The Evening Blues - 9-15-20


The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: Mary Wells

Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features Motown singer Mary Wells. Enjoy!

Mary Wells - Can't You See (You're Losing Me)

“The seeds of evil blooms in the fields of negligence.”

-- Mladen Đorđević

News and Opinion

How Should America Respond When Its President Commits Negligent Homicide?

Bob Woodward interviewed Donald Trump back in January and February and now tells us that, way back then, Trump realized that the coronavirus was not only quite deadly and would infect even children, but also was airborne and highly contagious.

Right now it's fashionable to attack Bob Woodward for having sat on all that information, and debate whether he had a "duty to warn."

It's a reasonable discussion, but it misses the larger picture.

If Donald Trump knew how deadly Covid was, Bob Woodward could not have been the only person he told. Everybody in the Cabinet, the Vice President, the Health and Human Services Secretary, and pretty much everybody working around him in the White House had to have known.

He even put Mike Pence in charge of the coronavirus task force back then. They all knew.

So rather than asking why Woodward didn't tell us, shouldn't we be asking why our government officials, who are paid to keep America safe, also didn't tell us or do anything about it?

We talk a lot about the "Trump Crime Family" but his entire Cabinet knew how bad this was last winter, too. Not only are Trump and his kids grifters and liars, but he put together an entire cabinet of grifters and liars.

In fact, it went beyond that. Senators Kelly Loeffler and Richard Burr, both Republicans, dumped stock after getting briefed about this knowledge.

A physician and professor at George Washington University has suggested that Donald Trump is guilty, at the least, of "negligent homicide." And certainly this is criminal political behavior.

Trump didn’t just ignore what he knew about this virus, he actively lied about it to the American people. And he continues to lie about it to this day.

Holding giant rallies, as he did over the weekend, will lead to increased infection spreads and more deaths. There will be other Herman Cain’s who will die in a few months because of what Trump is doing right now.

Other countries that took testing and contact tracing seriously are now able to return to something that resembles normalcy. Taiwan, for example, has not had a case of local transmission since April. Nobody is dying there.

We here in the United States are almost a year behind them, with our economy reduced to rubble, all because Donald Trump didn’t want to "panic" the stock market.

The inaction and lies from Trump and those around him in the White House have lead to nearly a quarter-million dead Americans, more than in every war and conflict since 1945 combined.

Virtually all these deaths can be laid at the feet of those people in the White House and their leader, Donald Trump, who lied or remain silent.

How should America respond to leadership whose knowing, intentional lies and actions killed more Americans then “the enemy“ in North Korea, North Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan over a 70 year period?

Russian Bounties Story OFFICIALLY Falls Apart As Vindman Speaks Out

Democrats Ignore US Military’s Refutation Of ‘Russian Bounties’ Story

The US military has been unable to find any evidence that the Russian government paid bounties on US troops to Taliban-linked fighters in Afghanistan, confirming what was already obvious to anyone who hasn’t had their brain stem hijacked by mass media-induced Russophobia.

NBC News reports the following:

Two months after top Pentagon officials vowed to get to the bottom of whether the Russian government bribed the Taliban to kill American service members, the commander of troops in the region says a detailed review of all available intelligence has not been able to corroborate the existence of such a program.

“It just has not been proved to a level of certainty that satisfies me,” Gen. Frank McKenzie, commander of the U.S. Central Command, told NBC News. McKenzie oversees U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The U.S. continues to hunt for new information on the matter, he said.

“We continue to look for that evidence,” the general said. “I just haven’t seen it yet. But … it’s not a closed issue.”

McKenzie’s comments, reflecting a consensus view among military leaders, underscores the lack of certainty around a narrative that has been accepted as fact by Democrats and other Trump critics, including presidential nominee Joe Biden, who has cited Russian bounties in attacks on President Donald Trump.

Like many other critical voices, I said from the beginning that there was no reason to believe the Russian bounties narrative and that the mass publication of baseless and nonsensical claims circulated anonymously by US intelligence operatives constitutes journalistic malpractice. There is no excuse for a reporter to ever present anonymous CIA press releases under the guise of news, especially when they make no sense; the US-centralized coalition in Afghanistan is a hostile occupying force and there are an essentially limitless number of people there who require no financial incentive to attack them.

But this is exactly what happened. Once the news media had reported the unsubstantiated rumor given to them by anonymous spies, spinmeisters like Rachel Maddow began presenting it as an objective fact that had been fully authenticated, and from there the entire Democratic political/media class began months of loudly babbling about how suspicious it is that the US president hadn’t confronted Vladimir Putin and sanctioned Russia in response to this verified fact.

And it was never anything of the sort. It was fake. But now aggressions have been ramped up against Russia, Trump has been painted as a Putin puppet who hates the troops, Senate Democrats have introduced a bill mandating sanctions on any Russians involved in this imaginary conspiracy, and legislation has been passed making it harder for Trump to withdraw troops from Afghanistan.

The story did its job, and now that it’s proven false the same people who promoted it are uniformly ignoring the new evidence which clearly shows it to have been bogus.

This story has been so ubiquitously promoted within the establishment liberal echo chamber that it’s impossible to list all the dishonest portrayals it’s been given since June, but to pick just a few recent examples:

  • Here’s a recent viral interview by Atlantic‘s Anne Applebaum with former FBI agent Peter Strzok in which he falsely cites Trump’s refusal to strike back at Russia over the Taliban bounties as evidence that the president is “compromised” toward the Kremlin.
  • Here’s Biden falsely attacking Trump for not confronting Putin about the bounties story.
  • Here’s sitting US Senator Richard Blumenthal falsely claiming “Intelligence powerfully shows that the Kremlin offered the Taliban bounties for killing Americans in Afghanistan”.
  • Here’s sitting US Senator Tammy Duckworth falsely saying “Donald Trump has gone 80 days without condemning Putin for putting reported bounties on our troops.”
  • Here’s sitting US Congressman Ted Lieu falsely claiming “Putin paid money to the Taliban to kill US troops.”
  • Here’s MSNBC star Joy Reid falsely asking why the president won’t “condemn Russia for putting bounties on our troops.”
  • Here’s renowned Harvard professor Laurence Tribe falsely claiming that Putin “offered bounties on American troops killed in Afghanistan.”
  • Again, that’s just a very few very recent examples. Now that their claims have proven false, how many of these highly influential people do you think are using their massive platforms to spread awareness of this fact? Take a wild guess.

    If you said zero, you are correct. In fact Democratic Party influencers are even continuing to promote the debunked Russian bounties story many hours after the report debunking it became available on mainstream platforms. Andrew Bates, Director of Rapid Response for the Biden campaign, just tweeted that “Trump is giving Russia a pass for putting bounties on the heads of American service members.”

    Again, this is hours after it’s been public knowledge that this is a completely false thing to assert.

    And we can absolutely expect this to continue. We can absolutely expect establishment Democrats to continue bleating about Russian bounties in Afghanistan for as long as it is politically convenient to do so. They never let the lack of evidence for their position get in the way before, and they won’t let it get in the way now. The arguments that they make for their power-serving position are not designed to reflect truth or reality, they are designed to serve power. That’s exactly what echo chambers are for.

    An email published by WikiLeaks in 2016 was sent by Democratic Party insider John Podesta to billionaires George Soros, Peter Lewis, John Sperling, and Herb and Marion Sandler in 2007 with a detailed and structured overview of material the group had covered during a meeting they’d had in September (to read the email click ‘Attachments’ and then ‘2008 Combined Fundraising, Message and Mobilization Plan’). Among the thing these powerful manipulators discussed was the creation of a “robust echo chamber” to be used in the party’s interests.

    On page two of the attachment:

    “Control the political discourse. So much effort over the past few years has been focused on better coordinating, strengthening, and developing progressive institutions and leaders. Now that this enhanced infrastructure is in place — grassroots organizing; multi-issue advocacy groups; think tanks; youth outreach; faith communities; micro-targeting outfits; the netroots and blogosphere — we need to better utilize these networks to drive the content of politics through a strong “echo chamber” and message delivery system”.

    And on page four:

    “Create a robust echo chamber with progressive messaging that spans from the opposition campaigns to outside groups, academic experts, and bloggers.”

    Usually when you see the names Podesta and Soros presented together it just means you stumbled into a bad corner of the internet pervaded by sloppy thinking and an irrational trust in anonymous 8chan posts, but in this WikiLeaks email we actually get a useful glimpse into the reason people can keep babbling about something that’s completely divorced from the truth without being smashed by cognitive dissonance. The fact that echo chambers are actively created by establishment manipulators enables establishment-friendly narratives to remain afloat long after evidence should have sunk them.

    Several weeks ago I tweeted “It’s clear that ‘Russia paid bounties to Taliban fighters’ is one of those narratives the propagandists decided to ram into mainstream consciousness until they force it to become consensus orthodoxy by repetition and sheer force of will, with zero interest in facts or evidence.”

    This has indeed happened, and it will continue to happen. The oligarchs who rule over us have so thoroughly divorced the information ecosystem from truth that they can get people to believe just about anything.

    Two Dozen Progress Groups to Congress: No Secret Spy Provisions in Must-Pass Legislation

    Two dozen advocacy groups—citing their "deep concerns regarding the possible dragnet surveillance of domestic internet activity"—sent a letter to congressional leaders Monday demanding lawmakers reject in upcoming must-pass budget legislation the reauthorization of controversial Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act authorities.

    The letter (pdf)—signed by the American Civil Liberties Union, Demand Progress, Freedom of the Press Foundation, the NAACP, and others—singles out "the lone wolf, roving wiretap, and business records authorities" of Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act.

    Recent events, the groups wrote, have only amplified concerns.

    The letter references as one example a federal court ruling earlier this month that the government's bulk collection of Americans' phone records was illegal. Adding to concerns is Attorney General William Barr and Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe's failure to respond to questions from Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) about whether the executive branch is "secretly relying on its alleged inherent power to continue" surveillance operations without congressional oversight, which the senators said would amount to "programmatic Fourth Amendment violations at tremendous scale."

    What's more, says the letter, "government witnesses... have refused to substantively answer similar questions from Representative Lofgren, Senator Wyden, and Ranking Member Feinstein."

    According to the groups, "Any extension of these expired FISA authorities is controversial and more appropriately considered under traditional authorizing legislation, not a Continuing Resolution, a Covid emergency bill, or any other comparable legislative vehicle."

    The demands come as the House returns from recess, and with "bipartisan Covid-19 relief negotiations on ice," as Roll Coll reported Monday, "congressional leaders have turned their attention to crafting a continuing resolution to keep the government open before the new fiscal year starts Oct. 1."

    NOAM CHOMSKY on Julian Assange's Trial & the Silence of the Press!

    Venezuela announces terrorism charges against alleged US 'spy'

    Venezuela’s chief prosecutor has announced charges of terrorism and weapons trafficking against an alleged US “spy” who was detained last week in the South American country. The man, named as Matthew John Heath, was plotting attacks against the country’s oil industry and electricity system, Tarek William Saab, chief prosecutor, said on state television on Monday.

    Saab showed pictures of equipment allegedly seized from the group, including a grenade launcher, plastic explosives, a satellite phone and a bag of US dollars. Saab added that three Venezuelan citizens, including one member of the military, were arrested and charged with treason as part of the alleged plot. ...

    Authorities said cellphones taken from the men when they were arrested last week include images of a large bridge in Zulia state and dilapidated oil refineries in Falcón state. “Everything here could qualifies as a lethal weapon designed to cause harm and to promote assassinations, crimes against the people of Venezuela,” said Saab, who also accused the US man of planning to open a drug trafficking route through Venezuela. ...

    Saab said Heath had worked as a mercenary in Iraq from 2006 to 2016 for MVM Inc, a Virginia-based private security contracting company. The firm did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

    The Old Consensus Dies in Latin America

    This week on System Update, guest host Victor Pougy talks to Jacobin Contributing Editor Benjamin Fogel about the state of affairs in Brazil, Mexico and Colombia.

    About Brazil, they discuss the Bolsonaro government and the Flordelis scandal. Then they talk about the recent arrest of ex-president Alvaro Uribe in Colombia. Finally, they discuss the presidency of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in Mexico.

    Jewish extremist who killed Palestinian family sentenced to life

    A court in Israel has ruled a Jewish extremist will serve three life sentences for killing a Palestinian couple and their toddler in a 2015 firebomb attack in the occupied West Bank, murders that contributed to surging violence at the time.

    In handing out the sentence, the Lod district court said Amiram Ben-Uliel, 26, an Israeli settler, had meticulously planned the arson attack, which “stemmed from the radical ideology he held, and racism”. The punishment was close to the maximum penalty, it said. ...

    Israel’s Shin Bet internal security service lauded Monday’s verdict as “an important milestone in the struggle against Jewish terrorism”.

    Ahmed’s grandfather, however, told reporters outside the court that the ruling brought no respite. “What will the court’s decision give me? What will it give to Ahmed?” Hussein Dawabsheh said. “It won’t return anything to him.”

    Ben-Uliel’s wife told reporters that the judges “decided to incriminate my husband at any price”. She said the family would appeal to Israel’s supreme court.

    USA political and economic collapse

    Chris Hedges discusses with economist Professor Rick D. Wolff, the economic and political collapse of the American empire.

    Trump Executive Order on Drug Prices Denounced as Election Year Charade

    Advocates for lowering drug prices in the United States are raising alarm over an executive order issued by President Donald Trump on Sunday that the White House purports would challenge the nation's pharmaceutical industry but which critics say is just an election year ploy to make it look like the president is finally following through on a 2016 campaign promise he has neglected throughout his term.

    The executive order itself would require that the secretary of Health and Human Services to "immediately" explore implementing a payment model for Medicare to pay "no more than the most-favored-nation price," which means the lowest price paid in other developed countries, for specific "high-cost" prescription medicines. While Trump celebrated the order as a far-reaching game-changer, experts said the move will likely have any little if any meaningful impact.

    "The proposed executive order would appear to be of limited immediate effect," reported the Wall Street Journal. "Experts see the order as the administration’s effort to show it is taking steps to lower drug pricing, as the president seeks reelection. Drug-pricing experts say that the best way to lower prices under Medicare is to grant the agency the legal authority to directly negotiate prices with drug companies. This measure wouldn't do that."

    While much of the reporting on Trump's order focused on how "controversial" the bill was due to its cold reception by the powerful drug industry, Peter Maybarduk, director of the global access to medicines program at Public Citizen, was critical of the order precisely because Big Pharma will likely walk all over it by voicing the kind of challenges it issued upon Trump's announcement on Sunday.

    According to Maybarduk, "European countries pay less because they negotiate and set basic disciplines on the prices that drug monopolists can charge. A direct way to lower medicine prices in the U.S. would be to give Medicare negotiation powers, as candidate Trump pledged back in 2016."

    As NPR reports:

    The new executive order repeals the original and expands the drugs covered by Trump's proposed "most favored nations" pricing scheme to include both Medicare Part B and Medicare Part D. The idea is that Medicare would refuse to pay more for drugs than the lower prices paid by other developed nations.

    "It is unacceptable that Americans pay more for the exact same drugs, often made in the exact same places," the executive order declares.

    Maybarduk warned in a tweet that the pharmaceutical industry "isn’t going to suddenly start playing ball. Pharma will challenge rules that come out of the order. Also, the EO indicates what USG should pay, but does not appear to regulate what corporations charge."

    "This is a massive win for the drug industry and another broken drug pricing promise by President Trump," said Eli Zupnick, spokesman for Accountable Pharma, in a statement Monday. "The drug industry is going to act like this weak executive order is a horrific injustice but the reality is that they were wildly successful in lobbying their former colleagues in the Administration to delay and water down this executive order to the point where it almost certainly won't save a single American a single penny on their prescription drugs."

    Other critics of the move said it reeked of election year politics, with some suggesting that it should do more to expose how little Trump has done on the issue—and the low priority its been given by an administration that has shown little regard to protecting public health or improving access to more affordable medications.

    Pandemic Profiteering: Amazon Caught Price Gouging as Jeff Bezos's Wealth Soared to $200 Billion

    Physicians' Group Identifies 115 Head Injuries Caused By So-Called "Less-Lethal" Projectiles

    "My skull was showing." "My jaw looked like it got hit by a car." "I thought it was a brick."

    These and other similar statements can be found in a report published Monday by the Nobel Peace Prize-winning organization Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), which found that at least 115 people suffered serious injuries after law enforcement officers illegally shot them above the clavicle with so-called "less-lethal" projectiles during this summer's protests against police brutality and racial injustice. 

    In an effort to document the scope of kinetic impact projectile (KIP) use and the resulting injuries, PHR used open-source investigative methods to aggregate publicly available data on injuries sustained to the head, face, or neck due to the use of KIPs at protests from May 26 to July 27.

    The product of that effort is a highly detailed interactive visualization titled "Shot in the Head." Though the data are national, the accompanying web page focuses on Los Angeles; Austin, Texas; and Portland, Oregon. 

    Even though the majority of protesters remained peaceful during demonstrations in June and July of 2020, at some events police used crowd-control weapons, sometimes called "less-lethal" weapons. While tear gas, pepper spray, stun grenades, and acoustic weapons "have all been extensively employed," PHR explains, the group focuses its study on the widespread use of KIPs—commonly referred to as "rubber bullets" but encompassing a wide variety of projectiles fired directly at people during crowd-control operations worldwide. 

    Although PHR says its count "is almost certainly an underestimation," the new study is the most comprehensive review of head injuries caused by KIPs to date, finding twice as many victims as USA Today and Kaiser Health News identified in July. 

    PHR argues that "the classification of KIPs as 'less-lethal' contradicts extensive research illustrating that these weapons can cause serious injuries, permanent disabilities, and death." The potentially lethal nature of KIPs "depends greatly on the way it is used" and increases when these weapons are fired at close range or otherwise misused. ...

    "Shooting civilians in the head with KIPs," PHR writes, "violates widely accepted use of force principles, which forbid targeting of the head and neck and emphasize proportional response to actual threats faced by law enforcement."

    For example, the LAPD's guidelines on the use of force state that "less-lethal force options are only permissible when an officer reasonably believes that a suspect or subject is violently resisting arrest or poses and immediate threat of violence or physical harm" and "shall not be used for a suspect or subject who is passively resisting or merely failing to comply with commands" [emphasis in original].

    Nonetheless, one protester at a Los Angeles demonstration, C.J. Montano, was shot in the head with a rubber bullet by police officers standing on a roof while his hands were raised in the air, according to PHR. He suffered a traumatic brain injury and bleeding in the brain, which necessitated his taking anti-seizure medication and using a cane to walk. ...

    In addition to causing bodily harm, the "dangerous and often indiscriminate... deployments of KIPs also violate First Amendment protections of free speech and assembly," PHR writes. The group cites the ACLU and a National Lawyers Guild report (pdf) to highlight the "chilling effect" of police violence on the exercising of fundamental constitutional rights. 

    In conclusion, PHR states:

    Piecemeal, post-hoc changes to individual law enforcement, while important, are inadequate to address what is clearly a national phenomenon regarding the misuse of crowd-control weapons. The incidents and injuries identified in this open-source review demand national action on regulation, education, and training on the use of force and accountability around all impact projectiles... We must ban the use of KIPs in crowd-control situations due both to the life-threatening injuries they can cause and their potential to violate freedom of expression and assembly. 

    "It seems systematic," Dr. Rohini Haar—an emergency physician in Oakland, California who led the analysis—told USA Today. "It seems like there needs to be a reckoning with the use of force in protests."

    Lying bad apples in LA:

    ACLU, Press Freedom Advocates Denounce Attack on Journalist by LA Sheriff's Deputies

    Press freedom advocates are calling for an investigation into the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department deputies following the release of video footage that shows a journalist clearly identifying herself as a reporter while officers wrestle her to the ground Saturday.

    "Journalists should never be arrested or attacked by police for doing their job," the ACLU tweeted. "The First Amendment doesn't allow it. To Josie Huang and journalists nationwide: We're with you."

    Huang was arrested Saturday while reporting for LAist and NPR affiliate KPCC outside a hospital in Lynwood, California, where two police officers were recovering from what officials called an "ambush attack."

    According to reporting from NPR, Huang was detained for several hours and held in a women's jail at the Century Regional Detention Center, and cited with obstruction upon her release. The charge carries a potential fine of up to $1,000 and up to a year in jail.

    In a Twitter thread on Sunday morning, the L.A. County Sheriff's office maintained that Haung "did not identify herself as press and later admitted she did not have proper press credentials on her person."

    Video footage of the attack clearly shows several police officers wrestling Huang to the ground while she screams, "I'm with KPCC" and identifying herself as a reporter.

    "That's what surprises me the most is that once she was identified as a reporter that they transported her, that they cited her," L.A. County Inspector General Max Huntsman told the Los Angeles Times Sunday. The independent monitor oversees investigations into actions by the Sheriff's Department.

    Huang's arrest came amid a summer laden with police brutality against protesters and journalists and as President Trump continues to denounce any media coverage he dislikes as "fake news." The U.S. Press Freedom tracker has documented at least 783 "press freedom incidents" involving law enforcement and the Black Lives Matter protests that began earlier this year.

    In addition, new reports out this week from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and UNESCO detail how police militarization in the U.S. has fueled anti-press aggression and document increasing violence against journalists covering protests around the world.

    Ricardo Munoz shooting: protests erupt after Pennsylvania police kill man

    After a Pennsylvania police officer fatally shot a man during a domestic disturbance call on Sunday afternoon, street protests were dispersed with teargas.

    Police posted the officer’s body camera video on social media. It showed Ricardo Munoz, 27, chasing the officer down a sidewalk with a knife. The officer fired several shots while running away.

    The officer was placed on administrative leave, according to local news outlets.

    Hundreds took to the streets of Lancaster following the shooting, a crowd forming outside the police station. The department said multiple buildings and government vehicles were damaged.

    Nurse at ICE Facility Blows the Whistle on Coronavirus Dangers

    A nurse at the Irwin County Detention Center in Georgia is speaking out about a host of dangerous medical practices at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility amid the coronavirus outbreak. The whistleblower, Dawn Wooten, says that Irwin, which is run by the private corporation LaSalle Corrections, has underreported Covid-19 cases, knowingly placed staff and detainees at risk of contracting the virus, neglected medical complaints, and refused to test symptomatic detainees, among other dangerous practices. On September 8, Wooten submitted a letter detailing her complaints to the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General, with the help of attorneys from the Government Accountability Project. The grim situation inside the facility reflects what she called “a silent pandemic” running rampant behind the prison bars. ...

    When the first suspected case of Covid-19 arrived at Irwin in March, Wooten says, she overheard the warden, David Paulk, tell a member of the nursing staff not to tell anybody that the man recently transferred might have the coronavirus. “He didn’t want there to be mass panic,” she said. (Reached by phone, Paulk said he had no comment.) Another member of the medical staff ordered Wooten to triage the man, even though she didn’t have a mask. She refused. “They’re still not taking this seriously,” Wooten said. “Enough was enough.”

    In a series of interviews with The Intercept, Wooten described how she repeatedly complained to staff leadership before she was demoted in early July from working full time to an on-call position, where she was only offered a few hours a month — a move she charges was retaliation for speaking up and demanding stricter medical safety protocols. She has worked at the facility for three years in three separate stints as a licensed nurse practitioner, and has over 10 years of experience working as a nurse in prisons. Her own health was imperiled while working at Irwin during the outbreak. She has sickle cell anemia, and although she told her supervisors her doctor had warned her that exposure to the coronavirus could be deadly, management at Irwin neglected to tell her that detainees she had contact with were symptomatic and, in three cases, had tested positive for Covid-19.

    Wooten’s account was bolstered by interviews with another current member of Irwin’s medical staff — who asked not to be named for fear of retaliation — and four people currently or recently detained there. The legal advocacy group Project South also submitted a complaint to the OIG on Wooten’s behalf, which also included similar testimony collected from interviews with detainees. Priyanka Bhatt, a staff attorney with the group, told The Intercept, “Ms. Wooten’s whistleblowing disclosures confirm what detained immigrants have been reporting for years — gross disregard for health and safety standards, lack of medical care, and unsanitary living conditions.”

    [Much more at the link. -js]

    the horse race

    Krystal Ball: Dem WAR On Green Party Exposes Voter Suppression Hypocrisy

    Biden calls Trump a 'climate arsonist' as president denies science on wildfire tour

    The climate crisis and record wildfires in the western US forced their way into the presidential campaign on Monday, with Joe Biden calling Donald Trump a “climate arsonist” and Trump falsely claiming that the planet “will start getting cooler” and that the science is still uncertain.

    The historic fires in California, Oregon and Washington have killed at least 35, forced tens of thousands to evacuate and subjected millions to some of the worst air pollution in the world – yet the subject has been slow to penetrate mainstream politics, amid the Covid-19 pandemic and a national reckoning on racial injustice.

    In a speech in his home town, Wilmington, Delaware, on a hot afternoon on the heels of the hemisphere’s hottest summer yet, Biden emphasized the wildfires’ connection to the human-made climate crisis and pitched his plan to invest in green infrastructure in order to create jobs and stimulate an economic recovery from the pandemic. ...

    Trump meanwhile blamed the fires on poor forest management, spoke of “exploding” trees and disputed the science showing the world will only get hotter if fossil fuel and other climate emissions from human activity are not steeply curtailed.

    "Mass Voter Disenfranchisement": GOP Ramps Up Assault on Voting Rights Across U.S. Ahead of Election

    David Dayen Lays Out Most Likely DOOMSDAY Scenarios For Election Day

    the evening greens

    Colonization Made CA a Tinderbox: Why Indigenous Land Stewardship Would Help Combat Climate Fires

    West coast cities face the world's worst air quality as wildfires rage

    Four west coast cities in the US currently rank in the top 10 for worst air quality in the world, as wildfires rage up and down the western seaboard, cloaking the entire region in smoke.

    Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington, hold the No 1 and No 2 spots, while San Francisco and Los Angeles sit at four and six. Collectively, with the smoke from the wildfires, these four cities have knocked every city in China out of the top 10 for worst air quality.

    With wildfires burning more than 3.3m acres in California, 1m acres in Oregon and more than 620,000 acres in Washington state, smoke from these blazes has nearly reached Hawaii to the west and Michigan to the east.

    Many in California are approaching a month of unhealthy air quality. ... Ash has rained down on cities such as Oakland, San Francisco, Sacramento, Los Angeles and San Diego for weeks now, blowing into the cracks of windows and covering surfaces. Local officials have warned residents to stay indoors and avoid outdoor physical activities. Unhoused Californians and residents forced to evacuate from the wildfires have faced particular challenges with finding shelter amid the current air quality that abides by social distancing. In Berkeley and Oakland, local lawmakers opened air respite centers for vulnerable unhoused residents.

    Residents in Oregon and Washington are now experiencing what their California counterparts have gone through since mid-August. A heavy haze rests upon the Pacific north-west as wildfires leveled entire neighborhoods last week, killing at least 10 in Oregon. In Clackamas and Marion counties, large blazes remained completely uncontained.

    How U.S. government action has fueled the West Coast climate fires

    Northern hemisphere breaks record for hottest ever summer

    This summer was the hottest ever recorded in the northern hemisphere, according to US government scientists.

    June, July and August were 1.17C (2.11F) above the 20th-century average, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa).

    The new record surpassed the summers of 2016 and 2019. Last month was also the second-hottest August ever recorded for the globe. The numbers put 2020 on track to be one of the five warmest years, according to Noaa.

    Climate Denier Who Has Argued in Favor of Fossil Fuel Emissions Named to Leadership Role at NOAA

    Climate scientists were aghast Monday at the news that David Legates, a University of Delaware professor who has repeatedly questioned the scientific consensus that human activity is causing the climate crisis and has claimed that carbon dioxide emissions are beneficial, has been named by the Trump administration to a top leadership role at the federal government's climate research agency.

    Legates was appointed—without the knowledge of several NOAA officials, according to one person at the agency—to serve as deputy assistant secretary of commerce for environmental observation and prediction and will report directly to acting NOAA Administrator Neil Jacobs.

    Gretchen Goldman of the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) called the appointment "a slap in the face to NOAA scientists who work daily to conduct and communicate climate science to the public and decision makers."

    "Until now, NOAA has largely evaded the kind of anti-science political appointees that have devastated the EPA and Interior," Goldman told the Washington Post. "With Dr. Legates we risk seeing the same kind of politicization of science and corruption of ethics." ...

    The appointment, which one anonymous NOAA official referred to as a surprising "midnight hire over the weekend," comes as the agency is monitoring the approach of Hurricane Sally. The storm rapidly strengthened on Monday and was expected to cause an "extremely dangerous and life-threatening storm surge" on the Gulf Coast.  

    NOAA's National Weather Service has also been issuing warnings to the west coast about the wildfires that have overwhelmed the region in recent days, killing more than 30 people. Agency scientists have contributed to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) reports on the climate crisis and the warming of the globe, including the 2018 study which warned that greenhouse gas emissions will pose an increasing threat to human life if they are not drastically reduced in the next 10 to 20 years. 

    The appointment of Legates to help lead the agency undermines that message, critics say, considering he counts among his climate science work a paper called "The IPCC Reconsidered," a Heartland Institute-funded project which called for more, not fewer, fossil fuel emissions. 

    Five cyclones churn in Atlantic Ocean for only second time in history

    For only the second time in recorded history, five tropical cyclones are churning in the Atlantic Ocean at the same time.

    Louisiana and Mississippi residents were under evacuation orders on Monday as Hurricane Sally churned across the Gulf of Mexico, strengthening to a hurricane ahead of expected landfall on Tuesday, the US National Hurricane Center said.

    The second storm in less than a month to threaten the region, Sally was headed toward a slow-motion landfall that could dump damaging rains on the US Gulf coast. Residents from Louisiana to Florida were told to also expect storm surge and high winds.

    Meanwhile the entire island of Bermuda, where homes are built to withstand major hurricanes, was inside the eye of Hurricane Paulette on Monday morning. ... The NHC [US National Hurricane Center] said Paulette would become a major hurricane by Monday night, after moving away from Bermuda and into open water.

    Of the other storms, Rene was forecast to weaken further having ceased to be a tropical storm. But Teddy became a tropical storm and was expected to become a hurricane later in the week, forecasters said. At the same time, Tropical Depression 21 formed east of the Cape Verde islands, with the potential to become a tropical storm.

    Also of Interest

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

    Trump, Roger Stone call for violence and repression after Election Day

    ASSANGE HEARING DAY FIVE—Court Is Adjourned Until Tuesday After Sound of US TV Report Disrupted Proceedings

    At Homeland Security, Anti-Muslim Activist Katharine Gorka Maintained Ties With Islamophobes

    We Lost Because We Weren’t Big Enough (the Left in the UK and the US)

    A Slate of Insurgents Is Taking on the “Delaware Way”

    Even the Republican ‘skinny’ relief bill failed. How is such unnecessary suffering justified?

    Investors that manage US$47tn demand world’s biggest polluters back plan for net-zero emissions

    New Study Finds Planet Heading Toward Temperature Threshold Not Seen in 34 Million Years

    To Block Trump's Gutting of Methane Regulation, Coalition of State and Local Governments Sues EPA

    Remains of ice age cave bear found preserved in Russian Arctic

    Vinyl records outsell CDs in US for first time since 1980s

    Keiser Report | Chart of the Year

    Rising: How Classism Is Ripping America Apart

    A Little Night Music

    Mary Wells - The Day Will Come

    Mary Wells - Bye Bye Baby

    Mary Wells - Please Forgive Me

    Marvin Gaye & Mary Wells - What's the Matter with You, Baby

    Mary Wells - She Don't Love You

    Mary Wells - The One Who Really Loves You

    Mary Wells - Such a Sweet Thing

    Mary Wells - You Beat Me To The Punch

    Mary Wells - Coming Home

    Mary Wells - My Guy

    16 users have voted.


    ... fuck your head up, real real bad:

    9 users have voted.

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

    Azazello's picture

    I woke up this morning with a really lame earworm. Don't know where it came from, but this has wiped it away.

    8 users have voted.

    It didn't have to be this way.

    joe shikspack's picture


    thanks! interesting stuff. i think that this is the first joni mitchell song that i heard thanks to my sister.

    6 users have voted.

    @joe shikspack
    deny her genius. This is evidently the first-ever recording of her.

    She's apparently releasing that entire tape.

    5 users have voted.

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

    Azazello's picture

    Whadya' got against Joni Mitchell ?

    5 users have voted.

    It didn't have to be this way.

    Roy Blakeley's picture

    @Azazello I never met her. She was Rolling Stone's "Old Lady of the Year" back in the day because she shacked up with a lot of fellow musicians. I would certainly not criticize her for her libido. She and James Taylor showed up at the house of a friend of mine in Chapel Hill Christmas caroling one year, which must count for something. They could have been on a yacht somewhere if they had wanted. Also I think anyone from Saskatoon deserves some forbearance.

    6 users have voted.
    ggersh's picture

    Harris/biden admin

    either way we're fucked

    EDIT:added link where Biden calls it a Harris/Biden admin

    13 users have voted.

    Buy a Bible don't read it and you'll be a Catholic
    Buy a Bible read only what suits you and you'll be an Evangelical
    Buy a Bible read it fully, analyze it, reason it and you will be
    an Atheist

    joe shikspack's picture


    yep, i can't imagine why people are getting so het up about this election. the differences between the opponents are not worth fighting over. they're all the candidates of the oligarchs.

    9 users have voted.
    Roy Blakeley's picture

    @joe shikspack the orderly progression toward fascism that the Dems and their security state friends offer or the vulgar and unpredictable protofascism of Trump et al. Trump's handling of COVID-19 amounts to negligent homicide so there's that. Biden would have screwed up as well but to a lesser extent like Macron or BOJO. Biden and Trump are two dotards that should never be allowed to be near heavy machinery much less the reins of power.

    10 users have voted.
    joe shikspack's picture

    @Roy Blakeley

    to borrow a saying from an old acquaintance, "it's like choosing between a shit sandwich with lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise and a shit sandwich with ketchup, mustard and pickles."

    7 users have voted.
    Azazello's picture

    The days will get shorter too. We call that "fall".
    Navalny says he will return to Russia. I wonder that he doesn't want to join the Skripals, wherever they are.
    Have a nice night everybody.

    14 users have voted.

    It didn't have to be this way.

    joe shikspack's picture


    yep, you just watch, within a couple of months there will be americans complaining about how cold it is and how much snow they're shovelling. Smile

    perhaps navalny is not as interested in being a puppet of western elites as the skripals were.

    have a good one!

    9 users have voted.

    Prevent people from going to work
    take away unemployment and health insurance
    end housing protections and stir the pot

    Watch the people revolt 24/7 on major media
    try to shift focus on police violence toward
    some catchy framed militia movement

    No choice but for the feds to declare
    some excuse to enact martial law
    just in time for the elections

    theater of the absurd
    does any thinking individual
    consider we have a choice in the matter?
    Probably many more than we are led
    to believe. Resist, assist and persist.

    9 users have voted.
    joe shikspack's picture


    we've been herded all of our lives. the problem now is that the place that we are being herded is far less commodious than our previous pastures.

    8 users have voted.

    @joe shikspack
    Why's that big guy holding a huge hammer?

    7 users have voted.

    I've seen lots of changes. What doesn't change is people. Same old hairless apes.

    snoopydawg's picture

    Lots of people are saying that they are quitting voting period. This means that lots of down ballot democrats are going to lose big time. But then that’s one way for democrats to not take back the senate. Win/win.

    9 users have voted.

    “Restoring the soul of this nation” is just MAGA with more words

    Twitter is like a game of telephone

    joe shikspack's picture


    it seems to me that the democrats get a lot of help from republicans at the state level in restricting ballot access and keeping the green riff-raff out.

    i certainly understand why people might decide not to bother voting. i have never in my adult life felt less motivated to vote than i do this cycle.

    11 users have voted.

    @joe shikspack
    I feel like voting straight (R) to give the finger to the IL Dem party. The legislature won't convene because of COVID, leaving the Governor to rule by fiat or do nothing. can't really blame him for trying to do something unlike the cowardly legislature. Governor is not up for election this year. IL Gov's run in the Congressional off years.
    Went to see my State Rep's office for help. There's a typed sign on the door that the office is closed due to the COVID-19 crises. So, not in Springfield, not in the district, but I bet he;s still drawing pay. not for long if I can help it.

    I'm sure the (R)'s are a-holes, but they are different a-holes.

    10 users have voted.

    I've seen lots of changes. What doesn't change is people. Same old hairless apes.

    joe shikspack's picture

    @The Voice In the Wilderness

    i'm trying to remember how that old saying goes, something like - "politicians and diapers are pretty much the same, they're both full of shit and need changing often."

    8 users have voted.

    @joe shikspack
    I hate Trump destroying the Postal service that I served for 15 years. Lots more, you know, but Biden is such a scum bucket. Might just vote for Howie Hawkins and the handful of Greens on the ballot, then all (R). That feels better. Screw my Congressman who's response to the burning and looting was to declare his undying love for the looters. Screw Durbin, preferably with a hot poker.

    Trump can't win IL anyway. This alternative feels better. What do you think?

    1 user has voted.

    I've seen lots of changes. What doesn't change is people. Same old hairless apes.

    joe shikspack's picture

    @The Voice In the Wilderness

    my bias is that i am a long-time green voter. i decided a while back that i was no longer going to vote "strategically" against people. the only people i vote for are the people who have convinced me that they have a decent platform and intend to implement it.

    2 users have voted.

    @joe shikspack
    And I don't think the minor party candidates have the experience. "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" was fiction.
    That leaves the easiest alternative. Just stay home and let the Cook county Democrats fake a mail-in ballot from me. I don't like that one at all!

    1 user has voted.

    I've seen lots of changes. What doesn't change is people. Same old hairless apes.

    enhydra lutris's picture

    where we could go outside and try to get some stuff done. Nothing to say about the "news" or the "election" or any of the rest of the big picture. Currently it seems mo bettah to focus on all the little pictures. Nothing much doing in my immediate vicinity, so how's yours? We exist in these tiny, tiny enclaves, doing what we can, which is damn little and that's pretty much that.

    be well and have a good one

    13 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

    things are pretty good in my little enclave. the weather is turning, it's getting down into the low 50's tonight, later in the week it's supposed to drop into the 40's (at night).

    your smoke arrived today. when i went out to the grocery store today, the sky was pretty hazy and the air quality is distinctly lower. i guess the smoke will probably be around for a couple of days before it disperses.

    have a great evening!

    6 users have voted.
    lotlizard's picture

    learning German level 2 Braille (Kurzschrift, with lots of “stenographic” abbreviations) and trying to understand it well enough to program — as an exercise to “keep in shape” mentally and not lose skills arduously acquired over a lifetime — a routine that, given normal German text, automatically produces the Braille text.

    What I cobbled together in a few days already works for 80% of a list of test words, but it’s always handling that last 20% of anything that’ll getcha …

    9 users have voted.
    joe shikspack's picture


    sounds like you have set yourself quite a task, i hope that you enjoy it!

    1 user has voted.