The Evening Blues - 5-8-19


The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: Silas Hogan

Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features Louisiana blues musician Silas Hogan. Enjoy!

Silas Hogan - Lonesome La La

“Force is all conquering, but it's victories are short lived.”

-- Abraham Lincoln

News and Opinion

Iran to announce partial withdrawal from nuclear deal

Iran will announce its partial withdrawal from the nuclear deal signed with world powers, a year after Donald Trump pulled out of the agreement signed in 2015, Tehran has announced. Wednesday’s “reciprocal measures” will be formally conveyed to ambassadors to countries remaining inside the deal – France, Britain, Germany, China and Russia. Foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will separately set out the technical and legal details in a letter to the EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini.

Iran insists the announcements will not amount to a complete withdrawal from the agreement, and may include a two-month deadline for the EU to implement its obligations before further Iranian steps are taken. The move is bound to be seized upon by Washington as proof that the nuclear deal – which the US violated in May 2018 – has collapsed and is no longer worth pursuing. ...

France was the first EU country to react, warning that Europe will have no choice but to impose economic sanctions against Iran if it steps back from the deal. “We do not want Tehran to announce tomorrow actions that would violate the nuclear agreement, because in this case we Europeans would be obliged to reimpose sanctions as per the terms of the agreement,” the source said. “We don’t want that and we hope that the Iranians will not make this decision.” ...

Tehran has lost patience with Europe’s efforts to create a new viable financial mechanism that would allow European firms to continue trading items such as medicines and humanitarian goods with Iran and circumvent US secondary sanctions. ... Almost all large European firms have withdrawn from the Iranian market, depressing the economy still further. ...

Iranian state-run news agencies explained: “The partial and total reduction of some of Iran’s commitments and the commencement of some of the nuclear activities that had been stopped in the framework of the plan was Iran’s first step in responding to the withdrawal from the USA as well as the failure of European countries to fulfil their obligations.

Iran grapples with soaring inflation, negative growth under US sanctions

Trump inches toward military confrontation with Iran

President Donald Trump has moved closer to a military conflict with Iran than at any time in his presidency. ... Taken together, Trump’s “maximum pressure campaign" against the Islamic Republic and its latest attempt at gunboat diplomacy may be reaching a hazardous crescendo.

“I don’t think either side wants to go to war, but this is the kind of brinksmanship that could get out of hand," said Alex Vatanka, senior fellow at the Middle East Institute.

The situation has escalated swiftly since Trump designated Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization last month, a move some top Pentagon officials warned could lead to retaliation by Iran or its proxies against the United States and its allies, including Israel. The rising tensions are now sparking fears that a sudden move on either side, even if unintended, could spiral into a military conflict.

The potential for Iranian retaliation in the region has put U.S. officials on edge, especially in Iraq, where Iranian-armed Shia militias have attacked American troops and facilities in the past. Approximately 5,200 U.S. military personnel remain in the country. “There has definitely been an uptick in threat reporting directed at the U.S. Embassy in Iraq,” a U.S. official told POLITICO. “It's more than we've seen in a long time, and it suggests the de facto moratorium on attacks on U.S. facilities by Iranian sponsored groups is fraying.”

60-day deadline before Iran increases uranium enrichment - Rouhani

Mike Pompeo visits Iraq amid rising tensions with Iran

The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, cancelled a long-established plan to hold talks with the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, in Berlin on Tuesday, and instead travelled to Iraq to show US support for the Iraqi government during rising tensions with Iran.

The unusual last-minute schedule change follows brief talks between Pompeo and the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, on the sidelines of an Arctic Council meeting in Finland on Monday. ...

In Baghdad, Pompeo met Iraq’s prime minister Adel Abdul Mahdi and other top officials to discuss the safety of Americans in Iraq and explain US security concerns amid rising Iranian activity.

“We talked to them about the importance of Iraq ensuring that it’s able to adequately protect Americans in their country,” Pompeo told reporters after the meeting.

Pompeo said the purpose of the meeting also was to let Iraqi officials know more about “the increased threat stream that we had seen” so they could effectively protect US forces.

RJ Eskow on Trained Liars, News, and National Security 'Experts'

The Pentagon Is Reporting Low Civilian Death Tolls in Syria and Iraq. Without Accountability, People Will Keep Dying.

Last Thursday, the Department of Defense released a report to Congress laying out its latest data for civilian casualties caused by U.S. military operations. ... The Defense Department reported that approximately 793 civilians were killed by the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq and Syria during its fight to uproot the self-described Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, known as ISIS, in 2017. While the report lists a higher number of civilian casualties in 2017 than had been previously reported, the figures pale in comparison to findings from an unprecedented joint investigation by Amnesty International and Airwars, which concluded the U.S.-led coalition killed at least 1,600 civilians in Raqqa during just four months in 2017. The 2018 figures are similarly asymmetrical. The Pentagon’s assessment reports 120 total civilian deaths as a result of U.S. military operations in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and Somalia, while Airwars found the U.S.-led coalition killed between 821 and 1,712 civilians in Iraq and Syria alone.

By continuing to significantly underreport civilian casualties, the Trump administration abdicates responsibility for human rights violations and potential war crimes in Raqqa and other theaters. And by failing to reckon with its inability to protect civilians, the United States cannot use these mistakes to reorient wider U.S. policies towards safeguarding the well-being of people. Instead, the U.S. is poised to continue relying on the disproportional use of military force — and so the civilian death toll will continue to rise.

For those, like my family, who remember Raqqa as it was before ISIS’s occupation and the city’s “liberation” by the U.S.-led coalition, the Pentagon’s fiction is immediately transparent. ... Today, thousands of those homes are destroyed and the streets are piled with rubble. Entire neighborhoods are abandoned and whole families decimated. The United States, in partnership with French and British forces, is partly responsible for this destruction. According to Amnesty International and Airwars, airstrikes caused buildings to collapse on top of families huddled in basements seeking shelter. Boats loaded with refugees seeking to escape were targeted as they attempted to cross the Euphrates River to safety. Amnesty found that “civilians were caught in the crossfire in a city that had become a death trap. IS snipers and landmines prevented them from fleeing, while the Coalition’s air bombardments and reckless artillery strikes killed them in their homes.” ...

ISIS’s brutality does not justify nor forgive the crimes the U.S.-led coalition committed in waging its “war of annihilation” against the group. ... The U.S.-led coalition continues to deny responsibility for this failure to protect civilians from harm by failing to report the true scope of casualties. Images of the destruction in Raqqa — where the U.S. fired more rounds in five months than “any other Marine artillery battalion since the Vietnam War” — reveal the absurdity of the Defense Department’s claim to relatively limited civilian deaths. It also exposes the folly of one senior U.S. military official’s assertion that the bombardment of an urban center like Raqqa constituted one of the most “precise” air campaigns in the “history of warfare.” ...

For all its claims of liberation and saving civilians, the evidence makes clear the U.S.-led coalition failed in spectacular fashion. Rather than continue to deny the obvious to avoid accountability, those in charge of those operations must stand before the American people and explain why.

Trump pardons former US soldier convicted of killing Iraqi prisoner

Donald Trump has pardoned a former US soldier convicted in 2009 of killing an Iraqi prisoner, the White House has announced. Trump signed an executive grant of clemency, a full pardon, for Michael Behenna, the press secretary, Sarah Sanders, said.

Behenna was convicted of unpremeditated murder in a combat zone after killing a suspected al-Qaida terrorist in Iraq. He was paroled in 2014 and had been scheduled to remain on parole until 2024.

Behenna acknowledged during his trial that instead of taking the prisoner home as he was ordered, he took the man to a railroad culvert, stripped him, and then questioned him at gunpoint about a roadside bombing that had killed two members of Behenna’s platoon.

A military court had sentenced Behenna to 25 years in prison. However, the army’s highest appellate court noted concern about how the trial court had handled Behenna’s claim of self-defense, Sanders said. The army clemency and parole board also reduced his sentence to 15 years and paroled him as soon as he was eligible.

Behenna’s case attracted broad support from the military, Oklahoma elected officials and the public, Sanders said.

Mexico president says no to US security plan

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Tuesday he wants the United States to end a security assistance program called the Merida Initiative and instead invest in economic development in Mexico and Central America.

Launched in 2008, the Merida Initiative aims to combat drug trafficking with US military equipment, technical support and training for security forces in Mexico and Central America, which have received more than $3 billion in aid under the plan.

Lopez Obrador, an anti-establishment leftist elected last year, said he would rather the United States invest in development projects in the region, which he says would help counter not only drug trafficking but also the flow of migrants to the US.

"We want the Merida Initiative to be completely reoriented, because it hasn't worked. We don't want cooperation on the use of force, we want cooperation on economic development. We don't want the so-called Merida Initiative," Lopez Obrador told a press conference.

"The proposal we're making is a development plan for southeastern Mexico and Central America. We want investment dedicated to productive activities and job creation. We don't want attack helicopters."

How US and Foreign Intel Agencies Interfered in a US Election

The preponderance of evidence makes this very simple–there was a broad, coordinated effort by the Obama Administration, with the help of foreign governments, to target Donald Trump and paint him as a stooge of Russia. The Mueller Report provides irrefutable evidence that the so-called Russian collusion case against Donald Trump was a deliberate fabrication by intelligence and law enforcement organizations in the United States and the United Kingdom and organizations aligned with the Clinton Campaign.

The New York Times reported that a man with a long history of working with the CIA, and a female FBI informant, traveled to London in September of 2016 and tried unsuccessfully to entrap George Papadopolous. The biggest curiosity is that U.S. intelligence or law enforcement officials fully briefed British intelligence on what they were up to. Quite understandable given what we now know about British spying on the Trump Campaign.

The Mueller investigation of Trump “collusion” with Russia prior to the 2016 Presidential election focused on eight cases:

  • Proposed Trump Tower Project in Moscow
  • George Papadopolous
  • Carter Page
  • Dimitri Simes
  • Veselnetskya Meeting at Trump Tower (June 16, 2016)
  • Events at Republican Convention
  • Post-Convention Contacts with Russian Ambassador Kislyak
  • Paul Manafort

One simple fact emerges–of the eight cases or incidents of alleged Trump Campaign interaction with the Russians investigated by the Mueller team, the proposals to interact with the Russian Government or with Putin originated with FBI informants, MI-6 assets or people paid by Fusion GPS, and not Trump or his people.

There is not a single instance where Donald Trump or any member of his campaign team initiated contact with the Russians for the purpose of gaining derogatory information on Hillary or obtaining support to boost the Trump campaign. Not one.

Simply put, Trump and his campaign were the target of an elaborate, wide ranging covert action designed to entrap him and members of his team as an agent of Russia.

Chelsea Manning Will Never Testify, Argues Courts Should Release Her

Whistleblower Chelsea Manning has been held in detention in Alexandria,
VA for the last two months on “contempt” charges for refusing to testify
against WikiLeaks. On Monday, her legal team issued a new legal argument seeking release. The argument is seen in an 8-page legal filing,
which at its core is that she is never going to testify against
WikiLeaks, and that subsequently there is no legal basis for keeping her
and demanding she do so anymore. ...

The law only requires open-ended contempt detentions, like the one Manning is in, if there is reason to believe that there is a chance the detention will eventually coerce the detainee into testifying. Thus, if Manning will never testify, there is no legal basis to keep her. ... In addition to the argument for release, the legal filing details, in Manning’s own words, her worsening health, her lack of medical access, and suffering symptoms of prolonged isolation described by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture.

San Francisco could ban government agencies from using facial recognition technology

San Francisco could become the first city in the country to ban government agencies from using facial recognition technology. The “Stop Secret Surveillance Ordinance” would prevent government agencies, including police, from using facial recognition in law enforcement. The bill passed unanimously in a committee vote on Monday and will move to the San Francisco board of supervisors for a final vote on 14 May.

The legislation is meant to address concerns about the accuracy of technology and put a stop to creeping surveillance culture, said supervisor Aaron Peskin, who introduced the ordinance. “We are all for good community policing but we don’t want to live in a police state,” Peskin added. “At the end of the day it’s not just about a flawed technology, it’s about the invasive surveillance of the public commons.” ...

The ordinance would apply to a wider range of technology, including automated license plate reading and gunshot-detection tools. And it would require city agencies to disclose their existing inventory of surveillance technology to the board for approval within 120 days.

Trump Moves to Redefine Poverty in Order to Slash Social Programs and Services for Millions

The Trump administration on Monday moved to change the definition of "poverty" in the United States in a proposal which combines the president's attempts to portray the U.S. economy as strong with his repeated attacks on the working poor and their access to government services. In a regulatory filing, President Donald Trump's Office of Management and Budget (OMB) wrote that it may change how inflation is calculated in order to reduce the number of Americans who are living below the federally-recognized poverty line and are therefore eligible for certain government support services and social programs.

Under the administration's proposal, which was first reported by Bloomberg News, the government would shift to a system known as "Chained CPI," which assumes consumers will change what they buy as items grow more expensive through inflation, suggesting that they are not struggling to afford necessities. The definitional change would result in a slower inflation rate, which is used to determine how many Americans are eligible for programs like Medicaid, SNAP benefits, and other federal assistance.

As of 2018, a family of four making $25,900 per year was considered to be living in poverty, based on the necessities they could afford with the current inflation rate. Under the new system, OMB officials wrote in the proposal, "changes to the poverty thresholds, including how they are updated for inflation over time, may affect eligibility for programs that use the poverty guidelines." ...

The OMB's proposal follows multiple attacks on social welfare programs by the Trump administration as it attempts to keep families from accessing SNAP benefits, commonly known as food stamps, and Medicaid. The administration and the Republican Party have pushed in 2018 to require people who use food stamps to work at least 20 hours per week, a move which would push at least one million Americans out of the program. The federal budget proposal unveiled in March also included more than $1 trillion in cuts to Medicaid, threatening the healthcare of tens of millions of Americans.

Billion Dollar Loser: NYT Report on Trump’s Taxes & Massive Losses May Prompt Fraud Investigation

Trump tax printouts show more than $1bn in business losses over a decade – report

Donald Trump’s businesses lost a total of more than $1bn from 1985 to 1994, enabling him to avoid paying income taxes for eight of the 10 years, the New York Times reported on Tuesday.

The newspaper, which said it obtained printouts from Trump’s official Internal Revenue Service tax transcripts, found that Trump’s core businesses, including casinos, hotels and apartment buildings, lost $1.17bn over a decade.

Trump posted losses in excess of $250m in both 1990 and 1991, according to the records, which appeared to be more than double any other individual US taxpayer in an annual IRS sampling of high-income earners.

Vallejo officer who shot Willie McCoy killed unarmed man fleeing on bike – video shows

Vallejo police have released body-camera footage of an officer chasing an unarmed man in 2018 and fatally shooting him in the back as he was trying to flee. The police officer, Ryan McMahon, stayed on the force after killing Ronell Foster and went on to shoot Willie McCoy, the 20-year-old who was sleeping in his car at a Taco Bell when a group of officers killed him earlier this year. ...

On 13 February 2018, McMahon “saw Ronell Foster riding a bicycle at night with no headlamp while weaving in and out of traffic”, Vallejo police said in a statement accompanying the video, released Monday. The officer then tried to conduct a “traffic stop” for “vehicle code violations”, at which point Foster continued riding his bike away from the officer. “I have a guy on a bicycle running from me,” McMahon told a dispatcher. About 50 seconds later, he had killed Foster, announcing “shots fired”.

McMahon shot Foster in the back and back of the head, Foster’s attorneys have said in court filings. The footage showed the officer standing above Foster, who is on the ground. McMahon appeared to fire at him from a short distance. When the audio turned on after the shooting, an apparent witness said, “Wow that was bad,” and McMahon said, “I’m OK.”

Vallejo police have continued to allege Foster at one point grabbed the officer’s flashlight and presented it “in a threatening manner”. The grainy footage, however, does not corroborate this fact and only seems to show the flashlight dropping to the ground. “The video proves that the official police story is nothing but a fraud,” Adante Pointer, the lawyer for Foster’s family, told the Guardian. “Ronell Foster was unarmed, did not present an immediate threat to anyone and was killed for essentially riding his bike.”

Do Susan Collins and Cory Gardner Really Want to Make Their Re-elections About Keeping Kids in Cages?

Having successfully completed the now-requisite Fox News-hosted audition for the Trump administration, Mark Morgan, nominated to be head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, has a new gauntlet to run: the GOP Senate. Morgan — a Marine, a former FBI agent, deputy sheriff, police officer, and a previous assistant commissioner for Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Internal Affairs — led Border Patrol during the last months of the Obama administration. He was ousted when Donald Trump came into office but has since taken a harder line on immigration, enough that Trump announced in a tweet Sunday that he’d tapped Morgan to lead ICE, dubbing him “a true believer and American Patriot.”

Morgan has publicly endorsed several of the president’s more aggressive immigration policies, including his plan for a border wall. He’s supported Trump’s policy — currently under judicial review — to force people seeking asylum to wait in Mexico while their cases are adjudicated. And he told Fox News host Tucker Carlson in April that Border Patrol “should be applauded” for keeping immigrant children in “cages.” ...

But even with a Republican-controlled Senate, it’s not certain Morgan will have enough votes to be confirmed, as Republicans hold 53 seats. Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Cory Gardner of Colorado, both of whom are up for re-election in 2020, are treading carefully on immigration as they’ve come under heightened scrutiny for how they position themselves on the issue in relation to Trump. Other members of the party have drawn a line at the administration’s family separation policy and shutting down the government over a border wall, leaving the question open as to how many will support Morgan. GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska has called the child separation policy “cruel” and Mitt Romney of Utah called it a “dark chapter” in American history, one he’s now being asked to co-write.

Morgan’s time in the Obama administration could give Collins and Gardner political cover, but the two are the most vulnerable Republicans facing re-election next year. Colorado and Maine voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, and both states also went for Hillary Clinton in 2016. In 2018, Democrats won a trifecta in Colorado, locking down control of the governorship and the legislature, and they pulled off the same feat in Maine, where they flipped the state Senate, flipped the governor’s mansion, expanded their hold on the state House, and also flipped a GOP-held U.S. House seat. A fundraising campaign launched by activist Ady Barkan during the Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh has raised nearly $4 million for Collins’s eventual opponent.

Despite Morgan’s past as an Obama-era official, if Collins and Gardner support his nomination, they risk alienating voters in their states who see Trump’s child-separation policy on the border as a question of good versus evil.

Denver votes on whether to become first city to decriminalize ‘magic mushrooms’

Residents of Denver were voting on Tuesday on whether to make the city the first in the US to decriminalise “magic mushrooms”. The referendum on the ballot in local elections set to produce a result late in the evening would block the city from using its resources to enforce criminal penalties for the use of psilocybin, the psychoactive substance in hallucinogenic mushrooms.

If the initiative passes, the personal possession and use of mushrooms by people at least 21 years old would be declared the lowest priority for law enforcement. The substance would remain illegal and could not be legally sold in licensed cannabis dispensaries or anywhere else. Organisers collected more than 8,000 signatures to get on the ballot, the third time they had attempted to put the proposal up for a vote.

Denver mayor Michael Hancock and district attorney Beth McCann oppose the proposal, though there has been little organised opposition.

the horse race

'They Underestimate Me at Their Own Peril': Sanders Says GOP Will Regret Hoping for His Nomination in 2020

Bernie Sanders wants Republicans to believe he would be easy to beat in 2020. Politico reported on Tuesday that Republicans in Congress watching Sanders are "practically cheering him on" in the Democratic presidential primary, arguing that a self-described democratic socialist cannot possibly defeat President Donald Trump in the general election.

Sanders told Politico he is confident this view will backfire on the GOP come election time. "I would suggest they underestimate me at their own peril and I hope they do," said the Vermont senator, who consistently leads Trump in hypothetical general election matchups.

In interviews with Politico, Republican Senate incumbents expressed confidence that a Sanders nomination would both ensure Trump's reelection and imperil the Democratic Party's narrow chances of taking back the Senate—or even add to the GOP's advantage in the chamber. "If we can run a race against a person that's an out-of-the-closet socialist and promoting socialist ideas, it's a great contrast for us," said Sen. John Thune (R-N.D.).

As Politico reported, Republicans' attitude toward Sanders is similar to Democrats' confidence that they would take the Senate and the presidency after Trump won the Republican nomination in 2016. "Republicans could be making the same mistake Democrats made four years ago," Politico reported, "when Trump launched his presidential campaign and they began salivating over the prospect of a Senate sweep."

Though It 'May Seem Nuts,' Experts Say Trump Endorsement of Two-Year Extension of His Term Should Not Be Ignored

Amid growing fears that Democratic political leaders are not taking seriously the possibility that President Donald Trump could refuse to yield power if he loses in the 2020 election, progressive critics are voicing concern over Trump's retweet over the weekend of a post calling for two years to be added to his first term as "pay back for time stolen" by the Mueller investigation.

Written by right-wing Liberty University head Jerry Falwell, Jr. and boosted by the president Sunday evening, the tweet stated Trump "should have 2 yrs added to his 1st term" as "reparations" for the recently completed Mueller probe.

"It may seem nuts," Adolph Reed, Jr., professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania, said of Falwell's tweet in an email to Common Dreams, "but I do think this is worth paying attention to."

"The Trump administration," said Reed, "obviously is contemptuous of procedural democracy, as are Republicans in Congress and elsewhere." From Reed's perspective, "the Republicans' decades-long campaign to demonize and undermine popular and democratic institutions, suppress voting, forge a political alliance based on the most dangerously reactionary and irrationalist elements of the society and committed to eliminating all restraint to capitalist class power is particularly chilling." ...

Trump's retweet came as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) warned that Trump would refuse to give up power if Democrats don't win resoundingly in 2020. In order to to achieve such a victory, Pelosi said, the party should not run too far to the left. "We have to inoculate against that, we have to be prepared for that," Pelosi told the New York Times. "Own the center left, own the mainstream."

Progressives were quick to reject and denounce Pelosi's suggestion that running on bold left-wing policies would be electorally harmful for Democrats. And as historian Kevin Kruse pointed out, Trump could contest unfavorable election results regardless of the Democratic Party's approach or policy platform.

Rebuking DCCC Blacklist, Progressive Groups Endorse Campaign to Oust 'Anti-Choice, Anti-LGBTQ' Democrat

Not intimidated by the DCCC's widely condemned policy of blacklisting organizations that support primary challengers against Democratic incumbents, a coalition of progressive groups on Monday endorsed Marie Newman's campaign to oust "anti-choice, anti-LGBTQ" Illinois Rep. Dan Lipinski in 2020.

"Illinois women and families deserve someone who shares their values, not someone who pursues his own ideology that is out of step with his constituents," Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said in a statement. "Marie Newman is ready to stand up for the women and families of Illinois' 3rd Congressional District and fight for their values," said Hogue. "Dan Lipinski is dangerously out of touch, and has time and time again refused to stand up for basic values like reproductive freedom, LGBTQ equality, and economic opportunity for every family."

EMILY's List, MoveOn, Democracy for America (DFA) Planned Parenthood, and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) joined NARAL in endorsing Newman on Monday.

In an email to supporters, the PCCC said the coalition's endorsement of Newman is an explicit "rebuke of the DCCC's 'blacklist' of progressive consultants."

the evening greens

Worth a full read:

The EPA is meant to protect us. The Monsanto trials suggest it isn't doing that

Ever since Monsanto introduced its line of Roundup weedkillers to the world in 1974, the products have been touted by the company and regulators as extremely safe. The EPA reiterated that stance last week. But the emergence of long-held corporate secrets in three public trials has revealed a covert campaign to cover-up the pesticide’s risks and raised troubling questions about lax oversight of all pesticides by the Environmental Protection Agency and other regulatory agencies that are supposed to be protecting public health.

Two recently concluded Roundup product liability trials in California have resulted in large damage awards against Monsanto, after juries found the company’s herbicides contributed to cancer and that it failed to warn of the risks. Closing arguments in a third trial under way now in Oakland, California, are expected this week. ...

When the US Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry sought to evaluate glyphosate toxicity in 2015, Monsanto expressed concern about what the agency might find and engaged the assistance of EPA officials to delay that review. The efforts delayed the release of the public draft of the review – originally to be issued three years ago – until earlier this month. Just as Monsanto had feared, the agency’s review found links between cancer and glyphosate.

Although Monsanto was aware of tests showing how easily the chemicals in Roundup are absorbed into human skin, neither the company nor the EPA have warned consumers of a need to wear protective clothing. In the 1980s EPA scientists saw that mice dosed with glyphosate developed rare kidney tumors, which they said demonstrated cancer risks for people. But after protests from Monsanto, the EPA’s top brass overruled its own scientists and assured Americans that glyphosate poses no cancer risk.

Precisely because the chemical has been treated as so much safer than other pesticides, over the past 45 years glyphosate has become virtually ubiquitous: residues of the chemical have been documented in food, air, water and soil samples, as well as within the bodies of people who have never used the pesticide. The chemical has even been detected in raindrops. It all raises this troubling question: if what has been touted as perhaps our “safest” widely used pesticide actually causes cancer, what assurance do we have about the hundreds of other pesticides that the EPA has assured us are safe?

Insects Are 'Glue in Nature' and Must Be Rescued to Save Humanity, Says Top Scientist

A leading scientist warned Tuesday that the rapid decline of insects around the world poses an existential threat to humanity and action must be taken to rescue them "while we still have time."

Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson, professor at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences and one of the world's top entomologists, said in an interview with The Guardian that the importance of insects to the planet should spur humans to take immediate action against one of the major causes of insect decline—the climate crisis.

"Insects are the glue in nature," said Sverdrup-Thygeson. "We should save insects, if not for their sake, then for our own sake."

Falling insect populations around the world is cause for serious alarm, Sverdrup-Thygeson said, given the enormous impact these tiny creatures have on the global ecosystem. "I have read pretty much every study in English and I haven't seen a single one where entomologists don't believe the main message that a lot of insect species are definitely declining," said Sverdrup-Thygeson. "When you throw all the pesticides and climate change on top of that, it is not very cool to be an insect today."

If this decline continues unabated, Sverdrup-Thygeson warned, soon "it will not be fun to be a human on this planet either."

Also of Interest

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

The price of plenty: how beef changed America

Failed ‘Coup’ a Fake Corporate News Story Designed to Trick Venezuelan Soldiers—and US Public

What Is Happening at the Venezuelan Embassy Is an Outrage

Rachel Maddow endorses regime change in Venezuela to “push Russia back,” sympathizes with Bolton and Pompeo

Is Chinese-style surveillance coming to the west?

Judge Issues Scathing Rebuke of DOJ

'They treat us like crap': Uber drivers feel poor and powerless on eve of IPO

Air Pollution Crisis Exposes More Environmental Racism in Illinois

The thorn in Trump's side: New York attorney general leads barrage of investigations

'We're living in emergency times': nature writer Barry Lopez's dire warning

'Paradise was sent to hell': revisiting the town destroyed by wildfire

A Little Night Music

Silas Hogan - Just Give Me A Chance

Silas Hogan - Dark Clouds Rollin'

Silas Hogan - I'm Gonna Quit You Pretty Baby

Silas Hogan - Go On Pretty Baby

Silas Hogan - Everybody Needs Somebody

Silas Hogan - Baby Please Come Back To Me

Silas Hogan - Airport Blues

Silas Hogan - So Long Blues

Silas Hogan - I'm in Love With You

Silas Hogan - So Glad

Silas Hogan - Every Saturday Night

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snoopydawg's picture

in her article about the rape allegations against Assange. The rape smears and his being a Russian agent having been effective at getting people behind his arrest and rendition here.

The information in the article about how the Obama administration tried to setup people in Trump's campaign has been known for two years or more. Surely Trump knew about it too so it's going to be interesting to see if he does anything about it. I'm thinking no because presidents don't go after presidents. I also think that if watergate happened today that Nixon would have gotten away with it. There are so many reasons for Trump to be impeached, but of course Nancy is not going to do it just like she didn't do anything about Bush.

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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


yep, caitlyn gets her finger right on the pulse of liberal hypocrisy, there. and larry johnson makes some excellent points about russiagate that will never be followed up by the political class - because in pointing out the other side's corruption they open themselves up to investigations of their own.

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Can know what true poverty is like and constitutes.

0 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


well, he certainly has a strong claim for one sort of poverty: poverty of spirit.

0 users have voted.
GreatLakeSailor's picture


(when others are talking of their financial triumphs)
Yeah? I'm working on my second million. My first million didn't workout so well.

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Compensated Spokes Model for Big Poor.

Sorry, I just deleted what I have to say.
Suffice to say, it was even less "acceptable" than anything Ward Churchill ever said.
Instead, I'll just say this: Fuck them all.

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

joe shikspack's picture


yeah, i had some things that crossed my mind to post, too. but i decided that the thing spoke for itself and that no level of disgust that i could express in words really fully matched the situation.

saint augustine wrote that one of the chief pleasures of heaven was watching the tortures of the souls condemned to hell. i always thought that based upon that augustine was a severely twisted man, but every now and then one hears of something that for a moment tempts one to agree with him before returning to one's self.

0 users have voted.

at the appointed hour, should he lose the election.

jesus, the country has gone mad.

0 users have voted.

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

joe shikspack's picture


i would imagine that there will be a lot of volunteers to help him relocate.

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snoopydawg's picture

But until our elected leaders in Congress require the EPA to adopt more transparent, science-based practices that prioritize the health of Americans over industry profits, consumers should assume they’re on their own when it comes to protecting themselves and their families.

The regulatory agencies are basically useless because they as well as congress have been captured by the companies they are supposed to be regulating. The FDA, the mining industry, oil and gas industry, etc... were not doing their jobs even before Trump came in and now it's up to the courts and we the people to fight for our protection. Monsanto knew its products killed people just like Boeing knew their planes weren't safe to fly. Want to bet that no one goes to prison from Boeing for killing over 300 people nor will anyone from Monsanto just like no mine owner did. This insanity is really pissing me off.

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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


The regulatory agencies are basically useless because they as well as congress have been captured by the companies they are supposed to be regulating.

the government and all major u.s. institutions have been captured by neoliberalism, to which regulation of any sort other than self-regulation is anathema.

if the people want the power to be safe from exploitation by the 1%, it looks like they are going to have to develop their own theory of social relations and economics and then break some eggs.

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Azazello's picture

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We wanted decent healthcare, a living wage and free college.
The Democrats gave us Biden and war instead.

joe shikspack's picture


man, those trumpsters really got punked badly by maduro. it appears that the document that amounts to a list of confessions was supposed to be a victory lap for the glorious winners of the world championship of bullying.

damn, i hope that bolton, pompeo, abrams and trump wind up in the dock at the hague.

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dystopian's picture

Silas Hogan is great, wow! Very good stuff. I love the sound. Lot of great harp. That Lonesome La La riff sure reminds me of the Stones riff for Under Assistant West Coast Promo Man. Sounds like something Brian would have really liked.

Just a guess... Pompeo got a A+ in the lying course?

Good for Obrador, maybe he knows what 'security deal' means in American?

The Consortium piece is great, they (Comey, Clapper, Brennen, were attempting entrappment, as is their MO, which makes it a coup. They worked for the Democrat Obama.

The new definition for poverty will work like the revised one for 'toxic' at the EPA. Which was done some time ago to allow neonic pesticides to be labelled safe. Same playbook with glyphosates from Monsanto.

Good luck Denver on your fungi ballot issue.

Nancy 'hey you get back in the center' Pelosi?

The EPA has been co-opted as part of corporate capture. Certainly Monsanto and glyphosate
are poster child material for that. On the level of Boeing and the FAA. The EU material
approving glyphosate there, QUOTED Monsanto's company materials in what they called review!
I can't believe Bayer was dumb enough to buy them, I see their stockholders are not impressed.

"Insects are the glue"... what a great quote... because it is sooooo true. Bugs are way
down. Everything is connected to insects. Beetles, hymenoptera (wasps, bees, etc.), lepidoptera (butterflies and moths), especially, but there are critters in every order I see less and less of every year. Some things common 10 years ago I don't see anymore. By time you figure something out, like that they are really gone, not just in a lull in population cycles, it is too late. For the average person, they are not getting these clues naturalists are being bombarded with though. I'd think they would notice their urban heat island effect increase of overnight low temps or something. No bugs = no human life as we know it. What is important, jobs, or a frog/fish/owl, etc. ad. infinitum.

I guess it is just too much to get people to understand you just can not keep taking parts out of the puzzle, or planet, and still have a puzzle, or planet. Intelligent tinkering requires saving all of the parts. We are not, and this is not a good sign.

Thanks for the great tunes...

May the farce be with you!

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

joe shikspack's picture


silas hogan recorded for the excello label which had a knack for finding people with unique talent and interesting sounds. those old records are really worth searching out. there are a few collections of their stuff out there that are pretty good.

i hope that obrador manages to get some sort of useful relationship with the u.s. it's a long shot, since the mic wants its subsidy, but he's certainly barking up the right tree.

it looks like the shroom initiative passed by a very narrow margin in denver. good on the people of denver.

i fear that once cannot be without the farce. Smile

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snoopydawg's picture

@joe shikspack

We were down in southern Utah hiking through the sandy canyons and I got my trusty camera out because the scenery was absolutely incredible... took 3 rolls of film in less than an hour. I was sure that I got prize winning photos. Yep you betcha.. and then I got them developed. Big time bummer because you don't take pictures during the middle of the day! Fond memories.

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

janis b's picture

Really enjoying the blues, and it sounds like the Tuis are also. They’re very talkative birds in general, but they seem even more so while the music plays.

It appears that the American government has many different ways of killing off the population, both near and far. It makes me wonder if only something 'magical' can overcome its potency. All the more reason for us to give more attention to those we are or feel close to, in an effort to affect change.

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joe shikspack's picture

@janis b

glad that the birds dig the blues, too. Smile

heh, given that the people that are now running the u.s. government seem to be given over to magical thinking, perhaps there is something to defeating it with better magic.

have a great day!

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janis b's picture

@joe shikspack


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joe shikspack's picture

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janis b's picture

@joe shikspack

For some strange reason it reminded me of Ben Sidran ...


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Pluto's Republic's picture one of the bright spots in this Orwellian election. The Democrats are to believe that Republicans are trying to help them achieve a presidential victory by warning them to steer clear of nominating Bernie Sanders.

In interviews, Republican incumbants are gleefully confident that a Sanders nomination would ensure Trump's reelection. They warn Democrats that they will never regain control the Senate if they put Bernie on the ticket.

Republicans are expressing great concern for their loyal opposition. They want Democrats to lose the election (and the Senate), of course, but they don't want them to lose as badly as they will if the GOP is forced to run against a Socialist.

"If we can run a race against a person that's an out-of-the-closet socialist and promoting socialist ideas, it's a great contrast for us," said Sen. John Thune (R-N.D.).

Republicans in Congress watching Sanders are "practically cheering him on" in the Democratic presidential primary, arguing that a self-described democratic socialist cannot possibly defeat President Donald Trump in the general election.

So, are Republicans scared that a clear majority of Americans in both parties believe that the government is not doing enough to help the People and the environment?

Are Republicans worried that the Number One priority for voters in both parties is having government-clout and oversight in the health care system to protect Americans from being denied care or being financially broken by private health insurers?

Are Republicans intimidated that Bernie Sanders is going to tell Americans that they deserve the same rights, freedoms, and liberties that People in other Developed nations have?

Sanders said he is confident this view will backfire on the GOP come election time. "I would suggest they underestimate me at their own peril and I hope they do," said the Vermont senator, who consistently leads Trump in hypothetical general election matchups.

Bernie is absolutely right to be confident. There is a great uprising out there in America that Congress cannot see. In lying, betraying, and deceiving the People, they themselves have gone blind.

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The political system is what it is because the People are who they are. — Plato
joe shikspack's picture

@Pluto's Republic

heh. i always find it amusing when one party offers helpful advice to their opposition partner.

it kind of looks like the republicans are signalling to the centrist democrats that running a socialist who promises to actually do something for the rubes is a dirty, underhanded trick. honor among theives, you know.

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Pluto's Republic's picture

@joe shikspack

Naturally, the Democratic Bosses are just as anxious as the Republicans to take health care equality off he table for Americans — before the General election begins.

But that puts Democrats in a tight spot, because if they do so — against the will of the people — they lose.

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The political system is what it is because the People are who they are. — Plato