The Evening Blues - 5-14-18


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

Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features New Orleans r&b singer Lee Dorsey. Enjoy!

Lee Dorsey & His Ya Ya Band - Rock

“The children are innocent until proven guilty. For their sake, not ours, we must soldier on, muddling our way toward frugality, simplicity, liberty, community, until some kind of sane and rational balance is achieved between our ability to love and our cockeyed ambition to conquer and dominate everything in sight. No wonder the galaxies recede from us in every direction, fleeing at velocities that approach the speed of light. They are frightened. We humans are the Terror of the Universe.”

-- Edward Abbey

News and Opinion

Glenn Greenwald, Jill Stein & Abby Martin Event - Global Issues in Context 2.0 in Munich

Media Debate Best Way to Dominate Iran

The debate in the New York Times and Washington Post over President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), better known as the Iran deal, revolves around which tactics America should use to dominate Iran. At one end of the spectrum of acceptable opinion is the view that President Trump was correct to withdraw from the deal because it supposedly failed to handcuff Iran to a sufficient degree. At the other is the far more common perspective, which is that Trump should have remained in the deal because it is an effective tool for controlling Iran.

In the New York Times, Bret Stephens (5/8/18) argued that the agreement did not achieve what he thinks should be the goal of US policy towards Iran, namely:

to put Iran’s rulers to a fundamental choice. They can opt to have a functioning economy, free of sanctions and open to investment, at the price of permanently, verifiably and irreversibly forgoing a nuclear option and abandoning their support for terrorists. Or they can pursue their nuclear ambitions at the cost of economic ruin and possible war.

Ending American participation in the deal makes sense, according to Stephens, because doing so puts Washington in a better position to threaten to violently destroy Iran in order to make it do want the US government wants. What he means by “support for terrorists” is unclear and evidence-free.

The Washington Post (5/9/18) ran an incoherent piece by US national security advisor John Bolton saying that Trump needed to take the US out of the Iran deal because, since its implementation, Iran has not “focus[ed] on behaving responsibly.” In other words, he opposes the nuclear accord because Iran has proven itself too immature for the freedom from US control that Bolton wrongly suggests it is offered under the JCPOA. Commentators who differed on Trump’s decision nevertheless shared the premise of those in favor of taking the US out of the deal, which is that Iran belongs under imperial stewardship. ...

While analysts at the Times and the Post sit at different points within the parameters of permissible thinking, they have in common the view that Iran should be a ward of empire because otherwise it will interfere with the US’s global ambitions. Proponents and opponents of the Iran deal therefore debate it on the basis of whether it helps US ruling class efforts to secure global hegemony.

Threatening Sanctions, Bolton Urges Europe to Join US in Violating Iran Nuclear Deal

Warning that the U.S. could impose sanctions on European companies that continue to do business with Iran after President Donald Trump violated the international nuclear accord last week, national security adviser John Bolton said in an appearance on CNN Sunday that he believes "Europeans will see that it's in their interests to come along with us."

In response to CNN host Jake Tapper's observation that the U.S. is unilaterally working to kill the nuclear accord despite strong resistence from much of the international community, Bolton insisted "we're not going it alone" and boasted, "We have the support of Israel, we have the support of the Arab oil-producing monarchies, and many others."

Bolton's sanctions threat comes as Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif is embarking on a "diplomatic tour" in an effort to keep the nuclear agreement intact despite Trump's decision to violate the accord—a move analysts and anti-war groups warned puts the U.S. on a path to yet another military conflict in the Middle East.

Trump’s Iran Debacle: What Will Germany and Russia Do?

In the wake of Donald Trump’s thoroughly unsurprising decision to scuttle the Iran nuclear accord, two countries that may be most in the hot seat are Germany and Russia. The big question now is whether their mutual discomfort leads them to find common cause. Angela Merkel’s plight is especially painful. Not only are Germany’s extensive business links with Iran at risk thanks to Trump’s decision to re-apply sanctions, but the German chancellor’s political fortunes have taken a beating thanks to years of American incompetence in the Middle East. ...

A bruised and battered Merkel thus saw her share of the vote shrink by more than twenty percent in last September’s German federal election while the anti-immigrant Alternative für Deutschland saw its portion more than double. Now, Trump’s decision to dump the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as the Iran nuclear agreement is formally known, is making matters much, much worse. First, Israel took advantage of the move to launch its biggest attack on Syria since the 1973 Yom Kippur War, raising prospects that Middle East chaos may be poised for yet another upsurge. Then US Ambassador Richard Grenell showed what America really thinks of its German partners by tweeting As @realDonaldTrump said, US sanctions will target critical sectors of Iran’s economy. German companies doing business in Iran should wind down operations immediately.” ...

But Germany is not the only one feeling the pain – Russia is too. It is allied with Iran in support of Syria’s embattled president Bashar al-Assad, yet has somehow managed to maintain good relations with Israel. This is why Putin invited Benjamin Netanyahu to be his personal guest at this week’s May 9 Victory Day celebrations in Moscow where the Israeli prime minister joined Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic in laying a wreath on the Soviet Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. When Putin paid tribute to the Soviet troops “who saved Europe and the world from slavery, from the horrors of the Holocaust,” by defeating Nazi Germany (quote begins at 2:00, there was no doubt as to whom he was addressing. But the celebration also featured a traditional Red Square military parade featuring not only unmanned robo-tanks and Sukhoi Su-57 stealth fighters, but mobile batteries of anti-aircraft missiles. Less than twelve hours later, Netanyahu showed his thanks by destroying at least five Russian-made anti-aircraft batteries as part of the assault on Syria. According to the Israeli military, Israel notified Russia of the impending attack via “deconfliction” procedures in place since September 2015 – which means that Russia more or less assented to the destruction of its own defense systems.

This can’t go on, especially with Israel intervening ever more heavily on the side of pro-Al Qaeda rebels whom Russia, Iran, and Syria are trying to repel. The more the battle intensifies, the more impossible Putin’s position will become. The man needs back-up, but from where? The answer lies in the other signatories to the JCPOA – China, the UK, France, and Germany. But the first is preoccupied with events in the Far East, the second is in political disarray, while the third is a joke thanks to the preening and arrogant Emmanuel Macron. That leaves Germany. If it provided Russia with even a modicum of support, the upshot could be a major shift in the way the deadly game of Middle East politics is played. ...

It would be a dangerous leap into the unknown on the part of a country that couldn’t be more risk averse. But Germany may have no choice. Trump is nuts, American power is receding more rapidly than anyone would have thought possible two or three years ago, while western liberalism is crumbling as well. Hardliners are in control in Washington where Republicans and Democrats compete to see who can be more obsequious to Israel and more hostile to all things Russian. The same goes for Tel Aviv and Tehran where, thanks to Trump, the hardliners are equally in the saddle. If there are two countries that know what can happen when the crazies are in control, it’s Russia and Germany.

Yanis Varoufakis on Lost U.S. Credibility in Middle East, from Iran Deal to Israel Embassy Move

Turkey's president blames US for returning world to 'dark days'

The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has said the world is living in dark times reminiscent of the years leading up to the second world war as he lambasted decisions by Donald Trump to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal and recognise Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.

Offering himself as the spokesman of the Muslim Middle East, he also criticised Europe for not doing as much as Turkey to help 3.5 million Syrian refugees, adding the EU had never fulfilled its part of a refugee deal with Turkey by providing promised cash. Erdogan was speaking at the thinktank Chatham House in London on the second day of a UK state visit. ...

Theresa May, eyeing a post-Brexit free trade deal with Turkey, as well as security cooperation over returning foreign fighters, has taken a strategic bet on Turkey that has led to criticism of the Conservatives’ willingness to overlook Erdogan’s increasingly authoritarian rule in pursuit of commercial agreements. Nick Clegg, the former Liberal Democrat leader, picked out the environment secretary, Michael Gove, accusing him of “a fawning silence” over Erdogan’s visit despite promising Brexit would give the UK a chance to promote human rights under the banner of “global Britain”.

In his talks with May, Erdoğan indicated he was likely to press the UK to do more to hand over any exiles that he regarded as linked to the coup that nearly toppled his government in 2015. He said the US had forfeited its role as mediator in the Middle East and claimed the decision to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem “did not abide by international law or UN decisions”. He said: “America has chosen to be part of the problem and not the solution so they have lost their role as international mediator. We cannot stop feeling like being in dark days of pre-world war two.”

Ecuador Hints It May Hand Over Assange

Julian Assange is in immense danger. Remarks made this week by Ecuador’s foreign minister suggest that her government may be preparing to renege on the political asylum it granted to the WikiLeaks editor in 2012 and hand him over to British and then American authorities. On March 28, under immense pressure from the British and U.S. governments, Ecuador imposed a complete ban on Assange having any Internet or phone contact with the outside world, and blocked his friends and supporters from physically visiting him. For 46 days, he has not been heard from.

Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa stated in a Spanish-language interview on Wednesday that her government and Britain “have the intention and the interest that this be resolved.” Moves were underway, she said, to reach a “definite agreement” on Assange. ...

Under conditions in which the Ecuadorian government has capitulated to great power pressure and is collaborating with British and U.S. agencies to break Assange, there is an almost universal and reprehensible silence on the part of dozens of organizations and hundreds of individuals who once claimed to defend him and WikiLeaks. The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, which in February 2016 condemned Assange’s persecution as “a form of arbitrary detention” and called for his release, has issued no statement on his current situation.

In Britain, the Labour Party and its leader Jeremy Corbyn have said nothing on the actions by Ecuador. Nor have they opposed the determination of the Conservative government to arrest Assange if he leaves the embassy. In Australia, the current Liberal-National government and Labor leadership are just as complicit. The Greens, which claimed to oppose the persecution of Assange, have not made any statement in Parliament or issued a press release, let alone called for public protests. Hundreds of editors, journalists, academics, artists and lawyers across the country who publicly defended WikiLeaks in 2010 and 2011 are now mute.

A parallel situation prevails across Europe and in the U.S.. The so-called parties of the “left” and the trade unions are all tacitly endorsing the vicious drive against Assange.

U.S. Moves Forward With Multibillion-Dollar “Smart Bomb” Sale to Saudi Arabia and UAE Despite Civilian Deaths in Yemen

Last month, warplanes belonging to the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen repeatedly bombed a wedding party in the northern part of the country, killing more than 20 people, including the bride, and injuring dozens of others. In the days that followed, local media published a photograph of a bomb fragment with a serial number tying it to the U.S.-based weapons manufacturer Raytheon. Now the State Department is taking preliminary steps toward a massive, multibillion-dollar sale of similar weapons to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, three congressional aides, a State Department official, and two other people familiar with the sales told The Intercept.

The State Department has yet to announce the exact details and dollar value of the package, but it is said to include tens of thousands of precision-guided munitions from Raytheon, the same company that was involved in producing the weapons used in last month’s strike. ... The State Department has briefed staff on the House and Senate Foreign Relations committees about the sale, but has yet to release details of the package to members of the committees, according to three aides who were not authorized to speak on the record. Once the chair and ranking member of the committees give the nod, the State Department can formally notify Congress about the sale, which could happen as early as next week. ...

The sale is likely to face stiff opposition in the Senate, where members have grown increasingly frustrated with the U.S. role in the devastating conflict in Yemen. Last June, the Senate almost rejected a similar sale of precision-guided weapons, but ultimately approved it by a narrow margin.

Israeli Shootings of Palestinians in Gaza “A Violation of International Law”

Defiance, then death: Gaza suffers most horrific day of violence for four years

Among the 40,000 Palestinians who flocked to Gaza’s border fence, it was clear to many that the day would end with death. “Today is the big day when we will cross the fence and tell Israel and the world we will not accept being occupied for ever,” said Ali, a science teacher who declined to give his last name. “Many may get martyred today, so many, but the world will hear our message: occupation must end.”

But after weeks of similar protests in which at least 40 Palestinians have died, the violence at Monday’s “Great March of Return” – coinciding with the controversial ceremony in Jerusalem to mark the relocation of the US embassy – was shocking even by the standards of the recent demonstrations.

Within the space of a few hours, at least 52 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire, including five minors, in the single most deadly day in Gaza since the end of the last war in 2014.

In line with previous protests in recent weeks that have resulted in dozens of Palestinian fatalities, there were no reports of any dead or injured on the Israeli side. It was soon clear that repeated calls on Israel to show restraint were being swept away by volleys of teargas and live bullets, with most of the casualties concentrated in the southern Gaza towns of Khan Younis and Rafah. ...

Israeli jets launched airstrikes against five Hamas outposts and Israel said it was preparing for the risk of retaliatory rocket fire from Hamas in Gaza.

Gaza: Israeli Soldiers Kill 30+ Palestinians Protesting Nonviolently as U.S. Opens Jerusalem Embassy

Pastor who thinks Jews can’t be saved led opening prayer at U.S. embassy in Jerusalem

Although Pastor Robert Jeffress believes that Benjamin Netanyahu is going to hell, the evangelical leader is thankful for the prime minister’s “courageous leadership” of Israel. Jeffress, a Southern Baptist preacher, delivered the opening prayer during a ceremony celebrating the U.S. embassy opening in Jerusalem on Monday. Despite his prominent slot at the event, Jeffress had previously expressed that Jews can’t be saved and called Islam a “false religion.”

But Jeffress wasn’t the only controversial religious leader to speak at the event. Pastor John Hagee, the founder of Christians United for Israel, delivered the benediction. He once called Hitler “a hunter” sent by God.

World leaders warned President Donald Trump that his decision in December to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would only inflame tensions in the region and jeopardize the prospect of peace between Israel and Palestine. As expected, protests turned deadly on Monday as Israeli border guards killed dozens of Palestinians and injured thousands more throwing Molotov cocktails and rocks. The day marked the deadliest in the conflict since the 2014 Gaza war.

Trump threw a match into Jerusalem with no plan to put out the fire

The images coming out of the region today said it all. In one frame there is the Israeli president, Benjamin Netanyahu, looking like the cat who got the cream, sitting next to Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, at the opening of the new US embassy, which has just relocated to Jerusalem. And in the second frame, there is Gaza, suffused in teargas smoke during protests in which 52 Palestinians were killed, and 1,200 wounded by Israeli fire. Perhaps reflecting on these images, the former US peace negotiator Martin Indyk bizarrely noted that the contrast was a “bittersweet moment”.

But this is not the usual duality of experience on the eve of the day that is both the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Israeli state and the concurrent Palestinian nakba – by which some 700,000 people were either forced from or fled their homes in the war that led to Israel’s creation. This is a violent escalation that was foretold, the result of a deliberate upturning of international conventions. It is the US presidency striking a match and throwing it into the tinderbox of Jerusalem, half of which is deemed by the international community to be occupied by Israel and intended as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

Amid widespread condemnation of both the US embassy move and Israel’s deadly, disproportionate response to unarmed protesters, rightwing agitators are already pushing their usual with-us-or-against-us binaries, suggesting such denunciations are by definition anti-Israel. Don’t fall for it. The Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem has issued a statement condemning Israel’s use of live ammunition in Gaza as showing “appalling indifference to human life”. Daniel Seidemann, founder of the Israeli NGO Terrestrial Jerusalem, had warned about the US embassy move that “there will be blood”, adding: “Utter hopelessness is the great destabiliser.” And Chemi Shalev, a senior columnist for Israel’s Haaretz newspaper, notes the “current bedrock of US-Israeli relations: fundamentalists, messianics and avid fans of end times” – referring to Trump’s evangelical Christian supporters who cheered the US embassy move, based on an Armageddon prophesy that does not end well for Jewish people.

Supreme court rejects appeal from Blackwater guards convicted of killing Iraqi civilians

The supreme court has refused to consider appeals by the former Blackwater security contractors convicted in the 2007 slaying of 14 Iraqi civilians at a crowded traffic junction in Baghdad that marked one of the lowest points in the bloody conflict. ...

One of the men, Nicholas Slatten, is going to be retried, beginning 11 June, after an appeals court in Washington DC ruled last summer that he should have been tried separately from his three co-defendants. Slatten was convicted of first-degree murder after the court heard he was the first to open fire. ...

Three of the men, Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard, were convicted in 2014 of manslaughter and other charges at trial in Washington and sentenced to 30 years in prison apiece. Nicholas Slatten was convicted of murder and given a life sentence. In August 2017 an appeals court threw out Slatten’s conviction and ordered his retrial. He is expected to argue that he did not fire first. The other men were ordered to be resentenced because 30 years was deemed too long, and a date has yet to be set. Blackwater has been sold and renamed.

WaPo Positions Support for Torturer as Vote for Feminism

As the war over Gina Haspel’s nomination to lead the Central Intelligence Agency has waged on this week, we’ve been gifted an incredible batch of corporate media apologias for the CIA’s decades-long legacy of torture, extrajudicial killings and civil liberties violations. Perhaps most remarkably, these outlets have spent hundreds of words arguing that Haspel should be confirmed as the next director of the CIA—despite having overseen a black site prison where detainees were brutally tortured, and directing the destruction of evidence of this illegal and inhumane practice—because it’s the feminist thing to do.

This was the perfect line for the Trump administration’s Haspel push—a notion informed both by the Republicans’ elementary understanding of identity politics and their obsession with calling out perceived liberal hypocrisy: After all, how could any self-respecting Democrat vote against a woman to usher the United States’ international spying apparatus into its next no doubt sinister phase? ... One small step for Gina Haspel is one giant leap for little girls everywhere who dream of growing up to become government interrogators! ...

And, shamefully enough, members of the media fell right in line to push this abominable narrative, with two of the most egregious examples published by the Washington Post.

Without Once Mentioning the Word 'Torture,' Democrat Joe Donnelly Declares Support for Gina Haspel

With a statement on Saturday that doesn't once mention the word "torture," Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) became the second Democrat to announce his support for Gina Haspel, President Donald Trump's pick to head the CIA, significantly increasing her chances of being confirmed. ...

Donnelly's endorsement comes just days after Haspel's confirmation hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee, during which she repeatedly refused to say torture is immoral and denied that the CIA has ever even engaged in torture. ...

With two Democrats now backing her nomination—the first to do so was Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who announced his support earlier this week—Haspel is on track to sail through the Senate, provided that no other Republicans join Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) in opposition.

Challenging 'Impulse to Destroy,' EU's Top Diplomat Vows to Stand With Iran Against Trump's Attack on Nuclear Deal

As Iranians take to the streets to protest President Donald Trump—who ditched the Iran nuclear deal this week despite warnings that it could lead to "a potentially catastrophic military confrontation"—in a speech on Friday, Europe's top diplomat vowed to work with the international community to save the agreement and railed against Trump's style of politics.

"We are determined to keep this deal in place," declared Federica Mogherini, an Italian politician who serves as High Representative of the European Union (EU) for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

Although Mogherini did not name Trump in her State of the Union address, she certainly appeared to be referencing the president when she said, "It seems that screaming, shouting, insulting and bullying, systematically destroying and dismantling everything that is already in place, is the mood of our times."

Emphasizing that world leaders must "move on from the 'I win, you lose' approach," because "no country is big enough to face this world alone," Mogherini warned that "this impulse to destroy is not leading us anywhere good."

Catalonia's parliament elects hardline secessionist as president

The Catalan parliament has narrowly elected a hardline secessionist as president, presaging the end of 199 days of direct rule from Madrid. Quim Torra, an uncompromisingly pro-independence MP who joined parliament six months ago, was elected by 66 votes to 65.

He is the first candidate to be approved by the body since Carles Puigdemont’s administration was sacked seven months ago, when the Spanish government used the constitution to assume control of Catalonia and call last December’s regional election. The Madrid government has said it will cease using article 155 of the constitution – which had never been invoked until last year – when a new Catalan government was in place.

Torra is the anointed successor to Puigdemont, who has been in self-imposed exile since October, first in Brussels and now in Berlin, where he awaits the German court’s decision on Spain’s extradition request on charges of rebellion and misuse of public funds. ...

During his investiture speech, Torra said the true president is Puigdemont, who fled the country shortly after the unilateral declaration of independence last October. Puigdemont, who was re-elected in absentia in December, has indicated that he may call fresh elections within a year, so Torra may have a brief political shelf life. Torra offered dialogue while vowing to pursue the goals of the pro-independence minority and to make the republic declared in October a reality. “Defending the republic means defending every one of us,” he said.

Wisconsin police beat this black teen while he screamed for his mother

A police department in Wisconsin triggered outrage over the weekend after cell phone video surfaced of two white officers punching and tackling a 17-year-old black teenager during an arrest in a shopping mall parking lot, allegedly for refusing orders to stop and talk to them.

The incident began Friday afternoon at around 4:30 p.m., when security guards at Mayfair Mall contacted Wauwatosa Police Department in Milwaukee County to report five men “acting disorderly and causing a disturbance,” CBS-58 reported.

The video shows a member of the Wauwatosa Police Department punch the teenager in the face while the mall security guard attempts to restrain him. The two cops then tackle him to the ground and hit him again in the back the head while he’s pinned being handcuffed and screaming for someone to call his mother.

Wauwatosa Police Department did not return VICE News’ request for comment, but told local media that the video showed “only a small segment of the interaction between the suspect and the officer.” They said the video does not show the teenager refusing to comply with orders to stop and speak to the officers, or that he tried to fight the officers as they attempted to detain him.

The teen was later cited and released.

the horse race

Bernie wants his “revolution” to upend U.S. foreign policy

Perhaps with a 2020 run in mind, the independent senator from Vermont is departing from his usual rallies and town halls on Medicare for All, an unjust tax code, and other domestic issues to stake out a position in unexpected territory: what he sees as the overly militaristic foreign policy embraced by the establishment in both parties.

“I think for too long in this country we've had a one-party foreign policy,” Sanders said in an interview with VICE News on Friday. The 76-year-old senator is gathering a variety of experts on foreign affairs and an audience of citizens for a foreign policy–focused town hall in D.C. that will be live streamed across Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter on Monday night at 7 p.m.

Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal last week was the catalyst for the event, but Sanders said he feels it’s also serving a “need to develop what I call a progressive foreign policy,” an assertion that veterans of the Obama administration may take umbrage with.

Sanders’ relish in denouncing the Republican and Democratic establishments is nothing new. But it is a striking contrast to 2016, when he preferred to focus on the domestic over the international, railing more against millionaires and billionaires than terrorists and despots. ... Sanders argued that Democrats and Republicans' support for more military spending and quick-trigger reactions to world events are, in part, reacting to political incentives. “It is very sexy and it works in the polls for a politician to get up and say, ‘You know we are going to stand up, we're gonna use military force, we're going to fight for quote-unquote ‘freedom,'” Sanders said. “And then you have, you know, CNN broadcasting the bombs falling someplace,” he said.

the evening greens

Interior department faces ethics queries as official meets with Koch-linked group

As allegations of ethics violations mount at the US Environmental Protection Agency, new evidence is raising ethics concerns about key Trump-administration appointees at the interior department. Records reviewed by the Guardian and Pacific Standard show that a high-level interior official, Douglas Domenech, held meetings with a previous employer, the Koch-linked Texas Public Policy Foundation, while it was involved in legal action against the department.

Under the ethics rules of the interior department, a powerful agency that manages hundreds of millions of acres of federal land, employees are usually required to recuse themselves from working on specific matters that involve recent employers and that could create the appearance of a conflict of interest. The Trump White House has also required political appointees to sign an ethics pledge that forbids them from participating during their first two years in office in “any particular matter involving specific parties that is directly and substantially related to” a former employer or former clients. ...

Before joining the Trump administration, Domenech, a longtime Republican operative, served as director of the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Fueling Freedom Project, where he was tasked with building a coalition to push back against the Obama-era Clean Power Plan. While serving as a senior adviser to Zinke, calendar records show that Domenech and other high-level colleagues met twice last April with the conservative Texas foundation, an affiliate of the Koch-brother-backed State Policy Network.

The Third Degree - #ShellKnew

Trump, Softening His Tone, Calls for More Talks on Car Emissions

President Trump on Friday directed his administration to negotiate with California over a proposed rollback of fuel economy and tailpipe emissions standards, a move that could avert a damaging court battle with the potential to sow chaos in the auto industry. California has vowed to disregard any rollbacks and stick to its own stricter emissions standards. Nonetheless, the state must be invited to the negotiating table as the administration moves forward with its plan to relax the fuel economy rules, Mr. Trump said at a White House meeting between top administration officials and major auto executives, according to three people briefed on the closed-door discussions.

Mr. Trump’s directive at the meeting grants a reprieve to automakers, who lobbied for a relaxation of rules aimed at cutting tailpipe emissions of carbon dioxide — a major contributor to global warming — but in recent weeks became increasingly nervous that the zealousness of the proposed rollbacks would provoke a battle with California. It remains unclear whether administration officials and California can hope to reach a compromise.

The sides are far apart, and, given previous statements by Scott Pruitt, the Environmental Protection Agency head, it was unclear whether any negotiations would be “a good-faith engagement or for show,” said David Friedman, who served as acting administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration under President Barack Obama. Mr. Pruitt has argued that California — which has the authority under the Clean Air Act to write its own air pollution rules — should not be allowed to set standards for the rest of the country, and a leaked draft proposal lays out a legal challenge against the state.

A senior administration official said at least one auto executive suggested to Mr. Trump and his team that the federal government had tools at its disposal to maximize its leverage in those negotiations, including the flow of federal funding to the state, approval of California’s next request for an emissions waiver and possible legal action against the state. California has already sued the Trump administration over the proposed rollbacks and is threatening fresh legal action should Washington insist that the state fall into line.

Also of Interest

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

Chris Hedges: Killing Gaza

As Gaza Sinks Into Desperation, A New Book Makes the Case Against Israeli Brutality

With Haspel Confirmation Pending, Torture Opponents Target Fence-Sitters Flake, Heitkamp, and Others

Oliver North Worked With Cocaine Traffickers to Arm Terrorists. Now He’ll Be President of the NRA.

A Little Night Music

Lee Dorsey - Four Corners Pt.1&2

Lee Dorsey - Shortnin' Bread

Lee Dorsey - Ya Ya

Lee Dorsey - Lottie Mo

Lee Dorsey - Give Me Your Love

Lee Dorsey - The Kitty Cat Song

Lee Dorsey - People Gonna Talk

Lee Dorsey - Here Comes The Hurt Again

Lee Dorsey ?– Give It Up

Lee Dorsey ?– Tears, Tears And More Tears

Lee Dorsey & Betty Harris - Love Lots Of Lovin'

Lee Dorsey - Sneakin' Sally Through The Alley

14 users have voted.


Azazello's picture

Sanders foreign policy town hall: TYT, YouTube

9 users have voted.
Azazello's picture


8 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


how was it? i was busy and couldn't check it out in real time.

i'll try to check it out on bernie's youtube page, here.

8 users have voted.
Azazello's picture

@joe shikspack
No one talked about imperialism or the petrodollar, but it was a lot more honest than anything else you're likely to hear from a US politician, except maybe Tulsi Gabbard.

10 users have voted.
JekyllnHyde's picture


Other than a few passing mentions tonight, there really hasn't been much discussion of it on cable television. Without an effective political opposition party, no one seems to pay any price for such murderous actions.

15 users have voted.

A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma

Azazello's picture


8 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


great cartoon!

i listened to the town hall in the background, so i didn't get a chance to carefully analyze the language used by the participants, but the impression that i got, given the massacre that has just happened was that their commentary was kind of tepid. now, compared to what you might have seen on cable, it was probably quite amazing, so perhaps lukewarm, weak tea is better than none.

10 users have voted.
The Aspie Corner's picture

6 users have voted.

Modern education is little more than toeing the line for the capitalist pigs.

joe shikspack's picture

@The Aspie Corner

that would seem to be one of the likely outcomes. one would expect that there would be some attempt to bribe kim with the promise of wealth and "economic aid," i.e., turning his population into a slave-labor force in "special economic zones" and such the like.

9 users have voted.

I just don't see how the PTB ever let him see the inside of a courtroom. Rendition. If I believed in God I would say God help him. I only wish someone would break him out of there and spirit him away. For real though, I won't believe that if I ever see it out of our MSM. I admit I had trouble at first with both him and Manning, but that was now light years ago it seems.

10 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


i would guess that assange is in more danger now than ever before, since trump really doesn't give a damn about creating a facade of legal niceties appropriate to a "democracy" that pretends to care about civil rights.

12 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture


45 days being incognito is definitely enough time for someone to have slipped him out of it and into some black site somewhere. Damn. I have been worried for him since Ecuador cut him off. I thought he had been given Ecuadorian citizenship or something? And what is his birth country saying about his illegal detention? Australia?


13 users have voted.

Disclaimer: No Russian, living or dead, had anything to do with the posting of this proudly home-grown comment

joe shikspack's picture


presumably, assange's legal team would squawk loudly if he was spirited away.

8 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

@joe shikspack

if he is swept off the streets and locked up. Thanks for reminding me that he has his lawyers. The judge who refused to drop his outstanding arrest warrant had huge conflicts of interests and she should have recused herself from his case, but that type of thing isn't upheld anymore.

8 users have voted.

Disclaimer: No Russian, living or dead, had anything to do with the posting of this proudly home-grown comment

snoopydawg's picture

Telling Iran that they need to stop supporting terrorist organizations while ignoring the fact that it's the Saudis who are one of the biggest supporters of terrorists as well as Israel intervening ever more heavily on the side of pro-Al Qaeda rebels and our own military being ISIS' Air Force. The U.K. is one of the biggest supporters of the White Helmets who are another branch of AQ and were photographed beheading a 12 year old boy. There is a branch of terrorists that the U.K. used to topple Gaddafi and their borders were left open for them to come and go. One night while they were back home they bombed a Manchester concert. The police were able to arrest them quickly because they knew where they lived. Gotta love irony. Or is it hypocrisy?

Then there's our country. John McCain was photographed meeting with members of Al Qaida and ISIS and that was just one time. He had met with others numerous times, but unfortunately no one got a picture of it.


Of course John isn't the only one who has done that. There is a name for helping people who ones country has labeled their enemy isn't there? I even think that in times of war it's a capital offense.

I don't see any problem with linking Gina to feminism. After all Hillary is regarded as one and she has done just as many heinous acts as Gina did. "I am woman ... hear me torture and vote for war!"

Happy Monday, joe. Hope things are okay in your world.

14 users have voted.

Disclaimer: No Russian, living or dead, had anything to do with the posting of this proudly home-grown comment

joe shikspack's picture


heh, but the terrorists we support are "freedom fighters." oops, i had a reagan flashback. err, they are "islamic moderates." oops, obama flashback.

hmmm... so far i don't think that trump has come up with a euphemism for the terrorists that the u.s. and its allies employ.

13 users have voted.
Meteor Man's picture

Sad news Wellstone legacy ‘goes dormant’ after family ousted in Democratic feud

He and his brother, he said, “raised a couple simple questions, and really, truthfully, the next thing I knew I was being kicked off the board.”

“My brother and I both are just completely dismayed by the action of the board,” Mark Wellstone said. “Those are the people we thought were our family friends and had the Wellstone legacy in their best interest.”

Now, Wellstone said, “It feels as though the people running that organization now, they don’t have any connection to Wellstone anymore.”

In a dispute over Identity Politics:

In an early sign of tension at Wellstone Action, then-board member Rick Kahn, Paul Wellstone’s longtime friend and campaign treasurer, raised concerns in an email to a staffer last year about a draft tax filing in which staff proposed changing the group’s stated mission from “advancing progressive social change and economic justice” to “advancing progressive social change and economic, racial, and gender justice.”

“I am not remotely questioning the work we do in the realm of racial and gender justice,” Kahn said in the email, one of several documents he provided to POLITICO. “I support it, and applaud it, all of it. That has always been true, and will always remain true. What I am calling into question, and vigorously objecting to, is the strategic thinking in expressly choosing to highlight our work for just those two groups, and no others, in a document posted online, that we share with the entire world.”

14 users have voted.

"They'll say we're disturbing the peace, but there is no peace. What really bothers them is that we are disturbing the war." Howard Zinn

joe shikspack's picture

@Meteor Man

looks like another front in the neoliberal corpadems war on the progressive dems.

i wonder what it will take for progressives to jump ship and build a party from scratch.

10 users have voted.
Pricknick's picture

The evening blues just turned into evening hot hot heat.
There aint enough bandages for the shit we're destroying.

8 users have voted.

Regardless of the path in life I chose, I realize it's always forward, never straight.

joe shikspack's picture


sorry the dashboard's blinking red again, but this handbasket is picking up speed...

5 users have voted.
enhydra lutris's picture

it matters, but CA doesn't pretend to set standards for anybody else. You can drive a soot, pollution, hydrocarbon, and CO2 belching brakeless car in any other state of your choice, simply not here.

4 users have voted.

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

mimi's picture

"Well, Hallo America, We have a middle finger too..."

That's the front page image of "Der Spiegel".

Good Bye, Europe

I try to translate some of the main articles, but they kill faster than I can read or translate. I thought you might be interested how a German Weekly analyses the situation. Headline of the articles. Everything behind a paywall. I bought the print edition, which I have not done in years.

1. "Welt ohne Ord­nung - Das vorläufige Ende des transatlantischen Bündnisses – und nun?" =
"World without Order - Editorial The Temporary End of the Transatlantic Alliance - And Now What?"
2. "Die Demütigung - Diplomatie  US-Präsident Donald Trump stürzt Europa mit der Kündigung des Iran-Deals in Ratlosigkeit – und dem Nahen Osten drohen neue Kriege. Das transatlantische Verhältnis ist schwer beschädigt." = "The humiliation - Diplomacy: US President Donald Trump is plunging Europe into helplessness with the termination of the Iran deal - and the Middle East is threatened with new wars. The transatlantic relationship is badly damaged."
3. "»Trump feiert gerade« - Geheimdienste: Der frühere NSA- und CIA-Direktor Michael Hayden, 73, über die Folgen des Ausstiegs aus dem IranAbkommen und einen eindimensionalen Präsidenten" = "Trump is celebrating" - Intelligence: Former NSA and CIA Director Michael Hayden, 73, on the Impact of Exit from the Iran Agreement and a One-Dimensional President"

Here a cartoon published within the current Spiegel edition:
co-sp-2018-020-0008-05-29192-bi.413514d.jpgHelp, is that a bomb? - No, this is the new Trump Memorial.

It would be nice if "Der Spiegel" himself would have fully translated all the articles and put it up on their English online site. Ah, there is this, have no time to check it out.

Trump Strikes a Deep Blow to Trans-Atlantic Ties - With his decision to blow up the Iran deal, U.S. President Donald Trump has thrown Europe into uncertainty and anxiety -- and raised the specter of a new war in the Middle East. One thing is certain: the trans-Atlantic relationship has been seriously damaged. By DER SPIEGEL Staff
Give time to translate and digest. It's a wicked dish they served. Way too greasy and fat. No table manners as well. Get another cook and fire the assistant Boldon cook. That guy needs to eat his own shit.
My two euro cents - and darn now I get three pennies less than a week ago. Frigging dollars.

7 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


i am always interested in how the rest of the world is seeing how the u.s. is acting - especially if it portends some sort of schism that might actually mitigate the awful behavior of the u.s. government.

1 user has voted.