The Evening Blues - 3-15-17



eb1pt12



The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: Tommy McClennan



Hey! Good Evening!


This evening's music features Delta blues singer and guitarist Tommy McClennan. Enjoy!



Tommy McClennan - Deep Blue Sea Blues (Catfish Blues)

"What chiefly governs the [U.S.] military budget is the need to spend enormous sums of money in a useless way. The allegedly powerful Pentagon is simply a receptacle for wasteful expenditure, just as a city dump is the receptacle for the refuse of a city."

-- Walter Karp


News and Opinion


Trump’s dangerous, irrational military buildup: Expensive solution to a nonexistent problem

We as a nation have come a long way from “Speak softly and carry a big stick.”

An axiom of Trump’s campaign rhetoric held that the American military has become a hollowed-out shell of its once-mighty self. It seems reasonable to suggest that 15 years of wars in central Asia, the Middle East and elsewhere have worn down our soldiers, their equipment, and their ability to wage war.

The Trumpian answer to this problem is not a consideration of pulling back or retrenching. In keeping with how Trump has run his business empire, he is pushing an ethos of more: more ships, more planes, more soldiers, more ability for the nation to wage war in distant lands. ... At the same time, the administration is promising massive cuts to the State Department and America’s diplomatic efforts around the world. As Ana Marie Cox and Jane Coaston noted in a piece for MTV:

This sends a message to both our allies and enemies ... that military might means more to us than statecraft. Second, the proposed budget cut simply reflects the process of de-prioritizing diplomacy that is already underway in the Trump administration.

Trump and his administration are throwing money at a problem that does not actually exist. The U.S. Navy may be smaller than it has been for 100 years, but its power — relative to the navies of the rest of the world — is still enormous, even after being worn down by the past decade and a half of constant engagement in conflicts.

Trump’s Quiet Outreach to Russia

Many backers of Donald Trump’s planned foreign policy, which sought détente with Russia, are wringing their hands and shaking their heads over what looks like the policy’s defeat in the face of media and Democratic Party attacks, abetted by maverick Republican senators, in which “Russian contacts” and “Russian meddling” are the code words. But there may be another way to see the situation. There are indications that Trump may be continuing to advance a more collaborative approach toward Russia through the quiet expansion of military-to-military cooperation, such as the recent meeting in Turkey to coordinate strikes against the Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria. ...

Trump appears to have concluded that the way forward in relations between the U.S. and Russia is to make progress out of sight of the media. Whereas bringing Russia into the U.S.-run anti-Islamic State coalition meeting in Washington would have invited the U.S. media’s brickbats, a summit of generals in a provincial coastal town of Turkey could be far more productive and produce much less controversy. It is not for nothing that the press is now complaining that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is inaccessible. That follows the desires of the Oval Office, which prefers a “just get it done” approach.

Trump can also expect the greatest loyalty in the U.S. government’s hierarchy from the military as well as fewer leaks from holdovers hostile to any rapprochement with Russia. Indeed, many senior U.S. officers had constructive relations with their Russian counterparts for years on crucial issues such as supplying U.S. troops in Afghanistan and in sharing intelligence on terrorism. That was disrupted by the coalition of neoconservatives and liberal interventionists dominating the State Department and holding top political jobs at the Pentagon. So Trump has removed many of President Obama’s political appointees and has turned more to the military high command.

If Trump as Commander in Chief can keep the military in line, that would be an enormous step forward compared to the closing months of the Obama administration when Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, who is regarded as a neocon ideologue, got away with stunning insubordination, including what appears to have been an intentional attack on Syrian military positions at Deir Ezzor. That attack, killing dozens of Syrian soldiers, sabotaged the cease-fire agreement arranged in September 2016 by Secretary of State Kerry with the approval of President Obama. A military under tight control from the Oval Office is the best protection against similar provocations or just bad luck accidents in the field, incidents that could escalate quickly under conditions of a lack of trust and hair-trigger arsenals.

West must come to terms that we funded Islamist fundamentalism - Ken Livingstone



Hat tip to mimi. This is an excellent article by Scott Ritter posted over at Truthdig. It's completely worth a full read. Here's a taste:

Trump’s Wiretapping Charge Could Contain Some Explosive Truth

On Feb. 9, The Washington Post, acting on anonymously sourced intelligence leaks, reported that nine former and current U.S. government officials had confirmed the existence of a transcript that showed Flynn and Kislyak had indeed discussed sanctions during their Dec. 29 phone conversation, but not in any worrisome context. According to the transcript, Flynn had not made any promises about the lifting of sanctions imposed on Russia by the Obama administration, but rather indicated that such sanctions would not necessarily be continued under a Trump administration that was seeking to improve U.S.-Russian relations. The internal White House investigation had been vindicated—Flynn had not committed a crime or behaved in any inappropriate manner. What he had done, however, was mislead the vice president, and for this action Flynn was forced to resign. ...

Lost in the noise and confusion of the outrage among Democrats and Obama-era intelligence officials (and some Republicans) that followed Trump’s incendiary charge, however, is that the existence of the Flynn transcript sustains the general premise, if not the precise specifics, of the Trump wiretap claim.

The existence of a transcript of a conversation between Flynn and Kislyak, in fact, indicates that Flynn was either the subject of a wiretap warrant authorized under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978, or a Title III action under the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 (or a specific action ordered by the president and certified by the attorney general, bypassing the need for a FISA warrant, pursuant to Chapter 36 of Title 50 of the U.S. Code), in which case Trump’s claims of his campaign being “tapped” by the Obama administration are not as far-fetched as some think.

Another possibility is that Flynn’s conversations were recorded as part of legitimate intelligence collection routinely undertaken by U.S. intelligence agencies of foreign entities (such as the Russian ambassador to the United States) who are deemed to be of ongoing intelligence interest. Such collection activity has been going on for decades, and the procedures involved are well known to all who participate in such, especially with regard to protecting the rights of any American citizens who are caught up in the collection. Once it becomes known that the conversation of an American citizen is being collected by U.S. intelligence agencies, the act of recording that conversation must cease immediately. If for any reason the conversation was recorded (i.e., automated collection), then specific measures must be taken after the fact to “minimize” any and all information that would identify the American citizen in question.

There is simply no provision under U.S. law, above and beyond a FISA warrant, Title III action or direct presidential intervention certified by the attorney general that would permit Flynn’s conversations with the Russian ambassador to be recorded, evaluated and acted on by U.S. government officials such as Yates. The mere fact that a transcript of Flynn’s phone conversations exists represents a violation of U.S. law. That U.S. government officials accessed these transcripts and acted on them in an official capacity expands the scope and scale of this legal transgression by an order of magnitude. The leaking of the existence and contents of the Flynn transcript to the media by U.S. government officials for political purposes is as reprehensible as it is illegal, and represents a frontal assault on the very foundation of American society, grounded as it is in the principle of protecting individual civil liberties.

Isn’t It Odd How Dems Are Still Targeting The Country Hillary Was Trying To Start A War With?

More than four months after America decided not to play along with Hillary’s Russophobic warmongering in November, what is the establishment that attempted to inflict this horror upon us currently doing? Well, besides aggressively defending the corporatist smut novel known as Obamacare instead of pushing for single-payer healthcare, they are, surprise surprise, still trying to escalate tensions with Russia. ... Isn’t that a little odd? Isn’t it odd how these people are all fanning the flames of anti-Russia sentiment and policy and telling us it’s because of “Russian hacking”, when the candidate they’d just used a rigged primary to nominate was already pushing for a war with Russia long before the Russian hacking allegations ever came out? ...

It’s time to face the music, America. The current shrieking Russia hysteria is not about hacking; the Democratic/neocon establishment coalition was already targeting Russia long before any Russian hacking allegations. The current shrieking Russia hysteria is not about Trump; the Democratic/neocon establishment coalition was already targeting Russia long before Trump’s nomination to the Republican candidacy. The current shrieking Russia hysteria is there because the unelected power networks which remain in power amid the comings and goings of elected officials—the plutocrats, the military industrial complex, the intelligence community, and the corporate media who shape which officials get elected in America’s corporatist system— want a war with Russia.

Why do they want a war with Russia? Maybe they want a regime change to give them a compliant puppet like Yeltsin instead of a president who boldly intervenes in key strategic locations that the American deep state wants to keep its fingers in like Crimea and Syria. Maybe they want to stop Russia’s collaboration with its allies to undermine the dominance of the US dollar in that part of the world? It’s hard to say what their motives are, but when someone’s trying to stab you, you don’t worry about their motives, you worry about stopping them. The further into conflict two nuclear superpowers get, the greater the possibility of one of their thousands of nuclear warheads being deployed, either accidentally, on purpose, or a mixture of the two in the fog of war. The last Cold War brought us within a hair’s breadth of nuclear annihilation on more than one occasion, and there’s no reason to believe we’d get lucky again.

Senate Dem Seeks Investigation of RT for Being Russian-Funded

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D – NH) is pushing a bill that would seek a Justice Department investigation of whether television station RT America is “coordinating with the Russian government,” saying there is reason to believe that there are financial ties between the channel and the Russian government, and that “the American public has a right to know if that is the case.”

It is the case, of course. RT was founded by RIA Novosti in 2005 as a nominally “autonomous” non-profit organization. RIA Novosti is wholly owned by the Russian government.

This mirrors almost exactly the US government’s control over Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, and several other media outlets, which had long been run as nominally autonomous outlets themselves, under the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG).

Russian-backed Syria talks derailed as rebels boycott

Russian-led peace talks on Syria were derailed on Tuesday as rebels backed by Turkey boycotted a third round of meetings in Kazakhstan and the Kremlin indicated there were international divisions over the process.

Russia, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's most powerful ally, said the rebels' reasons for staying away were unconvincing and their decision came as a surprise. Describing the rebels as Turkish proxies, the Syrian government envoy said Ankara had broken "its commitments" to the Astana process.

The rebels said they would not attend the talks, scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, because of what they called Russia's unwillingness to end air strikes on rebel-held areas and its failure to get the Syrian army and Iranian-backed militia to abide by a ceasefire. ...

Last week, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan was in Moscow seeking to build cooperation with Putin over military operations in Syria.

Turkey is attempting to create a border "safe zone" in northern Syria free of Islamic State and the Kurdish YPG militia. The Russian-backed Syrian army has advanced to the frontier of YPG-held areas, but is not fighting the Kurds.

Syria 'the most dangerous place on earth for healthcare providers'

The “weaponisation” of healthcare in Syria, involving the targeted destruction of medical facilities and the killing of hundreds of healthcare workers, is unprecedented and has profound and dangerous implications for medical neutrality in conflict zones, according to an authoritative study.

“Syria has become the most dangerous place on earth for healthcare providers,” say the researchers involved. Their study of the attacks on healthcare in Syria since 2011, published by the Lancet medical journal, reveals that the death toll among medical workers is at least 814. Some of those health workers were tortured and executed.

There were nearly 200 attacks on healthcare facilities in 2016 alone, say the researchers in their first report for the Lancet Commission on Syria, led by the Faculty of Health Sciences at the American University of Beirut.

The authors define what they call the weaponisation of healthcare in Syria as a situation “in which healthcare facilities are attacked, workers are targeted, medical neutrality is obliterated and international humanitarian laws are violated to restrict or prevent access to care as a weapon of war”.

They criticise UN agencies and the international community for failing to hold the aggressors, who are breaking international conventions, to account.

20 million people on brink of famine as Trump prepares major cuts to U.N. aid

Over 20 million people in four different countries — Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria, and Yemen — are on the brink of famine, according to the United Nations. ... But the mounting crises come at a time when traditional leaders in humanitarian aid look to scale back on their foreign aid spending. President Donald Trump aims to cut more than 50 percent of U.S. funding to the United Nations, Foreign Policy magazine reported Monday evening. U.N. expert Richard Gowan told the magazine that such a move would instantly stir “chaos.”

The drastic cuts would be in keeping with previous proposals reportedly floating within the Trump administration. Trump is said to be looking to cut State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) budgets by 37 percent, Politico reported last week. And the U.S. isn’t the only country planning to cut back on humanitarian aid efforts: The United Kingdom is set to cut its foreign aid budget as well before 2020.

Trump wants the public to help cut waste at DoD, VA

If you have suggestions on how to save money on building the F-35 fleet, or on how to reorganize Veterans Affairs hospitals to be more efficient, President Trump wants to hear from you.

An executive order signed by Trump Monday afternoon calls for a “comprehensive plan for reorganizing the executive branch” to include a plan from every federal department by early September to “improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability of that agency.”

In addition, the order calls for the director of the Office of Management and Budget to invite the public to suggest improvements to how federal agencies operate. That includes, the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs (but not Congress, which is part of the legislative branch of government). ...

“Today there is duplication and redundancy everywhere,” Trump said, without offering further specifics on areas where he has seen those problems. “Billions and billions of dollars are being wasted.

Brexit may break up the U.K. as Ireland joins Scotland's calls to leave union

The U.K. is facing revolt from within. Just hours after Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon called for a second referendum on leaving the union, Sinn Féin did the same in Northern Ireland, saying that a referendum on creating a united Ireland should be carried out “as soon as possible” because Brexit would be “a disaster for the people of Ireland.” ...

Just like Scotland, a majority of Northern Irish voters voted to remain within the EU in last June’s referendum, but being dragged out of Europe could strike a much bigger impact on Northern Ireland than other parts of the U.K., given its land border with the Republic of Ireland to the south. If the U.K. ends up departing the customs union as a result of Brexit, it might mean a tariff being imposed on all goods passing between the north and south — something that would likely cause enormous problems for businesses on both sides of the border.

I am completely amused by the fact that the Islamophobic jackass, Geert Wilders, uses an Arab concept (the genie or djinn), described in the Qur'an, to express the enduring nature of his crusade. How multicultural of him!

Dutch election: Geert Wilders warns 'genie will not go back in the bottle'

Millions of Dutch voters head to the polls today in a high-stakes general election overshadowed by a diplomatic standoff between Turkey and EU capitals that analysts believe has played in the prime minister’s favour. The vote has been widely viewed abroad through the prism of the UK’s Brexit referendum and Donald Trump’s US victory. ...

Wilders appeared early on Wednesday morning to cast his vote at a polling station in The Hague. After casting his ballot, Wilders told reporters: “Whatever the outcome of the election today, the genie will not go back into the bottle.”

Wilders’ performance is being keenly watched ahead of the presidential elections in France, in which the Front National leader, Marine Le Pen, is expected to reach the second-round run-off, and before a possible strong showing by the far-right Alternative for Germany party (AfD) in German parliamentary polls this autumn. ...

In a Dutch parliament fragmented as never before, a record 14 parties are expected to wind up with at least one MP, including eight with 10 or more and six with up to 25. Analysts expect the governing coalition that emerges will involve at least five parties. Up to 15% of voters have yet to make up their minds.

Why young people support Wilders



Spat With Turkey Appears to Boost Dutch Prime Minister on Eve of Election

Pre-election polls in the Netherlands, one day before voters choose a new parliament, suggest that Prime Minister Mark Rutte could be returned to office as the head of the country’s largest party, boosted by a wave of approval for his feud with Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Rutte, who is trying to stave off a challenge from the virulently anti-Muslim xenophobe Geert Wilders, provoked fury from the Turkish government on Saturday by blocking Turkey’s foreign minister from the country. The foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, had planned to rally expatriate Turks in Rotterdam, ahead of an upcoming referendum in Turkey that would alter the Turkish constitution to give the office of the presidency more power.

After Rutte barred the foreign minister, and then expelled another Turkish minister who arrived in Rotterdam by car without permission, Erdogan first compared the Dutch to Nazis and then blamed them for the massacre of 8,000 Bosnian Muslims at Srebrenica in 1995. That massacre was, in fact, carried out by Bosnian Serb forces who overran the town, but a lightly-armed battalion of Dutch peacekeepers did fail to prevent the slaughter.

Wilders, a former member of Rutte’s center-right VVD party who now campaigns almost exclusively on a hatred of Islam — and praised Donald Trump’s efforts to ban Muslims from the United States — helped to stoke anti-Turkish sentiment last week, when he appeared outside the Turkish embassy in The Hague, surrounded by his bodyguards, and holding a banner that read: “Stay Away — This Is Our Country.”

Dutch ambassador blocked from returning to Turkey after Erdogan calls Dutch authorities Nazis

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan isn’t done fighting with the Netherlands after Dutch authorities blocked Turkish ministers from campaigning in Rotterdam over the weekend. On Tuesday, Erdogan’s government spokesman announced that Turkey would not allow Dutch diplomats to land in the country. The Dutch ambassador is currently out of the country, meaning this new ruling effectively bars his return.

Tuesday’s announcement is just the latest move in a series of diplomatic bluster from Turkey. After the decision not to allow two Turkish ministers to speak at a Rotterdam rally Saturday, Erdogan called the Dutch “Nazi remnants, fascists” on Sunday. He continued his verbal assault Monday, accusing German Chancellor Angela Merkel of “mercilessly supporting terrorism,” after she condemned his Nazi comparison, and he vowed to take his dispute to the European Court of Human Rights. ...

Relations with the Dutch-Turkish community, which is more than 400,000 strong, have been testy since the July 15 coup in Turkey. Protests against that crisis spilled into Dutch city streets, eliciting a controversial response from Prime Minister Rutte, that Turkish people who refused to integrate should “fuck off” back to their own country.

Attorney Fired By Trump Set Dangerous Precedent for Wall Street Prosecutions



Is Anyone Left at Goldman Sachs? Trump Picks Another Alum for Treasury Deputy

President Donald Trump has selected yet another Goldman Sachs executive to fill a senior role in his administration, naming the firm's current managing director, James Donovan, to serve as deputy Treasury secretary.

Donovan would be the sixth member of Trump's team with ties to Goldman, which was once described as "a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money."

Donovan's now-boss, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, also worked at the investment bank. National Economic Council director Gary Cohn; White House senior counselor for economic initiatives Dina Powell; and chief strategist Steve Bannon also formerly held positions within the very institution that Trump pointed to on the campaign trail as a symbol of Wall Street corruption and greed. Jay Clayton, Trump's nominee to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), was a Goldman Sachs attorney.

Politico reported that "[t]he nomination will...come as something of a relief to Wall Street."

From Lobbyists to Reality Show Stars, Meet the Hundreds of Officials Trump Has Quietly Installed



Trump’s Infrastructure Boondoggle

Donald Trump’s $1 trillion infrastructure plan is not an infrastructure plan and it won’t put $1 trillion of fiscal stimulus into the economy. It’s basically a scheme for handing over public assets to private corporations that will extract maximum profits via user fees and tolls. Because the plan is essentially a boondoggle, it will not lift the economy out of the doldrums, increase activity or boost growth. Quite the contrary. When the details of how the program is going to be implemented are announced, public confidence in the Trump administration is going to wither and stock prices are going to plunge. This scenario cannot be avoided because the penny-pinching conservatives in the House and Senate have already said that they won’t support any plan that is not “revenue neutral” which means that any real $1 trillion spending package is a dead letter. Thus, it’s only a matter of time before the Trump’s plan is exposed as a fraud and the sh** hits the fan. ...

Normally, fiscal stimulus is financed by increasing the budget deficits, but Maestro Trump has something else up his sleeve. He wants the big construction companies and private equity firms to stump up the seed money and start the work with the understanding that they’ll be able to impose user fees and tolls on roads and bridges when the work is completed. For every dollar that corporations spend on rebuilding US infrastructure, they’ll get a dollar back via tax credits, which means that they’ll end up controlling valuable, revenue-generating assets for nothing. The whole thing is a flagrant ripoff that stinks to high heaven. The corporations rake in hefty profits on sweetheart deals, while the American people get bupkis. Welcome to Trumpworld. ...

The objective is to allow wealthy corporations to buy public assets at firesale prices so they can turn them into profit-generating enterprises. That’s it in a nutshell. ... Of course, none of this has anything to do with rebuilding America’s dilapidated infrastructure or even revving up GDP. That’s just public relations bunkum. What’s really going on is a massive looting operation organized and executed under the watchful eye of Donald Trump, Robber Baron-in-Chief.

The war on drugs remains as racist as ever, statistics show

The federal government released a new batch of data Monday about drug prosecutions in 2016, and the statistics show that African-Americans and Hispanics are still prosecuted far more frequently than white people for nearly every type of drug crime.

The report from the U.S. Sentencing Commission, an independent agency that advises Congress and the White House about “the development of effective and efficient crime policy,” shows that of the 19,766 total federal drug cases in 2016, 50 percent of offenders were Hispanic, 23.6 percent were black, 22.8 percent were white, and 3 percent were classified as “other.”

Those stats are relative to an overall American population that is 77 percent white, 13 percent black, and 17 percent Hispanic.

Over 350,000 Back Call for Lawmakers To Give Up Their Subsidized Healthcare

Highlighting the hypocrisy of members of Congress who benefit from large healthcare subsidies at the same time that they work to kick millions of Americans off of their health coverage, a man who lost his father to cancer because he was uninsured has created a petition demanding an end to those subsidies for lawmakers.

The petition on Change.org has proved extremely popular, garnering over 350,000 signatures in a week.

The creator, Daniel Jimenez, wrote in the petition: "Several years ago, my dad got the news that he had cancer. Sadly, he passed away. My dad had a job at the time, but his employer did not cover him, and without coverage, he avoided going to the doctor until it was too late. As Congress and President [Donald] Trump try to pass a new healthcare law, I'm reminded of my father and whether he would have made it if he had early access to cost-effective healthcare."

"Like millions of people who are panicking about possible changes to their health insurance," Jimenez continued, "I'm concerned the people elected to represent us won't have to live with the consequences or expenses that the rest of us may have to face soon. I want lawmakers to commit to treating themselves just like those who will be impacted by ACA [Affordable Care Act] repeal or replacement."

“Coalition” Hailed as Sign of Broad Support for GOP Health Care Plan Is Little More Than a Website

A group calling itself the One Nation Health Coalition is one of the only health care advocacy organizations heaping praise on House Speaker Paul Ryan’s health insurance overhaul legislation. ... The organization has scored multiple television appearances on cable television over the last week, including on MSNBC and CNN. A press release quotes a column by Wall Street Journal opinion writer Kim Strassel claiming that the “fast growing” coalition is comprised of “elected officials, staffers, grass-roots groups, think tanks, trade associations, donors and corporations.” ...

The group doesn’t appear to have much of a membership or a following beyond a small handful of former Republican staff members, think-tank pundits and vendors brought together just for Ryan and his plan. The organization has not released a membership list, conceals its website registration using an anonymous proxy site, and its foundation documents were registered last Tuesday, within 24 hours of the public release of the GOP health plan.



the horse race



Here's an excerpt from a recent interview with Jill Stein:

Greens’ Stein Faults Two-Party System

Jill Stein: The important thing here is for us to just… to double down. And to be strengthened, to be encouraged, to get past their propaganda of powerlessness, and to know that we still have the numbers, in spite of the election of Donald Trump, which was an obvious distortion of the system.

But even more than that, it’s a system that’s become so toxic, so predominated by big money, corporate money, and corporate media, that it’s become unhinged. We have an unhinged, toxic political system. Donald Trump represents, really, the breakdown of this bi-partisan system that people have lost faith in.

Polls last year, well, early on in the election, showed 90% of Americans have lost confidence in our political institutions, in the bi-partisan system in Congress, the Executive, and the Judiciary. You can’t get more explicit than that, 90%.

At the other end, at the very end of the election, it was 80% of the people who described their feelings towards the election as one of disgust. And the American people are ready to move on. Had we… we were like one open debate from totally throwing out the bums, and moving forward to the future we deserve.

So, the point here is we need to move forward. We need to break up with this abusive political relationship. We need to go forward with the future we deserve, because we’re out of time, and it’s on us.

Trump tax returns: president had to pay millions due to tax law he aims to scrap

Donald Trump’s leaked tax return reveals that the businessman had to pay tens of millions of dollars in a single year because of a tax rule that he has specifically promised to abolish as president.

A two-page section of Trump’s tax return for 2005, which was published by MSNBC late on Tuesday, revealed that the president paid $38m in federal taxes on more than $150m in income in 2005.

But the documents also showed that about 82% of the total paid to the Internal Revenue Service that year by Trump and his wife, Melania, was incurred due to a tax that Trump has said should be abolished.

The “alternative minimum tax” (AMT), which was introduced to ensure the mega wealthy pay a fairer share of tax, comprised $31m of Trump’s tax bill compared with $5.3m in regular federal income tax. In the run-up to November’s election, Trump pledged to eliminate the AMT altogether, meaning the president campaigned for a change in the tax law that would have benefited him.





the evening greens


Czech zoo to remove horns of 18 white rhinos following French attack

A Czech zoo has said it will use a chainsaw to remove the horns from its herd of rare rhinos after a brutal attack last week in a French zoo where poachers shot dead a white rhino and hacked off its horns.

“It’s for the sake of rhino safety,” Andrea Jirousova, spokeswoman for the zoo in the central Czech town of Dvur Kralove nad Labem, said. “The attack (in France) put us on alert, the danger is really intense,” she said, but declined to reveal when the surgery would take place.

The Dvur Kralove zoo currently has a herd of 21 black and southern white rhinos, including three calves who will not undergo surgery. Black market rhino horn sells for up to $60,000 (€56,400) per kilo – more than gold or cocaine – with most demand from China and Vietnam where it is coveted as a traditional medicine and aphrodisiac. Jirousova said vets would put the rhinos under anaesthesia before removing their horns with a chainsaw and filing the sharp edges.

Trump Fills the Swamp with Fossil Fuel Lobbyists



Trump Readies 'One of the Biggest Corporate Handouts to the Fossil Fuel Industry'

President Donald Trump is expected to announce on Wednesday plans that could roll back fuel efficiency standards set by his predecessor—a move climate groups say would be "cruel" and "myopic" and amount to "one of the biggest corporate handouts to the fossil fuel industry."

Trump is set to make the announcement regarding the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reopening rules on vehicle greenhouse gas emissions at an event in Detroit with automakers.

The Washington Post explains: "In 2012, automakers and federal regulators agreed to achieve an average 54.4 mpg across its entire fleet by the year 2025." The agreement came with "the condition that, by April 2018, the EPA and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration would perform a thorough review of rules and tweak them if they were too expensive or impossible to meet," the Huffington Post adds.

The EPA finalized the rules this January (a year ahead of schedule, as Wired noted) in its midterm review, with the agency saying that "automakers are well positioned to meet the standards at lower costs than previously estimated." ...

Trump's announcement, the Associated Press writes, would put the "midterm review back on track so that officials can spend another year studying the issue before setting new standards in 2018." That would threaten to "undo efficiency gains that will provide consumers $98 billion in total net benefits," as Climate Progress adds.

Mea Gulpa

A Michigan district court judge ordered that Corinne Miller, the former director of epidemiology at the state’s Department of Health and Human Services, publicly apologize to the residents of Flint for withholding information about the presence of the Legionella bacteria, the microbe that causes Legionnaires’ disease, in the city’s drinking water.

After pleading no contest to a charge of neglect, Miller also got a year’s probation and 300 hours of community service — essentially a slap on the wrist. She is cooperating with special prosecutors pursuing cases against several former employees of the health department and the state’s Department of Environmental Quality for their role in Flint’s water crisis.

Twelve Flint residents were confirmed to have died in 2014 and 2015 from Legionnaires’ disease.



Also of Interest

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

Intercepted Podcast: Snowden vs. Trump

In The 2020 Primaries, Tulsi Gabbard Will Be Running Against Dems Who Voted To Arm Terrorists

America First or Saudi Arabia First?

Theresa May is dragging the UK under. This time Scotland must cut the rope

What Went Wrong in Wall Street Reform: Obama Versus FDR

How Bankers Became the Top Exploiters of the Economy

When Canada Invaded Russia

Berkeley's liberal image in question amid homeless crisis

Canadian church group denied entry to US over fears they would 'steal' jobs


A Little Night Music


Tommy McClennan - Bottle It Up And Go

Tommy McClennan - Cotton Patch Blues

Tommy McClennan - I'm A Guitar King

Tommy McClennan - She's Just Good Huggin' Size

Tommy McClennan - Cross Cut Saw Blues

Tommy McClennan - Baby Don't You Want To Go

Tommy McClennan - Love With A Feeling

Tommy Mcclennan - New Highway No 51

Tommy McClennan - I Love My Baby

Tommy Mcclennan - New Shake Em On Down



up
13 users have voted.

Comments

David Brooks, NYT columnist and protege of the late conservative, William F. Buckley, on the Charlie Rose Show of March 13 said capitalism is not working. Considering the source, that wa shocker. Inasmuch as I don't trust Brooks, I wonder what he is up to (to what he is up?)

Will Her or won't Her? Run for Mayor NYC? If she runs, will she win? And, if she wins, will she run for POTUS again after that? And, if she runs for POTUS after that, will she win? And is that why Democrats seem unable to do anything for the country but diss Trump? (If they don't run Hillary next time, I think they may run Gillibrand.)

McCain said Paul Rand* is working with Russia.

Have a good one.

*ETA: Rand Paul, not Paul Rand! (Dyslexia strikes again. Makes me so damn dam! Wink )

up
10 users have voted.

Please donate to caucus99percent.com.

joe shikspack's picture

@HenryAWallace

well, now! that is quite a shock. has david "babbling" brooks finally found something about capitalism up with which he will not put? Smile

perhaps the suburban bobo man is to remake himself as a liberal now that liberals have finally come out as warmongering, russiaphobic morons.

fsm help us if her becomes the mayor of gotham and inherits the 7th largest army on earth.

up
7 users have voted.
janis b's picture

@joe shikspack

you sure can consolidate a lot into a short, sharp comment.

perhaps the suburban bobo man is to remake himself as a liberal now that liberals have finally come out as warmongering, russiaphobic morons.

up
6 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@janis b

she was about 900 years old and was also the school's latin teacher. she would go through my compositions with a marker striking out words, sentences and paragraphs and there'd be a big red note on them that always said, "be more concise!"

up
5 users have voted.
janis b's picture

@joe shikspack

I guess by the time you're 900 years old you've achieved some wisdom and rigidity ; ).

up
4 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@janis b

certainly enough wisdom and rigidity to deal with some punk, smart-assed kid. Smile

up
2 users have voted.

@joe shikspack

Queens pay for it!

Brooks--probably working up to portraying Republicans as the new Marxists. red is the new Red.

up
1 user has voted.

Please donate to caucus99percent.com.

OLinda's picture

Once it becomes known that the conversation of an American citizen is being collected by U.S. intelligence agencies, the act of recording that conversation must cease immediately.

This sure goes against everything I've seen on this subject. Maybe they are supposed to stop, but of course they don't. Or maybe they are supposed to not pay the American portion any mind, but of course they do. I doubt that finding out an American is on the other end is going to make them quit listening to someone they are interested in - especially since they're already capturing all Americans' calls anyway. Or maybe the article is just saying it's against the law, which it may be, but we all know they do it anyway.

And, remember the "hops"? Say they're monitoring Terrorist A who talks to Regular person B, and B then talks to Regular person C who in turn later talks to Regular person D. They expand the monitoring to a certain number of hops. Then say you, America 1 talk to Regular person D who is far removed from Terrorist A, you get caught up in it as well. This info is from the early days.

All of it is moot now anyway isn't it? If anyone in the Intelligence community wanted to see if Flynn had previously talked to the Russian Ambassador, all they have to do is search for his name or phone or whatever they search by to bring individuals up. We are all in there. They just have to look.

If they did bring up all of Flynn's call to check them out from the bucket we are all in, of course they would say they were monitoring the other end rather than say that.

Well, you can't believe anything they say anyway, and you can't believe the Post. Good excerpt though and I do plan to read the article. Thanks, joe.

up
12 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@OLinda

i do remember the bit about "minimization" (removing any identifying information "incidentally" collected from an american person. that was supposed to be a hard and fast rule, which was used to reassure us rubes when congress (foolishly) granted this authority.

of course, shit happens and individuals (and groups of individuals) take the initiative to do things that aren't exactly legal.

it looks to me like there might be some there there for trump's claims - though it may be difficult to prove (or it may not be true) that it is linked to obama himself.

up
6 users have voted.
Azazello's picture

Here's another good one from Robert Parry at Consortiumnews. It's a couple days old, forgive me if you've already read it.

When I recently asked a European journalist why this anti-Russian hysteria had taken root among mainstream European political parties, he answered with a question: “Do you think they can run on their success in handling the recession and the refugees?”

In other words, European voters are angry about the painful economic conditions that followed the Wall Street crash of 2008 and the destabilizing surge of immigrants fleeing from Western “regime change” wars in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Afghanistan.

So, like the Democratic Party that doesn’t want to engage in a soul-searching self-examination about Donald Trump’s victory, the European “establishment” parties need a handy excuse to divert criticism – and that excuse is Russia, a blame-shifting that has allowed nearly every recent criticism of an establishment government official to be sloughed off as “Russian disinformation.”

And a cool little vid from Amy Goodman:

up
8 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@Azazello

heh, it may turn out that russia(ns and lots of us) must die so that western neoliberal kleptocracies can live.

up
5 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@Azazello

excellent video, thanks!

up
5 users have voted.
divineorder's picture

We are back from Costa Rica, thought would have a look and see how things were going around here !

022 (1024x683) (2).jpg

up
8 users have voted.

A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

joe shikspack's picture

@divineorder

glad you guys are back. y'all didn't miss much while you were off having a great time. everything is pretty much where you left it and we're all in this giant handbasket together.

up
4 users have voted.
divineorder's picture

@joe shikspack ...

up
3 users have voted.

A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

joe shikspack's picture

up
3 users have voted.
divineorder's picture

up
2 users have voted.

A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

janis b's picture

@divineorder

Unlike any I've seen before. Very evocative in some bizarre, yet familiar way ; ).

up
4 users have voted.
divineorder's picture

@janis b @janis b and have seen squirrel monkeys but this was the first time to see White-faced.

This one appeared up onto the roof while I was photographing the sunset, with a banana in his hand, surely left on a feeder by the occupants of that house with the red tile roof. This was our last night at the coast before leaving the country, and we were so thankful for the sighting. After eating the banana, the Capuchin looked out at the beautiful Pacific with it's evocative rock islands. What was he thinking? Was he appreciating the magnificent beauty of the marine preserve of Manuel Antonio National Park? Experiencing indigestion from a food that is not part of his regular diet?
Hoped this night we would see monkeys. During our two visits to this area on this trip we had been saddened by the definite uptick in habitat destruction for visitor parking and real estate speculation. This is area is a favorite among both foreign tourists and Ticos.

One of the hotels in the area has a slogan 'Still more monkeys than people.' Not sure this is still true.

Namaste.

up
3 users have voted.

A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

janis b's picture

@divineorder

That's what I wondered, looking at the image.

We have so much to learn yet, while opportunity diminishes. There's not much more tragic than the destruction of one's natural habitat.

Cheers, anyway.

up
3 users have voted.
divineorder's picture

@janis b all deserve to live.

Sad

List of extinct animals of New Zealand

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_extinct_animals_of_New_Zealand

up
3 users have voted.

A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

smiley7's picture

Thank you Joe for the good reads and music.

Just heard Pelosi on NPR; another mediocre performance on Repug care. I appreciate that she and others must use their time debunking all the myths in the plan, but she didn't do that very well and when the reporter gave her the opportunity, she did not offer any remedies for Obamacare and certainly didn't mention Medicare-for-All.

Welcome home do!

up
8 users have voted.
divineorder's picture

@smiley7 We are planning to work on health care issues at the state leg soon.

Did you see this?

up
7 users have voted.

A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

smiley7's picture

@divineorder "death spiral," Ryan says.

I think it's 26 plus thousand predicted to die annually saving more than $3 billion in Social Security over time, according to the CBO.

Death Spiral... imagine everyone contributing to one plan.

Why can't Pelosi and other leaders just say. "Yes citizens want choice, they want to buy into Medicare!"

up
6 users have voted.
divineorder's picture

@smiley7

up
5 users have voted.

A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

divineorder's picture

@Azazello Good stuff, thanks for sharing it.

@smiley7

up
5 users have voted.

A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

joe shikspack's picture

@smiley7

good to see you!

i can't bear to listen to nancy pelosi simper and whine anymore. that she with her damnable table that nothing of any importance can ever get onto are still in a leadership role is a savage indictment of the democratic party's usefulness as a political instrument of the people.

up
8 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

That Obama has not been the best president since FDR?
How can this be true when I see people constantly writing this? I also read that he ended two wars and hasn't started any new ones and he saved this country from going off an economic cliff when he bailed out the banks and the auto industry.
This person has a different opinion between FDR and Obama

After three criminal felony counts against JPMorgan Chase and one criminal felony count against Citigroup and billions of dollars in settlements for both banks related to charges of mortgage and securities fraud, the same men have kept their seats as Chairman and CEO at these banks. Obama’s Justice Department did not demand that these men resign in order to settle the charges, despite the fact that both banks are horrific recidivists.

Three F'cking criminal felony counts against JPMorgan Chase and not one person went to prison let alone charged with anything. Hell, many of them have been put in Obamas's and Trump's cabinets.

I read another article from the link you provided about how the republicans are going to pretty much class action lawsuits.
The author writes that while people are being distracted by what Trump is doing, the republicans are secretly giving their masters everything they want.

And of course Tulsi Gabbard has been attacked again for going to Syria, meeting Assad and trying to make it illegal to sell weapons to terrorists.
Who the hell wouldn't think that was a good idea?
The diary that David Nir wrote on DK about her trip to Syria was beyond disgusting. As were the comments in the diary.
Who knew that the website that many people joined because of the illegal Iraq war would change so much that it would approve the Syrian war because of who the damned president was?

up
11 users have voted.

A noun, a verb and Putin.

joe shikspack's picture

@snoopydawg

heh, that site has taught me everything that i need to know about democrats. i trust that it has done the same for a lot of folks.

up
9 users have voted.
janis b's picture

Thanks joe for the news and blues.

The human displacement from home and family is harrowing. I think the world needs to hear more of the blues.

I asked myself “why are the blues always so appealing?” I figured it must have something to do with their organic rhythms and simple but powerful lyrics, which are at times full of humor which lightens the soul. They speak to the heart and touch the senses.

Have a good evening all.

Brownie McGhee & Sonny Terry Walk On Lyrics
Walk on (7 X),
I say walk on,
I'm gonna keep on walking,
'till I find my
way back home.
Well your mind is worried
Your shoes get pinned
You don't know where you're going
But you do know where you been.
Walk on (3 X),
I walk on,
I'm gonna keep on walking,
'till I find my
way back home.
I see so many people happy,
I can't get used to happiness
Maybe it's true,
Happiness is nothing for me, I guess.
I walk on,
Walk on (2 X),
I walk on,
I'm gonna keep on walking,
'till I find my
way back home.
Walk on Sonny Boy, Walk on boy
Well the world is too wide,
Highways are too long,
No need of us being together,
If we can't get along
I walk on
Walk on (2 X),
I walk on,
I'm gonna keep on walking,
'till I find my way back home.
I'm gonna keep on walking,
'till I find my way back home.

up
5 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@janis b

“why are the blues always so appealing?”

the blues are industrial strength comfort for the soul, they were invented by people who had few pleasures and desperately needed some.

i think most of us could use a good dose of the blues on a daily basis. Smile

up
5 users have voted.
janis b's picture

@joe shikspack

Some more ...

up
2 users have voted.
divineorder's picture

@janis b

up
0 users have voted.

A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.