Trump’s then chief of staff, Gen. John Kelly, that Assange had agreed to swap a public statement for a pardon. “Upon my return, I spoke briefly with General Kelly,” Rohrabacher said. “I told him that Julian Assange would provide information about the purloined DNC emails in exchange for a pardon.”
He continued: “No one followed up with me, including General Kelly, and that was the last discussion I had on this subject with anyone representing Trump or in his administration.”
Erik Prince, an heir to a billion-dollar fortune who is widely viewed as a shadow adviser to the president, is under federal investigation for his 2015 attempt to modify two American-made crop-dusting planes into attack aircraft — a violation of arms trafficking regulations — two people familiar with the investigation told The Intercept. The planes became part of private military services Prince proposed to sell or use in mercenary operations in Africa and Azerbaijan, as The Intercept has previously reported.
The investigation into the modified crop dusters is one of several ongoing probes targeting Prince. Another focuses on the allegations that he lied to Congress during the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Russia’s 2016 presidential election interference; a third concerns a 2017 armed aviation proposal to the UAE, according to the Wall Street Journal. ...
It is unclear why the FBI took more than three years to investigate Prince for the modification of two crop dusters. Prince has long sought to convert the single-engine agricultural aircraft into light attack planes, which he believes can revolutionize how small wars are fought. The two planes, manufactured by Thrush Aircraft in Albany, Georgia, were the first prototypes Prince built in an effort to create a low-cost air force for his vision of privatized warfare.
Prince has never been charged with a crime in the United States. But his career as a private security entrepreneur has been marked by atrocities like the murder of four Blackwater personnel in Fallujah in April 2004 and the Nisour Square massacre of 2007, both of which gave rise to federal proceedings. A civil lawsuit brought by the families of the American contractors killed in 2004 resulted in a confidential settlement; a federal criminal trial against four Blackwater personnel for murder and manslaughter yielded convictions. In each case, Prince escaped personal liability.
Donald Trump has appointed the US ambassador to Germany, a combative loyalist, to his administration’s most senior intelligence post, in his continuing effort to wield personal control over the spy agencies, according to multiple US reports.
By making Richard Grenell acting director of national intelligence (DNI), rather than nominating him for the permanent position, Trump has sidestepped the need for Senate confirmation, a loophole the president has increasingly exploited as he has moved to replace career officials with those chosen for their personal loyalty.
The move marks a radical break from past practice. Since the position was established in the wake of the 9/11 attacks to coordinate the 17 intelligence agencies, the office of the director of national intelligence has been viewed as non-partisan, and generally occupied by career professionals. The current acting DNI, Joseph Maguire, is a retired vice-admiral and former head of the National Counterterrorism Center.
Grenell does not have a background in intelligence or the armed services, but the White House statement confirming the appointment claimed Grenell had “years of experience” working with the intelligence community in other jobs, as special envoy to Serbia and Kosovo peace talks (a job he was given in October) and while he was spokesman at the US mission to the UN from 2001 to 2008. ...
Until now Grenell has been best known as a Twitter warrior, lashing out at critics of the Trump administration with a ferocity that captured the president’s attention.
Turkey says it has killed more than 50 Syrian forces in retaliation for Syrian government air strikes near the northwestern region of Idlib that left two Turkish soldiers dead.
The attacks come a day after President Tayyip Erdogan warned of an imminent Turkish military offensive in the Syrian province of Idlib, where government forces backed by Russia air power have mounted a bid to capture the region.
Russian warplanes repel attack on Syrian army in Idlib as militants launch offensive aided by Turkish artillery
The Russian Defense Ministry says its Air Force launched strikes to repel a militant offensive against the Syrian Army in Idlib, which had sought to breach the government forces’ defensive lines with Turkey’s backing.
The militants launched a “massive offensive” southeast of the city of Idlib, using many armored vehicles, the Russian Reconciliation Center in Syria said on Thursday, adding that it was Turkish artillery that helped them breach the Syrian Army’s defenses in some areas. ...
At the request of Damascus, Russian Su-24 strike aircraft hit the advancing armed groups, helping Syrian forces to repel the offensive, destroying a tank and six infantry-fighting vehicles, among other hardware.
The Turkish forces stopped the artillery barrage after Moscow contacted Ankara.The Reconciliation Center also said that the Turkish shelling left four Syrian soldiers injured. Moscow also once again called on Ankara to cease its support for terrorists in Idlib, and stop handing over weapons to them. ...
Back in 2018, Russia and Turkey struck a deal on Idlib, under which Ankara should have used its influence on the ground to scale back and eventually halt attacks from within the troubled province. It also should have separated the “moderate” armed groups from hardline extremists like Al Nusra — an Al Qaeda offshoot that also held much sway in the area. This approach was taken at the time as an alternative to a full-fledged offensive by the Syrian Army. Yet, over the past years, none of the commitments Turkey undertook were effectively fulfilled.
New Report Blames Corporate Tax Cuts, Attacks on Unions for Persistent Inequality and Slow Wage Growth Among Low Earners in US
Americans who already enjoyed high incomes saw the most growth in their wages in 2019, according to a new report released Thursday, while wage growth for low hourly workers was sluggish—a continuation of what the Economic Policy Institute calls an "alarming trend" that has emerged over the last four decades.
In its report, "State of Working America Wages 2019," EPI revealed that median hourly wages grew by just 1% over the past year, with racial and gender wage gaps persisting, while earners in the 95th percentile saw their incomes grow last year by 4.5%.
Even with wage growth for top earners, the think tank said, the median wage in the U.S. "is only $19.33 an hour, which translates into about $40,000 for a full-time, full-year worker."
Unequal wages and wage growth "have been defining features of the U.S. labor market for the last four decades, despite steady productivity growth," Elise Gould, senior economist for EPI and author of the report, said in a statement. However, she added, persistent inequality is the result of political choices—not an inevitability.
"These alarming trends," Gould said, "are a direct result of a series of policy decisions that have reduced the economic power of most workers to achieve faster wage growth."
The report counted policymakers' failure to regularly raise the minimum wage, companies offshoring jobs as a bargaining tactic to keep wages low, and corporate tax cuts like those passed by the Republican Party in 2017 among the reasons for worsening income inequality. ...
In the study, which looked at wage growth over the past 40 years, EPI reported that wages for many workers have not just leveled off but have gone down. The bottom 50% of college graduates earn less than they did in 2000, and the wage gap between black and white Americans has worsened in the past 20 years. In 2000, there was a 10.2% gap between black and white workers' pay, compared to a 14.9% gap now.
The wage gap between men and women persists—even among women who are more highly educated than their male counterparts—but it has narrowed slightly, with women earning 85 cents on the dollar.
Policy changes with workers in mind have demonstrably improved pay for low-wage workers, EPI reported. In states where the minimum wage was raised between 2018 and 2019, low-wage workers saw an average increase of 4.1% in pay, compared to a 0.9% growth in states without new minimum wage laws.
EPI rejected myths that slow wage growth for the lowest-paid Americans can be "be explained away by positing education shortages, by including benefits and looking at total compensation, or by changing the price deflator (changing the way wages are adjusted for inflation)."
Instead, Gould said, lawmakers must take responsibility for political choices in the past several decades which have left many American workers behind.
"Policymakers should not presume that the economy has already achieved full employment," she said. "Instead, policymakers should take steps to foster strong wage growth, such as raising the federal minimum wage, addressing pay disparities, and protecting and strengthening workers' rights to bargain collectively for higher wages and benefits."
Ahead of Wednesday night's Democratic presidential debate, EPI tweeted that declining union membership has played a role in the current crisis of rising inequality. In the 1950s, 35% of Americans working in the private sector were represented by labor unions, compared to just 6.2% now.
"This erosion was not driven by workers' declining interest in unions but rather by concerted employer opposition along with state and federal policy that has made it near impossible for workers to form unions in the face of unwilling employer," reads EPI's report.
The Communications Workers of America, a labor union with 700,000 members, called on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee this week to cut off support to the seven House Democrats who "betrayed working people" by voting against a pro-labor bill that passed the House earlier this month.
The Democrats who voted against the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act—which would eliminate state-level "right-to-work" laws and expand workers' bargaining rights—are Reps. Henry Cuellar (Texas), Stephanie Murphy (Fla.), Lucy McBath (Ga.), Kendra Horn (Okla.), Kurt Schrader (Ore.), Joe Cunningham (S.C.), and Ben McAdams (Utah.).
"They must be denied the support of the Democratic Party for refusing to stand with working Americans," CWA president Christopher Shelton wrote to DCCC chair Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) in a letter (pdf) dated Feb. 18. "I urge the DCCC to no longer provide services for any incumbent House members who turn their back on working people."
"We have no tolerance for anti-worker electeds," CWA tweeted Thursday.
McBath, Horn, McAdams, and Cunningham are all freshmen in toss-up seats, Politico reported Wednesday.
Cuellar, a Koch-backed Democrat who has voted with President Donald Trump nearly 70% of the time, is facing a tough primary challenge from progressive attorney Jessica Cisneros in Texas' 28th District. Cisneros has racked up union endorsements and nearly $1 million in donations despite the DCCC's blacklist policy, which cuts off funding and support for vendors that assist Democratic primary challengers.
CWA District 6 endorsed Cisneros last October.
California lawmakers on Thursday voted unanimously to formally apologize for the role the state legislature played in the incarceration of more than 120,000 people of Japanese descent in internment camps during the second world war. The mandatory relocation, which came on the heels of the Japanese military attack on Pearl Harbor, forced hundreds of thousands – 70% of whom were American citizens – to leave behind their homes, belongings and communities.
This week’s vote comes 78 years after President Franklin D Roosevelt signed an executive order that gave the US army authority to remove Japanese civilians in the US from their homes following the Japanese military attack on Pearl Harbor.
Albert Muratsuchi, the California state assembly member who introduced the resolution, said he wanted to lead by example and commemorate the anniversary in a bipartisan measure at a time when “our nation’s capital is hopelessly divided along party lines and President Trump is putting immigrant families and children in cages”.
Muratsuchi, who was born on a US military base in Okinawa, Japan, and whose district is home to one of the largest Japanese American communities in California, told KPCC that the bill was partly inspired by the current events, including a Muslim travel ban and separation of families at the border. “We’re seeing striking parallels between what happened to Japanese Americans before and during World War II and what we see happening today,” Muratsuchi said.
Malcolm X’s Daughter Ilyasah Shabazz on Her Father’s Legacy & the New Series “Who Killed Malcolm X?”
Amid the Mike Bloomberg pile-on and the Pete Buttigieg-Amy Klobuchar squabbling, there was a key point that slipped by almost unnoticed during Wednesday’s tumultuous Democratic debate – one that could potentially prevent Bernie Sanders from becoming the nominee.
Towards the end, each of the six candidates was asked if – at the Democratic national convention this summer in Milwaukee – they would support the person who has won the most delegates – even if that person hasn’t achieved a majority. Five of the candidates said they would not. The Democratic socialist and Vermont senator said he would.
It might seem a wonky, opaque detail, but it raises the prospect that Sanders, who has a commanding lead in the polls and has emerged as the frontrunner, could win the most pledged delegates – those allocated on the basis of votes during the marathon Democratic primaries – but be swindled, at the last, by the Democratic party elite. ...
If Sanders’ popularity endures, he could amass more delegates than his rivals by the time of the July convention, when the pledged delegates effectively vote for the nominee in a first round of voting that is meant to pick the nominee. However, if Sanders does not have an absolute majority – more than 50% – during the first ballot when the pledged delegates line up behind their chosen nominee, then it is the superdelegates who will join the vote in a second round of voting. ...
That’s why that moment in the Nevada debate was so important. Five of the candidates were effectively saying that even if they were losing at the Democratic national convention, they were open to the unelected superdelegates weighing in in their favor, potentially gifting them the nomination even though they did not win the support of the most actual voters in the whole race.
It’s a prospect that would leave Sanders’ supporters irate – and even upset some non-supporters. Marianne Williamson, Sanders’ erstwhile rival for the nomination, was among those to criticize the process on Wednesday night. “The Democratic Party should be on notice: if you even think about using superdelegates to take the nomination from someone who has the plurality of delegates going into Milwaukee, we the people will not take it lying down,” Williamson wrote on Twitter.
Hat tip to Ms. Shikspack:
Sen. Bernie Sanders said in a CBS "60 Minutes" interview set to air Sunday that Michael Bloomberg's performance in the Democratic presidential debate Wednesday night showed that President Donald Trump would make easy work of the former New York City mayor in a general election debate.
Sanders, a Democratic presidential candidate, told Anderson Cooper that he was surprised by Bloomberg's apparent lack of preparation and inability to address concerns about his record as a mayor and a businessman. "And if that's what happened in a Democratic debate," Sanders said, "I think it's quite likely that Trump will chew him up and spit him out."
Asked if he is concerned about Bloomberg winning the Democratic nomination, Sanders said he is more "worried about an unprecedented amount of money being spent on a campaign." Bloomberg, who is worth over $60 billion, has already spent $400 million on advertising in the Democratic primary race.
"We've never seen anything like this in American history," Sanders said. "And I just think though that the American people will rebel against this type of oligarchic movement. We are a democracy. One person, one vote. Not a guy worth $60 billion buying an election."
According to Bloomberg's latest Federal Election Commission filing, the billionaire businessman spent around $7 million per day—$300,000 an hour—on his campaign in January.
Elizabeth Warren has seemingly revived her flagging bid to become US president after a fiery Democratic debate performance in Las Vegas garnered her widespread praise and a slew of much-needed campaign donations.
Warren, who repeatedly excoriated billionaire rival Mike Bloomberg during the Nevada debate, enjoyed the best fundraising day of her entire campaign on the back of the event. The Massachusetts senator raised $2.8m in donations on Wednesday, according to her campaign team.
Warren was roundly declared the victor of an often tempestuous televised debate which for the first time on stage featured Bloomberg, the media mogul who has reshaped the contest through an overwhelming campaign advertising blitz that has helped him surge in the polls as he splashed out more than $400m.
Bloomberg brought a wallet to a knife fight.
— Bruce Mehlman (@bpmehlman) February 20, 2020
— Eli Yokley (@eyokley) February 21, 2020
Mike Bloomberg is privately lobbying Democratic Party officials and donors allied with his moderate opponents to flip their allegiance to him — and block Bernie Sanders — in the event of a brokered national convention. The effort, largely executed by Bloomberg’s senior state-level advisers in recent weeks, attempts to prime Bloomberg for a second-ballot contest at the Democratic National Convention in July by poaching supporters of Joe Biden and other moderate Democrats, according to two Democratic strategists familiar with the talks and unaffiliated with Bloomberg.
The outreach has involved meetings and telephone calls with supporters of Biden and Pete Buttigieg — as well as uncommitted DNC members — in Virginia, Texas, Florida, Oklahoma and North Carolina, according to one of the strategists who participated in meetings and calls.
With Sanders’ emergence as the frontrunner in the presidential primary, Democrats in those states have recently raised the prospect that the democratic socialist could be a top-of-the-ticket liability. “There’s a whole operation going on, which is genius,” said one of the strategists, who is unaffiliated with any campaign. “And it’s going to help them win on the second ballot … They’re telling them that’s their strategy.”
It’s a presumptuous play for a candidate who hasn’t yet won a delegate or even appeared on a ballot. And it could also bring havoc to the convention, raising the prospect of party insiders delivering the nomination to a billionaire over a progressive populist.
Bloomberg claims Climate Change is a big concern for him but has one of the largest carbon footprints in the world! Is being a complete hypocrite a requirement to become the Democrat nominee? pic.twitter.com/EzxjygV1oW
— Wayne Dunlap (@wdunlap) February 20, 2020
Critics Attack Buttigieg for Using 'Fox News Propaganda' By Referring to Grassroots Groups Backing Sanders as Dark Money Organizations
Former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg came under fire from progressives after claiming in a series of tweets Thursday evening that his rival for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination Sen. Bernie Sanders is being backed by "nine dark money groups" and likening the Vermont senator to billionaire Michael Bloomberg.
"Say our name, Pete Buttigieg," tweeted the Sunrise Movement. "We dare you."
The former mayor's comments were aimed at bolstering donations ahead of the Super Tuesday contests on March 3, when 14 states will vote in the Democratic primary.
"With Michael Bloomberg in the race, and with nine dark money groups supporting Bernie Sanders, the goal posts have changed," Buttigieg said of his campaign's need to raise more money.
The nine groups, as the Democratic Socialists of America pointed out in a tweet, are grassroots organizations powered by "POC, immigrants, youth, working class people, and democracy defenders."
What scares Mayor Pete?
So, POC, immigrants, youth, working class people, and democracy defenders. Noted. https://t.co/gMDZsqLCVI
— DSA (@DemSocialists) February 20, 2020
Buttigieg has struggled to gain the support of demographic groups outside of older white people, a nagging problem that March for Our Lives co-founder Delaney Tarr noted on Twitter.
"Remember when you called dark money 'black money,'" Tarr said, referring to an incident on January 24 where the mayor made that comment to a room full of African American voters in South Carolina.
"Disgraceful that Buttigieg continues to smear groups like ours, led by immigrants and people of color—all to boost his own fundraising," tweeted immigration advocacy group Make the Road Action.
In a fact-check article from February 18 on Buttigieg's claims on Sanders' support from the groups and other less than truthful assertions the candidate has made on the campaign trail, the New York Times said that at best Buttigieg was bending the definition of "dark money."
Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney admits that the Republican party is part of a death cult that controls the U.S. government.
Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said in a speech Wednesday night that Republicans won't act on the climate crisis because the party doesn't want to raise taxes or ask people to change their "lifestyle."
"We take the position in my party that asking people to change their lifestyle dramatically, including by paying more taxes, is simply not something we are interested in doing," Mulvaney said in response to a question on why the U.S. government is not doing more to combat the climate emergency.
Earthjustice Sues DOD for 'Short-sighted and Illegal' Incineration of PFAS in Communities Across Country
Slamming the Department of Defense for endangering the health of people in communities across the U.S., environmental law group Earthjustice on Thursday filed a lawsuit against the Pentagon for the military's unsafe disposal of the class of substances known as "forever chemicals."
Earthjustice is suing the department over its contracts in communities across the country to incinerate unused firefighting foam, which contains PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. The chemicals are used in many everyday products, and the DOD is the nation's biggest user of firefighting foam that contains them.
BREAKING: We're suing the Department of Defense to stop it from burning millions of gallons of unused firefighting foam containing PFAS. This class of highly toxic chemicals are known to cause cancer and other serious health effects. https://t.co/iRdssCtP4K
— Earthjustice (@Earthjustice) February 20, 2020
Green groups call PFAS "forever chemicals" because they don't easily break down and can stay in the environment and people's bodies for decades after exposure.
In a statement, Earthjustice cited the CDC as saying "the presence and concentration of PFAS in U.S. drinking water presents 'one of the most seminal public health challenges for the next decades.'"
The DOD's unsafe incineration is taking place towns across the country, including East Liverpool, Ohio; Arkadelphia and El Dorado, Arkansas; and Cohoes, New York. East Liverpool was among the towns named as a plaintiff in Earthjustice's suit.
Earthjustice said in its lawsuit that the DOD practices are potentially exposing residents to cancer and other health problems. "The Department of Defense failed to conduct any environmental review before approving this incineration, bringing into new communities the risk of PFAS emissions and other pollution that are proven to harm public health," Earthjustice said.
The “fates of humans and insects are intertwined”, scientists have said, with the huge declines reported in some places only the “tip of the iceberg”.
The warning has been issued by 25 experts from around the world, who acknowledge that little is known about most of the estimated 5.5 million insect species. However, enough was understood to warrant immediate action, they said, because waiting for better data would risk irreversible damage.
The researchers said solutions were available and must be implemented immediately. These range from bigger nature reserves and a crackdown on harmful pesticides to individual action such as not mowing the lawn and leaving dead wood in gardens. They also said invertebrates must no longer be neglected by conservation efforts, which tend to focus on mammals and birds.
Insect population collapses have been reported in Germany, Puerto Rico and elsewhere. The first global scientific review, published in February 2019, said widespread declines threatened to cause a “catastrophic collapse of nature’s ecosystems”. Insects pollinate three-quarters of crops, and another recent study showed widespread losses of such insects across Britain.
The flow of the Colorado River is dwindling due to the impacts of global heating, risking “severe water shortages” for the millions of people who rely upon one of America’s most storied waterways, researchers have found. Increasing periods of drought and rising temperatures have been shrinking the flow of the Colorado in recent years and scientists have now developed a model to better understand how the climate crisis is fundamentally changing the 1,450-mile waterway.
The loss of snow in the Colorado River basin due to human-induced global heating has resulted in the river absorbing more of sun’s energy, thereby increasing the amount of water lost in evaporation, the US Geological Survey scientists found. This is because snow and ice reflect sunlight back away from the Earth’s surface, a phenomenon known as the albedo effect. The loss of albedo as snow and ice melt away is reducing the flow of the Colorado by 9.5% for each 1C of warming, according to the research published in Science.
The world has heated up by about 1C since the pre-industrial era and is on course for an increase of more than 3C by the end of the century unless planet-warming emissions are drastically cut. For the Colorado this scenario means an “increasing risk of severe water shortages”, the study states, with any increase in rainfall not likely to offset the loss in reflective snow. ...
The Colorado rises in the Rocky Mountains and slices through ranch lands and canyons, including the Grand Canyon, as it winds through the American west. It previously emptied into the Gulf of California in Mexico but now ends several miles shy of this due to the amount of water extraction for US agriculture and cities ranging from Denver to Tijuana. The river’s upper basin supplies water to about 40 million people and supports 16m jobs. It feeds the two largest water reserves in the US, Lake Powell and Lake Mead, with the latter supplying Las Vegas with almost all of its water.
Snowpacks that last into late spring have historically fed streams that have nourished the Colorado River, as well as reducing the likelihood of major fires. As the climate heats up, the river is evaporating away and the risk of damaging wildfires is increasing.
Trump Wants to Take Water Away from Whales and Endangered Fish and Give It to Wealthy California Farmers
President Donald Trump wants to divert water from California’s freshwater rivers to help nut farmers cope with the state’s increasingly frequent droughts. But orca whales, salmon, and other critically threatened fish could pay the price.
California has been damming its rivers and diverting water to farms and homes for decades. At a campaign rally Wednesday night, Trump announced a new federal plan to pump even more freshwater to the southern half of the state, which will benefit wealthy nut farmers. Environmentalists warn that the move could be catastrophic for vulnerable ecosystems and the fishing jobs that depend on them. “This is not just a problem of a few fish,” said Jon Rosenfield, a senior scientist with San Francisco Baykeeper. “It’s really an ecosystem collapse that will have rippling effects out into the ocean.”
The plan, which Trump announced to a packed crowd at an aircraft hanger in Bakersfield, involves using enormous pumps to send freshwater from the Sacramento-San Joaquin river Delta south. During the last drought, small farmers there went bankrupt. But those pumps already send water to the San Joaquin Valley, where Trump enjoys broad support. The diversion of water has led to less freshwater flowing into the state’s estuaries, like the San Francisco Bay, where vulnerable species rely on the mixture of fresh and saltwater.
“For too long, authorities have needlessly flushed millions and millions of gallons of fresh, beautiful, clean water from up north straight into the Pacific Ocean,” said Trump, flanked by some of his staunchest allies in Congress. “They think they’re helping the Pacific. It’s like a drop.”
The president has long complained that environmentalists are making a big fuss over a “certain kind of 3-inch fish” — or the Delta smelt. It’s a critically endangered fish that lives only in the San Francisco Bay estuary. ... “The Delta smelt is really the canary in the coal mine,” said Doug Obegi, the director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s California river restoration program. ... If the San Francisco Bay estuary collapses, it won’t just hurt that tiny fish. Fisheries along the coast could collapse, too — so could orca whale populations that feed on salmon, which need healthy rivers to survive.
Canadian federal police had “no legal authority” to make ID checks and searches on activists seeking to block a pipeline project on Indigenous territory, according to newly released correspondence from the force’s oversight body. The nine-page letter written by Michelaine Lahaie, chair of the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP, offers scathing criticism of the police’s continued use of tactics against Indigenous people which she had previously warned against.
The document was released as Justin Trudeau’s government struggles to deal with a growing protest movement in support of the Wet’suwet’en nation’s fight against a controversial natural gas pipeline in British Columbia. ...
Lahaie’s note is not an official report from the CRCC. In fact, the chair said she was not opening an official inquiry, because previous recommendations she made after 2013 Indigenous anti-shale protests in New Brunswick also applied to the Wet’suwet’en complaint. That report, completed in 2019, has not yet been made public. However, Lahaie’s correspondence with the Wet’suwet’en – which was released by the complainants – said that while some elements of the RCMP’s behaviour were reasonable, ID checks, searches and restricting access to the territory were not.
Speaking at a press conference in Vancouver, judge Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, and Harsha Walia from the BC Civil Liberties Association, noted that the RCMP has been aware of Lahaie’s findings for more than a year and still behaved unlawfully in Wet’suwet’en. “This letter suggests that there’s a very serious problem that the civilian oversight of the RCMP does not work,” said Turpel-Lafond. ... “Canada’s oversight of policing is clearly inadequate for First Nations. Even the commissioner is essentially saying to us, ‘I’m impotent to deal with this. Help me to get the RCMP to respond.’ That’s a very sad statement about the state of policing,” she said.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Rockin Dopsie & the Twisters w/Paul "Lil' Buck" Sinegal - I Got A Woman
Rockin' Dopsie & The Twisters - Rock Me Baby
Rockin' Dopsie & The Twisters - I'm In the Mood
Rockin' Dopsie & The Twisters - Ay-Tet-Te- Fee
Rockin' Dopsie & The Twisters - Hey petite fille
Rockin' Dopsie - I'm Walking
Rockin' Dopsie - Sweet Lucy
Rockin' Dopsie - My Baby She's Gone
Rockin' Dopsie - Old Time Zydeco
Rockin' Dopsie & The Cajun Twisters - Live Wiesbaden, Germany