The Evening Blues - 9-19-19
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features odds and ends that I ran across while putting together other features. Enjoy!
Tic & Toc - Jibba Jab
“Faith, n. Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel.”
-- Ambrose Bierce
News and Opinion
Japanese Defense Minister Taro Kono told reporters Wednesday that he has not seen any intelligence indicating Iran was behind the attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities over the weekend, contradicting Saudi and Trump administration claims about the incident. "We are not aware of any information that points to Iran," Kono said during a press briefing. "We believe the Houthis carried out the attack based on the statement claiming responsibility."
The only evidence the Trump administration has released to substantiate its claim of Iranian responsibility are satellite photos that experts said are not clear enough to assign blame. Ret. Gen. Mark Hertling, a CNN intelligence analyst, said the images "really don't show anything, other than pretty good accuracy on the strike of the oil tanks."
Kono said Japan, an ally of both Iran and the U.S., is still in the process of determining who was behind the attacks, which were allegedly carried out by drones. ...
Japan is not the only major nation to express skepticism about the Trump administration's rush to blame Iran for the attacks, which briefly paralyzed Saudi oil production and sent crude prices soaring. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Tuesday that he is not aware of evidence demonstrating Iranian involvement, despite claims by U.S. and Saudi officials.
Iran’s president and foreign minister have yet to receive US visas to come to next week’s United Nations general assembly summit in New York, putting their attendance in doubt. A spokesman for the Iranian mission to the UN said that if the visas are not issued by the end of the week, Hassan Rouhani and Mohammad Javad Zarif would not be able to come to the summit, which is attended by heads of state and government from around the world.
A UN spokesman said that under the host country agreement, the US is required to issue visas to representatives of UN member states who come to New York for official UN business. ...
The Trump administration gave mixed signals on Wednesday on whether the visas would be forthcoming for Rouhani and Zarif.
“It’s not up to me. It’s up to him,” Trump told reporters, apparently unaware of the visa issue. “If it was up to me, I would let them come. I’ve always felt the United Nations is very important. I think it’s got tremendous potential. I don’t think it’s ever lived up to the potential it has, but I would certainly not want to keep people out if they want to come.”
However, in answer to the same question while on the way to Saudi Arabia, the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, was dismissive. “We don’t talk about the granting or absence of granting of visas,” Pompeo told journalists. “I would say this: if you’re connected to a foreign terrorist organization, it seems to me it would be a reasonable thing to think about whether they ought to be prevented to attend a meeting which is about peace.
An excellent article, here are some excerpts:
On Saturday, September 14th, two oil refineries and other oil infrastructure in Saudi Arabia were hit and set ablaze by 18 drones and 7 cruise missiles, dramatically slashing Saudi Arabia’s oil production by half, from about ten million to five million barrels per day. ... The question of the origin of the attack is still under dispute. ... The Houthis claim they got help from within Saudi Arabia itself, stating that this operation “came after an accurate intelligence operation and advance monitoring and cooperation of honorable and free men within the Kingdom.”
This most likely refers to Shia Saudis in the Eastern Province, where the bulk of Saudi oil facilities are located. Shia Muslims, who make up an estimated 15-20 percent of the population in this Sunni-dominated country, have faced discrimination for decades and have a history of uprisings against the regime. So it is plausible that some members of the Shia community inside the kingdom may have provided intelligence or logistical support for the Houthi attack, or even helped Houthi forces to launch missiles or drones from inside Saudi Arabia.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, however, immediately blamed Iran, noting that that the air strikes hit the west and north-west sides of the oil facilities, not the the south side that faces toward Yemen. But Iran is not to the west or northwest either - it is to the northeast. In any case, which part of the facilities were hit does not necessarily have any bearing on which direction the missiles or drones were launched from. ...
If Iran provided the Houthis with weapons or logistical support for this attack, this would represent but a tiny fraction of the bottomless supply of weapons and logistical support that the U.S. and its European allies have provided to Saudi Arabia. In 2018 alone, the Saudi military budget was $67.6 billion, making it the world’s third-highest spender on weapons and military forces after the U.S. and China.
Under the laws of war, the Yemenis are perfectly entitled to defend themselves. That would include striking back at the oil facilities that produce the fuel for Saudi warplanes that have conducted over 17,000 air raids, dropping at least 50,000 mostly U.S.-made bombs and missiles, throughout more than four long years of war on Yemen. The resulting humanitarian crisis also kills a Yemeni child every 10 minutes from preventable diseases, starvation and malnutrition.
The Yemen Data Project has classified nearly a third of the Saudi air strikes as attacks on non-military sites, which ensure that a large proportion of at least 90,000 Yemenis reported killed in the war have been civilians. This makes the Saudi-led air campaign a flagrant and systematic war crime for which Saudi leaders and senior officials of every country in their “coalition” should be held criminally accountable. That would include President Obama, who led the U.S. into the war in 2015, and President Trump, who has kept the U.S. in this coalition even as its systematic atrocities have been exposed and shocked the whole world.
The Houthis’ newfound ability to strike back at the heart of Saudi Arabia could be a catalyst for peace, if the world can seize this opportunity to convince the Saudis and the Trump administration that their horrific, failed war is not worth the price they will have to pay to keep fighting it. But if we fail to seize this moment, it could instead be the prelude to a much wider war. So, for the sake of the starving and dying people of Yemen and the people of Iran suffering under the “maximum pressure” of U.S. economic sanctions, as well as the future of our own country and the world, this is a pivotal moment. If the U.S. military, or Israel or Saudi Arabia, had a viable plan to attack Iran without triggering a wider war, they would have done so long ago. ...
Congress already passed a War Powers Resolution to end U.S. complicity in the Saudi-led war on Yemen, but Trump vetoed it. The House has revived the resolution and attached it as an amendment to the FY2020 NDAA military budget bill. If the Senate agrees to keep that provision in the final bill, it will present Trump with a choice between ending the U.S. role in the war in Yemen or vetoing the entire 2020 U.S. military budget. [Heh, a win either way in my book. - js] If Congress successfully reclaims its constitutional authority over the US role in this conflict, it could be a critical turning point in ending the state of permanent war that the U.S. has inflicted on itself and the world since 2001.
President Trump said Wednesday that his administration is considering "many options" to respond to Iran following attacks on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia.
Trump provided few details on what options were being discussed but said they included military action and that the "ultimate option" would be "war."
At the same time, Trump signaled that little had changed in his thinking from two days earlier when he said he wanted to avoid armed conflict with Iran.
"We'll see what happens. We have many options that we're considering. There are many options," Trump told reporters Wednesday before boarding Air Force One to depart Los Angeles for a fundraising event in San Diego.
"There's the ultimate option and there are options that are a lot less than that," Trump said, speaking alongside his new national security adviser, Robert O'Brien. ...
The president also teased a forthcoming announcement from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on the attacks and said his administration would provide more details on new economic sanctions on Tehran that he announced earlier in the day.
Four months ago the satirical news site The Onion posted the headline, “John Bolton: ‘An Attack On Two Saudi Oil Tankers Is An Attack On All Americans’”. ... Like many Onion headlines, the joke came from a cartoonish exaggeration of something that we all kind of know to be basically true but which no official would actually say, in this case the fact that the drivers of the US war machine are always trying to spin their imperialist resource control agendas as something which protects ordinary Americans instead of plutocratic investments and geostrategic hegemony. It was quite clever, and it was very clearly satirical.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday about an attack on a Saudi Aramco oil refinery last weekend, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo proclaimed that not only was the attack definitely perpetrated by Iran, but that it was an “act of war” and a threat to American lives. “This was an Iranian attack,” Pompeo claimed without evidence. “We were blessed there were no Americans killed in this attack, but anytime you have an act of war of this nature, there’s always a risk that could happen.”
Indeed, despite the Saudi government hilariously labeling the wounding of an Aramco facility “their 9/11”, nobody was killed in the incident at all. The most significant casualty of the attack was Saudi oil export capacity, which has reportedly been cut in half for the few weeks it will likely take to repair the damage. Yet Pompeo is rendering the art of satire obsolete by claiming it was an “act of war” against which Americans must be defended. The government-owned Saudi Aramco is reportedly the single most profitable corporation in the world, and while it’s difficult to know for certain behind the veils of government opacity it may be worth trillions of dollars. If you’ve ever wondered how the Saudi royals can afford extravagances like arming violent extremist militias in rival governments and a relentless genocide in Yemen, that’s how. This blood-soaked Saudi corporation is the thing that the US government is attempting to conflate with “America” right now.
Which is refreshingly honest, in a way. The idea that we’re in a corporate global empire where the lines between nations mean nothing to the elites who actually run things was once broadly considered the purview of hoarse-voiced Infowars tirades; now they’re just coming right out and saying it. As I’ve said before, in some ways the Trump administration is the most honest presidency of all time.
Senate Democrats on Wednesday blocked Republican plans to advance an appropriations package including $693 billion in defense spending for fiscal 2020, all but assuring that lawmakers will have to adopt a short-term budget extension in coming days to avoid a possible government shutdown.
That means defense planners will likely start another fiscal year without clear answers on their military spending priorities and flexibility. House Democratic leaders said they expect later this week to take up a continuing resolution to keep the government open through Nov. 21.
The Senate motion to advance the appropriations package failed 51-44. The package needed 60 votes to proceed.
The latest budget impasse comes despite Congress reaching a bipartisan, two-year, $2.7 trillion budget deal in July which set funding levels for defense and non-military programs, an agreement many hoped would avoid piecemeal spending plans for fiscal 2020. But President Donald Trump’s decision earlier this month to shift $3.6 billion in defense spending away from military construction projects to his controversial southern border wall project shifted the uncertain political comity underpinning that agreement.
'What the Hell Is Going On Here'?: Alarm Raised as Trump's Intelligence Director Refuses to Give Whistleblower Complaint to Congress
Experts are warning that protocols put in place to protect government whistleblowers have been put in serious jeopardy—potentially at the direction of President Donald Trump, according to a top Democrat—as the acting Director of National Intelligence is refusing, despite legal requirements, to share an official internal complaint with Congress.
After announcing last Friday that the independent Inspector General of the office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) had alerted him to a whistleblower complaint, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) told Margaret Brennan on CBS's "Face the Nation" Sunday that acting DNI Joseph Maguire was refusing to turn over the complaint because it involved "privileged communications" between people outside the intelligence community.
Maguire also told the chairman that "he is being instructed not to" respond to the committee's subpoena regarding the complaint, Schiff told Brennan.
"This involved a higher authority," the chairman said. "It's a pretty narrow group of people that it could apply to that are both above the DNI in authority and also involve privileged communications. So, I think it's fair to assume this involves either the president or people around him or both."
"Make no mistake," tweeted Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent Wednesday. "The refusal to turn the whistleblower's complaint over to Adam Schiff's committee constitutes another serious erosion in checks on Trump's norm-shredding." At the Post, Sargent wrote that an order from the White House to Maguire to ignore Schiff's subpoena would be similar to other conduct by Trump. ...
The developing story, Sargent added, is likely "about to get a whole lot more media scrutiny, because it involves secretive back-channel maneuvering, a possible threat to national security and potential lawbreaking at the highest levels of the Trump administration, possibly at the direction of President Trump himself—all with a whole lot of cloak-and-dagger intrigue thrown in."
Benjamin Netanyahu and the opposition leader, Benny Gantz, have begun what could be a prolonged period of high-stakes political bartering after an inconclusive election in Israel showed neither had a clear path to form a coalition.
Many Israelis hoped the poll, the second in five months, would provide clarity and pull the nation out of a political crisis. But the muddy results that trickled in on Wednesday appeared to deadlock the country instead.
With Israeli media reporting more than 90% of the vote counted, Gantz’s Blue and White party had 32 seats while its rival Likud had 31. Both leaders have vowed to lead Israel’s next government, but would need to form unlikely alliances with smaller parties to do so. Netanyahu wants to extend his record-breaking stretch as prime minister by forging pacts with religious politicians and far-right ultra-nationalists.
The 69-year-old is not only fighting for his political life but also potentially his freedom, with pre-trial hearings for three corruption cases against him opening in just two weeks. A majority in the 120-seat parliament could help grant him immunity from prosecution.
When political opposites like Senator Josh Hawley and Bernie Sanders are both railing against the power of Big Tech, there may be real bipartisan momentum toward reining in the giants of the tech industry. Now, amid the calls for new regulations on privacy, antitrust issues, and alleged political bias, two experienced conservative operatives have formed an advocacy group to challenge Big Tech. The organization, called the Internet Accountability Project, is the brainchild of Mike Davis, who helped lead last year’s fight to confirm Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
As a 501(c)(4), the IAP is a “dark-money” group, meaning it isn’t required to disclose who’s funding it. Davis wouldn’t tell VICE News, beyond describing its funders as a “coalition of populist organizations and individuals who are working on this project.” Its strategic partners include several right-leaning organizations, including Publius Lex, a conservative legal nonprofit, and the Media Research Center, which describes its aim as “neutralizing leftist bias in the news media and popular culture.” IAP’s mission is “to lend a conservative voice to the calls for federal and state governments to rein in Big Tech.”
In an interview with VICE News, Rachel Bovard, a senior adviser to the group and experienced GOP Senate staffer, lamented the way the tech industry “controls” conversation and how large these companies have grown. She said it will fight Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Twitter in three areas: privacy, antitrust, and Section 230, the part of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 that protects online publishing platforms from liability for what users may post. ...
IAP’s website echoes the most common conservative anti-tech talking points, calling the companies “aristocrats and elitists and they don’t even know it.” Bovard concedes that “bias” is a leading motivator for right-leaning users of social media. She says she’s concerned about “companies who, you know, can enforce rules against conservatives that they don't necessarily enforce against other folks.” But she also said IAP will fight the companies’ strangleholds on their respective marketplaces. She said she expects backlash from traditional conservatives who will bristle at the IAP’s anti-corporate messaging, and she said some of those critics are bankrolled by Big Tech themselves.
Boris Johnson has been set a two-week deadline to table a plan for replacing the Irish backstop as further embarrassing details emerged of the prime minister’s chaotic visit to Luxembourg. France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, and Finland’s prime minister, Antti Rinne, told reporters in Paris that they were both “concerned about what is happening in Britain”.
“We need to know what the UK is proposing,” said Rinne, whose country currently holds the EU’s rotating presidency. “Loose talk about proposals for negotiations is irresponsible … The UK should make its possible own proposals very soon if they would like them to be discussed.” Rinne said: “We both agreed that it is now time for Boris Johnson to produce his own proposals in writing – if they exist. If no proposals are received by the end of September, then it’s over.”
A deadline of 30 September would be highly problematic for the prime minister as it falls on the eve of the Conservative party conference, and it remains to be seen whether the EU will stick to the threat. Johnson would be wary of showing his hand at such a sensitive point given the potentially negative reaction by his party to any movement towards the EU’s demands on the backstop.
It emerged earlier in the day that during the lunch meeting Johnson had expressed surprise to his advisers when he was informed about the scale of checks that would still be needed on the island of Ireland under a plan the government has mooted for the Irish border. ... During talks with Juncker and the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, the prime minister was shown in detail how allowing Northern Ireland to stick to common EU rules on food and livestock, known as sanitary and phytosanitary measures (SPS), would still fail to avoid checks on the vast majority of goods that cross the Irish border.
Under pressure from Wall Street and the White House, the Federal Reserve lowered interest rates on Wednesday for a second straight meeting, but declined to signal if it would continue to drop rates in the future. Citing the global economic outlook and “muted” inflationary pressures at home, the central bank decided to lower interest rates a quarter of a point to meet a target borrowing rate of 1.75% to 2%.
The cut was in line with the expectations of investors and economists, but the board showed it was not willing to schedule further cuts. The decision showed Fed officials are split over where to set interest rates. Seven of 10 officials voted in favor of the cut, two opposed it and one argued for a larger half-point cut.
The board said: “This action supports the committee’s view that sustained expansion of economic activity, strong labor market conditions, and inflation near the committee’s symmetric 2% objective are the most likely outcomes, but uncertainties about this outlook remain.” ...
The cut was immediately criticized by Trump, who last week said the Fed’s “boneheads’’ should reduce rates to zero or lower. Trump is counting on a strong economy fueled by cheap money to boost his reelection chances next year. “Jay Powell and the Federal Reserve Fail Again. No ‘guts,’ no sense, no vision! A terrible communicator!” Trump said in a tweet following the announcement.
Congresswoman Ilhan Omar has accused Donald Trump of putting her life at risk after the president retweeted a post that falsely claimed she partied on the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks. Trump retweeted a post on Wednesday by the conservative actor and comedian Terrence K Williams, asserting that film footage of Omar dancing was taken on the 9/11 anniversary last week. Omar objected and said the video of her dancing to Lizzo’s hit Truth Hurts was in fact shot at a Congressional Black Caucus event in Washington on a different date.
Omar, a Democratic congresswoman from Minnesota, posted on Twitter: “This is from a CBC event we hosted this weekend to celebrate black women in Congress. The president of the United States is continuing to spread lies that put my life at risk. What is Twitter doing to combat this misinformation?”
Trump has made several racist attacks to demonize Omar, a Muslim, along with other members of what is known as “the Squad” – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib, all women of color. ...
The PCCC [Progressive Change Campaign Committee] responded to Trump with a post that said: “Our co-founder Adam Green posted this video from a CBC event on Sept 13, and Ilhan Omar retweeted it. Today Donald Trump tweeted that she “partied on the anniversary of 9/11.” This is an abhorrent lie that endangers a member of Congress. Twitter must remove Trump’s tweet now.”
Approximately 1 out of every 30 migrant kids in government-run shelters are on psychotropic medications, according to a report by a government watchdog — and many of those children appear to have been medicated without their parents’ consent.
Those details came to light in a Wednesday congressional hearing where Health and Human Services officials were questioned on the mental health aspects of keeping migrant children in shelters for prolonged periods of time. Ann Maxwell, the assistant inspector general for HHS, told members of the House Appropriations committee that her agency’s inspectors didn’t know how many children arrived in the U.S. already on medication.
“We do not have those specifics,” Maxwell said. “We were talking to their case managers and medical coordinators that described those medications, and we have the statistics about who is taking medications in care — and as you mentioned, it was about 1 in 30, about 300 children in the 45 facilities we visited, were on those drugs.” Those children received medications including Prozac, Zoloft, and Lexapro to address things including anxiety, depression, panic attacks, suicidal ideation, post-traumatic stress disorder, and insomnia, according to the report. The report also found that the longer children were kept in these shelters while their case managers worked to unite them with their families or sponsors, the more likely they were to exhibit symptoms of depression and anxiety. ...
In 2018, Reveal News reported that children at the Shiloh Treatment Center, an ORR shelter in Houston, were allegedly held down and forcibly injected with drugs. A lawsuit filed on behalf of the children there alleged that shelter staff told children they wouldn’t be released to their families unless they took the medication. The lawsuit also claims that although the children were told the drugs they were being given were vitamins, the medications left them unable to walk, afraid of people, and constantly tired. Children at the Homestead shelter in south Florida also claimed they were given “pills” for psychological issues, and said they weren’t always told what the medications they were taking were. Ryan Matlow, a Stanford psychologist who visited the facility, filed a motion saying he saw “clear and ongoing psychological harm” to the children there.
Day After Trump Denigrates Homeless, Sanders Unveils $2.5 Trillion #HousingForAll Plan to Address Crisis
In the wake of "abhorrent" comments made by President Donald Trump about homeless people, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders on Wednesday unveiled his $2.5 trillion "Housing for All" plan, which calls for building millions of affordable housing units and providing billions of dollars in rental assistance over a decade.
"In the richest country in the history of the world, every American must have a safe, decent, accessible, and affordable home as a fundamental right," the Sanders campaign declares in the plan, which will be paid for by a wealth tax on the top one-tenth of the one percent.
After teasing his housing plan at an event Saturday, the Independent senator from Vermont said in a statement Wednesday: "There is virtually no place in America where a full-time minimum wage worker can afford a decent two bedroom apartment. At a time when half of our people are living paycheck to paycheck, this is unacceptable."
"For too long the federal government has ignored the extraordinary housing crisis in our country," he added. "That will end when I am president."
"We need a homes guarantee." -@BernieSanders
Nearly 10 million homes through the NHTF, social housing, Community Land Trusts, and other housing programs
Section 8 for everyone who qualifies
National rent control
And so much more https://t.co/uY4mTvujlG
— Billy Gendell (@billygendell) September 18, 2019
One of the key proposals, the Sanders campaign explains, stems from a bill the senator put forth in the U.S. House nearly two decades ago:
In 2001, Bernie first introduced legislation to create the National Affordable Housing Trust Fund, based largely on the success of the Vermont Housing and Conservation Trust Fund. After a 15-year effort, in 2016, a modest version of Bernie's legislation became the first new federal affordable housing program funded in several decades. Administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, it is funded through a small percentage of revenues from the government-sponsored housing agencies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Over the past four years, this program has invested $905 million on the construction, rehabilitation, and preservation of affordable housing throughout the country—but unfortunately that is not nearly enough compared to the demand.
Sanders proposes investing $1.48 trillion in the trust over 10 years "to build, rehabilitate, and preserve the 7.4 million quality, affordable and accessible housing units." He further proposes spending $400 billion on building two million mixed-income social housing units, expanding a U.S. Department of Agriculture program by $500 million for new developments in rural areas, and boosting funds for the Indian Housing Block Grant Program to $3 billion.
When one heckler yelled, “You’re an asshole!” at Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders at Philadelphia AFL-CIO’s first ever Workers’ Presidential Summit on Tuesday, the entire room roared back with chants of the senator’s name. This was the most charged moment in a day of presidential candidates pitching union members including steel workers, drywall technicians, communications workers, school cafeteria employees, and airline food workers. Over the course of four hours, they heard from former Vice President Joe Biden, entrepreneur and tech executive Andrew Yang, New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio, Sanders, major Democratic donor and billionaire Tom Steyer, and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar.
But despite the candidates’ best efforts, the mood among the 2,000 attendees was one of general lackluster toward Democrats in the presidential race, and the six contenders who had showed up to try to win their votes. Notably, front-runner Sen. Elizabeth Warren was missing from the forum the day after she won an endorsement from the Working Families Party.
Some union members and attendees expressed support for Sanders and Biden, but most workers said they didn’t know who they would vote for, even as they expressed dissatisfaction with President Donald Trump. Some said they weren’t sure why they were at the summit — the first of its kind — but had been told by their unions that attendance was mandatory. One union official said that while it was important for members to attend, there weren’t repercussions for not going.
The Working Families Party, a subsidiary of the Democratic Party that pushes progressive policies and candidates, endorsed Sen. Elizabetth Warren for president on Monday—but some rank-and-file members and outside critics have questioned the process as WFP leadership continues to resist sharing vote totals from the decision.
When the party endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders during the 2016 campaign, the totals in that process were released following the vote—a double-standard that has drawn specific scrutiny.
"Publicly releasing the tallies for the committee vote and the member vote is perfectly consistent with what the WFP did in the past," Sanders spokesman Mike Casca told the Intercept's Ryan Grim. "Last I checked, transparency isn't a radical idea."
While WFP declined to provide a breakdown of the votes, it did release a statement announcing that "the two highest vote-getters were Senator Warren with 60.91 percent of the vote, and 35.82 percent for U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders" in the party's ranked choice vote. ...
The controversy stems from the weighted approach to voting used by WFP. The party had two groups vote for the endorsement and weighed both equally. One was the party's national committee, 56 people. The other was the party's members and grassroots supporters, who number in the thousands.
The Working Families Party endorsement of Warren is, not surprisingly, irritating some Sanders supporters. Warren’s 60.9% win combined two totals: A vote by WFP leaders, and an online member vote. Each of those counted for 50% of total but WFP won’t release the separate tallies.
— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) September 16, 2019
For results of the leadership vote and the membership vote to be weighed the same struck some observers as an example of the WFP adopting the Democratic Party's "superdelegate" system to overrule the will of the people.
"It appears clear from the numbers, and the reluctance to release them, that Sanders won the membership vote, but WFP leadership sided with Warren by a sizable enough spread to lead to an endorsement of Warren anyway," Grim wrote at his Bad News newsletter.
It sounds like an improbable fiction: a virulent flu pandemic, source unknown, spreads across the world in 36 hours, killing up to 80 million people, sparking panic, destabilising national security and slicing chunks off the world’s economy. But a group of prominent international experts has issued a stark warning: such a scenario is entirely plausible and efforts by governments to prepare for it are “grossly insufficient”.
The first annual report by the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board, an independent group of 15 experts convened by the World Bank and WHO after the first Ebola crisis, describes the threat of a pandemic spreading around the world, potentially killing tens of millions of people, as “a real one”.
There are “increasingly dire risks” of epidemics, yet the world remained unprepared, the report said. It warned epidemic-prone diseases such as Ebola, influenza and Sars are increasingly difficult to manage in the face of increasing conflict, fragile states and rising migration. The climate crisis, urbanisation and a lack of adequate sanitation and water are breeding grounds for fast-spreading, catastrophic outbreaks. ...
The report acknowledges governments and international institutions have taken steps to increase preparedness for outbreaks in the five years since the Ebola crisis in west Africa, but concludes current preparedness is “grossly insufficient”. A growing lack of public trust in institutions in some countries, exacerbated by misinformation, hinders disease control, said the study. ...
“Poverty and fragility exacerbate outbreaks of infectious disease and help create the conditions for pandemics to take hold”, said Axel van Trotsenburg, acting CEO of the World Bank. “Investing in stronger institutions and health systems will promote resilience, economic stability and global health security.”
A coalition of nearly 10,000 farmers and ranchers on Wednesday demanded that Congress support the Green New Deal.
At a press conference on Capitol Hill and in a letter to lawmakers, farmers and ranchers from across the country said reducing fossil fuel emissions to net zero by 2030 is needed to sustain their livelihood and is achievable—but only with congressional support for large-scale reforms to the agricultural industry.
"We stand ready to help achieve all of these [Green New Deal] goals," wrote the coalition, led by the Sunrise Movement and Regeneration International. "But we need Congress to work with us to develop food and agriculture policies that support climate-friendly organic and regenerative farming, ranching, and land-use practices."
Washington must shift its attention from the consolidated corporate agribusiness sector back to small family farms, the coalition said.
"We also ask that Congress stop subsidizing monopolistic, extractive industrial agriculture practices that pollute the environment, produce unhealthy food, and disproportionately devastate rural communities and economies," reads the letter.
Farmers and ranchers are major contributors to Republican candidates. A 2016 survey by Iowa State University found that only 40 percent of farmers agree with the scientific consensus that human activity like fossil fuel extraction is causing the climate crisis. But the coalition made clear that many in the agricultural sector feel far more threatened by extreme weather caused by the crisis and economic policies promoted by Republicans like President Donald Trump than by proposals to reduce carbon emissions. ...
The Green New Deal calls on lawmakers to work alongside farmers and ranchers to remove pollution from the agricultural sector—which creates about 13 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions—by supporting family farming rather than subsidizing corporate factory farms and investing in sustainable farming.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Camille Howard - Rock With Me
Christine Chatman with Peppy Prince's Orchestra - Run Gal Run
Camille Howard - Nasty Man
Bobo Jenkins - Shake 'Em On Down
Joe Mayfield - I'm A Natural Born Man
Betty O Brien - She'll Be Gone
Sonny Forriest - Train
Ronnie Gordon - Shake Some Time
Jesse Allen - Love My Baby
The Valentines - That's It Man