The Evening Blues - 12-12-17


The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: Nappy Brown

Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features r&b singer Nappy Brown. Enjoy!

Nappy Brown - Little By Little

"Ten people who speak make more noise than ten thousand who are silent."

-- Napoleon Bonaparte

News and Opinion

Bombed into famine: how Saudi air campaign targets Yemen’s food supplies

Since Saudi Arabia launched its military intervention in Yemen in March 2015, more than 10,000 civilians have died. More than 250 fishing boats have been damaged or destroyed and 152 fishermen have been killed by coalition warships and helicopters in the Red Sea, according to Mohammed Hassani, the head of the fishermen’s union in Yemen’s western port of Hodeidah. “They have declared war on fishermen,” said Hassani. More than 100 miles further south in the port of Mocha, fishermen have been barred from going out to sea since the Houthi-Saleh forces, who the Saudi-led coalition have been fighting for more than two and half years, were pushed out by Yemeni fighters backed by a coalition partner, the United Arab Emirates, in February.

Yemen’s fishing industry has become an ever more vital lifeline for a country in the midst of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. More than eight million Yemenis are now facing famine after Saudi Arabia tightened a blockade on the country on 6 November. Restrictions were slightly eased on 26 November, allowing some aid in for the 20 million Yemenis relying on humanitarian support. But aid agencies have predicted mass famine if key ports such as Hodeidah remain closed to commercial imports. ...

In the district of al-Rawda in northern Sana’a, farmer Yahya Abdu Taleb stopped cultivating his land after a bomb from an airstrike landed in a field less than 50 metres from his house. Fortunately for the family, the missile failed to explode. Standing in the now fallow farmland, Yahya watches a team from Yemen’s national demining programme extract the missile buried some 10ft into the soil. “I have three wells on my land. But now I don’t grow anything,” he said. When food prices started to rise, he went to rebuild the polytunnels needed to grow vegetables in the extreme mountain temperatures of Yemen’s arid northern highlands. But his neighbours begged him to stop. “The Saudis target them [the polytunnels]. They were afraid the planes would come back, bomb us and kill their families.” ...

Ali al-Mowafa, heading the team from the NDP working to remove the unexploded ordnance in al-Rawda, said British, American and Italian-made bombs were identified among 12 missiles that failed to explode from one night when 52 bombs hit the district last August. Research on the pattern of bombing, carried out by emeritus professor Martha Mundy at the London School of Economics, concluded that in the first 17 months of the Saudi-led bombing campaign there was “strong evidence that coalition strategy has aimed to destroy food production and distribution” in areas controlled by the Houthis and allied forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh. Saleh was killed by Houthi forces in Sana’a last week, days after declaring he had switched allegiances.

How corporate media tacitly justify the murder of Palestinian children

On Friday, Israel commenced yet another bombing campaign in the Gaza Strip.  The Independent (London) began its report with a note from the IDF that it had “bombed militant targets.”  The story then explained that six children were injured. The third paragraph completed the picture: “The Israeli military said it had carried out the strikes on a Hamas training camp and on a weapons depot in response to rockets fired earlier from Gaza at Israeli towns. Witnesses told Reuters that most of the wounded were residents of a building near the camp.”

What first looks like standard reportage—a delivery of apparent facts, complete with views from both sides—is actually stock dissimulation that (intentionally or not) confers responsibility for harming children not on the Israeli bombers, but on the people who endured their detonation.  A more pessimistic reading can make a reasonable case that the Independent actually blames the children for their own injuries.  

How can it be that Israel targeted “militants” while also injuring children?  Four possibilities emerge:  

  1. Either the Israeli or Palestinian sources are lying
  2. Children were hanging out with the militants
  3. The militants put themselves in the company of children
  4. It is difficult to target militants in Gaza without collateral damage

Number one is negligible because the Independent doesn’t bother to find out if anybody is lying.  The omission supplies a post hoc rationalization for the injured children.  The story provides no indication that Israel willingly harmed children and thereby removes intent from the equation.  

Numbers 2-4 implicitly justify Israel’s behavior.  Mixing kids with militants essentially collapses any distinction between the two demographics and implies that Palestinian society is uniformly militarized.  If no children are free of militants in Gaza, then nobody in the territory is truly innocent.  Everybody is therefore a fair target, their demise an unfortunate byproduct of existing.  

This kind of reportage was common during 2014’s Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s 51-day destruction of the Gaza Strip. As the number of dead children kept rising, eventually topping 500, an exculpatory narrative emerged, peddled by Israeli officials and taken up by their stenographers in the Western press: Hamas used kids as human shields, or their parents failed to adequately protect them. The narrative provides only shallow absolution. No matter the circumstances, Israel targeted sites inhabited by children. Its leaders decided that murdering those children was an acceptable outcome relative to Israel’s military aspirations. But nobody scrutinized Israel as a moral actor in its own behavior. The IDF became a technocratic force without agency.

Kim Jong-un should be prosecuted for human rights crimes, say jurists

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and other officials should be prosecuted for crimes against humanity committed in the authoritarian nation’s camps for political prisoners, three renowned international jurists said Tuesday.

The jurists’ report is based on testimony from defectors and experts on the camps, believed to hold between 80,000 and 130,000 inmates. It cites evidence of systematic murder, including infanticide, and torture, persecution of Christians, rape, forced abortions, starvation and overwork leading to “countless deaths”.

The report, drafted with the International Bar Association’s support, is billed as an unofficial follow-up to a UN investigation in 2014 finding reasonable grounds to conclude crimes against humanity had been committed in North Korea.

The three judges have served on past international tribunals: Navi Pillay, a former UN high commissioner for human rights; Mark Harmon who served on a tribunal trying Khmer Rouge leaders in Cambodia; and Thomas Buergenthal, who survived Auschwitz as a child and was a judge on the International Court of Justice.

North Korea “continues to deny the very existence of these political prisons”, the report says. “Yet, detailed satellite imagery, as well as the corroborated testimony of scores of former prisoners and state actors with firsthand knowledge of the prisons, established the existence of this prison system, and the horrific practices that occur therein, beyond any doubt.”

The jurists conclude that 10 of the 11 internationally recognized crimes against humanity have been committed. They say many of the prisoners are family members of individuals accused of political wrongdoing – a form of collective punishment against “class enemies” that dates back to the 1950s. Such victims are subject to arbitrary detention, torture, summary execution or life sentences. Hundreds of thousands of inmates are estimated to have died in camps over the years, the report says.

White House hides troop numbers in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan

The White House left out the number of U.S. troops fighting in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria from a semi-annual accounting it provided to Congress on Monday. In a previous report, sent to Congress in June, the administration had said how many Americans are in those war zones.

The omissions reflect President Trump’s eagerness to keep secret the size of U.S. deployments in some global hot spots under the theory that the numbers, no matter how vague, might give extremists and other enemies a strategic advantage, a senior administration official told Yahoo News. Military, congressional and even some other administration officials privately dispute that notion and say some transparency is necessary for informed debate about America’s use of force. It is unclear whether the administration detailed the figures to Congress in a classified addendum to the letter.

IS long gone, but former Iraqi oil hub still dead

Two years after the jihadists of Islamic State group were forced from this one-time industrial hub, Baiji remains a devastated ghost city as pledges of funds to help rebuild life have failed to materialise. Home to what was once Iraq’s biggest oil refinery, its rubble-strewn streets are lined by the twisted carcasses of buildings, and in 2016 it was declared a disaster zone by the national parliament.

“Up until now there has been no money to reconstruct the town despite the promises made by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi,” Khaled Hassan Mahdi, a member of the regional council, told AFP. Instead, Mahdi said, all available funds have gone into financing Iraq’s military campaign against IS, which Abadi declared defeated after three years of brutal fighting. “And even if the ministries unblock the money, it will only go to restoring infrastructure, water, roads, electricity, but not pay benefits to people or give them aid to rebuild their homes.”

For Baiji, 200 kilometres (124 miles) north of Baghdad, its role as a major industrial centre boasting sprawling oil and chemical plants seems like a distant memory. “It will be very difficult to rehabilitate the Baiji refinery, which was built in 1975 and used to produce 250,000 barrels a day, as so much equipment has been pillaged,” a high-ranking official in Iraq’s North Oil Company told AFP. Even if the facility does get up and running again, the official said, then “it won’t have the same capacity as before”.

Italy declares state of emergency after deadly gas explosion in Austria

Snow-hit southern Europe could face energy shortages after authorities warned that Austrian pipelines were likely to be out of action for days following an explosion and fire that ripped through a main gas hub near Vienna.

Baumgarten, where the explosion occurred, is a key distribution and reception hub for gas exports and imports, including from Russia, Europe’s biggest gas supplier. In Italy, where rain, snow and extreme cold weather have disrupted traffic in the north-east over the last few days, the country’s industry minister declared a state of emergency due to a lack of gas supplies.

Austrian police said the explosion in Baumgarten, which is north-east of Vienna, had been caused by a technical problem. Fire services worked until the early afternoon to put out fires started by the blast. The chassis of several cars parked on the site were melted by the heat of the explosion.

Natural gas is transported to Baumgarten through Slovakia and Germany along several pipelines. Gas flows are then delivered throughout Europe via Austria’s transmission network.

The hub’s operator, Gas Connect, said Austria’s gas supply was secured “for the foreseeable future” but conceded that deliveries to the country’s southern and south-eastern borders would be affected until further notice. The Vienna-based gas company estimated that it would take “days, not hours” to restore supply lines, according to Der Standard newspaper.

Former Facebook executive: social media is ripping society apart

A former Facebook executive has said he feels “tremendous guilt” over his work on “tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works”, joining a growing chorus of critics of the social media giant. Chamath Palihapitiya, who was vice-president for user growth at Facebook before he left the company in 2011, said: “The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works. No civil discourse, no cooperation, misinformation, mistruth.”

The remarks, which were made at a Stanford Business School event in November, were just surfaced by tech website the Verge on Monday. “This is not about Russian ads,” he added. “This is a global problem. It is eroding the core foundations of how people behave by and between each other.”

Palihapitiya’s comments last month were made a day after Facebook’s founding president, Sean Parker, criticized the way that the company “exploit[s] a vulnerability in human psychology” by creating a “social-validation feedback loop” during an interview at an Axios event. Parker had said that he was “something of a conscientious objector” to using social media, a stance echoed by Palihapitaya who said that he was now hoping to use the money he made at Facebook to do good in the world.

Inventor of World Wide Web Speaks Net Neutrality!

Betsy DeVos is forcing scammed students to repay loans for meaningless degrees

Every year, students concede to the rising cost of college tuition in hopes they’ll land a big enough salary after graduation to pay off whatever debt they incurred along the way. But that dream dissolved for thousands of students when Corinthian Colleges and other fraudulent for-profit colleges suddenly collapsed in 2015.

Those students, however, still have to pay their loans back, the Department of Education’s independent Office of the Inspector General affirmed in a report on Monday. Without making a formal announcement, the department under Betsy DeVos stopped canceling defrauded students’ debt under an Obama-era forgiveness program, leaving them in financial limbo. ...

By stopping loan cancellations entirely, DeVos will now have a chance to review the process and even approve some individual claims. But the decision also leaves thousands of defrauded students unsure whether they should pay their debt, including interest, or seek other avenues of forgiveness. In fact, some now face more debt than if they would have just paid their loans from the start, according to the inspector general’s report. The Department of Education did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Jimmy Kimmel Discusses CHIP funding

The rightwing takeover of the US court system will transform America

Donald Trump has nominated an unprecedented number of judges to federal courts since his appointment. These are making steady progress through the Senate confirmation process and yet they have escaped the sort of scrutiny that Trump normally attracts. This is unfortunate, because the impact of Trump’s court picks will be profound, and will help reshape American society for years to come. Of the nearly 60 judges he has nominated, only one is black, one is Hispanic and three are women. The rest are white men. All of these people are conservatives who will be interpreting and helping (re)write the law for decades.

These appointments reveal Trump for what he truly is: a Republican. His court picks amount to a right-wing takeover of the court system. This has been the objective of every Republican president since Ronald Reagan. Trump is distinguished only by his success at transforming the federal bench so early in his term.

The claim that Trump has not accomplished much in his first year in office is dead wrong. He is fashioning the federal court system of Steve Bannon’s dreams. The president has nominated judges who will cut back the civil rights of racial minorities and LGBT people, expand the power of police and prosecutors, restrict the ability of women to obtain abortions and favor big corporations over consumers.

Trump took office facing a backlog of 114 judicial appointments – the most of any president since Bill Clinton. This was not a coincidence but rather the product of a calculated project by Republicans in the US Congress to deny Barack Obama his authority to appoint judges. In a bold power play, Senate Republicans, who must confirm judicial nominees, simply refused to vote on most of Obama’s selections during the last year of his presidency. They were, in effect, waiting for Trump.

Now Republicans have been rewarded for their abdication of their constitutional responsibilities during the Obama administration. President Trump has nominated 60 judges to fill the vacancies, with 14 already confirmed. If Trump were to resign or be removed from office tomorrow, he could leave proud that his profound impact is already set in stone: a generation of ultra-conservative judges with lifetime appointments who will transform the US into more of a police state than it already is. But again, this is more of a Republican project than a Trumpian one.

Cecile Richards: Mike Pence is "Orchestra Master" of Assault on Women's Rights Under Trump

An excellent article worth a full read:

Not Just Toxic Masculinity: Income Inequality Also Drives Sexual Abuse in the Workplace

When Matt Lauer was fired from the “Today” show after allegations of sexual misconduct, news reports alleged that his lawyers were working on a plan to get the disgraced host a $30 million payout from NBC — the remainder of his $20 million a year salary up until the end of 2018. For a vastly wealthy serial harasser to believe he is owed tens of millions more dollars seemed a galling manifestation of the very entitlement underpinning the predatory behavior for which he was fired. With powerful men in the media and elsewhere being dethroned amid abuse allegations, payouts to predators frequently follow suit, playing a major role in the current public reckoning with patriarchal power. ...

Fox News paid out sexual harassers Bill O’Reilly and late chair Roger Ailes around $25 million and $40 million, respectively. Payouts and rewards like these, however, are a consistent part of modern American corporate life, found not only among the media or on issues of sexual harassment. Consider the rewards heaped on Wall Street executives following a financial crisis for which they bear substantial blame. ... “This is the Wall Street concept of ‘fuck you money’,” Alexis Goldstein, senior policy analyst for Americans for Financial Reform, told me. “When you’re so rich, you can walk around and do whatever you want without fear of repercussions; this is exactly the sort of power some people chase, as something to aspire to.” Goldstein noted that President Donald Trump is the example-in-chief: a man of vast wealth whose vile actions were rewarded with a presidency. ...

NBC News reported that the reason Lauer will receive no settlement is that he was fired “for cause,” thus nullifying the network’s obligation to pay him through the end of his contract. This complicates the idea that NBC’s decision is primarily a moral one. In order for the former host to be fired “for cause,” NBC must maintain that his misconduct was unknown to the company, at least when it negotiated the contract. ... The network claims that, before receiving the detailed complaint that led to Lauer’s firing, they had found no evidence and received no other complaints of the host’s wrongdoing.

Several women, however, told Variety that their complaints about Lauer to executives “fell on deaf ears,” with one former reporter alleging that executives had “protected the shit out of Matt Lauer.” The idea that NBC management knew nothing until last week buoys a “bad apple” narrative when a structural one is needed. ... The average anchor salary at NBC is around $67,500 and Lauer was earning $28 million. With the gender pay gap persisting across the media, injustice is already written into the DNA of the corporation and the industry. Whatever NBC executives did in fact know about Lauer’s history of predation, there’s little doubt that his position as a lucrative but large investment for the company played a role in enabling his behavior, or at least letting it be overlooked for years. ...

Lauer’s career may be over, but until we do away with “fuck you” money altogether — by which I mean extreme wealth inequality — toxic entitlement with which the Weinsteins and O’Reillys of the world have acted will remain a scourge against which we struggle, rather than a thing of the past. The problem is not a byproduct of power imbalances but an operation of them.

Alabama Has the Worst Poverty in the Developed World, U.N. Official Says

A United Nations official investigating poverty in the United States was shocked at the level of environmental degradation in some areas of rural Alabama, saying he had never seen anything like it in the developed world.

"I think it's very uncommon in the First World. This is not a sight that one normally sees. I'd have to say that I haven't seen this," Philip Alston, the U.N.'s Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, told Connor Sheets of earlier this week as they toured a community in Butler County where "raw sewage flows from homes through exposed PVC pipes and into open trenches and pits."

The tour through Alabama's rural communities is part of a two-week investigation by the U.N. on poverty and human rights abuses in the United States. So far, U.N. investigators have visited cities and towns in California and Alabama, and will soon travel to Puerto Rico, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia.

Of particular concern to Alston are specific poverty-related issues that have surfaced across the country in recent years, such as an outbreak of hookworm in Alabama in 2017—a disease typically found in nations with substandard sanitary conditions in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, as reported by The Guardian.

the horse race

The President and the GOP Are Backing a Flagrant Bigot for U.S. Senate

With the full knowledge that Roy Moore, twice ousted from the Alabama Supreme Court, has been accused of gross sexual misconduct with teenage girls, the Republican Party and the president of the United States have backed the man in his bid to become a United States senator anyway. So hungry, desperate even, for political power, the party that was widely seen as the morality police for several generations, has traded all of that away for a Senate seat. ...

Actions and views that should never be allowed into the mainstream have been embraced and funded at the highest level. The man is an abusive bigot. He openly said that Muslims like Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., should not serve in Congress. The list goes on and on.

Again, it’s hard to know a moment in history when you are in it, but I am pretty sure we have crossed the tipping point of the gross normalization of bigotry and sexual abuse in this country. It’s not from the fringes. It’s not from a registered hate group with hoods on. It’s not whispered or tweeted by anonymous trolls. Roy Moore, pistol waving in the air, is a public menace of the highest order, and he’s been embraced by the party in control of the U.S. government and by the sitting president who leads it.

It might be troubling and concerning, but this is what the most powerful nation in the world is today.

Roy Moore Attacks Doug Jones Over Abortion Rights, Deflecting from Child Molestation Accusations

Trump’s lawyers call for second special counsel to investigate Russia special counsel

Donald Trump’s lawyers are calling for the appointment of a second special counsel to investigate the special counsel overseeing the federal inquiry into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. According to a report from Axios published early Tuesday, one of Trump’s lawyers, Jay Sekulow, has raised concerns over potential conflicts of interest within special counsel Robert Mueller’s team.

Sekulow issued the statement after Fox News reported that the wife of a senior justice department official had worked for Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm behind the the anti-Trump “dossier”, during the 2016 campaign. “The Department of Justice and FBI cannot ignore the multiple problems that have been created by these obvious conflicts of interests,” Sekulow said. “New revelations require the appointment of a special counsel to investigate.”

The official in question, Bruce G. Ohr, was demoted last week. A reason was not provided for his departure, and the justice department has not confirmed that Ohr or his wife were linked to Fusion GPS. ...

Trump and his allies have decried what they perceive as bias in the Russia investigation and were recently emboldened when a New York Times report revealed that Mueller had reassigned a top FBI agent over potential conflict of interest. The agent, Peter Strzok, was reassigned over the summer after Mueller learned he had sent anti-Trump text messages to FBI lawyer Lisa Page.

Yes, the FBI is America's secret police

Politifact delivered a “pants on fire” slam to Fox News on Friday because one of its commentators asserted that the Federal Bureau of Investigation “has become America's secret police.” The FBI has legions of new champions nowadays among liberals and Democrats who hope that its probes will end Donald Trump’s presidency. In order to boost the credibility of the FBI’s investigations of the Trump team, much of the media is whitewashing the bureau’s entire history. But the FBI has been out of control almost since its birth. [See link for detailed history. - js] ...

According to Politifact, the FBI is not a “secret police agency” because “the FBI is run by laws, not by whim.” But we learned five years ago that the FBI explicitly teaches its agents that “the FBI has the ability to bend or suspend the law to impinge on the freedom of others.” No FBI official was fired or punished when that factoid leaked out because this has been the Bureau’s tacit code for eons. Similarly, an FBI academy ethics course taught new agents that subjects of FBI investigations have "forfeited their right to the truth." Are liberals so anxious to get Trump that they have swept under the rug the 2015 Washington Post bombshell about false FBI trial testimony that may have sentenced 32 innocent people to death? ...

Politifact asserts that “just because the FBI sometimes operates in secret does not mean that it’s a ‘secret police.’" But the FBI’s secrecy is profoundly skewing American politics. More than a year after the 2016 election, Americans still have no idea the true extent of the FBI's manipulation of the presidential campaign. Did the FBI wrongfully absolve Hillary Clinton on the email server issue? What role did the FBI have in financing or exploiting the Steele dossier? Will we ever learn the full truth?

the evening greens

Arctic permafrost thawing faster than ever, US climate study finds

Permafrost in the Arctic is thawing faster than ever, according to a new US government report that also found Arctic seawater is warming and sea ice is melting at the fastest pace in 1,500 years.

The annual report released on Tuesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration showed slightly less warming in many measurements than a record hot 2016. But scientists remain concerned because the far northern region is warming twice as fast as the rest of the globe and has reached a level of warming that’s unprecedented in modern times. “2017 continued to show us we are on this deepening trend where the Arctic is a very different place than it was even a decade ago,” said Jeremy Mathis, head of NOAA’s Arctic research program and co-author of the 93-page report. ...

New research looking into the Arctic’s past using ice cores, fossils, corals and shells as stand-ins for temperature measurements show that Arctic ocean temperatures are rising and sea ice levels are falling at rates not seen in the 1,500 years. And those dramatic changes coincide with the large increase in carbon dioxide levels in the air, the report said.

This isn’t just a concern for the few people who live north of the Arctic circle. Changes in the Arctic can alter fish supply. And more ice-free Arctic summers can lead to countries competing to exploit new areas for resources. Research also shows changes in Arctic sea ice and temperature can alter the jet stream, which is a major factor in US weather.

This is probably partly responsible for the current unusual weather in the United States that brought destructive wildfires to California and a sharp cold snap to the south and east, according to NOAA scientist James Overland and private meteorologist expert Judah Cohen.

One Planet Summit: Bolivian President Morales proposes to create "a climate justice court"

'No shame': how the Trump administration granted big oil's wishlist

In a document called “comments on specific regulations” sent to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in May, API highlighted eight key changes it wanted to ease the regulation of air and water pollution. An analysis shows that the EPA has now so far either partially or wholly delivered on six out of these eight key demands within the first year of the Trump administration, which solicited input on government rules from a number of trade groups.

This comes as the Guardian and the Center for Public Integrity publish an investigation into the way the oil lobby has worked for decades to influence US government policy – and is tightening its hold. Earlier this year a letter penned by Howard Feldman, senior director of regulatory affairs at API, accompanied the lobby group’s wish list for government, and it stated that fossil fuel companies are thriving “despite the unprecedented level of federal regulatory actions targeting our industry”.

Feldman called for the federal government to alter regulations in a way that “promotes access to domestic oil and natural gas resources, streamlined permitting and cost-effective regulations”. The letter is addressed to Samantha Dravis, an EPA associate administrator who previously held a senior role at the Republican Attorneys General Association and was counsel to Freedom Partners, one of the groups in the Koch brothers network. ...

“There’s no question that energy lobbyists are calling the shots in this administration, which has been all too willing to roll back public health protections,” said Jeremy Symons, vice-president of Environmental Defense Fund. “Anyone who doubts that can just look at their record.”

An Activist Stands Accused of Firing a Gun at Standing Rock. It Belonged to Her Lover — an FBI Informant.

As law enforcement officers advanced in a U-shaped sweep line down North Dakota Highway 1806 last October, pushing back Dakota Access opponents from a camp in the pipeline’s path, two sheriff’s deputies broke formation to tackle a 37-year-old Oglala Sioux woman named Red Fawn Fallis. As Fallis struggled under the weight of her arresting officers, who were attempting to put her in handcuffs, three gunshots allegedly went off alongside her. According to the arrest affidavit, deputies lunged toward her left hand and wrested a gun away from her.

Well before that moment, Fallis had been caught in a sprawling intelligence operation that sought to disrupt and discredit opponents of the pipeline. The Intercept has learned that the legal owner of the gun Fallis is alleged to have fired was a paid FBI informant named Heath Harmon, a 46-year-old member of the Fort Berthold Reservation in western North Dakota. For at least two months, Harmon took part in the daily life of DAPL resistance camps and gained access to movement participants, even becoming Fallis’s romantic partner several weeks prior to the alleged shooting on October 27, 2016. ... Harmon spent the day of October 27 with Fallis and was nearby during her arrest. He continued to withhold his FBI affiliation from his then-girlfriend in phone conversations with her while she was being held at the Morton County jail in Mandan, North Dakota, records show. ...

Federal prosecutors are charging Fallis with civil disorder, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and discharge of a firearm in relation to a felony crime of violence — perhaps the most serious charges levied against any water protector. If convicted of discharging the weapon, she faces a minimum of 10 years in prison and the possibility of a life sentence. She has pleaded not guilty.

Attorneys for Fallis argue their client was seized without probable cause while engaging in speech protected by the First Amendment, pointing to the account of one of her arresting officers that Fallis was shouting “water is life and you’re killing Mother Earth and stuff of that nature.” Drone footage appears to show her being tackled just minutes after arriving in the vicinity of the police line. In a hearing that concluded Monday, her lawyers challenged the admissibility of any property seized or statements Fallis made immediately after the incident, arguing they represent the products of an unconstitutional arrest.

Also of Interest

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

Trump’s Lethal Decision on Jerusalem

Why Is There No “Saudi-Gate”?

Russia-gate’s Litany of Corrections

Democratic Party Set to Purge Progressive Reformists

A Primary Challenge to a Right-Wing Democrat in Illinois Divides the Resistance

How big oil is tightening its grip on Donald Trump's White House

Worst-case global warming predictions are the most accurate, say climate experts

A Little Night Music

Nappy Brown - Coal Miner

Nappy Brown - Don't Be Angry

Nappy Brown - Hoonie Boonie

Nappy Brown - If You Need Some Lovin'/I'm In The Mood

Nappy Brown - Pleasin' You

Nappy Brown - Skidy Woe

Nappy Brown - The Hole I´m In

Nappy Brown - Well,Well,Well, Baby La

20 users have voted.


enhydra lutris's picture

ages, thanks tor these selections. The news, of course, is the news.

It is interesting to see the article on Korea's human rights violations, including

a form of collective punishment against “class enemies” that dates back to the 1950s.

more or less cheek by jowel with an article on Israel's murdering of countless children as part of its unending collective punishment waged against the Palestinian people since 1948. That too, is, of course, not really all that surprising.

8 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

yep, it was about time for some nappy brown. i love his old r&b singles on the savoy label. some of the horn players that accompanied him were pretty incredible.

the juxtaposition of the north korean story about crimes against humanity with stories about the us, saudi and israel crimes against humanity is intentional. sadly, none of them will be brought to justice because they will (for obvious reasons) never be brought to a court with jurisdiction. after all, that sort of accountability is only for powerless africans or others without powerful sponsors.

7 users have voted.
divineorder's picture

Good evening.

Have had the judicial appointments in the back of mind, wondering what was going on and sadly, now I know. Whoa, is us.

First world problem though, with all the humans dying needlessly for our plutocrats to get richer, and the speed up in mass extinctions ongoing.

In order to avoid despair I have to hope some important game changing work will come out of the One World Summit.

9 users have voted.

A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

joe shikspack's picture


that one world summit could do something useful. if you check out the piece with evo morales broadcast over france 24, he calls for a new international organization that can apply sanctions to bring the us (and perhaps other intransigent first world nations) to heel.

if that were to become a reality, it just might make a difference.

8 users have voted.
divineorder's picture

@joe shikspack

Heh. Hope this doesn’t put him on some US hit list! Of course he may have already been on one...

4 users have voted.

A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

Thanks Joe for the roundup.

Yemen is a mess and it's our fault - remember when Obama touted Yemen as the success story of US meddling in ME?

Oh, right. That was the 9/2014 backdrop to expanding war into Syria while saving the suddenly-important Yazidis and to protect us from the only-mentioned-once-but-dangerous-as-fuck Khorasan Group. Remember that shit? Neither was mentioned ever again in Obama's remaining 2+ years, but Dems gobbled it up.

I've been following Jimmy Dore, Robert Parry and Joe Lauria to hack through the Russia groupthink. Having been on facebook during Wisconsin's Walker Uprising in 2011, I made fbook friends with lots of Dems and anti-Walker/anti-Repub pages. 98% of these folks have gone batshit insane - or complicit - with the Russia hysteria. It's the only way they can explain away HRC's stupendous fuckup losing to Trump. Dishonest partisan hacks.

Finally, I'd quibble with one headline: White House / Trump hiding US troop numbers. Dear Great President Obama did the same damn thing. We had Special Ops and undercover training missions all over ME and Africa that were kept secret. Niger fatalities, anyone?

Really finally, I've been reading good old Marcy Wheeler (remember her?!?) at emptywheel. In addition to consistantly poking holes in NSA lying re spying on us, she's been poking holes in the many flaws and dumb Dem assumptions re Steele dossier. Her point #1: Steele's "intel" was surprisingly behind the times and just wrong compared to what was public info/reported at the time. Finding out last month that HRC campaign/Marc Elias was paying for it just makes me furious, yet not surprised.


12 users have voted.


divineorder's picture

@JVolvo2 activities in Africa. Remember when TomDispatch were cross posted to GOS and rarely got a rec?

8 users have voted.

A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

joe shikspack's picture


hey, great to see you!

heh, all of those new wars that obama opened up were successes until they fell apart and turned to crap.

yeah, i remember the yazidis. i guess they were pretty important until they weren't. they made an excellent excuse, though.

you're right about the headline. both obama and trump have hidden the number of troops. the difference is that obama chose to lie through his teeth about the numbers and trump has chosen to simply refuse to disclose the information.

have a great evening!

9 users have voted.
Azazello's picture

Has the media become a cult ?

5 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


heh. journalistic mistakes are inevitable. uh huh, they are, but was this a mistake? probably not.

as glenn greenwald has pointed out, the odds that several people would make the same "mistake" is quite unusual.

7 users have voted.
Raggedy Ann's picture

The artic is melting faster than originally predicted. Will there be flooding in coastal areas around the world sooner than expected? Stay tuned.

Seven and a quarter days until the university closes down for winter break. I'll have two weeks off. I'm on the countdown!

What is happening in Yemen sickens me.

Thanks for an enjoyable musical selection. Got a few more to listen to after I post this.

Now I see I need to be even more concerned with our judicial system. Let the crackdown go full force!

It's been chilly here. It's staying pretty chilly all day, too. I enjoy summer weather best.

I need to familiarize myself with the BDS movement and learn which products to avoid purchasing. I'm pretty sure they don't need my money - what little I have.

Have a beautiful evening, everyone! Pleasantry

6 users have voted.

"They'll say we're disturbing the peace, but there is no peace. What really bothers them is that we are disturbing the war." Howard Zinn

joe shikspack's picture

@Raggedy Ann

woohoo! break is coming! heh, i remember that nice long break between the end of finals and the beginning of spring semester. what a great thing! enjoy!

it's been a bit chilly here lately, too. the winds are up today and now i've added a project to my list of things that need done around here this spring/summer - replacement windows for the leaky ones. i guess i'm going to add a skill. Smile

have a great evening!

4 users have voted.
divineorder's picture

@joe shikspack @joe shikspack

Jb and I need to replace a window here at our condo that has somehow degas sedan or some such til it appears to be dirty or fogged. It stops the wind from blowing have put in off.
in our old cabin shack in TX that we saved from the dumpster the kitchen window is nailed shut with cracked glass w white duct tape covering it. We keep meaning to replace it's but keep getting distracted... Smile

Have you replaced one before?

1 user has voted.

A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

joe shikspack's picture


sorry i couldn't get back to you last night, a windstorm apparently took down my internet connection.

anyway, i have a lot of general carpentry skills, but i have never replaced a window before. i have always found the process of removing the existing framing (which in the case of one of the windows that is leaky hasn't been removed since 1893) for fear of messing up trim that is probably not readily available at the home despot down the road.

anyway, i guess i'm going to figure it out in a few months, though.

1 user has voted.
divineorder's picture

@joe shikspack has been one of the challenges that have slowed that project on our old cabin down. Have fun!

1 user has voted.

A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

snoopydawg's picture

they're putting all their hopes in the Mueller investigation and they hang on every word that he says while forgetting that he's part of an intelligence agency that has been proven to have lied to us over and over.

Are liberals so anxious to get Trump that they have swept under the rug the 2015 Washington Post bombshell about false FBI trial testimony that may have sentenced 32 innocent people to death?

The FBI is hanging on the fact that Russia hacked the DNC computers even though they never inspected them, they just took Crowdstrike's word for it. The FBI declined to charge Hillary for obstruction of justice after she destroyed thousands of her emails after she was told to turn them over. Link with lots more information here about how Mueller is not the person who should be in charge of this bogus investigation that goes back to the Obama administration's goal of making Hillary president.

Both the Hillary campaign and the FBI were involved with the Steele dossier which they used to get a wiretap on Trump and his campaign.

The democrats are playing this for all its worth so that they can keep people from focusing on what the republicans are doing. I've seen very few diaries on ToP about all the crap that the republicans and members of Trump's cabinets are doing. When that site was sane they would have been all over that. This has been a great distraction for both parties to do what is being done.

7 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


yep, the democrats are running interference for the republicans so that they can accomplish what the 1% have been demanding for years.

5 users have voted.
divineorder's picture


MB tonight:

Tweaking won’t fix this. Neither will the kind of harmful “reforms” supported by most Republicans, way too many Democrats, and corporate fat cats, many of whom have seen their personal bottom lines grow at the expense of pension cuts. While many Americans may look at these pensions and declare that they don’t see why others should have these benefits and they don’t, they should realize that the attack on, and rip-off of, private pensions has had added to it the attack on public sector pensions. And those same attackers will also be in the forefront of the plutocrats seeking to cut Medicare and Social Security.

3 users have voted.

A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.