The Evening Blues - 3-8-18


The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: Coleman Hawkins

Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features jazz saxophone player Coleman Hawkins. Enjoy!

Coleman Hawkins - Soul Blues

"If you go on with this nuclear arms race, all you are going to do is make the rubble bounce."

-- Winston Churchill

News and Opinion

Are You Listening, America?

Some Western observers have derided Putin’s speech as simple posturing, a manic effort to project Russian power, and with it global credibility, where none exists. Such an interpretation would be incorrect. There should be no doubt among American politicians, military leaders and citizens alike. “Every word has a meaning,” Putin told his audience. The weapons he referred to are real, and Putin meant every word he said.

“Back in 2000,” he said, “the U.S. announced its withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. Russia was categorically against this. We saw the Soviet-U.S. ABM Treaty signed in 1972 as the cornerstone of the international security system. … Together with the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty [START], the ABM Treaty not only created an atmosphere of trust but also prevented either party from recklessly using nuclear weapons, which would have endangered humankind. … We did our best to dissuade the Americans from withdrawing from the treaty. All in vain. ... The U.S. pulled out of the treaty in 2002,” Putin observed. “Even after that, we tried to develop constructive dialogue with the Americans. We proposed working together in this area to ease concerns and maintain the atmosphere of trust. At one point, I thought that a compromise was possible, but this was not to be. All our proposals, absolutely all of them, were rejected." ...

Putin pointed out that in 2004, he put the world on notice about Russia’s intent to defend itself, telling the press: “As other countries increase the number and quality of their arms and military potential, Russia will also need to ensure it has new generation weapons and technology. … [T]his is a very significant statement because no country in the world as of now has such arms in their military arsenal.”

“Why did we do all this?” Putin asked his audience, referring to his 2004 comments. “Why did we talk about it? As you can see, we made no secret of our plans and spoke openly about them, primarily to encourage our partners to hold talks. No, nobody really wanted to talk to us about the core of the problem, and nobody wanted to listen to us. So listen now. …”

This was a message delivered not just to the Russian Federal Assembly, but to the White House and its temperamental occupant, President Donald Trump, to the halls of Congress, where Russia-baiting has become a full-time occupation, and to the American people, who have been caught up in a wave of anti-Russia hysteria fueled by fantastical claims of a Russian “attack” on American democracy which, when balanced against the potential of thermonuclear annihilation, pales into insignificance. Putin spoke, and one would hope that throughout America the modern-day incarnations of Verizon’s Paul Marcarelli are making their way into the homes of every American citizen and the halls of power where those the American people elect to represent them reside, and calling out, “Can you hear me now?”

Based upon the reaction to Putin’s speech so far, the answer appears to be “no.” This refusal to accept the fact that there exists today a new reality carries with it the potential for catastrophic miscalculation.

US Misses Putin's Nuclear Message (1/2)

For NYT, a Trillion Dollars’ Worth of A-Bombs Is ‘Little’ Response to Russia

For the New York Times, the US is always lagging behind the Russian menace. Previously, the Times has told us how America was losing the “scramble for the Arctic” (8/30/15) and falling behind in election-meddling (3/4/18). Now it’s in the realms of cyber and nuclear war that the Times sees dangerous gaps.

In “A Russian Threat on Two Fronts Meets an American Strategic Void” (3/5/18), reporters David Sanger and William Broad passed along the worries of Washington—as expressed by a few military higher-ups, some guy from the arms industry mouthpiece known as the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and a disembodied “The United States”—that Trump didn’t have a coherent strategy for dealing with cyber and nuclear threats from Russia. The front-page subhead warned, “Russia has ramped up its arsenal, US has done little in response.”

So what does a “little” response look like? Since taking office, the Trump administration and Congress—citing the Russian challenge as one of their major rationales—have increased the military budget by about $80 billion, or roughly 13 percent, the largest increase since the aftermath of 9/11, and 70 percent greater than the entire Russian military budget of $47 billion. (Note that in the late 1970s and early ’80s, the Soviet military budget was bigger in real terms than that of the United States—and yet the USSR still managed to lose the Cold War.)

Additionally, Trump has reportedly asked for a “black budget” of over $80 billion for covert operations ($30 billion more than previous reports), and pledged more than $1.2 trillion to building up the United States’ nuclear arsenal over the next 30 years, $200 billion more than Obama asked Congress for when he announced the plan two years ago.

And Trump has, again, asked to increase the military budget by even more—to $716 billion—for 2019. All this, of course, is omitted from Sanger and Broad’s piece, which largely paints the United States as bumbling around without any idea how to combat the always-one-step-ahead-of-us Russians.

E. Ghouta militants attack civilian convoy of 300 families

A secret microphone at Guantanamo Bay led an alleged terrorist’s attorneys to quit

When three defense attorneys representing the alleged terrorist behind the USS Cole attack abruptly quit last October, there were few pieces of concrete evidence to back up their claims of government surveillance. But on Wednesday, new details about a secret microphone found by prison workers became public.

Richard Kammen, Rosa Eliades, and Mary Spears were representing Abd Al-Rahim Hussein Muhammed Abdu Al-Nashir, the alleged mastermind behind the 2000 al-Qaida bombing of the U.S. Navy destroyer that killed 17 soldiers. But they ended their representation, in part, according to a filing obtained by the Miami Herald, after finding a secret microphone hidden in a special client meeting site at Guantanamo Base.

Prosecutors said in the filing that the microphone, which was discovered when prison workers searched the floorboards, inside the walls, and in fixtures, was not turned on and was “not connected to any audio listening/recording device nor in an operable condition.”

Kammen did not immediately respond to VICE News’ request for comment, but he told the Miami Herald this week that although it was “good” to see evidence coming out, “the reality is more than what they’ve declassified.” Kammen, who quit the case on Oct. 13 along with the two other lawyers, argued in November that his representation of Nashiri had been "irreparably ethically compromised" by what he alleged to be government surveillance.

After the judge ordered him to continue representing Nashiri, Kammen wrote that he faced a “Solomonic choice.” Either he would be “compelled to provide unethical, ineffective legal services,” which would put his bar license at risk,” litigate death penalty case by video, which would violate Indiana’s code of conduct for lawyers, or remove himself from the case and risk being “forcibly apprehended and punished by Colonel Spath."

Tell Me More About How Google Isn’t Part Of The Government And Can Therefore Censor Whoever It Wants?

When you tell an establishment Democrat that Google’s hiding and removal of content is a dangerous form of censorship, they often magically transform into Ayn Rand right before your eyes. “It’s a private company and they can do what they like with their property,” they will tell you. “It’s insane to say that a private company regulating its own affairs is the same as government censorship!”

This is absurd on its surface, because Google is not separate from the government in any meaningful way. It has been financially intertwined with US intelligence agencies since its very inception when it received research grants from the CIA and NSA for mass surveillance, pours massive amounts of money into federal lobbying and DC think tanks, has a cozy relationship with the NSA and multiple defense contracts.

“Some of Google’s partnerships with the intelligence community are so close and cooperative, and have been going on for so long, that it’s not easy to discern where Google Inc ends and government spook operations begin,” wrote journalist Yasha Levine in a 2014 Pando Daily article titled “Oakland emails give another glimpse into the Google-Military-Surveillance Complex”. “The purchase of Keyhole was a major milestone for Google, marking the moment the company stopped being a purely consumer-facing Internet company and began integrating with the US government,” Levine wrote in a recent blog post about his book Surveillance Valley. “While Google’s public relations team did its best to keep the company wrapped in a false aura of geeky altruism, company executives pursued an aggressive strategy to become the Lockheed Martin of the Internet Age.”

And now we learn from Gizmodo that Google has also been helping with AI for the Pentagon’s drone program.

Google is not any more separable from the US government than Lockheed Martin or Raytheon are, yet it has been given an unprecedented degree of authority over human speech and the way people communicate and share information. Would you feel comfortable allowing Northrop Grumman or Boeing to determine what political speech is permissible and giving them the authority to remove political Youtube content and hide leftist and anti-establishment outlets from visibility like Google does?

North Korean Leader, Known for His Bluster, Reveals Diplomatic Skills

He has never traveled abroad as North Korea’s supreme leader. Until this week, his close encounters with foreign guests had been limited to dignitaries from China, Cuba and Syria — and Dennis Rodman. He increasingly resembles his grandfather, a national deity, down to the coifed flattop, gregarious grin and rotund waist. So when a delegation of South Korean officials arrived to visit they did not know what to expect from the leader, Kim Jong-un, a 34-year-old with a nuclear arsenal, who has remained an enigma even as his weapons tests have terrified the world. ...

Mr. Kim surprised the South Korean diplomats not only by accepting joint South Korean-United States military drills as a reality, but also by expressing a willingness to start negotiations with Washington on ending his nuclear weapons program. He also told them he would suspend all nuclear and ballistic missile tests while such talks were underway. ...

Former Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, a veteran diplomatic envoy in American dealings with North Korea, said the South Koreans’ visit had yielded some important insights about Mr. Kim, not necessarily reassuring. “I would say Kim Jong-un has been underestimated,” Mr. Richardson said. “He seems to be evolving into a strategic thinker with a game plan instead of a bomb thrower. He is now setting the agenda for any possible easing of tension in the peninsula. That’s what’s happened.” ...

Mr. Kim’s agreement to denuclearization talks is no guarantee that North Korea will start dismantling its arsenal. Mr. Kim said he would give up nuclear weapons only when he felt no more military threats. Previous efforts all collapsed over the same hurdle.

Koh Yu-hwan, a professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University in Seoul, said something else was at play: Kim Jong-un’s credible boast that he had a nuclear deterrent, giving him far more leverage with Washington and Seoul than his father ever possessed. “We see him increasingly self-confident about what he is doing,” Mr. Koh said. “If we look at what has happened in the past couple months, it was Kim Jong-un who took the initiative in each key moment.”

Rex Tillerson isn’t buying North Korea’s sudden makeover

North Korea’s sudden eagerness for talks has not convinced Rex Tillerson, the secretary of state warning Thursday, “We're a long ways from negotiations.”

Speaking in Addis Ababa, America’s top diplomat acknowledged the “potentially positive symbols” coming from Pyongyang, but added the U.S. must be “very clear-eyed” and realistic about the situation.

Tillerson said before there can be any negotiations about denuclearization, there need to be “talks about talks,” adding he wasn’t certain that conditions were right for negotiations about North Korea’s nuclear program.

Tillerson’s comments come as two top South Korea diplomats headed to Washington to brief the White House about their recent visit to Pyongyang and the possibility of talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Germany moves to boost presence in Afghanistan, training in Iraq

The Cabinet of German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday approved an extension of global military missions, including an uptick of forces for Afghanistan. The move would bring an end to the training of Kurdish peshmerga battling the Islamic State group in favor of what officials said would be a broader stabilization effort.

The German parliament has yet to approve the new mandates, which analysts say is likely. Notably, an Iraq mission extension comes with an end date of Oct. 31, 2018. The Afghanistan mandate would end March 31, 2019.

The upper limit for Berlin’s Afghanistan contingent is set to swell from 980 troops to 1,300; Iraq is slated to see of a reduction from 1,200 to 800 forces.

Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen said the plan for Iraq represents a “new quality” despite the nominal reduction. After the “great success” of enabling the peshmerga to defeat ISIS in northern Iraq, as von der Leyen described it, that mission is considered over.

Worth a full read:

The National Endowment for (Meddling in) Democracy

“They’re meddling in our politics!” That’s the war cry of outraged Clintonites and neocons, who seem to think election interference is something that Russians do to us and we never, ever do to them. But meddling in other countries has been a favorite Washington pastime ever since William McKinley vowed to “Christianize” the Philippines in 1899, despite the fact that most Filipinos were already Catholic. Today, an alphabet soup of U.S. agencies engage in political interference virtually around the clock, everyone from USAID to the VOA, RFE/RL to the DHS—respectively the U.S. Agency for International Development, Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and the Department of Homeland Security. The last maintains some 2,000 U.S. employees in 70 countries to ensure that no one even thinks of doing anything bad to anyone over here.

Then there is the National Endowment for Democracy, a $180-million-a-year government-funded outfit that is a byword for American intrusiveness. The NED is an example of what might be called “speckism,” the tendency to go on about the speck in your neighbor’s eye without ever considering the plank in your own (see Matthew 7 for further details). Prohibited by law from interfering in domestic politics, the endowment devotes endless energy to the democratic shortcomings of other countries, especially when they threaten American interests. In 1984, the year after it was founded, it channeled secret funds to a military-backed presidential candidate in Panama, gave $575,000 to a right-wing French student group, and delivered nearly half a million dollars to right-wing opponents of Costa Rican president Oscar Arias—because Arias had refused to go along with our anti-communist policy in Central America.

A year later, it gave $400,000 to the anti-Sandinista opposition in Nicaragua and then another $2 million in 1988. It used its financial muscle in the mid-1990s to persuade a right-wing party to draw up a “Contract with Slovakia” modeled on Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America; persuaded free marketeers to do the same in Mongolia; gave nearly $1 million to Venezuelan rightists who went on to mount a short-lived putsch against populist leader Hugo Chavez in 2002; and then funded anti-Russian presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko in Ukraine in 2005, and the later anti-Russian coup there in 2014.

What all this had to do with democracy is unclear, although the NED’s role in advancing U.S. imperial interests is beyond doubt. Rather than “my country right or wrong,” its operating assumption is “my country right, full stop.” If Washington says Leader X is out of line, then the endowment will snap to attention and fund his opponents. If it says he’s cooperative and well-behaved, meaning he supports free markets and financial deregulation and doesn’t dally with any of America’s military rivals, it will do the opposite. It doesn’t matter if, like Putin, the alleged dictator swept the last election with 63.6 percent of the vote and was declared the “clear” winner by the European Union and the U.S. State Department. If he’s “expanding [Russia’s] influence in the Middle East,” as NED President Carl Gershman puts it, then he’s a “strongman” and an “autocrat” and must go.

America’s own shortcomings meanwhile go unnoticed.

Vancouver declares 5% of homes empty and liable for new tax

Thousands of homes in Vancouver have been declared unused and liable for a new empty homes tax as part of a government attempt to tackle skyrocketing home prices and soaring rents.

About 4.6% or 8,481 homes in the western Canadian city stood empty or underutilised for more than 180 days in 2017, according to declarations submitted to the municipality by 98.85% of homeowners.

Properties deemed empty will be subjected to a tax of 1% of their assessed value.

Vancouver has rolled out a raft of measures to cool prices and improve housing affordability in the country’s most expensive real estate market.

On International Women’s Day, Women Declare: Emancipation Comes Through the Rejection of Capitalism

Senate Claims to Fix Its Wall Street Bill, but a Look at the Text Says It’s Still a Giveaway

Earlier this week, the Senate got 50 Republicans, 16 Democrats, and one Democratic-leaning independent to move forward on S.2155, the bipartisan bank deregulation bill. With that base of support, prospects for passage are extremely bright — or dark, depending on how you view a bill that the Congressional Budget Office says heightens the risk of a financial crisis for the purpose of loosening rules on banks.

A final vote could come as early as Friday. There’s just one problem left: Almost nobody has any idea what the bill will ultimately look like. And they almost certainly won’t know until hours, or perhaps minutes, before they have to make a final decision.

Senate Banking Committee chair Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, and four Banking Committee Democrats filed several last-minute changes in what’s known as a manager’s amendment late Wednesday. That’s a bill that incorporates unknown changes to a piece of legislation that has already passed committee. To spot the changes, a reader must compare the language of both bills.

The last-minute moves were made partially in an attempt to insulate lawmakers from criticism about giveaways to big banks. But more alterations are likely, because House Financial Services Committee chair Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, has demanded his imprint on the final product, in the form of a load of deregulatory bills that the House has approved over the past year. ... Meanwhile, the scrambling on S.2155 has begun. The manager’s amendment filed Wednesday purported to close several carve-outs that go beyond the oft-stated goal of community bank regulatory relief.

A closer look, though, shows the fixes are fake.

Ben Carson's housing agency drops pledge to end housing discrimination

The US housing department, helmed by the former neurosurgeon Ben Carson, has proposed a new mission statement in which the pledge to build “inclusive” communities “free from discrimination” is removed. The proposal comes just two weeks after the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services changed its mission statement to eliminate a passage that described the US as “a nation of immigrants”.

A 5 March internal memo, obtained by the Huffington Post, contained a draft of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (Hud) new, shortened mission statement, which emphasizes self-sufficiency. The author described it as “an effort to align Hud’s mission with the secretary’s priorities and that of the administration”. ... [Carson] has called efforts to desegregate housing “social engineering” and has been criticized for rolling back proposals aimed at eliminating housing discrimination for the LGBTQ community.

The new mission statement, advanced in the memo by Amy Thompson, a Hud political staffer, reads:

Hud’s mission is to ensure Americans have access to fair, affordable housing and opportunities to achieve self-sufficiency, thereby strengthening our communities and nation.

Jeff Sessions is waging a war against California’s “most radical extremists”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions thinks California lawmakers are the “most radical extremists.” That’s what he said at a hotel in Sacramento on Wednesday when he addressed a California law enforcement lobbying group about the Department of Justice’s lawsuit against the state. Filed on Monday, the suit alleges that California enacted legislation that’s hampering federal immigration enforcement. ...

“This is basically going to war against the State of California,” California Gov. Jerry Brown said shortly after Sessions’ speech, according to the New York Times. “This is pure red meat for the base.”

This past year, in fact, has strained the relationship between the Trump administration and California. Within days of taking office, Trump said California was “out of control” by considering becoming a sanctuary state and threatened to withhold all federal funding, among other consequences for the state’s repudiation of the administration’s hardline immigration policies. He’s even suggested pulling ICE out of the state entirely.

In 2017 alone, Xavier Becerra, California’s attorney general, sued the Trump administration two dozen times.

With John Conyers’s Resignation, Keith Ellison Will Take Ownership of House Single-Payer Bill

After Michigan Democratic Rep. John Conyers, the dean of the House of Representatives, resigned over allegations of sexual misconduct last year, the future of his marquee cause — establishing a single-payer universal health care system — became uncertain.

Conyers was the prime author and sponsor of H.R.676, which would improve and expand Medicare to every single American, displacing private health insurance companies. With 121 co-sponsors, it has the backing of the majority of the House Democratic caucus.

On Wednesday, Rep. Keith Ellison, deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee, stepped up and asked his colleagues for unanimous consent to replace Conyers as the lead sponsor of the legislation. They granted him permission.

Ellison, a Minnesota Democrat, told The Intercept he had spoken ahead of time to Conyers, who gave him his blessing. The Conyers bill, though, is largely a shell, and Ellison said he wants to flesh it out for when it’s re-introduced next time. “We’re constantly going to try to improve the bill, to find way to make it more effective, make it work better,” he said.

the horse race

Erik "Blackwater" Prince lied? I'm shocked. Shocked, I tell you.

Mueller gathers evidence that 2017 Seychelles meeting was effort to establish back channel to Kremlin

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has gathered evidence that a secret meeting in Seychelles just before the inauguration of Donald Trump was an effort to establish a back channel between the incoming administration and the Kremlin — apparently contradicting statements made to lawmakers by one of its participants, according to people familiar with the matter.

In January 2017, Erik Prince, the founder of the private security company Blackwater, met with a Russian official close to Russian President Vladi­mir Putin and later described the meeting to congressional investigators as a chance encounter that was not a planned discussion of U.S.-Russia relations.

A witness cooperating with Mueller has told investigators the meeting was set up in advance so that a representative of the Trump transition could meet with an emissary from Moscow to discuss future relations between the countries, according to the people familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters. George Nader, a Lebanese American businessman who helped organize and attended the Seychelles meeting, has testified on the matter before a grand jury gathering evidence about discussions between the Trump transition team and emissaries of the Kremlin, as part of Mueller’s investigation into Russian efforts to interfere with the 2016 election.

Last year, Prince told lawmakers — and the news media — that his Seychelles meeting with Kirill Dmitriev, the head of a Russian government-controlled wealth fund, was an unplanned, unimportant encounter that came about by chance because he happened to be at a luxury hotel in the Indian Ocean island nation with officials from the United Arab Emirates. In his statements, Prince has specifically denied reporting by The Washington Post that said the Seychelles meeting, which took place about a week before Trump’s inauguration, was described by U.S., European and Arab officials as part of an effort to establish a back-channel line of communication between Moscow and the incoming administration.

Alleged Wikileaks Source Corrects Chuck Todd & Roger Stone


Stormy Daniels’ lawsuit could prove Trump broke election laws

If former porn star Stormy Daniels wins her lawsuit against “David Dennison” — aka Donald Trump — she’ll finally be able to tell the world all about their alleged affair. But her victory could also open the president up to charges of violating U.S. election law.

After her alleged affair with Trump from 2006 to 2007, Daniels signed a non-disclosure agreement that prevented her from discussing the details — like how she purportedly spanked Trump with a Forbes Magazine with his own face on the cover, for example. The president’s lawyer Michael Cohen also admitted to “facilitating” giving Daniels $130,000 in hush-money in 2016, during Trump’s campaign for the presidency.

But Daniels claims in a lawsuit filed in California court on Monday that the non-disclosure agreement doesn’t matter because “Dennison” (Trump’s code name) never signed the document. Daniels’ complaint also alleges that Trump knew about his attorney’s efforts to keep her quiet. If that’s true, government watchdog groups say, the lawsuit could prove that Trump broke federal campaign finance laws.

“The facts that have come out of this lawsuit could definitely push forward many of the complaints or requests for investigation into this situation,” said Jordan Libowitz, communications director for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). Just days before Daniels filed her lawsuit, CREW had requested that the Federal Election Commission (FEC) look into whether Trump “held a beneficial interest” in a limited liability company that Cohen reportedly used to pay off Daniels. If Trump had an interest in that LLC, CREW alleges, the president would’ve had to reveal that in the public financial disclosure reports he filed with the Office of Government Ethics during his candidacy.

the evening greens

Trump administration unable to stop lawsuit brought by teens

Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school have been pushing lawmakers to pass meaningful gun reform for the last few weeks, confronting legislators like Marco Rubio — on primetime. And off-screen, another group of teens is taking the government to task on an issue crucial to them: Climate change. And the Trump administration, despite its best efforts, hasn’t been able to stop the case from moving forward.

In the lawsuit, which was filed in 2015, 21 young plaintiffs argue that the government’s actions to promote the interests of the fossil fuel industry impinge on the most fundamental of constitutional rights — life, liberty, and property — of their generation and of future generations. And on Wednesday, a judge ruled that the federal government’s request to dismiss the case is “entirely premature.”

“We need a constitutionally compliant energy system that doesn’t destroy these people's lives — and the court can order that,” Julia Olson, the lead attorney for the young plaintiffs and chief counsel of Our Children’s Trust, told VICE News. Wednesday’s decision means the case is very likely going to trial in the District Court. The case, Olson says, will dredge up the federal government’s historic relationship to climate science.

Federal Judge's Unprecedented Order on Climate Science 'Could Open Floodgates' for Big Oil Lawsuits

With a decision that could have far-reaching implications, a federal judge in California has ordered the first ever U.S. court hearing on climate science for a "public nuisance" lawsuit, meaning that major oil and gas companies for the first time may have to go on the record regarding what they knew about the planetary impacts of their products—and when. "This will be the closest that we have seen to a trial on climate science in the United States, to date," Michael Burger, a lawyer who heads the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University, told McClatchy's D.C. Bureau.

Last year, the cities of San Francisco and Oakland filed the lawsuit against five major oil and gas companies—BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and Shell—in hopes of holding them to account for fossil fuel production's massive contributions to global warming and the impact the climate crisis is having on coastal communities. 

On March 21, U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup will allow the cities as well as the fossil fuel companies named in the complaint (pdf) "to conduct a two-part tutorial on the subject of global warming and climate change," according to a notice (pdf) filed by the judge.

"The first part will trace the history of scientific study of climate change, beginning with scientific inquiry into the formation and melting of the ice ages, periods of historical cooling and warming, smog, ozone, nuclear winter, volcanoes, and global warming," the filing explained. "The second part will set forth the best science now available on global warming, glacier melt, sea rise, and coastal flooding." Attorneys from both sides will have an hour for each part, but may defer to expert testimonies. Alsup filed a second notice (pdf) earlier this week that featured a list of questions he expects each side to address. The judge's order for the tutorial came the same day he denied (pdf) the cities' motion to remand the case to state court. ...

By ordering the tutorial, "the court is forcing these companies to go on the record about their understanding of climate science," added EarthRights International general counsel Marco Simmons, "which they have desperately tried to avoid doing."

Honduran Exec Who Threatened Berta Caceres Arrested for Her Murder

Fossil Fuel Execs Very Annoyed #KeepItIntheGround Movement Crimping Their Ability to Pillage Planet

Pipeline executives are extremely upset that protests by environmentalists and Indigenous groups are disrupting their ability to plunder the planet at will, and they aired their discontent publicly on Thursday at the CERAWeek energy conference in Texas. Singling out the "Keep It in the Ground" movement—which calls for an "immediate halt" to all new fossil fuel development—as a particularly strong obstacle to their ambitious construction projects, pipeline CEOs complained that opposition to dirty energy has grown in "intensity" over the past several years, posing a serious threat to their companies' bottomlines.

"There's more opponents, and it's more organized," lamented Kinder Morgan CEO Steven Kean, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline—which would carry tar sands 700 miles from Alberta to Burnaby, British Columbia—is currently facing fierce resistance from Indigenous groups and local governments. At least 7,000 people are expected to participate in a march and rally against the pipeline in Vancouver on Saturday, the Seattle Times reports. Other pipeline CEOs appearing at the CERAWeek conference echoed Kean's concerns, highlighting the success of efforts by environmental activists to delay, disrupt, and cancel projects through non-violent civil disobedience, litigation, and other tactics.

Bitterly recounting how activists tried to drill a holes in his company's pipelines, Energy Transfer Partners CEO Kelcy Warren reportedly said: "Talk about someone that needs to be removed from the gene pool."

Energy Transfer Partners is behind the Dakota Access Pipeline, which became fully operational in June of last year after many weeks of resistance from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and its allies. Legal challenges to the pipeline—which has already spilled several times—continue to mount.

Also of Interest

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

Media Erase US Role in Syria’s Misery, Call for US to Inflict More Misery

NYT’s Bari Weiss Falsely Denies Her Years of Attacks on the Academic Freedom of Arab Scholars Who Criticize Israel

Twitter is the modern public square. So can the president block you?

To Stop War, Do What Katharine Gun Did

Raining on Trump’s Parade

A Little Night Music

Coleman Hawkins w/Lambert, Hendricks & Bavan - Watermelon Man

Coleman Hawkins w/Tiny Grimes - Hawk Eyes

Coleman Hawkins - Disorder At The Border

Tiny Grimes & Coleman Hawkins - Blues Wail

Coleman Hawkins - Cross Town

Tiny Grimes & Coleman Hawkins - Soul Station

Coleman Hawkins Quintet - Bird of Prey Blues

Coleman Hawkins - Groovin'

22 users have voted.


joe shikspack's picture

sorry, slept in this morning and got a late start on the eb, hence its late pub time.

see you guys after dinner and some errands.

11 users have voted.

Thanks for the news as usual this evening. My old Social Studies teacher taught during the 50's Red Scare when children were urged to report their parents or teachers for talking about things that were deemed unpatriotic. Afraid we have come full circle.

Glad to read the children's climate lawsuit is moving forward as well as actions in California.

Interesting to read about money being donated to Arias' opponent in the 80's. He was president when we first came to Costa Rica in the 80's and then 20 years later when we returned was president again!

14 users have voted.

Life is what you make it, so make it something worthwhile.

This ain't no dress rehearsal!

joe shikspack's picture


yeah, i keep wondering if the democrats are going to go full mccarthy on progressives and try to impose a purge. when i see video of adam schiff these days frothing away with his eyes bugged out, it seems possible.

have a great evening down there!

7 users have voted.
Meteor Man's picture

On the last day of January and five days before Collin Powell's speech to the U.N:

At the UK’s intelligence agency GCHQ, about 100 people received the same email memo from the National Security Agency on the last day of January 2003, seven weeks before the invasion of Iraq got underway. Only Katharine Gun, at great personal risk, decided to leak the document.

The memo:

The whistleblowing occurred in real time. “This was not history,” as Ellsberg put it. “This was a current cable, I could see immediately from the date, and it was before the war had actually started against Iraq. And the clear purpose of it was to induce the support of the Security Council members to support a new UN resolution for the invasion of Iraq.”

On the bright side, the Climate Change lawsuit is going forward and Trump had a good idea once:

Within days of taking office, Trump said California was “out of control” by considering becoming a sanctuary state and threatened to withhold all federal funding, among other consequences for the state’s repudiation of the administration’s hardline immigration policies. He’s even suggested pulling ICE out of the state entirely.

Too bad Trump backed down.

14 users have voted.

Cali Kush: a bowl a day keeps the doctor away.

joe shikspack's picture

@Meteor Man

heh, yep, trump could have accidentally become a popular president if he pulled ice out of california in a fit of pique. Smile

4 users have voted.
Meteor Man's picture

@joe shikspack

Capital & Main has dug deeply into how and why these and other deaths occurred, whether or how they could be prevented, who is responsible and how the system can function more humanely.

This project begins as ICE signals a move toward even less openness than it has previously displayed. The agency has received preliminary approval from the National Archive and Record Administration to destroy records of detainee deaths and in-custody sexual assaults after 20 years, and solitary confinement documents after just three years.

5 users have voted.

Cali Kush: a bowl a day keeps the doctor away.

@Meteor Man all federal funding, Cali withholds all tax payments to the Feds. Seems fair. Fuck your deportations and Fuck your wars. Assholes.
Thanks for all you do, joe.

Stop These Fucking Wars


4 users have voted.

Ya got to be a Spirit, cain't be no Ghost. . .

enhydra lutris's picture

8 users have voted.

That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

joe shikspack's picture

@enhydra lutris

thanks! it was yummy. i don't know how they're doing it, but somebody has managed to put some taste into the off-season tomatoes that we are getting at the market. they are heirloom varieties that i suspect are grown hydroponically, but they have a lot more um, tomato flavor than the hydroponic tomatoes that i used to get.

8 users have voted.

and ugly parade had been killed. Shoulda known better.

I hope the climate kids expose the whole lot of climate criminals. Too bad none will ever see the inside of a prison cell. Or better yet, the inside of a prison yard....

9 users have voted.
QMS's picture

@lizzyh7 too bad the kids won't live to see the world as it could have been if the greedy extractors hadn't gotten away with murder.

6 users have voted.

“Life would be tragic if it weren't funny.” Stephen Hawkings

joe shikspack's picture


heh, it's damned hard to kill a bad idea that involves military spending.

i hope that the kid's lawsuits do actually get some action. i have no hope that the bastards that have colluded to destroy the planet will go to jail. even if a couple of them went to jail, they would wind up in a club fed with the tennis courts and golf courses.

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4 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


heh, he had a nice blues feel if you ask me.

2 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

Why is congress doing its part of Russia Gate if Mueller was appointed to be the special prosecutor? I don't understand what Congress's role is. Anyone?

Must be close to $10 million thrown at this by now. The meeting with Prince again has nothing to do with the Russians hacked the DNC computers or that Trump colluded with Putin since the meeting took place after the election was over.

Gawd, how much longer is this going to go on?

9 users have voted.

You know you’re a peasant when you worship the very people who are right now, this minute, conning you and giving you shit. Whatever the master does, you’re on board. Doh!

joe shikspack's picture


I don't understand what Congress's role is. Anyone?

entertainment for losers.

it will continue until trump is either thrown out, voted out or timed out of office. they've got nothing else. they're a bunch of losers.

9 users have voted.
QMS's picture

Love the sax music. Gotta laugh at Tillerson coming up with 'talks about talks'. Sounds like Rummy's unknown knowns. These oratorically challenged clowns are making lying into a porn form.

8 users have voted.

“Life would be tragic if it weren't funny.” Stephen Hawkings

joe shikspack's picture


hmmm... "bow to my enormous, rigid preconditions!"

7 users have voted.
divineorder's picture

We do not like sweating buckets. Wanted to clarify that. We are addicted to spending time searching for wildlife, and if that means sweating buckets well. Of course avoiding the short days and cold night in New Mexico now is a bonus. Smile

Barely know where to start about the Russians vs. US, except that back in the 80's when I quit teaching for a while and promoted US/USSR citizen's diplomacy projects I learned from NGO's in San Fran how the Ruskies play the looooooong game. Especially after the coup removing Gorbachev and the takeover by the Western capitalists supporting Yeltsin then the eventually reneging on the so many agreements ...

Heh. After so many hopeful accomplishments during the 80's and now to have current reality be like it is, well, hope you understand why we escape whenever possible.

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.

joe shikspack's picture


wow, it must be hard to get buckets through your pores - not to mention the clatter they make when they fall to the floor. Smile

i hope that the wildlife is cooperating and posing for your photos nicely.

i have always felt that the russians were far better, long-term strategists than the usians, our latest crop of usians, especially. i now hope that the russians are more sane than we appear to be.

7 users have voted.
mimi's picture

me in hindsight. Your sarcastic jokes make my mind despairing... nah, not.

I just wanted to say that I listened to the whole video that was embedded in Caitlin Johnstone's article:
Tell Me More About How Google Isn’t Part Of The Government And Can Therefore Censor Whoever It Wants?

and I think it is outstanding to have a book that goes back and really makes the www, darpanet history clear, the book by Joshua Levine: "Surveillance Valley: The Rise of the Military-Digital Complex". I would suggest to read for those who didn't get a hint of that history in their own lives and hope I can get it in Germany. Levine is a bit hard to listen to for me, but to me he convinced me of the little things I have had experienced as a lay person, more haphazardly than anything else.

I found the exchange with the audience at the end of the video amazing, because it shows people seemingly well educated asking questions or make statements being as blinded as the majority of the 99 percent of people probably are. Here a bit about the Noblis Technology. I just wonder how you find these videos. ah, yes, I forgot the internet is full of spies and they look at everything...

Investigative Journalist for Pando Daily, Yasha Levine spoke to our Noblis Technology Speaker Series audience about his recent book "Surveillance Valley: The Rise of the Military-Digital Complex."

Yasha Levine is a Russian-born American investigative journalist and a founding editor of The eXiled. Until 2015, he was a reporter for Pando Daily, a San Francisco-based news magazine covering the politics and power of big tech. His work has been published and profiled in The Baffler, Wired Magazine, The Nation, Slate, Penthouse, The New York Observer, Playboy, Not Safe For Work Corp, Alternet, Vanity Fair, The Verge, MSNBC and many others.

At Noblis, innovation is our common thread. We’re a nonprofit science, technology, and strategy organization dedicated to creating forward-thinking technical and advisory solutions in the public interest, “for the best of reasons.”

Life as it is profoundly confuses me. I like what he said how people at the 1969 times didn't have any utopian ideas about the internet. I wonder when the utopian idea of the www became infested in people's mind and I wonder if it had something to do with the Linux Operating System that promised all the transparency and allowing any coder to 'surveille' the code written for the internet's operations, which they believed will protect them from being manipulated and abused.

The old UNIX coders from the 1970ies were followed by enthusiastic Linux developers and their user base and I think they promoted ideas that turned out to be utopian and pipe dreams and it is today that folks come back to earth and see what it has done to them, ie exactly that what they wanted to fight against - like being surveilled secretely by the government, being manipulated by propaganda, and censored for their thoughts online. They felt like "freedom fighters" a bit, I guess and now their work seems to have enabled oppression and manipulative propaganda online.

That imho subtly creates mental health issues and problems for those who listen, but don't comprehend and don't see that it serves the Deep State's goals to not comprehend that the 'counter culture' is something desired by TPTB and used against the people's interests.

"We have an erroneous idea what the internet is."


"The platform promised to be a democratic platform, but that is not what it is."

True too?

Well, I think it's just worth to listen to and mull over.

Have a good night and thanks for your work.

5 users have voted.
mimi's picture

2 users have voted.