The Evening Blues - 4-11-16
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features folk blues singer and guitarist Roy Book Binder. Enjoy!
Roy Book Binder - Rag Mama
“When they call the roll in the Senate, the Senators do not know whether to answer 'Present' or 'Not Guilty'.”
-- Theodore Roosevelt
News and Opinion
At root, the Panama Papers are not about tax. They’re not even about money. What the Panama Papers really depict is the corruption of our democracy.
Following on from LuxLeaks, the Panama Papers confirm that the super-rich have effectively exited the economic system the rest of us have to live in. Thirty years of runaway incomes for those at the top, and the full armoury of expensive financial sophistication, mean they no longer play by the same rules the rest of us have to follow. Tax havens are simply one reflection of that reality. Discussion of offshore centres can get bogged down in technicalities, but the best definition I’ve found comes from expert Nicholas Shaxson who sums them up as: “You take your money elsewhere, to another country, in order to escape the rules and laws of the society in which you operate.” In so doing, you rob your own society of cash for hospitals, schools, roads…
But those who exited our societies are now also exercising their voice to set the rules by which the rest of us live. The 1% are buying political influence as never before. Think of the billionaire Koch brothers, whose fortunes will shape this year’s US presidential elections. In Britain, remember the hedge fund and private equity barons, who in 2010 contributed half of all the Conservative party’s election funds – and so effectively bought the Tories their first taste of government in 18 years. ...
With a few exceptions, our politicians no longer resemble, nor do they work for us.
Icelanders had many reasons to be angry when they learned that PM Gunnlaugsson and his wife had bought Wintris in 2007 to shelter millions of pounds of bonds in Iceland’s three major banks. Gunnlaugsson, who transferred his 50% stake to his wife in 2009, insists he broke no laws and promises all Icelandic taxes were paid.
One was the fact that Wintris lost 515m kronur (£2.8m) when the three banks concerned, Kaupthing, Glitnir and Landsbanki, collapsed within days of each other in October 2008 – but that Gunnlaugsson’s government subsequently made big decisions on their creditors’ claims: a clear conflict of interest, his critics say.
Another was that he had risen to power as a part of a grassroots movement called In Defence of Iceland that had pledged to put the country’s interests before those of “vulture” foreign creditors – adding that it was vital everyone stick with the krona and keep their money in Iceland: rank hypocrisy, many here argue. ...
Many Icelanders had thought the country was on the way back – not just economically, but also psychologically, even morally. The first still holds good; the second and third, Icelanders realised this week, maybe not so much. ...
“What we’ve learned, what we’ve finally understood, is that our establishment really is like this – there’s one set of rules for us, and another for them,” Edda Eyjólfsdóttir, one protestor outside parliament, said bitterly. Another, Sigurborg Haraldsdóttir, said: “We’ve discovered that even in Iceland after the crash, we still have our 1%. Worse, they’re running the country.”
— Louisiana for Bernie (@LouisianaBernie) April 11, 2016
Goldman Sachs—once described as "great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money"—has agreed to pay $5.1 billion to settle a U.S. probe into allegations that it misled mortgage bond investors during the financial crisis, the U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) said Monday.
The penalty was swiftly denounced as a "non-punishment, non-accountability ritual that will do nothing to stop the Wall Street crime spree."
The settlement relates to the investment firm's "conduct in the packaging, securitization, marketing, sale and issuance of residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) between 2005 and 2007," according to a DOJ statement. The proliferation of such sub-prime mortgages is widely credited with triggering the collapse of the housing market and sending the financial credit markets into a tailspin in the summer and fall of 2008. ...
Better Markets, a non-profit financial advocacy group, said "such settlements, many years after the crimes have been committed, are so weak that they will actually incentivize more law breaking on Wall Street."
Indeed, Better Markets president and CEO Dennis Kelleher declared in response to the news: "This settlement is a victory for Goldman."
First, it got to keep all the ill-gotten gains for the last eight-plus years. Second, a $5 billion settlement is meaningless unless it is publicly disclosed how much money was made from the illegal conduct and the total amount of investor losses. Third, DOJ helped it cover up its illegal actions by letting Goldman merely acknowledge a Swiss cheese ‘statement of facts’ carefully crafted more to conceal than reveal what Goldman really did here. Fourth, Goldman’s net revenue was $37.7 billion and its net earnings were $9.5 billion in 2006 alone, just one year in the midst of this multi-year scheme. Fifth, every single individual at Goldman who received a bonus from this illegal conduct not only keeps the entire bonus, but suffers no penalty at all. Sixth, more than half of the $5 billion appears likely to be tax deductible, meaning U.S. taxpayers will be required to subsidize this settlement.
No year is complete until Goldman Sachs pays a fine to make a massive investigation go away. https://t.co/M7bbkQ3frb
— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) April 11, 2016
The life trajectory of Brazil’s former President, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (“Lula”) has been extraordinary. Born into extreme poverty, Lula left the presidential office in 2010, after serving two terms, with an unprecedented 86% approval rating, seemingly destined to enjoy almost universal respect on the world stage and to be remembered as one of modern history’s greatest statesmen. Similar to the post-office path of Tony Blair and Bill and Hillary Clinton, Lula, since his term ended, has amassed great personal wealth by delivering speeches and providing consulting services to global power centers. The moderately left-wing party he co-founded, the Worker’s Party (PT), has now controlled the presidency for fourteen straight years.
But all of that, the entirety of Lula’s legacy, is now seriously threatened. A grave, widespread corruption scandal involving the national oil company, Petrobras, is engulfing Brazil’s economic and political elite, with PT at its center. His protégé and handpicked successor, the former anti-dictatorship Marxist guerrilla and current President Dilma Rousseff, faces a credible impeachment threat (now supported by a majority of Brazilians) and widespread unpopularity due to an intractable, severe recession. Senior members of PT have been arrested and imprisoned. Massive street protests, both in favor of and against impeachment, have recently turned ugly, with physical altercations becoming increasingly common. ...
On Friday, at Lula’s Institute in São Paulo, [Glenn Greenwald] conducted the first one-on-one interview Lula has given since the emergence of these recent controversies.
[A full transcript accompanies the article. - js]
John Kerry has become the first US secretary of state to visit the Hiroshima peace park, more than 70 years after the city was devastated by the world’s first atomic bombing.
Kerry, who laid a wreath at the cenotaph for the victims of the bombing, did not offer an apology for the bomb, which killed about 140,000 people.
“It is a stunning display, it is a gut-wrenching display,” he told reporters of his tour of the memorial museum, recounting exhibits that showed the bomb, the explosion, the “incredible inferno” and mushroom cloud that enveloped the city on 6 August 1945. “It tugs at all of your sensibilities as a human being. It reminds everybody of the extraordinary complexity of choices of war and what war does to people, to communities, countries, the world.”
Kerry urged all world leaders to visit, saying: “I don’t see how anyone could forget the images, the evidence, the recreations of what happened.”
A future president Trump or Cruz could be defied by his own intelligence chief, after CIA director John Brennan said on Sunday he would not allow members of his agency to carry out torture techniques such as waterboarding.
“I will not agree to carry out some of these tactics and techniques I’ve heard bandied about because this institution needs to endure,” Brennan told NBC News. ...
In his NBC News interview on Sunday, Brennan was asked specifically about waterboarding.
“Absolutely,” he said. “I would not agree to having any CIA officer carrying out waterboarding again.”
In January 2009, one of Barack Obama’s first acts as president was to issue an executive order banning the use of enhanced interrogation techniques, which also included, among other methods, rectal feeding and hydration, sleep deprivation and sexual humiliation. Such techniques were allowed under the Bush administration after the terror attacks of 11 September 2001. ...
In June 2015, a torture ban was passed into law in the Senate – against the opposition of 21 Republicans.
Asked about the “worst mistake of his presidency” in a new interview, President Obama insisted it was the lack of further military intervention in Libya after imposing regime change on the nation in 2011, which he still insisted was “the right thing to do.”
Obama made similar comments last month about Libya, at the time bragging that the $1 billion war was “very cheap,” and blaming Britain and France for not doing more in the aftermath, saying British PM David Cameron “got “distracted.”
The recently announced Long Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B or B-21) is moving forward with one hidden feature that doesn’t make a lot of sense — its actual price tag.
Despite requests by Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, the Air Force has decided against releasing the final contract value to taxpayers and it stands by its decision only to release estimates. ...
The Department of Defense contract announcement lacked any details about the award of the bomber. More details emerged in the Air Force’s announcement and its cost estimate, which shows 100 bombers will have a development cost $23.5 billion and an average procurement unit cost of $564 million per plane.
The B-21 program is estimated to cost about $42 billion, but estimates have ranged from $33 billion to $58 billion, with the latter being deemed to be a “regrettable mistake.”
Villages in the northernmost Iraqi province of Dohuk have been targeted repeatedly by Turkish warplanes in recent months, as the renewed Turkish war on the Kurdish PKK spans both sides of the border. It’s taking a major toll on life in the area.
According to officials from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), about half of the villages in Barwari District, which borders Turkey directly, are completely empty now, with several hundred families displaced deeper into Iraqi Kurdistan by the Turkish war. ...
Turkish officials regularly claim that airstrikes against northern Iraq kill large numbers of PKK, and deny civilian death tolls, even though the villages they’re bombing are mostly populated by Assyrian Christians, and not Kurds in the first place.
The Islamic State (IS) has settled into a small, unstable European country that has long played host to jihadists: Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The German magazine Der Spiegel recently reported that residents of some tiny, remote villages in the country's mountainous north obey Sharia law and fly the militant group's black flag. The villages serve as "safe houses" for radicals who have helped as many as 300 Bosnians join IS in Iraq and Syria — accounting for one of the highest proportions of jihadists from Europe, the magazine wrote.
Additionally, the Bosnian government discovered that Bosnian weapons were used in the IS-inspired attack on the offices of the French magazine Charlie Hebdo attacks, and ex-Yugoslav-manufactured weapons were used in the Bataclan music hall massacre in Paris, Der Spiegel reported. ...
After the breakup of communist Yugoslavia, Arab militants — many of whom fought with American support against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in the 1980s — journeyed to Bosnia. There, they formed the "Mujahideen Battalion" to wage holy war against the Orthodox Christian Serbs and Catholic Croats fighting the Muslim Bosniaks, who comprise around 40 percent of the country's population of 3.86 million. ...
Some of the mujahideen stayed. But other Bosnian extremists are natives. For decades, Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf countries have flooded Bosnia with funds for mosques and other Islamic institutions that helped consolidate communities following Riyadh's radical brand of Wahhabi Islam.
A long-anticipated draft of anti-encryption legislation written by the leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee circulated late Thursday night and left may critics apoplectic.
The bill, from Sens. Richard Burr and Dianne Feinstein, would force technology companies to either decrypt the contents of their customers’ communications for law enforcement, or hack into their own products to do so — effectively rendering illegal the end-to-end encryption currently offered by some of the heaviest hitters in the business, like Apple, Facebook, Google, and now WhatsApp.
Burr-Feinstein may be the most insane thing I've ever seen seriously offered as a piece of legislation. It is "do magic" in legalese.
— Julian Sanchez (@normative) April 8, 2016
Well, the Feinstein-Burr bill is pretty much as clueless and unworkable as I expected it would be.
— Matthew Green (@matthew_d_green) April 8, 2016
Expert technologists have concluded that you can’t design strong encryption that can be readily dismantled or pierced for law enforcement while still keeping customers’ communications private and secure from others — like criminals and hackers.
The bill would specifically require companies to decrypt communications “in a timely manner” or provide “technical assistance” in order to override any security measures preventing access to “intelligible” data — precisely what the FBI ordered Apple to do in order to access San Bernardino killer Syed Rizwan Farook’s work phone before finding an alternate way in.
More than half of Canada's New Democratic Party (NDP) voted to launch a new leadership race and ditch Thomas Mulcair.
The convention marks the party's intention to tack leftwards, eschewing Mulcair's strategy of trying to bring the party to the political center.
In advance of the vote on his political future, Mulcair delivered a last-ditch effort to stay — an impassioned, albeit familiar, speech to party faithful on Sunday morning, peppered with stock leftist phrases like 'big banks' and 'creeping privatization' with some beatification of former party leaders. It ultimately proved unsuccessful, as 52 percent of the delegates at the convention in Alberta's capital voted to launch a new leadership race to replace Mulcair. ...
That leadership race will likely be a fight over the party's core philosophy, as the party contemplates styling itself more after avowed leftists like American Democratic primary candidate Bernie Sanders or U.K. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, as opposed to emulating a more third-way labour party. ...
The surprising results came after the NDP's disastrous result last October, turning a five-point lead into a humiliating third-place result — shedding 51 seats in the House of Commons, and dropping 10 percent in the popular vote over its previous election result, which had been the party's best-ever showing. ...
Many in the party began to suspect that the NDP, once an avowed socialist organization, had lost support to Justin Trudeau over the course of the campaign by being out-flanked on the left by the traditionally-centrist Liberal Party.
Internal documents from the Chicago police department show that officers used physical force on at least 14 men already in custody at the warehouse known as Homan Square.
Police used punches, knee strikes, elbow strikes, slaps, wrist twists, baton blows and Tasers at Homan Square, according to documents released to the Guardian in the course of its transparency lawsuit about the warehouse. The new information contradicts an official denial about treatment of prisoners at the facility.
The injured men are among at least 7,351 people – more than 6,000 of them black – who, police documents show, have been detained and interrogated at Homan Square without a public notice of their whereabouts or access to an attorney.
None of the men identified in these newest documents had fled custody or were injured in the course of a lawful arrest. All were subject to force by Chicago police officers after they were already in custody at Homan Square. According to depositions with officers and more than two dozen first-hand accounts, handcuffing is standard. Police applied force to some arrestees sufficient enough to warrant hospitalization.
A Canadian First Nation community of 2,000 people has declared a state of emergency after 11 of its members tried to take their own lives, national media reported.
CTV News reported on Sunday that the remote northern community of the Attawapiskat First Nation in Ontario experienced an additional 28 suicide attempts last month. More than 100 people in the community have attempted suicide since last September, and one person died, according to CTV. The youngest was 11, the oldest 71. ...
Another Canadian First Nation community in the western province of Manitoba appealed for federal aid last month, citing six suicides in two months and 140 suicide attempts in two weeks.
Canada’s 1.4 million Indigenous people, who make up about 4% of the country’s population, have higher levels of poverty and a lower life expectancy than other Canadians and are more often victims of violent crime, addiction and incarceration.
As night fell over Paris, thousands of people sat cross-legged in the vast square at Place de la République, taking turns to pass round a microphone and denounce everything from the dominance of Google to tax evasion or inequality on housing estates. ...
The debating continued into the early hours of the morning, with soup and sandwiches on hand in the canteen tent and a protest choir singing revolutionary songs. ... For more than a week, these vast nocturnal protest gatherings – from parents with babies to students, workers, artists and pensioners – have spread across France, rising in number, and are beginning to panic the government.
It began on 31 March with a night-time sit-in in Paris after the latest street demonstrations by students and unions critical of President François Hollande’s proposed changes to labour laws. But the movement and its radical nocturnal action had been dreamed up months earlier at a Paris meeting of leftwing activists. ...
“On 31 March, at the time of the labour law protests, that’s what happened. There was torrential rain, but still everyone came back here to the square. Then at 9pm, the rain stopped and we stayed. We came back the next day and as we keep coming back every night, it has scared the government because it’s impossible to define.
“There’s something here that I’ve never seen before in France – all these people converge here each night of their own accord to talk and debate ideas – from housing to the universal wages, refugees, any topic they like. No one has told them to, no unions are pushing them on – they’re coming of their own accord.”
— Joel Benjamin (@Gian_TCatt) April 9, 2016
A police crackdown will not deter France's burgeoning Nuit Debout (or 'Up All Night') movement that has swept across the country in recent weeks as the unifying call for change sparked protests in over 50 cities this weekend.
Riot police early Monday cleared the encampment in the Place de la Republique in central Paris after 11 nights of protest, but demonstrators have vowed to maintain their nightly vigil.
Demonstrations this weekend were held in as many as 60 cities and towns across France as well as in Belgium, Germany, and Spain, according to reports, as an estimated 120,000 protested against austerity, globalization, increasing inequality, privatization, and the continent's severe anti-migrant policies.
Demonstrations this weekend were held in as many as 60 cities and towns across France as well as in Belgium, Germany, and Spain, according to reports, as an estimated 120,000 protested against austerity, globalization, increasing inequality, privatization, and the continent's severe anti-migrant policies.
What began as a rebuke of the state's anti-labor policies has grown into a nation-wide pro-democracy movement that has been likened to the Indignados movement in Spain, or the Occupy protests in the United States. ...
Indeed, a statement issued by the Nuit Debout public assemblies reads in part:
Our mobilization was initially aimed at protesting against the French Labour Law. This reform is not an isolated case, since it comes as a new piece in the austerity measures which already affected our European neighbors and which will have the same effects as the Italian Job Acts or the Reforma Laboral in Spain. This concretely means more layoffs, more precarity, growing inequalities and the shaping of private interests. We refuse to suffer this shock strategy, notably imposed in the context of an authoritarian state of emergency.
...This movement was not born and will not die in Paris. From the Arab Spring to the 15M Movement, from Tahrir Square to Gezi park, Republic square and the plenty of other places occupied tonight in France are depicting the same angers, the same hopes and the same conviction: the need for a new society, where Democracy, Dignity and Liberty would not be hollow shells.
"This movement is yours too," the call for solidarity concludes. "It has no limit, no border and it belongs to all of those who wish to be part of it. We are thousands, but we can be millions."
— Michael Oman-Reagan (@OmanReagan) April 10, 2016
After walking nearly 150 miles over the course of nine days, hundreds of marchers arrived in D.C. on Monday and joined thousands of supporters to launch a full week of mass sit-ins and direct actions in the nation's capitol in an unprecedented protest against moneyed interests' influence over politics. ...
The mass march for democracy was organized by a coalition called Democracy Spring, and this week the movement blooms into Democracy Awakening, which has organized the teach-ins and rallies. Democracy Spring is also coordinating a series of mass sit-ins in front of congressional offices.
Besides calling attention to the broader issue of campaign finance reform, the coalition has several concrete demands. Democracy Spring is "calling on Congress to pass four bills," the coalition writes:
- The Government by the People Act and Fair Elections Now Act.
- The Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2015.
- The Voter Empowerment Act of 2015.
- The Democracy for All Amendment.
The groups are also "calling on the Senate to confirm a nominee to the Supreme Court who will vote to uphold political equality."
Back in 2014, in an interview with the magazine Chief Executive, General Electric Co. CEO Jeffrey Immelt explained that starting in the 1980s, “most of us” — i.e. GE executives — “saw it as our task to outsource manufacturing, to move it to low-cost countries. This continued through the 1990s and into the very early 2000s.” ...
In a meeting on Monday with the New York Daily News editorial board, Sanders was asked to name a corporation that he believed was “destroying the fabric of our nation.” Sanders said that GE was a “good example” because it had shut down “many major plants in this country. Sending jobs to low-wage countries." ...
Immelt (or, more likely, his ghostwriter) replied in a Washington Post op-ed that “Sanders says that he is upset about GE’s operations abroad — as though a company that has customers in more than 180 countries should have no presence in any of them.”
This is, of course, intentionally misleading language: Sanders’s criticism was not that GE has established a “presence” in other countries, but that it has moved many of its factories there in order to save money by paying workers less.
As the Sanders surge continues, the Democratic presidential contest has gotten
chippy. After Clinton called Sanders “unprepared” to be president, Sanders responded he thought she was “unqualified.”
The chattering classes went off. Democrats were rending garments and ringing hands worried about the campaign getting too negative and personal. Guy Cecil, director of one of the Clinton armory of SuperPacs, played the inevitable sexist card. President Obama felt it necessary to weigh in, with his spokesman Eric Schultz saying Obama believes Clinton” comes to the race with more experience than any non-vice president in recent campaign history.” More experience, in other words, than anyone except Al Gore, daddy Bush and Richard Nixon.
But the kerfuffle was all nonsense. Sanders doesn’t think Clinton is “unqualified,” as he quickly acknowledged. He has repeatedly paid respect to her experience and qualifications. And the rhetorical misstatement frankly wasn’t all that harsh. ...
Sanders’ critique of Clinton isn’t that she is unqualified or inexperienced. It is far tougher and more substantive. His campaign is premised on the belief that she is too compromised and conservative to be the president we need. It isn’t about character or experience; it is about direction, program and independence. ...
Sanders is running because he believes that Clinton is too compromised in her agenda. ... Sanders also argues that Clinton is too compromised by the big money that is central to financing her campaign.
The Democratic Party establishment seems determined to drag Hillary Clinton’s listless campaign across the finish line of her race with Bernie Sanders and then count on Republican divisions to give her a path to the White House. But – if she gets there – the world should hold its breath.
If Clinton becomes President, she will be surrounded by a neocon-dominated American foreign policy establishment that will press her to resume its “regime change” strategies in the Middle East and escalate its new and dangerous Cold War against Russia.
If Bashar al-Assad is still president of Syria, there will be demands that she finally go for the knock-out blow; there will be pressure, too, for her to ratchet up sanctions on Iran pushing Tehran toward renouncing the nuclear agreement; there are already calls for deploying more U.S. troops on Russia’s border and integrating Ukraine into the NATO military structure.
President Clinton-45 would hear the clever talking points justifying these moves, the swaggering tough-guy/gal rhetoric, and the tear-jerking propaganda about evil enemies throwing babies off incubators, giving Viagra to soldiers to rape more women, and committing horrific crimes (some real but many imagined) against defenseless innocents.
Does anyone think that Hillary Clinton has the wisdom to resist these siren songs of confrontation and war, even if she were inclined to?
Former President Carter says Hillary Clinton “took very little action” as secretary of State to bring about peace.
Carter, 89, made the remark about the former secretary of State and 2016 Democratic front-runner in a phone interview with Time magazine Wednesday night after he spoke at the Civil Rights Summit in Austin, Texas.
She's lost 7 of 8. New poll shows her as establishment voice in change year. Dems rise to moment or get left behind
Sanders has slammed his opponent, hyper-hawkish Wall Street-backed multimillionaire Clinton, as part of the establishment so many Americans are railing against. She has pushed back, largely ignoring Sanders’ political critiques and instead insisting he “is the only person who I think would characterize me, a woman running to be the first woman president, as exemplifying the establishment.”
A new poll, however, shows that, while she may pretend otherwise, Clinton is widely recognized as the true establishment candidate.
Quinnipiac poll: 64% of voters say "radical change" is needed. HRC supporters ONLY group that disagrees: pic.twitter.com/Lo2Sx10Ptu
— Billmon (@billmon1) April 5, 2016
Approximately two-thirds of American voters say the U.S. needs “radical change,” according to an April 5 Quinnipiac University poll.
When asked what they thought about the statement “the old way of doing things no longer works and we need radical change,” the survey found that 64 percent of voters agreed.
The responses were split up based on party and on voters’ candidate of choice. 71 percent of Republicans agreed that the U.S. needs radical change; so too did 58 percent of Democrats.
Supporters of every presidential candidate expressed desire for radical change, save for one. The only exception? Hillary Clinton.
Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont continued his squabble with Hillary Clinton over her qualifications to be president on Sunday, saying “something is clearly lacking” in Mrs. Clinton’s judgment.
Mr. Sanders made the comments during a round of interviews on the Sunday talk shows on ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN during which he was asked whether he thought Mrs. Clinton was qualified to be president. Earlier this week, Mr. Sanders said Mrs. Clinton was unqualified for the position because she voted for the war in Iraq, has a “super PAC” that has raised millions from Wall Street, and supported trade agreements that sent American jobs overseas. On Sunday, he continued to criticize Mrs. Clinton’s ties to special interest groups and her stances on foreign policy.
“She may have the experience to be president of the United States. No one can argue that,” Mr. Sanders said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “But in terms of her judgment, something is clearly lacking.”
Bernie Sanders on Saturday night called on former President Bill Clinton to apologize for drowning out protesters who confronted him about his administration’s role in incarcerating large numbers of black people and about Hillary Clinton’s use of the term “super predator.”
At a campaign event in Harlem’s Apollo Theater, which ended with a protester interrupting the Vermont senator with anti-Semitic remarks, Mr. Sanders was asked about Mr. Clinton’s recent confrontation with Black Lives Matter protesters over the term used by Hillary Clinton in 1996 to describe gang members.
Mr. Clinton had faced harsh backlash earlier this week for speaking over demonstrators’ chants at a rally in Philadelphia by aggressively defending his actions while in office.
“Unacceptable,” Mr. Sanders said to loud applause. “I think we all know what that term meant in the context that it was said years ago. We know who they were talking about.”
As the senator spoke, an audience member shouted, “Black people.”
“That’s exactly right,” Mr. Sanders replied. “And I think that the president owes the American people an apology for trying to defend the indefensible.” ...
On Friday, Mr. Clinton [...] said he regretted drowning out the chants of black protesters at the Philadelphia rally. “I almost want to apologize,” he said.
Detroit pastor leads effort that aims to gather at least 790,000 signatures within 60 days: ‘I haven’t seen this kind of momentum in a long time’
Michigan governor Rick Snyder has been targeted on several fronts in recent days, as the outrage among voters over his handling of Flint and the dire financial situation in Detroit public schools has culminated in a pair of wide-ranging lawsuits filed this week. Snyder is term-limited and cannot run for re-election in 2018, but a group led by a vocal Detroit pastor is seeking to end his time in office sooner: an ongoing petition drive to ask voters in a statewide referendum this November to recall the governor has collected an estimated 108,000 signatures since canvassers began their effort on Easter Sunday. ...
The recall effort must clear several substantial hurdles to have its effort certified for the November general election. As a result of a law signed by Snyder in 2012, the period in which signatures could be collected was shortened from 90 days to 60 days. In that timeframe, petitioners need to gather nearly 790,000 valid signatures. The Reverend David Alexander Bullock, who is leading the recall drive, said his goal was to collect at least 900,000. ...
Bullock, the pastor spearheading the recall campaign, said the effort was a “referendum on Rick Snyder’s leadership”. His group circulated 15,000 petitions for signatures in the first week, he said, and the goal is to have 15,000-20,000 more out by next week.
“It is about restoring balance to the way politics has unfolded in Michigan,” he said. “There has been no real democratic rights in this state. People have not really had a chance to express their approval in a way that’s been meaningful. I think the recall effort is the only legitimate way to do that, and I think that’s why we’re seeing this kind of support.”
He added: “And it’s not Democrat or Republican, it’s not black or white. It’s not even rich or poor. It’s really … just seeing citizen consensus that Rick Snyder’s got to go.”
After the Philadelphia school district failed to tell the public about lead contamination in school water for as long as six years, officials in the city undertook one of the largest remediation programs in the nation to try to get the lead out. ...
As early as 1993, according to water scientists and the US Environmental Protection Agency, the Philadelphia district knew that the water could be contaminated with lead. But it wasn’t until 1999 that the district was forced by the EPA to test the water in nearly 300 schools.
If children started in kindergarten the same year the Philadelphia school district found out about the lead contamination, they could have been well into middle school by the time officials did something about it. Hundreds of thousands of students, now adults in their 20s and 30s, could have been exposed to the potent neurotoxin for years.
The program, made legally binding in an agreement between the school district and health department in December 1999, would become one of the largest programs to remove lead plumbing from a school ever undertaken in the US. It took ten years to complete the promised repairs, which removed lead-tainted water fountains throughout the district. Even so, many classroom and bathroom faucets remain labelled “do not drink”, a warning that most may not know was prompted by lead contamination concerns. ...
After the EPA stepped in and large-scale testing began in 2000, officials found 57% of schools exceeded the federal lead contamination limit. Around 17% of schools had lead contamination levels more than five times the legal limit. Researchers concluded: “Drinking water from school buildings may be a significant source of lead exposure for children in their formative years of development.”
Heh, pretty soon we may be hearing about Thomas Jefferson's doctrine of usufruct.
A federal judge in Oregon on Friday ruled that the lawsuit brought against the U.S. government by a group of youths last August can go to trial—a huge victory for the case climate activists are calling "the most important lawsuit on the planet right now."
The lawsuit, filed by 21 plaintiffs ages 8-19, and climate scientist Dr. James Hansen, states that the federal government is violating their right to life, liberty, and property, as well as their right to public trust resources, by enabling continued fossil fuel extraction and use.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Coffin in Eugene, who called the case "unprecedented," rejected motions by federal lawyers and representatives of fossil fuel groups to dismiss the lawsuit. He stated in his decision (pdf) that the plaintiffs "give this debate justiciability by asserting harms that befall or will befall them personally and to a greater extent than older segments of society."
There is a need for a court to assess the "constitutional parameters of the actions or inactions taken by the government," Coffin said.
Philip Gregory, who represents the plaintiffs, said in a statement that the decision is "one of the most significant in our nation's history."
During upstate swing ahead of April 19 primary, Vermont senator hammers Hillary Clinton for her fracking gifts to Chevron, Halliburton, ExxonMobil, and Conoco Phillips
Sharpening the contrast between himself and Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on Monday told a crowd of 5,000 New Yorkers that he "applauded" them for "standing up to Governor Cuomo and demanding that New York state ban fracking."
"What you have done is prove to the world that when people stand up and form a grassroots movement of environmentalists, public health advocates, farmers, working families, and religious leaders there is nothing that we cannot accomplish," Sanders declared at a campaign stop in in Binghamton, which is part of the Southern Tier region of New York known as the "fracking belt."
"If we are serious, we need to put an end to fracking not only in New York and Vermont but all over this country," added the Vermont senator.
"Hillary Clinton just said, 'I support the New York fracking ban,'" said Fox, whose film is widely credited with bringing the toxic impacts of fracking in the spotlight. "But Hillary Clinton, as secretary of state, developed the global shale gas initiative, which sold fracking to 30 countries worldwide. And she is advocating for a 'natural gas bridge to the future.' What does that mean? It means frack gas pipelines crisscrossing everywhere. It means 300 new pipelines that will last for decades."
"Secretary Clinton and her state department worked to export fracking throughout the world to reward companies like Chevron, Halliburton, ExxonMobil, and Conoco Phillips," stated Sanders. "In my view that is unacceptable."
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Roy Bookbinder - Mississippi Blues
Roy Bookbinder - Candyman
Roy Book Binder - Black Dog Blues
Roy Bookbinder - Delia
Roy Book Binder - Electricity
Roy Book Binder – I'm Going Home Someday
Roy Bookbinder 07/21/2006