The Evening Blues - 2-20-18
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features blues and ragtime singer and banjo player Papa Charlie Jackson. Enjoy!
Papa Charlie Jackson - If I Got What You Want
"We saw Jesse Jackson the victim of a smear campaign. People remember the Dean scream that was used against Howard Dean as a peace candidate who was doing well. So, in many ways, the Democratic Party creates campaigns that fake Left while it moves Right and becomes more corporatist, more militarist, more imperialist."
-- Jill Stein
News and Opinion
Jeremy Corbyn has dismissed as “ridiculous smears” the idea he gave information to a communist spy during the cold war, saying the only reason some newspapers are publishing the claims are because they are worried about a Labour government. In his first substantive response to days of headlines about supposed meetings during the 1980s with Ján Sarkocy, a Czechoslovakian diplomat in London who was later expelled as a spy, Corbyn said some proprietors had reason to worry.
Labour would “stand up to the powerful and corrupt”, the Labour leader said in a video released by the party, not detailing what action this would involve.
Sarkocy has claimed he recruited Corbyn as an intelligence asset and that Corbyn and other Labour MPs were paid £10,000 by the Czechoslovak secret service (StB) for their work.
In his video, Corbyn said the newspapers reporting the allegations – the Sun, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph and Daily Express – “have all gone a little bit James Bond”. Sarkocy’s claims were “increasingly wild and entirely false”, Corbyn said. ... The allegations have also been rejected by the director of the Czech security service archive, Světlana Ptáčníková, who told the BBC their files suggested Corbyn was seen as a potential contact but was not catalogued as an informant.
“Mr Corbyn was not a secret collaborator working for the Czechoslovak intelligence service,” she said. “He stayed in that basic category – and in fact he’s still described as that, as a person of interest, in the final report issued by the StB agent shortly before he [the agent] was expelled from the UK.”
A senior former US military commander and intelligence chief has warned against a pre-emptive “bloody nose” strike on North Korea. Retired Admiral Dennis Blair said Washington needed to be ready to respond militarily if North Korea attacked the US or its allies in the region – “but not a first strike; it’s just high risk and unpredictable”.
The former director of national intelligence warned about the difficulty of destroying North Korea’s nuclear weapons, amid reports a targeted strike has been canvassed by the Trump administration. “With all the tunnels they have, with all of the difficulties of intelligence in that country, I don’t think an American-South Korean strike [on the North] would have a high probability of taking out all of their nuclear capability and then you’ve left them with not only with nuclear capability but also an aggrieved sense of it,” said Blair, who held the intelligence post from early 2009 to mid 2010.
There were risks of escalation if Kim Jong-un’s regime thought the country was about to be invaded, Blair told the Guardian. Any US-led action should be seen as a response to a North Korean provocation to avoid any misunderstanding. Despite Donald Trump’s desire to be seen as unpredictable, Blair said: “I think this business of treating unpredictability as a virtue in dealing with North Korea is a lot more dangerous than predictability. “We’re much stronger,” he added. “We need to be consistent and powerful and persistent. I think that’s a lot safer, so a lot of this talk about you know, sneak up on them and give them a bloody nose, be unpredictable, I think is not correct for dealing with a country like North Korea.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov issued a stark warning to the U.S. on Monday for its support of the Kurds in Syria, saying Washington should not "play with fire" in the region.
“The U.S. should stop playing very dangerous games which could lead to the dismemberment of the Syrian state,” Lavrov said at a Middle East Conference in Moscow on Monday, according to Bloomberg.
“We are seeing attempts to exploit the Kurds’ aspirations," he continued.
urkey’s foreign minister warned on Monday that Turkey’s military would confront any Syrian government forces entering the northwest Afrin province to protect Kurdish YPG fighters. ...
"If it comes in to defend the YPG, then nothing and nobody can stop us or Turkish soldiers.” he told a news conference during a visit to the Jordanian capital Amman.
Russia’s foreign ministry has admitted that “several dozen” citizens of Russia and other former Soviet states were killed or wounded during a recent battle in Syria.
The announcement came shortly after reports that scores of Russian mercenaries fighting alongside pro-Syrian regime forces were killed by a US-led coalition airstrike in Deir ez-Zor, in eastern Syria, on 7 February. Moscow dismissed those reports last week as “classic disinformation”.
The ministry stressed on Tuesday that the combatants were not Russian servicemen and that no Russian military equipment was involved in the fighting. It gave no date or location for the clash, but said the wounded Russian citizens had received help to return home and were receiving medical treatment.
Analyst Elizabeth Tsurkov, who has followed events in Syria closely for the last several years and has interviewed many rebel militiamen and residents of the Syrian Golan, published a detailed survey of developments in southern Syria in the War on the Rocks blog last week.
Tsurkov said the scope of Israel’s involvement in southern Syria has changed in recent months in response to the regime’s successes in the civil war and Iran’s consolidation in Syria. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warns about the latter on every possible occasion and has repeatedly said Israel will work to thwart it.
According to foreign media reports, over the past few months Israel has begun carrying out airstrikes against Syrian army facilities and targets linked to Iran and its Shi’ite militias, in addition to its longstanding targeting of convoys carrying arms to Hezbollah. Tsurkov also reported on other developments taking place.
Dozens of rebels who spoke with Tsurkov described a significant change in the amount of aid they receive from Israel. Moreover, she said at least seven Sunni rebel organizations in the Syrian Golan are now getting arms and ammunition from Israel, along with money to buy additional armaments.
Israeli police revealed Tuesday they had arrested several friends and confidants of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, increasing the pressure on the scandal hit premier, who faces allegations of corruption.
The arrests were part of an investigation known as “Case 4000,” which centers on whether two of Netanyahu’s associates – and potentially the premier himself – pushed legislation worth hundreds of millions of dollars to Israel’s largest telecom, Bezeq, in exchange for favorable coverage of Netanyahu on a subsidiary news site, Walla.
The arrested include Netanyahu’s former spokesman Nir Hefetz and his former Communications Ministry Director-General Shlomo Filber. Shaul Elovitch, Bezeq’s controlling shareholder and a family friend of the premier, was also arrested, along with his wife and son, and Bezeq’s CEO, Stella Handler. ...
The Jerusalem Post reported that Netanyahu is expected to be questioned under caution himself once investigators build enough of a case through questioning the existing suspects.
A coalition of activists uncovered late last year that Yale University’s $27.2 billion endowment had a direct investment in Puerto Rican debt instruments through a Cayman Islands-registered shell corporation. It is believed to be the first documented proof of a university endowment holding Puerto Rican bonds directly in its portfolio. But the investment manager that maintained the bonds, Cyrus Capital, quietly sold them in January, just as critics were finalizing a campaign to condemn Yale for profiting from the crisis in Puerto Rico.
Yale’s endowment still has hundreds of millions in the care of at least four hedge fund managers that carry Puerto Rican bonds among their investments. In addition, Yale’s top alumni donor, Charles Johnson, is the retired board chair and largest shareholder in Franklin Resources, which holds $1.8 billion in Puerto Rican debt. Student advocates for Puerto Rico plan to continue to pressure the university, hoping to channel the campus passion for racial justice into economic justice for those on the island.
The activist coalition, which includes state and local elected officials, and labor, community, and campus groups, released its findings on Tuesday, calling on Yale’s endowment to fully disclose any other direct holdings in Puerto Rican debt — and cancel it. ...
In order to pay bondholders, who include hedge funds backed by universities such as Yale and Harvard, Puerto Rico is slashing spending on education on the island, while pursuing extreme versions of privatization.
Prosecutors investigating possible collusion between the Trump election campaign and the Kremlin scored another victory on Tuesday after a lawyer who previously worked with Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, was charged with lying to the FBI.
Alex van der Zwaan, who is reportedly married to the daughter of a Russian-Ukrainian oligarch, was charged with making false statements in connection to work he did in Ukraine. According to court documents filed in Washington and made public on Tuesday, Van der Zwaan failed to produce a 2014 email exchange with an unidentified person – referred to as Person A – to the special counsel investigating the Trump campaign and its ties to Russia. He is expected to plead guilty to the charge, and to appear in federal court in Washington on Tuesday afternoon. ...
It is unclear how - if at all - the case against Van der Zwaan, who according to reports worked in the London office of the Skadden Arps law firm, is connected to the broader question of whether or not the Trump campaign conspired with the Kremlin. But the indictment against a relatively obscure figure who is not known to be connected to the president shows the wide-ranging nature of the ongoing investigationbeing led by special counsel Robert Mueller.
In its first year in office, the Trump administration introduced a solitary new environmental rule aimed at protecting the public from pollution. It was aimed not at sooty power plants or emissions-intensive trucks, but dentists. Every year, dentists fill Americans’ tooth cavities with an amalgam that includes mercury. About 5 tons of mercury, a dangerous toxin that can taint the brain and the nervous system, are washed away from dental offices down drains each year.
In Trump’s first day in the White House, the administration told the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to withdraw an Obama-era plan that would require dentists to prevent this mercury from getting into waterways. But in June, the rule was unexpectedly enacted. This apparent change of heart followed legal action filed by green groups, part of a cascade of courtroom standoffs that are starting to slow and even reverse the Trump administration’s blitzkrieg of environmental regulations.
“The Trump administration has been sloppy and careless, they’ve shown significant disrespect for rule of law and courts have called them on it,” said Richard Revesz, a professor at the New York University school of law. ...
In July, a federal court ruled that the EPA couldn’t suspend rules designed to curb methane emissions from new oil and gas wells. This was followed by a hasty retreat in August when the EPA agreed to not delay new standards to reduce smog-causing air pollutants, the day after 15 states and environment groups sued. Then, in December, a federal court told the EPA it couldn’t delay a new standard for dangerous levels of lead in paint and dust.
Other arms of the federal government have also been stymied from implementing Trump’s deregulatory agenda. The US Fish and Wildlife Service, stung by a lawsuit, listed the rusty patched bumblebee as endangered in March after initially delaying the decision. And on Thursday, a federal court told the department of energy it must implement four energy efficiency regulations it was looking to scuttle. ... The EPA now faces a fresh wave of opposition as it looks to craft replacements for major Obama rules such as the clean power plan, which sought to limit emissions from coal-fired power plants, and the waters of the US rule, which greatly expanded clean water protections.
Bans around the world on single use plastic items such as carrier bags will dent growth in oil demand over the next two decades, according to BP. However, the UK-headquartered oil and gas firm said it still expects the global hunger for crude to grow for years and not peak until the late 2030s.
Spencer Dale, the group’s chief economist, said: “Just around the world you see increasing awareness of the environmental damage associated with plastics and different types of packaging of one form of another. “If you live in the UK that’s clearly been an issue, but it’s not just a UK-specific thing; you see it worldwide, for example China has changed some of its policies.” Theresa May has branded plastic waste an environmental scourge, and MPs have called for charges on plastic bags to be extended to disposable coffee cups.
Dale predicted such measures around the world could mean 2m barrels per day lower oil demand growth by 2040. But he said single use plastics were only about 15% of all non-combusted oil, which is used for petrochemicals, an industry that BP expects to be a big driver of global growth in crude demand.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Papa Charlie Jackson - Skoodle Um Skoo
Papa Charlie Jackson - Drop That Sack
Papa Charlie Jackson - Shave 'Em Dry
Papa Charlie Jackson - Shake That Thing
Ma Rainey, Georgia Tom Dorsey, Tampa Red, Papa Charlie Jackson - Hustlin' Blues
Papa Charlie Jackson - Your Baby Ain't Sweet Like Mine
Papa Charlie Jackson - I'm Alabama Bound
Papa Charlie Jackson - Hot Papa Blues
Papa Charlie Jackson - All I Want Is A Spoonful
Ma Rainey, Georgia Tom Dorsey, Tampa Red, Papa Charlie Jackson - Victim Of The Blues
Papa Charlie Jackson - You Put It In, I'll Take It Out