The Evening Blues - 9-22-17


The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: Debbie Davies

Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features blues guitarist Debbie Davies. Enjoy!

Debbie Davies - I Just Came To Play

“I have supported U.S. airstrikes against ISIS and believe they are authorized under current law, and I support targeted U.S. military efforts to protect U.S. citizens. It is my firm belief, however, that the war against ISIS will never be won unless nations in the Middle East step up their military efforts and take more responsibility for the security and stability of their region. The United States and other western powers should support our Middle East allies, but this war will never be won unless Muslim nations in the region lead that fight. It is worth remembering that Saudi Arabia, for example, is a nation controlled by one of the wealthiest families in the world and has the fourth largest military budget of any nation. This is a war for the soul of Islam and the Muslim nations must become more heavily engaged.”

-- Bernie Sanders

News and Opinion

Bernie Sanders: Saudi Arabia Is “Not an Ally” and the U.S. Should “Rethink” Its Approach to Iran

Saudi Arabia is “not an ally of the United States,” according to Bernie Sanders, the independent senator and former Democratic presidential hopeful. Sanders broke with the bipartisan consensus on Capitol Hill in an exclusive interview with The Intercept. The United States has long considered Saudi Arabia to be a loyal friend, supporter, and partner in the so-called war on terror.

Sanders issued a scathing denunciation of the Gulf kingdom, which has recently embarked on a new round of domestic repression. “I consider [Saudi Arabia] to be an undemocratic country that has supported terrorism around the world, it has funded terrorism. … They are not an ally of the United States.”

The Vermont senator accused the “incredibly anti-democratic” Saudis of “continuing to fund madrasas” and spreading “an extremely radical Wahhabi doctrine in many countries around the world.”

Speaking to The Intercept, Sanders called for a “rethink, in terms of American foreign policy … vis-a-vis Iran and Saudi Arabia.” The senator suggested the United States should consider a pivot toward long-standing adversary Iran and away from traditional ally Saudi Arabia. The latter, he claimed, “has played a very bad role internationally, but we have sided with them time and time and time again, and yet Iran, which just held elections, Iran, whose young people really want to reach out to the West, we are … continuing to put them down.”

Sanders said he had “legitimate concerns … about Iran’s foreign policy” but wanted a more “even-handed” approach from the United States to the “Iran and Saudi conflict.”

Accused of War Crimes, Saudis Investigate Themselves and Find No Wrongdoing

Amid international calls for an independent inquiry into Saudi war crimes in Yemen, the Kingdom has investigated itself and found it has done nothing wrong.

Countries including China, the Netherlands, and Canada have pushed forward with a U.N. Human Rights Council draft resolution to establish an independent investigation into Saudi war crimes against civilians in the small war-torn nation of Yemen. This week, Human Rights Watch also accused the coalition of committing war crimes.

Though these allegations have been circulating and documented for years, little has been done to stop the Saudi attacks, and the Saudis and their U.S. and Arab allies have worked to undermine efforts to uncover wrongdoing. “The minimal efforts made towards accountability over the past year are insufficient to respond to the gravity of the continuing and daily violations involved in this conflict,” U.N. human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein said in Geneva this week. ...

The Saudis said they did not object to the current push for an inquiry but claimed it was bad timing. According to Abdulaziz al-Wasil, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Geneva:

“We have no objection (to) the inquiry itself, we just have a discussion about the timing.Whether this is the right time to establish an international commission with the difficulties on the ground, and we knew in advance that they will face tremendous obstacles in terms of access.”

Amnesty International Reveals the Bomb That Killed 16 Civilians in Yemen Was Made in the U.S.A.

Russia says it will strike U.S.-backed fighters in Syria if provoked

Moscow warned Washington Thursday that U.S.-supported forces will face a fierce military response if Russian-backed Syrian government troops come under fire again.

Russian military officials said they issued the statement after U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) troops twice fired on Russian-supported Syrian government troops fighting to oust Islamic State fighters from the oil-rich eastern province of Deir ez-Zour.

The U.S. military command “was told in no uncertain terms that any attempts to open fire from areas where SDF fighters are located would be quickly shut down,” Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov said, adding that any fire from the SDF would be “immediately suppressed with all military means.”

Israeli jets bombed site close to Damascus airport, reports say

Israeli jets have reportedly bombed an area near the Damascus international airport in the third attack in as many weeks by the Israeli military on targets associated with the Lebanese group Hezbollah.

According to social media reports on sites associated with the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad, Israeli planes fired at least two missiles from outside Syrian airspace, hitting either a weapons depot or a convoy.

The Facebook page of the National Guard for the Defence of the Homeland, allied with the Syrian military, reported that “an area near the Damascus international airport was attacked by a hostile missile”, while images showed a fire burning in the early hours of Friday.

The Lebanese television station al-Mayadeen also reported the attack.

The latest airstrikes mark a recent increase in Israeli interventions which have coincided with diplomatic warnings by the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, that his country will not accept an enhanced Iranian and Hezbollah presence on its northern borders.

Kim Jong Un taught the world a new word

D-O-T-A-R-D. Dotard. The internet learned a new word Thursday night.

That’s what Kim Jong Un, the reclusive and combative North Korean leader, called Donald Trump after the U.S. president’s fiery speech at the United Nations on Tuesday. ...

According to Merriam-Webster, Kim’s obscure insult means “a person in his or her dotage,” which is a “state of senile decay marked by decline of mental poise and alertness.” When it was first used, however, it meant something closer to imbecile.

Google searches for the word were through the roof on Friday morning — and Merriam-Webster, the social-media-savvy dictionary, also tweeted that searches for the word had skyrocketed.

Japan braces as North Korea threatens hydrogen bomb test in Pacific

Japan must brace itself for the possible launch of a nuclear-armed North Korean missile over its territory if the regime carries out a threat to test a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific Ocean, Japan’s defence minister has said.

The warning followed an extraordinary exchange of insults between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un in response to the US president’s threat at the UN general assembly to “totally destroy” North Korea if Washington was forced to defend itself or its allies.

Kim said that he was considering retaliating at the “highest level”, calling Trump a “mentally deranged US dotard” who would “pay dearly” for threatening to destroy his regime. The North Korean foreign minister, Ri Yong-ho, suggested Pyongyang could test a powerful nuclear weapon in the Pacific. ...

Earlier this month, North Korea detonated a powerful hydrogen bomb at its Punggye-ri nuclear test site in the north-east of the country. The explosion caused a 6.3 magnitude earthquake that was felt over the Chinese border in Yanji.

Testing a nuclear device beyond its own borders would mark a major escalation in tensions over the regime’s ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programmes. Analysts said a nuclear test involving a missile could be “truly terrifying” if something goes wrong.

South Korea approves $8m aid package for North Korea

South Korea has approved an $8m (£5.9m) aid package for North Korea, in a humanitarian gesture at odds with calls by Japan and the US for unwavering economic and diplomatic pressure on Pyongyang. South Korea’s unification ministry agreed to provide the funds, which will go towards programmes for infants and pregnant women, days after the UN security council agreed a further round of sanctions in response to the regime’s recent nuclear test.

The ministry, which oversees cross-border relations, said humanitarian aid to impoverished North Korea should remain unaffected by rising political tensions on the peninsula. The aid package did not include cash payments, the ministry said, and there was “realistically no possibility” that it could be of any use to the North Korean military. South Korea’s unification minister, Cho Myung-gyon, said the government had “consistently said we would pursue humanitarian aid for North Korea in consideration of the poor conditions there among children and pregnant women”.

The decision is a break with the hardline policy on aid pursued by Seoul since the start of last year. It also risks causing a rift with the US and Japan, which regard engagement as a concession to North Korea, while it accelerates its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes. The Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, reportedly asked the South Korean president, Moon Jae-in, to reconsider the timing of the aid package in a recent telephone call. Japan’s government spokesman, Yoshihide Suga, said it could undermine international efforts to put pressure on North Korea.

Amid Tensions with North Korea, 51 Countries Sign Ban on Nuclear Weapons Despite U.S. Opposition

Catalan leader accuses Spanish government of Franco-style crackdown

Catalonia’s president has accused the Spanish government of a massive and profoundly undemocratic overreaction to its bid for independence, saying the state’s efforts to stop the looming referendum exceed the security measures used at the height of Eta’s terror campaign.

Speaking to the Guardian at the end of a turbulent week that has seen 14 senior Catalan officials arrested, almost 10m ballot papers seized and thousands more police ordered to the region, Carles Puigdemont said he feared Spain was returning to the repressive practices of the Franco era.

“Most normal people would agree on what to call this kind of situation,” he said. “And it’s not a normal, democratic one. There’s a serious and worrying return to the fall of democracy in Spain and it’s not just us who are realising that.”

Puigdemont said the arrival in Catalan ports of at least three ferries intended to accommodate thousands of police officers tasked with preventing the referendum taking place on 1 October was proof of the Spanish government’s authoritarian attitude. ...

“The government is misleading people. We’ve spent six years organising things very calmly and fighting political battles. They may have been pretty noisy battles, but they were political and democratic battles, and they’re behaving as if we were in a violent conflict.”

Catalonia: Madrid's measures against the media is a violation of freedom of expression

It Gets Ugly in Catalonia

Madrid’s crackdown on Catalonia is already having one major consequence, presumably unintended: many Catalans who were until recently staunchly opposed to the idea of national independence are now reconsidering their options. A case in point: At last night’s demonstration, spread across multiple locations in Barcelona, were two friends of mine, one who is fanatically apolitical and the other who is a strong Catalan nationalist but who believes that independence would be a political and financial disaster for the region. It was their first ever political demonstration. If there is a vote on Oct-1, they will probably vote to secede.

The middle ground they and hundreds of thousands of others once occupied was obliterated yesterday when a judge in Barcelona ordered Spain’s militarized police force, the Civil Guard, to round up over a dozen Catalan officials in dawn raids. Many of them now face crushing daily fines of up to €12,000. The Civil Guard also staged raids on key administrative buildings in Barcelona. The sight of balaclava-clad officers of the Civil Guard, one of the most potent symbols of the not-yet forgotten Franco dictatorship, crossing the threshold of the seats of Catalonia’s (very limited) power and arresting local officials, was too much for the local population to bear.

Within minutes almost all of the buildings were surrounded by crowds of flag-draped pro-independence protesters. The focal point of the day’s demonstrations was the Economic Council of Catalonia, whose second-in-command and technical coordinator of the referendum, Josep Maria Jové, was among those detained. He has now been charged with sedition and could face between 10-15 years in prison. Before that, he faces fines of €12,000 a day. The confiscation of ballots and other vital voting paraphernalia and the detention of key members of the referendum’s organizing committee, together with today’s decision by the Spanish Finance Ministry to completely block the regional government’s accounts — a move that would not be possible without full cooperation of both Spanish and Catalan banks — could be a major setback for Catalonia’s dreams of independence. ...

Madrid is sending three ships with a total of 6,000 non-Catalan police reinforcements to Barcelona in the coming week. In reaction, the stevedores at Barcelona Port have voted not to provide any services to the ships, which they consider to be “ships of repression.”

U.S. not ruling out possible oil embargo on Venezuela: Haley

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on Thursday a range of options remained on the table, including a possible oil embargo, if Venezuela did not move to restore its democratic processes.

Videos show protesters at NY Erdogan speech punched, hit while being removed

Videos posted on social media appeared to show protesters in New York being hit and punched as they were removed from a speech by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

According to one video on Twitter, a protester who appeared to be American yelled at Erdogan, "You're a terrorist! Get out of my country!"

The scuffles took place as Erdogan addressed the Turkish American National Steering Committee (TASC), a group friendly to Erdogan, at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square.

Earlier this year, members of Erdogan's own security detail were indicted by a grand jury for attacking protesters in May 2017 during a Washington visit -- as he looked on. But this point, it is unclear whose security detail was punching and hitting the protesters as they were being removed. 

The far right isn’t the real story of the German elections

There’s little doubt that Germany’s elections this Sunday will make history. The populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) will be the first modern radical right party to enter the Bundestag, the lower house of the German Parliament. But whether it becomes the third- or sixth-biggest party in Germany is of little political significance, as the AfD will be immediately excluded from the coalition-formation process.

The real story of the German elections is the seemingly effortless re-election of Angela Merkel, leader of the center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and German Chancellor since 2005. Merkel is by far the longest-serving political leader of a major democratic state, having already survived four leaders of the center-left Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) as well as two U.S. presidents, three French presidents, three British prime ministers, four Greek premiers, and five Italian ones. Moreover, she has been polling close to 40 percent, which means she is set for one of the best scores in her party’s history. Not bad for someone whom many political commentators predicted would not survive 2016.

Most remarkable about Merkel’s popularity, it’s not based on the older, rural, white electorate that has become the declining base of right-wing parties in the UK and U.S. A recent poll showed her party to be the most popular among under-18-year-olds in Germany by far, polling almost 30 percent. This might not be that surprising, as most of these voters have never known any other chancellor. ...

The AfD will no doubt grab the headlines, spurring commentators to speculate on its role in the future of German politics. But you’d be wise to focus on the almost equally nativist and authoritarian CSU. It is Southern Germany’s austerity-loving winners of globalization who will decide whether Merkel enters the history books as simply a national stateswoman or a leader for all of Europe.

Islamophobic U.S. Megadonor Fuels German Far-Right Party With Viral Fake News

The rise of Alternative for Germany, the new far-right political party competing in the upcoming federal election, has unsettled the consensus-driven, moderate politics of postwar Germany with its rabid anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric, unabashed nationalism, and winking gestures embracing the country’s Nazi past.

Election-watchers expected a flood of fake news and inflammatory social media aiding Alternative for Germany, known by its German initials, AfD, to come from Russia. But one of the major publishers of online content friendly to the far-right party is an American website financed in large part and lead by Jewish philanthropist Nina Rosenwald.

Rosenwald’s site, the Gatestone Institute, publishes a steady flow of inflammatory content about the German election, focused on stoking fears about immigrants and Muslims. In one of the most recent posts, the website warns of the construction of mosques in Germany and claims that Christianity is becoming “extinct.” The Gatestone posts, which are often translated into German, are regularly promoted by AfD politicians and AfD-related social media groups to justify the party’s crusade against Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open-door refugee policy. ...

Gatestone articles are also regularly reprinted by far-right German blogs and web forums that are popular among AfD’s grassroots base. Philosophia Perennis and Politically Incorrect News, two popular sites that specialize in German nationalist content, routinely syndicate Gatestone’s articles. Gatestone content can also be found on Krautchan, a German knockoff of 4chan, the online forum frequented by the far right.

After Charlottesville, The American Far Right Is Tearing Itself Apart

When white nationalist Richard Spencer coined the term “alt-right” nearly a decade ago, his movement was marginal, impotent, and striving for respectability. The phrase was a useful euphemism for his genocidal ideology, a palatable alternative to “the Ku Klux Klan” or “the American Nazi Party” to go with his suit, tie, and military undercut. ...

Now, however, the term has become a liability. Its erosion began as far back as November 2016, when Spencer paid homage to the soon-to-be president with a cry of “Hail, Trump!” Then, in August, the “alt-right” brand cratered. During a far-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, meant to bring together a coalition that still regarded itself as the so-called alt-right, crowds of white men were captured on camera giving the Roman — or Nazi — salute. Swastikas abounded. Street fights broke out, and the violence turned deadly: A left-wing counterprotester named Heather Heyer was murdered by a white supremacist.

Just a few days after Klansmen and other extreme right-wing activists marched openly on the Charlottesville streets, far-right YouTube star and conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich disowned the “alt-right,” calling them “Nazi boys.” “That’s all it is now,” he said in a video, “is a purely anti-Semitic movement.” In 2016, the right-wing website Breitbart had embraced both the moniker and the movement of the “alt-right.” ... But after Charlottesville, Breitbart angrily denounced its critics for ever daring to insinuate that it was part of the “alt-right” movement, calling it a “smear.”

The Proud Boys, a drinking club of male, far-right street brawlers, who purport to defend “Western values,” are routinely associated with the “alt-right.” But the group’s leader, Gavin McInnes, who helped launch Vice Media in 1994 and now runs a right-wing YouTube talk show, has in fact rejected the term for some time, preferring the milder-sounding “alt-light.” McInnes’s insistence that the Proud Boys have nothing to do with the “alt-right” grew even more adamant after the violence in Charlottesville.

Such is the growing toxicity of the “alt-right” brand post-Charlottesville, and the eagerness of many right-wing groups and leaders to escape its valence. That eagerness, in turn, may suggest that the new far-right movement that coalesced around the Trump campaign last year is splitting into factions, divided over the degree to which they openly embrace an overt white nationalist ideology. The biggest cleave within what was once collectively known as the “alt-right” is between explicitly white nationalist organizations and the individuals and groups they derisively call the “alt-light.” ... Before Charlottesville, the two factions sustained an alliance in the face of common adversaries, beginning during Trump’s presidential campaign and continuing through the street brawls between the far right and antifascist activists known as antifa in places like Berkeley, California, where the Proud Boys and other “alt-light” groups have fought side by side with avowed white nationalists. Charlottesville ended that.

St Louis protests: three years since Ferguson, why hasn't anything changed?

It’s become a familiar scene in the the city’s metropolitan area, equal parts deja vu and cliche. Again, protesters marched up and down a stretch of Missouri highway with signs that read “black lives matter” and “say their names”. Again they beat drums, cheered chants and locked arms. Above, helicopters buzzed while police in riot gear cordoned off sections of road. In rolled the armored bearcat, garrisoned with Swat officers.

As if on cue, an hour or so in, the protest was declared unlawful – no reason was immediately given. Threats of arrest and chemical munitions rang over police PA. For demonstrators and reform advocates in the greater St Louis area, the exhaustion, the wearying sense of repetition was palpable – but so was the resolve.

“When folks stop making a mockery of the justice system, that’s when this stops,” said protester Jay Weaver as riot police slowly but steadily advanced their phalanx towards the crowd. “Until that mock trial mess going on in the courtroom stops, this can’t stop. They’re the ones making things worse, not the people out on the street protesting.”

More Republicans Now Support Free College Than Oppose It, Poll Finds

Bernie Sanders's plan to make tuition free at all public colleges and universities is becoming a mainstream position in the Democratic Party. But the plan has appeal far beyond the Democratic faithful.

A Morning Consult poll conducted in mid-September finds that a plurality of self-identified Republicans now agree with a “proposal to make four-year public colleges and universities tuition-free,” as the question is worded.

Forty-seven percent of Republican respondents say they strongly or somewhat support the proposal, while 45 percent say they strongly or somewhat oppose it. Seven percent say they don’t know or have no opinion. Among self-identified tea party backers, support is also strong — with 50 percent saying they support the proposal while 49 percent oppose it.

Overall, 63 percent of Americans support the proposal, while 29 percent oppose it.

the horse race

Wanted: Russia Experts, No Expertise Required

There's a lot to unpack about the newly formed Committee to Investigate Russia, which aims to "help Americans recognize and understand the gravity of Russia’s continuing attacks on our democracy." Perhaps its most striking feature is that no Russia experts are involved; that's a sign of the times.

The Committee's birth received broad coverage in the U.S. because of the involvement of two celebrity actors, Rob Reiner and Morgan Freeman, who introduced the new nonprofit in a video asserting that "We are at war." Reiner doesn't appear to have come into contact with Russia in his long career. Freeman made two movies with Timur Bekmambetov, a Russian director, including the 2016 flop "Ben Hur."

The Committee's advisory board includes one person born in Moscow -- the conservative commentator and military historian Max Boot. But he came to the U.S. at an early age, and none of his major works have been focused on Russia. Former National Security Agency chief James Clapper probably came into contact with Russia experts during his service, but he isn't one himself. Nor have other advisory board members demonstrated any previous deep interest in Russia. They aren't, of course, real "investigators" -- they lack the background for it -- but the organization was set up to collect the public evidence and, it seems, to sell a preconceived narrative, rather than provide an impartial evaluation of it. ...

Since the first reports of Russian interference in the U.S. election last year, the terms "propaganda" and "hacks" have morphed into "war" in the American political mind. The U.S. knows how to do war; war excludes nuance and equivocation. It needs Morgan Freeman's well-rehearsed gravitas.

Neocons and Hollywood Liberals Go to 'War' on Russia

the evening greens

How Exxon Mobil May Soon Have Greater Sway Over Science Used in EPA Policies

Exxon Mobil may soon have a greater hand in shaping the science used to develop major environmental regulations.

The published list of potential names for the Science Advisory Board and the EPA Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee includes many industry representatives and consultants. The panels are typically composed primarily of independent academics and researchers charged with reviewing agency science and advising the Environmental Protection Agency on major policy decisions.

While industry has always had a voice on those panels, comments from the Trump administration and the potential new appointees suggest the balance may soon change in favor of greater power for regulated companies, particularly the oil and gas industries.

The long list of potential new advisory board members includes officials from Exxon Mobil, Phillips 66, Alcoa, Noble Energy, Total, and the American Chemistry Council, a lobbying group for the chemical industry. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt will make the final determination to select the members of the panels.

The Fight From Below Seen From Above: New Map Details Local Fossil Fuel Resistance

In an attempt to highlight and bolster the "groundswell of resistance" against fracking wells, pipelines, and other fossil fuel projects throughout the United States, a coalition of environmental groups on Thursday launched the Fossil Fuel Resistance Mapping Project, which details precisely where opposition to Big Oil is taking hold throughout the United States and how others can join in.

"From the Gulf Coast where people are recovering from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, to the Pacific Northwest where wildfires are raging, many communities are leading fights against fossil fuel projects amidst life-altering climate impacts," the coalition—which includes, Sierra Club, and Bold Alliance—said in a joint statement Thursday.

"These fights are not isolated events, but rather a groundswell of steadfast and widespread local resistance to fossil fuel projects across the continent in the absence of federal climate action," the groups continue. "Grassroots leaders in these efforts are pushing back on the fossil fuel industry’s injustices, from environmental racism to violating Indigenous sovereignty."

The groups hope that the map, which can be accessed on the coalition's website, will serve as "a resource for people to find, start, or join a campaign in their community to resist fossil fuel projects, and for those involved in existing fights to connect with each other."

Death of Queensland's largest crocodile in 30 years could spark violent power grab

A massive saltwater crocodile – said to be one of the biggest ever seen in Queensland – has been found shot dead and experts fear its demise could lead to other crocodiles becoming more aggressive as young males fight for supremacy. Police and state environmental officers are investigating after the 5.2-metre male reptile was found with a bullet in its head in the Fitzroy river in Rockhampton on Thursday.

The crocodile was taken to the nearby Koorana crocodile farm, where it will be buried once a necropsy is carried out. Farm owner John Leaver said a five-metre crocodile had not been caught in Queensland for 20 to 30 years.

“I would say that someone felt very threatened,” he said, when asked why he thought it had been shot.

Michael Joyce, southern wildlife operations director at Queensland’s Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, said the remaining male crocodiles could act differently and become more hostile as they establish who will rule next.

Joyce said it was estimated to be between 80 and 100 years old. “It is on the larger end of the scale, there’s no doubt about that,” he said. “There are not a lot of crocodiles over five metres.”

Also of Interest

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

Chelsea Manning: Harvard Told Me “Sean Spicer Has Something to Contribute to American Policy”

The Killing of History

Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s “Vietnam War”: Some Predictions

There Are 3 Types of Single-Payer 'Concern Trolls' — and They All Want to Undermine Universal Healthcare.

Who Are the “Alt-Right”? On the Rise of Reactionary Hatred and How to Fight it

A Little Night Music

Debbie Davies - I Wonder Why

Debbie Davies - My Time After Awhile

Joe Louis Walker and Debbie Davies - 747

Debbie Davies - Life Of The Party

Debbie Davies - Just Stepped In The Blues

Debbie Davies Band - Slow Blues

Debbie Davies - If you Love Me Like You Say

Debbie Davies - Where The Blues Come To Die

Debbie Davies - Better Off With The Blues

Debbie Davies/Peter Green - Nature's Disappearing

22 users have voted.


Azazello's picture

Evening joe,
How was the show ?
I think I'm gonna' come down with Paul Street on Ken Burns' Vietnam thing. There will be elisions, there will be misrepresentations. The good news ? It won't matter. TV is a terrible way to learn history. Boomers will feel good while they watch it, maybe donate to their local station, but it won't stick. They won't remember what they saw. People who care about history read books.

10 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


i dunno where everybody went. perhaps there's some secret equinox ritual that they are all off to? Smile

just like the revolution will not be televised, the truth about our imperial capitalist wars will never be aired on teevee so long as the empire lives and breathes.

have a great weekend!

10 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

Congress’ Gargantuan New Military Spending Bill Forks Over Unprecedented Sums to Israel and Ukraine

Buried deep in the text of the mammoth National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is a gargantuan money dump into the Israeli defense industry, with $705 million specifically earmarked for “US-Israel missile defense cooperation.” The funding represents a full 1/100th of the whopping $700 billion military spending package, and a staggering $558 million increase from what President Donald Trump had originally requested.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the main arm of the pro-Israel lobby in Washington, reacted with elation at news of the funding, hailing it as a powerful shot in the arm for the Israeli arms industry. AIPAC singled out the bipartisan leadership of senators John McCain and Jack Reed for praise, thanking the duo for the record level of American taxpayer support for Israeli missile systems and research and development. ...

Alongside funding for Israel, the NDAA budgeted unprecedented funding for supposedly defensive weapons for the Ukrainian military, which has been locked in a destabilizing conflict with Russian-backed separatists since a U.S.-backed coup toppled its democratically elected government in 2014. ... The $500 million earmarked for Ukrainian military will also cover the treatment of its soldiers in American hospitals, including “transportation, lodging, meals, and other appropriate non-medical support in connection with such treatment.”

While Trump sets massive sums of American taxpayer dollars aside to provide Ukrainian troops with first-class medical care, his administration has proposed cutting some $800 billion from Medicaid and other healthcare programs servicing poor and working-class Americans.

8 users have voted.

@joe shikspack

...While Trump sets massive sums of American taxpayer dollars aside to provide Ukrainian troops with first-class medical care, his administration has proposed cutting some $800 billion from Medicaid and other healthcare programs servicing poor and working-class Americans.

Hey, America has already been conquered by The Psychopaths That Be, and its subject people exist only to supply their masters on demand while they economically/militarily capture the rest of the world.

We're all Disposables to psychopaths who, incapable of humanity in one sense, have limited (and only) uses for humanity in the other.

2 users have voted.

Psychopathy is not a political position, whether labeled 'conservatism', 'centrism' or 'left'.

A tin labeled 'coffee' may be a can of worms or pathology identified by a lack of empathy/willingness to harm others to achieve personal desires.

joe shikspack's picture

@Ellen North

i'm pretty sure that the elites have figured out by now that there is a considerable surplus of human labor beyond what is necessary to maintain the desperation that keeps labor costs down (we are, after all, only commodities to them). therefore a liquidation is something that they would find useful.

1 user has voted.

@joe shikspack

Good evening to you, Joe, despite your being so damn right in your assessment...

There is virtually always a way through/around/over a predicted disaster, though; we just have to find it in time. That being perhaps the trickiest part.

0 users have voted.

Psychopathy is not a political position, whether labeled 'conservatism', 'centrism' or 'left'.

A tin labeled 'coffee' may be a can of worms or pathology identified by a lack of empathy/willingness to harm others to achieve personal desires.

enhydra lutris's picture

schedule most Fridays, and especially today. Everybody else might be hunkering down against the impending end of the world, I dunno. I figure that if it is real, it will be televised and misrepresented by the MSM and I can catch it there.

I am somewhat surprised by the speed with which that treaty got the signatures and traction it did. I knew It was scheduled, but figured that interminable harangues by the US et. al. would slow things down.

7 users have voted.

That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

joe shikspack's picture

@enhydra lutris

heh, that's it, they're all out there with their telescopes scanning the skies... Smile

oh well, the world won't end yet. there are still events on my calendar.

7 users have voted.
enhydra lutris's picture

@joe shikspack
they'll cancel that just for some prophecy.

5 users have voted.

That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

snoopydawg's picture

I got lost in the internets and catching up with last nights EBs extras. The two counterpunch articles are great.
The history of the Korean War was spectacular. I didn't know much about it or why we started it. But as usual, it's because we are so damn special.

The one about the Trojan horse MFA needs to have an essay on. It also questioned why Bernie is offering this now, when during the primaries he was offering single payer. The way it was explained was that it would dump the sickest people into MFA and it lets the insurance companies off from paying their health care bills.

Thanks for another splendid week of news and blues.
Have a good weekend and hope you do something fun. How was the show last night?

6 users have voted.

America is a psyop wearing a cowboy hat

joe shikspack's picture


randy newman put on an excellent show the other night. it was just him and the piano. he ran through a significant part of his catalog including most of the songs that i really wanted to hear him perform.

including this new favorite:

3 users have voted.

Limiting factors negated. Speak or write the words, change the future. Hate loves fear and avoids the light. Walk in the light, overcome fear. Love.

5 users have voted.

Fighting for democratic principles,... well, since forever

WoodsDweller's picture

Tens Of Thousands In Puerto Rico Told To Evacuate Immediately As Dam Cracks

About 70,000 people in Puerto Rico’s northwestern municipalities of Isabela and Quebradillas were being urged to evacuate immediately Friday after the Guajataca Dam there was found to be in “imminent” danger of failing.
Engineers found a crack in the 88-year-old structure during an inspection after Hurricane Maria left the island Wednesday. The storm has dumped more than 20 inches of rain across a wide swath of the island.
Hurricane Maria destroyed 95 percent of the U.S. territory’s cell towers, and all of Puerto Rico is without power, frustrating efforts to notify those downstream.

Kunstler had a few good lines today as well.

Ricardo Ramos, the director of the beleaguered, government-owned Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, told CNN Thursday that the island’s power infrastructure had been basically “destroyed” and will take months to come back
“Basically destroyed.” That’s about as basic as it gets civilization-wise.
In the meantime — and it looks like it’s going to be a long meantime — Puerto Rico is back in the 18th Century, minus the practical skills and simpler furnishings for living that way of life, and with a population many times beyond the carrying capacity of the island in that era. For instance, how many houses get their water from cisterns designed to catch rain runoff? How many communities across the island are walkable? (It looks like the gas stations will be down for quite a while.)
We’re only two days past the Hurricane Maria’s direct hit on Puerto Rico and there is no phone communication across the island, so we barely know what has happened. We’re weeks past Hurricanes Irma and Harvey, and news of the consequences from those two events has strangely fallen out of the news media. Where have the people gone who lost everything? The news blackout is as complete and strange as the darkness that has descended on Puerto Rico.

I have no idea what "power taking months to restore" might mean. Does power come back to some places in a week or two and the last house get power in 9 months? Or is it five or six months until anyone gets power? Gas stations require electricity. Refrigeration is really handy. The cell towers are down, how many people have solar rechargers for their phones? How ever will they survive without tweets from El Trumpo?

8 users have voted.

The lesser evil is still evil. Vote your conscience, not your fear.

joe shikspack's picture


i am quite surprised at the demise of coverage of storm recovery efforts so soon as well. i guess that sort of thing doesn't sell newspapers anymore.

i suspect that for the people of puerto rico, the wall-street bill has come due and they are about to suffer an enormous amount of pain and indignity as the neoliberal extractive industries go about the process of stealing everything that they can.

4 users have voted.
k9disc's picture

"Israeli jets bombed site close to Damascus airport, reports say"

What exactly is the difference between a terrorist bomb and a cruise missile or a smart bomb?

Seriously. I'd like to game this out.

I don't think there is much difference as soon as you declare "legitimate" targets. It's kind of crazy!

6 users have voted.

“Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” ~ Sun Tzu

joe shikspack's picture


What exactly is the difference between a terrorist bomb and a cruise missile or a smart bomb?

i suspect that it is the same difference as between a handgun, mass-produced by a reputable company with precise fit and finish and a so-called "saturday night special."

people of the us are deeply concerned that brown people are slaughtered with quality weaponry. it must convey some sort of dignity, i guess, knowing that your murderer cared enough to use the expensive tools of slaughter.

3 users have voted.
karl pearson's picture

So far Paul Street's predictions regarding the "Vietnam War" have come to fruition. Counterpunch also has an excellent short history of the class struggle in Vietnam during the French and American involvement.

The omission of the class struggle and the collective moral commitment required of the peasants is perhaps the most significant flaw of the new Vietnam War series.
It is omitted in Episode One’s discussion of French colonialism and again in the coverage of the anti-communist regime of Ngo Dinh Diem in the South.  Without an understanding of the class-based revolutionary struggle the default narrative becomes a story about nationalism and the quest of the Vietnamese to be free of foreign rule.

6 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@karl pearson

i suspect that street will come out mostly right.

3 users have voted.

Yes, I know this is not the blues, but an interesting article

Mapping Country Music’s Politics

Joe - please post a comment to this. Gotta run. If you don't I will send it to you by some other path.


Hope you find it interesting

3 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


i'm off to breakfast with the kids, but thanks! i'll read it when i get a chance this weekend.

2 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


i had a chance to look over the article and it's got some interesting correlations.

one thing that struck me, though, is his methodology:

I decided to begin by taking a ‘snapshot’ of the country music landscape as it stood right now — I collected every song from Spotify’s 30+ featured country playlists on September 7 (excluding “This Is:” playlists devoted to showcasing a single artist’s work). I then compiled YouTube search data by state for the past year using Google Trends.

i realize that using internet searches makes things quick and easy, but it seems to me that it has some ramifications that might skew the results.

some observations:

younger people are more likely to use internet music services like spotify and youtube than older people. older people vote at higher rates than young people.

broadband internet service is less available (and much slower) in rural areas.

i haven't looked lately at research on this, but last time i checked, broadband internet access tends to correlate with higher incomes.

my guess is that his research would be different if he were to include radio data, which i suspect is still the primary media source for fans/listeners of country music.

none of the above invalidates his work, in fact, i think that if he was able to include non-internet sources, there might be a more pronounced correlation between trump voting and country music fandom in rural areas. it's just a guess, though.

1 user has voted.

As I read through the additional links, I can't help but think of how apt as a metaphor is 'leprosy' for the inflicted spread of destructive pathology initiated by The Psychopaths That Be within the US government at all levels, its agencies and 'advisors'/donors/shadow-government/Deep State, etc..

Leprosy kills normal feeling as it deforms, eating away once-healthy flesh and function, also enabling easy access for other opportunistic pathogens to partake in the destruction of the healthy norm.

The untreated victim may continue to miserably exist for years in a state of continuing deterioration, and the disease can spread to others where weaknesses in their system exist.

Prior to the development of medical treatments, hapless lepers were kept isolated from society lest the disease spread - but there is no cure for psychopathy, (being, in those unfortunately born with this brain dysfunction, a built-in disability, damaging and potentially very hazardous to others, involving a lack of humanity, among other associated mental inabilities, such as difficulty appreciating that they might suffer future consequences of their own actions, as they must have what they want when they want it, regardless of cost to others, making them mentally incompetent in such areas,) and society must be protected from their gaining the opportunity/power to quite deliberately cause harm to others, lacking, as they do, by definition, normal human feelings in their brains required for humanity in both senses.

The pathology must be isolated and the victimized societies returned to health while this still exists as a possibility.

It isn't just making our societies ugly and deforming all it touches until it rots away, it's slowly and horribly killing humanity in both senses, all simply to expand its stolen territory in order to infect and devour it all, even though it perishes with us.

This keeps running through my head as being all too descriptive.

We Hunger - Siouxsie and the Banshees

a ravenous greed
for a brood to feed
a lusting spawn
on a weekend fawn
do you hunger for this
sucking leaches feel the need
sucking dry unsated stomach pops
sharpened knives with flying sparks
sagging bodies with stretch marks
& your belly aches

do you hunger for this
bled white with avarice

as the rust creeps
corrosion seeps a rotting seed
eat me -- feed me
with your belching foul breath
your destructive kiss death
do you hunger for this

the bliss of a sweet kiss
shanghai'ed on a locust flight
the thirst from a vampire bite
fills the emptiness inside
consuming everything green-eyed
we hunger

1 user has voted.

Psychopathy is not a political position, whether labeled 'conservatism', 'centrism' or 'left'.

A tin labeled 'coffee' may be a can of worms or pathology identified by a lack of empathy/willingness to harm others to achieve personal desires.