The Evening Blues - 4-5-19



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The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: John Lee Hooker


Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features Detroit bluesman John Lee Hooker. Enjoy!

John Lee Hooker - I'll Never Get Out of These Blues Alive!

“In American prisons, which are extraordinarily violent places, the most vicious form of punishment is simply to lock a person in an empty room for years with absolutely nothing to do. This emptying of any possibility of communication or meaning is the real essence of what violence really is or does.”

-- David Graeber


News and Opinion

Chelsea Manning is out of solitary confinement, reps say

Chelsea Manning has been released from solitary confinement after 28 days, her reps said late Thursday afternoon. The 31-year-old whistleblower is currently detained at the Truesdale Detention Center in Virginia and has been integrated into the prison’s general population, Manning’s Twitter account said.


Supporters gather after reports Assange may be ousted from embassy

Supporters of the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange gathered outside the Ecuadorian embassy in central London after the organisation said its sources in Ecuador had revealed he could be removed from the building “within hours to days”.

Ecuador’s foreign ministry released a statement saying it “doesn’t comment on rumours, theories or conjectures that don’t have any documented backing”, but a senior Ecuadorian official said no decision had been made.

Vaughan Smith, a journalist and friend of Assange, visited him at the embassy on Friday afternoon, and said afterwards that the atmosphere inside had changed. “It’s very tense, nobody knows when exactly [Assange might be asked to leave], but there’s a sense of imminency,” he said.

At the same time, Smith stressed that those at WikiLeaks saying Assange was about to be expelled from the embassy were far removed from the situation on the ground. He described his friend’s state of mind as “strong and stable” but also “thoughtful”. Smith said: “It’s clear to him he faces prison. If he’s kicked out he will be in a British prison for a while and face extradition to the US and lifetime imprisonment.”

Slavoj Žižek on demonization of leftists, Julian Assange & Yellow Vests

Rejecting Demand to Leave Venezuela, Russia's Lavrov Says 'Whole World Dotted' With US Soldiers

Pointing to "the map of the U.S. military bases" around the world as evidence of American imperialism, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday his country has no plans to remove the small number of troops it has stationed in Venezuela despite Trump administration demands to withdraw.

On March 24, a Russian military plane landed in Venezuela, depositing around 100 Russian soldiers in the country, as Common Dreams reported at the time. The move was "akin to tripwire" against U.S. intervention in Venezuela, said Washington Institute fellow Soner Cagaptay.

The move angered U.S. officials and, on March 29, President Donald Trump's National Security Advisor John Bolton issued a statement criticizing Russia for its presence in the Latin American country. "We strongly caution actors external to the Western Hemisphere against deploying military assets to Venezuela, or elsewhere in the Hemisphere, with the intent of establishing or expanding military operations," said Bolton.

The rhetoric didn't stop there: Bolton also called the Russian presence in Venezuela "a direct threat to international peace and security in the region."

Bolton's comments didn't sit well with Lavrov. In an interview with Russian newspaper Moskovskij Komsomolets, Lavrov called U.S. demands Russian military personnel leave Venezuela "insolent" and asserted that America does not, in fact, have the right to tell Russia what to do—even in America's so-called "sphere of influence." ... Further, said Lavrov, a country like the U.S. isn't in the best position to throw stones about stationing troops in foreign countries.

"Take a look at the map of the U.S. military bases—the whole world is dotted with red spots and each of them poses rather serious risks," said Lavrov.

Guaidó ATTACKED By Poor Venezuelans In Barrio

To Ramp Up Fear of Russia in Africa, NYT Downplays Massive US Military Presence on Continent

The New York Times (3/31/19) added to its series of reports depicting Official Enemies surpassing the US in the race for global dominance. It seems that having taken control of the Arctic (FAIR.org, 9/15/15), the nuclear domain (FAIR.org, 3/7/18) and a whole host of other spaces the US is “behind” in, Russia is now gobbling up Africa—a threat the US, presumably, must counter with an even greater military build-up. The report, “Russia’s Military Mission Creep Advances to a New Front: Africa,” by Eric Schmitt, asserting an uptick in Russian weapons contracts and military training exercises in Africa, is thin on context and hard numbers, but is artificially fortified with a series of anecdotes and frightening quotes. Since the obvious rejoinder to any discussion of increased Russian presence in Africa is, “OK, but what is the US’s current reach?” the Times hangs a lampshade on the inconvenience with this throwaway line:

The United States military has a relatively light footprint across Africa.

About 6,000 United States troops and 1,000 Defense Department civilians or contractors work on a variety of missions throughout Africa, mainly training and conducting exercises with local armies.

According to documents obtained by the Intercept’s Nick Turse (12/1/18), the US currently has 34 military bases in Africa; Russia has zero. The Times doesn’t tell us how many “contractors’ and “troops” Russia has in Africa, so it’s not clear what the so-called “light footprint” is “relative” to. Is it 10? 100? 10,000? If it’s a lot less than 6,000, then the story is a bit of a dud. Alas, we’re simply left guessing at the “relative” size of Russia’s Africa presence. ...

Panic over a creeping Russia menace in Africa is timed, not coincidentally, with congressional debate over the Defense budget, submitted by Trump two weeks ago. In addition, some congressional Democrats and Republicans are working to erode what little caps exists for the military budget, with a planned vote next week in the House for lifting limits on discretionary Defense spending.

Needless to say, the primary funders of the Center for Strategic and International Studies and Institute for Study of War—the think tanks whose juicy quotes and studies bolster the primary arguments of the articles’ premise—stand to make tens of billions in profit from both of these legislative efforts. Having the New York Times provide marketing collateral for these efforts is no doubt useful in convincing an increasingly war-weary public, and accordingly war-wary Congress, to rubberstamp yet another record-setting Pentagon budget. ...

Also as usual, the article went to no skeptical voices for any comment; the only sources sought were war makers and those funded by war makers.

How Trump’s Call for More Military Spending by NATO Countries Benefits U.S. Weapons Manufacturers

Pfffttt!!! Sure, this'll definitely happen.

Trump laments military spending by U.S., China and Russia, floats deal idea

President Donald Trump on Thursday lamented the amount of money that the United States, China and Russia spend on weapons production, including nuclear weapons, and suggested that such money could be better spent elsewhere. ...

“As you know China is spending a lot of money on military, so are we, so is Russia and those three countries I think can come together and stop the spending and spend on things that maybe are more productive toward long-term peace,” Trump said.

“It think it’s much better if we all got together and we didn’t make these weapons,” he said.

Netanyahu: the option of reoccupying Gaza is still on the table

Israel has not ruled out the option of reoccupying Gaza, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday morning in an interview with KAN news.

“All the options are still on the table, including entering Gaza and occupying it, out of consideration of what is best for Israel,” he told the radio station. “But that is the last option and not the first.”

A Top Progressive Consulting Firm Is Doing PR for an Israeli Spy Company

A prominent political communications shop that works on Democratic campaigns, employs Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton campaign alums, and boasts of its role in the fight for gun control and LGBT equality is representing an Israeli firm notorious for selling powerful surveillance technology to authoritarian governments around the world.

NSO Group, which is facing multiple lawsuits charging that its technology was used to spy on journalists and dissidents, hired SKDKnickerbocker to help with media inquiries as the spy firm tries to turn around its marred image.

The hiring, which was first reported by FastCompany, is the latest example of how SKDKnickerbocker is anything but progressive, despite the way it markets itself.

The agency, owned by a private equity firm run by former Clinton pollster Mark Penn, has done work for the LGBT group Human Rights Campaign and the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, but it has also taken on clients like Amazon and Starbucks. Still, SKDKnickberbocker’s decision to work for NSO Group despite its close ties to repressive governments in Mexico and the Middle East is particularly striking.

White nationalists from around the world are meeting in Finland

Far-right extremist groups from around the world have, for years, been quietly working behind the scenes to amplify their messaging through forging international alliances. And they’ll be building those bonds in person this weekend in Finland, at an event that underscores the growing internationalization of the white nationalist movement.

The second annual “Awakening” conference, to be held in the coastal city of Turku, comes less than a month after a shooting at two mosques in New Zealand left 50 dead. The suspected gunman, an Australian national, posted a manifesto online the day before the attack which revealed an intimate familiarity with the ideas and symbols of the modern far-right movement.

Terorrism experts said that the mosque shooting was more evidence that far-right extremism — despite its ideological fixation on national identity — now constitutes a growing global terror threat. ...

One of the most influential and extreme groups represented will be the National Corps, a Ukranian ultranationalist far-right group with more than 10,000 members. Olena Semenyaka, the international secretary for the group’s political wing, is listed as a speaker at the conference — and she’s made no secret of her vision for the movement’s future. ‘We think globally,” Semenyaka told Radio Free Europe last December. “It’s possible for far-right leaders to come to power now and — we hope — form a coalition.” Semenyaka said that she hopes her party will spearhead those efforts.

The National Corps, including its paramilitary wing, Azov, has already apparently forged ties with some far-right groups in the United States. Prosecutors say members of the Rise Above Movement (RAM), a white supremacist fight club linked to violence in Berkeley, California, and Charlottesville, Virginia, met with Semenyaka and participated in MMA events in Ukraine in 2018.

Theresa May partners with Corbyn over Brexit

Theresa May to make written Brexit offer to Jeremy Corbyn

Theresa May is expected to write to Jeremy Corbyn to set out the government’s offer on Brexit, with negotiations due to resume in Downing Street on Friday. With just five days to go before the prime minister must travel to Brussels to request a further Brexit delay from EU leaders, little progress appears to have been made on finding a compromise deal both Labour and the Conservatives can back.

But after the government delegation reported back to May on Thursday, officials began drafting a letter setting out a way forward. One government source suggested that, in accordance with Labour’s demands, it would include the proposal that a confirmatory referendum on any Brexit deal be offered to MPs as an option in any vote next week.

After Thursday’s discussions in Downing Street, Corbyn sent a note to Labour MPs, saying: “Agenda items were customs arrangements, single market alignment including rights and protections, agencies and programmes, internal security, legal underpinning to any agreements and confirmatory vote.” ...

Earlier in the week, May had hinted she was open to compromise on issues such as the customs union, with her attorney general, Geoffrey Cox, later saying it was something he could live with. A deal including a customs union would be explosive in the Conservative party as the majority of Tory MPs oppose such a move. Hardline Eurosceptic MPs are still furious, with many plotting moves against the prime minister, despite there being no formal Conservative party mechanism to move a motion of no confidence in her until December.

EU elections in UK: 'Could be great for remain camp'

San Francisco: residents of wealthy area shout down mayor over homeless shelter

A meeting to discuss a proposed homeless shelter in San Francisco devolved into chaos on Wednesday night, as attendees shouted, chanted, and heckled the mayor, London Breed. “I’m sorry this issue has divided this community,” said Breed, as she tried to assuage local fears over her plan to build a 200-bed Navigation Center in the Embarcadero, a wealthy waterfront neighborhood. The crowd interrupted with remarks like: “Build it at city hall!” Some stood and chanted, “We live here,” before walking out. Meanwhile, proponents of the project waved signs with big block letters that read: “Hate has no home here.”

The clashes came amid tension in a city struggling to house its roughly 7,500 homeless residents. Breed, who campaigned on developing aggressive solutions to the crisis, was met with swift pushback from the affluent area after she proposed the shelter last month. ... Two weeks ago, residents living in the neighborhood launched a GoFundMe, aiming to raise $100,000 for legal fees to defend local owners’ property rights and block the shelter. The fundraiser is inching close to its goal, with roughly $92,000 raised by 313 contributors, most of whom donated anonymously. ...

Wallace Lee, a spokesperson and organizer for the San Francisco Residents group behind the original fundraiser, said the frustration expressed at the meeting had been mischaracterized. “People felt like the whole thing was a dog and pony show and not really meant for community engagement,” he said, adding that he and others had hoped the mayor would consider their concerns. Instead, he said, she emphasized the reasons why the shelter was so badly needed. ...

But Jennifer Friedenback, the executive director for the Coalition on Homelessness, who was also at the meeting, cast the local residents’ actions in a different light. “The optics on this are stunning. You have very affluent land owners who are fighting against impoverished San Franciscans whose very lives are at risk because of the housing crisis,” she says. “And who are we talking about? Who is homeless? Primarily people of color, primarily folks who have disabilities or who are elderly people. To equate an entire class of people with crime is the foundation of prejudice.”

Progressives Fight Back Against Centrist Democrats' Ploy to 'Water Down' $15 Minimum Wage Bill

The Congressional Progressive Caucus is fighting back against an attempt by centrist Democrats to undercut the push for a $15 federal minimum wage with legislation that would allow lower hourly pay in "rural areas."

"We want to pass a full $15 minimum wage bill," Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) told Politico in an interview. "We're very clear about that. Being in Congress means leading, and we need to lead on minimum wage." Politico first reported Thursday that leaders of the Progressive Caucus are "lobbying fellow Democrats to help extinguish" the moderate faction's proposal, which is expected to be introduced on Thursday.

The moderates' legislation—led by Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Ala.)—would establish a "regional wage" adjusted to local cost of living, as opposed to the $15 federal minimum proposed by the Raise the Wage Act.

But Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), the lead author of the Raise the Wage Act, said a regional wage would harm low-income families. "Low-income areas would be locked in to lower wages," Scott told Politico. "We don't have differentiated payments for Social Security." An anonymous progressive aide echoed Scott, telling Politico that the "regional minimum wage proposal is a clear attempt to water down the Raise the Wage Act."

The inter-party dispute between centrists and progressives over the Raise the Wage Act comes after a recent survey sponsored by the National Employment Law Project found that 65 percent of voters in Democratic-led swing districts support raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. ...

On Thursday, Jayapal publicly criticized centrist DCCC chair Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) for her public attacks on the party's progressive wing, which is pushing for bold policies like a federal $15 minimum wage and Medicare for All.

Nationwide Campaign Urges Cities and Towns to Pass Resolutions Supporting Medicare for All

A coalition of progressive advocacy groups representing nurses, physicians, and consumer advocates launched a campaign Thursday to pressure cities and towns across the U.S. to pass resolutions supporting Medicare for All. "By passing resolutions, local governments can help to shape the national public narrative and build political will needed to ultimately win guaranteed healthcare for everyone as a matter of right," Melinda St. Louis, Medicare for All campaign director at Public Citizen, said in a statement.

In just the past month, the cities of Seattle, San Francisco, and Cambridge, Massachusetts, all passed resolutions backing Medicare for All.

"We hope to see many more local governments pass these critical resolutions, because we are beyond tired of seeing patients in our communities—who are our neighbors, friends, and family—suffer and die unnecessarily in our broken, profit-driven system," said Jean Ross, president of National Nurses United. "It's time for leadership at all levels to do what's right and strongly, publicly support Medicare for All." The local resolutions are non-binding, but Medicare for All campaigners said they are an important part of building grassroots momentum for a national single-payer system.

To help activists pressure their local representatives, the new campaign offers a step-by-step guide (pdf) to passing a Medicare for All resolution, sample resolution language, and an organizing toolkit.

Trump backtracks on border closure and levies new threat at Mexico

Donald Trump has scrapped his stated plan to close the border with Mexico, saying instead he would give the country a “one-year warning” and threatening tariffs on cars. Six days ago Trump said he would close the border this week, unless Mexico “immediately stop ALL illegal immigration coming into the United States through our southern border”.

But, speaking to reporters this afternoon, Trump backtracked on his border closure threat, which had been criticized by advisers and business leaders. “We’re going to give them a one-year warning, and if the drugs don’t stop or largely stop, we’re going to put tariffs on Mexico and products, particularly cars,” Trump said. “And if that doesn’t stop the drugs, we close the border.”

In his latest backtrack in recent days, Trump told reporters he would try the “less drastic measure” before resorting to his standing border-closure threat. ...

It was the latest, seemingly sudden attempt at new leverage by a president struggling to solve what his administration has called a border “crisis”. And it was a dramatic departure for Trump, who last week tweeted that he would close the border or large swaths of it this week unless Mexico immediately halted “ALL illegal immigration coming into the United States” – a seemingly impossible task.

ICE Is Teaming With North Carolina Republicans to Fight Pro-Immigrant Sheriffs

The First Amendment to the Constitution serves as something of a gauge for our national priorities. Embedded in there is the right of the people “to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” But what if the government itself is aggrieved? No government agency feels more under siege lately than U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and in North Carolina, it’s helping the government do something about that.

Over the course of four days in February, federal immigration officials arrested more than 220 undocumented people in North Carolina. They were retaliating against five newly elected sheriffs who had announced they would cut certain ties with ICE.

Republicans in the state legislature passed a bill Wednesday that would force sheriffs to cooperate with the agency. And ICE helped them to craft it. The North Carolina Sheriff’s Association announced that it opposed the bill hours before it passed.

“The GOP leaders are being very candid, very straight up in saying that they are introducing this bill because they have been in communication with ICE,” Stefania Arteaga told The Intercept. Arteaga is the statewide immigrant rights organizer with the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina. She also co-founded Comunidad Colectiva, a grassroots immigrant rights group working in Mecklenburg County, which includes Charlotte. Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden ran and won last year on ending the county’s participation in the controversial 287(g) program, which allowed voluntary participation between local law enforcement and ICE.

Now, federal immigration authorities are fighting back. “This is what ICE wants,” Arteaga said.



the horse race



Former DCCC Chair Distances From Controversial New Policy: “Different Leaders Have Different Approaches”

The former chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Rep. Ben Ray Luján, suggested Wednesday that the DCCC’s new policy to cut off vendors that work with primary challengers could undermine party unity, distancing himself from the controversial move. “I think different leaders have different approaches,” Luján, who is running for a U.S. Senate seat in New Mexico, said in an interview with The Intercept.

“The work that I always did during the four years that I was at the DCCC, I did my very best to bring together the Progressive Caucus, the New Dems, and the Blue Dogs,” Luján said, referring to the Congressional Progressive Caucus and two centrist, Wall Street-friendly caucuses. “Everyone participated in our leadership efforts. And really, the success that we had not only in flipping nine seats in 2016 and 43 seats in 2018, it’s because the entire [Democratic] caucus was a part of it. So I think it’s always important to bring people together and make sure that we’re all working together. And celebrating the diversity of ideas that we have. But in the end, we all have to be on the same team.” ...

Last week, leaders of the Progressive Caucus blasted the new policy in a meeting with DCCC Chair Cheri Bustos. Yet she isn’t backing down, even as opposition to the policy has mushroomed with outside progressive groups, as well as high-profile Democrats condemning it.

The consultant policy is a flashpoint in a larger debate over the future of the party, which pits two theories against each other. From the perspective of the DCCC, defending incumbents from the threat of primaries, even in deep-blue districts, is central to its mission. Progressives argue, however, that the DCCC’s squelching of internal debate results in a party unable to generate enthusiasm outside of wave years produced by anger at Republicans. For the DCCC, the party is good enough as it is. For a new wave of insurgents, only by reinventing itself can the party confront the twin, intertwined threats of a radicalized GOP and looming climate disaster — and time is running out. ...

Ocasio-Cortez said the policy was “extremely divisive & harmful to the party” and encouraged small-dollar donors to “pause your donations to DCCC & give directly to swing candidates instead.” Ocasio-Cortez, in working to build an alternative funding structure independent of the DCCC, raised money from supporters for several freshmen known as “front-liners,” meaning that they are facing competitive races next fall. ... Despite opposition within the House, party leaders, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, are standing firmly in support of the committee’s new policy.

Billionaire JP Morgan chief attacks socialism as 'a disaster'

The world’s most powerful banker has attacked socialism, saying it produces “stagnation, corruption and often worse”. JP Morgan chief executive Jamie Dimon took aim at socialism in his annual letter to shareholders, and warned it would be “a disaster for our country”.

Dimon, who was paid $31m last year as the head of America’s largest bank and who is estimated by Forbes to be worth $1.3bn, took his swipe as a new wave of left politics has emerged in the US. ...

Socialism is set to be one of the key issues of the 2020 election cycle. Donald Trump has already begun campaigning against socialism and used his State of the Union address to declare that “America will never be a socialist country.” ...

In his letter, Dimon acknowledged capitalism’s “flaws” but praised it as “the most successful economic system the world has ever seen”.

He wrote: “This is not to say that capitalism does not have flaws, that it isn’t leaving people behind and that it shouldn’t be improved. It’s essential to have a strong social safety net – and all countries should be striving for continuous improvement in regulations as well as social and welfare conditions.”


The Reluctance of Bernie Sanders to Release His Damn Tax Returns Is Part of a Bigger Issue

Why hasn’t Bernie Sanders just released his damn tax returns already?

It’s a question that’s something of a Rorschach test for Democratic primary voters. For veterans of the great war of 2016, who’ve been in the trenches battling Sanders for years, it’s exhibit A of his hypocrisy, evidence of a man who claims the moral high ground but is hiding something from the public — perhaps something disqualifyingly corrupt. There’s no evidence for this allegation, which fails to consider that Sanders has been filing rather detailed federal financial disclosures as a member of Congress since the early 1990s. For supporters of Sanders, meanwhile, the entire issue is a distraction, a way for the corporate media and centrist Democrats to undermine Sanders with trivial, horse-race nonsense.

The truth, though, is likely much simpler: By failing to release his tax returns despite repeated promises to do so any minute now, Sanders is being the stubborn curmudgeon he’s always been. ... Sanders refuses to engage with things that annoy him. But he is no longer a protest candidate and can no longer escape the old adage that you may not be interested in politics, but politics is interested in you. He’s running not to make a statement or drag the conversation to the left, but to be the leader of the most powerful country in the history of the world and to rescue it from its collision course with a dystopian future. People rightly want to know whether he has his act together enough to do that, particularly as they experience life under the presidency of a man who clearly does not.

Sanders’s refusal to bend on any issue, no matter how minor, may be endearing to his most passionate supporters, but he’s doing both them and the country a disservice. An unbending approach to minutiae harms not only him, but his movement — and begins to look selfish and entitled. A million people have raised their hands to volunteer to make Sanders president. They deserve more from him.



the evening greens

UN Panel Demands to Know What US Is Doing to Protect Human Rights Amid Climate Crisis

The world's oldest human rights panel took an historic step Thursday when it demanded to know what the U.S. has done to protect Americans and all people from the effects of the climate crisis. The U.N. Human Rights Committee asked the U.S. government to provide information on the policies it has implemented to defend the "right to life" from the changing climate.


The group's request reads:

Further clarify the State party's initiatives to address significant threats to the right to life posed by impacts of climate change such as flash floods, coastal flooding, wildfires, infectious disease, extreme heat and air pollution.

It's the first time the panel has called on any nation to specifically address the actions it has taken to ensure human rights are not being violated as the climate crisis contributes to extreme weather events, housing insecurity, and public health crises. The demand came as part of the United States' requirement to periodically report on human rights issues to the Committee.

Groups which have pushed President Donald Trump and previous administrations to drastically reduce carbon emissions and take other steps to stem the climate crisis issued their own responses on Thursday.

"As climate-related events across the United States have demonstrated again and again over the past few years, climate change is taking an increasing toll on human life," said Sébastien Duyck of the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL). "The request of the Human Rights Committee indicates that the U.S.'s international legal obligation to protect the right to life requires action to address the threats posed to that right caused by climate change."

Trump Pushes a New Pipeline Permit as Floods Devastate Native American Tribes

Three weeks after the flooding began on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, families still remain isolated, trapped in their homes by water and mud, even as the water has begun to subside. ... The Oglala Sioux tribe estimates that 1,500 people are displaced from their homes and 500 lack access to drinking water. Teams of young men on horseback and the occasional helicopter have been helping deliver food packages, water, and medical support to isolated homes. Farther north, 20-45 people have been staying in the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s community center every night, according to Waniya Locke, who lives on the reservation and has been assisting with rescue efforts. ...

On Tuesday, the Oglala Sioux Tribe joined the state legislature in calling on officials in Washington to declare a federal disaster in South Dakota, which would make available aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. “Rather than declaring emergencies that don’t exist, President Trump needs to pay attention to the ones that do,” said Tribal Chair Julian Bear Runner, in a statement referencing Trump’s declaration of a national emergency on the U.S. border with Mexico. “I call upon him to send us help before lives are further disrupted.” He also requested that Trump drop his efforts to expedite construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. On Friday, in the midst of the crisis, Trump issued a new presidential permit that would allow the pipeline to cross the Canadian border into the U.S. “Trump’s decision to ram KXL through while our families suffer feels like being kicked while we’re down,” Bear Runner said.

The same Native communities that have been hit hardest by Midwestern flooding are also some of the most vocally opposed to the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, which would pump up to 830,000 barrels of tar sands oil per day from Alberta, Canada, through Montana, South Dakota, and Nebraska. Many Oceti Sakowin people, known by the U.S. government as the Sioux, are concerned that the pipeline will leak, contaminating the rivers and waterways that provide the reservations’ drinking water and that lie within territory the U.S. government illegally swindled away more than a century ago. They’re also worried about the longer term climate impacts of continuing the production of dirty tar sands oil.

To opponents on Pine Ridge, the floods prove their point about the pipeline: Without a halt to fossil fuel extraction, the nation’s most vulnerable communities will pay the heaviest price for climate-fueled flooding, droughts, extreme weather, and ecosystem collapse. Scientists say the weather conditions that led to the flooding have become more likely because of climate change. “The use of fossil fuels has led to this extraordinary weather event and many other disasters,” Bear Runner said. “Keystone XL will only continue to exacerbate the cycle of destruction in the future.”

It’s not the only contentious decision that was finalized in the midst of the disaster. Last week, Gov. Kristi Noem signed into law two bills designed to help the state government pay for the costs of policing what are expected to be massive, Indigenous-led demonstrations if construction begins. One of the two laws, SB 189, creates new civil penalties for “riot boosting,” which would apply not only to riot participants but to anyone who “directs, advises, encourages, or solicits other persons participating in the riot to acts of force or violence.” The American Civil Liberties Union is suing South Dakota for infringing on the free speech rights of organizations including the Indigenous Environmental Network, Sierra Club, Dakota Rural Action, and the NDN Collective, all of which assert that the law will limit their ability to provide training and support to pipeline opponents.

Climate change group scrapped by Trump reassembles to issue warning

A US government climate change advisory group scrapped by Donald Trump has reassembled independently to call for better adaptation to the floods, wildfires and other threats that increasingly loom over American communities. ... Documents released under freedom of information laws subsequently showed the Trump administration was concerned about the ideological makeup of the panel. ...

The advisory group has since been resurrected, however, following an invitation from New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, and has been financially supported by Columbia University and the American Meteorological Society. It now has 20 expert members. ...

In its new report, the Science to Climate Action Network recommends the creation of a “civil-society-based climate assessment consortium” that would combine private and public interests to provide more localized help for communities menaced by floods, wildfires or other perils. “Imagine working in state or county government – you have a road that is flooding frequently and you get three design options all with different engineering,” Moss said. “You don’t have the capacity to know what is the best option to avoid flooding, you just know what costs more.

“Climate issues aren’t being raised in communities. They may know they are vulnerable but they don’t know whether to use, for example, wetlands or a flood wall to stop flooding. We need to establish best practices and guide people on how to apply that locally. This is extremely urgent. Every year that goes by means more people losing everything from flooding and fire, including the lives of loved ones. This needs to be addressed as rapidly as possible.”


Also of Interest

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

Specter of Far-Right Violence Haunts Crisis Talks Over Brexit

U.S. - Turkey Spat Intensifies

Highlighting Israel’s Claims of Conquest, NYT Creates Confusion on Status of Occupied Territory

Syria War Lobby that Hosted Genocide Advocate Campaigns to Censor Book Exposing Its Operations

Putin Claims to Have Sabotaged Mueller Report

Footage of Italian boy who stood up to fascists goes viral

Chernobyl’s disastrous cover-up is a warning for the next nuclear age

Visionary Study Shows How 30 Percent of World's Ocean Could Be Made Sanctuaries by 2030

Curtains opened on UN security council for first time since attack on Che Guevara


A Little Night Music

John Lee Hooker - Boom Boom/Hobo Blues

John Lee Hooker - King of the World

John Lee Hooker - No Shoes

John Lee Hooker - Tupelo

John Lee Hooker - Boogie Chillen

John Lee Hooker - Standin' At The Crossroads

John Lee Hooker & Canned Heat - Whiskey & Wimmen'

John Lee Hooker - Shake it Baby

John Lee Hooker - Chill Out (Things Gonna Change)

John Lee Hooker - Bottle Up And Go

John Lee Hooker - Mustang Sally Bought a GTO


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lotlizard's picture

https://www.dw.com/en/barack-obama-gets-rock-star-reception-in-germany/a...

This demonstrates better than anything what a piss-poor job German establishment media did for eight years, failing to inform people of the Obama administration’s actual record and effect on their lives, as opposed to glitzy feel-good images.

A large portion of the refugee crisis that started in 2015 is directly attributable to the Obama administration’s decisions to destabilize Syria and Libya. That’s not, however, something the average German who only follows mainstream news sources has been made aware of.

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joe shikspack's picture

@lotlizard

well, i suppose that you can't blame the german people too much. even here in the states where people got totally screwed by obama's handling of the banking crisis and countless other things, he gets a rockstar reception in a lot of places.

certainly u.s. media gave him a pass on most of the issues that mattered and the media that was unfavorable to him focused on things that are pretty much irrelevant.

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10 users have voted.
OLinda's picture

From Intercept article in essay: (by Ryan Grim)

Sanders is being the stubborn curmudgeon he’s always been. ... Sanders refuses to engage with things that annoy him.

I never thought of Bernie as stubborn or curmudgeonly. He seems open minded and tries to learn new things, for example Black Lives Matter, and when he got together with Killer Mike. I think he was trying to see sides he hadn't seen and learn.

Bernie's income might be higher than he has been indicating. Not that he lied, but he had book sales in 2016 and 2017, so it has probably gone up. He may be putting it off, but not because he's stubborn. Or did I miss this part of his personality?

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14 users have voted.

- - - -
If you don't like the Mafia, why don't you join it and change it from the inside?

@OLinda
. . . for 10 yrs and challenged Trump to do the same on The Daily Show

https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2019/04/05/bernie_sanders_import...

I don't really care that much if he does as long as he keeps voting down military budgets.

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11 users have voted.
OLinda's picture

@Wally

Thank you, Wally.

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6 users have voted.

- - - -
If you don't like the Mafia, why don't you join it and change it from the inside?

joe shikspack's picture

@OLinda

the intercept reporter that came up with the "curmudgeonly and stubborn" labels offered other possibilities that i didn't extract:

One possibility behind Sanders’s hesitancy is that the returns may show that he made actual money from his book about his 2016 campaign, and is now one of the millionaires, though not billionaires, that he routinely calls out. But the independent senator from Vermont resisted releasing his returns long before he published “Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In,” a New York Times best-seller.

and:

There are other, more practical reasons for having not yet released the returns. The Sanders family, unsurprisingly, doesn’t employ a professional tax adviser. The IRS does not make it easy to get old copies of tax returns, so Sanders needs to root around and find all the returns — some probably filled out by hand — and get them in order for release. That’s an annoying but not terribly difficult task to accomplish, and Sanders has had three years since 2016 to get it done.

i don't know any more than the reporter appears to why sanders has not yet released his taxes.

i don't imagine that anybody relishes the idea of the press rummaging through their tax returns. however, i suppose that if one were running for president, one would expect to have to do that - and putting it off as long as sanders has does put the questions in the public's mind as to what the hold up is. with trump, one immediately assumes that his obstruction is because he has something to hide as he gives every appearance of being utterly corrupt. what motivates sanders' reluctance is an open question.

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4 users have voted.
OLinda's picture

Jeremy Hunt and Amal Clooney agree to joint legal plan to defend media freedom at a G7 event in France.

U.K. Foreign Secretary ! Jeremy Hunt made the announcement. What timing. What irony. What hypocrisy. Now, if Amal came out in support of Assange, it might have some sway. She and George are probably part of The Resistance. At least George is? She is an independent person. Too bad she probably would not cross this line.

The High Level Panel of Legal Experts will examine legal and policy initiatives that states can adopt to improve media freedom including by:

• Offering advice to governments who want to strengthen legal mechanisms to improve media freedom;
• Supporting the repeal of outdated and draconian laws;
• Encouraging and supporting governments to help ensure existing laws and international obligations are enforced;
• Promoting best practice and model legislation to protect a vibrant free press.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said:
Violence against journalists has reached alarming levels globally and we cannot turn a blind eye.

The media has a crucial role to play in holding the powerful to account. There is no escaping the fact that draconian and outdated laws around the world are being used to restrict the ability of the media to report the truth.

Amal Clooney’s leading work on human rights means she is ideally placed to ensure this campaign has real impact for journalists and the free societies who depend on their work.
She will use her expertise to chair a panel comprising the world’s best legal minds to develop and promote legal mechanisms to prevent and reverse media abuses.

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8 users have voted.

- - - -
If you don't like the Mafia, why don't you join it and change it from the inside?

snoopydawg's picture

@OLinda

And George is part of the council on foreign relations. Not sure if Amal is though, but since they are a. couple I'd think the odds are good that she is.

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8 users have voted.

America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
- strife delivery

joe shikspack's picture

@OLinda

international law doesn't apply to the great powers. it's for those other countries. you know, the ones down there. the ones with all of the darker people.

Since the inception of the International Criminal Court more than a decade ago, only Africans have been brought to trial.

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7 users have voted.
Raggedy Ann's picture

I don't think Bernie should release his tax records. Herr Drumpf is not releasing his, so why should Bernie? It's a game - I think Bernie can play it better.

Ben Ray Lujan is going to run for Sen. Udall's seat, which is why he is distancing himself from the DCCC controversy - my guess, anyway. Udall announced his retirement and Ben Ray wants that job so he doesn't have to run every two years. 1) I hope he is challenged by a more progressive dem; and 2) I hope he doesn't get elected because he is an establishment dimorat.

Great John Lee Hooker tunes - and forgot to tell you how much I enjoyed Count Basie yesterday!

Looking forward to the weekend! Have a beautiful evening and weekend, folks! Pleasantry

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11 users have voted.

“The trouble [with injustice] is that once you see it, you can’t unsee it. And once you’ve seen it, keeping quiet, saying nothing, becomes as political an act as speaking out. There is no innocence. Either way, you’re accountable.”
-- Arundhati Roy

joe shikspack's picture

@Raggedy Ann

heh, have to disagree. i want all elected public servants to have to submit their taxes to scrutiny. it's a reasonable check. besides, trump is going to find out pretty soon that he really can't stop congress from getting his returns without creating a constitutional crisis.

heh, lujan wouldn't have been put in charge of the dccc if he was not an establishment democrat and also a big fundraiser. a progressive challenger would be a great idea in the current political climate, i think that even a novice challenger might have a shot against a less well known congressman.

have a great weekend!

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4 users have voted.
Raggedy Ann's picture

@joe shikspack
these politicians should put their returns out for public scrutiny and I know Bernie will comply. I just get pissed at that bastard for his straight up refusal. Seething.

Anyway, I hope you’re right about a challenger for Lujan. I know a progressive thinking about jumping in. He has no name recognition but if he’s determined to challenge the narrative, he might stand a chance to defeat Lujan.

Ditto!

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3 users have voted.

“The trouble [with injustice] is that once you see it, you can’t unsee it. And once you’ve seen it, keeping quiet, saying nothing, becomes as political an act as speaking out. There is no innocence. Either way, you’re accountable.”
-- Arundhati Roy

detroitmechworks's picture

in their ability to say "Screw you, I got Mine" to almost every issue. But then, take a look at the politicians they send to Washington, and you're no longer surprised. Even if you only go with the Executive Branch.

So, I'll give you the short version of the "Concerns" that I know the property owners have.

1. Poor are gonna be on the streets near the shelter.
- Yup, always a problem. Course I know that the Rich prefer them out of SIGHT as well as out of mind. Tents don't look good in the tourist section as many cities that refuse to actually do something about this are finding out. So, you've really got a choice, property owners. Do something now. Or wait. And have it done to you.

2. It'll Lower Property Values.
- Fuck you.

3. Drugs and Crime because of 1 and 2.
- Well, if food, jobs and self actualization were possible... maybe those might drop a bit. But hey, feel free to do what the rich have always done. Hire guards and complain about the rabble. How's that working for you so far?

4. It Encourages Laziness.
-See #2.

5. But What about the Children, because I know somebody would have brought it up.
- That's a great question. Let's go into that, shall we? Let's start by talking about homeless children and the sacrifices parents have to make to ensure they have... wait, oh you're talking about your children? See #2.

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14 users have voted.

I do not pretend I know what I do not know.

snoopydawg's picture

@detroitmechworks

I know that the Rich prefer them out of SIGHT as well as out of mind. Tents don't look good in the tourist section as many cities that refuse to actually do something about this are finding out.

This ain't happening now there anyway because there are so many people who are homeless that they are spread out. Might not see many tents, but you do see many RV's parked wherever people can find a spot for them.

Well, if food, jobs and self actualization were possible... maybe those might drop a bit.

Bingo. If people who are able to work get paid a living salary then they would be off the streets which would make rich people happy. If unable to work put them in housing anyway with support from social programs and social behavioral help. Then they are off the streets. Salt Lake City did that with its homeless and its been great for everyone.

The best thing to do to get people back in homes is a debt forgiveness including student loans and watch the economy soar. (I think) Next thing that needs to happen is to remove Pelosi, Schumer and many others from congress and get single payer passed. Nancy is telling lies about MFA again and is being called on it. BrB with the story.

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12 users have voted.

America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
- strife delivery

joe shikspack's picture

@detroitmechworks

wealthy liberals may be charitable people, but that doesn't mean that they want to rub elbows with the recipients of their charity any more than republicans do. i find them a pretty disgusting bunch.

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6 users have voted.
NCTim's picture

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6 users have voted.

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself. - Friedrich Nietzsche -

joe shikspack's picture

@NCTim

how's it going?

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3 users have voted.

Hope you are enjoying the evening.

San Fransisco, home to Haight Ashbury, the cynosure of the hippie movement of the 1960s, is angry about a housing project?

I may be beginning to understand why they keep electing Pelosi.

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10 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@HenryAWallace

gentrification is an ugly thing.

have a great weekend.

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7 users have voted.
Shahryar's picture

@HenryAWallace

we moved from SF to Portland and found that Portland was like the SF 50s/60s. Sort of. But that was 29 years ago and it's changed. Now even Portland isn't that so you can imagine that SF, which was already vastly different in the late 80s from what it had been in the 60s.

But you probably know that.

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8 users have voted.

@Shahryar

Thanks Shah.

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3 users have voted.

Even the corporate talking heads at MSDNC are starting to realize this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9Y5DtpECxk

He has a much better chance this time around and the MSM is freaking.

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12 users have voted.

@Wally
is so early that Bernie might be the only candidate who has raised enough cash to do a serious media buy.

the thing is ... i think (as i've always argued) that's a loser strategy. he should spend the money on field offices, not TV ads. everybody in california already knows who he is, he just needs to mobilize voters -- especially so early in the primary campaign voting.

but it's unsurprising to hear a bunch of media teat-suckers pushing the importance of spending on mass market media.

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9 users have voted.

The earth is a multibillion-year-old sphere.
The Nazis killed millions of Jews.
On 9/11/01 a Boeing 757 (AA77) flew into the Pentagon.
AGCC is happening.
If you cannot accept these facts, I cannot fake an interest in any of your opinions.

joe shikspack's picture

@Wally

it's kind of funny how the msdnc talking heads are fixated on "bernie's money." sure you need money if you want to get on the teevee in expensive markets like california, but when sanders can draw tens of thousands of people to his rallies, it starts to make teevee less relevant. further, it will probably make it much harder for the california clintonbots to steal the election from him.

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7 users have voted.

@joe shikspack

. . . and in general trying to instill fear of the Bern into their viewer, inflating him into terrible threat to their well-being. They're playing off the Bernie of the Left = Trump of the Right line others are taking.

I stopped watching MSDNC back in 2016 the night of the Michigan primary when Jonanathan Capehart and Joy Ann Reid launched their nasty "That's not Bernie in the picture!" bullshit.

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3 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

Pelosi Accused of Deploying 'Most Dishonest Argument' Against Medicare for All

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi came under fire from single-payer proponents Thursday after she deployed what one healthcare policy expert described as "probably the most dishonest argument in the entire Medicare for All debate."

In an interview with the Washington Post, the Democratic leader said she is "agnostic" on Medicare for All and claimed, "A lot of people love having their employer-based insurance and the Affordable Care Act gave them better benefits."
....
"This then is contrasted with a Medicare for All transition where people will lose their employer-based insurance as part of being shifted over to an excellent government plan," Bruenig wrote. "But the truth is that people who love their employer-based insurance do not get to hold on to it in our current system. Instead, they lose that insurance constantly, all the time, over and over again. It is a complete nightmare."
....
"We all share the value of healthcare for all Americans—quality, affordable healthcare for all Americans," Pelosi told the Post. "What is the path to that? I think it's the Affordable Care Act, and if that leads to Medicare for All, that may be the path."

Never mind that the ACA has left millions off getting health insurance or has made insurance more affordable. High premiums and $6-10,000 deductibles is not affordable for many. But keeping the ACA intact is now the goal for democrats and their supporters. This is one reason why republicans keep trying to do away with it. Instead of trying to improve on it like we were told democrats would do after it passed congress is going to do everything in their power to keep us from having decent health care.

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13 users have voted.

America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
- strife delivery

snoopydawg's picture

@snoopydawg

Of course Pelosi's baby the ACA has failed. It was designed to do so from the get go. Nancy isn't being stubborn. She's beiing exactly what she is paid to do by the insurance and pharmaceutical companies. There's a reason she is worth $100 million. On a $174 year salary. The math don't add up here.

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12 users have voted.

America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
- strife delivery

joe shikspack's picture

@snoopydawg

not only is it a dishonest argument from pelosi, she is a terrible liar. nobody really believes that she is "agnostic" on medicare for all.

what a maroon.

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8 users have voted.

the work you do every day to bring us these reports is simply priceless. You are a treasure.

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10 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@Linda Wood

aw shucks. thanks! Smile

have a great weekend!

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4 users have voted.

Never understood his brand of blues till we saw him, up close and personal, in a whiskey dive down NOLA way early '80s. Cool blue cat. Mean black snake. How, how, how, how. Amazing to see his style was set already way back in the 60's.

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5 users have voted.

May we be united and strong -- laurel

joe shikspack's picture

@QMS

it's always a pleasure to put together the john lee hooker feature when its time comes around, glad you liked it, too.

have a great weekend!

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5 users have voted.

april fools day stuff 4 days after the fact!

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5 users have voted.

The earth is a multibillion-year-old sphere.
The Nazis killed millions of Jews.
On 9/11/01 a Boeing 757 (AA77) flew into the Pentagon.
AGCC is happening.
If you cannot accept these facts, I cannot fake an interest in any of your opinions.

joe shikspack's picture

@UntimelyRippd

i submit that in america, it's always groundhog day and it always falls on april 1.

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6 users have voted.

I think of your efforts this way:
I live a life, deal with life in the day, in this place where I live and work.
Then, I read your essays, put my life, my dealings locally, in a global perspective.
The realizations are almost always depressing, but there are also glimmers of hope.
Some days, the only glimmers of any hope come from your research.

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10 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@on the cusp

thanks! some days i tell myself, "it's always darkest before the dawn." that gets me through some of the less glimmering days.

have a great weekend!

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7 users have voted.
dystopian's picture

Great John Lee Hooker... he was awesome... he was deceptively fast. Let that boy boogie woogie... Boogie Chillen was so influential. ZZ pulled a great version off live... and funny Slim Harpo had his Boogie Chilern, and Shake your Hips, in the same style. Then the Stones did Shake your Hips on Exile of course... as did Peter Green's Splinter Group: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=beMEldHHaUM

I was glad when the Stones had Hooker for a song or two on a tour, late 80's maybe, the one with the video of a Hapmton Roads VA show (w/Clapton), maybe it was 87 or something?

I fear for Julian, not to mention a free press and what's that damn piece of paper, oh yeah the Constitution.

34 bases in Africa - because of the threat they are to us here, nearly a thousand around the world, and poor bully Bolton's panties are in a bind over a hundred Russians in Venezuela. I would would say the mission was a success.

So the Dems want to water down what is not even really a living minimum wage of $15/hr.? How will they find the time to fight Medicare for All? Oh look here, it is 10 similarly named shit bills that protect the status quo. With Bait-o O'dork leading the way.

Jamie Dimon is such a wanker, "most succesful system", for the fewest people, he left off.

Have a great weekend, thanks for all the great tunes!

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10 users have voted.

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
both - Albert Einstein

joe shikspack's picture

@dystopian

i found a video on youtube that was from 19 december 1989 in atlantic city, nj that had jlh, the stones and clapton.

yep, i am concerned about assange, too. i think that moreno's transparently stupid arguments the other day may have backfired and made it more difficult for him to justify kicking assange out of the embassy. but, it's clear that the groundwork is in place to deliver assange unto evil.

heh, the russians have to be enjoying bolton's impotent rage.

have a great weekend!

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7 users have voted.
mimi's picture

is reading like an April Fools plot by Putin. It came out April 3rd, so it wasn't ?
Call me frustrated and confused. I think I have to ask Angie what she thinks about Putin rambling along about his heroic plots with Drumpelstiltzchen ... Wink

As for why only Africans have been put on trial at the ICC:

Since the inception of the International Criminal Court more than a decade ago, only Africans have been brought to trial.

May be because Africans know themselves and their brothers a little bit more intimately than the non-Africans and fear to be betrayed by them more than by those international figures in the court. So for them the ICC was a place they pushed harder to get some of their 'brothers' on trial to attempt to get the justice they sought, instead of trying to do the same in their own countries. It is way more dangerous than it would be for their white brothers in white countries to seek justice for their white evil-doing brothers.

Sometimes thinking in terms of white and black isn't that wrong, but of course you can't do that...you would have to know who is the blackest among the black and the whitest among the white and when the yellows mix up the colors, it is time to go to bed and take a nap.

Good Morning. and yes, Joe is doing a very valuable job, day in and day out. But I repeat myself.

Btw I remember how in the late sixties the US and the Sowjet Union competed against each other for getting 'some African future potential leaders' on their side. Nothing has changed much some sixty years later. Same old, same old. Nowadays they are so scared to not have influence on them Africans, that they rather build some more or less secret bases everwhere on the African map, just to make sure, them Africans comply with their wishes if needed be....

I suggest to sleep in your own bed with your own brothers ... to avoid kabuki drama queens and jealousy crimes among them hotheaded males.

As you can see ... I see nothing.

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6 users have voted.