The Evening Blues - 9-30-21


The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: Lucky Peterson

Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features blues multi-instrumentalist Lucky Peterson. Enjoy!

Lucky Peterson - I'm Free

"The easiest way to solve a problem is to deny it exists."

-- Isaac Asimov

News and Opinion

Pompeo Effectively Admits To Assange Allegations

In the process of issuing another not-really-a-denial about a Yahoo News report that the CIA plotted to kidnap, extradite and assassinate WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in 2017, former CIA director Mike Pompeo said that the 30 former government officials the report was based on “should all be prosecuted for speaking about classified activity inside the Central Intelligence Agency.”

Here are some quotes from the exchange on Pompeo’s recent Megyn Kelly Show appearance courtesy of Mediaite:

Kelly asked Pompeo about the claims.

“Makes for pretty good fiction, Megyn,” said Pompeo. “They should write such a novel.”

He added, “Whoever those 30 people who allegedly spoke with one of these reporters, they should all be prosecuted for speaking about classified activity inside the Central Intelligence Agency.”

Pompeo called Wikileaks a “non-state hostile intelligence service” that is “actively seeking to steal American classified information.”

“You deny the report?” asked Kelly.

“There’s pieces of it that are true,” said Pompeo. “We tried to protect American information from Julian Assange and Wikileaks, absolutely, yes. Did our justice department believe they had a valid claim which would’ve resulted in the extradition of Julian Assange to the United States to stand trial? Yes. I supported that effort for sure. Did we ever engage in activity that was inconsistent with U.S. law?… We’re not permitted by U.S. law to conduct assassinations. We never acted in a way that was inconsistent with that.”

Pompeo’s point that “We’re not permitted by U.S. law to conduct assassinations” is not especially convincing considering how the Trump administration openly assassinated Iran’s top military commander Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike last year, a move which Pompeo supported and defended.

“President Trump and those of us in his national security team are re-establishing deterrence, real deterrence, against the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Pompeo gushed in support of the assassination at the time.

Pompeo’s pseudo-denial is of course further undermined by his position that the former officials who spoke to the press should all be prosecuted for “speaking about classified activity inside the Central Intelligence Agency.” Is it false or is it “classified activity”? It can’t be both. The two things Pompeo admitted to, trying to “protect American information” and working to extradite Assange, are not classified information. The classified information he wants them prosecuted for is therefore something else.

After a lot of flailing and humming and hawing Pompeo does eventually make what sounds like a concrete denial with the curiously-worded phrase “I can say we never conducted planning to violate US law.” But even this wouldn’t be a denial of the claims in the Yahoo News report, because the report is mostly about the intelligence community and the Trump administration trying to find legal loopholes that would allow them to take out Assange.

For example, this quote from the Yahoo News article: “A primary question for U.S. officials was whether any CIA plan to kidnap or potentially kill Assange was legal.” This would in no way be contradicted by Pompeo’s claim that “we never conducted planning to violate US law.” It would mean that there were discussions and plans about assassinating Assange amid conversations and debates about whether it would be legal to do so. The fact that they didn’t plan to violate US law doesn’t mean they didn’t plan to assassinate Assange if they could find a legal loophole for it.

This follows an earlier non-denial by Pompeo of the exact same nature in an interview with conservative pundit Glenn Beck. Pompeo points out that one of the article’s authors was a Russiagater and says of the former officials cited in the report that “those sources didn’t know what we were doing.” But he doesn’t actually deny it.

If Pompeo had not been involved in plots to kidnap, rendition and assassinate Julian Assange, he would have just said so. He wouldn’t have engaged in all kinds of verbal gymnastics to squirm his way out of a difficult question, and he certainly wouldn’t be calling for the criminal prosecution of his accusers for “speaking about classified activity inside the Central Intelligence Agency.”

Mike Pompeo is a literal psychopath. He chuckles about lying, cheating and stealing with the CIA. He defends murderous sanctions and openly admits to using them to foment civil war in empire-targeted nations. He defends assassination. He strongly implied the US would interfere in UK politics if Jeremy Corbyn became Prime Minister. And yet somehow he escaped the Trump administration the mass media so despised with nary a scratch of media criticism on him.

This is because Mike Pompeo, as full of centipedes and demon spawn as his enormous head may be, is highly representative of the mainstream US power establishment. He is the embodiment of the empire’s values. He’s just one of its less-subtle representatives.

CIA's Plot To Assassinate Assange!

The ‘Atlantic Era’ & Europe After Angela Merkel

What shape will post-Merkel Europe take? Any answer must begin with an eye on the Élysée Palace, as French President Emmanuel Macron is set to become the senior most partner in the Franco-German partnership that has steered the EU since its founding in 1993.

There may be major changes afoot should Macron, motivated by the insult handed to him by the United States, the U.K. and Australia with AUKUS — a new trilateral security alliance — pursue his oft-stated desire for European strategic autonomy. As former State Department official Max Bergmann recently observed, AUKUS served to “empower stakeholders in Paris who advocate for a much cooler relationship with Washington and — tapping into the Gaullist foreign policy tradition — wish to be allied with the United States, but not necessarily aligned on key issues related to Russia and China.”

France takes over the six-month rotating presidency of the EU on Jan. 1, 2022, but support already seems to be growing for closer military integration within the EU. ... Meanwhile, proposals have been put forward for the creation of a 5,000-soldier rapid reaction force. American officials have long sought to put the brakes on any move toward an autonomous European defense capability. And Macron has a history of criticizing the Atlantic alliance and what he has incisively referred to as the “imported neoconservatism” of his immediate predecessors, Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande.

Macron once famously observed that NATO was experiencing “brain death” and appointed former French Foreign Minister Hubert Védrine to fill France’s seat on a NATO commission set up in 2020 to consider the alliance’s future. Védrine has described “the American desire to enlarge NATO to Ukraine” as “unfortunate.” Should Macron succeed in setting up an independent European defense force, this would lessen NATO’s importance on the continent and give the United States an opportunity to reassess its commitments in the EU, particularly if U.S. President Joe Biden continues to pursue a policy of political isolation and military containment against China.

Top US general says Afghan collapse can be traced to Trump-Taliban deal

The collapse of the Afghan government and its security forces can be traced to a 2020 agreement between the Taliban and the Trump administration that promised a complete US troop withdrawal, senior Pentagon officials have told Congress. Gen Frank McKenzie, the head of central command, told the House armed services committee that once the US troop presence was pushed below 2,500 as part of President Joe Biden’s decision in April to complete a total withdrawal by September, the unraveling of the US-backed Afghan government accelerated.

“The signing of the Doha agreement had a really pernicious effect on the government of Afghanistan and on its military, psychological more than anything else, but we set a date – certain for when we were going to leave and when they could expect all assistance to end,” McKenzie said.

He was referring to a 29 February 2020, agreement that the Trump administration signed with the Taliban in Doha, Qatar, in which the US promised to fully withdraw its troops by May 2021 and the Taliban committed to several conditions, including stopping attacks on American and coalition forces. The stated objective was to promote a peace negotiation between the Taliban and the Afghan government, but that diplomatic effort never gained traction before Biden took office in January. ...

Defense secretary Lloyd Austin, testifying alongside McKenzie, said he agreed with McKenzie’s analysis. He added that the Doha agreement also committed the United States to ending airstrikes against the Taliban, “so the Taliban got stronger, they increased their offensive operations against the Afghan security forces, and the Afghans were losing a lot of people on a weekly basis”.

GOP Rep. lashes AIPAC for ‘foreign interference’ after Iron Dome vote attack ad

A Republican congressman on Monday accused AIPAC of “foreign interference” after the pro-Israel lobby published attack ads against him for voting against legislation to replenish Jerusalem’s Iron Dome missile defense system.

“How is THIS not foreign interference in our elections?” Rep. Thomas Massie tweeted above a screenshot of the American lobby’s ad on Facebook captioned, “When Israel faced rocket attacks, Thomas Massie voted against Iron Dome.”

Massie was one of nine House lawmakers — and the only Republican — to vote against the additional $1 billion in funding for Iron Dome, saying afterward that “it’s extreme to bankrupt our country and put future generations of Americans in hock to our debtors.”

AIPAC responded to Massie’s tweet with one of its own, saying it “will not be deterred in any way by ill-informed and illegitimate attacks on this important work.”

China hit by power cuts and factory closures as energy crisis bites

China has told railway companies and local authorities to expedite vital coal supplies to utilities as the world’s second largest economy grapples with extensive power cuts that have crippled industrial output in key regions. As many as 20 provinces are believed to be experiencing the crisis to some degree, with factories temporarily shuttered or working on short hours. Shopkeepers were left to light their stores by candles, and there were reports of mobile networks failing after a three-day outage hit three north-eastern provinces. ...

The energy crunch has been driven by a series of complex overlapping factors which have combined to create a perfect storm in an economy which relies on coal for 56% of its power. Trying to reduce its emissions to become carbon neutral by 2060, the Chinese economy has lagged behind in improving energy efficiency even as coal production has slowed because of new regulations.

On top of that, the rebound in demand for goods from Chinese factories as the world reopens after the Covid-19 pandemic – a factor facing other economies – has left coal production unable to keep up with the demand for energy from factories. ...

China is considering hiking industrial power prices to ease the supply crunch, Bloomberg news reported on Wednesday, citing unidentified sources.

Indigenous children set to receive billions after judge rejects Trudeau challenges

A federal court in Canada has paved they way for billions in compensation to First Nations children who suffered discrimination in the welfare system, after a judge dismissed a pair of legal challenges by the government.

Two years ago, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruled that the federal government had “wilfully and recklessly” discriminated against Indigenous children living on reserves by failing to properly fund child and family services. The tribunal ruled the federal government was required to pay compensation worth C$40,000 to each child removed from his or her home – the maximum allowable under the country’s human rights act.

But instead of paying out the compensation, the prime minister Justin Trudeau said his government would appeal the ruling to “make sure we’re getting compensation right”. On Wednesday, however, a federal judge wrote that the tribunal’s compensation ruling was not unreasonable.

“No one can seriously doubt that First Nations people are among the most disadvantaged and marginalized members of Canadian society,” justice Paul Favel wrote in his decision. “The tribunal was aware of this and reasonably attempted to remedy the discrimination while being attentive to the very different positions of the parties.”

The court also weighed in on a separate battle over “Jordan’s principle”, which states First Nations children shouldn’t be deprived of care while governments fight over responsibility of cost. The principle was named after Jordan River Anderson, a five-year-old child who died of a medical condition while governments fought over who should pay for his care. Favel concluded that in both cases, the government failed to establish that either of the tribunal’s decisions were unreasonable.

Angela Merkel congratulates Olaf Scholz on German election success

Angela Merkel and his main rival have congratulated Olaf Scholz on his weekend election win as he hopes to form a coalition that will make him Germany’s next chancellor. Merkel’s CDU-CSU conservative bloc slumped to its worst ever result in Sunday’s general election with 24.1% of the vote, behind Scholz’s centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) at 25.7%.

The poll drubbing has left the conservatives in chaos, with senior figures distancing themselves from the CDU leader, Armin Laschet, who campaigned to replace Merkel and has insisted on trying to build a coalition despite coming second. Merkel, who is bowing out after 16 years at the helm of Europe’s top economy, had stayed out of the fray but broke her silence in a statement on Wednesday to reveal that she had congratulated Scholz “on his election success” earlier in the week. ...

The SPD was also buoyed up by a selfie posted on Instagram late on Tuesday that showed four leading members of the Greens and the pro-business FDP party smiling after their first – and secret – preliminary talks eyeing up a possible coalition.

The parties – which came third and fourth in the election – have emerged as the joint kingmakers of the first post-Merkel government, either under the SPD or the conservatives, but are historically wary of each other, diverging on key issues like tax hikes, climate protection and public spending.

'Fire DeJoy' Demand Intensifies as 10-Year Plan to Sabotage Postal Service Takes Effect

Defenders of the U.S. Postal Service are urgently renewing their calls for the ouster of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy as his 10-year plan to overhaul the cherished government institution is set to take effect Friday, ushering in permanently slower mail delivery while hiking prices for consumers.

"DeJoy calls his plan 'Delivering for America,' but it will do the exact opposite—slowing many First Class Mail deliveries down, taking their standard from three to five days," Porter McConnell of Take on Wall Street, a co-founder of the Save the Post Office Coalition, warns in a video posted online late Tuesday.

"Slower ground transportation will also now be prioritized over air transportation," McConnell added. "These new service standards won't improve the Postal Service—they will make it harder for people all across the country to receive their medications, their bills, their paychecks, and more."

Appointed in May 2020 by the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors, DeJoy—a major donor to former President Donald Trump—sparked a nationwide uproar by dramatically slowing mail delivery in the run-up to that year's pivotal elections, which relied heavily on absentee voting due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But DeJoy, who can only be fired by a majority of the USPS board, has clung to his job despite incessant demands for his resignation or removal over the past year. In recent months, calls for DeJoy's termination have intensified as his conflicts of interest and past fundraising activities continue to draw scrutiny from watchdogs and the FBI.

“A Moral Crisis”: Reverend William Barber on Why Congress Must Pass $3.5 Trillion Bill

Billionaires’ Democratic Bag Man

The Democratic congressman leading the charge to undermine his party’s two-track strategy to pass President Joe Biden’s economic agenda was the U.S. House’s biggest recipient of campaign cash from the private equity industry, whose executives could lose lucrative tax loopholes should that agenda become law. The lawmaker’s former legislative director is also lobbying lawmakers on tax policy behalf of the private equity industry, according to federal records reviewed by The Daily Poster. Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., has spearheaded a media tour and legislative campaign to pass a business-backed infrastructure bill separate from Biden’s reconciliation package — a maneuver backed by corporate lobbyists seeking to kill the latter because it will likely be paid for by taxes on the wealthy.

Gottheimer’s campaign to short-circuit his own party’s strategy is a huge favor to the Blackstone Group, the private equity behemoth whose wealthy executives are collectively his top campaign contributors, and who stand to both benefit from the passage of the bipartisan Senate infrastructure bill and death of the reconciliation legislation. In all, Blackstone executives have funneled nearly $200,000 worth of campaign cash to Gottheimer since 2015 — and his wife, Marla Tusk, works for a lobbying and consulting firm that lists Blackstone as a client. In the last election cycle alone, Gottheimer received more than $450,000 from donors in the private equity and investment industry, making him the U.S. House’s top recipient of that money during the campaign, according to data compiled by OpenSecrets.

Under intensifying public pressure, Gottheimer has begun insisting that he does want to pass the reconciliation legislation, just after the passage of the Senate infrastructure bill. But it is an open secret in Washington that the attempt to delink the two bills is part of an effort to doom the reconciliation package, because separating the bills would eliminate the incentive for conservative Democrats to vote for the far more progressive reconciliation bill.

Gottheimer’s moves are only the latest examples of his defense of the private equity industry. He championed a publicly-funded bailout of the industry during the pandemic. And after his own state’s scandal-plagued pension system reported funneling $670 million worth of fees to Wall Street in a single year, Gottheimer used a 2019 congressional hearing to defend the industry from revelations that it has been systematically fleecing retirement systems with exorbitant fees in exchange for weak investment returns.

Ryan Grim: Joe Manchin's BRAZEN Lie EXPOSED With His Own Words

Sinema Draws Progressive Ire for Obstructing Biden Agenda

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema is not the only corporate-backed Democrat standing in the way of the party's potentially historic and broadly popular budget reconciliation package.

But the Arizona senator's refusal to explain her specific objections to the proposal and offer alternatives has sparked growing anger among progressive lawmakers, who say that Sinema is—in the words of Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.)—"holding up the will of the entire Democratic Party."

"The president keeps begging her, 'Tell us what you want. Put a proposal forward,'" Khanna said in a CNN appearance Tuesday night. "How do you compromise when Sinema is not saying anything?"

Earlier Tuesday, Sinema—who frequently says she won't negotiate through the press—met with President Joe Biden at the White House to discuss her position on the reconciliation package, which is known as the Build Back Better Act.

But even during the closed-door meeting with Biden, Sinema refused to clarify why she opposes the popular measure, according to Politico. Previous reporting has suggested that Sinema—who's received hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign cash from the pharmaceutical industry—opposes Democrats' drug price reforms and proposed tax hikes on the rich and large corporations, but she hasn't said so publicly.

"Sinema made clear she's still not on board with the party's $3.5 trillion social spending plan and is hesitant to engage on some specifics until the bipartisan infrastructure package passes the House," Politico reported Tuesday, citing an unnamed person who spoke with the Arizona senator.

On the same day as her meeting with the president, Sinema held a fundraiser with several corporate groups that are aggressively lobbying against the reconciliation package, including the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors. The New York Times reported that lobbyists were invited "to an undisclosed location on Tuesday afternoon for 45 minutes to write checks for between $1,000 and $5,800, payable to Sinema for Arizona."

"It's sickening," Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) told NBC's Mehdi Hasan, referring to Sinema's prioritization of big donors' interests over the needs of her constituents, some of whom are now working on an effort to primary the Arizona senator in 2024.

"Every single person in your district deserves your focus and your representation," Bush said Tuesday night, directing her comments at Sinema. "They deserve for you to pay attention to them and put them first... Serve the public, humanity, first."

The intransigence of Sinema and a handful of other corporate Democrats in the House and Senate—including Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.)—is threatening to grind the entire reconciliation process to a halt, endangering the majority party's hopes of approving major investments in green energy, child care, Medicare expansion, and other priorities.

In an attempt to spur progress on the reconciliation package, House progressives are promising to vote down a Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure bill—authored in part by Sinema and Manchin—until both chambers of Congress approve the Build Back Better Act.

Progressives have said for months that while they want to pass both the reconciliation package and the bipartisan bill, they fear that passing the latter measure first would free Sinema, Manchin, and possibly other conservative Democrats to vote against the Build Back Better Act.

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), the whip for the 96-member Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), told CNN earlier this week that she wants Sinema and Manchin to "make their demands clear so that we can engage with that."

"It is saddening to see them use Republican talking points. We obviously didn't envision having Republicans as part of our party," Omar added. "I hope that they will understand that Democrats need to be united behind the president's agenda and we need to have urgent conversations on how to get this agenda done."

Speaking to Axios on Tuesday, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.)—the chair of the CPC—expressed a similar sentiment.

"If they don't tell us what they want to do, which was the president's message, and if they don't actually negotiate on the entire bill, then we're not going to get to close," Jayapal said.

Asked Tuesday whether she's starting to get frustrated with fellow senators Manchin and Sinema, Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) responded, "Just a tad."

In a column on Wednesday, the Washington Post's Greg Sargent argued that between the bipartisan bill and the Build Back Better Act, the reconciliation package "is the one with the truly transformative policies when it comes to securing a decarbonized future and comprehensively rebalancing our political economy after it has been skewed to channel wealth, income, and rents to the top for decades."

"In that context, the infrastructure bill is essentially bipartisan theater, the opening act for the main event," Sargent wrote. "By arbitrarily insisting that this must pass before any agreement is made on the heart of the Biden and Democratic Party agenda, Sinema reveals herself as a leading threat to it."

Biden Thinks He's LBJ, FDR As Presidency COLLAPSES

the horse race

Russell Brand "Canceled" For Telling Truth About RussiaGate & Hillary!

Trump plans to sue to keep White House records on Capitol attack secret

Donald Trump is preparing to sue to block the release of White House records from his administration to the House select committee scrutinizing the 6 January attack on the Capitol by claiming executive privilege, potentially touching off an extended legal battle over disclosure.

The former president also expects top aides – former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino, strategist Steve Bannon and defense department aide Kash Patel – to defy select committee subpoenas for records and testimony.

Trump’s moves to try to resist the select committee, informed by a source familiar with his planning, are likely to lead to constitutional clashes in court that would test the power of Congress’s oversight authority over the executive branch.

The former president said in recent days that he would cite executive privilege to thwart House select committee investigators seeking to compel his top aides to testify about 6 January and what he knew of plans to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s election win.

White House FREAKS As GOP May Win VA GOV Race

the evening greens

Steven Donziger CALLS OUT Biden As He Faces PRISON In Corporate Prosecution

Water Protectors Vow to Keep Fighting as Line 3 Completed

Indigenous and environmental activists on Wednesday vowed to keep up the fight against Enbridge's Line 3 pipeline expansion after the Canadian company announced the completion of the multi-billion-dollar tar sands project.

Calgary-based Enbridge on Wednesday announced the "substantial completion" of the 1,097-mile Line 3 expansion, which will enable the flow of up to 760,000 barrels of crude tar sands oil—the world's dirtiest fuel—from Alberta to the port of Superior, Wisconsin.

Line 3 traverses Anishinaabe treaty land without the consent of the Indigenous peoples who live there. The pipeline's route crosses 200 bodies of water and 800 wetlands, raising serious concerns about its climate impact, as well as accidents and leaks that are endemic to pipelines, and other issues including sex trafficking by Line 3 workers.

State and local law enforcement officers—some of their agencies paid by Enbridge under Minnesota state rules—have violently repressed anti-Line 3 demonstrations in northern Minnesota while arresting hundreds of water protectors in recent months.

Winona LaDuke, executive director of the Indigenous-led environmental justice group Honor the Earth, responded to Enbridge's announcement by declaring that "the fight to #StopLine3 is not over."

Other Indigenous and environmental leaders also vowed to keep fighting the project.

"The Line 3 fight is far from over, it has just shifted gears," the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) said in a statement.

"Do not think we are going quietly into the night, we will continue to stand on the frontlines until every last tar sands pipeline is shut down and Indigenous communities are no longer targeted but our right to consent or denial is respected," the group said.

"We promise to continue to show up each time even stronger with new voices and hearts ready to lead," IEN continued.

"From the belly of the beast north of the medicine line to rice beds that sustain the life-ways of the Anishinaabe all the way down to our relatives impacted in the bayous, we will continue to fight for the natural and spiritual knowledge of the Earth," the group added. "We will continue to fight and take care of one another and our Mother because she has always taken care of us."

The frontline Line 3 resistance group Camp Migizi said it "made a solemn promise to stop Line 3 and we intend to go down fighting. There is still work that needs to be done before the project is considered complete; we promise to disrupt and stop that work." ...

Giniw Collective founder Tara Houska said that "this shameful moment marks what the promises of the Democratic Party to listen to climate science look like in action, what it looks like when human beings refuse to open our eyes to the burning world around us and respond with equal urgency."

Congressional Report on Toxic Metals in Baby Food Spurs Demand for FDA Action

A new congressional report released Wednesday revealing the baby food industry has failed to keep products with heavy metals off the shelves spurred calls for federal authorities to enact swift action and tough limits on toxin levels.

"This is what happens when you let the food and chemical companies, not the FDA, decide whether our food is safe to eat," said Scott Faber, senior vice president for government affairs at Environmental Working Group (EWG), in a statement.

"For too long," he said, "the FDA has allowed food and chemical companies to exploit loopholes to taint our food with 'forever chemicals,' jet fuel, and toxic metals like lead and arsenic."

Faber's comments followed the release of a report from a House Oversight subcommittee that found in part that popular companies Gerber and Beech-Nut failed to sufficiently recall infant rice cereals tested to have inorganic arsenic levels above FDA limits.

The publication came after the panel, the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, previously warned in a February report that most baby food manufacturers don't test finished products for levels of toxic metals, instead only testing individual ingredients and vastly underestimating such levels in their finished products.

The new report, according to subcommittee chair Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), "reveals that companies not only under-report the high levels of toxic content in their baby food, but also knowingly keep toxic products on the market."

US to declare 23 species, including ivory-billed woodpecker, officially extinct

US to declare ivory-billed woodpecker and 22 more species extinct

The US Fish and Wildlife Service officially proposed taking 23 plants and animals off the endangered species list Wednesday, because they have not been spotted in the wild and are believed to be completely gone from an earth experiencing human population growth and a climate crisis. Only 11 species previously have been removed due to extinction in the almost half-century since the Endangered Species Act was signed into law.

The move underscores an extinction crisis that is growing worldwide. The rate at which extinction would naturally occur is about one to five species per year, according to Michael Reed, a biologist at Tufts University. He adds that now, species are going extinct at 1,000 to 10,000 times that background rate. ...

The species on the list, now officially extinct, include 10 types of bats and birds found only on islands in the Pacific, as well as eight types of freshwater mussels from riverbeds across the eastern US. ...

But the species that has gotten the most attention is the ivory-billed woodpecker, which was one of the first animals to be recognized by the Endangered Species Act in 1973. The largest of the woodpeckers north of Mexico and the third largest in the world, the ivory-billed woodpecker was a bird of old-growth forests in the southeastern US and Cuba. When its forest and swamp habitat was destroyed in the 1800s, the species started to slide into danger, and only small pockets of birds survived into the modern era.

Also of Interest

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

Nigerians could see justice over Shell oil spills after six decades

NYT Runs Interference for Billionaires Who Don’t Want Their Wealth Taxed

Was Boston Fed President Rosengren Trading with Citigroup’s Money?

U.S. Congressional Support for More War spending and AUKUS Anti-China Pact Exposes Cynicism of Biden’s UN Speech Calling for More Diplomacy

‘Green growth’ doesn’t exist – less of everything is the only way to avert catastrophe

Dutch scientists may have solved mystery of why some twins are identical

Fossilised ‘hell heron’ dinosaur unearthed on Isle of Wight

Former French president Sarkozy handed one-year sentence for illegal campaign financing

A Little Night Music

Lucky Peterson - 50 Years

Lucky Peterson - Who's Been Talkin

Lucky Peterson - The Son Of A Bluesman

Lucky Peterson - A Woman Don't Care

Lucky Peterson - Angel Of Mercy

Lucky Peterson — Waiting On You

Lucky Peterson - You don't have to go

Lucky Peterson - Ventilator Blues

Lucky Peterson - I'm Ready

Lucky Peterson - Compared to What

Lucky Peterson - Lucky Strikes

18 users have voted.


joe shikspack's picture

per the decision of the site to constrain discussion of covid-19 to the community pages, i have removed all news items directly related to covid-19 from the eb.

i do think that covid is an important thing to discuss and remain current on developments of, so, i will (if no other venue appears) post the news items about covid in a separate open thread which will not be promoted to the front page as a means of promoting (hopefully polite) discussion of issues related to covid.

have a great evening!

17 users have voted.

The United Nations human rights body said Thursday that a former environmental lawyer’s house arrest on contempt charges was illegal and called on the U.S. to release him.

Steven Donziger in the early 1990s sued Texaco on behalf of a group of Ecuadorean farmers and indigenous people, alleging major environmental harms by the energy company. An Ecuadorean court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in 2011 and ordered Chevron, which had since acquired the company, to pay $9.5 billion.

In a countersuit in the U.S., Chevron accused Donziger of bribery and witness-tampering. Judge Lewis Kaplan ruled in Chevron’s favor, and Donziger incurred the contempt charges during the appeals process.

When federal prosecutors with the Southern District of New York declined to prosecute Donziger on these contempt charges, Kaplan took the unusual step of appointing private attorneys instead.

Rita Glavin, one of the attorneys, had previously worked for a firm that Chevron retained. A U.S. district judge found Donziger, who has been under house arrest for nearly two years, guilty of the contempt charges in July.

In its ruling, the U.N.’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WAGA) called Donziger’s detention “arbitrary,” noting that the maximum penalty for Donziger’s charges is six months.

This, they wrote, “means Mr. Donziger, having been under house arrest since 6 August 2019, has already served the maximum possible penalty some four times over. In this regard the Working Group recalls that the Human Rights Committee has argued that ‘[I]f the length of time that the defendant has been detained reaches the length of the longest sentence that could be imposed for the crimes charged, the defendant should be released.”

16 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


heh, the sole purpose for the un is to give the u.s. and its allies permission to go to war. as long as they keep doing that, the u.s. will just continue to ignore any notice of treaty violations that the un raises and keep funding the un.

8 users have voted.
ggersh's picture

against tptb!

Thanks for the Eb's minus C19 Joe, insane times are here to stay
until the people have had enough.

11 users have voted.

Man is not a rational animal, he is a rationalizing animal....Robert A.Heinlein

"Unregulated Capitalism is a Suicide Pact"....Noam Chomsky

joe shikspack's picture


it's nice to hear such an articulate young person who has already figured out that there is no political solution to the mess we're in. i hope she and her cohort are ready to stand up and do what needs done when it's their time.

9 users have voted.

12 users have voted.

@humphrey in hopes voters blame the local incumbents. Houston is very blue. However, the damage done to Houston affects all of them.
Let no crisis go to waste.

10 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


i guess texas math revolves around how much one can get away with stealing.

9 users have voted.
Azazello's picture

I watched this LIVE. It was long but worth it. I haven't seen it anywhere else yet, but Ben Norton is saying that Australia's nuclear subs could be crewed by US personnel.

10 users have voted.

It didn't have to be this way.

joe shikspack's picture


what i read was that the subs would be captained by u.s. captains and some u.s. crewmen while australians were training and probably afterwards.

the sense that i got from the articles that i read was that the u.s. was looking for another port in the pacific and this was the best fig leaf they could come up with to get australia to give a port to the u.s. and subsidize our war on china.

9 users have voted.

It seems a bit lacking.

10 users have voted.

some happy news

A Sri Lankan couple that sheltered former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden when he fled to Hong Kong in 2013 have been granted asylum in Canada along with their two children, a nonprofit group said.

Supun Thilina Kellapatha and Nadeeka Dilrukshi Nonis arrived in Toronto on Tuesday with their children, Sethumdi and Dinath, according to For the Refugees, the group that sponsored their asylum application. They will travel to Montreal and settle there as permanent residents, the group said.

The family had been in limbo for years after being denied asylum in Hong Kong in 2017. For the Refugees had long lobbied Canada to accept them, saying they faced persecution and deportation in Hong Kong, a Chinese territory with about 10,000 refugees from all over the world.

Outrage over Snowden getting paid

owa State University paid $35,000 for Edward Snowden to make a digital appearance earlier this year, Yahoo Finance has learned, and the exiled leaker started a newsletter despite a court ruling that placed a permanent injunction on similar paid speeches and writings without authorization from his former government employers.

The situation creates a dilemma for the U.S. government: Move to enforce the terms of the Sept. 29, 2020 court ruling, which would raise complicated legal issues, or allow a fugitive former intelligence official to loudly snub requirements to pre-clear certain written or broadcast material with the relevant Prepublication Classification Review Board (PCRB).

“He's above the law, and that is... an extremely intriguing concept to some of the younger generation,” Karim Hijazi, a former contractor for the U.S. intelligence community and CEO of the cybersecurity firm Prevailion, told Yahoo Finance. “That's the concerning part about this: The more [the government goes] down these normal paths, the more that he's going to win over a younger generation. … I don't know that there's an easy solution here.”

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joe shikspack's picture


glad to hear that snowden's host family has gotten asylum in canada. it's been a long time coming.

it's kind of surprising that iowa state managed to get a payment of that size through to snowden without it being intercepted. generally, anytime more than $10k moves through the system the bank that originates the movement has to send a report to government authorities.

i'm glad it worked out for snowden, though. it seems like justice.

have a great evening!

11 users have voted.
CB's picture

asylum from the Chinese authorities in Hong Kong. Maybe China felt the US would use the fact that they helped Snowden escape arrest as propaganda against them.

They were from Sri Lanka and the Philippines. Both of these countries have bilateral military cooperation with the US so I suppose they could be arrested if they went home. One of the Sri Lankans was also wanted for desertion in Sri Lanka.

8 users have voted.

@gjohnsit Welcomes the Young Generation to our Ed Snowden is a hero camp.

6 users have voted.


OK to kill journalists

According to an explosive investigation published Sunday by Yahoo News, senior Trump administration officials — including the former president and director of the CIA — considered options to kidnap and even assassinate Assange in 2017 as part of a CIA “offensive counterintelligence” operation. In order to expand its legal options, the administration moved to designate WikiLeaks as a “non-state hostile intelligence service,” a label first unveiled by then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo at an April 2017 think tank event.

The creative relabeling was the culmination of an effort that had begun under the Obama administration. In the wake of Edward Snowden’s leak of classified National Security Agency documents, intelligence officials moved to label WikiLeaks an “information broker,” which they distinguished from journalism and publishing. In an extraordinary assault on the press, the officials also pushed to apply the same designation to Intercept co-founders Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras in a related but failed effort to strip them of First Amendment protections in the wake of the NSA leaks. The Obama White House rejected that effort as it related to all three, Yahoo reported, but under Trump, officials successfully applied the “non-state hostile intelligence service” label to WikiLeaks.

A former official told Yahoo News that the more aggressive label was “chosen advisedly and reflected the view of the administration” and allowed Pompeo and his lieutenants to think more creatively about how to target Assange. Those plans involved both kidnapping and assassination.

The administration also sought and won legislative language that backed up the claim for the expanded power.

As The Intercept reported at the time, a provision in the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 stated: “It is the sense of Congress that WikiLeaks and the senior leadership of WikiLeaks resemble a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors and should be treated as such a service by the United States.”

This kind of text doesn’t necessarily have a formal impact on policy, but the language was so alarming to Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., a senior member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, that he opposed the bill in a 14-1 panel vote in July 2017. “My concern is that the use of the novel phrase ‘non-state hostile intelligence service’ may have legal, constitutional, and policy implications, particularly should it be applied to journalists inquiring about secrets,” he explained in a press release at the time. A spokesperson for Wyden declined to comment on whether the senator knew about Pompeo’s interest in using the language to justify actions against Assange and WikiLeaks.
The drafts never left the committees that year. Instead, the final compromise bill, which included the new identification for WikiLeaks, was wrapped into the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 that Congress passed and President Donald Trump signed in December 2019. By that time, according to Yahoo News, members of the intelligence panels had already learned about the CIA’s proposals targeting the group. Yet no lawmaker publicly raised concerns about endorsing the “non-state hostile intelligence service” label.

10 users have voted.
dystopian's picture

Hi Joe, and all, Hope everyone is good! GREAT guitar player JS! Lucky can really play. Too short a life... His Ventilator Blues is awesome. I bet Mick Taylor loved it.

I had hope for Ivory-bills when I was young, there were still sightings into the 1960's in the Big Thicket of east Texas, and a few other places in the south east. But none verified since the 1944 Sanger Tract birds in Louisiana. Some modern reports sounded pretty convincing. People have been trying to find the last known population in Cuba, I think Isle of Pines had some there, but no good record since the 1980's. Might be the same for the Mexican Imperial Woodpecker, another similar to Ivory-bill, and maybe only a couple modern sightings, none-verified in 30 or more years. Those were in western Mexican Sierra Madre. Some believe extinct as well. The smaller Pileated was able to adapt to man's presence. That said, once I was in Durango ('72) and spotted a flock of 66 Thick-billed Parrots, my dad got Super 8 footage. Found out later it was more than had been reported in the prior 50 years. Bunch of folks ran down and chased them successfully, and they were seen for years in that area, it was the only known 'stakeout' place for them. So I always hold out hope (against hope) that there are still un-looked at places where some last few of some things still exist. Like those 'tree lobster' stick insects they found on Ball's Pyramid.

I am presuming this was you, based on the lic. plate... Did you not see both the elephant crossing sign or the yield to elephants sign? That'll bondo right out. Wink

Thanks for the soundscape!

10 users have voted.

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
both - Albert Einstein

joe shikspack's picture


yeah, i was hoping that some ivory bills would turn up after that sort of sighting back in the early 2000's. i figured that there are a lot of places that small populations of them could hide out in bayou country where i think the alleged spotting happened.

oh well, chalk another one up to the progress of man.

heh, thank goodness i was only out driving my v-dub, not my ferrari. Smile

6 users have voted.
enhydra lutris's picture


group in a short bus. Traveling along a coast road my wife spotted some birds flying inland and after a quick look we, and pretty much simultaneously a few others called them; scarlet Macaws. Guide excitedly had driver stop bus, got out and looked, got on 'phone and called them in - hadn't been seen on the mainland in something like 50 years. Stuff happens.

be well and have a good one.

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 --

Biden and Pelosi show their true moderate position.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi pushed off a planned vote on a bipartisan infrastructure bill late Thursday after top Democrats in the House, Senate and the White House failed to reach a deal to pass the legislation.

Pelosi and other top Democrats engaged in hours of frenetic negotiations, hoping to produce a bicameral deal on President Joe Biden’s broader social spending package, which progressives had demanded in exchange for their votes on the Senate-passed infrastructure bill.

Democrats with knowledge of the discussions said party leaders had hoped to convince Manchin and Sinema to agree to a $2.1 trillion topline target for the broader package, without success. Earlier in the day, Manchin declared he wouldn’t support a bill that cost more than $1.5 trillion.

The delay marks the second time this week that Pelosi and her leadership team have been forced to call off a planned vote on infrastructure as they continue negotiations with the Senate and White House in order to stem a massive number of liberal defections on the floor. While moderate Democrats insist it won’t dull the momentum, it ratchets up the pressure on Pelosi, Schumer and the Senate centrists to come to an agreement on Friday.

7 users have voted.
enhydra lutris's picture

Amazing about the UN and Donziger, and stupefying that Biden might even remotely think of himself as FDR or LBJ. I like Grenwald's take on the Russel Brand cancelling - it helps more than it hurts. Than was a fun clip overall.

nice tunes too

Not sure if this is the Sinema theme song or simply an ode to kyrsten, but

be well and have a good one

8 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

i'm glad that the un spoke up, but lacking a serious enforcement mechanism, i don't think that moral pressure has any persuasive force on our power elite.

heh, joementia is suffering delusions of grandeur if he thinks he has anything significant in common with fdr or lbj.

great video, it suggests yet another post-senate career for sinema.

have a great evening!

5 users have voted.