The Evening Blues - 2-23-16


Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features boogie and blues piano player, Memphis Slim. Enjoy!

Memphis Slim - Born With The Blues

"For at least the last four decades now I feel like I've been living in Beached America: a nation that has lost its values, even as it writhes in violent agitation, inflicting its military on the vulnerable regions of the planet."

-- Robert C. Koehler

News and Opinion

Emails Show Hillary Clinton Aides Celebrating F-15 Sales to Saudi Arabia: “Good News”

The shockingly brutal Saudi air campaign in Yemen has been led by American-made F-15 jet fighters.

The indiscriminate bombing of civilians and rescuers from the air has prompted human rights organizations to claim that some Saudi-led strikes on Yemen may amount to war crimes. At least 2,800 civilians have been killed in the conflict so far, according to the United Nations — mostly by airstrikes. The strikes have killed journalists and ambulance drivers. ...

A few years earlier, as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton made weapons transfer to the Saudi government a “top priority,” according to her closest military aide.

And now, newly released emails show that her aides kept her well-informed of the approval process for a $29.4 billion sale in 2011 of up to 84 advanced F-15SA fighters, manufactured by Boeing, along with upgrades to the pre-existing Saudi fleet of 70 F-15 aircraft and munitions, spare parts, training, maintenance, and logistics.

The deal was finalized on Christmas Eve 2011. Afterward, Jake Sullivan, then Clinton’s deputy chief of staff and now a senior policy adviser on her presidential campaign, sent her a celebratory email string topped with the chipper message: “FYI — good news.” ...

The congratulatory tone continues through the email chain with other officials, also with redacted names, calling the weapons deal “Great news!”

Sniper Rifles From the US and Canada Ended Up in Yemen's War

What is a Canadian-made sniper rifle doing in the war in Yemen? 

Bolt-action .50 caliber rifles have been spotted, thanks to social media, in the conflict that has ravaged Yemen since last year, drawing focus on Canada's weapons exports to Saudi Arabia, which is engaged in a military campaign against Houthi rebels.

The social media reports, picked up by Armament Research Services (ARES) — an intelligence consultant agency that monitors the flow of weapons worldwide — indicate that the heavy-duty LRT-3 sniper rifle was "seized by Houthi forces on 11 June 2015 after clashes with Saudi border guards," ARS writes in a November, 2015 blog post.

Canadian broadcaster CBC reports that Saudi border guards appeared to be equipped with the Canadian-made rifles as of last year.

Other videos reportedly show Houthis brandishing American-made M82A1 semi-automatic rifles, also originally provided to Saudi Arabia by the United States.

Obama's last Guantánamo closure plan does not name new sites for detainees

Barack Obama’s final plan to close Guantánamo Bay does not name alternative sites in the United States for sending remaining detainees, according to sources familiar with it.

Moving Guantánamo detainees to the mainland US remains central to the clash between the White House and Congress over closing the facility in Cuba. However, the plan, due to be sent to Capitol Hill on Tuesday, declines to name alternative venues, despite a months-long field review undertaken by Pentagon officials. ...

Officials declined to identify a desired site, in part to avoid any proposed destination becoming a rallying point for political opposition.

Instead, the last-ditch plan offers to engage legislators in a dialogue about lifting the ban on the military transferring Guantánamo detainees back into the US that has been in effect since 2011.

Even inside the administration, there is widespread skepticism that the Republican-led Congress will relent in a presidential election year on an issue that it has used to portray Obama as weak on terrorism.

“The odds are pretty slim that Congress is going to go along with the plan, particularly the House,” conceded a US official who was not cleared to discuss the plan ahead of Tuesday’s release.

The Syrian Government and Opposition Groups Agree to Temporary Truce

The Syrian government said on Tuesday it accepted a halt to "combat operations" that does not include actions taken against the Islamic State (IS) group, the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front, or groups connected to it, in line with a US-Russian plan announced on Monday.

It was followed by a statement from the High Negotiations Committee (HNC), which represents Syria's main opposition groups, which said it had "given its acceptance of international efforts for a cessation of hostilities."

The Syrian government said it would coordinate with Russia to decide which groups and areas would be included in the cease fire which is due to take effect on Saturday at midnight local time, according to the US-Russian plan.

Syria: Fighting continues despite US and Russia's agreement to enforce cessation of hostilities

Does US-Russia Deal in Syria Spell End of 'Assad Must Go' Policy?

Suggesting that a more sober U.S. position is emerging—and cautious hope that bloodshed in the war-torn country may soon lessen—the United States and Russia on Monday announced that a "cessation of hostilities" in Syria will go into effect on Saturday, February 27. ...

Middle East Eye notes that "[c]rucially, it states that opposition groups signing up to the terms will be guaranteed protection from military action by Russia, the US and Syria."

Meanwhile, President Vladimir Putin said Russia would do "whatever is necessary" to ensure that Damascus respects the agreement, adding: "We are counting on the United States to do the same with its allies and the groups that it supports."

Though inherently tenuous given the volatility and complexities of the current situation, analysts have seen the prospect of a firmer U.S.-Russian agreement as the best hope for a lasting ceasefire in the war-torn country.

What's more, Monday's developments go further to suggest U.S. officials have "gotten down off their 'Assad must go' high horses," as investigative journalist Robert Parry put it last October.

The agreement announced Monday will likely require the U.S. to adjust its diplomatic strategy "to take into account the likelihood that the Nusra Front will now be substantially weakened," as Gareth Porter wrote last week.

In fact, he said, "Russian-Syrian success offers the most realistic prospect for an end to the bloodletting in Syria and would also reduce the likelihood of an eventual Al Qaeda seizure of power in Syria."

ISIS Profits on US Airstrikes Destroying Currency Piles

Despite claiming just a week ago that ISIS is operating its entire economy on US dollars, the latest reports about ISIS are reporting they are making a significant profit in controlling the exchange between dollars and the Iraqi dinar, which by and large are what they are paying people in. ...

Though traders are complaining this amounts to ISIS “rigging” the Mosul market, they can and almost certainly are justifying this as simple supply and demand, as recent US airstrikes in Mosul have destroyed large amounts of US currency, making it scarcer in the ISIS caliphate than it is in Baghdad.

Instead of hamstringing ISIS operations, as the US claimed it was doing at the time, they’ve simply shifted the exchange rate in ISIS territory by creating a new scarcity, and positioning ISIS to profit on the fact that they’re the only ones with serious currency reserves left. The losers, in the end, are the average people in ISIS territory, and any losses the airstrikes inflicted on ISIS will be made back on exchange.

Col. Wilkerson: All War Games Between China and US Lead to Nuclear Attacks

Stop Causing Trouble Over South China Sea, Beijing Tells US

China's South China Sea military deployments are no different from US deployments in Hawaii and the White House should stop deliberately creating tension, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Monday — striking a combative tone ahead of a visit by Foreign Minister Wang Yi to the United States this week.

"The US has recently made quite a lot of remarks about militarization. It is actually trying to confuse the public," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said in a briefing. "China's deploying necessary, limited defensive facilities on its own territory is not substantively different from the United States defending Hawaii."

The United States last week accused China of raising tensions in the South China Sea by its apparent deployment of surface-to-air missiles on a disputed island, a move China has neither confirmed nor denied.

Asked whether the South China Sea, and the missiles, would come up when Wang is in the United States to meet Secretary of State John Kerry, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Washington should not use the issue of military facilities on the islands as a "pretext to make a fuss." ...

US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the United States would "press China to deescalate and stop its militarization" in the South China Sea.

WikiLeaks: NSA Spied on Israel’s Attempts to Repair Relations With U.S.

Newly published classified documents show the National Security Agency spied on a 2010 conversation between Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the two discussed ways to improve Israel’s relationship with the United States. ...

According to “Italian diplomatic reporting of 13 March,” Israel had reached out to Italy “for help in smoothing out the current rift in its relations with the United States.”

The rift concerned Israel’s decision to build 1,600 new houses in “contested East Jerusalem.” ...

The newly published reports provide additional details on U.S. efforts to spy on countries taking part in the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Change Conference, which failed to reach an agreement. ... One NSA report published by WikiLeaks contains details of a confidential discussion about climate change negotiations between U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the lead-up to the conference. The NSA report is stamped “U.N. diplomatic,” “German leadership,” and Top Secret Gamma, the “Gamma” indicating an extremely sensitive spying operation.

The U.N. spying was directed by “S2C52,” a team of analysts based in the NSA’s Maryland headquarters that specializes in operations against the United Nations.

FBI Says Apple Court Order Is Narrow, But Other Law Enforcers Hungry to Exploit It

The FBI wants you to believe that its contentious court battle to force Apple to write new software that would let it hack San Bernardino killer Syed Farook’s iPhone is only about this one, specific, particularly heinous case. ...

But the FBI’s defenders and friends in state and local law enforcement are going way off message. They say the ruling is going to have a huge impact on how they do business. ...

In a new letter to customers posted on Monday, Apple drew attention to the enthusiastic response from other law enforcers: “Law enforcement agents around the country have already said they have hundreds of iPhones they want Apple to unlock if the FBI wins this case.”

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. spoke about his smartphone encryption problem multiple times over the weekend in press conferences and television interviews.

When Charlie Rose asked Vance on Sunday if “this is important for you, more than just the case of the San Bernardino phone,” he answered that it was just “one example.”

“There are tens of thousands of other cases around the country, in cases related to homicide, to sex abuse, where data is going to be on smart phones that prosecutors and police officers need to access,” he said.

Bill Gates backs FBI in battle with Apple over San Bernardino killer's phone

The Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has waded into the row between Apple and the FBI, arguing that the government agency is right to demand co-operation from Silicon Valley when it comes to terrorism investigations.

Gates also questioned Apple chief executive Tim Cook’s characterisation of the case as a demand for a “back door”, the Financial Times reported. ...

With his intervention, Gates stands on the opposite side of the conflict to many of the prominent figures in Silicon Valley, including Google’s Sundar Pichai and WhatsApp’s Jan Koum, and the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. ...

Even Gate’s own Microsoft has issued support for Apple, of a sort. The Reform Government Surveillance industry lobby group, of which Microsoft is a member, released a statement on Thursday saying that “technology companies should not be required to build in backdoors to the technologies that keep their users’ information secure.” The statement was tweeted by Microsoft’s chief legal officer, Brad Smith, and then retweeted by Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella.

Apple, the FBI and free speech

It would be one thing if Apple could carry out a court order that it unlock an iPhone used by the San Bernardino terrorists simply by waving a magic wand. But encryption isn’t magic; the order requires Apple to write and digitally sign a security-degraded version of its iOS operating system. That raises serious First Amendment concerns because the order amounts to a government-compelled speech. ...

Computer code can be speech: no less than video games (which the Supreme Court found to be protected), code can convey ideas and even social messages. A new encryption algorithm or mathematical technique, for example, does not lose its character as speech merely because it is expressed in a computer language instead of English prose.

That’s not to say that all code is absolutely protected. But there’s a strong case to be made where code embodies deeply held views on issues of public policy and individual rights -- such as the right to be free from government surveillance. Forcing a person to write code to crack his own software is little different from demanding that he endorse the principle of doing so.

And that leads to the most troubling aspect of the court order: it does, in fact, demand that Apple endorse the government’s views by requiring that it digitally sign the software so that it can run on an iPhone. A signature speaks volumes: agreement, endorsement, trust, obligation. Apple says all those things when it decides to sign a new version of its operating system.

The government can’t force a person to sign a petition and endorse a political view. But that is exactly what it demands here: to compel Apple to endorse a version of its own software that runs precisely counter to its values.

Coalition of Immokalee Workers Targets Wendy's for Rejecting Fairer Standards for Farmworkers

Opposing Corporate Coup, Campaigners Block Trade Talk Doors

As European Union and U.S. negotiators arrived for the latest round of controversial trade talks in Brussels on Monday, opponents of the mammoth TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) made their resistance known by blockading access to the negotiating site for hours. ...

Beginning Monday morning, 30 Greenpeace activists from seven countries chained themselves at the entrances of a conference center where the meeting was due to take place. Some demonstrators climbed the front of the building to deploy a large banner depicting a 'dead-end' road sign that read: "TTIP: dead end trade deal."

The blockade was lifted only after Belgian police secured a side entrance for negotiators.

57 Percent of Our Banks Have Disappeared: You Can Thank Bill Clinton

Thanks to the Presidential debates, most Americans have heard of the Glass-Steagall Act which kept the country’s banking system safe for 66 years until it was repealed by President Bill Clinton in 1999, allowing the risky activities of Wall Street trading firms to merge with insured-deposit banks, setting the stage for the Wall Street collapse in 2008. But few Americans have ever heard of the Riegle-Neal Interstate Banking and Branching Efficiency Act of 1994, which Bill Clinton signed into law less than two years after taking office. The Riegle-Neal legislation allowed bank holding companies to acquire banks anywhere in the nation and invalidated the laws of 36 states which had allowed interstate banking only on a reciprocal or regional basis. ...

In 1934, there were 14,146 commercial banks with FDIC insurance in the United States. By 1985, that number had barely budged – we had a total of 14,417. But as of this month, we have 6,172 FDIC-insured commercial banks, a decline of 57 percent, with the annual declines accelerating after the passage of Riegle-Neal in 1994. ...

By allowing these mega banks to gobble up banks all over the country and stick their logo on thousands of insured-deposit branches across America, Bill Clinton effectively created too-big-to-fail.

Bill Clinton ran for president on a platform of being out to help the little guy. Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign web site says she “wants to be a champion for everyday Americans.” But the wrecking ball that Bill Clinton took to investor protection banking legislation during his two terms as President, the millions of dollars that have flowed from Wall Street into both Hillary Clinton’s campaign coffers and her personal bank account from speaking fees, should tell voters all they need to know.

the horse race

CIA leaker: Clinton 'given a pass' for emails

A former CIA officer serving jail time for leaking documents to the New York Times accused federal officials of setting a double standard by apparently refusing to aggressively prosecute Hillary Clinton.

Clinton was “a high ranking official who should know better, but completely given a pass, and almost an apologetic pass,” Jeffrey Sterling, who was found guilty of leaking classified information to Times reporter James Risen last year, said in an interview with the Washington Post published on Monday.

“So how should us regular citizens feel, especially with heightened concerns about national security?”

The comments from Sterling, who is serving a 3.5-year prison term, come as an indictment of the Democratic presidential frontrunner’s controversial use of a “homebrew” email setup throughout her tenure as secretary of State. 

Hillary Clinton Emails: Trade Bill Lobbying Revealed

Emails show Clinton seeming to personally lobby her former Democratic colleagues in the Senate to support free trade agreements (FTAs) with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. She had previously told voters she would work to block the Colombian and South Korean pacts.

An email Oct. 8, 2011, to Clinton from her aide Huma Abedin gave notes about the state of play in Congress on the proposed trade pacts. The notes provided Clinton “some background before you make the calls” to legislators.

Two days later in an email titled “FTA calls,” Clinton wrote to aides indicating she had spoken to Sens. Jack Reed of Rhode Island and Jim Webb of Virginia, both Democrats. ...

Only three years earlier, Clinton wooed organized labor during her presidential campaign with promises to oppose those same deals. She called the South Korea agreement “inherently unfair.” She also said, “I will do everything I can to urge the Congress to reject the Colombia Free Trade Agreement.” Clinton has lately courted organized labor’s support for her current presidential bid by pledging to oppose the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, a deal she repeatedly touted while secretary of state.

Sanders once urged abolishing CIA

Forty years ago, Sanders didn’t just complain about CIA interventions abroad; he called for abolishing the spy agency altogether.

The CIA is “a dangerous institution that has got to go,” Sanders told an audience in Vermont in October 1974. He described the agency as a tool of American corporate interests that repeatedly toppled democratically elected leaders — including, he said, Mosaddegh. The agency was accountable to no one, he fumed, “except right-wing lunatics who use it to prop up fascist dictatorships.”

At the time, the 33-year-old socialist was running for U.S. Senate on the ticket of the Liberty Union Party, an anti-war group that likened the draft to “a modern form of slavery” and called for reducing the U.S. military in favor of local militias and the Coast Guard. ...

Sanders lashed out at the CIA for years to come. In a 1989 C-SPAN interview, he argued that every “revolution for the poor people” in Latin or Central America had been “overthrown by the CIA” or some other arm of the U.S. government. ...

The party was radical in other ways. A 1971 document listing Liberty Union’s “principles” called the draft a “modern form of slavery” that produced “cannon fodder” for “the imperialist policy of the U.S.” ...

Sanders left Liberty Union in 1977, calling it ineffectual.

In 1974 Call to Abolish CIA, Sanders Followed in Footsteps of JFK, Truman

According to an article in Politico, Bernie Sanders, during his 1974 campaign for the Senate on Vermont’s Liberty Union Party ticket, called the Central Intelligence Agency “a dangerous institution that has got to go.” Sanders complained that the CIA was only accountable to “right-wing lunatics who use it to prop up fascist dictatorships.” ...

But Sanders’ position is not that radical: many prominent politicians, including two previous Democratic commanders-in-chief, have called for the CIA to be dismantled or severely constrained.

John F. Kennedy famously described his desire to “splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it into the winds” after the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba. Peter Kornbluh points out in his book Bay of Pigs Declassified that the State Department at that same time proposed that the CIA should be stripped of its covert action capacity and renamed. However, the CIA escaped any serious repercussions — partly because, as Kornbluh explains, the CIA’s then-director John McCone made sure that most of the copies of a damning report on the Bay of Pigs by the Agency’s own Inspector General were literally burned.

Then in 1963, after Kennedy’s assassination, Harry Truman wrote a newspaper column explaining that “I never had any thought that when I set up the CIA that it would be injected into peacetime cloak and dagger operations … I, therefore, would like to see the CIA be restored to its original assignment as the intelligence arm of the President … and that its operational duties be terminated or properly used elsewhere.”

[See also: No, Politico, Bernie Sanders' Views on the C.I.A. Were Not 'Extreme' - js]

Sanders Accuses Clinton of Parroting His Message to Win Votes

With polls showing a tight race and one of his toughest contests ahead of him, Bernie Sanders is going on the offensive against rival Hillary Clinton, accusing her of parroting his anti-establishment message even as she cashes in on Wall Street and other corporate ties.

In what is being described as "one of his most striking critiques" of Clinton yet, Sanders charged the former secretary of state of employing "hastily adopted campaign rhetoric" to capitalize on the grassroots momentum that his campaign has generated.

"I have to say that I am delighted that Secretary Clinton, month after month after month, seems to be adopting more and more of the positions that we have advocated. That’s good," Sanders said during a Monday press conference at the International Association of Ironworkers, Local 7, in Boston, Massachusetts, where the two are currently locked in a tie ahead of the state's March 1 primary.

He added that Clinton is "beginning to use a lot of the language and phraseology that we have used." 

"In fact," Sanders continued, "I think I saw a TV ad and thought it was me. But it turned out it was Secretary Clinton’s picture in the end." ...

National polls show the two are locked in a very tight race. The average spread on Real Clear Politics has Clinton up by just 5.6 points.

Meanwhile, voters have continuously expressed trust issues with the frontrunner. A Gallup survey released on Tuesday found that 21 percent of Americans described Clinton as "dishonest," a "liar," or having a "poor character."

Nina Turner on Switching from Clinton to Sanders: He's Been a "Constant Champion" of Civil Rights

SEIU fliers paint Clinton as $15 minimum wage supporter in Nevada

Ahead of Nevada's Democratic caucuses, the Service Employees International Union is distributing literature to members touting Hillary Clinton's support for a $15 hourly wage for workers. But Clinton, who won SEIU's endorsement in November, has not actually endorsed a federal $15 minimum wage. Clinton has said since the beginning of her campaign that she backs a federal minimum wage of $12 an hour.

“Hillary Clinton supports our fight for $15 and a union,” read the SEIU fliers, which were distributed in English and Spanish. The literature also featured quotes from Clinton supporting New York’s proposal to raise wages for fast-food workers to $15 an hour. ...

Shepherd said the union has been stumping for Clinton in working-class neighborhoods and has knocked on 36,000 doors and distributed 10,000 pledge cards on her behalf.

Sanders Hits a Brick Wall with the Black Vote

Amy Goodman Tells CNN Host: Stop Your 'Obsession With Polls' And Report On 'People's Records'

Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman told CNN host Brian Stelter on Sunday that his network should focus less on presidential polls and more on candidates' records.

"The media is so commercial, it's so driven by corporate interests," Goodman explained to Stelter during an interview on CNN's Reliable Sources. "And it's so important though that people recognize that there is a whole independent media world out there."

"We do not emphasize the polls," she pointed out. "I would love the media, there to be a month without polls. What is the value of these polls? If I am making a decision about a candidate, I want to weigh their record."

"Do I care what my neighbor thinks or the person next to me? I want to make an independent decision."

Cornel West: ‘Sister Hillary Clinton is the Milli Vanilli of American politics’

Philosopher and Bernie Sanders surrogate Cornel West told CNN’s Chris Cuomo that Hillary Clinton was like the disgraced band Milli Vanilli because she only gave “lip service” to social justice policies.

During a Monday interview on CNN’s New Day, West praised Sanders for supporting Jesse Jackson’s 1988 presidential bid, but he wasn’t as impressed with Clinton’s political pedigree.

“Sister Hillary Clinton is the Milli Vanilli of American politics,” West charged. “She lip-syncs, she gives lip service. But when it comes to policy, who supported the crime bill? Who supported, not just the deregulating of banks, but also pulled the rug from under welfare?”

Spike Lee backs Bernie Sanders ahead of primary: 'Wake up, South Carolina!'

Director Spike Lee has endorsed Bernie Sanders for president in a radio ad targeting South Carolina voters, four days before the state’s Democratic primary.

“Wake up!” the spot begins, over a soul backing track. “Wake up, South Carolina! This is your dude Spike Lee. And I know that you know the system is rigged. For too long we’ve given our votes to corporate puppets. Sold the Okie-doke.”

“Ninety-nine percent of Americans were hurt by the great recession of 2008, and many are still recovering,” Lee continues. “And that’s why I am officially endorsing my brother Bernie Sanders. Bernie takes no money from corporations. Nada. Which means he is not on the take. And when Bernie gets into the White House, he will do the right thing.”

He adds: “How can we be sure? Bernie was at the March on Washington with Dr King. He was arrested in Chicago for a protest of segregation in public schools. He has fought for wealth and education equality throughout his career.”

the evening greens

State board approves petition to recall Snyder over Flint water crisis

The Michigan State Board of Canvassers has approved another petition seeking to recall Gov. Rick Snyder, citing Snyder's declaration of a state of emergency in Flint after lead leached from the pipes into the city's water supply.

The board approved the petition Monday from the Rev. David Bullock of Detroit. ... Bullock would need to collect at least 789,133 signatures. If approved, the recall effort would become a ballot question that would then need majority support from voters.

'Clean Up the River,' Indigenous People Tell Justin Trudeau at the UN

Aboriginal communities are at the United Nations, accusing Canada of chronically violating their basic human rights as their fight for clean drinking water reaches the world stage.

Three First Nations — Grassy Narrows, Shoal Lake 40 and Neskantaga — are in Geneva, Switzerland to address the UN's Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which is reviewing Canada's human rights record.

The drinking water connected to all three communities has been deemed too unsafe to drink. In the case of Shoal Lake 40, residents have been on a boil water advisory for 17 years. For Neskantaga, it's been more than 20. And last year, the tiny Ojibway community of Grassy Narrows, in Ontario, declared a state of emergency when tests showed toxic chemicals in its water supply.

"Prime Minister Trudeau says that 'Canada is back' as a leader on the world stage," Grassy Narrows Deputy Chief Randy Fobister said in a statement. "Canada has not met its duty to obtain free, prior, and informed consent from Grassy Narrows' Ojibway culture when it allowed timber companies to log on Grassy Narrows Indigenous homeland, nor when the company dumped 10 tonnes of mercury poison into the river of the Grassy Narrows people. Clean up the river."

"Some of our children continue to be born with mercury poisoning and for decades nothing has been done to clean the poison from our river," Judy Da Silva, who spoke to the UN committee, said in a statement. "In the past Canada has not respected our rights but I still have hope that the tide will finally turn for us and that the prime minister will honor his word."

Some Major Oil Producers Freeze Production, But Glut Will Keep Prices Low

The UK Could Send a Group of Peaceful Protesters to Jail for the First Time in 20 Years

Did you hear about the time 22 flights were cancelled at London's Heathrow Airport because there was a polar bear on the runway? No? Well he was arrested and now faces up to three months in jail.

But this wasn't some sort of zoo escape that went very weirdly wrong — it was a direct action protest last summer that will see 13 people sentenced by a London court on Wednesday. The group has been told to expect jail time, a severity of punishment that has shocked many in the legal profession.

The thirteen are all members of Plane Stupid, activists who opposes the expansion of the airport — already one of the world's busiest — due to concerns over climate change. ...

At the conclusion of their trial in late January, Judge Deborah Wright said that while she believed the 13 were "principled" and "passionate," she could not "think of a more serious case of aggravated trespass."

They have been told to expect custodial sentences — involving up to three months in prison — meaning it could be the first time in over 20 years that anyone has been imprisoned in the UK for staging an environmental protest. ...

In an impassioned statement provided to Plane Stupid, the UK shadow chancellor John McDonnell, whose parliamentary constituency Hayes and Harlington includes Heathrow Airport, said the concerns of the group were shared by many of his constituents. 

McDonnell defended the right to non-violent direct action in the face of a government that appears set to break concrete promises it made to the electorate.

"It's almost inevitable that activists will lose patience with a process that they no longer trust and do what they can to solve the problems themselves," he wrote.

Also of Interest

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

The Evil Empire has the World in a Death Grip

NYT Contributor Has Multiple Motives for Denying Drone Crimes

Apple Champions Privacy; Government Seeks to Trash It

Chelsea Manning: Privacy is a right, not a luxury – and it's increasingly at risk for LGBT people

Ex-NSA chief backs Apple on iPhone ‘back doors’

German government to use Trojan spyware to monitor citizens

Bernie Sanders, Integrity & the Nevada Caucus "English Only" Controversy

Bill Black: Krugman Triples Down on His Smear of Friedman and Bernie

Market "Reform" Is Destroying Public Education

The Culture of Meanness

It’s Time for Welfare Reform Again

Grammy winner Jon Cleary: 'Music isn't a choice for me – it's a bodily function'

A Little Night Music

Memphis Slim - Rockin' This House

Memphis Slim - Everyday I Have The Blues

Memphis Slim - Grinder Man Blues

Memphis Slim - St. Louis Boogie

Memphis Slim & Peter Green - Mother Earth

Memphis Slim - Lend Me Your Love

Memphis Slim - Pinetop´s Boogie, Pigalle Love, Boogin´& Bluesin´

Memphis Slim - 1986

0 users have voted.


clinton reactions.png
sanders reaction_0.png

0 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

heh, if it comes down to hillary vs. trump, it will be remembered as the election when a bloodthirsty liar faced off against america's kim jong un for the presidency.

0 users have voted.
Pluto's Republic's picture

I always look closer at spins that originate in that Neocon rag, Financial Times.

Bill Gates backtracks after coming out in support of FBI in Apple iPhone standoff

Updated about an hour ago

Microsoft founder Bill Gates has taken a step back from supporting the FBI in its standoff with Apple over unlocking the encrypted iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters.

The Financial Times yesterday reported Mr Gates had broken ranks with other Silicon Valley companies in disagreeing with Apple chief Tim Cook's claim that the US government was looking for a "back door" into phones and that compliance with the FBI's request would set a wider precedent.

"This is a specific case where the government is asking for access to information. They are not asking for some general thing, they are asking for a particular case," Mr Gates told the Financial Times.

But in an interview with Bloomberg Business today, the former Microsoft boss now says the standoff "gives us the opportunity" to have a public discussion and ultimately get Congress to decide on the issue.

Mr Gates said it was "disappointing" that headlines said he backed the FBI in its dispute against Apple.

"That doesn't state my view on this," he told Bloomberg.

0 users have voted.


The political system is what it is because the People are who they are. — Plato
joe shikspack's picture

i'm not surprised to see gates misquoted, if that was the case. on the other hand, i wouldn't be surprised to see him parsing his words very carefully to appear to be saying something that upon careful examination vanishes into the ether.

i hope that he'll be more supportive of privacy rights than he has been in the past.

0 users have voted.
Pluto's Republic's picture

Microsoft had a terrible reputation as a government sellout. I think that is just assumed when using a Microsoft product, period.

0 users have voted.


The political system is what it is because the People are who they are. — Plato
Pluto's Republic's picture

…which Ed Snowden calls, "The Most Important Tech Case in a Decade."

I liked your link to the USA Today column by David Rivkin and Andrew Grossman, both D.C. lawyers. They really fleshed out the legal considerations involved. It's a discussion the nation should have had before the Patriot Act was signed. I doubt Americans will ever get back what few human rights they had and lost then.

I rarely see you link to USA Today, which is on my radar because their Reader Comments are the most depraved of any English-language newspaper. I'm always taking a peek over there to get my crazy fix. I also found there Michael Hayden, former head of both the NSA and CIA, weighing in on the Apple-FBI issue. Had I missed this? Had you posted it already?

A recap from a different source:

Retired General Michael Hayden, former head of both the NSA and CIA, told USA Today that while he “trends toward the government” on the ‘master key‘ approach to the San Bernardino case, he thinks Apple is right that there should never be a back door to encryption. His remarks were made as Tim Cook called for the government to drop its demands that Apple help the FBI break into an iPhone.

Hayden went so far as to specifically call out FBI Director Jim Comey in his comments.

In this specific case, I’m trending toward the government, but I’ve got to tell you in general I oppose the government’s effort, personified by FBI Director Jim Comey. Jim would like a back door available to American law enforcement in all devices globally. And, frankly, I think on balance that actually harms American safety and security, even though it might make Jim’s job a bit easier in some specific circumstances.

Comey has repeatedly attacked Apple’s use of strong encryption on iPhones.

Hayden said that while he would have loved a back door into encrypted devices while he was running the NSA, the problem – as I argued – is that others would inevitably gain access to it.

“When you step back and look at the whole question of American security and safety writ large, we are a safer, more secure nation without back doors,” he says. With them, “a lot of other people would take advantage of it.”

Hayden said that there were, though, no easy answers.

What we’re trying to do here is what free people and this free people have done since the inception of the republic, which is to balance two things, both of which are virtues: our security and our privacy. There are no permanent answers to that. We debate them continuously based on the totality of circumstances in which we find ourselves. The point I make to our countrymen: This is not a struggle between the forces of light and the forces of darkness. This is a good people, trying to find the right balance.

Here's the original USA Today link to the Hayden piece:

Ex-NSA chief backs Apple on iPhone ‘back doors’


One Reader Comment stuck with me, in a thread pushing back at American's deplorable apathy about surrendering their human and civil rights to the State:

Claiming that no one should have a right to privacy because you don't have anything to hide is the same as saying no one deserves their right to free speech because you don't have anything to say.

0 users have voted.


The political system is what it is because the People are who they are. — Plato
joe shikspack's picture

i read that today and meant to abstract it, but must have gotten distracted. i generally don't read usa toady too often, but i sometimes find links to their stories elsewhere and wind up reading them.

0 users have voted.
MarilynW's picture

0 users have voted.

To thine own self be true.

joe shikspack's picture

indeed you are right. Smile

hope all is well.

0 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

0 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

Interesting about the number of banks that don't exist anymore. His welfare reform bill increased poverty, the crime bill gave us more cops and more people in jail for petty crimes. NAFTA helped decimate the middle class. Deregulation teed up the ball for the Bush administration to crash the global economy.

And if Hillary is elected, then she will sign the TPP. More jobs lost. And Sterling is right about her getting away with using her private email service. But look at what happened to Petrayous after he gave classified information to his lover. He got demoted and only had to pay a$4,000 fine while Manning got 35 years.
Hopefully the Clinton foundation investigation will find some illegal activities between them and the donors.
Yesterday there was a diary on Kos about how foreign governments would give millions to the foundation after her state department sold weapons. That has corruption written all over it, yet her supporters were able to yawn at the.
They're so delusional about her I wonder what it would take for her to do for them to pull their heads out of their......
And I was surprised that Hayden supported Apple. He's right.
Pluto wrote about how the patriot act took away what was left of our freedoms. Maybe we should tell the troops and anyone who is thinking about joining the military to quit fighting for our freedoms. It's too late. They are already gone. Smile

0 users have voted.

It is not until the tide goes out that you discover who has been swimming naked.

joe shikspack's picture

there was some movement today towards some accountability for hillary's slow-walking the revelations of her emails. it looks like progress.

U.S. judge orders discovery to go forward over Clinton’s private email system

A federal judge on Tuesday ruled that State Department officials and top aides to Hillary Clinton should be questioned under oath about whether they intentionally thwarted federal open records laws by using or allowing the use of a private email server throughout Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state from 2009 to 2013.

The decision by U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of Washington came in a lawsuit over public records brought by Judicial Watch, a conservative legal watchdog group, regarding its May 2013 request for information about the employment arrangement of Huma Abedin, a longtime Clinton aide.

Officials with the State and Justice departments said that they were aware of the order but declined to comment further, citing the ongoing litigation. Discovery orders are not readily appealable. An attorney for Abedin declined to comment.

Sullivan set an April 12 deadline for parties to litigate a detailed investigative plan--subject to court approval--that would reach well beyond the limited and carefully worded explanations of the use of the private server that department and Clinton officials have given.

Sullivan also suggested from the bench that he might at some point order the department to subpoena Clinton and Abedin to return all emails related to Clinton’s private account, not just records their camps previously deemed work-related and returned.

0 users have voted.

few links of yours fit into the theme : Killary applauding Saudi weapons sale, Krugman and SEIU running false +ve campaign. One more to add to the theme tonight :

0 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

thanks for the link. i'm willing to grant that he probably has good intentions, but coates has a problem with thinking things through, it appears.

0 users have voted.
lotlizard's picture

This dynamic remains so profitable to Israel that an Israeli diplomat told journalists last year that “it was an Israeli interest to maintain German guilt feelings” about the Holocaust. Without German guilt, “we’d be just another country as far as they’re concerned,” the diplomat reportedly said.

In the years immediately following World War II, German guilt feelings may well have been a net plus for human progress and German society itself.

But in today’s world — where deeds and policies that would have been judged war crimes at Nuremberg are mere business as usual for Western leaders, Israel’s included — it’s becoming more and more obvious that that era is long past.

0 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

one of those lessons that germany should never forget is that one should never uncritically follow a government - and it would be prudent for them to apply some critical thinking to their blind support of israel's government.

0 users have voted.
Big Al's picture

Just saw a commercial where that was said to make a point. That bugs me now, didn't use to of course. It's something most people take for granted, they're told from grade school on that we live in a democracy so they go around all day like zombies chanting, "we live in a democracy, we live in a democracy" in monotone voices while some vote and most don't.

But does it say something that we're trained to say that as a positive thing, that democracy is good, the U.S. is good because it's a democracy? Does that mean most people would really rather live in a democracy?

Maybe. Or maybe most people are simply going to parrot what they're told and not care one way or another.

Is it really possible we'll have a Clinton vs. Trump presidential election and over 100 million people will vote for either of the two?
100 million people?

That strikes me as very odd. I guess it didn't use to. But hey, we live in a democracy right.

0 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

yeah, they say that like the word democracy means something important. it is manifestly obvious that our "democratic" institutions do not provide the great masses of americans with a government that represents their interests. (see the gilens and page study for example)

0 users have voted.
Big Al's picture

in human history to believe that voting for a small group of people to represent everyone else is democracy. Of course they had these discussions when setting up the U.S. Constitution and the U.S. form of government with some believing (or promoting) representative government constituted democracy and others rejecting that notion. It's clear now, at least to me and many that this is not Power to the People. But discussing the issue with others, particularly amateur Constitutionalists, it's clear not everyone would be in favor of a real democracy, many are dead set on the Republic concept and representative government as the only way to prevent things like Mob rule and the trampling of liberties by majorities. Funny thing is, look at us now relative to trampling of liberties.

0 users have voted.
Pluto's Republic's picture

They have no natural connection, socially.

At the global level communism and capitalism are a better fit. I think the desperate rush to corporate power over nations (TTP, TTIP) is to facilitate a more communist interface (where corporations can act as powerful nation/states, as China does).

But back at the domestic level, capitalism and democracy fight each other and divide groups into winners and losers. Democracy naturally gives rise to socialism. Socialism is nothing more than fairness in consensus. It has little to do with economics beyond the principle of "that which becomes a public utility or monopoly, over time, becomes a human right. Thus, it nationalized for the benefit of the people. The Internet is a good example. Internet access is a human right, just as health care is. That doesn't mean it's free. It means it is collectively funded.

0 users have voted.


The political system is what it is because the People are who they are. — Plato
mimi's picture

which is quite well made, I think.

But trying to find out who the guys are that made this animation, I got suspicious.

Did they fix it? Who are they? Where did they get their money from? On of those things that drive me nuts reading the intertubes.

0 users have voted.


by the Senate Agriculture Committee on Thursday, Feb. 25th. Time to send some love to the Congress members :

0 users have voted.
enhydra lutris's picture


0 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 --

MarilynW's picture

"If I write about the past as I simultaneously dwell in the present, am I still in real time? Perhaps there is no past or future, only the perpetual present that contains this trinity of memory."

After a listening to a politician, in a town hall, let's say, where they rail on about their past and make promises for the future, someone should tell them, maybe there is no past or future, there is only today. That would take a lot of air out of their speech balloons.


0 users have voted.

To thine own self be true.

A presidents who can...
1) kill anyone, anywhere, for any reason
2) start major wars on a whim
3) rendition and torture people for whatever reason he can imagine
4) do all this and more powerless to close an overseas military base because Congress says so.

How stupid does this sound?

0 users have voted.
mimi's picture

0 users have voted.


I think Obama could close that base with a snap of his fingers.
The question is, why doesn't he?

0 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

he doesn't want to.

0 users have voted.
Big Al's picture

when discussing Scalia's replacement. It's selective usage when it fits the need.
That said, I don't believe any one person should have these authorities anyway. If representative democracy was real, Congress would be representing the people and we would be making the decision to close overseas bases.
Allowing one person to make these decisions is a dictatorship.

0 users have voted.

the Riegle-Neal Interstate Banking and Branching Efficiency Act of 1994

I've tried to point out several times that the financial deregulation was a process over decades, starting with Carter.

0 users have voted.