The Evening Blues - 8-27-19


The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: Papa Charlie Jackson

Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features early blues singer and banjo player Papa Charlie Jackson. Enjoy!

Papa Charlie Jackson - Shake That Thing

“...we can endure neither our vices nor the remedies needed to cure them.”

-- Livy

News and Opinion

Chris Hedges: The Curse of Moral Purity

The continued inability of America’s liberal democratic establishment to address the ills besetting the country—climate change, unregulated global capitalism, mounting social inequality, a bloated military, endless foreign wars, out-of-control deficits and gun violence—means the inevitable snuffing out of our anemic democracy. Overwhelmed by the multiple crises, the liberal elites have jettisoned genuine political life and retreated into self-defeating moral crusades in a vain and futile attempt to deflect attention away from the looming social, political, economic and environmental catastrophes. ... Liberals and the left have wasted the last two years attacking Donald Trump as a Russian asset and look set to waste the next two years attacking him as a racist. They desperately seek scapegoats to explain the election of Trump as president, no different from a right wing that tars its Democratic Party enemies as America-hating socialists and that blames Muslims, immigrants and poor people of color for our national debacle. These are competing cartoon visions of the world. They foster a self-created universe of villains and superheroes that exacerbates the mounting polarization and rage. ...

The online magazine Slate recently published a transcript of a town hall meeting between Dean Baquet, the executive editor of the New York Times, and the Times staff. It was a fascinating window into the hubris and cluelessness of the paper, the ruling elites’ primary news organ, which has spent the last two years shredding its credibility by hyping the investigation by Robert Mueller and the conspiracy theory that Trump was a Russian asset. ... The problem that the paper, along with the Democratic Party and its liberal allies, faces is that it is captive to its corporate sponsors who orchestrated our grotesque income inequality, deindustrialization, out-of-control military machine, neutered media and muzzled scholarship. The paper, therefore, rather than turn on its corporate advertisers and elitist readers, first blamed Russia and now blames white supremacists. The longer such demagoguery continues on the left and the right, the more the country will be torn asunder.

Hannah Arendt in “The Origins of Totalitarianism” pointed out that ideologies are attractive in times of crisis because they reduce and simplify reality to a single idea. While the right wing blames the decline on darker races, the liberal elites blame the decline on Russia or racists. It is the ideology, not experience or fact, that is used “to explain all historical happenings, [to provide] the total explanation of the past, the total knowledge of the present, and the reliable prediction of the future,” she wrote. All ideologies demand an impossible consistency. This is achieved by a constant mutation and distortion of reality until it becomes, as the Mueller investigation did, absurdist theater. The result for believers, Arendt wrote, is disorientation, heightened fear and paranoia.

These types of collective self-delusions have always existed in American society, as the historian Richard Hofstadter pointed out. Such self-delusions, he wrote, are “made up of certain preoccupations and fantasies: the megalomaniac view of oneself as the Elect, wholly good, abominably persecuted, yet assured of ultimate triumph; the attribution of gigantic and demonic powers to the adversary.” But these self-delusions have usually been confined to the fringes of society, such as, for example, a left wing that made political pilgrimages to the Soviet Union, blissfully ignoring its government’s slaughter of millions of its own citizens, the gulags and the famines, and a right wing that celebrated fascist dictatorships in Spain and later Latin America, overlooking the mass executions, state terror and death squads there. Collective self-delusions, however, have now been mainstreamed. They are trumpeted by media platforms across the political spectrum and by the political establishment. They are the fodder of Fox News and Breitbart as well as MSNBC and CNN.

Kill or be killed: Israel plays the ‘preemptive strike’ card again

Israeli Bombings Considered a 'Declaration of War,' Says Iraqi Political Bloc

Iraqi parliamentary Shiite leaders in the Fatah Movement political party on Monday issued a statement calling weekend airstrikes allegedly carried out by the Israeli military in western Iraq tantamount to a "declaration of war." The statement placed blame for the strikes not only with the Israeli military but also with American forces. "While we reserve the right to respond to these Zionist attacks, we hold the international coalition, particularly the United States, fully responsible for this aggression which we consider a declaration of war on Iraq and its people," the statement read.

Sunday's strikes in Iraq targeted forces with the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), the state-backed militia group that has fought ISIS at the Iraqi-Syrian border for years.

Among the dead was a commander with the PMF. Ten thousand people reportedly attended his funeral Monday.

In Lebanon Sunday, two drones alleged to belong to the Israeli military were downed. The drones, one of which was reportedly armed with explosives, were alleged by Hezbollah to have targeted a Hezbollah communications center in Beruit. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said in a statement that the attacks were part of a cynical reelection strategy by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—a strategy, Nasrallah said, that would end badly for Netanyahu.

Iran says it has sold oil from tanker released by Gibraltar

Iran has sold the oil from a tanker released by Gibraltar after weeks in the custody of British Royal Marines and the vessel’s owner will decide on its next destination, IRIB news agency quoted an Iranian government spokesman as saying on Monday.

Separately, Tehran - embroiled in a spiralling confrontation with Washington over U.S. sanctions meant to strangle Iranian oil exports - announced that it had deployed a naval destroyer with cruise missiles to help secure Iranian ships.

The Iranian government spokesman did not identify the recipient of the oil carried by the Adrian Darya tanker. ... “The Islamic Republic of Iran has sold the oil of this ship and now the owner and purchaser of this oil will decide the destination of the cargo,” government spokesman Ali Rabiei said. Refinitiv Eikon shipping data showed on Monday that the tanker was no longer recorded as bound for Turkey, its indicated destination at the weekend. No new destination was given.

Iran said any U.S. move to seize the vessel again would have “heavy consequences”. The U.S. government said it wanted the tanker detained anew on the grounds that it had links to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, which Washington has designated a terrorist organisation.

Russia: Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan meets Vladimir Putin amid tensions in Syria's Idlib

U.S. judge orders release of FBI records in Sarasota probe that may tie Saudi royals to 9/11 hijackers

A federal judge has ruled the FBI unlawfully withheld from the Florida Bulldog key sections of records of its investigation of a Saudi family that fled Sarasota two weeks before the 9/11 attacks – leaving behind cars, clothes, furniture, food and other belongings.

The Bulldog sued the FBI for the records in 2012 after reporting that Abdulaziz and Anoud al-Hijji, who lived in a gated community near Sarasota, had ties to several of the 9/11 hijackers, an al Qaeda figure and the Saudi royal family. The Bulldog, working with Irish author Anthony Summers, had revealed that the FBI had investigated the family in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks but never disclosed its investigation to Congress or the 9/11 Commission.

The FBI responded quickly to that Bulldog report from 2011 with press releases denying its investigation had found any connections between the al-Hijjis and the hijackers, and claiming it turned over its work to Congress. The Bulldog suit under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) then forced the FBI to cough up records of the investigation. The FBI turned over to the Bulldog just 81 pages of heavily-censored memos and notes, a fraction of the paperwork that’s typically generated in such investigations. An April 16, 2002, memo included in the release showed, however, that at least one unnamed FBI agent had found “many connections” between the al-Hijjis and the 9/11 hijackers. The FBI blacked out the entire last paragraph of that memo on national security grounds.

For seven years, the Bulldog has been fighting to unveil that paragraph, as well as other withheld information, on grounds that they might shed light on whether the Saudi government was complicit in 2001 with the 9/11 hijackers, a position that thousands of 9/11 victim families and survivors have taken in lawsuits against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. ... The new, Aug. 22 ruling by Fort Lauderdale Senior U.S. District Judge William J. Zloch rejects the FBI’s claim that the withheld paragraph would reveal secret techniques and procedures. Zloch also ordered the release of an FBI “analyst’s note” from 2011 which appears to comment on the April 16, 2002 “many connections” memo. The judge has granted the FBI a chance to appeal his order before it must release the information. The FBI has not yet said whether it will appeal.

Fairly muted criticism of Sanders and Warren from Medea Benjamin. Worth a full read:

Are Sanders and Warren Throwing a Lifeline to the Military-Industrial Complex?

Among the frontrunners in the Democratic Party presidential primary, Senators Warren and Sanders not only have the most progressive domestic agenda, but also the most anti-war, pro-diplomacy foreign policy agenda. The sharpest distinction between them is that Sanders has voted against over 80% of recent record military spending bills in the Senate, while Warren has voted for two thirds of them.

But their pro-diplomacy worldview has blind spots. They have both tempered their calls for peace and diplomacy with attacks on Russia and China, framed as warnings against “authoritarianism.” These attacks—in the present-day context of bipartisan Russia- and China-bashing—carve out an ominous exception to their foreign policy agenda big enough to fly a squadron of F-35s through. This creates a pretext for continuing U.S. militarism and risks undermining their commitment to peace. ...

After a 45-year Cold War against communism and a 20-year Global War on Terror, the last thing we need from our next president is a New Cold War, a “War on Authoritarianism” or a war of any kind as a new organizing principle for U.S. foreign policy. Authoritarianism is not a concept the U.S. can defeat militarily, any more than "communism" or "terror." To the extent that authoritarianism is an international problem, the solution for it lies in progressive movements and in real policy solutions that will reverse the inequities of neoliberalism and improve the lives of working people here and around the world. ...

As Representative Gabbard keeps reiterating in her campaign, we must not let this moment and this chance for peace slip away into a New Cold War.

Sanders and Warren may not intend their criticisms of Russia and China to justify record Pentagon spending, but the Military-Industrial Complex is seizing on the Russia- and China-bashing by both Democrats and Republicans for precisely that purpose. After decades of fighting losing battles with guerrilla forces in Afghanistan and the Middle East, the US military is now once again preparing to combat “peer competitors,” i.e. Russia and China. ...

Democratic candidates should beware lest their tangled rhetoric about “authoritarianism" and their attacks on Russia and China are seized upon by military-industrial interests and braided into a lifeline to rescue the Military-Industrial Complex from its real mortal enemies: peace and disarmament.

In 2002, Senator Edward Kennedy called the Bush administration’s policy of "preemptive" war, “a call for 21st century American imperialism that no other nation can or should accept.” After two decades of intractable violence and chaos and a debilitating, ever-growing military budget, aspiring U.S. leaders should not be blaming other countries for the failures of U.S. policy or whipping up a new Cold War with old enemies. Progressive candidates should instead be sending the entire world an unequivocal message that the United States is finally ready to turn the page to a new era of peaceful, cooperative and lawful diplomacy. Until they do, and until they back it up in practice, it is premature to assume that Russia and China are committed to irredeemable hostility and a new arms race.

An interesting piece worth a full read:

Divisions between major powers widen at G7 summit

The G7 meeting held in France over the weekend marks another stage in the breakdown of the post-war capitalist order with the major imperialist powers becoming embroiled in a series of conflicts of the kind that led to the outbreak of World War II eighty years ago. The G7 was set up in 1975 as a mechanism to develop international economic collaboration and coordination in the face of what was, to that point, the most serious recession in the global capitalist economy since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Today, in the midst of a very much more serious situation, as the global economy is ripped apart by deepening trade war, growing signs of recession, amid rising concerns over the instability of the international financial system, the very discussion of these issues has become the focus of conflict. ...

Such is the level of tensions, Macron declared in the lead-up to the summit, that the practice of issuing a formal communiqué summing up the discussion would be abandoned because no one took any notice of them and they were only studied to determine the points of difference. As he was preparing his departure for the summit, Trump escalated those tensions with the announcement that his administration would increase tariffs against China and that “great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China.” The “order” was largely dismissed as an example of overreach by the president and laughed off in the American media and sections of the political establishment because it was claimed he did not have the power to enforce such a directive which could only be employed under conditions of war.

Trump responded that he did hold such power.

“For all the Fake News Reporters that don’t have a clue as to what the law is relative to Presidential powers, China etc., try looking at the [International] Economic Powers Act [IEEPA] of 1977. Case closed,” he tweeted. Speaking on “Fox News Sunday,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Trump did have the power to force US companies to quit China under the IEEPA if he declared an emergency. This position was supported by Kudlow in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” program but he said there was “nothing right now in the cards” that he would do so. However, action under the IEEPA, which has been described as the “nuclear option,” has already been considered. Trump threatened to invoke it in May when the administration said it would impose tariffs against Mexico unless it took action to halt the flow of immigrants and refugees into the US. ...

China is not the sole target of US trade war measures. Trump has warned that if France goes ahead with a proposed tax on US technology companies the United States will tax French wine “like they’ve never seen before.” European Council President Donald Tusk, who takes part in the G7 discussions, said the European Union would respond “in kind” if Trump carried out his threat. While it is not on the agenda, there is also the continuing threat by the US to impose tariff on European auto exports, to be invoked on “national security” grounds, unless the European Union agrees to make concessions on US agricultural exports. This issue may soon come to the fore as the US moves to step up pressure on the EU after the announcement, on the eve of the meeting, of a partial trade deal with Japan which has also been subject to the same threat. ...

There are also divisions with the European Union. These emerged as a result of Macron’s threat that France would refusse to sign a trade agreement between the EU and the Mercosur group of countries—Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay—over the alleged refusal of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to take action against fires raging in the Amazon rainforest. Macron has accused Bolsonaro of lying on the issue. But the French move brought opposition from Germany because its auto companies are expected to benefit from the agreement which has yet to be ratified by the parliaments of the EU. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said not concluding the trade deal was “not the appropriate answer to what is happening in Brazil right now.” Surveying the state of international relations as the summit was about to get underway, Tusk said it would be a “difficult test of the unity and solidarity of the free world and its leaders.”

China's yuan hits 11-year low as trade tensions grip markets

The yuan has fallen to its lowest level in 11 years as the US-China trade war continued to grip markets.

The Chinese currency sunk below to 7.1500 a dollar, the lowest rate since February 2008, on Monday after Washington and Beijing confirmed further tit-for-tat tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars worth of imports.

This latest flare-up also sent shares down sharply across the Asia-Pacific region, as investors ditched equities in favour of safe-haven government bonds. Gold – another measure of investor angst – hit its highest level in six years, at $1,554 an ounce.

Germany on brink of recession as business confidence nosedives

Germany’s economy is on the brink of recession after business confidence plunged to its lowest level in seven years.

The ifo Institute, a Munich-based research group, said: “Worry lines among German business leaders are getting deeper and deeper.” Its monthly confidence index fell to just 94.3 points in August, down from 95.8 in July, the weakest reading since November 2012.

In the latest sign that Europe’s largest economy is struggling, the survey of nearly 10,000 German companies found that managers were gloomier about the current economic situation, and more pessimistic about the outlook over the next six months.

The head of ifo, Prof Clemens Fuest, forecasted that Germany’s GDP would shrink this quarter, having already contracted by 0.1% in the previous three months. That would put the economy into a recession [defined as 2 consecutive quarters of negative growth - js] for the first time since 2013.

It looks like Boris is utterly lacking in leverage.

Brexit: EU ‘would block trade deal if Britain reneged on bill’

The European Union would refuse to negotiate a trade deal with the UK if the government reneged on the Brexit bill, EU sources have said. At the G7 summit in Biarritz, Boris Johnson said it was a “simple statement of reality” that in the event of no-deal Brexit the UK would withhold much of the £39bn financial settlement agreed by Theresa May.

Brussels sources have warned that future trade talks would be blocked until the UK agreed to a settlement.

The financial settlement was a “totemic” issue for EU member states, one official said. “The message will be ‘honour your debts, or we are not even going to start talking about a trade deal,’” the source said, reflecting a widespread view among diplomats. ...

But the UK would be under intense pressure from business to strike a trade deal with the EU, its largest trading partner. Britain does around half its trade with the EU – the bloc accounts for 46% of UK exports and 54% of UK imports. At the weekend, Johnson insisted the UK “can easily cope with a no-deal scenario”.

Sources on both sides of the Brexit divide fear it could take a long time to pick up the pieces of an acrimonious no-deal exit. Once the UK is outside the EU, any new agreement would have to be ratified by national parliaments, a process that could take years.

Keiser Report: Paycheck to paycheck

ICE Took Over a Program That Shields Sick Immigrants from Deportation. Here's How That's Going.

ICE will now be able to decide whether undocumented immigrants getting treatment for serious medical conditions can stay in the country, WBUR and the Associated Press reported Monday.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the federal agency that handles matters like naturalization and adjustment of status, had previously handled cases through the "medical deferred action" program. But these requests — essentially a form of short-term deportation relief for people getting treated for conditions like cancer, cystic fibrosis, and muscular dystrophy — are now being referred to ICE for “consideration,” a USCIS spokesperson told VICE News. ...

ICE took control over the program on August 7. And last week, immigrants who were in the program in the Boston area received letters notifying them they no longer qualified, according to both the AP and the WBUR reports. The immigrants who received these letters were largely parents of chronically ill children. Under the deferred action program, they were not only temporarily protected from deportation but also allowed to legally work in the country while their kids received medical treatment.

Anthony Marino, director of legal services for the Irish International Immigrant Center, told WBUR that at least five families who receive legal services from the center are affected by the change. Those families received letters from the government saying they have to leave within 33 days of the issue date or else face deportation and a temporary ban on returning to the U.S.

Massachusetts politicians slammed the recent change. “By no longer considering medical deferred action requests for immigrants, the Trump administration is now literally deporting kids with cancer,” Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey said on Facebook. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh called the decision “absurd and inhumane.”

Kochland: How David Koch Helped Build an Empire to Shape U.S. Politics & Thwart Climate Action

Worth a read, here's a taste:

David Koch’s Most Significant Legacy Is the Election of Donald Trump

David Koch, the fossil fuel industry billionaire who passed away on August 23 at the age of 79, spent the second half of his life building a political power structure alongside his brother Charles that radically reshaped society and set the conditions for the rise of President Donald Trump.

Many obituaries published in recent days examine Koch’s history of polluting the environment and political system, how the donor network he helped lead mobilized opposition to addressing climate change, transformed our election laws to allow unlimited secret spending by the very rich, and systematically fought any regulation, labor reform, or tax viewed as a threat to the corporate power elite.

Yet Koch’s most visible accomplishment is the current occupant of the White House — a legacy largely unrecognized, and one that goes well beyond any other single triumph in his life.

The nexus is not readily clear to most, especially given that the two clashed publicly; Trump, for instance, has taken to gleefully ridiculing Koch and his brother as “globalists.” But in his scorched-earth quest for unparalleled influence, Koch, perhaps unwittingly, laid the path for Trump.

the horse race

New 2020 National Poll Shows Sanders and Warren Tied for First Place as Biden Drops 13 Points

A Monmouth University poll released Monday showed Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren tied for first place in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary race, while former Vice President Joe Biden fell to second as his support dropped 13 points since June.

The survey found Sanders and Warren are even at 20 percent support from registered Democrats and Democratic-leaning independent voters. Sanders saw the largest jump in support of any candidate in the survey, gaining six points since Monmouth's June poll.

Biden, who leads most national surveys, polled at 19 percent support, down from 32 percent in June.

"It's important to keep in mind this is just one snapshot from one poll," Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute, said in a statement. "But it does raise warning signs of increased churning in the Democratic nomination contest now that voters are starting to pay closer attention."

The survey has a 5.7 percent margin of error and a sample size of 298 Democratic and Democratic-leaning independent voters.

The poll comes as both Sanders and Warren are drawing large and enthusiastic crowds across the nation as they make the case for their progressive platforms.

Before Kamala Harris Soured on Bernie Sanders’s Medicare for All Bill, She Grew Her Email List From It

Before distancing herself from Sen. Bernie Sanders’s Medicare for All campaign, Kamala Harris repeatedly boasted her support for the legislation in Facebook ads, in an effort to grow her list of supporters. Earlier this month, Harris backed away from Medicare for All during a private event in the Hamptons, telling a crowd of large-dollar donors that she had “not been comfortable with Bernie’s plan,” Bloomberg reported.

“I was proud to be the first Senate Democrat to come out in support of Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All bill,” the ad, which ran from August 2 to August 7, 2018, and prompted Facebook users to share their email addresses with the campaign, read. “It is absurd that we are the only major industrialized nation in the world not to guarantee health care to all people. Add your name if you agree it’s time for Medicare for All.” Harris told attendees at the fundraiser that her plan would preserve private insurance, distancing herself from Sanders’s plan, which she was the first senator to co-sponsor in 2017.

In January, she ran a sponsored campaign via Daily Kos asking the site’s readers to sign a petition — one that would have them join her own email list — calling for Medicare for All. ... In September 2017, in a similar petition, she named Sanders specifically while asking people to back her decision to co-sponsor his bill. ... In August 2018, the campaign for the former prosecutor and junior senator from California ran at least six sponsored ads that reached Facebook users in states across the country. At least half of those were specifically targeted to California. The ads reached about 6,000 Facebook users, according to data available from Facebook. The ad called for Facebook users to add their names and email addresses to a petition supporting Medicare for All, expanding the campaign’s email list — a key fundraising tool.

During her 2018 Senate re-election campaign, Harris ran ads with fundraising pitches linked to her support for Medicare for All. “Every donation you make keeps me off the phones and focused on fighting for things like Medicare for All, DACA, and bail reform in the U.S. Senate,” one ad read. ...

After news of her comments at the Hamptons fundraiser were reported last week, Sanders and members of his team swiped back at Harris on Twitter. “Promises to big donors in the Hamptons don’t stay in the Hamptons,” Sanders speechwriter David Sirota wrote. Harris’s campaign spokesperson Ian Sams responded, “She has her own health care plan. So yeah, not a secret she isn’t running on Bernie’s plan anymore. Sorry, David.

Full Interview: Bernie Sanders sits down with Krystal Ball

For Always Making It Clear 'Which Side He Is On,' Bernie Sanders Nabs First National Union Endorsement

Sen. Bernie Sanders on Monday nabbed his first national union endorsement of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, from the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America.

The endorsement came after a speech to the union's national convention in Pittsburgh wherein Sanders said that corporate greed "is an illness, it is an addiction."

"If the corporate CEOs don't get the treatment that they need," said Sanders, "we will provide the treatment for them."

In a statement provided to Common Dreams, UE general president Peter Knowlton said that Sanders "understands the need for workers to have a democratic, independent union movement that is unafraid to challenge corporate America's stranglehold on our economy."

"From four decades of actively supporting UE members and other workers in Vermont, to his vocal support for our 1,700 members in Erie, Pennsylvania who went on a nine-day strike this past winter, Bernie Sanders has always made it clear which side he is on," said Knowlton.

The union endorsement is the second national one of the cycle, The New York Times reported, after former Vice President Joe Biden netted the endorsement of the national firefighters' union shortly after announcing his run in April.

DNC Cheating Tulsi Out Of Debate Spot

Joe Arpaio announces bid for sheriff on second anniversary of Trump pardon

Joe Arpaio announced on Sunday – the second anniversary of his pardon by Donald Trump – that he will see re-election to his old job next year.

Arpaio, 87, is a Republican who was voted out of office in 2016 after 24 years as sheriff of Maricopa county. He said he would seek his party’s nomination again in the 4 August 2020 primary, running against his former chief deputy, Gerard Sheridan. ...

In office, Arpaio branded himself as “America’s Toughest Sheriff”, overseeing roundups of suspected undocumented migrants, bringing back chain gangs, erecting tent cities to house prisoners and forcing inmates to wear pink. A federal judge cited him for criminal contempt in 2017, ruling that he defied a 2011 court order barring his deputies from detaining Latinos solely on the suspicion that they were in the country illegally.

Trump, who had carried Arizona by five points in his 2016 presidential election, pardoned Arpaio on 25 August 2017, before he could be sentenced.

the evening greens

Alaska Is on Fire. Bugs Are Making It Worse.

Hundreds of people have been evacuated in Alaska as wildfires tear through some of the state’s most populated areas. Gray smoke billowed over the city of Anchorage, where schools shut down, and air quality levels were off the charts. More than 80 structures have burned to the ground in the state as a result of the fires — and a number of those were homes. About 400 people have evacuated north of Anchorage, and the fires are currently burning over nearly 150,000 acres.

The record-breaking heat of the last few months, the historic drought, and some unlucky lightning strikes have sparked fires that have already burned almost 3 million acres this summer in Alaska. ... Fire is a natural part of the ecosystem in the boreal forests of Alaska. But these fires aren’t normal. “It's not unprecedented, but it is extremely uncommon to have fires this late in the season,” said Brian Brettschneider, a climate scientist at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. But drought in the state, on the scale the state has seen this summer, is unprecedented. August in Alaska is normally rainy season, but there’s been very little rain this year. In fact, Brettschneider said that Alaska has never really had to contend with drought at all. ...

Plus, the boreal forests around Anchorage have seen infestations of spruce bark beetles, bugs native to Alaska that thrive in warmer weather. During this year’s hot summer, they’ve made themselves comfortable. They burrow into spruce trees, killing them and essentially turning them into kindling for fires.

Can nuclear power save us from climate catastrophe? MIT professor weighs in

Indonesia names site of capital city to replace sinking Jakarta

Indonesia has announced plans to move its capital from the climate-threatened megalopolis of Jakarta to the sparsely populated island of Borneo, which is home to some of the world’s greatest tropical rainforests. President Joko Widodo said the move was necessary because the burden on Jakarta was “too heavy”, but environmentalists said the $33bn relocation needed to be carefully handled or it would result in fleeing one ecological disaster only to create another.

As well as dire problems of pollution and traffic congestion, Jakarta suffers from severe subsidence, which makes the coastal city extremely vulnerable to rising sea levels. Poor urban planning on land that was originally swamp, along with the unregulated draining of aquifers, has left 40% of the city under sea level. The worst affected neighbourhoods are reportedly sinking 10-20cm per year – one of the fastest rates in the world.

Although the government has planned huge new sea defences, Widodo has expressed frustration at the slow pace of progress. “This huge project will need to be done quickly to prevent Jakarta from sinking under the sea,” he said last month.

The relocation aims to ease the pressure on Jakarta by moving its administrative functions about 1,000km to Kalimantan, which is the Indonesian portion of the island of Borneo (which is also shared with Malaysia and Brunei.) Jakarta will continue to be a commercial and financial centre, and the majority of its nearly 10 million residents are likely to stay.

Glenn Greenwald on the Amazon fires and the fight for Brazil's future

Nestlé plan to take 1.1m gallons of water a day from natural springs sparks outcry

The crystal blue waters of Ginnie Springs have long been treasured among the string of pearls that line Florida’s picturesque Santa Fe River, a playground for water sports enthusiasts and an ecologically critical haven for the numerous species of turtles that nest on its banks. Soon, however, it is feared there could be substantially less water flowing through, if a plan by the food and beverage giant Nestlé wins approval.

In a controversial move that has outraged environmentalists and also raised questions with authorities responsible for the health and vitality of the river, the company is seeking permission to take more than 1.1m gallons a day from the natural springs to sell back to the public as bottled water.

Opponents say the fragile river, which is already officially deemed to be “in recovery” by the Suwannee River water management district after years of earlier overpumping, cannot sustain such a large draw – a claim Nestlé vehemently denies. Critics are fighting to stop the project as environmentally harmful and against the public interest. Meanwhile, Nestlé, which produces its popular Zephyrhills and Pure Life brands with water extracted from similar natural springs in Florida, has spent millions of dollars this year buying and upgrading a water bottling plant at nearby High Springs in expectation of permission being granted.

The company needs the Suwannee River water management district to renew an expired water use permit held by a local company, Seven Springs, from which it plans to buy the water at undisclosed cost. Nestlé insists spring water is a rapidly renewable resource and promises a “robust” management plan in partnership with its local agents for long-term sustainability of its water sources. Yet company officials concede in letters to water managers supporting the permit request that its plans would result in four times more water being taken daily than Seven Springs’ previously recorded high of 0.26m gallons for its customers before Nestlé.

Also of Interest

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

Israel’s Ban on Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar Backfires

‘Protests turn violent’ with ‘gunfire’ — PBS lies about its own report on Israeli attacks in Gaza

How To Make Sense Of Foreign Protests, Conflicts And Uprisings

Twitter sleuths uncover an anti-Sanders conspiracy — and the pundit class is furious

To beat Trump in 2020, Democrats will need to get down and dirty

Brexit & the Madness of the ‘Sovereign Individual’

Brazilian Warplanes Are Trying to Soak the Burning Amazon

A Little Night Music

Papa Charlie Jackson - Skoodle Um Skoo

Papa Charlie Jackson - Drop That Sack

Papa Charlie Jackson - Ash Tray Blues

Papa Charlie Jackson - Your Baby Ain't Sweet Like Mine

Papa Charlie Jackson - I Got What It Takes

Papa Charlie Jackson - I'm Alabama Bound

Papa Charlie Jackson - You Put It In, I'll Take It Out

Papa Charlie Jackson - Mama, Don't You Think I Know?

Papa Charlie Jackson - Take Me Back Blues

Papa Charlie Jackson - Butter And Egg Man

Papa Charlie Jackson - Long Gone Lost John

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GreatLakeSailor's picture

...hilarity that is #BretBug from the twitter machine.
(some NYT chucklehead got called a bedbug on twitter by a guy that works at a college and by-golly #BretBug got his feelings hurt - there's more to it, you can look it up if you care to)
Anyhoo, this post gave me a good chuckle

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Compensated Spokes Model for Big Poor.

@GreatLakeSailor ...about Arabs and Muslims. The NYTimes guy is self-parodying himself.

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joe shikspack's picture


it appears that the creep from the new york times can dish it out but can't take it. the "bretbug" has apparently closed his twitter account.

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GreatLakeSailor's picture

@joe shikspack @joe shikspack
A Q&A With the Man Who Called Bret Stephens a Bedbug
Dr Karpf hits #BretBug pretty hard in the interview.
And there's this:

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Compensated Spokes Model for Big Poor.

Cassiodorus's picture

If they try to do it, watch for "peak uranium" -- the point at which the supply of uranium peaks and uranium mining becomes increasingly expensive, driving the cost of energy up. As for thorium breeder reactors, we might also be prompted to ask when the fuel of the future becomes the fuel of the present.

As usual, most of the discussion about this topic is speculation. One key problem with much of the speculation is that (or so I am told) the vast preponderance of the uranium ore in the world is low-grade ore, meaning that its extraction and refining is currently not economically viable.

Under capitalism, realistic discussion of whether or not nuclear power can be made 1) safe and 2) plentiful is replaced by optimistic bluster by advocates hoping to make a quick buck should new power plants be brought online. Nuclear optimism, in turn, leaves opponents with the primary option of generating scary stories to keep the proponents from proceeding too quickly. So you can't know the truth and you can't trust anyone. It's never too late to get rid of capitalism.

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"Freedom is always, and exclusively, freedom for the one who thinks differently.” -- Rosa Luxemburg

joe shikspack's picture


when it comes down to it, i oppose nuclear power regardless of whether it's a "good solution" to the problem or not.

there is nobody that i trust to run the power plants.

both the public and private sectors have incentives to cut corners which can lead to disastrous consequences. neither has a sterling record, either.

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enhydra lutris's picture

@joe shikspack

there is nobody that i trust to run the power plants.

I can guarantee that nobody can be trusted to build them. I once knew a guy who inspected them pre license and permitting. Some of the stuff he saw them doing was completely insane.

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

Cassiodorus's picture

@joe shikspack under capitalism you can't trust anyone...

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"Freedom is always, and exclusively, freedom for the one who thinks differently.” -- Rosa Luxemburg

He provides the big picture on Russiagate and immigration as part of ideological fantasies in crumbling world. I don't like posting links to The Young Turks but here is one which truly informs Hedges essay and article by Lee Fang about how a real American oligarch who effected elections. One would believe that there is no such a thing as American oligarchs when listening to Russiagate drivel.

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joe shikspack's picture


wow, cenk has just become impossible to listen to. his bombastic delivery and his rudeness to his interlocutor make it even worse. i got a couple of minutes into it and just had to shut it off.

"cartoon visions of the world," indeed.

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@joe shikspack I take TYT as CNN for the liberal wing of the democratic party. Yah, I don't think I finish watching most of their videos. There was one I stopped watching after a few minutes where Cenk went into this incredible rant about Putin and Trump being gay lovers that was the most profanely anti-gay rant full of gay slurs. Now I wish I had recorded the link to prove Glenn Greenwald's point that using homophobic slurs was okay to use if used to attack Trump or Putin. That easily was one of the worst.

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I keep meaning to post this:

This brave soul went to a Biden campaign event last Friday. (I forget which “gaffe” came from this one, but it’s mentioned.) It seems to be a rather unemotional report and much more accurate than the MSM I’m sure. It makes me wonder how much worse he’s going to get before someone mercy kills his campaign.

Also, love Papa Charlie! I wish he and Blind Blake cut more records together as I think they had a thing.

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Idolizing a politician is like believing the stripper really likes you.

joe shikspack's picture

@Dr. John Carpenter

i remember skimming that over at naked capitalism the other day. i think the marquee gaffe in that speech was when he made a very awkward word salad seemingly comparing martin luther king and bobby kennedy to obama and asking what would have happened if obama had been assassinated after becoming the nominee in 2008.

it left a lot of people scratching their heads.

yep, papa charlie is one of a bunch of artists that i wish could get the robert johnson treatment and have their body of work run through serious noise reduction technology. papa charlie did record pretty frequently in the 20's and many of the recordings are difficult for lots of folks to listen to.

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@joe shikspack Such a good point about the sound being off putting. You learn to listen around the defects, but you have to have patience, as I’m sure you know. There’s so much amazing pre-war blues and other music. It’s just tough sometimes to get into.

I don’t know I’ve you’ve seen the two Raise and Fall of Paramount Records sets that Jack White put out. I ended up buying both. They’re beautiful pieces of work though the sound is still tough. However, the extremely high price of entry for those doesn’t help make this music more accessible either.

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Idolizing a politician is like believing the stripper really likes you.

joe shikspack's picture

@Dr. John Carpenter

back when i had my radio show, i would get complaints if i played too many "scratchy old records" - even from blues fans. i like those scratchy old records, but i understand that some folks have a limited tolerance for them.

i saw announcements for jack white's set a while ago, but the price tag kind of put me off. i may get around to them one of these days if i have a windfall, they are certainly of interest.

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mimi's picture

@joe shikspack

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GreatLakeSailor's picture

@Dr. John Carpenter

Code Name D
August 27, 2019 at 3:02 am
OMG!!! I can so see it!!
1. Bernie pulls ahead in the primary.
2. But Bernie can’t win enough delegates to keep it from going to the second round.
3. Super Delegates hand the nomination to Joe
4. Joe elects Hillary as his VP pick.
5. At some point, Joe is forced to drop out because of health issues.
6. Hillary becomes the Democratic Nominee and tries a re-match against Trump
7. Gets crushed again in the general election. Loses by an even wider margin than before.

It’s so clear now.
Reply ↓

August 27, 2019 at 4:11 am

8. DNC and media unanimous that only the intervention of Russian
trolls could explain this latest inexplicable defeat.

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Compensated Spokes Model for Big Poor.

Azazello's picture

Evening all, much good stuff in my YouTube feed today.
2 more from Dore:

Another one from Ball & Co.:

This is the most important of all of 'em, if you've only time for one:

Election Day in Tucson, primaries for Mayor and a couple of council seats.
I did a little volunteering with this campaign so I'll be sweating the results tonight.

Have a nice night.

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It didn't have to be this way.

joe shikspack's picture


thanks for the videos! the real new piece was indeed quite good.

good luck with the campaign!

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Azazello's picture

@joe shikspack
Killed her opponents. Official results here: pdf
This is a win too: Army Corps suspends permit for Rosemont Mine
All is well in my little world tonight.

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It didn't have to be this way.

joe shikspack's picture


on both counts.

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snoopydawg's picture

The former vice president released an ad invoking family tragedy and attacking rivals who have plans to ensure everyone has access to healthcare.

In a new campaign ad, former vice president Joe Biden suggests that for all Americans to have healthcare would be an insult to his son, Beau Biden, who died of brain cancer in 2015. Watch for yourself:

Biden starts by relating the story of how his son died despite having access to quality healthcare via quality insurance. “Healthcare is personal to me,” Biden says in the ad, over a sappy soundtrack and imagery of him looking vaguely prayerful, standing in front of a flag, and being patted on the back by Barack Obama. “Obamacare is personal to me. And when I see the president try to tear it down and others propose to replace it and start over, that’s personal to me, too. We’ve got to build on what we did, because every American deserves affordable healthcare.”

Bernie's plan doesn't tear the ACA down one bit. He adds in more age groups every year until in 4 years everyone is covered. Kambama's plan takes over a decade. Not much urgency there. ByeDone's plan still leaves millions without health insurance. Warren? Who knows what her plan is because it's not on her website.

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In a free country civil liberties are not only for certain groups.
So this is how liberty dies . . . with thunderous applause.
The donor class doesn’t want it, and Americans elect the bribed. So suck it up.

joe shikspack's picture


heh, there's a line that needs correction:

“Obamacare is personal to me. And when I see the president try to tear it down and others propose to replace it and start over, that’s personal to me, too. We’ve got to build on what we did, because Obama's legacy of assisting the medical industry to profit from Americans' misery is important to all Democrats."

there. fixed it.

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enhydra lutris's picture

David Koch’s Most Significant Legacy Is the Election of Donald Trump

Am I the only one who didn't know that he was a Russian?

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

joe shikspack's picture

@enhydra lutris

as the famous democrat j. edgar hoover would tell you, rooskie influence is everywhere. especially where it is least expected. Smile

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lotlizard's picture

@joe shikspack  
So whether you’re out shopping at the mall, going to the movies, or just relaxing at the cafe after a day at work . . .

Don’t be surprised if sometime, somewhere, someplace when you least expect it, someone steps up to you and says, smile! You’re on ‘Kandid Komrade’!

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The planet is constantly bombarded by lightning strikes. "Unlucky ones" are as inevitable as the occasional bit of stochastic terrorism. Only extraordinary good luck would have resulted in no such strikes causing big fires in a drought-stricken Alaska.

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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


fair enough. i suppose it's also fair for the folks whose lives are negatively affected by the fires to feel unlucky, though. in general, humankind has had a pretty good run of luck for the last few thousand years as witnessed by its vast and stable population growth to this point. perhaps the good luck streak is headed for reversal, though.

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Anyone? Bueller? lol In the second half interview part, with the Wolf guy from San Francicso. He absolutely could not answer the question "What makes SV billionaires so greedy they are willing to walk through feces and needles to go places in the city?" Max was comparing SF billionaires to Detroit billionaires, I guess the same problems don't exist in Detroit. Why? what's the difference? Nobody knows! LOL good luck

Nobody 2020
P.S. Who the fuck is actually "startled" by news like this anymore? bubble heads

Another ‘startling’ record: homeless deaths in Sacramento County reach new high

In 2018, 132 homeless men and women died in Sacramento County – the highest number of homeless deaths on record, according to an annual report by the Sacramento Regional Coalition to End Homelessness. The new data shows that homeless deaths are continuing to rise; the number of deaths surged from 71 in 2016 to 124 in 2017.

Kill the homeless Vote D! kill kill kill
we're amerika's coming attraction, the future happens here first
mad max

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