The Evening Blues - 5-13-16


Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features Chicago blues piano player Detroit Junior. Enjoy!

Detroit Junior - If I hadn't been high

"What has happened at Guantanamo Bay... does not represent the will of the American people. I'm embarrassed about it, I think its wrong. I think it does give terrorists an unwarranted excuse to use the despicable means to hurt innocent people."

-- Jimmy Carter

News and Opinion

Secret area of Guantánamo could be opened to UN watchdog for first time

The most secret corner of Guantánamo Bay could be opened up to the UN torture watchdog for the first time, if an audacious legal gambit succeeds.

Attorneys for Ammar al-Baluchi, one of the accused 9/11 co-conspirators facing a military tribunal at Guantánamo Bay, will request on Thursday that the judge in the case order access to Guantánamo’s Camp 7 – where he and other detainees formerly in brutal CIA custody reside practically incommunicado – for Juan Mendez, the UN’s special rapporteur on torture.

They contend that depriving Mendez of access to Camp 7 also deprives Baluchi of evidence relevant to his defense, including his claims of torture, as he is seeking to prevent statements he made in detention that he says were coerced from being used against him during his military commission. ...

Attorneys for Baluchi – who was tortured by the CIA in its undisclosed “black site” prisons, as documented in a 2014 Senate report – gamble that Mendez could win the support of the military judge in their case, Army Col James Pohl, in order to fend off persistent allegations of torture at Guantánamo.

Baluchi’s attorneys have the backing of prominent members of the US national security and international human rights establishment. Alberto Mora, the former chief lawyer for the navy who fought the Donald Rumsfeld Pentagon over torture at Guantánamo, will tell the tribunal that concerns over ongoing torture or abuse at Guantánamo are “extremely troubling”. “A visit by Special Rapporteur Mendez would help by either identifying any such abuse or disproving that it is taking place,” Mora writes in a declaration for the court.

Thomas Pickering, a longtime US ambassador and senior State Department official, will tell the court that restricting Mendez’s access to Guantánamo “is detrimental to our national security”, preventing the rapporteur from ensuring compliance with international standards against torture. Nigel Simon Rodley, one of Mendez’s predecessors in the UN post, writes that he used to receive support from the US against countries that refused him access to prisoners.

Declassified documents detail 9/11 commission's inquiry into Saudi Arabia

Investigators for the 9/11 commission would later describe the scene in Saudi Arabia as chilling.

They took seats in front of a former Saudi diplomat who, many on the commission’s staff believed, had been a ringleader of a Saudi government spy network inside the US that gave support to at least two of the 9/11 hijackers in California in the year before the 2001 attacks.

At first, the witness, 32-year-old Fahad al-Thumairy, dressed in traditional white robes and headdress, answered the questions calmly, his hands folded in front of him. ... Even as he continued to deny any link to terrorists, Thumairy became angry and began to sputter when confronted with evidence of his 21 phone calls with another Saudi in the hijackers’ support network – a man Thumairy had once claimed to be a stranger. “It was so clear Thumairy was lying,” a commission staffer said later. “It was also so clear he was dangerous.”

An interrogation report prepared after the questioning of the Saudi diplomat in February 2004 is among the most tantalizing of a sheaf of newly declassified documents from the files of the staff of the 9/11 commission. The files, which were quietly released by the National Archives over the last 18 months and have drawn little public scrutiny until now, offer a detailed chronology of how the commission’s staff investigated allegations of Saudi government involvement in 9/11, including how the panel’s investigators flew to Saudi Arabia to go face-to-face with some of the Saudis believed to have been part of the hijackers’ support network on American soil. ...

A former commission staff member said in an interview last week that the material in the newly released files largely duplicates information from “the 28 pages”, as they are commonly known in Washington, and then goes well beyond it.

Speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of angering his former colleagues, he said he was annoyed that so much attention has been focused on “the 28 pages” when, in fact, the commission had full access to the congressional report and used it as a roadmap to gather new evidence and witness accounts that demonstrated sinister connections between low-level Saudi government officials and a terrorist support network in southern California.

US missile shield: Romania defence site goes live amid Russian criticism

Terrorism Is Profitable for US Weapons Manufacturers

The National Priorities Project recently sent out an email with the subject line, "Terrorism means business, if you're a defense contractor." The message bluntly states:

If you're a defense contractor, terrorism means business, and business is good.

According to recent reports, the corporate defense behemoth Lockheed Martin's revenue rose 15.7% and shares rose 1.5% following the news that President Obama was committing an additional 250 troops in Syria. 

Lockheed Martin was the biggest federal contract in 2014, pulling in more than $32 billion in federal contracts, including $25 billion in Pentagon contracts. Its federal haul makes it practically an honorary state.

In fact, the Project states that the contracts received by Lockheed Martin in 2014 exceed federal grants allotted to each individual state, with the exceptions of the high-population states of California, New York and Texas.

... All of this must, as the National Priorities Project notes, make the arms manufacturers elated -- to see terrorism literally pay, in terms of profits and multi-billion dollar contracts from the Pentagon and CIA.

After all, in the absence of new declared wars -- for the moment -- how would the military-industrial-intelligence complex prosper without the so-called "war on terrorism”?

In the war on terror, one often can't tell if the US is intentionally creating terrorism, or just ineptly wasting taxpayer dollars so corporations can profit and militarized bureaucracies can flourish.

US Has Established Two Military Outposts in Libya

Adding to the details about the US deployment of special forces into Libya to prepare for a ground invasion of the country, officials today revealed that two “military outposts” have been established in the country since late 2015, each containing “fewer than 25” troops.

Details are scant, but the bases are said to be located near Misrata and Benghazi, respectively. It is noteworthy that neither of these areas are under the control of either of the UN-backed governments, though Misrata is largely aligned with the Tripoli parliament, a third government that the UN doesn’t recognize.

Syria’s Central Bank Scrambles to Stop Currency Collapse

With a large chunk of the country under the control of various rebel factions, it is perhaps unsurprising that the Syrian Pound is not what it once was. The Damascus Central Bank, however, is scrambling to try to prop up the currency in recent days, amid another precipitous fall. ...

In practice, of course, a lot of the currency fall isn’t related to supply, but to the likelihood of the Assad government collapsing, rendering the currency effectively worthless. Across the country, a lot of people are using other currencies, in particular the US dollar, instead.

Obama Broke Pledge to Demand Syrian Opposition's Separation From Nusra Front

The gradual erosion of the cease-fire in Syria over the past month is the result of multiple factors shaping the conflict, but one of the underlying reasons is the Obama administration's failure to carry out its commitment to Russia to get US-supported opposition groups to separate themselves physically from the Nusra Front -- the al-Qaeda organization in Syria.

US Secretary of State John Kerry made the promise to separate the groups as part of the understandings underlying the February 22 cease-fire, but never delivered on it. And by the time Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov finished negotiating on how to make the "cessation of hostilities" more effective in the Syrian city of Aleppo on May 2, the Obama administration had effectively withdrawn that concession completely. ...

The administration's vacillation on the issue reflects the reality that the US-supported armed opposition has no intention to withdraw from its close military collaboration with Nusra Front. It also reflects deep divisions within the administration over Syria policy. Obama has leaned toward working with Russia on a cease-fire as an alternative to reliance on the armed opposition to put pressure on Bashar al-Assad, but senior officials in the Pentagon, CIA and US State Department remain strongly committed to ramping up military assistance to anti-Assad forces. ...

The Russians agreed to refrain from air attacks on Nusra Front forces until the expected physical separation could be carried out. That concession explains the relative paucity of Russian air attacks against the Nusra Front zones in Aleppo and Idlib provinces from late February through March. ...

But Lavrov complained publicly in mid-April that, despite repeated promises by the United States to get the moderates to move away from Nusra Front forces, "those promises are still not fulfilled. A week later, Kerry confirmed Lavrov's accusation, telling The New York Times editorial board that "it was harder to separate them than we thought."

Amid Ongoing Conflict in Syria, Activists Work to Keep Alive Revolutionary Spirit of 2011 Uprising

State Department Fails to Vet or Monitor Military Aid to Egypt

The U.S isn’t sufficiently vetting the sale of weapons to the repressive government of Egypt, and doesn’t know enough about how those weapons are being used – including night vision goggles and riot control weapons.

According to a new report by the Government Accountability Office, the State Department also fails to consistently conduct legally-required review of the Egyptian forces that are supplied and trained by the U.S..

The U.S. government has sent Egypt more than $6.4 billion in military aid since 2011, which has been used to purchase F-16 jets, Apache helicopters, tanks, explosives, and police equipment.

The U.S. government has bankrolled the Egyptian military for decades, propping up the rule of longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak. But the aid was widely criticized after 2013, when a military coup deposed Egypt’s new democratically elected President, Mohammed Morsi. To skirt a law banning aid to coup regimes, the State Department has refused to call what happened a “coup.”

Interview With BDS Co-Founder Omar Barghouti: Banned by Israel From Traveling, Threatened With Worse

Despite having lived in Israel for 22 years with no criminal record of any kind, Omar Barghouti (above) was this week denied the right to travel outside the country. As one of the pioneers of the increasingly powerful movement to impose boycotts, sanctions and divestment measures (BDS) on Israel, Barghouti, an articulate, English-speaking activist, has frequently traveled around the world advocating his position. The Israeli government’s refusal to allow him to travel is obviously intended to suppress his speech and activism. ...

The travel denial came after months of disturbing public threats directed at him by an Israeli government that has grown both more extreme and more fearful of BDS’s growing international popularity. In March, Israel’s Interior Minister Aryeh Deri threatened to revoke Barghouti’s residency rights, explicitly admitting that this was in retaliation for his speech and advocacy: “he is using his resident status to travel all over the world in order to operate against Israel in the most serious manner . . . . he took advantage of our enlightened state to portray us as the most horrible state in the world.”

Sarah Leah Whitson of Human Rights Watch told The Electronic Intifada that “Israel’s refusal to renew Barghouti’s travel document appears to be an effort to punish him for exercising his right to engage in peaceful, political activism, using its arsenal of bureaucratic control over Palestinian lives.” She added: “Israel has used this sort of control to arbitrarily ban many Palestinians from traveling, as well as to ban international human rights monitors, journalists and activists from entering Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.”

But the threats to Barghouti from the Israeli Government extend far beyond his right to travel. Last month, Amnesty International issued an extraordinary warning that the group “is concerned for the safety and liberty” of Barghouti, citing threats from Israeli Minister of Transport, Intelligence and Atomic Energy Yisrael Katz who called on Israel to engage in “targeted civil eliminations” of BDS leaders with the help of Israeli intelligence. As Amnesty noted, “the term alludes to ‘targeted assassinations’ which is used to describe Israel’s policy of targeting members of Palestinian armed groups.”

With Rousseff Out, Brazil's Interim President Installs Conservative All-White, All-Male Cabinet

'Trust me': Michel Temer takes over as interim Brazil president

Brazil’s interim president, Michel Temer, has unveiled an all-male, conspicuously white cabinet to run one of the world’s most ethnically diverse nations as he promised to restore confidence in Latin America’s biggest economy.

Following the suspension of Dilma Rousseff, the country’s first female president, the new head of state called for unity and said his primary task was to form a government of “national salvation” that could restore Brazil’s credibility so it could attract investment.

“Trust me,” he said in his inaugural speech at the Planalto presidential palace. “Trust the values of our people and our ability to recuperate the economy.”

His message came a few hours after he was accused of treachery by his former running mate Rousseff, who claimed she was forced out of office by “sabotage”, “open conspiracy” and a “coup”.

In a sign of his commitment to austerity, Temer has slashed the number of cabinet posts from 31 to 22. But he may find it hard to cut other costs ahead of municipal elections and with unemployment already in double digits.

Whether this tough task can be achieved will depend largely on new finance minister Henrique Meirelles, who gained considerable kudos as central bank president under the first two Workers’ party governments. He will be charged with reining in expenses and encouraging other ministers to push ahead with privatisation, outsourcing and weakening stringent labour and pension laws.

Four Americans prosecuted for playing the home version of, "The Hillary Clinton SOS Game."

Americans Accused of Trying to Overthrow Gambia's President Sentenced in Minnesota Court

Four American citizens accused of helping to plan a failed coup in the Gambia against President Yahya Jammeh more than a year ago have been sentenced by a Minnesota judge, the first conviction under the country's Neutrality Act in 35 years. [The Neutrality Act, a law enacted in 1974, prevents US citizens from taking action against a friendly nation.]

The individuals include Texas businessman Cherno Njie, who allegedly funded the operation; Minnesota resident Papa Faal; and 41-year-old Alagie Barrow. ... The fourth defendant, US-based Gambian activist Banka Manneh, was indicted after a separate investigation accused him of assisting with the coup plot. ...

"These men placed countless innocents in harm's way when they engaged in a brazen and fatally flawed attempt at regime change," US Attorney Andrew M. Luger said after the sentencing in Minnesota on Thursday, NBC reported. "They violated US laws that exist to protect the foreign policy of our country and all Americans both at home and abroad."

Mozilla Wants Heads-Up From FBI on Tor Browser Hack

The FBI took over a dark web child-pornography site called Playpen last year and, rather than shut it down, used a secret, still-undisclosed vulnerability in the Tor Browser to install malware on the computers of more than 1,000 users that allowed the FBI to determine their locations.

But in Tacoma, Washington, lawyers for a school administrator caught in the dragnet have successfully demanded the right to review the malware in order to pursue their argument that it, rather than he, was responsible for the illicit material ending up on his computer. ...

Mozilla, the organization behind Firefox, has long worried that the Tor Browser vulnerability might still be out there, could be exploited by bad actors, and could exist in Firefox, which is much more widely used than the Tor Browser.

So while it seems likely that the FBI will go to great lengths not to turn over the code – possibly dropping the case altogether – Mozilla’s top lawyer Denelle Dixon-Thayer is now arguing “that the government must disclose the vulnerability to us before it is disclosed to any other party.”

Judge rules for House GOP in ObamaCare suit

In a major ruling, Judge Rosemary Collyer, an appointee of President George W. Bush, said the administration does not have the power to spend money on "cost sharing reduction payments" to insurers without an appropriation from Congress. ...

At issue are billions of dollars paid to insurance companies participating in ObamaCare so they can reduce customers' out-of-pocket costs, such as deductibles for low-income people.

The House GOP argued that the administration was unconstitutionally spending money on these payments without Congress's approval.

But the administration said it did not need an appropriation from Congress because the funds were already guaranteed by the healthcare reform law in the same section as its better-known tax credits that help people pay for coverage.

Collyer ruled that the section only appropriated funds for tax credits and said the cost sharing reductions require a separate congressional appropriation, which the administration does not currently have.

US Planning Month of Raids to Deport Hundreds of Central American Moms and Kids

US immigration officials are planning a month-long series of raids in May and June to deport hundreds of Central American mothers and children found to have entered the country illegally, according to sources and an internal document seen by Reuters.

The operation would likely be the largest deportation sweep targeting immigrant families by the administration of President Barack Obama this year after a similar drive over two days in January that focused on Georgia, Texas, and North Carolina.

Those raids, which resulted in the detention of 121 people, mostly women and children, sparked an outcry from immigration advocates and criticism from some Democrats, including the party's presidential election frontrunner Hillary Clinton.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has now told field offices nationwide to launch a 30-day "surge" of arrests focused on mothers and children who have already been told to leave the United States, the document seen by Reuters said. The operation would also cover minors who have entered the country without a guardian and since turned 18 years of age, the document said. Two sources confirmed the details of the plan.

The exact dates of the latest series of raids were not known and the details of the operation could change.

Myth of the Ferguson Effect Is Hard to Kill

The myth of the widely debunked “Ferguson effect” on policing is hard to kill. FBI Director James Comey once again raised the specter of the impact of protests against police brutality on police effectiveness yesterday, when he made comments suggesting that a spike in violent crime in some cities may be correlated to officers’ fear of doing their jobs because of community hostility and the growing popularity of cop watching.

“What I’m talking about is sort of the viral video effect,” Comey told reporters. “Changes in the way police may be acting and in the way communities may be acting in terms of how much information they share with police could well be at the heart of this or could well be an important factor in this.”

Comey, who in the past has spoken sensationally about a “chill wind blowing through law enforcement,” and has been widely criticized for making his allegations with zero data to back them up, was once again vague with his fear mongering. Crime experts say his alarm doesn’t square with the numbers. ...

Michael Wood Jr., a former Baltimore police officer turned advocate for police reform also questioned Comey’s assumption that less aggressive policing leads to more crime. “Comey’s position is that if the armed enforcement wing of the government takes its boot off the neck of the public, just a little, then we will just become killers,” he wrote in an email to The Intercept, citing the example of cities like New York where less aggressive policing has actually led to a decline in crime — a decline that remains unchanged despite significant protests against police violence in recent years.

The problem with the FBI director’s statements is that there is “a lack of science,” he charged. “Comey is making a claim of which there is no evidence to support, he is pushing an ideology.” After Ferguson, the FBI promised to compile data on “officer involved” incidents, but that hasn’t happened yet and lack of consistent data across police departments remains one of the largest obstacles to serious reform.

Alabama Prison Strike Organizer Speaks from Behind Bars: We Are Engaged in a Struggle for Our Lives

Alabama governor signs bill to regulate abortion clinics like sex offenders

Alabama’s Republican governor, Robert Bentley, signed a bill into law on Thursday that will regulate abortion clinics like sex offenders.

The bill, SB 205, could shut down two clinics in which the vast majority of the state’s abortions occur. One of the clinics, Alabama Women’s Center for Reproductive Alternatives in Huntsville, was temporarily closed in June 2014 as a result of Trap (targeted restriction on abortion provider) laws in the state when it was determined that the facility could not be retrofitted to comply with the laws’ building code regulations. Its new building, however, sits across the street from Huntsville’s Academy for Academics and Arts, a K-8 school, making it vulnerable once again to shutdown under the newly signed law.

SB 205 mandates that abortion clinics be more than 2,000ft (600 meters) from any public school serving children elementary through middle school age, the same kind of restriction required of registered sex offenders.

Auction for George Zimmerman's gun hits $65m before bidder account deleted

Leading bidder ‘Racist McShootFace’ has account deleted after online auction on website for United Gun Group appears to be hijacked

Bidding in an online auction for the pistol that George Zimmerman used to kill Trayvon Martin appears to have been hijacked by fake accounts posting astronomically high bids.

At one point early on Friday, the bidding surpassed $65m with the leading bidder using the screen name “Racist McShootFace”. The site later showed that account had been deleted.

The website for United Gun Group began hosting the auction on Thursday after another website,, took down the auction saying it wanted “no part in the listing on our website or in any of the publicity it is receiving”.

Hours later, United Gun Group tweeted that it would post Zimmerman’s ad. The new link was posted, along with a statement from Zimmerman. The site calls itself a “social market place for the firearms community”.

the horse race

Following Sanders' Lead, Obama Endorses National Voting Holiday

Prompted by a student journalist to address the consistent low turnout in U.S. elections, President Obama this week endorsed the idea of a national voting holiday, an idea most prominently put forth at the federal level by Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

Creating a national holiday for voting—which would give working people, parents, students, and the population at-large better poll access—has long been a policy proposal for voting rights activists who argue that single-day voting disenfranchises millions of people each year. Though not the only needed reform to lift turnout, experts argue (and evidence shows) it would go a long way toward expanding civic participation.

As Common Dreams reported at the time, Sen. Sanders in 2014 proposed a national "Democracy Day" designed to increase turnout and as a direct counter to Republican-led efforts to suppress voting nationwide.

Trump Slams US Wars in the Middle East

There are good reasons to harbor serious reservations about The Donald, given that he changes his position as frequently as most people change their clothes. But so far, he has been consistent in making an argument that is sorely underrepresented in the media and in policy circles: that our war-making in the Middle East has been a costly disaster with no upside to the US. Trump even cites, without naming him, Joe Stiglitz’s estimate that our wars have cost at least $4 trillion.

As Lambert put it, “I hate it when Trump is right.”

If you think Trump is overstating his case on Hillary’s trigger-happiness, read this New York Times story, How Hillary Clinton Became a Hawk.

Clinton Cash film aims to cause likely Democratic nominee maximum damage

When delegates to the Democratic national convention gather in Philadelphia at the end of July to – almost certainly – nominate Hillary Clinton as their presidential candidate, they may be in for a bit of a surprise. The night before the opening ceremonies, a film will be premiered in the city that portrays her in a very different light from the official biography.

Clinton Cash is an hour-long cinematic version of the book of the same name that caused quite a stir when it was published a year ago. In lurid images of blood-splattered dollars fluttering down over warlords in conflict zones, accompanied by a menacing soundtrack worthy of a horror classic, the film seeks to distill in punchy form the central message of the book: that Hillary and Bill Clinton, since leaving the White House famously “dead broke” in 2001, have amassed a vast fortune of more than $200m by blurring the lines between public office, their philanthropic foundation, lucrative speaker fees and friendships with dubious characters around the world. ...

Though Clinton’s people have so far remained silent on the pending launch of the film, there is no shortage of evidence about the partisan backgrounds of the film-makers. Schweizer was a speechwriter for former president George W Bush and coach to Sarah Palin on foreign affairs during her vice-presidential run, while the producer, Stephen Bannon, is a prominent creator of such rightwing favourites as the film Ronald Reagan and His Ranch and chairman of the Clinton-baiting Breitbart News. ...

Bannon said that his target audience was not hardcore Republicans and Trump supporters, as you might expect, but liberal progressives.

Bannon especially wants to get the movie in front of followers of the Vermont senator, as he sees an affinity between its message and the anti-Wall Street, anti-corruption focus of Sanders.

“We made this film for independents and progressive liberals, really the Bernie Sanders crowd, who we think it will hit quite hard. We want to open the debate up and make it accessible to Sanders people – there’s a lot of anger among them,” Bannon said.

To advance their ambition to cross the partisan divide, Bannon said he would be staging test screenings in the run-up to the premiere with carefully selected groups of progressive advocates who care passionately about global warming and the environment, human rights and labour protection. “We think that people who dedicate their lives to these issues will be outraged by what they see.”

Amazon 'getting away with murder on tax', says Donald Trump

In a television interview, the presumptive Republican nominee for the presidential race [...] said Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos, who owns the Washington Post, was using the newspaper to influence politicians in order to help his company on taxes.

“This [Washington Post] is owned as a toy by Jeff Bezos, who controls Amazon,” Trump told Fox News. “Amazon is getting away with murder tax-wise. He’s using the Washington Post for power so that the politicians in Washington don’t tax Amazon like they should be taxed,.”

“He’s using the Washington Post ... for political purposes to save Amazon in terms of taxes and in terms of antitrust,” Trump said, referring to the process whereby large US companies can be investigated for anti-competitive behaviour.

“He thinks I’ll go after him for antitrust. Because he’s got a huge antitrust problem because he’s controlling so much, Amazon is controlling so much of what they are doing,” Trump said.

“The whole system is rigged ... whether it’s Hillary [Clinton] or Bezos.”

the evening greens

Shell Spews Nearly 90,000 Gallons of Oil into Gulf of Mexico in Latest Spill

Royal Dutch Shell's offshore drilling operations were pouring oil into the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday, ultimately releasing nearly 90,000 gallons of oil into the water off the Louisiana coast.

The company said the spill was spotted above an underwater pipeline system, although specific details regarding the leak's cause were not made public.

The spill left a 13-by 2-mile sheen on the water, NBC reports. While the company assured reporters and government agencies that wells in the area had been shut off and the spill was being contained, local observers expressed deep skepticism.

"What we usually see in oil industry accidents like this is a gross understatement of the amount released and an immediate assurance that everything is under control, even if it's not," said Anne Rolfes, founding director of anti-offshore drilling group the Louisiana Bucket Brigade. "This spill shows why there is a new and vibrant movement in the Gulf of Mexico for no new drilling." ...

"It's unacceptable that oil spills have been permitted to become the status quo in the Gulf," said Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune in response to this latest disaster. "From Deepwater Horizon to the Taylor Well to Shell's latest disaster, we have allowed the region to be perpetually treated as a sacrifice zone—a place where we tolerate pollution and disasters to continue our dependence on fossil fuels."

Read this, preferably by clicking the link and digesting all of it.

Trade Deals and the Environmental Crisis

With the release of leaked documents from the TTIP (Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) ‘trade’ deal Greenpeace framed its conclusions more diplomatically than I will: the actions of the U.S. political leadership undertaken at the behest of American corporate ‘leaders’ and their masters in the capitalist class make it among the most profoundly destructive forces in human history. At a time when environmental milestones pointing to irreversible global warming are being reached on a daily basis, the U.S. political leadership’s response is to pronounce publicly that it favors environmental resolution while using ‘trade’ negotiations to assure that effective resolution never takes place.

Those representing the U.S. in these negotiations are mainly business lobbyists who have been given the frame of state power to promote policies that benefit the businesses they represent. ... Shifting the power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions to the corporations producing them precludes effective regulation in the public interest. The position that environmental harms must be proven before regulations are implemented leaves a dead planet as the admissible evidence. ...

What is made evident by the documents leaked by Greenpeace is that electoral politics are largely irrelevant to the business of ‘governing.’ The U.S. representatives negotiating ‘U.S.’ trade positions no more represent your and my interests than do the business executives selling us products. The public’s role in elections is as consumers of political rhetoric. ... The choices not available through electoral politics are: ending the threats of climate crisis and nuclear weapons, placing economic justice as the central role of Western governments, ending wars of choice while de-militarizing the West and creating new forms of democratic participation. ...

History is important here: the claim of ‘anthropogenic,’ or human caused, climate crisis universalizes the consequences of capitalist production when the carbon emissions that are causing it can be tied through both history and geography to the rise of capitalism. While the ‘industrial revolution’ began in England, it was the second industrial revolution and more particularly, U.S. industrial production since the end of WWII, that is responsible for the exponential increase in carbon emissions behind global warming. At this stage the addition of China as major carbon emitter can be tied largely to its exports to the West. The spread of capitalist production makes global warming very difficult to resolve. ... The environmental implausibility of seven billion people driving cars and living in McMansions has given way to the local logic of manufactured wants motivating an entrenched economic order. ...

The logic of ‘smart’ capitalism proceeds from the base conceit that people want the stuff of capitalism and that capitalist production is the way to get it. History locates this want as a consequence of capitalist propaganda undertaken in the U.S. in the early twentieth century— it is no more ‘natural’ than a toaster oven. The aggregating logic of capitalist ‘efficiency’ produced the environmental aggregates of global warming and climate crisis. The capitalist logic of more capitalism to resolve the consequences of already existing capitalism proceeds from the premise that manufactured wants need to be met rather than simply not manufactured. Current ‘trade’ deals rely of these manufactured wants as a form of political control by the corporate class. The choice is ours to reject manufactured wants in favor of self-determination. As the capitalist class understands, doing so would end capitalism and the economic order it represents.

Obama Administration Issues New Rules on Methane Emissions From the Oil and Gas Industry

The Obama administration issued new rules on Thursday for reducing climate-warming methane emissions from the oil and natural gas sector, continuing its string of executive branch actions aimed at addressing climate change.

The regulations cover only new or substantially modified oil and gas facilities: wells, processors, storage facilities, and pipelines. The administration says it will be up to the next president to lead the charge on reining in emissions from existing sources. ...

Congressional Republicans and oil and gas industry representatives were quick to denounce the regulations, which they said are unnecessary in light of voluntary efforts on the part of the industry to reduce pollution.

'Wholly Inadequate': Environmentalists Decry EPA's New Methane Rules

Obama released first rules to reduce methane leaks from oil and gas wells, but regs don't apply to old facilities responsible for majority of toxic emissions

Following President Obama's promise to cut toxic methane leaks at oil and gas facilities, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Thursday announced the U.S. government's "first-ever" set of standards to reduce such emissions—but the new regulations were decried by environmentalist critics as not far-reaching enough.

"EPA's methane regulations are a welcome first step, but contain too many loopholes to be a comprehensive check on industry recklessness," warned Greenpeace researcher Charlie Cray. ...

"The methane rule is the final version of a draft regulation put forth last year by the Environmental Protection Agency," reports the New York Times, "and would require oil and gas companies to plug and capture leaks of methane from new and modified drilling wells and storage tanks, not older, existing wells."

The EPA is only just starting the information-gathering process to determine how to regulate existing wells, the agency says. Yet it is old, established fossil fuel infrastructure that is responsible for the vast majority of methane emissions in the U.S., and many environmentalists are irked that the new rules stop short of regulating those facilities.

The Resurrection of a Honduran Journalist

Luxembourg Is Set to Become the Most Animal-Friendly Country in the World

Luxembourg's leaders have proposed a far-reaching animal rights bill that advocates say could be the most progressive in the world if it becomes law.

"It goes further than any legislation that I'm aware of," said Kitty Block, vice president of Humane Society International. "It is impressive and it's taking on another whole area that traditionally anti-animal cruelty laws have not gone."

Proposed recently by Minister of Agriculture Fernand Etgen and written with the help of animal rights activists, the proposed law assumes that animals are "living non-human sentient beings with a nervous system scientifically capable of feeling pain and experiencing other emotions" including "suffering and anguish," according to a ministry statement.

The legislation wouldn't apply to most farm animals, a common provision in animal rights laws. But it would ban slaughtering animals primarily for their fur, feathers, skin, or wool — an extraordinary provision, said Block — limit the sales of dogs and cats to reputable breeders, ban people from giving animals as gifts or prizes, and prohibit the poultry industry practice of killing male chicks because they don't lay eggs.

"This act is punishable because the animal's dignity must prevail over the profitability of the industrial activity," the ministry statement said, referring to the poultry provision.

Also of Interest

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

Dilma Out: Brazilian Plutocracy Sets 54 Million Votes on Fire

“Obama’s Hiroshima Visit Is Shaping Up To Be a PR Disaster”

Bernie Sanders Keeps Winning Primaries and Keeps Shaping the Anti-Trump Agenda

The Trump Effect: Jamie Dimon Calls Fellow Banker a “Jerk”; Facebook Death Threats Against Obama

'Necessary evil': saving the endangered caribou might mean killing wolves

After the Deaths of Two Teenage Girls, This Aboriginal Community Says the System Failed Them

A Little Night Music

Detroit Junior - I Got Money

Detroit Junior & Group - Too Poor

Detroit Junior - Money Tree

Detroit Junior - It's bad to make a woman mad

Detroit Junior - Take Out The Time

Detroit Junior - Blues On The Internet

Detroit Junior - Baby Workout

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OLinda's picture

Found this in a retweet by Jorge Ramos.

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joe shikspack's picture

yes, obama reformed immigration. his (and hillary's) foreign policy destabilized latin american governments, most notably in hondouras, creating a huge wave of refugees.

see, he reformed immigration by creating the need for a lot more of it.

those flacking his legacy are going to have some difficulty matching his lofty rhetoric with his actual actions.

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Big Al's picture

to not only maintain sales but increase them basically forever. Maybe you build tables out of a special wood from South America that everyone wants so you go down to South America and start your own forest of the special wood trees. You'd do the best thing to keep your business going and even thriving.

Enter the War OF Terror. Terrorists, terrorism. Perfect. Just keep the War OF Terror going and the MIC will thrive forever, it's a no fucking brainer. It's not only helped the MIC but it's sisters, the Intelligence/Spying Industrial Network and the Homeland Security Industrial Network.

Its all such an obvious fraud and yet here we are in year 15 of a war that has no end in sight. The Patriot Act, Homeland Security, airport searches, the list is endless the number of actions and organizations that have been created since 9/11 in the name of fighting terrorism and keeping us "safe". I just got a memo that the fed is having an exercise headed by Homeland Security:

"On May 16 and 17, the Forest Service will be participating in the Department of Homeland Security’s Eagle Horizon 2016 Exercise. Eagle Horizon is an annual integrated continuity exercise for all Federal executive branch departments and agencies, including the Forest Service, as required by the National Continuity Policy. It allows the executive branch to implement and test integrated, overlapping national continuity efforts to ensure the preservation of our federal government and the continuing performance of essential functions. "

The amount of time and money spent on it all is astounding. Every police department, every school, every county, city and state government, every government agency, every major corporation, the impact of the war OF terror is everywhere and a lot of people are getting filthy rich over it.

It's been integrated and institutionalized to the point of no return.

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joe shikspack's picture

hey, they gotta be prepared for when the peasants rise up. you never know when those terrorist quakers might have another meeting with milk and cookies!

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enhydra lutris's picture

fearmongering and provocations, all of its proxy wars and the like. Long before we used endless war *on terror* to become a warfare state, we practiced endless *cold war* to become a garrison state. It was the same, right down to the blood, dead and destroyed infrastructure.

The Garrison State - "The Garrison State" was a 1941 article in the American Journal of Sociology by political scientist and sociologist Harold Lasswell. It was a "developmental construct" that outlined the possibility of a political-military elite composed of "specialists in violence" in a modern state.

Lasswell was particularly influenced by the development of aerial warfare, especially as employed during the Second Sino-Japanese War, which he believed would lead to a "socialization of danger" throughout.

I read it as a teen, along with The Power Elite by C.Wright Mills back in the late fifties/early sixties. The fundamentals haven't changed. Throw in The Hidden Persuaders and you've got a pretty good start on a good education right there in 2 books and an article.

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

Big Al's picture

the same.
Brings to mind an article I wrote last night about the alleged awakening of the American people and the energizing of young people. Compare it to the past and you'll see the same thing only different.

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Knucklehead's picture

We have to confront & master the demons that try to make us accept that point of no return.
I photographed this image in Rolling Stone because it reminded me that I will not accept that premise.
One can view it two ways.

From Rolling Stone  DSCN9876

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I`m already against the next war

Big Al's picture

And nice to see you bro. I don't accept much anymore I can say that. Rock on man.

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OLinda's picture

for another great News and Blues.

It's a seriously beautiful day here west of Denver. Sunny, warm, clear sky, light breeze. It just couldn't be better.

At least I was out in it a little earlier. Now I am inside, doing laundry, tidying up, reading TEB. Smile

It feels so good to have blinds and curtains open, windows way open, after so many days of everything shut tight to keep the cold out. Let the sunshine in!!

Hope all is well with everyone! Happy Friday the 13th! Smile

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joe shikspack's picture

we're on our 15th day in a row of rain. i keep waiting to see the space needle when i look out my window.

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Lookout's picture

Looks like another great edition. I'll catch up tomorrow, gotta run tonight. Have a great weekend and all you 99ers have a good night!

Lookout 008.jpg

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

joe shikspack's picture

have a good evening!

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MarilynW's picture

Blaming the wolves for their decline when their habitat is being destroyed by industrial development is not acceptable. Those who are already against wolves, like hunters and trappers will jump on board to blame the wolves of course. But have a look at the fracking, mining, deforestation, tar sands and you can see what industrial development has done to "the woodland" of the woodland caribou. Now we have an international effort to destroy the wolves in Canada. Nice.

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To thine own self be true.

joe shikspack's picture

yeah, i was pretty disgusted when i read that piece. i guess it's considered pragmatic to kill off the animal predators because restoring the habitat or even diminishing the vehicular traffic options in a region is pretty much unthinkable.

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featheredsprite's picture

If you're a defense contractor, terrorism means business, and business is good.

Yes. It's been that way for a long, long time. Sigh.

Sometimes I'm sorry I don't believe in hell.

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Life is strong. I'm weak, but Life is strong.

joe shikspack's picture

heh, as sartre said, "hell is other people. "

we are probably not working hard enough to socially ostracize the warmongers - but we have a chance to make a big stink about it this election.

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enhydra lutris's picture

Marlowe. Doctor Faustus. Scene III

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

Unabashed Liberal's picture

at their meeting on Capitol Hill on Thursday, per AP Reporter Erica Werner (XM Radio interview, earlier today).


Hey, just a quick (friendly) drive-by to say thanks for tonight's excellent edition of News & Blues, Joe.

I was not surprised to hear that Social Security and Medicare--both programs that Ryan and the Administration want to further cut--were the main topics of their meeting. Jeez! The Dude even presented Trump with a bunch of charts!

You know, Ryan's mentor was Jack Kemp--the flat tax champion, and over-all ultra fiscal conservative.

Hey, better run 'the B' out--still having to wear rain boots, since the yard's a virtual river. At least, this round of storms, we didn't get hail.

Hey, Everyone have a good weekend!



"The obstacle is the path."--Zen Proverb
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Everyone thinks they have the best dog, and none of them are wrong.

joe shikspack's picture

i'm sure that ryan and the rest of the neoliberal jackasses in washington will be working trump over about social security cuts. if he has one brain cell to rub against the next, he'll brush them off because selling cuts to ss or medicare on the campaign trail is going to be damned hard to do.

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enhydra lutris's picture

"Try to get it somewhere near Bambi Allworth" and let him make a star out of you.

You know, Ryan's mentor was Jack Kemp--the flat tax champion, and over-all ultra fiscal conservative. -

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

Gerrit's picture

link made for horrifying reading. It had this Eisenhower 1953 prescient quote/image:
Eisenhower on Arms.jpg

Compare that to the warmongering presidents that followed him, Jimmy Carter (blessed be he forever) the honourable exception. And the neocon wet dream Clinton. Trump actually sounds sane in comparison to her on foreign policy. Isn't that a scary thought?

I think we've reached the point where the US M-I Complex is the biggest threat to the planet Earth, never mind global peace. Yes, there are other threats, but one anywhere near par. The only question that remains is whether these people will blow up the world even before climate change destroys their ability to do so.

Here's a scary, Alice-like, thought: perhaps only climate change can save Earth from global nuclear war by these madmen (and honourary madmen like Clinton).


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Resilience: practical action to improve things we can control.
3D+: developing language for postmodern spirituality.

And the one that particularly would come to bite us in the ass was to gin up anti-communist jihadis in Afghanistan-and recruit, fund and supply them.

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joe shikspack's picture

carter sometimes had bad taste in advisors and none was worse than mr. "grand chessboard" brzezinski.

while carter had (relative to most modern presidents) some redeeming characteristics, he introduced a lot of neoliberal policies.

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Crider's picture

Which is the excuse for meddling in the Middle East to this day.

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joe shikspack's picture

it's a sad thing when a reality teevee clown has a better grasp of what's wrong with our militarist policies than the delusional dems.

yes, perhaps the capitalist manufacturers of consumer want(s) will outstrip the military madmen in the race to depopulate the planet in the goriest ways possible.

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snoopydawg's picture

Of course there isn't any evidence that Hillary broke any laws by giving her husband access to the same governments that her state department was making weapons deals with. But it looks corrupt in my book and no other SOS's spouse was ever in a position to make millions by giving speeches.
The Hillary supporters on the Guardian have their heads in the sand too when it comes to this.

But again, as with the book, there is no smoking gun to be found here. No single document or email chain or recorded conversation is shown proving that Hillary as secretary of state made deals or altered US government policy specifically so that her husband could profit from the connection.

The film even makes overt reference to that absence. At one point it puts up an image of a gun with smoke coming out of the barrel, as the narrator says “Clinton’s supporters will say ‘there’s no smoking gun’, but look at the history.”

After the viewing, Schweizer told the Guardian he accepted “there’s no smoking gun, no email that said ‘Do this and we will give you that’.”

But he insisted that the cumulative evidence pointed to a pattern of behaviour that would never be tolerated in other elected officials, with or without irrefutable documentary proof. “I would contest that the pattern you see with the Clintons is far more consequential than other high-profile politicians who have gone to jail,” he said.

That’s a bold statement to make, and one that promises sparks in Philadelphia next month.

And just like when Israel suffered no repercussions from bombing the Liberty, Saudi Arabia hasn't suffered any from their support of the 9/11 terrorists.

The US first created Al Quada, then fought them in Afghanistan and especially in Iraq, but now are arming, training and fighting alongside them in Syria.
But the American people still think that Al Quada and ISIS are coming to America to blow them away.
Like I've said before, I need a score card to remember who the terrorists that I'm supposed to be afraid of.

Have a great weekend joe, and bluesters.
Tomorrow it's going to be close to 90 here, then back down into the 60's and rain for a few days. Very weird spring here in Utah.

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Which AIPAC/MIC/pharma/bank bought politician are you going to vote for? Don’t be surprised when nothing changes.

joe shikspack's picture

of course there's no smoking gun. you wouldn't expect someone in clinton's position or that of her counterparties to put "nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more," in writing.

have a great weekend!

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lotlizard's picture

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