Anything for Vald, right Donnie?

Vladimir Putin Laughing GIF

After reading a new essay for the New Yorker by Jeffrey Toobin that explains at length how Donald Trump’s 2016 scandal with Russian interference in the presidential election and his current scandal trying to push Ukraine to investigate his political opponents are actually directly linked. We are compelled to point out another even more serious cowardly criminal act, US pulling troops out of Northern Syria to the benefit of ISIS (Daesh).

“The Russia, Syria, and Ukraine scandals are, in fact, one giant humiliating story for the US

These three scandals all involve the advancement of Russian interests and the benefit of Vladimir Putin.

“In the Ukrainian chapter, Trump has done Putin’s bidding, to the extent that he can, going so far as to embrace a discredited conspiracy theory that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 campaign,” Toobin explains. “The rest of the U.S. government has never been as enamored of Putin as Trump is. That includes Republicans in Congress, who joined the Democrats in voting for military aid to Ukraine. Trump wants no part of the conflict with Putin, but the aid package tied his hands.”

This Syria retreat is an outright surrender to Putin of Russia and Erdogan of Turkey.

The retreat followed a late Sunday statement by the Trump White House that the United States would not intervene in a long-threatened Turkish offensive into northern Syria. The announcement, which signaled an abrupt end to a months-long American effort to broker peace between two important allies, came after a call between Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Erdogan said in a speech Monday that the withdrawal began soon after their phone call.

A U.S. official confirmed to The Washington Post that American troops left observation posts in the border villages of Tel Abyad and Ras al-Ayn at 6:30 a.m. local time.

The fast-moving developments threatened a fresh military conflagration in a large swath of northern Syria, stretching from east of the Euphrates River to the border with Iraq. Syrian Kurds had established an autonomous zone in the area during more than eight years of Syria’s civil war.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), in a statement critical of the United States, said the American troops have begun pulling out.

“The United States forces have not fulfilled their obligations and withdrew their forces from the border area with Turkey,” the statement said. “This Turkish military operation in north and east Syria will have a big negative impact on our war against Daesh (ISIS) and will destroy all stability that was reached in the last few years.”

Meanwhile, the Iranians are smiling like the Cheshire Cat

 

Raw Story, Washington Post and the New Yorker

 

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Humboldt saw anthropogenic climate change coming more than 200 years ago

Humboldt County’s namesake Alexander von Humboldt was born on September 14, 1769. In his day, he was a globetrotting, convention-defying hero— one of the first recorded individuals to raise environmental concerns. To make him hip for a new generation, all it takes is a rediscovery of Humboldt by the young climate strikers across the globe. Their numbers are growing, their task is huge, and they are now urging adults to join them. Why let parents fiddle when the house burns? On May 22, grown-ups at the Columbia Journalism Review, The Nation, and The Guardian listened and launched Covering Climate Now, a project to encourage more coverage of climate change in the media. Bill Moyers, the keynote speaker, pointed out that from 2017 to 2018, major network coverage of climate issues fell 45 percent to a total of a mere 142 minutes. And on May 23, with her knack of being spot-on, 16-year-old climate activist and rising star Greta Thunberg promptly wrote of taking on the climate change challenge: “It’s humanity’s job.”

Finding a champion like Humboldt could be a joyous surprise for the young climate strikers. He has their back. He saw anthropogenic climate change coming more than 200 years ago. After all, he was the pioneering scientist who observed, documented and analyzed human-caused environmental damage in the early 1800s during his long journey of scientific exploration in Latin America. That’s when he blasted the methods of colonialism and warned about climate change caused by reckless deforestation and monoculture plantations. Back then, he investigated dried-up hillsides and the harm done by violent floods. He noted how once abundant water resources were wasted and fertile agricultural land grew barren. He saw things others overlooked.

It was at Lake Valencia in northern Venezuela where Humboldt developed his idea that humans were negatively impacting the climate. In his 1814 book, “Personal Narrative of a Journey to the Equinoctal Regions of the New Continent,” he wrote:

“When forests are destroyed, as they are everywhere in America by the European planters, with an imprudent precipitation, the springs are entirely dried up or become less abundant. The beds of the rivers remaining dry during a part of the year are converted into torrents, whenever great rains fall on the heights. The sward and moss disappearing from the brush-wood on the sides of the mountains, the waters falling in rain are no longer impeded in their course: and instead of slowly augmenting the level of the rivers by progressive filtrations, they furrow during heavy showers the sides of the hills, bear down the loose soil, and form those sudden inundations that devastate the country.”

Humboldt came to search for and comprehend the unity of nature. He spoke up for the Earth and for social justice. We can learn from his battles for sustainable practices. Humboldt was an environmental scientist even before the words environment or ecology were coined (1827 and 1875, respectively).

Perhaps it is timely that kid-led, citizen-based, grassroots organizing, like the Sunrise Movement in the United States, the Extinction Rebellion in the United Kingdom and the global School Strike for Climate, have taken root in 2019, the year of Humboldt’s 250th birthday on September 14. Events, talks, conferences, exhibits, concerts, celebrations and the premiere of a musical “Humboldt!” are scheduled—but not so much here in the United States, where we remain force-fed and distracted by political burlesques. In contrast, the climate-striking school kids stayed focused. Each week on #FridaysForFuture, they walk out of their schools to demand a future. Other new groups have started their own activities. Big demonstrations were planned for September 20, just a few days after the festivities for Humboldt’s birthday were over.

Scientists tell us that humans have only 12 years left to reduce emissions and limit global warming to an increase of 1.5° Celsius before things get really grim. And research on the rapidly shrinking biodiversity shows evidence that one million species face extinction. The environmentalist David Attenborough said during a recent United Nations climate conference that we are facing the “collapse of our civilizations and the extinction of much of the natural world.” Greta Thunberg also came straight to the point. Her comment on May 24, the day of the second global climate strike at 1,263 locations in 107 countries has only four words: “Activism works. So act.”

Humboldt represents the road not taken. He was a scientist who saw everything as interconnected. He called for good global stewardship and objected to the careless exploitation of resources. His warnings weren’t heeded. Soon a zeitgeist shift rushed things along on an opposing highway: toward massive development and depletion as if there were no tomorrow. So now it’s appropriate to recall that during the first decades of the 19th century, Alexander von Humboldt was the second-most famous person in the world after Napoleon. The books documenting his work were international bestsellers. As part of his lecture series and later five-volume treatise, “Cosmos: A Sketch of a Physical Description of the Universe,” he gave more than 60 free and lengthy talks to thousands of people from all walks of life. Workers and members of the nobility, men and women, young and old listened to him, rapt. He did not live in an ivory tower. Here in the United States, folks also knew very well who he was and what he did. They named their towns, counties, mountains, forests, schools, and parks after him. Today he is still a big deal, but not for the general public. Now he is known almost exclusively only among specialist academic Humboldtians across the globe. There are several active institutions: The Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung/Foundation is one of them. It has 29,000 members. They are scientists and scholars from all disciplines in 140 countries.

An outstanding communicator, Humboldt hand-wrote thousands of letters per year and built an extensive worldwide network with correspondents during his lifetime. This networking continues today, enhanced by the electronic media. This helps in keeping his correspondence with Thomas Jefferson alive and available on digital platforms.

In her book “The Passage to Cosmos: Alexander von Humboldt and the Shaping of America,” Laura Dassow Walls, the William P. and Hazel B. White Professor of English at the University of Notre Dame, tells a little story about John B. Floyd, U.S. Secretary of War, and how in 1858 he visited Humboldt in Berlin to pay his respects. An advance gift had been sent to the old man. It was a fine album with nine maps showing all the Humboldt place names in the U.S. There was also a letter. It said:

“Never can we forget the services you have rendered not only to us but to all the world. The name of Humboldt is not only a household word throughout our immense country, from the shores of the Atlantic to the waters of the Pacific, but we have honored ourselves by its use in many parts of our territory….”

Just as he finished reading this florid ode, the American guest was shown in. A bit of toning down was required. “I wish you to know,” joked Humboldt, “that I am a river about 350 miles long; I have many tributaries, not much timber, but I am full of fish.”

Full of fish. There are still fish in Nevada’s Humboldt River: stocked fish. These days the young fish are grown in hatcheries and put into the stream by humans for the pleasure of the sport-fishing community. Other locations named Humboldt will face serious challenges. In northern California, for example, research and vulnerability studies predict that several communities in beautiful Humboldt County will be washed over by tides on a daily basis. This area has the highest risks of sea-level rise on the extensive U.S. West Coast.

Yet on the upside is the potential for constructing offshore wind energy projects. The northern coastline has long been regarded as ideal, even unparalleled in the U.S., but the local water depth was too deep for wind turbine installations. Now the latest technologies of floating platforms offer solutions. And Humboldt Bay also has California’s only deep-water port north of San Francisco, which will be essential in providing the infrastructure for renewable energy resources.

The good news is that apparently, we already have affordable technologies, techniques and the science that can help us to save the planet from becoming uninhabitable. It will be difficult and a long hard slog. Dealing with the tobacco industry was easy compared to the contests to come, and the stakes are higher than they have ever been.

Humboldt’s groundbreaking 1807 “Essay on the Geography of Plants” was published in a complete English-language translation for the first time in 2009 by the University of Chicago Press. As the publisher’s description tells us, the book covers “far more than its title implies. …[I]t represents the first articulation of an integrative ‘science of the earth.’” Walls calls it a work by “our first planetary thinker.” Those trying to find a trail “to the future should start with this book, Humboldt’s manifesto for the 21st century.” As a Humboldt fan, I agree. The 1807 essay is a powerful road map drawn by a prescient thinker, and it shows the author’s holistic understanding of the natural world:

“Botanists usually direct their research towards objects that encompass only a very small part of their science. They are concerned almost exclusively with the discovery of new species of plants, the study of their external structure, their distinguishing characteristics, and the analogies that group them together into classes and families. …

“[I]t is no less important to understand the Geography of Plants, a science that up to now exists in name only, and yet is an essential part of general physics.

“This is the science that concerns itself with plants in their local association in the various climates. This science, as vast as its object, paints with a broad brush the immense space occupied by plants, from the regions of perpetual snows to the bottom of the ocean, and into the very interior of the earth, where there subsist in obscure caves some cryptogams that are as little known as the insects feeding upon them.”

Although no one knows if the climate strikers will stumble into Humboldt and his ideas, I hope they do.

 

Erika Schelby is the author of “Looking for Humboldt and Searching for German Footprints in New Mexico and Beyond” (Lava Gate Press, 2019) and “Liberating the Future from the Past? Liberating the Past from the Future?” (Lava Gate Press, 2013), which was shortlisted by the Berlin-based cultural magazine Lettre International. Schelby lives in New Mexico.
This article was produced by Earth | Food | Life, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

The desperate Trump campaign, with nowhere else to go, targets the nonvoter

His strategists say Trump must get more of his rabid fans to vote.

The problem is so many of them are not registered to vote.

With less than 14 months to go before Election Day, the Trump’s team is heavily banking his reelection hopes on identifying and bringing to the polls hundreds of thousands of non-voting Trump supporters, people in closely contested states who didn’t vote in 2016. The campaign is betting that it may be easier to make voters out of these electoral rarities than to win over millions of Trump skeptics in the center of the electorate.

It’s a risky wager borne of political necessity and helps explain Trump’s provocative communications strategy, from his attacks on the media to his racially polarizing rhetoric. Trump, aides, and allies say, he knows he needs to fire up his supporters, racism and anger are powerful motivators.

“People trying to persuade swing voters are probably wasting their time because nearly all voters have already put their jersey on,” said GOP strategist Chris Wilson. “Trump needs to bring more of his fans onto the field.”

Tens of millions of Americans choose not to vote in federal races every two years. Trump’s campaign is determined to turn out its supporters among them. It views them as an untapped stash of Republican support that can help him overcome stubbornly low poll numbers and his difficulties in winning over voters in the shrinking political center.

“There’s a new math spurred by a new candidate at the top of his ticket,” Trump campaign senior political adviser Bill Stepien told reporters. “And I think we need to throw out the old way we look at how elections are won and lost.”

That’s not to say reaching them or getting them to vote for Trump will be easy.

The surest predictor for whether someone will vote in the future is whether that person has voted in the past. This political truism has long informed campaign strategies.
The Trump campaign is betting that xenophobic zeal and pent-up racist fervor will turn the tide.

Of course, the Trump campaign won’t publicly talk about their main tactic, which is to suppress the vote by any means necessary, particularly of Black and Hispanic voters. This is done by gerrymandering districts. Challenging voter credentials, intimidation, and misinformation. The Trump campaign heavily relied on outside help in 2016 to tip the scales. Russian hackers did a lot of their dirty work for them and 2020 looks to be shaping up the same way.

Some of this post is based on reporting from AP

 

 

 

Natalynne DeLapp former ED at EPIC has now become a true corporate shill…..sad

Natalynne DeLapp (center)

From: Natalynne DeLapp

To: Bohn, Rex

Subject: Fwd: Travel to Humboldt – Next Week

Date: Monday, April 01, 2019 10:34:53 AM

Rex,

We need to come up with a list of all the various organizations, groups, needs, etc that Terra-Gen can contribute to now and into the future. Who needs a fire truck?

Natalynne

———- Forwarded message ———

From: Natalynne DeLapp

Date: Mon, Apr 1, 2019 at 10:30 AM

Subject: Re: Travel to Humboldt – Next Week

To: Nathan Vajdos

Cc: Kevin Martin, Erec DeVost (Erec.DeVost@stantec.com)

Hey Nathan and team,

You’re coming here on April 9 & 10 (?) Have you already set appointments with the Wiyot, or do you want me to do that? My suggestion for Terra-Gen is to assess “how much padding does the company have to reinvest in ‘good neighbor’ projects and community re-investment this year, and into the future?” There are a lot of worthy projects and needs that Humboldt has from environmental, to cultural, employment, mental health, social, public safety, etc. Just as our community members have a culture of philanthropy with how we contribute our hard-earned dollars to our non-profits (KMUD and KHSU radio stations, hospitals, volunteer fire departments, schools, as well as supporting local political candidates, etc)–Terra-Gen ought to have a plan for how it is going to give back to the community beyond property tax dollars now and into the future. I understand the pie/pool of money/resources is only so big, and that Terra-Gen has finite resources (you’re not Santa Claus or Daddy Warbucks) and folks need to adjust their expectations of what the company is able to do. I believe it is your best interests to maximize your return on investment, while at the same time creating the greatest good, for the greatest number of people. The specifics of who and what gets what moving forward is going to be key. The Zanzis, Chang, Fae, Rio Dell, Wiyot, enviros, etc. (KCJ- The first three are landowners near the project)

What is going to be the “sugar that helps the medicine go down?”

This is directly linked to the Unions and some of the progressive “solutions” to “problems” and when they think the “only way to make sure the community is benefited is through Labor Agreements, or Community Benefits Agreements.” When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Being a good neighbor voluntarily and in advance, prior to being forced (with legally binding contracts, or bullied with extortion) is one of those solutions. I personally do not believe paying a small number of people more money to build a project, for a short period of time (aka labor contract) is good for the greatest number of people. I would sooner see Terra-Gen invest monies in economic development, educational opportunities, mental health/addiction services, and environmental restoration.

The county just held its “Budget Roadshow” where members of the public tell the county what their priorities are so the county can allocate resources according to the will of the people–that is a “road map” to the political will of the people–labor contracts were not a part of that discussion. Given my background in fundraising and development, non-profits, and election campaigning, I am uniquely sensitive to the financial needs (scare resources) of the community, and have worked for a decade, “Encouraging a Culture of Philanthropy.” I wrote the below Op-Ed back in 2013. I believe it still holds true, and is relevant to the discussion.

Natalynne

 

Source FOIA request

Cyanide bombs to kill wildlife, the latest of the daily Trump atrocities

Public Enemy #1 ????

Donald Trump’s administration in an obvious “tip of the hat” to trespass cannabis growers has re-authorized the use of the very controversial poison traps known as “cyanide bombs” to kill wild foxes, coyotes, and feral dogs despite overwhelming opposition from conservation groups.

The devices, known as M-44s, which are implanted in the ground and resemble lawn sprinklers, use a spring-loaded ejector to release sodium cyanide when an animal tugs on its baited capsule holder.

The government halted the use of the devices last year after one of them was responsible for injuring a boy and killing his dog in Idaho. The family has filed a lawsuit against the federal government and we wish them success.

The decision to re-instate their use was announced in the Federal Register earlier this week and met with outrage by environmental groups that led a campaign to flood the Environmental Protection Agency with more than 20,000 letters.

“They’re incredibly dangerous to people, their pets and endangered wildlife, they’re just too risky to be used,” Collette Adkins, carnivore conservation director for the Center for Biological Diversity, told AFP on Thursday.

“The livestock industry wants it,” she said, adding that agriculture industry groups sent about 10 comments in favor of re-authorizing M-44s to the EPA.

According to government data, M-44s killed 6,579 animals in 2018, including more than 200 “nontarget” animals including opossums raccoons, skunks, and a bear.

“These numbers probably significantly under-estimate the true death toll since Wildlife Services is notorious for poor data collection and an entrenched ‘shoot, shovel, shut up’ mentality,” the Center for Biological Diversity said in a statement.

The EPA did add certain new restrictions, including that devices may not be placed within 100 feet of a road, (and this is not a joke), that warning is still required to be placed within 15 feet of the device — though last time we check animals wild and domesticated not to mention small children don’t have reading skills so this would not reduce deaths of so-called “unintended targets”.

Adkins said her organization and others would continue to lobby for state-level bans, the latest of which was passed by Oregon in May.

 

Mueller stumbled and bumbled, but still delivered important facts

Former special counsel Robert Mueller delivered some bombshells in his lengthy testimony before the House Judiciary Committee.

Mueller steadfastly refused to touch questions about impeachment, but he refuted Donald Trump’s claims about exoneration — and confirmed he would likely have been charged with crimes if he were not president.

  1. Trump has repeatedly claimed Mueller’s report found no evidence of obstruction of justice and completely exonerated him, but the former special counsel told committee chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) that was inaccurate.

 “Correct,” Mueller told the chairman, “that is not what the report said.”

  1. Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA) asked Mueller whether the president tried to protect himself by ordering staff to falsify records, and the former special counsel agreed, and Mueller also agreed those actions were intended to hamper the investigation.

“I believe that to be true,” Mueller said.

  1. Mueller told Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) that his report found “sufficient factual and legal basis” to continue an investigation of Trump for obstruction of justice, although he declined to elaborate how that should play out.
  2. One of the most surprising moments was the own-goal scored by Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO), who pressed Mueller to explain why he did not reach a conclusion on whether Trump had obstructed justice and accidentally set up one of the hearing’s biggest bombshells.

“Could you charge the president with a crime after he left office?” Buck asked.

“Yes,” Mueller said, without hesitation.

You believe that he committed — you could charge the President of the United States with obstruction of justice after he left office?” Buck continued.

“Yes,” Mueller agreed.

  1. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) delivered one of the other most significant moments from the hearing when he asked Mueller to confirm that the only reason Trump was not indicted was because that is prohibited by an opinion issued by the Office of Legal Counsel.

“That is correct,” Mueller agreed.

Mueller later tried to walk it back and revised his answer to Lieu, saying that his report showed that investigators did not reach a determination of whether the president committed a crime.

  1. Mueller generally did not push back against batshit crazy Republican attacks on his own credibility, but he strongly disagreed with Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND) accusing his team of political bias.

“We strove to hire those individuals that could do the job,” Mueller said. “I’ve been in this business for almost 25 years, and in those 25 years, I have not had occasion once to ask somebody about their political affiliation. It is not done. What I care about is the capability of the individual to do the job and do the job quickly and seriously and with integrity.”

from raw story

George Orwell called it back in 1949

Eric Arthur Blair, better known by his pen name George Orwell, was an English novelist, essayist, journalist and critic, whose work is marked by lucid prose, awareness of social injustice, opposition to totalitarianism, and outspoken support of democratic socialism

Extremely poignant quotes:

Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.

All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.

If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.

Political language. . . is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.

Welcome to the land of Tyrant Trump

Everyone able and willing to distinguish facts from lies has witnessed Trump’s brazen cover-up of Russia’s attack. He has never named or denounced the aggressor, while depicting the investigators as traitors who used a hoax to attempt a coup.

As November 3, 2020 approaches, Trump ignores calls to defend the elections and fails to confront Russia, inviting more cyber-sabotage on his behalf. What if he loses nonetheless? Consider a playscript whose author casts himself as defender of the nation against the “globalist elite” and their “deep state” henchmen. In Act I, he miraculously outwits their attempt to rig the 2016 election; in Act II he thwarts their attempted coup. Act III completes the plot, as the Democrats manage to fake a 2020 victory, only to face a resolute President who—having forewarned of a final deep state conspiracy to regain power—announces a state of emergency.

Better outcomes are possible, but inaction based on rosy predictions invites deepening danger. Time is passing, as it did in the weeks following President Obama’s discovery of Russia’s attack, and as it did while we waited for Mueller. Investigators continue to investigate what they already know. The Republican conscience does not stir. The Republican base is unmoved. The “investigation” of the investigators begins. The “coup plot” reverberates across cable news and Twitter. We watch—or don’t—an unfolding illustration of Orwell’s “plain, unmistakable facts being shirked by people who in another part of their minds are aware of those facts.”

Devoted to preserving human liberty, Orwell probed democracy’s vulnerabilities. In Animal Farm he depicted naïve disbelief in the face of step-by-step descents into despotism; in a 1940 review of Mein Kampf, he showed how ordinary people surrender freedom willingly; in 1984 he depicted how authoritarian control can be strengthened by technologies of mass communication and surveillance.

Orwell did not live to witness the liberal complacency that set in following defeat of the 20th century’s totalitarian movements. Nor could Orwell have imagined the new dangers posed by the cyberage. The treasonous implications of presidential indifference to Pearl Harbor or 9/11 would have been obvious to all.  Our “cyber-Pearl Harbor,” by contrast, inflicted grave damage invisibly and non-violently, enabling its perpetrator and chief beneficiary—Putin and Trump—to deny its occurrence. Demagogic big lies can now metastasize through the body politic with lightning speed.

We struggle to understand this latest rise of authoritarian nationalism, envisioning policies that will progressively drive such movements back to humanity’s dark margins. But first we must remove a particular enemy from his position as the most powerful man on earth.

When freedom’s heartland was last endangered, FDR did not await favorable opinion polls to affirm—against the original “America First” movement—that America must fight to defeat fascism. Nor did Winston Churchill, though long ignored, refrain from insisting that his country face the Nazi danger. Those leaders matched Hitler’s faith in the “triumph of the will” with an even fiercer will to defend the liberal democracies.

Today, with America’s “bully pulpit” in the hands of a demagogue, defenders of our 230-year-old Constitution have to win for themselves the constant struggle to face what is in front of their noses. Aware citizens must stand up to insist that aiding and abetting a foreign attack, and depicting as traitors those who rise to “the common defense,” are high crimes that must be stopped and punished. Democratic leaders will not find their voice, nor Republicans awaken to the truth, until they sense the rising tide of mobilized American patriotism.

The test we face is to stop “shirking” in the face of “obvious and inalterable” facts, to focus fearlessly on the danger rather than allow a parade of doubts and distractions to displace what is “in front of one’s nose.” From 1776 to the fall of the Berlin Wall, believers in human freedom and democratic self-governance have known when to shrug off setbacks and summon their will. That time is now.

edited from History News Network David Goldfischer via Raw Story