The Evening Blues - 8-6-18



eb1pt12



The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: Pete Johnson



Hey! Good Evening!


This evening's music features boogie woogie piano player Pete Johnson. Enjoy!



Pete Johnson - Death Ray Boogie

"The bedfellows politics made are never strange. It only seems that way to those who have not watched the courtship."

-- Marcel Achard


News and Opinion


'US Is Now Allied With al-Qaeda in Yemen': AP Reveals American-Backed Saudi Coalition Forged Deals With AQAP Fighters

As the United States continues to fuel Yemen's worsening humanitarian crisis, and boast that it's targeting al Qaeda in the impoverished nation (AQAP) with airstrikes, new reporting reveals that the U.S.- and U.K-backed Saudi coalition waging a bombing campaign there is recruiting al Qaeda fighters to join its ranks, and paying off the extremists to leave areas.

Soon after the Saudi-led coalition, with the United Arab Emirates being a key partner, began its bombing campaign in Yemen against the Houthi rebels in 2015, it was reported that al Qaeda militants were fighting on the same side as the Saudi militia to defeat the Iran-linked Houthis. The new Associated Press investigation, however, reveals that the coalition has made "secret deals with al-Qaeda fighters, paying some to leave key cities and towns and letting others retreat with weapons, equipment, and wads of looted cash."

Beyond that, the "coalition-backed militias actively recruit al-Qaeda militants," AP found, based on on-the-ground reporting including interviews with members of al Qaeda, tribal mediators, Yemeni security officers, and militia commanders.

The earliest such deal took place in the spring of 2016 when "thousands of al-Qaeda fighters ... pull out[ed] of Mukalla," a port city. From AP:

The militants were guaranteed a safe route out and allowed to keep weapons and cash looted from the city—up to $100 million by some estimates—according to five sources, including military, security, and government officials. [...]

Coalition-backed forces moved in two days later, announcing that hundreds of militants were killed and hailing the capture as "part of joint international efforts to defeat the terrorist organizations in Yemen."

A similar deal took place soon after in the province of Abyan. Again, the fighters would not be targeted with drone strokes as part of the deal, which also included a provision for hundreds of al Qaeda fighters the join the ranks of the UAE-backed Yemeni force there.

Meet Ahed Tamimi, 17-Year-Old West Bank Activist Jailed 8 Months for Slapping Israeli Soldier

EU acts to protect firms from Donald Trump's sanctions against Iran

The EU has launched an attempt to protect European businesses from Donald Trump’s sanctions against Iran as the US administration voiced its intent to apply maximum pressure on Tehran by vigorously applying its punitive measures.

The sanctions are to enter into force at midnight (US east coast time). At the same time, a blocking statute – last used to protect EU firms from US sanctions against Cuba – will be brought into force in an attempt to insulate firms and keep alive a deal designed to limit the Iranian government’s nuclear aspirations.

European firms have been instructed that they should not comply with demands from the White House for them to drop all business with Iran. Those who decide to pull out because of US sanctions will need to be granted authorisation from the European commission, without which they face the risk of being sued by EU member states.

A mechanism has also been opened to allow EU businesses affected by the sanctions to sue the US administration in the national courts of member states.

Venezuelan Pres. Nicolás Maduro Targeted in 1st Assassination Attempt by Drone Against Head of State

Crackdown feared after Venezuelan president survives alleged drone attack

Venezuela’s opposition has warned that President Nicolás Maduro may launch a political crackdown after he accused adversaries of attempting to assassinate him with drones loaded with explosives on Saturday. State television on Saturday evening showed Maduro and his wife, Cilia Flores, looking up at the sky and wincing after hearing the sound of an explosion midway through a speech he was giving at a military parade in Caracas. Seconds later, the footage panned to hundreds of soldiers chaotically scurrying out of formation and running away before the television feed was cut.

Seven people were injured, the country’s information minister, Jorge Rodríguez, said. “The investigation clearly reveals [the explosions] came from drone-like devices that carried explosives,” he told reporters. Authorities have said that six people have been arrested over the incident. On Sunday Venezuela’s defence minister claimed those behind the alleged attack were aiming to decapitate the government’s entire top leadership along with Maduro.

Although witnesses confirmed seeing at least one drone that appeared to be linked to an explosion, exactly what happened still remained unclear on Sunday.

Lawmakers Pressure Google Over “Deeply Troubling” China Censorship Project

A bipartisan group of six U.S. senators is demanding that Google CEO Sundar Pichai explain the company’s plan to launch a censored version of its search engine in China.

Since spring 2017, the internet giant has been developing a censored Android search app to launch in the country as part of a secretive project code-named Dragonfly, The Intercept revealed on Wednesday. The app would manipulate search results in accordance with strict censorship rules in China that are mandated by the ruling Communist Party regime, which restricts people’s access to information about political opponents, free speech, democracy, human rights, and peaceful protest. The censored Google search has been designed to “blacklist sensitive queries” so that “no results will be shown” at all when people enter certain words or phrases, according to internal Google documents.

In a letter sent to Pichai on Friday, the six lawmakers called the Google plan “deeply troubling” and said that it “risks making Google complicit in human rights abuses related to China’s rigorous censorship regime.” The letter was led by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and also signed by Sens. Mark Warner, D-Va., Tom Cotton, R-Ark., Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Cory Gardner, R-Colo., and Robert Menendez, D-N.J.

The senators write: “It is a coup for the Chinese government and Communist Party to force Google—the biggest search engine in the world—to comply with their onerous censorship requirements, and sets a worrying precedent for other companies seeking to do business in China without compromising their core values.”

They are asking Google to provide answers to multiple questions, such as “Which ‘blacklist’ of censored searches and websites are you using? Are there any phrases or words that Google is refusing to censor?” The senators want to know why Google has reversed its policy on China. In 2006, the company launched a censored search engine in the country, but ceased operating the service in March 2010, citing Chinese government efforts to limit free speech, block websites, and hack Google’s computer systems. “What has changed since 2010 to make Google comfortable cooperating with the rigorous censorship regime in China?” the senators ask.

In Bid for 'Dystopian' Surveillance Power, Facebook Asking Big Banks for Customer Data

Apparently not satisfied with access to its users' call history, text messaging data, and online conversations, Facebook has reportedly asked major Wall Street firms like JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo to hand over their customers' sensitive financial data as part of the social media giant's ongoing attempt to become "a platform where people buy and sell goods and services."

And according to the Wall Street Journal—which first reported on Facebook's plans on Monday—the social media behemoth isn't the only tech company that wants access to Americans' financial data. Google and Amazon have also "asked banks to share data if they join with them, in order to provide basic banking services on applications such as Google Assistant and Alexa," the Journal pointed out, citing anonymous sources familiar with the companies' ambitions.

Over the past year, Facebook has reached out to some of America's largest banks to request "detailed financial information about their customers, including card transactions and checking account balances, as part of an effort to offer new services to users," the Journal notes. "Facebook has told banks that the additional customer information could be used to offer services that might entice users to spend more time on Messenger."

Among the "features" Facebook is reportedly looking to create if it successfully obtains financial data is a tool that would  "show its users their checking-account balances," the Journal reported. "It has also pitched fraud alerts." While Facebook insisted in response to the Journal's story that it doesn't want to use any of this data for advertising purposes or share it with third parties, many pointed out that there is no reason to trust Facebook's expressed commitment to user privacy, particularly in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal and other abuses.

Brazil’s Disastrous 2018 Presidential Race Teaches Key Lesson For All: Demagogues Thrive Only When Establishments Fail

Brazil's media , legal, judicial and corporate factions have spent the last three years righteously insisting that systemic political corruption is the nation’s gravest problem. They were so terribly upset about corruption that, in 2016, they united, with almost no dissent permitted, in support of the most drastic step a democracy can take: removal of the elected President, Dilma Rousseff, before her term expired. That indignation over corruption and criminality was their pretext for impeachment, not the actual motive, was painfully obvious from the start. ...

The career sleaze they installed as President, Michel Temer, then got caught on tape ordering the payment of bribes to silence the literal gangster, Eduardo Cunha, Temer’s party comrade who, as House Speaker, lead the impeachment proceeding against Dilma and is now in prison. ... The fraud of all this is too enormous to express with words, but no words are needed because of how self-evident it is.

In the 2018 presidential race, Brazil’s oligarchic press is openly united behind São Paulo Governor Geraldo Alckmin, the ultimate establishment figure from the conservative PSDB party. He can be accurately described to an American audience as a somewhat more conservative, cautious version of Hillary Clinton: he’s been around politics for decades, funded by and serving corporate interests, inoffensively occupying every conceivable office, comfortably resting in and feeding off of the sleaze and neoliberal corruption that greases the wheels of Brazil’s political class. He’s the ultimate guardian of the status quo and the prevailing order. A candidate so uniquely uncharasmatic on all levels that he’s most often compared to a cucumber – to the point where Cucumber is his effective nickname – his last bid for the presidency in 2006 resulted in a 21-point crushing defeat at the hands of Lula. He’s basically Jeb Bush, but less bold, less exciting and with less popular support.

For all of 2018, despite the unconcealed love which Brazil’s dominant media outlets harbor for him, polls have showed Alckmin lingering pitifully at 6-7%. Just as is true in the U.S., the UK and throughout Western Europe, huge numbers of voters are so contemptuous of the establishment class that they will refuse to vote for anyone supported by or associated with them. ... Brazil’s establishment – led, as always, by the huge media outlets controlled by a tiny group of billionaire families – has spent all of 2018 panicking because, no matter how hard they try to resuscitate it, the decayed corpse of Geraldo Alckmin has remained lifeless.

Shredding of Social Safety Net Blamed as Bankruptcies Soar for Older Americans

A study of rising bankruptcy rates among older Americans places blame squarely at the feet of a hollowed-out safety net and policy changes that have left people without adequate retirement savings, paying huge out-of-pocket medical expenses, and seeing their funds dwindle due to the student loan crisis that many people mistakenly believe affects only younger generations.

When comparing the rate of bankruptcy filing among Americans 65 and older now versus in 1991, "the only explanation that makes any sense are structural shifts," Deborah Thorne, lead author of the Consumer Bankruptcy Project's recent study, told the New York Times.

Entitled "Graying of U.S. Bankruptcy: Fallout from Life in a Risk Society," the group's report found that older Americans filed for bankruptcy three times as often from 2013 to 2016 as they did a quarter of a century before.

Those surveyed for the study blamed multiple factors beyond their control for their decision to file. According to the Times, "About three in five said unmanageable medical expenses played a role. A little more than two-thirds cited a drop in income. Nearly three-quarters put some blame on hounding by debt collectors."

Many large U.S. employers have suspended or reduced contributions to 401K savings plans in recent years — already having shifted away from traditional, more secure pensions — while out-of pocket healthcare costs have risen faster than incomes. The student loan crisis has also played a role for many filers, with more than a third saying they were driven into bankruptcy after shelling out huge sums of money for family members. With college costing many families tens of thousands of dollars, bankruptcy lawyers are encountering parents who have guaranteed loans that they are no longer able to pay back.

Police violence, cliques, and secret tattoos: fears rise over LA sheriff 'gangs'

John Sweeney knew from his four decades as a civil rights lawyer that something about the police shooting of Donta Taylor was off. Taylor, a 31-year-old African American, had been walking from a friend’s house in Compton to a nearby grocery store one summer night when members of the county sheriff’s department challenged him, gave chase and ended up firing more than a dozen shots at him along a lonely concrete pathway alongside a canal. To Sweeney, who had cut his teeth as an associate of the legendary civil rights lawyer Johnnie Cochran, the 2016 killing smacked of an execution, the work of renegade police officers reveling in violence for the sake of it. It was no more than a hunch, at first. ...

At a deposition hearing in May, Sweeney asked one of the officers, Samuel Aldama, if he harbored racial animus toward African Americans, and Aldama spent close to five minutes struggling to give an answer. At first Aldama said he did have ill feelings, then changed tack and said he’d misunderstood the question. Next, Sweeney asked Aldama if he had a tattoo. After some hesitation, Aldama showed an elaborate image on his calf of a frightening skeletal figure wielding a rifle. Between 10 and 20 deputies at the Compton station had the same tattoo, he acknowledged.

Sweeney hadn’t known about the tattoo in advance. But he did know that the Los Angeles sheriff’s department had a history of violent gang-like cliques that glorify violence for its own sake and pressure deputies to break the rules so they can prove their bona fides and “earn their ink” in the form of just such hidden tattoos.

The revelation wasn’t just a Perry Mason moment in court. It has jolted civic leaders in Los Angeles, just a few years after an epic scandal in which sheriff’s deputies, supported and protected by senior officers up to the sheriff himself, were found to have engaged in systematic beatings of prisoners, helped smuggle drugs and other contraband in and out of jail on behalf of White Power gang leaders, and worked to conceal aspects of the scandal from the FBI. Lee Baca, the former sheriff, as well as his former No 2 and close to a dozen former sheriff’s deputies, have been prosecuted and convicted of an array of offenses from abuse of police power to obstruction of justice.

Jim McDonnell, the current boss of what is America’s largest county police department, has ordered an internal investigation into what he called “renegade cliques” and insisted – despite an official finding by the district attorney’s office last year in favor of Aldama and his partner, Mizrain Orrego – that the Compton incidents are still being investigated.

Portland woman who protested rightwing rally says she was burned by police grenade

A woman who protested against a rightwing group rallying in Portland, Oregon, on Saturday said has been left with severe injuries to her arm and chest after being hit by a police “flash-bang” round. Michelle Fawcett, 52, said she was about half a block from the front of the counter-protester gathering, as they opposed rightwing group Patriot Prayer’s rally, at about 2pm on Saturday when she was hit.

“I heard the most earth-shattering explosion,” she told the Guardian. “I felt struck in the chest, then the arm, and then a really intense and searing pain.” When Fawcett, a documentary film-producer, later saw a doctor, she said was told she had severe soft tissue injuries and third-degree chemical burns on her arm and chest. Fawcett shared with the Guardian photographs of her injuries and her doctor’s report that describes chemical burns.

The police tactics at Patriot Prayer’s latest rally, which again brought disorder and violence to the city’s downtown area, have been questioned after officers charged counter-protesters with batons drawn, used dozens of “flash-bang” stun grenades and rounds containing pepper spray.

Fawcett said she believes she was hit by the first of the stun grenades to be fired and said she did not hear any warnings. Portland police chief Danielle Outlaw has announced an inquiry by the Office of Independent Police Review into the police’s use of less than lethal weapons. In a statement, Outlaw said the inquiry would “determine if force was used and if so, was within our policy and training guidelines”. ...

Fawcett said Saturday’s events will long be a source of pain and confusion. “Police are supposed to protect citizens from violence,” she said. “When it’s the police who assault you, where do you go? Does anyone know?"

The Unjust Prosecution of the Holy Land Foundation Five

"For the law holds, that it is better that ten guilty persons escape, than that one innocent suffer,” wrote Sir William Blackstone in 1765, expressing a fundamental principle of Anglo-Saxon justice. Miko Peled, in “Injustice: The Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five,” his exhaustive study of the U.S. government’s case against five defendants from a friendless minority, demonstrates how American justice has deviated so far from Blackstone that the courts can convict a hundred innocents for one who is guilty. ...

The FBI, the Treasury Department, and other assorted police forces in Texas and California accosted them with raids on most of their family houses early in the morning on July 26, 2004. The criminal trial against the Holy Land Foundation Five — or HLF 5, as the five Arab-Americans became known, a reference to the Islamic charity they founded in 1990 — opened exactly three years later. It culminated in a hung jury. The retrial in Dallas federal court began in September 2008, and included unprecedented testimony from “Avi,” the pseudonym assumed by an Israeli intelligence agent whose qualifications the defense was unable to probe. Judge Jorge Solis, although he instructed jurors that they were allowed to weigh the agent’s credibility in light of his anonymity, nonetheless brushed aside the defendants’ right under the Sixth Amendment “to be confronted with the witnesses against him.” Nothing in the U.S. Constitution until then permitted conviction by anonymous accusations, but the court convicted all five men.

Peled’s book is a fascinating account of immigrants making good in their new country, starting families and businesses and creating a charity to help those they left behind. Through Peled, Shukri Abu Baker, Mohammad El-Mezain, Ghassan Elashi, Mufid Abdulqader, and Abdulrahman Odeh emerge as decent human beings motivated by the desire to relieve suffering, in line with their religious convictions. They remind the reader of the many Jewish Americans that were persecuted during the McCarthy era for their support of humanitarian causes espoused by organizations that J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI declared “communist front organizations.” ...

The charges stemmed from the men’s involvement with the Holy Land Foundation, then America’s largest Muslim charity, that sent aid to Palestinians throughout the Middle East, as well as to refugees and war victims in Bosnia, Kosovo, Chechnya, Turkey, and Africa. The men consulted the U.S. Treasury Department to assure compliance with all laws governing nonprofit organizations. In Israel, the HLF was affiliated with a legal Israeli-Palestinian charity and worked with the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem. Aid to Palestinians, many of them children orphaned in the conflict between occupier and occupied in the West Bank and Gaza, prompted Israel to investigate the charity and the U.S. to follow suit. While unable to prove a direct link between the HLF and Hamas, which President Bill Clinton declared a Foreign Terrorist Organization in 1995, prosecutors alleged that civilian aid to Palestinians meant more resources for Hamas to attack Israel.



the horse race



Hilarious Mash-Up Of Rachel Maddow's Crazy Russia Coverage





the evening greens


Domino-effect of climate events could push Earth into a ‘hothouse’ state

A domino-like cascade of melting ice, warming seas, shifting currents and dying forests could tilt the Earth into a “hothouse” state beyond which human efforts to reduce emissions will be increasingly futile, a group of leading climate scientists has warned.

This grim prospect is sketched out in a journal paper that considers the combined consequences of 10 climate change processes, including the release of methane trapped in Siberian permafrost and the impact of melting ice in Greenland on the Antarctic.

The authors of the essay, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, stress their analysis is not conclusive, but warn the Paris commitment to keep warming at 2C above pre-industrial levels may not be enough to “park” the planet’s climate at a stable temperature.

They warn that the hothouse trajectory “would almost certainly flood deltaic environments, increase the risk of damage from coastal storms, and eliminate coral reefs (and all of the benefits that they provide for societies) by the end of this century or earlier.”

Earth's Carbon Concentrations Have Soared to Levels Not Seen in 800,000 Years

As temperatures bust heat records across the globe and wildfires rage from California to the Arctic, a new report produced annually by more than 500 scientists worldwide found that last year, the carbon dioxide concentrations in the Earth's atmosphere reached the highest levels "in the modern atmospheric measurement record and in ice core records dating back as far as 800,000 years."

While the most significant jump was the global average for carbon dioxide (CO2)—which, at 405.0 parts per million (ppm), saw a 2.2 ppm increase from the previous yearconcentrations of other dominant planet-warming greenhouse gases, methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O), also hit "record highs," according to State of the Climate in 2017 (pdf) released Wednesday.

Considering those rates, Greg Johnson, an oceanographer at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle, warned that even if humanity "stopped the greenhouse gases at their current concentrations today, the atmosphere would still continue to warm for next couple decades to maybe a century."

The 332-page report—which was overseen by NOAA and published as a special supplement to the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society—also notes that 2017 is among the three hottest years ever, taking the top spot for warmest non-El Niño year since scientists began measuring in the 1800s. However, NOAA data released last weekend shows that 2018 is on track to set a new record.



Also of Interest

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

They Work To Manufacture Consent Because They Need It. So Don’t Give It To Them.

Republicans Who Oppose Net Neutrality Could Pay the Price in November, According to New Poll


A Little Night Music


Pete Johnson And His Boogie Woogie Boys - Baby, Look At You

Pete Johnson - Holler Stomp

Pete Johnson & Joe Turner - That's All Right Baby

Pete Johnson - Rocket Boogie

Pete Johnson & Joe Turner - Roll 'Em Pete

Pete Johnson - Let 'Em Jump

Pete Johnson - Atomic Boogie

Pete Johnson And His Boogie Woogie Boys - Cherry Red

Pete Johnson - Rocket Boogie 88

Pete Johnson And His Boogie Woogie Boys - Lovin' Mama Blues

Pete Johnson - Mutiny in the Doghouse

Joe Turner & Pete Johnson Kansas City Blues

Pete Johnson - Blues on the Downbeat

Pete Johnson - Bottomland Boogie



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22 users have voted.

Comments

JekyllnHyde's picture

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18 users have voted.

A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma

joe shikspack's picture

@JekyllnHyde

the only reason those private surveillance corporations would want to push the government out of the way is so that they could "collect it all" and sell it to the government.

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7 users have voted.
Pricknick's picture

I laugh at those who said I was missing out by not joining faceplant, twit or many of the other gleaners of personal information. I've made it perfectly clear to my credit union that my dues will not be paid to support such entities. All that's really left is whine and become a spoiled child again. Should be fun as I'm sure that the nightly news will thoroughly cover such tantrums by a sixty year old.
Maybe if I start sucking my thumb or masturbating in public?

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8 users have voted.

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

joe shikspack's picture

@Pricknick

Maybe if I start sucking my thumb or masturbating in public?

heh, it worked for diogenes. Smile

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6 users have voted.

bay area Dems

A KPIX 5 poll found that 35 percent of Bay Area Democrats want House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to voluntarily cede power to someone younger, while 37 percent want her to fight to keep her leadership position.

insiders

The Capitol Insiders Survey, which CQ Roll Call emailed to aides on July 13 and remained open till July 18, drew responses from 191 aides, 103 of them Democrats, 84 Republicans and four independents.

In addition to the 41 percent who said Pelosi should not return as leader in 2019 no matter what, another 23 percent said she should not if Democrats fail to retake control of the House, while 29 percent said Democrats should give her another term as leader, win or lose.

But it’s not the aides who will vote, it’s their bosses. In 2016, Democratic respondents to CQ Roll Call’s survey preferred Tim Ryan, the Ohio Democrat who opposed Pelosi in that year’s leadership election, by a margin of 40 percent to 35 percent, while Pelosi won the actual election by a 2-1 margin.

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11 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@gjohnsit

with any luck, bay area voters would help pelosi to involuntarily cede power to somebody who would represent their interests more closely.

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4 users have voted.
enhydra lutris's picture

@joe shikspack

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4 users have voted.

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

WoodsDweller's picture

@gjohnsit
think Pelosi should take a long walk on a short pier.

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3 users have voted.

The lesser evil is still evil. Vote your conscience, not your fear.

Azazello's picture

CrossTalk rules are in effect.

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7 users have voted.
divineorder's picture

@Azazello @Azazello

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7 users have voted.

A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

joe shikspack's picture

@Azazello

always good to see somebody take a good, solid whack at max neocon bootlicker.

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5 users have voted.
divineorder's picture

they are still coming after our retirement fund, just changed the formula to make the fund look weaker and require the legislature to increase it's contribution.

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12 users have voted.

A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

joe shikspack's picture

@divineorder

sorry to hear about the continuing pension mess in texas. if it's true that misery loves company, i guess you and jb can be um, happy(?) that you're not alone:

Many state pension systems have huge funding gaps, liabilities, Pew report claims

A public employee pension crisis for state governments has deepened to a record level even after nearly nine years of economic recovery for the nation, according to a study released Thursday, leaving many states vulnerable if the economy hits a downturn. The massive unfunded pension liabilities are becoming a real problem not just for public-sector retirees and workers concerned about their future but also for everyone else. As states try to prop up their pension funds, it means less money is available for core government services such as education, public safety and parks.

heh. i say we just scrub police departments.

The annual report from the Pew Charitable Trusts finds that public worker pension funds with heavy state government involvement owed retirees and current workers $4 trillion as of 2016. They had about $2.6 trillion in assets, creating a gap of about one-third, or a record $1.4 trillion. ...

"When the next downturn comes, there will be additional pressures," David Draine, a senior officer at Pew, told The Associated Press. ... Just four states — New York, South Dakota, Tennessee and Wisconsin — had at least 90 percent funding. Draine said those states and some others that have repaired pension shortfalls since the Great Recession will be in better shape the next time the economy slides. The Pew report found that lackluster investment returns in 2016 explained most of why the condition of pensions declined from the previous year. Pension administrators were counting on median returns of 7.5% that year. Instead, they made just 1%.

But the study says that even if the investments had met expectations, the overall position of pension funds still would have declined because state governments were not contributing enough.

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8 users have voted.
divineorder's picture

@joe shikspack the TX teacher pension, which is separate from state workers, was ever set up in the first place. I have been thankful that it was, even though it is at the bottom tier among the statesh-- half of the next higher state near the bottom.

Thanks for the links.

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6 users have voted.

A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

Unabashed Liberal's picture

@divineorder

regarding your pensions. If it's any consolation, they're coming after federal pensions, too.

I'll post on it later, since the bookmark is on another laptop. Actually, folks in my original CSRS federal pension system, won't get hit as bad as those folks in the federal pension system called FERS, which went into effect in the mid-80's. And, that's not because lawmakers are being 'nicer' to us, it's because we have a flat-out fixed annuity, and the FERS system is a hybrid pension--part 401K-like Thrift Plan.

Hope you Guys are doing well!

Pleasantry

Mollie/Blue Onyx (Reverting to my original handle)

“Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.”~~Martin Luther King Jr.

"Everyone thinks they have the best dog, and none of them are wrong."~~W. R. Purche

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5 users have voted.

"The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it."
--George Bernard Shaw, Irish Dramatist & Socialist
"We [corporations] are the government!" Actor John Colicos (1978)

divineorder's picture

@divineorder . Yes, this is a national move. First they came for private pensions, now us.

History lesson.

We are fine, just finished up this year's foreign travel adventure and settling down for a while. We are, like most c99ers keeping on keeping on, wondering what to do to contribute to reversing things but not sure if will help. All the best to you and yours.

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7 users have voted.

A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

Unabashed Liberal's picture

@divineorder

that you Guys returned safely from your travels. Got a lot of catching up to do, regarding reading EB. I'll keep a lookout for your photos--I always enjoy them so much! Pleasantry

Hey, thanks for posting the piece regarding the Canadian Sears retirees. Of course, knew about Sears going belly-up, but, never heard about the Sears pensioners getting the shaft. So unfair. The Sears store in our university town residence, closed months ago. Frankly, we always wondered how it stayed open as long as it did, since it was like a ghost-town the few times we went there.

Have a good one!

Mollie/Blue Onyx (Reverting to my original handle)

"Everyone thinks they have the best dog, and none of them are wrong."~~W. R. Purche

“Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.”~~Martin Luther King Jr.

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5 users have voted.

"The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it."
--George Bernard Shaw, Irish Dramatist & Socialist
"We [corporations] are the government!" Actor John Colicos (1978)

divineorder's picture

As your links point out it is a helluva year climate wise, eh joe?

Drought here in NM is said to be improving. We got soaked in a monsoon downpour while riding our bikes last Friday . After a winter of hardly any snow this is welcome....

From your link to Caitlin:

This is evidenced by the fact that the public has continued collaborating with a system which kills the ecosystem we depend on for survival and allows people to die of poverty while spending trillions of dollars in needless wars overseas and an ever-expanding Orwellian surveillance network. Everyone besides the most powerful and their lackeys is aware on some level that the current system is not working for them, and yet the overwhelming majority of people keep playing into it by supporting mainstream parties that are fully owned and operated by wealthy oligarchs, and then shrugging and sighing when things keep getting worse.

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8 users have voted.

A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

joe shikspack's picture

@divineorder

it makes you wonder how long the denial can last. my bet is pretty long.

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6 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@divineorder

this was the song (by a texan, no less) that your post reminded me of...

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4 users have voted.
divineorder's picture

@joe shikspack @joe shikspack Saw him here live at Santa Fe Brewing Company venue. He played in and out of Austin for many years but we never heard him there.

The people in attendance knew all the words to his songs and were singing at the top of their lungs.

Didn't do this song, though,but as jb said as we listened to it was quite prophetic.

Others beside the Sultan of Soul js might want to check out his music more of his music lots of humour and culture.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQ_e46iRIpo

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5 users have voted.

A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

Unabashed Liberal's picture

to say 'hi,' and thanks for tonight's edition of News & Blues.

Gotta help Mr M a while, but will drop back by later this p.m. Seems that the Dem Party Leadership has gotten their "sleight of hand" antics--punking the Dem Party Base--down pat. IMO, it may be a huge mistake to put too much stock into a couple races being won by progressive candidates. (I'm basing this upon the massive number of ultra-conservative recruits for open Dem Party House seats.)

Numerous new shell organizations have been erected this past year to accomplish this feat. If Dems do take over the House, it will likely be with more Blue Dogs/New Dems than were recruited under ol' Rahm (in 2006 ?). Frankly, I shudder to think what will happen to so-called 'entitlements,' if the 'No Labels' Speaker Project, and all these phony progressive conservative Dem groups are successful (electorally) in November.

IMHO, we need to keep our eyes peeled--big time! I'll be back to post a link and excerpt.

Later.

Mollie/Blue Onyx (Reverting to my original handle)

“Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.”~~Martin Luther King Jr.

"Everyone thinks they have the best dog, and none of them are wrong."~~W. R. Purche

Postcript: As I've mentioned to Smiley, my change in user handle is to match a Twitter feed and journal. I don't expect folks that have always known me as 'Mollie,' to switch over to Blue. Only one member has known me from the beginning, and naturally calls me Blue--and that's former fellow Firebagger,'WD.'

Pleasantry

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8 users have voted.

"The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it."
--George Bernard Shaw, Irish Dramatist & Socialist
"We [corporations] are the government!" Actor John Colicos (1978)

joe shikspack's picture

@Unabashed Liberal

yep, the dems are doing the same stuff that they have been doing since clinton and his dlc tools took over the dem party.

it may be a huge mistake to put too much stock into a couple races being won by progressive candidates.

... and the progressives are still working with the same strategy that they have been working with for years, which is ultimately self-defeating. they flog a couple of "promising victories" right up to the election and talk out of their hats about a progressive wave - taking back the party, yadda, yadda, yadda.

barring a miracle, these progressives are going to take a dive in november - and most of them know it now.

i would have a lot more respect for them if they would take the fight to the party, make hay about the party being utterly corrupt, focus on the corruption of the last stolen election and organize ordinary rank and file democrats to purge the party of the corrupt jackasses that run it and then "take over the party."

the time to start that was in 2016, though, when the evidence of serious corruption was released and current.

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Unabashed Liberal's picture

@joe shikspack

that was popular during my parents' youth. Wink Seriously, you nailed it, Joe, when you said,

i would have a lot more respect for them if they would take the fight to the party, make hay about the party being utterly corrupt, focus on the corruption of the last stolen election and organize ordinary rank and file democrats to purge the party of the corrupt jackasses that run it and then "take over the party."

Below's an excerpt and a link from a March CNN piece regarding the Blue Dog 'Mafia,' as they refer to it.

Inside the Democrats' efforts to elect more Conor Lambs

Updated: 5:30 PM ET, Sun March 18, 2018

(CNN) - National Democrats have turned to the centrist members of their party to reach far, wide and early to identify and bolster candidates beyond their urban strongholds.

Conor Lamb's performance in Pennsylvania's 18th District Tuesday showed that Democrats can win in areas not recently receptive to the party by focusing on issues important to the local communities and by staking out more centrist positions.

The committee responsible for supporting the election of House Democrats began an effort to target candidates like Lamb last spring after losing a high profile special election in suburban Atlanta, according to multiple Democratic party strategists who detailed the effort to CNN.

The effort ramped up in the fall, when the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee invited a group of moderate Democrats that put them in the majority in 2006 to talk through a winning strategy.

The committee gave the "Blue Dog mafia," as some call them, free rein to work with candidates on campaign operations in some of the toughest districts on the expanded Democratic target list.

The group, made up of former policy and campaign aides who now work at DC lobbying shops, consulting firms and industry groups, have set up their own satellite political operation to help vet candidates, determine who is viable to beat the Republican nominee in November, and provide support to build volunteer networks, set up digital operations, and make fundraising connections.

"It was the first time since 2006 that we have become a partner in running and winning these races," said Kristen Hawn, former Communication Director to the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of fiscally conservative lawmakers from rural and suburban districts. She is now a senior adviser to their political action committee. . . .

Since I came in so late with this material, think I'll repost it again soon, so folks see it. Also, if all goes well, I plan to show up with some interesting data tomorrow regarding the Ohio 12th District House Race--which is nothing more than a 'proxy race' between DT and the Kasich-wing of the GOP. It will be very interesting, indeed!

Have a great evening, All!

Bye

Mollie/Blue Onyx (Reverting to my original handle)

“Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.”~~Martin Luther King Jr.

"Everyone thinks they have the best dog, and none of them are wrong."~~W. R. Purche

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6 users have voted.

"The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it."
--George Bernard Shaw, Irish Dramatist & Socialist
"We [corporations] are the government!" Actor John Colicos (1978)

divineorder's picture

@joe shikspack @Unabashed Liberal @joe shikspack have failed?

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7 users have voted.

A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

The Aspie Corner's picture

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joe shikspack's picture

@The Aspie Corner

well, it's good that there's a silver lining for the venezuelan people. frankly, i'm surprised that it has taken so long for a serious assassination attempt. perhaps the practitioners of the dark arts are currently distracted by other matters, like starting world war 3.

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Pluto's Republic's picture

Hi Joe. This is a repeat from this morning:

After many months of incomplete document requests made by frustrated GOP lawmakers to the DOJ in the matter of Russian collusion and associated Russian meddling in the 2016 election, President Trump plans to hurry things along by declassify those Obama-era FISAs that were used to spy on Trump's campaign and declassify the emails used in a collusion between FBI staff, and Russian and UK intelligence contacts to concoct a phony dossier on Trump in order to swing the election toward Hillary.

Trump May Override Rosenstein, Declassify Remaining DOJ FISA Docs

President Trump could use his presidential authority to declassify several caches of information related to the DOJ/FBI's ongoing Trump-Russia counterintelligence operation.

The documents include: 20 redacted pages of a June, 2017 FISA renewal, "and possibly" 63 pages of emails and notes between "Ohr & Steele," and FD-302 summaries of 12 interviews - In reference to twice-demoted DOJ official Bruce Ohr and/or his wife Nellie, both of whom were working with opposition research firm Fusion GPS to investigate Trump.

This is a potentially groundbreaking development according to Congressman Mark Meadows. "The Carter Page FISA docs should be declassified and further unredacted (protecting only sources and methods) so Americans can know the truth," he said. "If the previous admin was funneling campaign research toward surveillance, we need to know."

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-08-06/trump-override-rosenstein-decl...

The DOJ is likely to claim that the lives of countless intelligence officials will be forever compromised.

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joe shikspack's picture

@Pluto's Republic

oh geez. sounds like we are to be treated to "agents in danger," a choral cacophony of pearl clutchers - fortissimo, tempo rubato.

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snoopydawg's picture

@Pluto's Republic

I've been saying that Trump should do this for over a year instead of letting Mueller waste our money on this bogus investigation into Russian interference with Trump's knowledge and help.

Steele colluded with Sydney Bluementhol and others in Russia to find 'dirt' on Trump so his campaign could be spied upon. But they get to call it opposition research. I found a great article that ties everything together that shows how the FBI kept trying to entrap people in his campaign to meetings with Russians. I'll post it when I find it, but since everyone is talking about how Trump just admitted that Jr did meet with some Russian to get dirt on Her i will throw this tidbit out here. The Russian woman who was to meet with Jr had a problem with her passport and couldn't come into the country for the meeting. Guess who fixed this for her? The FBI.

Then there's the Russian woman who had some connection with the NRA who has been arrested as a Russian spy. She had previously met with people in the treasury department. Oops. Not so much a Russian spy then. There is just so many twists and turns to Russia Gate that I don't know how people can keep it straight.

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Governments exist preeminently to maximize the profits, resources and the power of the wealthy

Pluto's Republic's picture

@snoopydawg

...from Obama's Attorney General. The Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya was also invited to an event that same week in the White House. Prior to that, she had been banned from travel to the US, but now they needed a Russian lawyer meeting with the Trump campaign. Within a week, they had their first FISA. She also met with Gene Simpson, founder of Fusion GPS, both before and after her meeting with Donald Trump Jr. Apparently, she works there as a consultant. That cabal plus the Podesta brothers are like modern-day hillbillies, they're all cousins or something.

US news dummies always mention her ties to the Kremlin, but I deem that propaganda spew. Her clients tend to be rich people in trouble with the Russian Government.

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mimi's picture

juicy grass to sheeps, have to be slaughtered early (selling new born lambs at dumping prices and reducing their herds), because the farmers have not enough food due to the dry grass and can't afford to buy enough food for cows and sheep. Saw pictures today of my childhoold grounds near the Northern Sea's grassland. All dried up.
Quite disturbing.
Drought in Germany may see farmers lose their livelihoods

Have a good evening, all.

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joe shikspack's picture

@mimi

i'm terribly sorry to hear about the drought and the farmers' losses. hopefully, this will be a short-term phenomenon in the area and the farmers can recover the next season.

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Azazello's picture

@joe shikspack

hopefully, this will be a short-term phenomenon

I think we're all hoping that it is, but in the backs of our minds, we know it's not.

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joe shikspack's picture

@Azazello

i do my best to keep a happy thought. in the process of allowing the thought to surface, i try to give good things room to happen by suspending my disbelief.

i can't always convince myself or suspend the disbelief, but i give it the old college try.

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divineorder's picture

@mimi so many changes.

But technology alone won't save us I fear...

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9 users have voted.

A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

mimi's picture

@divineorder @divineorder
is that I get the hottest German news through you. Who would have thought...
Give rose
When I landed back in Berlin in Germany late 2016, I drove by car from Berlin to Hamburg, a trip I made the last time in the early seventies, when ... ahem the evil communists. err socialists doers made us all drive on one street only through the former GDR, while we were hiding our Western news papers under car carpets to not get stopped (we didn't dare to not make the uniformed overlords unhappy back then)..... and I was amazed when I passed hundreds and hundreds of wind towers at the side of the "Autobahn". Wow, I thought, that's kind of neat.

People explained to me that they build them on purpose aside of the "Autobahns" because they make noise and villager didn't want them near their communities.

Of course my enthusiams was dampened when I naively told my darling sister about it and she said she hates these wind towers, they are so ugly to look at and why can't they put the elecricity cables in the ground ...

Well, reminded me of something I heard before ... I didn't bite and rested my case before I even tried to make it.

And one of the uncoolest things is that I can't get any twitter video to run. And now I have to pay a hot bill to make some nerd looking into my system to find out what's wrong with it. Sigh...

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snoopydawg's picture

if Facebook can have access to all of our information without our permission. It's not like congress has been protecting it anyway. I'm beyond stunned, but I'm not sure why I am anymore. That more people aren't upset about what Facebook has been doing since its inception is just as stunning, but then they weren't upset about what the NSA and other government agencies have done either. Seems that the only right most people care about is the second. Lot of good it's going to do them if or when martial law is declared.

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7 users have voted.

Governments exist preeminently to maximize the profits, resources and the power of the wealthy

joe shikspack's picture

@snoopydawg

congress has been negligent for years in keeping up with technology and protecting citizen's information from rapacious private corporations. even when face with the security failures of corporations that collect our data like equif@x and facebook's numerous indiscretions and casual disregard for users privacy like this and this.

of course, we can't expect much from our coin-operated congress.

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The Aspie Corner's picture

@snoopydawg And now the capitalist pigs don't even have to pretend those exist anymore.

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snoopydawg's picture

Earth's Carbon Concentrations Have Soared to Levels Not Seen in 800,000 Years

And still climate is not being taken seriously. The PTB knows damn well how dangerous the effects from it are and yet the drilling, fracking, tar sands and the other things that add to it keeps continuing with governments around the globe not doing a damn thing to try to stop it. But it's far too late for what is coming to be stopped. I feel bad for anyone under 40 who will have to live with the effects from it.

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6 users have voted.

Governments exist preeminently to maximize the profits, resources and the power of the wealthy

WoodsDweller's picture

I went over to Dolores today. Not a breath of air stirring. The column of smoke from the Plateau fire went straight up 1000s of feet like the stem of a mushroom cloud. 5000 acres and 15% contained, according to the display in town.

Re: CO2 levels highest in 800,000 years. Homo sapiens has existed for 300,000 years or so. Let me rewrite that title. Earth's Carbon Concentrations Have Soared to Levels Higher Than Humans Have Ever Experienced

Still watching the Arctic sea ice. Extent is nearly equal to 2012 and still heading down. Could be a new low this year, but we may duck the blue ocean event. Maybe. Still five weeks to go.

The Earth is stable at ice age temperatures and hot house earth temperatures and quasi-stable at interglacial temperatures. There is NO evidence that any other temperature is stable. What is the upper limit of interglacial temperatures? Maybe the temperature we're at now? In any case it's good to see papers about positive feedbacks in major journals. Too bad that didn't happen 40 years ago.

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7 users have voted.

The lesser evil is still evil. Vote your conscience, not your fear.

joe shikspack's picture

@WoodsDweller

i guess 40 years ago there was still too much money to be made. funny to think that we may be done in by mass hypnosis related to the value of little pieces of paper.

i hope that you are safe and breathing good air.

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enhydra lutris's picture

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5 users have voted.

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

joe shikspack's picture

@enhydra lutris

good to see you, have a great evening!

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3 users have voted.