The Evening Blues - 5-15-18
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features jazz singer Cab Calloway. Enjoy!
Cab Calloway - Saint James Infirmary Blues
"We have about 50% of the world’s wealth, but only 6.3% of its population. … In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity. … To do so, we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and day-dreaming; and our attention will have to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives. … We should cease to talk about vague and … unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of the living standards, and democratization. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are then hampered by idealistic slogans, the better."
-- George F. Kennan
News and Opinion
Over 70% of the Palestinian population in Gaza are refugees. They live under Israeli occupation and siege. If they dare protest, they are executed by sniper fire. They are denied their right to return. The media normalizes their murder. Their simple struggle for freedom smeared
— Remi Kanazi (@Remroum) May 14, 2018
Typical of mindset of corporate media reporting on what happened in Gaza on Monday as Israeli soldiers killed more than 50 protesting Palestinians, is this tweet from CNN. It says: “Death toll rises to at least 52 people during clashes along the border fence between Israel and Gaza, Palestinian officials say. More than 2,400 people have been injured.” CNN’s new slogan is “#FactsFirst.”
Adam Johnson, who writes for the media watchdog Fairness and Accuracy in Media, responded to CNN with a tweet of his own:
this one's got it all:
"death toll rises" -- no one was killed and no one specific party did the killing, the death toll just mysteriously "rises"
"clashes" -- launders all power asymmetry
"2,400 people have been injured" -- all 2,400 are Palestinian but lets go with "people" https://t.co/7mUy6xSXIY
— Adam H. Johnson (@adamjohnsonNYC) May 14, 2018
Craig Murray, a former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, said on his blog that he did a Google News search for the word “massacre” and found not one reference to Gaza. A New York Times headline on Monday said: “Dozens of Palestinians have died in protests as the U.S. prepares to open its Jerusalem Embassy.” Journalist Glenn Greenwald responded: “Most western media outlets have become quite skilled – through years of practice – at writing headlines and describing Israeli massacres using the passive tense so as to hide the culprit. But the all-time champion has long been, and remains, the New York Times. #HaveDied.”
Yet another CNN headline simply read: “Dozens die in Gaza.” Journalist Max Blumenthal responded: “Maybe they were old. Perhaps they were very sick. They just up and died! Who will solve the mystery behind these deaths?” Blumenthal later offered a possible solution to the mystery: “According to the White House, Khhamas launched 41 protesters into unsuspecting Israeli bullets.”
Deflecting blame from Israel is one thing. But projecting it onto the victim is quite another. Israel’s UN Ambassador Danny Danon on Monday called for the U.N. Security Council to, “Condemn Hamas for their war crimes,” because “every casualty on the border is a direct victim of Hamas.” ... That’s one way to wash the Israeli government’s (blood-soaked) hands of the matter. ... Danon’s position was callously promoted by the White House on Monday. Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah was asked several times to condemn Israel’s military response. “We believe Hamas is responsible for these tragic deaths,” he said. “Their rather cynical exploitation of the situation is what’s leading to these deaths and we want it stopped.” He later blamed Hamas for a “gruesome and unfortunate propaganda attempt.”
Unsurprisingly, Congress also lined up behind the Jewish State, mostly ignoring what went on in Gaza.
Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump were just blessed by a state-funded Israeli rabbi who compared black people to monkeys: https://t.co/6MFYjW2Zst
— Max Blumenthal (@MaxBlumenthal) May 13, 2018
An 8-month-old baby girl is among those killed by Israeli troops during mass protests in Gaza over the official relocation of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, Palestinian officials reported Tuesday.
Laila Anwar Ghandour is one of eight children killed Monday when Israeli troops used deadly force against protesters along the border, according to Palestine’s health ministry. The baby died of asphyxiation from teargas.
The baby’s parents held her funeral on Tuesday, the day of "Nakba," a memorial of the 700,000 Palestinians who were driven from their homes exactly 70 years ago after the creation of Israel.
WATCH: Speaking on MSNBC, Princeton professor Eddie Glaude Jr. stridently denounces Israel's killing of Palestinian children and says blaming Palestinians for their own deaths is like blaming civil rights marchers for state violence meted out against them. pic.twitter.com/Ka9SikxeFx
— The IMEU (@theIMEU) May 14, 2018
Jared Kushner made a wildly controversial comment about the unrest in Gaza to a crowd at the U.S. Embassy opening in Jerusalem on Monday that did not appear to be part of his prepared remarks and was not included in excerpts of the speech later released by the White House.
"As we have seen from the protests of the last month and even today, those provoking violence are part of the problem and not part of the solution," Kushner said in a rare public appearance. His comments were in reference to the Palestinians protesting the embassy moving from Tel Aviv. In the hours leading up to the ceremony, and continuing though the day, at least 52 Palestinians were gunned down and over 2,000 more were injured by Israeli soldiers in the contested Gaza Strip, making it the deadliest day between Israelis and Palestinians since the 2014 Gaza War, according to CNN.
The president's son-in-law and senior adviser has been overseeing Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts for several months, mostly behind the scenes, and this speech was arguably his most significant policy speech to date.
But Kushner’s comments as the violence raged on weren’t included in the excerpts of his remarks delivered to the press ahead of time, according to TIME Magazine. And while VICE News was unable to verify the report, MSNBC News reporter Ayman Mohyeldin says that they were completely omitted from an official White House transcript he obtained.
— Patrick Galey (@patrickgaley) May 14, 2018
As World Condemns 'Appalling' Crimes, US Defends Israeli Massacre in Gaza and Blocks Call for UN Probe
After making the widely condemned and erroneous assertion that responsibility for Israel's massacre of more than 50 Palestinians "rests squarely with Hamas," the Trump administration on Monday unilaterally blocked a United Nations statement that expressed "outrage" at Israel's killings and demanded "an independent and transparent" investigation.
While the U.S. refused to even permit an investigation into Israel's murderous behavior—let alone denounce it—during an emergency U.N. Security Council meeting, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley took the further step of applauding Israel forces during her speech for showing admirable "restraint" as it mowed down dozens of peaceful demonstrators, and attempted to blame Iran for stoking "violence throughout the Middle East."
In sharp contrast to Haley's "disgusting" and fact-free speech, Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, directly condemned Israel's actions in a statement on Tuesday, repeating the call for an independent probe and saying "enough is enough."
"We condemn the appalling, deadly violence in Gaza yesterday during which 58 Palestinians were killed and almost 1,360 demonstrators were injured with live ammunition by Israeli security forces," Colville said. "The rules on the use of force under international law have been repeated many times but appear to have been ignored again and again. It seems anyone is liable to be shot dead or injured: women, children, press personnel, first responders, bystanders, and at almost any point up to 700 meters from the fence."
The New York Times recently reported that U.S. Army Special Forces were secretly aiding the Saudi Arabian military against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. It was only the latest sign preceding President Trump’s Iran announcement that Washington was gearing up for the possibility of another interstate war in the Persian Gulf region. The first two Gulf wars — Operation Desert Storm (the 1990 campaign to drive Iraqi forces out of Kuwait) and the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq — ended in American “victories” that unleashed virulent strains of terrorism like ISIS, uprooted millions, and unsettled the Greater Middle East in disastrous ways. The Third Gulf War — not against Iraq but Iran and its allies — will undoubtedly result in another American “victory” that could loose even more horrific forces of chaos and bloodshed.
Like the first two Gulf wars, the third could involve high-intensity clashes between an array of American forces and those of Iran, another well-armed state. While the United States has been fighting ISIS and other terrorist entities in the Middle East and elsewhere in recent years, such warfare bears little relation to engaging a modern state determined to defend its sovereign territory with professional armed forces that have the will, if not necessarily the wherewithal, to counter major U.S. weapons systems.
A Third Gulf War would distinguish itself from recent Middle Eastern conflicts by the geographic span of the fighting and the number of major actors that might become involved. In all likelihood, the field of battle would stretch from the shores of the Mediterranean, where Lebanon abuts Israel, to the Strait of Hormuz, where the Persian Gulf empties into the Indian Ocean. Participants could include, on one side, Iran, the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and assorted Shia militias in Iraq and Yemen; and, on the other, Israel, Saudi Arabia, the United States, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). If the fighting in Syria were to get out of hand, Russian forces could even become involved.
All of these forces have been equipping themselves with massive arrays of modern weaponry in recent years, ensuring that any fighting will be intense, bloody, and horrifically destructive. Iran has been acquiring an assortment of modern weapons from Russia and possesses its own substantial arms industry. It, in turn, has been supplying the Assad regime with modern arms and is suspected of shipping an array of missiles and other munitions to Hezbollah. Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE have long been major recipients of tens of billions of dollars of sophisticated American weaponry and President Trump has promised to supply them with so much more.
This means that, once ignited, a Third Gulf War could quickly escalate and would undoubtedly generate large numbers of civilian and military casualties, and new flows of refugees. The United States and its allies would try to quickly cripple Iran’s war-making capabilities, a task that would require multiple waves of air and missile strikes, some surely directed at facilities in densely populated areas. Iran and its allies would seek to respond by attacking high-value targets in Israel and Saudi Arabia, including cities and oil facilities. Iran’s Shia allies in Iraq, Yemen, and elsewhere could be expected to launch attacks of their own on the U.S.-led alliance. Where all this would lead, once such fighting began, is of course impossible to predict, but the history of the twenty-first century suggests that, whatever happens, it won’t follow the carefully laid plans of commanding generals (or their civilian overseers) and won’t end either expectably or well. Precisely what kind of incident or series of events would ignite a war of this sort is similarly unpredictable. Nonetheless, it seems obvious that the world is moving ever closer to a moment when the right (or perhaps the better word is wrong) spark could set off a chain of events leading to full-scale hostilities in the Middle East in the wake of President Trump’s recent rejection of the nuclear deal.
An excellent article:
There are good reasons to bemoan the presence of the childish, racist, sexist and ecocidal, right-wing plutocrat Donald Trump in the White House. One complaint about Trump that should be held at arm’s-length by anyone on the left, however, is the charge that Trump is contributing to the decline of U.S. global power—to the erosion of the United States’ superpower status and the emergence of a more multipolar world.
This criticism of Trump comes from different elite corners. Last October, the leading neoconservative foreign policy intellectual and former George W. Bush administration adviser Eliot Cohen wrote an Atlantic magazine essay titled “How Trump Is Ending the American Era.” Cohen recounted numerous ways in which Trump had reduced “America’s standing and ability to influence global affairs.” He worried that Trump’s presidency would leave “America’s position in the world stunted” and an “America lacking confidence” on the global stage.
But it isn’t just the right wing that writes and speaks in such terms about how Trump is contributing to the decline of U.S. hegemony. A recent Time magazine reflection by the liberal commentator Karl Vick (who wrote in strongly supportive terms about the giant January 2017 Women’s March against Trump) frets that that Trump’s “America First” and authoritarian views have the world “looking for leadership elsewhere.” ... I recently reviewed a manuscript on the rise of Trump written by a left-liberal American sociologist. Near the end of this forthcoming and mostly excellent and instructive volume, the author finds it “worrisome” that other nations see the U.S. “abdicating its role as the world’s leading policeman” under Trump—and that, “given what we have seen so far from the [Trump] administration, U.S. hegemony appears to be on shakier ground than it has been in a long time.”
I’ll leave aside the matter of whether Trump is, in fact, speeding the decline of U.S. global power (he undoubtedly is) and how he’s doing that, to focus instead on a very different question: What would be so awful about the end of “the American Era”—the seven-plus decades of U.S. global economic and related military supremacy between 1945 and the present? Why should the world mourn the “premature” end of the “American Century”?
The clumsy and stupid Trump has taken the imperial baton from the elegant and silver-tongued “imperial grandmaster” Obama, keeping the superpower’s vast global military machine set on kill. ... That Trump murders with less sophistication, outward moral restraint and credible claim to embody enlightened Western values and multilateral commitment than Obama did is perhaps preferable to some degree. It is better for empire to be exposed in its full and ugly nakedness, to speed its overdue demise.
Top figures in the Trump administration are continuing to build up expectations that North Korea will submit to US demands for the complete and verifiable destruction of its small arsenal of nuclear weapons. A summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has been scheduled for Singapore on June 12. ... US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reported that he had held “conversations … about the strategic decision that Chairman Kim has before him … and if he is prepared, in exchange for the assurances we are ready to provide to him … to fully denuclearise.”
Pompeo claimed that the US would “work with North Korea to achieve prosperity on the par with our South Korean friends”—suggesting that massive economic assistance would be provided to the isolated and backward state. ... In its own apparent overture, the North Korean regime announced on May 11 that it will invite international media to observe controlled explosions aimed at sealing its main nuclear test site deep in the mountains at Punggye-ri. The shutting down of the facility has been scheduled for May 23–25. The North Korean media has announced the test site is no longer needed, as the country has fully operational nuclear weapons.
Speculation is well underway on the prospect of a rapprochement between the US and North Korea that will open the way for a flood of investment into the north by South Korean and other corporations. A comment published by Bloomberg News suggested that North Korea would be the “next Vietnam.” After the Vietnamese Stalinist regime restored capitalist relations in 1986, large-scale manufacturing operations were established in the country, with workers paid wages and enduring conditions far worse than even those in China’s free trade zones. ...
The perspective of “reunification” on the Korean Peninsula promoted by both North and South Korea does not mean an end to the separate states or the border between them. The South Korean capitalist class wants to maintain the North Korean military regime intact to preside over the ruthless exploitation of the working class and brutally repress any resistance. In exchange, the ruling clique around Kim Jong-un would be provided wealth, privilege and guarantees of its survival.
The prospect nevertheless remains that the Trump-Kim talks will rapidly break down over the definition of “denuclearisation” and the timeframe for it to be implemented. North Korea’s key demands are that the US sign a peace treaty to formally end the 1950–53 Korean War—which concluded with only an armistice—and give assurances that it will not militarily threaten North Korea in the future. ... Kim has hinted that his regime is prepared to accept American forces remaining, but China will placing immense pressure on North Korea to at least insist on the removal of the US THAAD anti-missile system that was deployed on the pretext of defending South Korea against any North Korean attack. The system, which is also operational in Japan, Hawaii and Guam, is above all targeted at monitoring and nullifying China’s nuclear arsenal.
Tehran is being given assurances that European governments will seek to protect companies doing business in Iran from renewed US sanctions, as foreign ministers prepare to meet in Brussels to salvage the nuclear deal. Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, met Federica Mogherini, the EU external affairs chief, on Tuesday morning and will meet the foreign ministers of France, Germany and the UK – the three European signatories to the deal – in the evening.
Iran wants assurances that EU trade with Iran will continue to grow, despite Donald Trump pulling the US out of the nuclear deal. Zarif said after his first meeting that talks were “moving in the right direction”, adding that it was “a nice and constructive meeting”.
The crisis, potentially plunging the US and Europe into a sanctions war and raising serious questions about European economic sovereignty, will also be discussed at a meeting of EU heads of state on Wednesday in Sofia.
In a pre-emptive strike on Tuesday, the US treasury imposed new sanctions on the governor of the Iranian central bank, Valiollah Seif, and the Iraq based Al-Bilad Islamic Bank – in both cases for allegedly moving millions of dollars to Hezbollah on behalf of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. The US treasury said the move would cut off Iran’s access to the critical bank network. The US has said it will progressively reintroduce the main sanctions against Iran, starting with the automobile and civil aviation sectors on 6 August. Energy and finance will follow on 4 November.
As the Senate prepares for a Wednesday vote on whether to confirm Gina Haspel as director of the CIA, the Senate Intelligence Committee has restricted access to a classified memo that Democratic staff put together, detailing Haspel’s role in advocating for torture and later destroying related evidence.
On Monday morning, Elizabeth Falcone, a senior aide for Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, the top-ranking Democrat on the intelligence committee, announced the decision to restrict access in an email to Democratic legislative directors. The memo had previously been available for senators and staff with security clearances to review in a Secure Compartmented Information Facility housed within Congress. Staff will no longer be able to review the document, and senators will only be able to do so upon request. It has been removed from the SCIF. ...
The decision to restrict access to the memo is especially unusual given that Warner just last week criticized the CIA for an “unacceptable” lack of transparency in the run-up to Haspel’s hearing. ... Warner’s move has heightened fears among Haspel opponents that Warner is preparing to vote to confirm Haspel. ... People briefed on the contents of the memo say that it is not possible to read it and come away without serious doubts about whether Haspel ought to be confirmed.
Ecuador bankrolled a multimillion-dollar spy operation to protect and support Julian Assange in its central London embassy, employing an international security company and undercover agents to monitor his visitors, embassy staff and even the British police, according to documents seen by the Guardian.
Over more than five years, Ecuador put at least $5m (£3.7m) into a secret intelligence budget that protected the WikiLeaks founder while he had visits from Nigel Farage, members of European nationalist groups and individuals linked to the Kremlin. Other guests included hackers, activists, lawyers and journalists. ...
Documents show the intelligence programme, called “Operation Guest”, which later became known as “Operation Hotel” – coupled with parallel covert actions – ran up an average cost of at least $66,000 a month for security, intelligence gathering and counter-intelligence to “protect” one of the world’s most high-profile fugitives.
An investigation by the Guardian and Focus Ecuador reveals the operation had the approval of the then Ecuadorian president, Rafael Correa, and the then foreign minister, Ricardo Patiño, according to sources. Correa has defended the decision to give Assange political asylum and described the UK’s behaviour towards Ecuador as “intolerable”.
Shaun King nails it:
Black people don't wear body cameras. We probably should, but we aren’t filming 360 degrees of our lives 24/7. So when an everyday black man, woman, boy, or girl ends up being confronted with racism or bigotry or police brutality of some kind, it just so happens that the filming tends to start when the horror is already well underway. That’s an important and necessary fact to lift up. When black folks are literally just living our lives, going about our business, we don’t think, “Golly, I should probably start filming right now just in case brutality or bigotry breaks out so that I have the beginning, middle, and end of it all on film.”
That’s not how life works – not for African-Americans – or for anybody. ... And it’s that fact that is now producing a tired trope I hear every single day from people who witness the awful videos and then ask the question, “But what happened before this was being filmed?”
The question itself is rooted in racism. When we witness African-Americans being brutalized in the most horrific ways imaginable, when we see discrimination of the worst degree humiliating or degrading African-Americans who just want to live their lives in peace, what happened before someone was forced to consider the need to begin filming an incident really does not matter.
Here’s why. The question is most often asked because the person asking wants to believe that the brutality or discrimination was necessary and justified. What I am telling you is that brutality and racial discrimination are never justified.
The cause of death for Keeven Robinson, a 22-year-old black man who died while four white police officers were arresting him just outside New Orleans, was “homicide by asphyxiation,” the Jefferson Parish Coroner’s office announced Monday. Robinson, who police were watching as the subject of an undercover narcotics investigation, suffered “significant traumatic injuries to the neck, the soft tissue of the neck,” Jefferson Parish Coroner Dr. Gerry Cvitanovich said in a press conference Monday morning.
“This initial medical classification does not take into account whether the homicide was an intentional act, accidental act, or an act incidental to a law enforcement action,” a spokesperson for the sheriff's office said in a statement provided to NBC affiliate WDSU News. ...
According to The Times-Picayune, the incident began when detectives spotted Robinson, who was suspected of dealing narcotics, at a gas station. Robinson fled, wrecked his car, hopped a few fences, and led the detectives on a foot race before he was caught in the backyard of a home. During the struggle in the backyard, Robinson stopped breathing. He was taken to the hospital where he could not be revived.
Alabama teachers’ salaries have remained stagnant for ten years. In addition, the salaries teachers currently earn are worth even less due to steadily rising living expenses. When considering inflation, the average salary for an Alabama teacher is seven percent lower now than it was during the 1999-2000 school year. Between 2009 and 2017, the value of a teacher’s salary dropped by nine percent against the rate of inflation. In March, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed into law a 2.5 percent cost-of-living increase for the state’s K-12 teachers. The raise, which will go into effect in October, marks the first cost-of-living increase Alabama’s teachers have seen since 2008.
Amy Marlowe, the assistant chief of member advocacy and outreach for the Alabama Education Association (AEA), was quick to assure reporters for AL.com that the state’s teachers appreciate the miniscule pay raise; however, she said that she doubted it would be “enough” for teachers, who have endured stagnating wages and low morale after years of attacks upon education spending in the state. “I think teachers are a sleeping giant right now,” Marlowe told AL.com. Had legislators not assured teachers that another raise would be granted in 2019, she said, “I think we would have had a hard time containing them.”
Marianne Hayward, the president of the Jefferson County chapter of the Alabama Federation of Teachers (AFT), acknowledged the militant mood among the rank-and-file. Speaking to AL.com, Hayward speculated that the raise represented a political ploy by state lawmakers during an election year—lawmakers who have probably nervously watched news of teachers’ strikes in other states. “I think we’ve been desensitized to think ‘oh thank you so much for 2 percent’,” Hayward said. She noted a “strong undercurrent” of discontent among AFT members. Between the low pay and the deteriorating working conditions, Hayward remarked, “They’re going to reach a breaking point.”
A parade of hardhat union workers and threats from hometown-behemoth Amazon did not stop Seattle leaders from passing on Monday a “head tax” meant to fund housing projects and homeless services. A watered-down version of the tax, which will charge the city’s largest employees $275 per worker annually, is now expected to be enacted by Seattle’s mayor, Jenny Durkan. The tax is projected to generate about $48m a year to address a housing crisis spurred on by Amazon’s rapid growth.
A broader tax proposal prompted the tech company to halt construction on one Seattle office tower and put off a lease of another tower. Union construction workers marched on city call to protest the tax, which also drew opposition from business interests. Socialists and self-styled members of the “Seattle silent majority” squared off prior to Monday’s vote. Neither side supported the compromise, and most speakers blamed city leaders for an escalating homelessness crisis that has seen city sidewalks, parks and roadsides packed with tents and shacks.
About 60% of the tax revenue will go to new housing projects for low and middle-income Seattle residents. The remainder would go to homeless services, including shelter beds, camps and overnight parking. On Friday, city council members approved a proposal to charge the large employers in the city $500-per-employee. Following a veto threat from Durkan, the council decreased the total charge and included a five-year sunset provision over objections of supporters of the original legislation.
“Do not capitulate to [Amazon CEO Jeff] Bezos’ bullying,” Emily McArthur, an organizer with Socialist Alternative, demanded of the council. “Tax Amazon. Be leaders.”
Investors Controlling $2.5 Trillion Stand With Indigenous People Against Trump Plan to Drill 'Sacred' Arctic Refuge
An indigenous group was joined by investors controlling trillions of dollars in assets on Monday as they called for fossil fuel companies and the banks that fund them to end efforts to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge—making clear that harming the protected land is bad for business as well as destructive to indigenous groups' land and the environment. "We strongly urge banks and oil and gas companies to honor their fiduciary duty to investors and refuse to engage in drilling in the Arctic Refuge," the investors wrote. "We, as investors, encourage expanding support for the wide range of clean energy solutions and sustainable industries in Alaska, instead of helping to destroy this natural wonder."
The diverse group of investors included religious endowments like the Episcopal Church and the Dominican Sisters, asset management groups, and healthcare companies, whose combined assets amount to $2.52 trillion. Their letter echoed grave concerns raised by environmentalists and the indigenous people of the area. About 7,000 Gwich'in people live near the refuge and rely on the caribou that roam there for sustenance. The local tribe calls the refuge "The Sacred Place Where Life Begins," and have demanded that the Trump administration protect the refuge from the fossil fuel industry instead of opening it to oil and gas development, as Republicans in Congress voted to do last December.
"It is both deeply unethical and unwise to permanently destroy lands vital to the culture and existence of the Gwich'in to pursue this high-risk gamble," wrote the Gwich'in Steering Committee in its own letter, which was co-signed by more than 100 green campaigners and indigenous rights groups. "Any oil company or bank that supports drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge faces enormous reputational risk and public backlash. Their brands would be associated with trampling on human rights, destroying one of the world’s last remaining intact wild places, and contributing to the climate crisis."
The letters from the groups come after the Trump administration last month took its first major step toward opening the Arctic Refuge to oil and gas development, when the Interior Department began its environmental review to determine the effects of drilling with the goal of beginning to sell drilling leases to oil companies.
'This Is a Big Deal': Fearing 'Public Relations Nightmare,' Pruitt's EPA Blocked Release of a Major Water Contamination Study
Fearing a "public relations nightmare," President Donald Trump's White House and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), under the reign of administrator Scott Pruitt, blocked the release of a major water contamination story, according to emails obtained by the Union of Concerned Scientists and reported on by Politico. News of the Trump administration's interference with a federal study on "a nationwide water-contamination crisis" infuriated reporters, politicians, experts, and advocates for public health and the environment. Friends of the Earth tweeted, "Scott Pruitt is more worried about journalists than poisoning millions of Americans."
There’s a lot of bleak news today, but this is important. The White House & Pruitt’s EPA are blocking release of a federal study about the dire health effects of a class of chemicals that pollutes 10-plus million American’s drinking water. #pfoa #pfas https://t.co/iL7nZGfpho
— Mariah Blake (@MariahCBlake) May 14, 2018
The chemicals that were under review are PFOA and PFOS, which, as Politico notes, "have long been used in products like Teflon and firefighting foam"—as well as by the Department of Defense, when it conducts exercises at U.S. bases—despite the fact that they "have been linked with thyroid defects, problems in pregnancy, and certain cancers, even at low levels of exposure." The study, conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), reportedly shows that these chemicals are dangerous to human health at far lower levels than previously known or diclosed by the EPA, and have "contaminated water supplies near military bases, chemical plants, and other sites from New York to Michigan to West Virginia."
One email sent by a White House aide to a staffer who oversees environmental issues at the Office of Budget and Management said:
The public, media, and Congressional reaction to these numbers is going to be huge. ...The impact to EPA and [the Defense Department] is going to be extremely painful. We (DoD and EPA) cannot seem to get ATSDR to realize the potential public relations nightmare this is going to be.
"Soon after the Trump White House raised concerns about the impending study," Politico reports, "EPA chief of staff Ryan Jackson reached out to his HHS counterpart, as well as senior officials in charge of the agency overseeing the assessment to discuss coordinating work among HHS, EPA, and the Pentagon." However, according to HHS, there are no plans to publicly release the study.
Things just keep getting worse for EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. On April 26, Pruitt testified he had received threats so intense and “unprecedented in terms of quality and type” that they justified his constant, 24/7 taxpayer-funded security detail that accompanied him everywhere — including on his personal trips to Disneyland and the Rose Bowl. What's more, Pruitt said, even the inspector general himself had documented death threats against him, and in an August 2017 inspector general document, listed threats against Pruitt and others as reasoning for the round-the-clock security detail.
But on Monday, EPA Inspector General Arthur Elkins disputed that in a letter to Democratic Senators Tom Carper and Sheldon Whitehouse, adding that Pruitt had actually ordered his constant security right after he was confirmed as EPA administrator.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Cab Calloway - Strictly Cullud Affair
Cab Calloway and his Orchestra - Trickeration
Cab Calloway - Nobody's Sweetheart
Cab Calloway - The Reefer Man
Cab Calloway - Blues In The Night
Cab Calloway - Zaz Zuh Zaz
Cab Calloway - Calloway Boogie
Cab Calloway - Jumpin Jive
Cab Calloway - Hi De Ho
Cab Calloway - Minnie the Moocher