The Evening Blues - 8-9-18
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features delta blues guitarist Robert Lockwood Jr.. Enjoy!
Robert Lockwood Jr. - Steady Rollin' Man
"What a stupendous, what an incomprehensible machine is man! Who can endure toil, famine, stripes, imprisonment & death itself in vindication of his own liberty, and the next moment ... inflict on his fellow men a bondage, one hour of which is fraught with more misery than ages of that which he rose in rebellion to oppose."
-- Thomas Jefferson
News and Opinion
The last surviving prosecutor at the Nazi Nuremberg trials just offered harsh criticism for the Trump administration's family separation crisis resulting from its cruel immigration policies, calling it "a crime against humanity." Ninety-nine year old Ben Ferencz made the comments in a recent lengthy interview with United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, which was posted online Tuesday.
When he learned of the family separations, "it was very painful for me," Ferencz told Zeid. "I knew the Statue of Liberty. I came under the Statue of Liberty as an immigrant." Ferencz was a baby when his family came to the United States from Romania.
He referenced lines from Emma Lazarus's poem inscribed at the base of the monument, including its ending: "I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" But "the lamp went out when [Trump] said no immigrants allowed unless they meet the rules that we laid down," Ferencz said. "It was outrageous. I was furious that anybody would think that it's permissible to take young children—5, 4, 3 years of age—and take them away from their parents and say the parents go to another country and the children go to another country, and we'll get you together, maybe, at some later date."
"It's a crime against humanity. We list crimes against humanity in the Statute of the International Criminal Court. We have 'other inhumane acts designed to cause great suffering.' What could cause more great suffering than what they did in the name of immigration law? It's ridiculous. We have to change the law if it's the law," he said.
Have you ever heard of Senate Joint Resolution 59 (S.J.Res. 59)? Neither had I. A friend of mine saw a blurb about it on an obscure national security blog and brought it to my attention. At first glance it didn’t seem to be any big deal. It’s inelegantly named the “Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) of 2018.” It was introduced on April 16, 2018 by Senators Bob Corker (R-TN), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC), and Tim Kaine (D-VA). Officially, the bill would “Authorize the use of military force against the Taliban, al-Qaeda, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and designated associated forces, and provide an updated, transparent, and sustainable statutory basis for counterterrorism operations.” ...
S.J.Res. 59 is bad for a number of reasons. First and most importantly, it would provide blanket permission for the president to launch a military attack of literally any size and intensity whenever he wants without specific congressional approval. That seems obviously unconstitutional to me, although I’m not a constitutional scholar. Still, the constitution says in Article I, Section 8 that only Congress shall have the authority to declare war, among other things military. It does not allow the president the ability to launch a war.
Second, according to Marjorie Cohn, professor emerita at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law and former president of the National Lawyers Guild, it also would write the president a “blank check to lock up Americans who dissent against U.S. military policy.” That’s right. If you oppose U.S. military policy, the president would have the right to lock you up indefinitely without charge. Certainly, our government already does that. But we’re told that this happens to the worst of the worst—those terrorists who happen to be American, but who also have planned large-scale terrorist attacks against the country or its citizens or who have taken up arms against the United States. Think “dirty bomber” Jose Padilla or the a-yet-unnamed Saudi-American currently being held somewhere and being represented by the American Civil Liberties Union.
This is different. This would mean everybody would be at risk. It would mean you could be held in a gulag, incommunicado, if the White House doesn’t like your politics.
The reason this could come to pass is that, third, the bill is (probably unconstitutionally) broad. It says that the president may, “use all necessary and appropriate force” against Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, al-Qaeda, ISIS, the Taliban, and their “associated forces” anywhere in the world and without limitation. But it doesn’t define what “associated forces” means, nor does it define a “co-belligerent,” someone acting in support of one of these countries or groups. It allows the White House to do that for us. Fourth, unlike almost every other bill in Congress, this one doesn’t have a sunset clause, meaning it never expires. ...
This terrible bill is stuck in the muck of the congressional process right now. As the months tick by, there’s a greater and greater likelihood that it will simply die. But that doesn’t solve the problem. The problem is that Congress is generally made up of lemmings and cheerleaders for the military/industrial/intelligence complex. They do as they’re told, whether it’s by their leadership or whomever happens to be sitting in the White House.
President Trump’s National Security Advisor has been on a whirlwind media tour helping the imperial propaganda machine manufacture support for the latest round of crushing sanctions that have now gone into effect against the Islamic Republic. Bolton has been a busy little bee, smearing and deceiving and manipulating the narrative to ensure that we all know the unrest and violence that may be about to erupt in Tehran is totally, totally organic and not at all the result of the CIA covert operations that have been implemented there. ... Since we’re seeing so much John Bolton and so much talk of terrorists, I think this would be a good opportunity to remind everyone of the time John Bolton threatened to murder the children of an OPCW official in order to deceive the world into consenting to the Iraq war which killed a million people.
José Bustani was the director-general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in early 2002, during which time The Intercept reports he came under fire for having too much success in diplomacy with the Iraqi government, which undermined the case for an invasion. So Bolton attempted to scare him off.
From The Intercept:
“Cheney wants you out,” Bustani recalled Bolton saying, referring to the then-vice president of the United States. “We can’t accept your management style.”
Bolton continued, according to Bustani’s recollections: “You have 24 hours to leave the organization, and if you don’t comply with this decision by Washington, we have ways to retaliate against you.”
There was a pause.
“We know where your kids live. You have two sons in New York.”
Bolton declined to comment on the story, his spokesperson instead referring The Intercept to a section from his 2008 memoir which in no way contradicted Bustani’s account of the interaction.
Bolton still maintains that the disastrous and unforgivable Iraq invasion was a great idea and a resounding success. And he’s not lying. To him, it was a resounding success, because his goal was death and destruction. He is a psychopath and a lover of death. This is who is guiding this administration’s approach to Iran.
A bus carrying Yemeni children was hit by airstrikes from the U.S.-backed Saudi coalition Thursday, according to reports citing the International Committee of the Red Cross. Many of the victims were reportedly under the age of 10. The airstrikes hit the busy Dahyan market in Sa’ada province, which borders Saudi Arabia. Ghani Nayeb, head of a health department in Sa’ada, told Reuters the death toll stood at 43 with 61 others wounded.
It is unclear how many of the dead are minors, but the ICRC said school children were on the bus, and that local hospitals had received "dozens" of dead and wounded. ...
The U.S. military provides logistical support to the coalition forces backed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which have been carrying out strikes on Yemen since March 2015. ... The war has ravaged the country, killing at least 10,000 — many of them civilians. The country is also in the grip of a devastating famine, with the World Health Organization warning 8.4 million people are living in pre-famine conditions. The U.N. has called Yemen the “worst humanitarian crisis in the world.”
Despite all the acrimony between Russia and the U.S. over recent decades, one area where the two nations have always got along is in space — but the latest round of sanctions imposed by Washington could change all that. On Wednesday the White House announced it would be imposing fresh sanctions on Moscow over its role in the poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in the U.K. earlier this year. ...
The Kremlin has strenuously denied any involvement in the incident, and on Thursday morning Russian lawmakers fumed over the latest U.S. announcement, calling it “draconian” and “absurd.” One high-ranking Russian lawmaker then suggested hitting back at the U.S. where it hurts.
Sergey Ryabukhin, a senior Russian senator who is chairman of the Russian Federation Council’s Committee for International Affairs, said Moscow could restrict exports of RD-180 rocket engines to the U.S. RD-180 engines power the Atlas V rocket, which is used for military satellite launches, interplanetary missions and cargo runs to the International Space Station. The Atlas V has completed more than 75 launches with no major failures to date, and is key to the U.S. space program.
This isn’t the first time RD-180s have been caught in the middle of strained U.S.-Russian relations. Back in 2014, U.S. lawmakers opted to exempt the rocket engine from a ban on Russian military technology due to it importance to the U.S. space program. United Launch Alliance, a partnership between Lockheed Martin and Boeing, relies on the Russian-made engines to manufacture the Atlas V rocket, and any interruption of supply could impact U.S. military satellite launches.
Lawyers for Julian Assange say they are “seriously considering” a request from a US Senate committee to interview the WikiLeaks founder as part of its investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US election. ...
WikiLeaks lawyer Jennifer Robinson, of Doughty Street Chambers, said: “The US Senate select committee request confirms their interest in hearing from Mr Assange. The inquiry has asked for him to appear in person at a mutually agreeable time and place. We are seriously considering the offer but must ensure Mr Assange’s protection is guaranteed.”
Justin Trudeau has defied Saudi Arabia’s demand to withdraw Canada’s calls for the release of jailed civil rights activists and insisted that Canada will continue to defend human rights around the world, suggesting that the escalating diplomatic row between the two countries is set to continue. In his first public comments since the spat began, Canada’s prime minister said his government has been speaking directly to the kingdom in an effort to resolve what he called “a diplomatic difference of opinion”.
Trudeau said Canada’s foreign minister had held a long conversation with her Saudi counterpart on Tuesday, but offered no details as to what the pair had discussed. “We continue to engage diplomatically and politically with the government of Saudi Arabia,” Trudeau told reporters on Wednesday. “We have respect for their importance in the world and recognise that they have made progress on a number of important issues.”
He insisted, however, that his government would continue to press Saudi Arabia on its human rights record. “We will, at the same time, continue to speak clearly and firmly on issues of human rights at home and abroad wherever we see the need.”
Trudeau’s comments came hours after Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister described the row as a “matter of national security,” telling reporters that the kingdom was still considering additional measures against Canada. He did not elaborate on what these measures could entail.
The Puerto Rican government is now admitting that more than 1,400 people likely died from Hurricane Maria, a significant increase over the previous official death toll of 64.
“According to initial reports, 64 lives were lost. That estimate was later revised to 1,427,” concludes a draft report to Congress requesting billions of dollars in recovery aid, which the government of Puerto Rico scheduled for an official release on Thursday.
The new death count is still lower than the 4,645 deaths estimated by Harvard University researchers in a May study that integrated elements like interrupted health care, electricity and shuttered hospitals
The number could still rise. In February, months before the Harvard study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Puerto Rico’s governor commissioned a team at George Washington University to lead an in-depth review. In the report posted online Thursday, the authors noted that the GW study is still in progress, and that the official count will be updated once it is completed.
The island has been in a state of disrepair since the hurricane touched its shores last September. The government is in the process shutting down hundreds of schools, and in July, there were still 1,000 households without electricity after the hurricane knocked out the island’s aging power grid, according to The Guardian. More than 100,000 Puerto Ricans have fled to the mainland United States.
A shipment of soybeans worth more than $20m (£15.5m) has been bobbing aimlessly in the Pacific Ocean for a month, a casualty of the escalating trade war between China and the US. Lingering uncertainty over the cargo’s fate offered a timely reminder of the fallout from a dispute that intensified on Wednesday, as the US president, Donald Trump, unveiled a second round of tariffs on $16bn of Chinese goods, prompting Beijing to respond in kind.
The Peak Pegasus, a 229 metre bulk carrier weighing 43,000 tonnes, has become the reluctant symbol of the potential consequences of this tit-for-tat trade spat. The ship, owned by JP Morgan Asset Management, was scheduled to unload about 70,000 tonnes of American soybeans in the Chinese port of Dalian on 6 July, shortly after Trump imposed a first round of tariffs on $34bn-worth of goods.
As it rushed to shore in the hope of clearing customs before Beijing imposed retaliatory tariffs, the ship – and its protein-rich cargo – became an unlikely internet sensation on the Chinese social media platform Weibo. However, the vessel arrived just too late and has been sailing around in circles ever since while the cargo’s owners, understood to be the agricultural commodity trading house Louis Dreyfus, decide what to do.
The Amsterdam-based company is thought to be paying about $12,500 a day to continue chartering the ship, which is idling in the Yellow Sea off the coast of China, indicating extra costs so far of more than $400,000.
The Koch Brothers Commissioned a Survey of Americans and Found Most Like a $15 Minimum Wage, Free College, and Universal Health Care
During the month of July, the marketing and communications group In Pursuit Of — launched by the Koch brothers in 2017– conducted a survey of Americans on a range of issues.
The poll was later written up by RealClearPolitics, which spun the results as favorable to the Koch network. RealClearPolitics noted that on a set of vague values questions, Americans appeared to take the conservative or libertarian side of political arguments. For instance, RealClearPolitics noted that the survey found that 86 percent of Americans said the right to personal property is key to a free and just society. Okay, sure.
But mostly left out of the RealClearPolitics write-up is the fact that the poll also surveyed Americans in detail on a number of issues they felt would help them overcome social barriers, and found that Americans are quite favorable to a set of policies that the Koch network opposes. ...
For instance, the poll found that 66 percent of Americans would find “government-paid college tuition” as a “very effective” or “somewhat effective solution” to social barriers, with more than half of those lining up on the “very effective” side. ... A $15 minimum wage was almost as popular in the poll, with 35 percent saying it would be a very effective solution and a further 30 percent saying it would be a somewhat effective solution. ... A third of respondents believe that more regulation of Wall Street would be very effective, while 36 percent said it would be somewhat effective. Nearly seven in 10 respondents said increasing government assistance for child care would be a very or somewhat effective policy response to social barriers.
The top concern of those polled is the growing cost of health care, with 92 percent saying it is a problem. A combined 55 percent said a government-run health care system would be a very or somewhat effective policy response.
The West Virginia House Judiciary Committee approved 14 articles of impeachment against the four sitting justices of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals on Tuesday. The eighth day of the committee’s meetings regarding possible impeachment produced the first material results when 14 articles of impeachment were introduced at 9:25 a.m. By the time the committee adjourned at 6:15 p.m., its members had added two new articles to their draft and rejected two of the original proposed articles, advancing the possibility of impeachment for the majority of the elected officials in the Mountain State’s judicial branch of government. ...
Those articles will now advance to the full House of Delegates for consideration. Speaker Pro Tempore John Overington, R-Berkeley, said Tuesday he called for the House to reconvene at 10 a.m. Monday. ...
The articles of impeachment charge Chief Justice Margaret Workman and Justices Robin Davis, Allen Loughry and Beth Walker with maladministration, corruption, incompetency, neglect of duty and certain high crimes. In total, Loughry is the subject of eight articles of impeachment. Workman and Davis each are the subject of four and Walker is the subject of two.
Carpenters, Steamfitters, and Other Trade Unions Coalesced Around Notorious Ferguson Prosecutor. Why?
St Louis County, Missouri, labor unions spent heavily in an effort to re-elect prosecutor Bob McCulloch [who never indicted a police officer for killing an unarmed civilian throughout his 27-year tenure, including the cop who shot Mike Brown - js], who was ousted on Tuesday by criminal justice reformer Wesley Bell, campaign finance reports reveal.
It’s common for police unions to support prosecutors, but the labor groups who backed McCulloch came from the trade union movement: steamfitters, carpenters, electrical workers, and others with no obvious connection to the criminal justice system. Their support came in the form of both endorsements and campaign funds. The unions pumped in at least $25,000 of the $237,000 McCulloch raised during the campaign, arguing that his longtime support of organized labor deserved loyalty.
The unions’ support for McCulloch is part of an emerging pattern. As a new Democratic insurgency has risen over the last year, unions have clung tightly to the old guard. In New York, they sided with Rep. Joe Crowley over Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and with Gov. Andrew Cuomo over Cynthia Nixon, even walking out of the Working Families Party on his orders. (In Missouri, the WFP supported Bell.) And the union backing is not limited to incumbents. Unions were firmly behind Gretchen Whitmer, who defeated Abdul El-Sayed in Michigan’s gubernatorial primary, for instance, and with Brad Ashford, a conservative Democrat who lost to insurgent Kara Eastman in an Omaha, Nebraska, congressional primary. ...
While the unions were giving money to McCulloch, they were also working to turn out the vote in an effort to beat back a “right-to-work” law [known as Proposition A] that would have crippled unions in the state. ... Kayla Reed, a lead organizer in the St. Louis area, said that as canvassers for Bell knocked on doors, they distributed literature urging a “no” vote on Proposition A. Reed, who got her start in activism in the aftermath of the Brown killing in Ferguson, said she wasn’t surprised that the trade unions all lined up with McCulloch. The union protesters on the side of the burgeoning Black Lives Matter movement, she explained, were typically young and affiliated with “Fight for $15,” a campaign affiliated with the Service Employees International Union pushing for a higher minimum wage. But trade unionists, she said, often stood with the counterprotesters.
“The main voices opposing us were white union members,” she said, noting an “ironic bedfellow situation with the black community and unions. Black people are not in leadership in those unions.” Reed said the trade unions aligned politically and ideologically with McCulloch’s prosecutorial zeal toward black defendants and his alliance with police forces, which helped make the St. Louis area heavily segregated. “They know Bob McCulloch, trust his law-and-order rhetoric, and believe that he’s going to keep people away from their areas,” she said.
An excellent piece worth reading in full:
The idea that all humanity is equally and collectively responsible for climate change – or any other environmental or social problem – is extremely weak. In a basic and easily calculable way, not everyone is responsible for the same quantity of greenhouse gasses. People in the world’s poorest countries produce roughly one hundredth of the emissions of the richest people in the richest countries. Through the chance of our births, and the lifestyle we choose we are not all equally responsible for climate change. But we are not all equally responsible in a more fundamental way.
This is the point that is missed in ‘Losing Earth’, the New York Times’ 30,000 word feature on climate change. The piece charts the failure of the US government to act on climate change between 1979 and 1989. During this period we knew enough about the issue to act, but didn’t. The piece sets out to explain this failure. ‘Losing Earth’ presents the failure as one of political tragedy. Politicians and policy makers simply couldn’t agree. Not because of the undue influence of lobbyists, but because – as humans and politicians – they could not look far enough into the future. They could not take political risks now, in return for the long term safety of the planet. ... This failure to stop climate change was no one’s fault, ‘Losing Earth’ argues. It happened because we’re human, and because our electoral systems aren’t geared up for this kind of problem. ...
The reshaping of the US economy took place during the period covered by ‘Losing Earth’. It was during the decade – 1979 to 1989 – that neoliberalism truly entered the political mainstream. In order to address climate change the US (and other nations) needed to do things that were no longer politically possible. Fossil fuels needed to be taxed in order to reduce their consumption. Carbon emissions needed to be taxed, or capped. The government needed to invest heavily in renewable energy. Or it needed to force energy companies to do so through legislation. These things might have been possible in previous decades, when governments saw this kind of investment and legislation as their job. But in this new neoliberal era, these kind of interventions were impossible – especially for the US.
A federal court has ordered the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ban a widely used pesticide linked to learning disabilities in children. The decision said the EPA must prohibit the use of the pesticide, known as chlorpyrifos, within 60 days.
Several environmental groups sued to force the ban, after the EPA under Donald Trump decided to allow farms to continue using the pesticide on food products. That was a reversal of the agency’s policy under Barack Obama, when it had begun the process of banning the chemical. Seven states and Washington DC also intervened in the case to back a ban. ...
The court found that studies showed children exposed before birth to low doses of the product, initially developed as a nerve gas during the second world war, had reduced IQ, attention deficit disorder and delayed motor development, yet the EPA “equivocated and delayed” over the years on banning it. “Over nearly two decades, the US Environmental Protection Agency has documented the likely adverse effects of foods containing the residue of the pesticide chlorpyrifos on the physical and mental development of American infants and children, often lasting into adulthood,” Judge Jed Rakoff wrote in the ruling. “In such circumstances, federal law commands that the EPA ban such a pesticide from use on food products.”
Continuing 'War on California' and Planet, Trump Makes First Move to Reopen State's Public Lands to Fracking
The Trump administration on Wednesday took the first step toward lifting a five-year moratorium on leasing federal lands in California to oil companies in a move that conservationists warn could open up more than a million acres to fracking.
"We desperately need to keep these dirty fossil fuels in the ground. But Trump is hell-bent on sacrificing our health, wildlife, and climate to profit big polluters," declared Clare Lakewood, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued a notice of intent in the Federal Register on Wednesday detailing plans to prepare a supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) analyzing the potential impact of fracking on federal lands in Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare, and Ventura counties.
BLM's filing follows a move by residents of San Luis Obispo to propose a ballot measure—to be voted on in November—that would ban fracking and new oil and gas wells county-wide. It also comes after a successful lawsuit by the Center for Biological Diversity and Los Padres ForestWatch—represented by Earthjustice—against BLM for a 2015 resource management plan that would have enabled oil and gas drilling and fracking on the state's public lands without first studying environmental impact. ... Lakewood asserted that "this step toward opening our beautiful public lands to fracking and drilling is part of the Trump administration's war on California."
In a quest to shrink national monuments last year, senior Interior Department officials dismissed evidence that these public sites boosted tourism and spurred archaeological discoveries, according to documents the department released this month and retracted a day later.
The thousands of pages of email correspondence chart how Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and his aides instead tailored their survey of protected sites to emphasize the value of logging, ranching and energy development that would be unlocked if they were not designated national monuments.
Comments the department’s Freedom of Information Act officers made in the documents show that they sought to keep some of the references out of the public eye because they were “revealing [the] strategy” behind the review.
Exploiting Climate-Fueled Disasters on Behalf of Logging Industry, Zinke Pilloried for Blaming Wildfires on 'Radical Environmentalists'
Instead of addressing the root causes that scientists and experts say are fueling some of the unprecedented wildfires now ravaging communities in California and other western states, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is himself under fire on Wednesday after penning an op-ed that critics argue shows the top Trump official exploiting the ongoing infernos as a way to push the business interests of logging companies and other extractive industries.
"Radical environmentalists," he argued on USA Today's opinion page, are to blame for blazes like the Mendocino Complex Fire, which became the largest in the state's history this week, due to their calls to protect federal lands and national monuments instead of opening them up to loggers, ranchers, and the fossil fuel industry. "Every year we watch our forests burn, and every year there is a call for action," Zinke wrote. "Yet, when action comes, and we try to thin forests of dead and dying timber, or we try to sustainably harvest timber from dense and fire-prone areas, we are attacked with frivolous litigation from radical environmentalists who would rather see forests and communities burn than see a logger in the woods."
The former Montana congressman's op-ed was slammed by critics on social media—as was CNN's interpretation of Zinke's proposal. The cable network published its own article describing the Interior Secretary's aim to clear forests as a "proactive approach."
While containing wildfires and stopping them from forming may require multi-pronged efforts, Zinke's idea of "forest management"—which includes allowing logging companies to clear more forests—would do little to help, according to wildfire expert Michael Kodas. "A logging company would like to come in and remove the big, granddaddy trees that are really valuable as timber," Kodas told Wyoming Public Media on Tuesday. "Most of what needs to be removed from these forests are brush, scrub, small, spindly trees that have been sick that have almost no economic value.”
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Robert Lockwood Jr - Kindhearted Woman Blues
Robert Lockwood Jr - Terraplane Blues
Robert Lockwood Jr. - Take A Walk With Me
Little Walter w/Robert Lockwood Jr. - Shake Dancer
Robert Lockwood Jr. - Big legged woman
Robert Jr Lockwood - Jelly Roll
Robert Lockwood Jr. - Ramblin' On My Mind
Robert Lockwood, Jr. - King Biscuit Time
Robert Jr. Lockwood - I Believe I'll Dust My Broom
Robert Lockwood Jr. - Steady Groove