Bipartisan [remember that?] bill, written by a Democrat [imagine that?] restricting Trump’s ability to wage war OK’d by House committee


Click to enlargeAP/Andrew Harnik

❝ A House committee has earned a rare bipartisan round of applause for beginning to roll back the US president’s ability to wage war.

❝ The House Appropriations Committee recently approved an amendment to revoke the Authorization for Use of Military Force, which allows the president to undertake war against al-Qaeda and its affiliates without Congressional approval. The law, passed shortly after the terrorist attacks of 11 September, 2001, has been used to approve conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria.

The new amendment, introduced by Democratic Representative Barbara Lee, would sunset these presidential powers eight weeks after Congress passes the 2018 defence spending budget. The appropriations committee has sent the budget to the House floor for a vote.

❝ A visibly surprised Ms Lee welcomed the addition of the amendment on Thursday, condemning the AUMF as “a blank check to wage war anywhere, at any time, and for any length”.

The AUMF has been used to justify military action more than 37 times in 14 countries since 2001, according to the Congressional Research Service…

❝ “This issue is more urgent given the erratic behaviour and inexperience of our current Commander-in-Chief,” Ms Lee said. “No president should have a blank check for endless war, least of all President Donald Trump.”

Members of Congress were falling over each other to pass this bill in 2001 – excepting Barbara Lee, the sole vote against its passage. She understood and declared the foolishness of a bill so broad and unchecked it would be used [and was] by any president for any war they wished for.

I wish her well trying to shepherd her sanity through the rest of a Congress notable for cowardice and capitulation to religion, bigotry and corporate pimps. I compliment the members of the House Appropriations Committee for doing exactly what they are chartered to do.

July was hottest month on record for continental United States

July was the hottest month in the continental United States on record, beating the hottest month in the devastating Dust Bowl summer of 1936, the U.S. government reported on Wednesday.

It was also the warmest January-to-July period since modern record-keeping began in 1895, and the warmest 12-month period, eclipsing the last record set just a month ago, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said.

This is the fourth time in as many months that U.S. temperatures broke the hottest-12-months record…

Along with record heat, drought covered nearly 63 percent of the 48 contiguous states, according to NOAA’s Drought Monitor, with near-record drought conditions in the Midwest, where 75 percent of the U.S. corn and soybean crops are grown.

Analysts expect the drought, the worst since 1956, will yield the smallest corn crop in six years, meaning record-high prices and tight supplies. It would be the third year of declining corn production despite large plantings…

Drought and heat fed each other in July, according to Jake Crouch, a scientist at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center.

Dry soils in the summer tend to drive up daytime temperatures, and because dry soils prevailed over so much of the United States, that helped make things hotter over a wide area, Crouch said…

The hotter it gets, the drier it gets, the hotter it gets,” Crouch said.

President Obama has called on Congress to pass a farm bill so disaster aid can flow to livestock producers. Crop insurance covers most row-crop growers but ranchers aren’t especially covered.

Of course, the folks who pray for rain – could pray for a Congress that pays attention to science and real-time economics. Mail me a penny postcard when that happens. The Congress, that is. Not the praying.

Nazi loot must be returned to the family it was stolen from — Why is this even a question?

A Jewish man has won his fight against a German museum for the return of thousands of rare posters stolen from his father by the Nazis in 1938.

Berlin’s Federal Court of Justice ruled Peter Sachs, who now lives in the US, is the rightful owner of the posters. The judges said that not returning the posters “would perpetuate Nazi injustice”…

The Berlin museum said in a statement that it “accepts the ruling”, bringing an end to the seven-year legal battle…

Hans Sachs, who managed to escape to the US after being held in a concentration camp, is thought to have collected up to 12,500 posters, of which only 4,529 have been identified.

The German Historical Museum only displayed a few posters at any one time after becoming part of its collection following the fall of the Berlin Wall. But it argued the collection, which includes advertisements for exhibitions, cabarets, films, and political propaganda, was invaluable to researchers.

Peter Sachs, 71, only became aware of the collection in 2005, and immediately began legal proceedings to get them back.

In an email to news agency the Associated Press, Peter Sachs, said: “It feels like vindication for my father, a final recognition of the life he lost and never got back.”

His lawyer Matthias Druba, said: “Hans Sachs wanted to show the poster art to the public, so the objective now is to find a depository for the posters in museums where they can really be seen and not hidden away.”

And make that NOT a museum in Berlin that feels it has research needs that take higher priority than the return of property stolen by the worst monsters of the 20th Century.

Arboreal wonders of the world

Click on photo to see them all

The plane tree of Hippocrates is said to be the oldest tree in Europe, a 2,500-year-old colossus on the island of Kos, Greece. Tourists are told that the father of western medicine, Hippocrates, as well as the Apostle Paul, taught their students in its shade.