The Evening Blues - 3-25-19
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features blues singer and sax player Jackie Brenston. Enjoy!
Jackie Brenston - Gonna Wait For My Chance
"The tyrant will always find a pretext for his tyranny."
News and Opinion
The state has found another pretext to torture Chelsea Manning again.
Supporters of Chelsea Manning have demanded her release from effective solitary confinement, in which she has been held for more than two weeks since being jailed for contempt of court. “We condemn the solitary confinement that Chelsea Manning has been subjected to during her incarceration at William G Truesdale adult detention center,” a committee of supporters said in a statement on Saturday.
A law enforcement official disputed that Manning’s treatment constituted solitary confinement. ...
Extended periods of solitary confinement “amount to torture”, according to the United Nations special rapporteur Juan Méndez, who has argued that “solitary confinement should be banned by states as a punishment or extortion technique”.
In four days, it will be a full year since WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange was severed from contact with the outside world by the government of Ecuador. Concern for Assange was heightened as the anniversary approaches after a U.S. Department of Justice jet previously used for the rendition of an accused Russian hacker landed in London on Tuesday and remained there for days, only to return to the U.S. on Saturday. The flight reportedly departed from Manassas, Virginia.
WikiLeaks stated via Twitter regarding the flight: “Note that the Edward Snowden DoJ grab team plane N977GA also departed from Manassas, Virginia.” ...
While the jet remained in London, WikiLeaks quoted Assange’s lawyers describing an increase of plainclothes British police officers on the ground surrounding Ecuador’s London embassy:
“A build up of plain clothes ear-piece wearing operatives around the Ecuador embassy in London in the last two days has been sighted by Julian Assange’s lawyers. There are normally 2-4 plainclothes British operatives present. The reason for the increase is not publicly known.”
The jet arrived in London on March 19 – the same day that Twitter imposed a restriction on the account of Christine Assange which would last for more than 24 hours, followed shortly afterward by the placement of an identical restriction on the Twitter account of Telesur English, which has a record of accurate reporting about Latin America. The restriction, and the subsequent lifting of the measure, was never explained by the social media website.
Relatives of a 73-year-old gilets jaunes (yellow vests) protester who was seriously injured when French riot police pushed back demonstrators in Nice on Saturday are to file an official complaint for “wilful violence”. Geneviève Legay was taken to hospital with a fractured skull after she was knocked over in a charge by officers wielding shields and batons at an unauthorised rally in the centre of Nice. Her condition was described as serious but stable. The French authorities have launched an inquiry into the incident. ...
Legay is believed to have hit her head on a pavement after the CRS (riot police) charged at protesters in an effort to disperse them from Place Garibaldi in the city centre. The local police authority had already officially declared the area off-limits to protesters. There were conflicting reports on whether Legay was caught up in the police charge or knocked over by the crowd moving away from advancing officers. ...
Philippe Carenzo of the local group of Attac said: “She [Legay] was there to protest against the ban on demonstrating.”
Yesterday, the governor of the Paris military district told France Info that soldiers of the Operation Sentinel counter-terror mission had been authorized to fire today on the “yellow vests.” Asked about whether soldiers were capable of carrying out law enforcement duties, General Bruno Le Ray replied: “Our orders are sufficiently clear that we do not need to be worried at all. The soldiers’ rules of engagement will be fixed very rigorously.”
“They will have different means for action faced with all types of threats,” he continued. “That can go as far as opening fire.” Le Ray added that soldiers will have the same rules of engagement for shooting protesters as those for gunning down terrorism suspects inside France: “They will deliver warnings. This has happened in the past, as in (attacks at) the Louvre or at Orly. They are perfectly able to assess the nature of the threat and to respond proportionally.”
These threats against a protest movement against social inequality that is largely peaceful must be taken as a warning by workers and youth not only in France but internationally. As mass protests and strikes erupting outside the control of the union bureaucracies spread across the world, the military and security agencies of the financial aristocracy are preparing to carry out ruthless repression. Even in countries like France with long bourgeois-democratic traditions, they are rapidly moving towards military-police dictatorship. ...
Amid yesterday’s European Union summit in Brussels, French President Emmanuel Macron spoke to downplay the significance of sending the army against the “yellow vests.” The army is “in no way responsible for maintaining order and public order,” he claimed, mocking criticisms of his resort to the army as a “false debate” fueled by “those who play at scaring themselves and others.” French Defense Minister Florence Parly followed Le Ray onto France Info and also trivialized the decision to send troops to police the protests. Without explicitly contradicting Le Ray’s report on the orders given to Operation Sentinel forces, she said: “The soldiers of the French army never fire on protesters. … All those who play around with fantasies, who speak about opening fire, are only sowing confusion.”
Venezuela’s opposition is bracing for a severe political crackdown after Nicolás Maduro lashed out at the “diabolical pro-imperialist puppets” he claimed were trying to remove him from the presidency and vowed to imprison them all. The struggle between Maduro and his challenger, Juan Guaidó, escalated dramatically last week with the detention of Guaidó’s right-hand man, Roberto Marrero.
Marrero, a 49-year-old lawyer, was accused of helping to run an anti-Maduro “terror cell” that was plotting a series of political assassinations and attacks designed to force Hugo Chávez’s successor from power. Maduro’s information minister, Jorge Rodríguez, on Saturday claimed the head of that supposed network was Guaidó’s political mentor, Leopoldo López. He accused the group of recruiting Central American mercenaries to carry out attacks on the political and military leaders of Maduro’s “Bolivarian revolution”.
Addressing a rally in Caracas on Saturday, Maduro hinted that Guaidó and other key opposition figures were also in his sights. ...
Separately, two Russian air force planes landed in Venezuela’s main airport on Saturday carrying a Russian defence official and nearly 100 troops, according to a local journalist.
An excellent piece worth a full read:
The Trump administration seems to have found their man in National Assembly leader and self-appointed president of Venezuela Juan Guaidó. Guaidó has been extremely attentive to US interests, promising to allow US oil companies to increase their activity in Venezuela. He has also pledged mass privatizations and harsh rounds of austerity, as FAIR contributor Ben Norton reported (Mint Press News, 1/24/19). Having met with and secured the support of the Trump administration before he acted, the previously unknown 35-year-old emerged as a prominent opponent of the leftist government, championed by right-wing nations in the region keen to see the end of President Nicolás Maduro’s administration.
Despite this, or rather precisely because of it, the media are presenting Guaidó not as a conservative (or further still to the right), but as a centrist social democrat who can unite a fractured nation. CBC (1/23/19) and Forbes (1/24/19) both described him as a “centrist social democrat,” the former adding that he is also an activist and a “salsa-loving baseball fan.” Others went further, claiming that he and his party are “center left” (Reuters, 1/24/19) or even “socialist” (London Independent, 1/24/19). The New York Times (3/4/19) claimed, more broadly, that Gauidó had “captured the heart of the nation” and that “a vast majority of Venezuelans support him.”
In reality, Guiadó’s Popular Will party has always represented the most radical right-wing elements of the Venezuelan opposition, perhaps the reason that Fox Business’ Trish Reagan (1/29/19) eagerly endorsed him as a “freedom fighter leading his country to democracy” amid “massive cheers from the people.” Popular Will has consistently favored confrontation and violence over negotiation; a recent opposition plan to amass an army of 200 soldiers to shoot their way across the border to bring Guaidó back into Venezuela after an overseas tour was only stopped by a panicked Colombian government, according to Bloomberg (3/6/19).
But Guaidó is merely the latest in a long line of Washington-backed Venezuelan conservatives the media has sugar-coated. Leopoldo López, a Harvard-educated “hardliner” (London Independent, 4/11/14; Guardian, 3/4/14) who led a wave of demonstrations in 2014 aimed at removing Maduro by force that left 43 dead, including some passersby beheaded with razor wire, was a darling of the press. The Washington Post (2/18/14, 3/29/14) described him as a “courageous,” “left-leaning” “moderate,” while Newsweek (2/28/14) discussed his “twinkling chocolate-colored eyes and high cheekbones.” ...
This phenomenon of presenting any political figure Washington approves of as a centrist, moderate or other positively charged words is hardly confined to Venezuela. In fact, it is virtually an iron law of journalism that descriptions of US government-friendly groups will be designed to signal readers that they deserve support.
After almost five years, the battle to dismantle Islamic State’s brutal “caliphate” has ended with an announcement from US-backed forces that the militants have been driven out of their last stronghold of Baghuz.
Isis had held out for months against the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the small oasis town on the Euphrates river, clinging on to an area of land less than 700 sq metres wide despite fierce coalition bombing. But on Saturday an SDF spokesperson, Mustafa Bali, tweeted that the town had been liberated.
“On this unique day we commemorate thousands of martyrs whose efforts made the victory possible,” he wrote. ...
The elimination of the caliphate is a significant symbolic victory against Isis, which at the height of its power held more than 8 million people hostage to its bloody interpretation of Islamic law in a swath of territory across Syria and Iraq that was roughly the size of the UK.
New Zealanders are debating the limits of free speech after their chief censor banned the 74-page manifesto written and released by the man accused of slaughtering 50 people at two mosques in the city of Christchurch.
The ban, issued Saturday, means anybody caught with the document on their computer could face up to 10 years in prison, while anyone caught sending it could face 14 years. Some say the ban goes too far and risks lending both the document and the gunman mystique.
At the same time, many local media organizations are debating whether to even name the Australian man charged with murder in the March 15 attacks, 28-year-old Brenton Tarrant, after New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern vowed she would never mention him by name. ...
Chief Censor David Shanks said Tarrant’s manifesto contains justifications for acts of tremendous cruelty like killing children and encourages acts of terrorism, even outlining specific places to target and methods to carry out attacks.
He said that in banning the document, he and his staff worried about drawing more attention to it. But in the end, he said, they decided they needed to treat it the same way as propaganda from groups like the Islamic State, which they have also banned.
Shanks had earlier placed a similar ban on the 17-minute livestream video the killer filmed from a camera mounted on his helmet during the shootings. He said researchers and journalists could apply for exemptions from both bans.
But while free speech advocates haven’t questioned banning the graphic video, they said banning the manifesto is a step too far.
The Christchurch attack in New Zealand may have been facilitated by America's favorite Nazis.
Bottom Line Up Front
- There are possible links between the recent New Zealand mosque shooter and a Ukrainian ultra-nationalist white supremacist paramilitary organization called the Azov Battalion.
- The Azov Battalion is emerging as a critical node in the transnational right-wing violent extremist (RWE) movement.
- Recruits from the U.S., Norway, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Sweden, and Australia, among others, have reportedly traveled to train with the Azov Battalion.
In the wake of the New Zealand mosque attacks, links have emerged between the shooter, Brent Tarrant, and a Ukrainian ultra-nationalist, white supremacist paramilitary organization called the Azov Battalion. Tarrant’s manifesto alleges that he visited the country during his many travels abroad, and the flak jacket that Tarrant wore during the assault featured a symbol commonly used by the Azov Battalion. ...
The Azov Battalion is emerging as a critical node in the transnational right-wing violent extremist (RWE) network. This group maintains its own ‘Western Outreach Office’ to help recruit and attract foreign fighters that travel to train and connect with people from like-minded violent organizations from across the globe. Operatives from the outreach office travel around Europe to promote the organization and proselytize its mission of white supremacy. In July 2018, German-language fliers were distributed among the visitors at a right-wing rock festival in Thuringia, inviting them to be part of the Azov battalion: ‘join the ranks of the best’ to ‘save Europe from extinction.’ It has also established youth camps, sporting recreation centers, lecture halls, and far-right education programs, including some that teach children as young as 9 years old military tactics and far-right ideology. This aggressive approach to networking serves one of the Azov Battalion’s overarching objectives to transform areas under its control in Ukraine into the primary hub for transnational white supremacy. ...
Indeed, the Azov Battalion is forging links with RWE groups, hosting visits from ultra-nationalist organizations such as members of the Rise Above Movement (R.A.M.) from the U.S. and the British National Action from the U.K., among other white supremacists from around the world. In the United States, several R.A.M. members (all American citizens) who spent time in Ukraine training with the Azov Battalion were recently indicted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (F.B.I.) for their role in violently attacking counter-protestors during the ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville, VA in August 2017. ... The Christchurch shooter was not simply a lone actor, but the product of a broader network of right-wing violent extremists. If the evidence ultimately proves that Tarrant went to Ukraine to train with like-minded individuals, then the attack in New Zealand was possibly the first example of an act of terrorism committed by a white supremacist foreign fighter. And unless the international community recognizes the danger posed by these transnational networks, the New Zealand attack is unlikely to be the last.
An arsonist set a fire that blackened the walls of an Escondido mosque early Sunday and left a note on the house of worship’s driveway referencing a shooting rampage at two New Zealand mosques that left dozens dead, investigators said. There were seven people inside the Islamic Center of Escondido on West 6th Avenue when the incident occurred about 3:15 a.m., Escondido Police Lt. Chris Lick said. One person who was awake at the time spotted the flames, and the group managed to put out the fire before it caused any serious damage.
Officers and firefighters arrived soon after and quickly determined the fire was intentionally set. Lick said an accelerant was used to set the blaze, but he did not elaborate. No suspect information was available. Lick said investigators found a note on the driveway of the mosque that referred to the March 15 shootings at the Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Islamic Centre in New Zealand that left 50 people dead.
Theresa May’s prospects of getting her Brexit deal through parliament this week dramatically receded on Sunday night after a high-stakes summit with Boris Johnson and other leading hard-Brexiters at her country retreat broke up without agreement. ... One source said May was told by some of those present, including Rees-Mogg, that to get her Brexit deal through she needed to spell out when she was quitting No 10 so that another prime minister could lead the next phase of EU trade negotiations. But the prime minister did not respond to the suggestion. ...
But before a critical cabinet meeting on Monday morning, May remained in a perilous position, with no breakthrough and Downing Street only able to tell reporters that she had discussed “whether there is sufficient support” to hold a meaningful vote this week. A front-page editorial in Monday’s Sun urges May to quit, with the headline “Time’s Up, Theresa”, saying she should announce that she will stand down as soon as her Brexit deal is approved and the UK leaves the EU.
MPs are due to vote on Monday night on whether to take control of the parliamentary agenda and hold a series of indicative votes on alternative options, including a customs union and a second referendum. That could leave the prime minister at risk of losing control of the Brexit process, although there was speculation on Sunday night that she may announce her own version of the multiple choice plan on Monday morning. ...
May had been expected to try to bring her deal back to the Commons on Tuesday, but that now looks increasingly unlikely given that Johnson and other high-profile holdouts seem unwilling to change their minds.
European media covered Saturday’s mammoth anti-Brexit demonstration in London with ill-concealed relish, before turning to reports of Theresa May’s imminent departure – and, in some cases, a first draft of her political obituary.
“Historic demonstration in London for a second vote,” was Le Monde’s headline, above an extensive report from its London correspondent noting that more than a million people had taken to the streets “in a country where protest is not the norm”. The paper praised the crowd as “calm but determined, a sea of European blue … with not a single policeman in sight, but not a single incident either”. Compared with previous anti-Brexit marches, this one, it said, was “rather more about the failings of Theresa May’s government, and rather less about Europe”.
Libération, too, noted the “peaceful and good-natured” mood. ... But beneath the joyful surface, it said, flowed “altogether more sinister currents”, with conservative commentators talking of a betrayal of democracy, MPs unable to go home for the weekend because of fears for their safety, and the woman responsible for the online petition to revoke article 50 also facing death threats.
Germany’s Die Zeit said the demonstration’s timing was perfect, coming as it did “at the end of one of the most dramatic weeks in British politics in many years … May’s negotiations with the EU have failed, she has lost control of the Brexit process, and the danger of a no-deal Brexit looms”.
Theresa May has urged MPs not to condemn Britain to a “slow Brexit” this week, as she conceded she did not yet have the support in parliament to bring back her deal for a third meaningful vote. After gathering Brexit-backing grandees at her country retreat of Chequers on Sunday, and speaking on Monday to the DUP leader, Arlene Foster, and the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, May said she had reached the conclusion she could not yet win the vote. ...
May also came as close as she has done to ruling out a no-deal Brexit, stressing the damage it would do to the union – a message she also delivered to cabinet, according to government sources. “Unless this house agrees to it, no deal will not happen,” May said.
The prime minister said she would whip her own MPs on Monday evening against an amendment tabled by the former Tory minister Oliver Letwin that will allow MPs to take control of the parliamentary timetable, and carry out a process of “indicative votes”. Government ministers privately accept that the amendment is likely to pass on Monday evening – and that it is likely to point towards support for a softer Brexit in parliament.
Progressive DA Rachael Rollins Hasn’t Stopped Prosecuting Petty Crimes, Despite Pledge. Police Are Still Furious.
Rachel Rollins won the election for district attorney in Suffolk County, Massachusetts, last November on a campaign that promised progressive reforms, including the end of cash bail, as well as a halt to prosecutions for petty, poverty-related crimes. It was such a direct challenge to the lucrative churn of the criminal justice system that the National Police Association filed a bar complaint against Rollins in late December, days before she was sworn in, specifically in response to her pledge to not prosecute certain low-level crimes.
Yet people are still being prosecuted, according to observers from the Boston-based oversight group, CourtWatch MA, as well as the local American Civil Liberties Union. Rahsaan Hall, director of the Racial Justice Program for the ACLU of Massachusetts, says Rollins’s “do not prosecute” list, which includes 15 types of offenses, has not had any effect on conviction rates, because the cases are still being prosecuted, just in different ways. He described the turn to diversionary programs, suspended sentences, and no incarceration for the offenses as, at best, a different approach than what the district attorney promised voters would be her approach to crimes like drug possession, standalone resisting arrest, and being a minor in possession of alcohol. ...
The early tenure of Rollins, at once attacked by police as too soft on crime, and challenged by reformers as too soft on the police, underscores the tightrope that the new wave of progressive prosecutors are walking as they challenge a deeply entrenched system on behalf of a movement with little patience left. ... Rollins, with her election victory, joined other district attorneys in the nation like Andrea Harrington — who won her election the same night as Rollins on the other end of the state in Massachusetts’s western Berkshire County — and Philadelphia’s Larry Krasner, in a small but growing movement to change the way the system affects the people at its mercy at the institutional level.
The elections of both Harrington and Rollins showed a desire on the part of Massachusetts voters for criminal justice system reform, Jonathan Cohn, co-chair of the Issues Committee of Progressive Massachusetts, told The Intercept. But, Cohn said, community oversight is essential to ensure that victories at the ballot box actually translate into real reforms. ...
The institutional limitations district attorneys face are serious. But there is a clear mandate from voters to change the system. Rebecca Kavanagh, a public defender in New York City who frequently comments on criminal justice reform issues, said in an email that she thinks deflecting the call for reform would be a mistake. “In the past when prosecutors have pursued harsh criminal justice policies, it has been easy to understand, if not justify, because tough-on-crime rhetoric is what got them elected,” said Kavanagh. “When reform prosecutors win office promising radical change and then things seem to continue as before, that is much more difficult to comprehend.”
Mueller Finds No Trump-Russia Coordination, But “Does Not Exonerate” Trump of Obstruction of Justice
Watch: a Contentious, Constructive Debate on the Media and Political Humiliation from the Mueller Report
I obviously intended to write about the fallout from At torney General William Barr’s summary of the Mueller report: specifically his definitive finding that “the Special Counsel did not find that the Trump campaign, or anyone associated with it, conspired or coordinated with the Russian government” and that “the report does not recommend any further indictments, nor did the Special Counsel obtain any sealed indictments that have yet to be made public.” Those two sentences alone permanently destroyed the prevailing Trump/Russia narratives – from blackmail fantasies to collusion tales – that consumed most of U.S. politics and media discourse for much of the last three years.
Just three weeks ago – three weeks ago – former CIA Director and now NBC News analyst John Brennan confidently predicted that Mueller was just weeks if not days away from arresting members “of the Trump family” on charges of conspiring with the Russians as his final act. Just watch the deceitful, propagandistic trash that MSNBC in particular fed to their viewers for two straight years, all while essentially banning any dissenters or skeptics of the narrative they peddled to the great profit of the network and its stars:
You can't blame MSNBC viewers for being confused. They largely kept dissenters from their Trump/Russia spy tale off the air for 2 years. As recently as 2 weeks ago, they had @JohnBrennan strongly suggesting Mueller would indict Trump family members on collusion as his last act: pic.twitter.com/nPlaq5YVxf
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) March 23, 2019
But what prevented me from writing anything is that Matt Taibbi brilliantly wrote everything I wanted to say in this definitive article on the debacle, one that I urge everyone to read. It lays out in indisputable, horrific detail the media’s indescribably and relentlessly reckless behavior over the last three years, whereby they abused and exploited valid fears of Trump to sell – for their own profit and benefit – completely false and baseless conspiracy theories that have now been completely debunked by their own anointed authority. I won’t excerpt any parts of it because it should be read in full by as many people as possible.
We wish you a merry Fitzmas ...
Special counsel Robert Mueller found that neither Donald Trump nor any of his aides colluded with Russia during the 2016 election, according to a letter delivered to Congress on Sunday by the US attorney general.
The letter from William Barr also revealed Mueller was unable to draw a conclusion “one way or the other” on whether Trump or anyone in the White House obstructed justice during the investigation.
Barr quoted directly from Mueller’s report which states, with regards to obstruction: “While this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.” ...
Barr described the evidence for obstruction as “not sufficient to establish that the president committed an obstruction-of-justice offense”. Furthermore, Barr insisted in his letter the decision not to prosecute was not made based on any limitations related to the indictment of a sitting president.
Clear-eyed leftists got Russiagate right while everyone else got it wrong because they were the only group ideologically positioned to do so. People defending Trump on the right were doing so out of blind partisan loyalty while ignoring out of necessity what has long been the single most damning piece of evidence against Russiagate: the fact that Trump has been advancing insanely aggressive escalations against Russia and its allies, thereby showing him to be at least as much of a neocon-coddling establishment crony as his predecessors. Those advancing the narrative from the Democratic Party-aligned “center” are far too eager for any excuse to bust Trump and far too trusting of the same mass media outlets which lied us into the Iraq war. This leaves only the true left (EDIT: and a few principled libertarians and nonpartisans) to see things with lucidity, and only the most lucid among them saw it.
For a clear-eyed leftist, it’s been an exhausting couple of years. The effort to hold on to facts and evidence while being buffeted by relentless waves of gaslighting propaganda has been tough and many have lost friends and allies on the way. These lies have created a highly toxic environment by leeching poison into the natural discourse and halting the progression of our species. Most people who got swept up in the Russiagate fervor were manipulated by their disgust for Trump and their desire to get him out, no matter if it was true or not. I think the great lesson here is that you can’t out-manipulate the grand manipulators. You have to stick to the truth even when it appears to go against your own self interests because your ego has levers and it can be used to puppet you. If you always value the highest interest over your self interest then you can’t be played. Demand evidence and keep demanding it until you get it. If you do, change your mind, if you don’t, stick to your guns. That’s the only way we’ll get out of here alive.
I am really happy to see everyone congratulating each other on social media. For those of you who think this is a little unseemly, let that go right now. Pat yourself on the back and make sure you give others props too. Make thank you lists of people who held strong and send them out on social media. Write “I told you so” posts. It’s important that we mark a line in the sand right now or else the gaslighting will continue and history will be written over. Say it loud and proud that you were right, and they were wrong. The manipulators’ efforts will now go into getting people to delay their reactions for as long as possible (“Wait until we’ve seen the report!”) while they move the goalposts (“It was always about *insert anything but Russian collusion here* for me”) and/or memory hole the whole deal by saying as little as possible and moving the news cycle as quickly as they can on to the next thing. If we all stand around being polite, they will get away with it. Don’t let them. Make this one stick.
Congratulations to Russia-obsessed Democrats for being the single-most valuable contributors to the Donald J. Trump 2020 re-election campaign!
— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) March 24, 2019
Michael Avenatti, the former lawyer for Stormy Daniels, has been indicted on extortion charges and arrested.
According to a criminal complaint filed by federal authorities in New York, Avenatti was charged with attempting to extort millions of dollars out of Nike by threatening to release damaging information about the company. It did not meet his demands.
He has been charged with wire and bank fraud.
Shares in Asia Pacific have slumped after a key market indicator flashed an “amber warning” that the United States is heading for a recession. Bond yields also continued to fall across the world with Australian 10-year treasury yields falling to a record low on Monday of 1.756% in what analysts see as a strong indicator of a downturn hitting the resource-rich country. ... In commodities, Brent crude oil futures eased 24c to $66.79 in a sign of falling confidence in the world economy.
The market action on Monday was a response to the biggest losses in US shares since the beginning of January on Friday when the Dow Jones sank 1.8%, the S&P 500 was off 1.9 percent and the Nasdaq dropped 2.5%.
Concerns about the health of the world economy heightened last week after remarks by the US Federal Reserve indicated that it would not raise interest rates this year. The comments confirmed to analysts that the Fed has backflipped on its hawkish policy of the past year when it hiked rates four times and is now more pessimistic about the outlook for the US economy.
In response, US 10-year treasury yields slipped below the three-month rate for the first time since 2007 as nervous investors ploughed their money into the safe haven of bonds rather than riskier assets such as shares. This so-called inversion of the of the bond yield curve – where long-term rates fall below short-term – has predicted every recession for the past 60 years. It is a function of bond markets that the return, or yield, falls when the price of the bond rises.
Wow, the Dem primary campaign is already way down in the muck - but the mudslingers appear to be scummy journalists writing for "respectable" outlets. Between Russiascam and the primary wars, the journalism profession is taking a big hit to its credibility.
The Atlantic on Tuesday published a sensationalistic series of accusations by reporter Edward-Isaac Dovere aimed at long-time journalist David Sirota, whose hiring by the Sanders 2020 presidential campaign as a speechwriter and adviser had just been announced earlier that day. The Atlantic article predictably and quickly went viral, cited by major media outlets and Democratic Party operatives as proof that Sirota had acted unethically by critically reporting on rival presidential candidates in the prior months while dishonestly concealing his work as an operative or adviser for the Sanders campaign. ...
SCOOP @davidsirota, just hired as Bernie Sanders' speechwriter and senior adviser, has been quietly writing speeches and advising him for months without disclosing it but while bashing pretty much every candidate in the field: https://t.co/VBSp7dBbyx
— Edward-Isaac Dovere (@IsaacDovere) March 19, 2019
As it turns out, there are indeed serious breaches of journalistic ethics from this episode, but they are ones committed by the Atlantic and Dovere, not by Sirota. That’s because the core accusation of the Atlantic article – that Sirota “for months” had been “informally” advising the Sanders campaign as a speechwriter while pretending to be an independent reporter attacking Sanders’ opponents – is simply false. It relies on a timeline that simply never happened. Since publication of Dovere’s bombshell, the Atlantic has tweaked and edited the story to reflect the multiple errors and denials that make it appear as though the original version contained those edits.
— ErikWemple (@ErikWemple) March 19, 2019
That timeline was so central to the story’s significance because it was Sirota’s investigation in December of Beto O’Rourke’s voting record, donors and funding sources which caused sustained anger and controversy toward Sirota. Sirota’s first published his research about O’Rourke’s receipt of donations on Twitter in early December, and then his analysis of O’Rourke’s voting record was detailed in a widely discussed story that was published by the Guardian on December 20, which fuelled the anger and accusations from Democratic centrists even further against Sirota. ...
The only named source cited by Dovere in support of his key accusation is a purported claim from Faiz Shakir, who only joined the Sanders campaign as its campaign manager weeks ago, which means he would not have been present during the time Dovere tried to deceive readers into believing that Sirota was “informally” working for the Sanders campaign. Dovere used deceitful sleight-of-hand tactics to create a false appearance that Shakir was confirming the Atlantic’s most inflammatory accusation, writing that Shakir “confirmed in an interview on Tuesday afternoon that Sirota had been in an advisory role prior to his hiring on March 11.” It’s true, as Shakir was quoted as saying, that Sirota’s informal role for the campaign began prior to March 11. It began on February 20: after he stopped writing articles. But in the very next sentence, Dovere tried to imply that Shakir was confirming something that he plainly was not confirming and could not confirm, because it was false: namely, “that Sirota’s informal work for Sanders goes back months, and was meant to be a trial period to see how the senator, who famously likes to write every word that he says himself, would work with a speechwriter” (emphasis added).
Around three-quarters of US coal production is now more expensive than solar and wind energy in providing electricity to American households, according to a new study.
“Even without major policy shift we will continue to see coal retire pretty rapidly,” said Mike O’Boyle, the co-author of the report for Energy Innovation, a renewables analysis firm. “Our analysis shows that we can move a lot faster to replace coal with wind and solar. The fact that so much coal could be retired right now shows we are off the pace.”
The study’s authors used public financial filings and data from the Energy Information Agency (EIA) to work out the cost of energy from coal plants compared with wind and solar options within a 35-mile radius. They found that 211 gigawatts of current US coal capacity, 74% of the coal fleet, is providing electricity that’s more expensive than wind or solar.
By 2025 the picture becomes even clearer, with nearly the entire US coal system out-competed on cost by wind and solar, even when factoring in the construction of new wind turbines and solar panels. ...
Coal plants have suffered due to rising maintenance costs, including requirements to install pollution controls. Meanwhile, the cost of solar and wind has plummeted as the technology has improved. Cheap and abundant natural gas, as well as the growth of renewables, has hit coal demand, with the EIA reporting in January that half of all US coalmines have shut down over the past decade.
'In a Just World, It Would Be Treated as Crime Against Humanity': New Report Exposes Big Oil's Real Agenda
In the years since the 2015 Paris agreement, the world's top five Big Oil firms collectively have spent more than a billion dollars on "misleading" branding and lobbying to "capture the public and political narrative" on the climate crisis while they continue expanding their fossil fuel operations. That's according to Big Oil's Real Agenda on Climate Change, a new report published late Thursday by InfluenceMap, a London-based nonprofit that tracks and analyzes how corporations influence climate policy.
Wrecking the planet is their business model https://t.co/y71ilaXa54
— Bill McKibben (@billmckibben) March 22, 2019
Major fossil fuel companies are actively working against systemic reforms—such as urgently phasing out fossil fuels on a global scale—that scientists say are necessary to meet the Paris target and avert climate catastrophe. Per the InfluenceMap report:
All five oil majors continue their efforts to capture the narrative on fossil fuels and climate, driven by coordinated messaging from corporate leadership on the need for increased fossil fuel production to meet global energy demand. Since Paris, Chevron, BP, and ExxonMobil have led in direct lobbying activities to oppose a range of progressive climate policy strands. Royal Dutch Shell and to some extent Total have made steps since 2015 to be more positive on a number of climate policy issues. However, both companies continue to support policy supporting a continued role for fossil fuels in the energy mix and remain part of highly climate-oppositional trade associations like the American Petroleum Institute.
"The most important part of this campaign activity is the nearly $200 million per year spent on lobbying designed to control, delay, or block binding climate-motivated policy," the report states. "This lobbying has hindered governments globally in their efforts to implement such policies post-Paris." And while the companies certainly engage in such campaigning directly, InfluenceMap researchers found they also outsource "the most direct, negative, and egregious climate lobbying to trade groups such as the American Petroleum Institute which in 2018 successfully campaigned to deregulate oil and gas development, including a rollback of methane standards."
Big Oil's narrative capture effort, the report highlights, "accompanies the expansion of the companies' operations with combined annual sales of over $1 trillion and profits of $55 billion 2018, the vast majority of which is oil and gas related."
"This is #Ecocide," British writer and environmental activist George Monbiot tweeted in response to the report. "In a just world, it would be treated as a crime against humanity—and against the rest of the living planet."
'We Have Roughly 12 Years': Progressives Demand Urgency as Centrist Dems Push Bipartisan Incrementalism
Centrist House Democrats continue to argue for incrementalism and bipartisan solutions to address the climate crisis—even as progressives are doubling down on their demand for urgent and visionary action. A resolution put forward in the House February by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez proposes a Green New Deal that would take drastic action over the next decade, but not all members of the caucus are on board for what the global scientific community has said is necessary.
The New Democrat Coalition, a moderate group within the Democratic caucus, announced last week that it would pursue what the group defined as "tangible, achievable" approaches to the climate crisis through "gradual" action. "We're not going to do 100 percent [renewable energy] over 10 years," the coalition's Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.) in an interview with The Hill published on Friday. The New Democrats have a climate task force in place to develop plans to tackle the crisis, but not to go so far as the "aspirational" ideas of the Green New Deal, said Luria.
"The entire plan of the task force is to find ways to attack this incrementally," Luria said.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) March 19, 2019
The coalition also stressed its commitment to reaching across the aisle to the GOP. "We are all on the same page going forward and bringing a bipartisan, bicameral discussion," said Rep. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.).
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Jackie Brenston - Eighty Eight Boogie
Jackie Brenston - I Want To See My Baby
Jackie Brenston - Blues Got Me Again
Jackie Brenston - Leo The Louse
Jackie Brenston w/Earl Hooker - Want You To Rock Me
Jackie Brenston - The Road I Travel
Jackie Brenston - Tuckered Out
Jackie Brenston And Edna McRaney - Hi Ho Baby
Jackie Brentson - Fat Meat Is Greasy
Jackie Benstom & His Delta Cats - Rocket 88