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By Robert A. Vella

Western Europe is baking under a dangerous climate change heat wave that is breaking temperature records, causing wildfires and power outages, and creating life-threatening conditions for humans and animals alike.  The Iran Nuclear Agreement, which E.U. leaders admitted this week that they were powerless to save, may have been revived yesterday when a proposal with China was announced that would circumvent economic sanctions imposed on Iran by the U.S.  If it works, President Donald Trump would suffer yet another embarrassment on the world stage.  At home, Trump’s national emergency declaration to divert federal funds allocated for other purposes to build his border wall project was immediately and permanently blocked by a federal judge.  Trump subsequently vowed to appeal the decision.  Shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an Alabama case challenging a court decision which invalidated an anti-abortion law passed in that state, another federal court struck down a similar law enacted in Indiana.  Education secretary Betsy DeVos, the queen of privatization schemes, repealed a department policy designed to prevent for-profit colleges from scamming students with deceptive marketing claims.  A bipartisan attempt in the U.S. Senate to rein-in Trump’s warmongering against Iran failed to garner sufficient votes to overcome a Republican filibuster.  In Florida, governor Ron DeSantis signed a partisan Republican bill to counteract a constitutional amendment overwhelmingly passed by voters last November granting former felons the right to vote.  Such individuals, who have already paid their debt to society, must now pay court-ordered fees and fines before they can exercise their democratic rights.  This is justifiably referred to as voter suppression, and the ACLU is filing a lawsuit against it.  Finally, Democrats in Oregon folded like a house-of-cards in a stiff breeze when Republican legislators illegally fled the state to stop a cap-and-trade bill from becoming law.  If you recall, a similar situation arose in Wisconsin several years ago with the roles reversed and Dems were the ones who fled in protest;  but, Republicans didn’t fold and the Democrats eventually returned to the state whimpering in defeat.

E.U. bakes

From:  Wildfires and power cuts plague Europe as heatwave breaks records

PARIS/MADRID (Reuters) – Hundreds of firefighters battled on Saturday to contain wildfires in southern France as a stifling heatwave brought record-breaking temperatures to parts of Europe, killing at least three people in Italy.

In the Gard region, where France’s highest temperature on record was registered on Friday at 45.9 degrees Celsius (114 degrees Fahrenheit), scores of fires burned some 600 hectares (about 1,500 acres) of land and destroyed several houses and vehicles, emergency services said.

[…]

The World Meteorological Organization said this week that 2019 was on track to be among the world’s hottest years, and 2015-2019 would then be the hottest five-year period on record.

It said the European heatwave was “absolutely consistent” with extremes linked to the impact of greenhouse gas emissions.

Nuke deal revives

From:  Iran may stand down on nuclear threat after Europe, China work to bypass US sanctions

Iran may be standing down on its nuclear threat, at least for now, after Europe and China moved on Friday to ignore or bypass U.S. sanctions.

It’s a sign of the Trump administration’s isolation on the world stage when it comes to the Iran nuclear deal, as it tries to cripple Iran financially and drive it to the negotiating table for a “more comprehensive deal” – something Iran has said won’t happen.

Wall loses

From:  Trump’s Plan to Start Building Wall Monday Crumbles in Court

(Bloomberg) — President Donald Trump was ready to break ground Monday morning on his long-promised Mexico border wall.

But a court ruling late Friday dealt the president another setback. A federal judge who last month blocked a pair of construction projects in Arizona and New Mexico added four more sites in Arizona and California. And the Oakland, California-based judge turned his temporary injunction into a permanent one.

Trump promised to appeal the ruling immediately, and complained that district court judges can issue nationwide injunctions.

Abortion wins

From:  US judge blocks Indiana 2nd trimester abortion procedure ban

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A federal judge blocked an Indiana law that would ban a second-trimester abortion procedure on Friday, just days before the law was set to come into force.

The order putting the Indiana law on hold was released hours after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to revive a similar law in Alabama that sought to ban dilation and evacuation abortions.

DeVos repeals

From:  Betsy DeVos scraps Obama-era rule on for-profit colleges

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is rescinding an Obama-era rule that was created to protect students from abusive for-profit colleges.

The rule, known as Gainful Employment, required for-profit colleges and career certificate programs to post debt-to-earnings ratios, proving that their students could find good-paying jobs upon graduating. If the average ratio did not meet government standards, the school’s federal funding would be revoked.

War prevails

From:  Senate rejects attempt to curb Trump’s Iran war powers

Forty Republican senators have voted against the proposal from Democratic Sens. Tim Kaine (Va.) and Tom Udall (N.M.), which would block the president from using funding to carry out military action without congressional authorization. An additional nine GOP senators, viewed as no votes, are not expected to vote.

Though the vote remains open, the opposition and absences block supporters from being able to muster the 60 yes votes they needed to get the amendment added to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

Felons pay

From:  Florida governor signs felon voting bill

MIAMI (AP) — Florida felons will have to pay court-ordered financial obligations if they want their voting rights restored under a bill signed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday.

During the spring legislative session, Democrats argued that forcing felons who’ve completed their prison sentences and probation to also pay court fees and fines goes against the spirit of the constitutional amendment voters passed in November. The amendment to restore voting rights for felons other than convicted murderers and sex offenders was approved with 64.5% of the vote.

[…]

The American Civil Liberties Union and other groups that have supported the restoration of voting rights for felons filed a federal lawsuit Friday challenging the new state law.

“Over a million Floridians were supposed to reclaim their place in the democratic process, but some politicians clearly feel threatened by greater voter participation. They cannot legally affix a price tag to someone’s right to vote,” said ACLU senior staff attorney Julie Ebenstein.

Dems fold

From:  Oregon GOP Senators Return To Capitol After Dems Agree To Kill Climate Bill

Oregon’s Republican state senators will return to the Capitol on Saturday following a weeklong walkout over a proposed climate change cap-and-trade bill, Senate Minority Leader Herman Baertschiger Jr. (R) announced on Friday.

[…]

Though the Democratic Party holds an 18-11 majority in the state Senate, Oregon law requires 20 senators be in attendance to hold session. With all of the GOP Senate members in hiding, the Senate was unable to vote on any legislation for eight days and the bill — once expected to pass — now faces almost certain death.

Senate Democratic leader Peter Courtney indicated on Tuesday that the bill no longer had enough support among Democrats — and Baertschiger said Friday that both Courtney and Brown had privately assured him that their party would now be voting no.

31 thoughts on “E.U. bakes, nuke deal revives, wall loses, abortion wins, DeVos repeals, war prevails, felons pay, Dems fold

  1. It’s a sign of the Trump administration’s isolation on the world stage when it comes to the Iran nuclear deal

    Preaching to the choir, but this, TPP, and the Paris accord ruined the US’s standing in the world. Let’s hope the big old ship can get back, because I for one don’t really want a China-led century.

    Liked by 3 people

    • At this point, I do not think there’s a damn thing the US can EVER do that will re-gain the world’s trust. Even if someone like Harris were to win in 2020, who in the world, and I mean that literally, would trust any agreement or pact she made with anyone about anything? Sure she may very well mean all she’d do and say, but, in 4 years, another cheese colored piece of shit like Trump could become president and piss all over all she’d done. Yep. Trump and his Russian-loving GOP buddies have fucked the US over permanently. And, by doing so, they’ve truly left the world open to all sorts chaos and disruption. GOD, how I friggin’ hate Trump and the GOP!

      Liked by 4 people

        • Sorry to be a stickler. I definitely agree with what you”re saying. trump has set a precedent in modern times for many despicable acts. He has relegated the words justice, integrity and decency to being just words in a dictionary. They no longer have meaning in this country.

          However, the precedent for the U.S. violating treaties was set long ago. “We” broke over 500 with the legitimate landowners of this continent. Just saying.

          I (along with many others, of course) have been pleading with people online since he was elected to realize that having this deeply twisted parasite running our executive branch is something that would ruin our already shaky standing in the world. In my opinion, Pelosi and the other timid, too-worried-about-appearing-proper corporate democrats need to make way for compassionate, intellectual liberals to bring decency back to that party, then help lead the way to fixing some of the damage done in recent decades.

          Liked by 2 people

    • Me neither! FYI: my opposition to TPP was based solely on its Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provision which potentially allowed transnational corporations to circumvent the laws of sovereign nations (e.g. environmental and labor protections). To me, that provision was an unacceptable affront to democracy. My opposition to China’s possible domination of the world economy is also based on the same principle. China is an undemocratic authoritarian state.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. The high temperatures in Europe actually are not the worst but this drought now ongoing since April 2018. First cities in Germany with water shortages for residents, 40 degrees Celsius tomorrow with me, and on Monday falling to 20 degrees Celsius. Simply crazy 🤔

    Liked by 2 people

  3. China might already be THE world power, partially thanks to trump supporters and U.S. non-voters who allowed the 2016 election to be one of the biggest embarrassments in modern U.S. history. More nations are going about their business without U.S. involvement. We have made a precipitous drop in importance around the world with our precipitous drop in morality and decency (despite already not having enough of either to be considered civilized).

    I don’t see much of a chance of the U.S. doing anything to help matters considering how spineless most Democrats are and the violent, stubborn ignorance of the GOP.

    I have to say: though it’s obvious the Democrats need to change political tactics, I don’t agree with the many people who say the way to go is to be more like the savage barbarians of the terrorist party. It isn’t worth living in a place that allows that. There must be a way of raising awareness and avoiding blatant de-evolution.

    Liked by 2 people

      • Really? Quite often I read about corporate Democrats, fake liberals, saying that the Democrats need to be more like the GOP – aggressive, appeal to the baser instincts of the voters, focus more on imagery and sound bites instead of actual policy discussion. That sort of thing. Due to the deep indoctrination of corporate media, heavy-handed fear-mongering apparently sells better than facts and intellectual political discourse.

        Like

        • You’re being coy for some reason, and your argument appears disjointed. Are you really equating legitimate grievances within the Democratic Party to the “savage barbarians of the terrorist [Republican] party?” Corporate Democrats have been and still are highly aggressive towards the party’s progressive base, yet they cower in the face of Republican aggression. And, again, I’ve never heard a Democrat say that they should be more like Republicans. Please cite and quote from an example if you expect me to take your assertion seriously.

          Your point about the decline of fact-based intellectual discourse in politics is well taken. I’ve been addressing this problem for many years on this blog. However, attributing it to top-down corporate media indoctrination strains credulity and ignores self-evident sociological changes that have transpired in America over the last half century (namely, the advent of neoliberal economic policies beginning with Reagan, the evisceration and privatization of public education, the systematic assault on labor unions, wage stagnation and the expansion of income inequality, and the resulting rise of populist angst among working class people).

          The susceptibility of Americans today to a devolved political discourse (i.e. economic populism and socialism on the Left, xenophobia and jingoism on the Right) is a direct result of these long-term sociological changes. It just took a while for it to reach critical mass as evidenced by the election of Trump. But, regardless of how it happened, it is now the undeniable reality of the political environment. Politicians who flippantly ignore it risk the fate suffered by Hillary Clinton in 2016. Furthermore, I remind you of FDR who – as a four-time elected president – was very aggressive and certainly was no shrinking violet or political wallflower.

          This is from today: The Deciders: Meet the voters defining America’s politics

          (Reuters) – A retiree worried about his granddaughter’s future in Pinellas County, Florida. A factory worker in Racine County, Wisconsin, who doubts politicians will improve her life as a single mother.
          A Boy Scout leader willing to cross party lines to revive his blue-collar town in Northampton County, Pennsylvania. A gay, Latino college student in Maricopa County, Arizona, preparing to cast his first presidential ballot.
          These voters live in some of the most competitive counties in America’s presidential battleground states, places set to play an outsized role in the 2020 presidential election. All four counties were decided by four percentage points or less in 2016 and ultimately won by Donald Trump.
          […]
          Stacy Baugh would like a president attuned to the goals she sketched out in a planner in the three-bedroom apartment she shares with her cousin and their six children.
          She wants job options. Ones that pay a wage she can live on, not the $13 per hour she has been earning on a hot factory line making air fresheners. She wants better schools for her children. She wants steady employment for their father despite his criminal record.
          In 2016, she did not trust Trump or Democrat Hillary Clinton to deliver. So the 31-year-old Democrat skipped the presidential contest even as she cast her ballot in other races.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. My iPad didn’t give me a “reply” to hit where your last comment to me was. This might wind up at the bottom of the page.

    When you write, “I’ve never heard a Democrat say that they should be more like Republicans”, I don’t know whether you’re referring to politicians, voters or all people who identify as democrats. I was definitely vague in what I wrote. Very true. It was, for the most part, expressing annoyance with some of what I’ve read online in recent years about the interactions between the two parties.

    I was referring to people online, who I assume are Democrats (either voters or non-voters) who see the macho republicans constantly (though not always, of course) out-maneuvering the timid democrats in government with their heavy-handed tactics of threatening to shut down the government, “get tough” on this or that group, simple-minded, disingenuous flag waving to make level-headed people appear non-patriotic and overall recklessness saying democrats should adopt some of those tactics since they seem to work. We’re told that we need strong people to lead us, but by strong we’re told that aggressive macho behavior is strength instead of disciplined, well though out ideas which will take effort and time to produce results. You know what I mean?

    I believe that mass media indoctrination is one of the factors contributing to the sociological changes you mentioned. Of course you’re right that there are many factors. I apologize for simplifying the issue. I find myself also getting lazier with language these days. I shouldn’t pollute your intellectual posts with relative rubbish. I’ve used them to complain about what I see happening too often. I’m sorry about that. It’s becoming tiresome to see buffoons use mindless sound bites against thoughtful, level-headed people and actually see them congratulated.

    Do you occasionally read conservative blogs and media sites to see what they’re talking about? Even out of morbid curiosity? 🙂 It can be scary. The same facts that liberal writers use to show how dangerous conservative politicians can be are used by conservative voters to promote their favorite politicians. It’s amazing.

    As usual, I’ve been disjointed in my writing. I hope I didn’t make a fool of myself. My iPad is a lot of work. Writing on it takes a lot longer than it did a couple years ago. The combination must be difficult to read.

    The article shows that there might be some hope that democrats don’t have to become too aggressive. Maybe the GOP insanity will cause an implosion.

    Thanks for your patience.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for explaining your perspective. I see it more clearly now. These are worrisome times we’re living in, and it is very disconcerting for people to reconcile what should be happening versus what actually is happening. It’s kind of like poker, we just have to play the hand that’s dealt to us.

      I do occasionally read the work of thoughtful conservative journalists, but I don’t waste my time with the far-right blogs. Most of my adult life has been spent in conservative circles – enough so to have become intimately familiar with their mindset. Unfortunately, I have also been exposed to the real nutjobs – white supremacists and anti-government “patriots.” They are scary people to be sure, but I think many of us on the Left make a big mistake in labeling them as “evil.” From their terribly twisted point of view, they see themselves as honorable warriors fighting desperately for a cause. And, it is this warped self-image of themselves that is so incredibly dangerous to civil society.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Though I personally know very few conservatives, I realize they aren’t all necessarily crazy. As far as using the word “evil” I do, and will continue, to use it to describe the greedy business executives who manipulate the fearful, weak-minded in society in order to drum up support in putting corporate operatives in our government to prevent us from attaining a working democracy. Democracy is tough enough as it is, being somewhat cumbersome. People need to be taught that, while quick decisions can be necessary in some situations, we don’t need to rush everything. I believe quality is more important than quantity. And I believe efficiency is overrated.

        I understand that those weak-minded people who vote against their own interests and against politicians who, for the most part, exhibit some compassion are not evil, just misguided. Trying to get them to understand a different perspective can be frustrating. I wrote about one of those instances on my blog a few years ago.

        Liked by 1 person

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