The Evening Blues - 8-23-19
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features slide guitarist and singer Bonnie Raitt. Enjoy!
Bonnie Raitt - Angel From Montgomery
"You know what they want? They want obedient workers. Obedient workers. People who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork, and just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly shittier jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, the reduced benefits, the end of overtime and the vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it, and now they’re coming for your Social Security money. They want your retirement money. They want it back so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street, and you know something? They’ll get it. They’ll get it all from you, sooner or later, 'cause they own this fucking place. It's a big club, and you ain’t in it."
-- George Carlin
News and Opinion
After Handing Rich $1.5 Trillion Tax Cut, Trump Reportedly Considering Slashing Medicare and Social Security as 'Second-Term Project'
After exploding the federal budget deficit with over a trillion dollars in tax cuts for the rich and massive corporations, President Donald Trump is reportedly considering using his possible second term in the White House to slash Medicare and Social Security—the final part of a two-step plan progressives have been warning about since before the GOP tax bill passed Congress in 2017.
The New York Times reported this week that, with the budget deficit set to surpass $1 trillion in 2020 thanks in large part to Trump's tax cuts and trade war, Republicans and right-wing groups are pressuring the president to take a sledgehammer to Social Security and Medicare, widely popular programs Trump vowed not to touch during his 2016 campaign.
Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) told the Times that his party has discussed cutting Medicare and Social Security with Trump and said the president has expressed openness to the idea. "We've brought it up with President Trump, who has talked about it being a second-term project," said Barrasso.
— For Tax Fairness (@4TaxFairness) August 22, 2019
"The Trump/GOP tax cuts for the wealthy will add over $1.5 trillion in debt," said the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. "Now we know how they'll pay for those tax cuts, by cutting Social Security and Medicare."
A new report published this week by the financial advisory firm Janus Hendersons shows that the world’s largest corporations will hand out $1.43 trillion in dividend payments to their shareholders in 2019, setting a new record.
Ten years after the global financial crisis began in 2008, wages continue to stagnate, poverty is rising, and workers everywhere are lyingly told that there is no money for such elementary social needs as healthcare, education and pensions. At the same time, the class of corporate executives and billionaire shareholders continues to rake in incredible sums of money.
According to the report, which is based on data calculated for the world’s 1,200 largest companies, total dividend payments surpassed half a trillion US dollars in the second quarter of this year, reaching $513 billion. To place this number in context, the amount handed out directly to shareholders in 2019 will be more than the annual economic output of Spain, a country of 47 million people. In just three months, the 20 largest companies alone paid $87.9 billion in dividends, roughly twice the total economic output of Tunisia (population 11.5 million) for an entire year.
Dividends are payments made by companies to their shareholders on a quarterly or annual basis, with every share entitling its owner to receive an amount determined by the company’s board. The money for these payments does not arise out of thin air. It is extracted from the collective labour of the working class. Its source, as Karl Marx discovered more than 150 years ago, is the surplus arising from the difference in value between what the workers are paid in wages and what they produce in the course of their work.
The figures contained in the report demonstrate how the share market serves as a mechanism for the transfer of wealth up the income scale from the working class to the wealthiest sections of society. The overwhelming majority of shares of all these corporations are dominated by a relative handful of investment firms and hedge funds which are controlled by a tiny layer of billionaire and multi-millionaire shareholders.
Negative interest rates mean that the financial system cannot identify any problems worth profitably solving. So cool how humanity has no more problems. https://t.co/VUUXONAoX5
— Matt Stoller (@matthewstoller) August 20, 2019
Los Angeles officials are considering a new law to stop homeless people from sleeping near schools, parks, or otherwise “crowded public sidewalk areas.”
Some 60,000 homeless people barely scrape by in Los Angeles County, where there’s a ballooning rental crisis. Many of those people sleep in tents or cars because homeless shelters are already packed. But Los Angeles City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell proposed a new rule that would punish people based on where they sleep.
The city’s Homelessness and Poverty Committee drafted the rule Wednesday and submitted it to the full city council for consideration. The council has not yet vetted the proposal, according to the Los Angeles Times, and it will have to go through lawyers before it heads to a vote.
“The reality is we have sensitive areas to consider and as city leaders we must strike the balance between the needs of those experiencing homelessness and keeping our public spaces safe and accessible,” O’Farrell said in a statement to the Times Thursday.
Argentine President Mauricio Macri, smarting from a bruising primary election loss, announced on Thursday an end to sales taxes on basic food products until the end of the year in a bid to salvage his re-election prospects and end an economic crisis.
In a televised address to the nation, Macri announced that sales taxes of around 21 percent would be axed on basic foodstuffs - including bread, sugar, milk, oil, flour, pasta, eggs and rice - to soften the impact of an IMF-backed austerity program on the growing ranks of the poor.
The tax cut represents the boldest of a series of measures Macri has unveiled since his overwhelming defeat on Sunday by the leftist opposition, as he seeks to bolster his waning support and revive Latin America’s third-largest economy.
The shelving of the sales taxes was an awkward about-turn for a president who took office in 2015 vowing to slash public subsidies and to correct what he called years of leftist economic mismanagement.
Macri has already announced a series of welfare subsidies and tax cuts for lower-income workers since the weekend. He has also promised to raise the minimum wage, temporarily freeze gasoline prices and increase the income tax bracket floor by 20%. On Thursday, he announced plans to help people with inflation-linked mortgages.
Well, as president his order exceeds his authority. But, then again, perhaps it doesn't exceed the authority of "the chosen one." The delusions continue ...
Donald Trump ordered US companies to leave China on Friday after launching another blistering attack on Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell, asking “who is our bigger enemy, Jay Powell or [China’s] Chairman Xi?”
Moments after Federal Reserve chairman, Jerome Powell, warned the US central bank was facing a “new challenge” as it deals with the Trump administration’s seesaw trade policies and ongoing dispute with China, Trump went on a Twitter rampage calling for a US boycott.
Our Country has lost, stupidly, Trillions of Dollars with China over many years. They have stolen our Intellectual Property at a rate of Hundreds of Billions of Dollars a year, & they want to continue. I won’t let that happen! We don’t need China and, frankly, would be far....
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 23, 2019
....better off without them. The vast amounts of money made and stolen by China from the United States, year after year, for decades, will and must STOP. Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 23, 2019
....your companies HOME and making your products in the USA. I will be responding to China’s Tariffs this afternoon. This is a GREAT opportunity for the United States. Also, I am ordering all carriers, including Fed Ex, Amazon, UPS and the Post Office, to SEARCH FOR & REFUSE,....
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 23, 2019
....all deliveries of Fentanyl from China (or anywhere else!). Fentanyl kills 100,000 Americans a year. President Xi said this would stop - it didn’t. Our Economy, because of our gains in the last 2 1/2 years, is MUCH larger than that of China. We will keep it that way!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 23, 2019
The president has no legal authority to compel US companies to leave China – one of the US’s largest markets and trading partners. It is as yet unclear how he will impose his “order.”
In comments Thursday during an interview with Russian-language Channel 9, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared to confirm weeks of reported Israeli strikes against Iraqi territory.
Asked about the matter, Netanyahu said Israel was operating “not just if needed” but also in many areas around the region where they believed
they could hit Iranian targets or interests. He added he’d given the
military “a free hand,” though he did not directly address any
This lines up with satellite photos of the various targeted sites,
which reports appeared to confirm were targeted with airstrikes, and
not random explosions. Further reports suggested Israel’s attacks had
advanced approval from the US and Russia both.
Sources from the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Jarida claim that Israel plans to attack targets of Houthi rebels and Hezbollah in Yemen, near the Straits of Bab-el-Mandeb separating the Red Sea from the Gulf of Aden. According to the source, the Mossad and Military Intelligence are monitoring Iran's attempts to deliver weapons, including missiles and drones, which could be used for terrorist attacks against the region's maritime network.
It has also been claimed that some of the drones and missiles were transferred to Iraq in an attempt to mislead the other party, and that the bombings attributed to Israel in the Arab country were intended to prevent the continuation of the route towards Yemen.
The sources confirmed that Israel shared its intelligence with Arab states that have ports in the area, and that they could be targets for attacks. The United States has also been updated on developments in shipping weapons from Iran to the Red Sea region.
After Life of Incalculable Harm, Billionaire Climate Denialist and Right-Wing Villain David Koch Dead at 79
Billionaire industrialist David Koch, who spent vast sums of his billions in personal fortune promoting climate denialism and other right wing causes over the last four decades, died Friday at 79.
His legacy in modern American politics was summed up by The New York Times:
Three decades after David Koch's public steps into politics, analysts say, the Koch brothers' money-fueled brand of libertarianism helped give rise to the Tea Party movement and strengthened the far-right wing of a resurgent Republican Party.
Koch was a controversial figure. His vast fortune—made in large part through fossil fuel extraction and manufacturing, though the company has interests in nearly everything—made him and his brother Charles two of the richest people in the world. The brothers spent at least $100 million since the 1970s promoting right-wing causes, and David ran for vice president as a member of the Libertarian Party in 1980.
One of the causes Koch dumped his fortune into promoting was climate crisis denialism.
By making vast sums of money from destroying the planet and then fighting against efforts to stem the flow of the crisis, tweeted Native American activist Tara Houska, Koch was a double damage denialist. ...
In a piece for Earther, Brian Kahn wrote that Koch and his brother's funding of the movement to obfuscate the costs of the climate crisis made them even more than the "arch-villains" they were from funding other right-wing causes. And, said Kahn, David Koch now gets to avoid the consequences of his actions.
"Climate change is a form of violence that will largely affect people with little power to address it or relatively little role in creating it," wrote Kahn. "Death is an escape hatch for David Koch while the rest of us are left scrambling for the emergency brake before we go over the cliff."
Demanding that the nation's most powerful Democrat use her position to impede President Donald Trump's vicious anti-immigrant agenda and push for impeachment, progressive activists on Wednesday disrupted a "Heart of the Resistance" event honoring House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with a lifetime achievement award.
As dozens rallied outside, four activists with Credo Action entered the InterContinental San Francisco Hotel, the site of the $250-per-ticket dinner, and interrupted the award ceremony, calling on Pelosi to heed the demands of the grassroots and a growing number of House Democrats by backing impeachment. "Speaker Pelosi, I am undocumented. My community is being targeted by ICE and killed by white supremacists. Fight for my community and impeach Trump now," said Credo Action campaign manager Thaís Marques. "We can't wait. Impeach Trump."
In an email to supporters late Wednesday, Credo Action said many Democrats in attendance "shouted Marques down while Speaker Pelosi herself talked over Marques rather than listening to and engaging with her." The activists were eventually removed from the event by San Francisco police.
"The time to act is now—we can't wait on impeachment any longer," said Marques following the event. "Pelosi's refusal to hear me speaks volumes about the limits of today's Democratic Party, which congratulates itself on hating Trump but is unwilling to act to rein him in."
.@SpeakerPelosi is the most powerful Democrat in the country. She championed many progressive policies. But she is failing us now. Trump is selling the government to the highest bidder and migrant children are dying in detention – on her watch. #WeCantWait #ImpeachTrumpNow pic.twitter.com/LLAQ8646jq
— CREDO Mobile (@CREDOMobile) August 22, 2019
During the Nazi era, roughly 300,000 additional Jewish refugees could have gained entry to the U.S. without exceeding the nation’s existing quotas. The primary mechanism that kept them out: the immigration law’s “likely to become a public charge” clause. Consular officials with the authority to issue visas denied them to everyone they deemed incapable of supporting themselves in the U.S. It is not possible to say what happened to these refugees. Some immigrated to other countries that remained outside Germany’s grip, such as Great Britain. But many – perhaps most – were forced into hiding, imprisoned in concentration camps and ghettos, and deported to extermination centers.
The Trump administration is now resurrecting “the public charge” clause as a way to limit legal immigration without changing immigration law. On Aug. 12, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced new regulations that will deny admission to those unable to prove under tough new standards that they won’t claim government benefits.
The public charge clause stretches back to an 1882 act, which was then incorporated into a 1917 law, that spelled out the classes of aliens who could be excluded from the U.S., including “persons likely to become a public charge.” For the first five decades, the public charge provision barred few people, basically only those unable to work due to physical or mental handicaps. After the 1929 stock market crash and the ensuing Great Depression, the Hoover administration sought to combat unemployment by reducing the number of immigrants. But it didn’t want to change the recently implemented Immigration Act of 1924 that set annual overall and country-by-country quotas.
In September 1930, the State Department issued a press release that told consular officials that they “must refuse the visa,” to anyone they believed “may probably be a public charge at any time.” The instructions achieved the desired effect. Within five months, only 10% of the quota slots allotted to European immigrants had been filled. When the Roosevelt administration assumed power in March 1933, it continued the new interpretation of the public charge clause. As refugees from first Germany and then most of Europe sought to escape Nazi persecution, the State Department used the public charge clause to limit the number of foreigners, most of whom were Jews, from immigrating to the U.S. ... Top State Department officials made clear what it was they wanted: to reduce immigration as much as possible. They also made clear that consular officials’ careers hinged upon accomplishing that goal.
Although immigration laws have changed considerably since the 1930s and 1940s, the existing Immigration and Nationality Act retains a version of the public charge clause. It is as vague as earlier incarnations. Anyone who is likely at any time to become a public charge is inadmissible, but the act doesn’t define what that means. ... The regulations leave the ultimate determination “in the opinion” of the appropriate government official, but I see little reason to doubt the result will be fewer and different types of immigrants. The Trump administration is as likely to succeed in communicating what it wants to lower-level officials as was the Nazi-era State Department.
The day before a gunman in El Paso carried out the deadliest attack against Latinos in modern US history, the Texas governor sent out an anti-immigrant fundraising letter calling on Republicans to “DEFEND TEXAS NOW” and “take matters into our own hands”, according to news reports.
The 2 August letter from the governor, Greg Abbott, lamented that in “just three weeks in June, 45,000 illegal immigrants were apprehended crossing the Mexican border into Texas!” It continued: “That amounts to the entire population of Galveston – every three weeks. In just six months, we’d add the population of Arlington!”
“If we’re going to DEFEND Texas, we’ll need to take matters into our own hands,” Abbott wrote in the mailer, which was reported by the Texas Signal website. The Guardian has seen a redacted copy but not the original document.
The fundraising appeal echoed the xenophobic rhetoric of Donald Trump, who has spoken of an “invasion” of migrants into the US. It also echoed the language in the racist “manifesto” allegedly written by the 21-year-old suspect before he killed 22 people at a Walmart near the US-Mexico border. The suspect, who traveled from a Dallas suburb 600 miles away, said the mass shooting was a “response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas” in his hate-filled document.
70 US Mayors Issue Scathing Letter Demanding Trump USDA Call Off Effort to Strip Food Stamps From 3 Million People
In a letter Wednesday to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, mayors from 70 cities across the country expressed their "strong opposition" to the Trump administration's proposed federal rule that could cut off food stamps for more than 3 million people.
USDA Secretary Sonny Purdue announced the rule, which would end automatic Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) eligibility for those who receive other federal and state aid, last month. Critics swiftly condemned the proposal as an "unconscionable" attack on low-income Americans that would increase hunger among the most vulnerable.
Written on behalf of the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) the new letter (pdf) describes SNAP as "one of our nation's key resources in the fight against hunger and... particularly important to vulnerable populations in our cities."
Last year alone, 37,000 low-income patients in Utah received subsidized family planning under Title X, the federal program which distributes grants to clinics. But as of Monday, when Planned Parenthood withdrew from the longstanding scheme over new Trump administration rule banning clinics from referring patients for abortions, the US non-profit’s Utah branch must now look elsewhere for the $2m annual grant it used to depend on to provide essential services like birth control, STD and breast and cervical cancer tests to poor women.
“We’re doing all that we can as a team, as a staff, as an organization to try to do what we can to lessen the impact on patients, but the truth is that it harms patients,” said Heather Stringfellow, vice-president of public policy for Planned Parenthood Association of Utah.
“The fact that the Trump administration has put this gag rule in place has forced providers that use best medical practice to guide their care out of the program. The impact is on patients. It’s essentially potentially leaving our patients with nowhere to go.”
For 35 years Planned Parenthood has been the sole Title X provider in Utah, which has an overall annual budget of over $10m. Stringfellow said they have been preparing by diversifying funding streams and are doing their best to maintain services, but that the funding loss will still have a big impact on patients. ...
Impact is expected to vary greatly from state to state. In places such as Vermont, where the state has agreed to step in to fill any funding gaps, or Maryland, which earlier this year became the first state to opt out of Title X in favour of state funding, services are expected to continue as normal. But in others, such as Minnesota, where Planned Parenthood runs 90% of Title X services, or Utah, where it runs 100%, the future of these services is less certain.
The battle for the Democratic presidential nomination is dominating the news cycle, and two of the three clear frontrunners in polls, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, draw their support from the resurgent left of the party. Sanders in particular describes himself as a democratic socialist and a threat to the establishment. The third favorite, Joe Biden, presents himself not as the representative of the conservative wing, but as a pragmatic, centrist reformer (FAIR.org, 7/17/19). Across corporate media, the choice is being portrayed as between progressive idealism and a more credible pragmatism—not left vs. right, but left vs. realistic: “Should Democrats Be Going Big or Getting Real?” asked the Associated Press (7/31/19), while the LA Times (7/31/19) defined the choice as between those who “call for big, ambitious policies” and those with a “more centrist, pragmatic approach.”
Pundits and analysts have expressed profound skepticism of the progressive platform, which includes universal healthcare, public funding of higher education, a “Green New Deal” to combat climate change and higher taxes on the wealthy. They urge voters to choose more moderate (i.e. pro-corporate) candidates, who, they claim, stand a far greater chance of unseating Donald Trump in 2020 (FAIR.org, 7/2/19). Despite this, the left of the party has continued to gain momentum, with many voters drawn to the argument that bold progressive programs are not only a realistic response to the serious problems the nation faces, but also a solid strategy for winning elections by appealing to non-voters as well as the many swing voters who have conservative social views but lean left on economic policy (FAIR.org, 6/20/17).
In the face of increasing public rejection of their definition of “pragmatism,” corporate media have moved from skepticism to outright hostility. Washington Post columnist David Von Drehle (8/2/19) savaged Warren, claiming it is embarrassingly “self-evident” that her “idealistic” plans are way “out of the mainstream,” and instead America needs a healthy “dose of pragmatism” from someone like healthcare entrepreneur-turned politician John Delaney, who will stop this Medicare for All nonsense. Similarly, a New York Times headline (7/30/19) asserted that “Ahead of Debates, Pennsylvania Democrats Want Candidates to Stress Pragmatism.” The story, by reporter Trip Gabriel, described supposed runaway grassroots “excitement” for Joe Biden, even among strong progressives, who “for pragmatism, would choose him.” It also presented Sanders’ support at virtually zero—based on “a straw poll at the Newtown [Pennsylvania] picnic”—suggesting that even Pete Buttigieg is seven times as popular.
This narrative of Sanders’ limited appeal was undercut by the Times itself (8/2/19) just three days later, when it produced an interactive map of the US, showing Sanders had far and away the most campaign donations across the US, including in the two counties the Times’ Gabriel visited for the article. Sanders’ edge in supporters was so overwhelming that the Times had to produce a second map, showing the top recipient of donations in every congressional district aside from the Vermont senator. ...
Judging by the polls, and multiple studies showing the public is sick of rampant inequality, the truly pragmatic thing to do this election cycle, the way to appeal to the actual political center, may be an all-out class war against Donald Trump. But don’t expect a media owned by millionaires and billionaires to be on board with this.
Bernie's rhetoric is becoming more ambitious:
Vermont senator and 2020 presidential contender Bernie Sanders drew an overflow crowd to his downtown Sacramento rally on Thursday evening, part of a multi-day swing through California as he vies for the Democratic nomination to take on President Donald Trump next year.
“I’m here this evening to ask for your help to win the Democratic primary in California,” Sanders boomed to a fired up crowd filling Cesar Chavez Plaza — a diverse mix of young people, parents with children, men and women in business attire, and retirees in wheelchairs.
But Sanders said he was also asking for more from his area supporters.
Worth a full read:
If you tried to design a program with the aim of offending the top brass of the world’s most powerful corporations and the politicians whose careers they bankroll, you’d get something like what Bernie Sanders unveiled today in his $16.3 trillion Green New Deal platform. That’s part of the point. “We need a president who has the courage, the vision, and the record to face down the greed of fossil fuel executives and the billionaire class who stand in the way of climate action,” the plan’s opening salvo states, going on to echo a famous line from Franklin Delano Roosevelt. “We need a president who welcomes their hatred.” Sanders outlines an expansive system, building on the resolution introduced by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey in April, that would generate publicly owned clean energy and 20 million new jobs, end fossil fuels imports and exports, revivify the social safety net, redress historical injustices like environmental racism, and make prolific investments toward decarbonization at home and abroad — among many, many other things. It would not only transition American society away from fossil fuels but renegotiate decades-old nostrums, championed by the right, about the respective roles of the government and the economy. ...
There are novel, meaty policy proposals that make Sanders’s proposal stand out from an already ambitious field: a cash-for-clunkers and financial assistance program to scale up electric vehicle usage, and plans to boost public transit ridership 65 percent by 2030; a requirement that the Congressional Budget Office work with the Environmental Protection Agency to give new legislation a “climate score,” like the budget scores it currently doles out; and abiding by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to ensure the free, prior, and informed consent by Indigenous peoples. It’s also sparked controversy among energy wonks who see anti-nuclear provisions as antithetical to decarbonization. The plan also rules out carbon capture and storage, which experts suggest may be necessary in the short-run to transition hard-to-decarbonize sectors — but that fossil fuel executives have also long pushed as a way to extend its life indefinitely. Carbon taxes have been a mainstay of Sanders’s climate plans, and his Green New Deal blueprint doesn’t foreclose on the option but also doesn’t emphasize it.
Running through the plan is a different and more explicit theory of change than the lofty platforms other candidates have laid out; it’s built on organizing and naming enemies. Sanders promises to take on the “fossil fuel billionaires whose greed lies at the very heart of the climate crisis,” who, he argues, “have spent hundreds of millions of dollars protecting their profits at the expense of our future” and “will do whatever it takes to squeeze every last penny out of the Earth.” Outlining how the plan will be financed, it notes that he will get $3.085 trillion by making “the fossil fuel industry pay for their pollution, through litigation, fees, and taxes, and eliminating federal fossil fuel subsidies.” ...
Rather than inviting fossil fuel interests to the negotiating table, Sanders targets them as enemy number one. There are practical as well as political reasons not to enlist the likes of ExxonMobil in the transition to a low-carbon economy: Their core business model — to dig up and burn as much coal, oil and gas as possible — has not changed, and is plainly incompatible with decarbonizing along the timeline science is saying is necessary to avoid catastrophe. In addition to banning fracking, mountaintop removal coal mining, and extraction on public lands, Sanders plans to “[p]rosecute and sue the fossil fuel industry for the damage it has caused,” making particular reference to revelations in the last several years that Exxon funded climate disinformation while knowing full well the damage warming posed. “These corporations and their executives should not get away with hiding the truth from the American people. They should also pay damages for the destruction they have knowingly caused,” the plan states. On this point, Sanders’s plan is more confrontational than Ocasio-Cortez and Markey’s Green New Deal resolution, which doesn’t mention fossil fuels.
For a climate fight that’s historically been shy about naming enemies — and so often cast as a collective action problem — the Green New Deal framework encourages an “us versus them” strategy not unlike that of its namesake. “I think people generally feel really terrified about the climate crisis. But we’ve also been told a lie, in part, by the fossil fuel industry that it’s all of our fault,” Weber says. “But that’s obviously not the real story. The real story is that a handful of billionaires and their lobbyists and politicians are the reason we’re in this mess. If we’re going to make real progress on the crisis, I think people need to be told that truth, and need to get angry about it and know that if we get these folks out of the way, we can have a better world for everyone.”
Environmental and indigenous rights activists vowed Friday to continue fighting after Nebraska's supreme court ruled in favor of the state's proposed route for the Keystone XL pipeline.
Today's #KXL ruling by the Nebraska Supreme Court isn't the end of the fight against this dirty tar sands pipeline. From the tar sands region to the gulf coast our resistance has shown that we will not give up, we will protect the sacred for the seven generations to come.#NoKXL pic.twitter.com/0nM6RQFcwd
— Indigenous Environmental Network (@IENearth) August 23, 2019
In the new ruling, the seven justices shot down landowner, environmental, and native groups' concerns over the 2017 approval for a proposed compromise route from the state's Public Service Commission.
"It's disappointing that the court ignored key concerns about property rights and irreparable damage to natural resources, including threats to the endangered whooping crane, but today's ruling does nothing to change the fact that Keystone XL faces overwhelming public opposition and ongoing legal challenges and simply never will be built," said Ken Winston, attorney for the Nebraska Sierra Club, in a statement. "The fight to stop this pipeline is far from over."
France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, has said the fires in the Amazon are an “international crisis” and called for them to be top of the agenda at the G7 summit, prompting a furious response from Brazil’s leader.
Our house is burning. Literally. The Amazon rain forest - the lungs which produces 20% of our planet’s oxygen - is on fire. It is an international crisis. Members of the G7 Summit, let's discuss this emergency first order in two days! #ActForTheAmazon pic.twitter.com/dogOJj9big
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) August 22, 2019
Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, a right-wing nationalist who bristles at the idea of foreign interference in the Brazilian Amazon, took exception to his French counterpart’s comments. “I regret that president Macron seeks to take advantage of what is a domestic Brazilian issue and of other Amazonian countries for personal political gain,” Bolsonaro tweeted, targeting what he called Macron’s “sensationalist tone”.
In a second tweet, he said: “The French president’s suggestion that Amazonian matters be discussed at the G7 without the involvement of countries of the region recalls the colonialist mindset that is unacceptable in the 21st century.”
A fast-moving wildfire that broke out on Thursday in northern California has forced the evacuation of nearly 4,000 residents, racing across at least 600 acres within just a few hours, officials say. The Mountain fire, which erupted on the outskirts of a national forest in northern California, has threatened 1,110 homes and structures. As of Thursday evening the fire was 0% contained and officials in Shasta county described the situation as “very fluid”.
Photos of the blaze posted on Twitter by the Shasta county sheriff’s office showed thick black and gray smoke billowing into the area over a highway near the Shasta-Trinity national forest. ... The Shasta College campus was closed along with Highway 299 and about a dozen smaller roads. Residents of small communities in the path of the flames were told to evacuate or be prepared to flee on short notice.
European and US scientists have cleared up a point that has been nagging away at climate science for decades: not only is the planet warming faster than at any time in the last 2,000 years, but this unique climate change really does have neither a historic precedent nor a natural cause.
Other historic changes – the so-called Medieval Warm Period and then the “Little Ice Age” that marked the 17th to the 19th centuries – were not global. The only period in which the world’s climate has changed, everywhere and at the same time, is right now.
And other shifts in the past, marked by advancing Alpine glaciers and sustained droughts in Africa, could be pinned down to a flurry of violent volcanic activity.
The present sustained, ubiquitous warming is unique in that it can be coupled directly with the Industrial Revolution, the clearing of the forests, population growth and profligate use of fossil fuels.
The finding is part of a sustained examination of global climate history, based not just on written and pictorial records but also studies of ancient lake sediments, ice cores, tree rings and other proxy evidence assembled by an international partnership called the Past Global Changes Consortium. It is reported in the journal Nature.
An exotic plant has produced male and female cones outdoors in Britain for what is believed to be the first time in 60m years. Botanists say the event is a sign of global heating. Two cycads (Cycas revoluta), a type of primitive tree that dominated the planet 280m years ago, have produced cones on the sheltered undercliffs of Ventnor Botanic Garden on the Isle of Wight.
The species is native to Japan and usually only found indoors as an ornamental plant in Britain, but one of the garden’s plants has produced what is believed to be the first outdoor female cone on record in the UK. Cycads previously lived in what is now Britain millions of years ago, with fossils of the plants found in the Jurassic strata of rock stretching from the Isle of Wight to the Dorset coast, an era when the Earth’s climate had naturally high levels of carbon dioxide.
A plant growing outside at Ventnor first produced a male cone seven years ago, but this year different plants have produced flower-like male and females cones, giving botanists the opportunity to transfer pollen and generate seed. “For the first time in 60m years in the UK we’ve got a male cone and a female cone at the same time,” said Chris Kidd, the curator of Ventnor Botanic Gardens. “It is a strong indicator of climate change being shown, not from empirical evidence from the scientists but by plants.”
According to Kidd, last summer’s heatwave and this year’s record-breaking temperatures have caused the plant’s production of cones, with a run of milder winters also helping. He said records kept at the botanic garden show that the highest average temperatures for January 100 years ago were lower than today’s lowest average for the same month. As a result, the 27-hectare (67-acre) garden, with a climate milder than any other part of Britain except the Isles of Scilly, is growing temperate plants that would have once been unable to survive through a British winter.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Little Feat with Bonnie Raitt - Cold Cold Cold
Bonnie Raitt - I Will Not Be Denied
Bonnie Raitt - Devil got my Woman
Bonnie Raitt - Love Me Like A Man
Bonnie Raitt, Keb Mo, Kim Wilson - Ain't Nothin In Ramblin
Bonnie Raitt - Kokomo
Ray Charles and Bonnie Raitt - Do I Ever Cross Your Mind
Bonnie Raitt and Buddy Guy - Feels like rain
John Lee Hooker featuring Bonnie Raitt - I'm In The Mood
Bonnie Raitt - Pt. 1 Austin City Limits 2002
Bonnie Raitt - Pt. 2 Austin City Limits 2002