The Evening Blues - 3-12-19
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features girl group The Ronettes. Enjoy!
The Ronettes - Be My Baby
"Stability is when the U.K. and U.S. invade a country and impose the regime of their choice."
-- Noam Chomsky
News and Opinion
Worth a full read:
US Regime Change Blueprint Proposed Venezuelan Electricity Blackouts as ‘Watershed Event’ for ‘Galvanizing Public Unrest’
A September 2010 memo by a US-funded soft power organization that helped train Venezuelan coup leader Juan Guaido and his allies identifies the potential collapse of the country’s electrical sector as “a watershed event” that “would likely have the impact of galvanizing public unrest in a way that no opposition group could ever hope to generate.”
The memo has special relevance today as Guaido moves to exploit nationwide blackouts caused by a major failure at the Simon Bolivar Hydroelectric Plant at Guri dam – a crisis that Venezuela’s government blames on US sabotage.
It was authored by Srdja Popovic of the Center for Applied Non-Violent Action and Strategies (CANVAS), a Belgrade-based “democracy promotion” organization funded by the US government that has trained thousands of US-aligned youth activists in countries where the West seeks regime change. This group reportedly hosted Guaido and the key leaders of his Popular Will party for a series of training sessions, fashioning them into a “Generation 2007” determined to foment resistance to then-President Hugo Chavez and sabotage his plans to implement “21st century socialism” in Venezuela.
In the 2010 memo, CANVAS’s Popovic declared, “A key to Chavez’s current weakness is the decline in the electricity sector.” Popovic explicitly identified the Simon Bolivar Hydroelectric Plant as a friction point, emphasizing that “water levels at the Guri dam are dropping, and Chavez has been unable to reduce consumption sufficiently to compensate for the deteriorating industry.”Speculating on a “grave possibility that some 70 percent of the country’s electricity grid could go dark as soon as April 2010,” the CANVAS leader stated that “an opposition group would be best served to take advantage of the situation and spin it against Chavez and towards their needs.”
Flash forward to March 2019, and the scenario outlined by Popovic is playing out almost exactly as he had imagined.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday that all remaining staff at the U.S. embassy in Venezuela would be withdrawn, as the country's political and economic crisis deepens.
The move comes as Venezuela’s capital, Caracas, suffered a fifth day without electricity — a power outage President Nicolas Maduro has blamed on “sabotage” by opposition leader Juan Guaido, who he’s accused of acting at the behest of the U.S.
Saturday, March 16, 12pm
White House, Washington, D.C.
On Saturday, March 16, thousands of people will march in Washington, D.C. against the Trump administration’s effort to engineer a coup in Venezuela and a new devastating war there.
It is time to stand up and with a clear voice say NO to the newest example of the “Monroe Doctrine,” which the U.S. government has used for over two centuries to repeatedly invade Latin America and Caribbean, control its politics and extract its resources.
The US has begun building parts for a new ground-launched cruise missile in anticipation of the end of a cold war treaty that banned them, the Pentagon has confirmed. ...
Michelle Baldanza, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said on Monday that fabrication had begun on components for a new ground-launched cruise missile (GLCM), which was first reported by Aviation Week.
It is the first time the US has built such weapons since the 1980s when cruise missiles were deployed in Europe in a tense standoff against Soviet SS-20 missiles.
The White House has threatened to curb intelligence sharing with Germany if Berlin allows Chinese company Huawei to build its 5G mobile network, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday.
Issued in a letter by U.S. ambassador Richard Grenell to the German economics minister, the threat is the first time the U.S. administration has explicitly warned an ally that using Huawei — or any other Chinese telecoms company — will impact defense.
The German embassy in Washington confirmed it received the letter, but declined to comment on its contents. Germany announced last week that it would not ban any company from bidding on 5G contracts — despite strong pressure from Washington.
Angela Merkel’s CDU party said Tuesday it would make its decision about whether or not to allow Huawei equipment in its 5G network without taking advice from Washington, according to Bloomberg.
Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has provoked a storm of protest after sharing fake news to attack a journalist who has covered a scandal involving a former aide of his son Flávio, a senator who is also under investigation for money laundering. Leading newspapers, the Brazilian Investigative Journalism Association and the Brazilian Bar Association, criticised the far-right president for sharing a “misrepresentation” and “false information”.
Bolsonaro launched his attack on Sunday night in a tweet with short audio excerpts of a conversation between Constança Rezende, a reporter at the Estado de S Paulo newspaper, and an unnamed man. The president accused her of seeking his impeachment and wanting to “ruin” the life of his son Flávio. But in the excerpts Bolsonaro shared, Rezende did no such thing. Speaking in halting English, she can be heard saying the case against the president’s son was “ruining” Bolsonaro – who campaigned on an anti-graft, tough-on-crime platform. Rezende also says the case could lead to the president’s impeachment and expressed her fear that investigations may not advance. ...
“This shows not just a lack of commitment to the truth of the facts, which is serious enough in itself, but also the use of his position of power to try to intimidate media vehicles and journalists,” the Brazilian Society of Investigative Journalism and Brazilian Bar Association said on Monday.
After Bolsonaro’s tweet on Sunday, the hashtag “Estado Lies” became the top trending topic on Twitter. But by Monday, “Bolsonaro is Fake News” had replaced it among top hashtags in Brazil. Estado is a conservative newspaper founded in 1875 that has published heavily critical editorials of recent Bolsonaro controversies, such as his tweet of a pornographic video of a sex act during carnival.
Two former police officers have been arrested over the murder of the Rio de Janeiro councillor Marielle Franco, two days before the first anniversary of her death, which prompted international outrage. Franco, a groundbreaking politician who was born in one of Rio’s largest favelas and became a voice for disadvantaged people in the city, was killed in a drive-by shooting along with her driver, Anderson Gomes.
She had criticised police killings in the favelas where she grew up and took part in a 2008 state legislature inquiry into the paramilitary gangs that dominate large areas of Rio state. Known as militias, these groups often include police officers.
The suspects were identified as Ronnie Lessa, a retired military police officer, and Élcio Vieira de Queiroz, a former police officer. Investigators said Lessa fired the shots that killed Franco and Gomes on 14 March last year, on the north side of Rio. Queiroz drove the car that ambushed them, investigators said. Queiroz had been expelled from the police.
Prosecutors from a special organised crime unit said in a statement that the shooting was meticulously planned over the course of three months. “It is incontestable that Marielle Franco was summarily executed for her political activity in the defence of the causes she defended,” they added.
One of the detained officers lives in the same gated community in which the Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, has a home and lived before being elected last year. The police did not explain whether that had any significance and so far the president has not been tied to the case in any manner.
There were nearly a dozen categories of individuals catalogued in the government’s secret list of border troublemakers. Revealed last week in documents obtained by an NBC News investigative team in San Diego, the list included 13 “organizers,” eight “instigators,” and 10 journalists with varying descriptions. There was a “lawyer,” an “associate,” and an individual described as “suspected Antifa.” Three people were recorded as administrators of the “Caravan Support Network Facebook page,” while more than 20 others were labeled as “unknown” or not applicable. The documents, provided by a Department of Homeland Security whistleblower, confirmed and advanced, in critical ways, the evolving story of joint U.S. and Mexican government intelligence-gathering operations on the border — though key questions remain.
In a bipartisan letter released Monday, Sens. Ron Wyden and Chuck Grassley called on U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan to provide an unclassified briefing on the operations by Thursday. The senators, who head the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance, which oversees CBP, expressed particular concern about the press freedom issues at play. “Unless CBP had reason to believe the individuals in question were inciting violence or physical conflict, it is deeply concerning that CBP appears to have targeted American journalists at our borders,” they wrote. ...
The public now knows that the border dragnet was broad-based and binational. It involved each of the major agencies of the U.S. border security apparatus — Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Border Patrol — working with Mexican counterparts and the FBI, under the umbrella of the controversial joint DHS-Pentagon border initiative known as Operation Secure Line (formerly known as Operation Faithful Patriot), which the Trump administration initiated in the run-up to the 2018 midterms. ...
In February, Wyden’s office confirmed to The Intercept that it had opened an inquiry into the case of Kitra Cahana, a freelance photojournalist who was detained for 13 hours while trying to re-enter Mexico before being flown out of and barred from the country. In the wake of NBC’s reporting, Reps. Bennie G. Thompson, D-Miss., and Kathleen Rice, D-N.Y., who both chair committees on homeland and border security, sent a letter to McAleenan, the CBP commissioner, demanding that his agency turn over the documents referenced in the story. Those documents are also due to be delivered Thursday, per the lawmakers’ request.
In September 2017, Palestine Legal attorneys received nearly 30 emails from students, teachers and even librarians who were justifiably concerned about an anonymous message they had received. The emails contained threats from outlawbds.com that recipients had been “marked” and “identified as a BDS promoter” and had a “limited window of opportunity to cease and desist or face the consequences of your actions in legal proceedings.” The origin of the attack was a mystery.
Thanks to February exposés in The New Yorker, however, we now know the origin – Psy-Group, a defunct Israeli private intelligence firm. Additionally, we have further confirmation that former Israeli intelligence agents were paid to spy on US students and activists engaged in BDS – boycott, divestment and sanctions – campaigns. The organization responsible compiled dossiers on activists and published a Canary Mission-like blacklist site, as well as defamatory sites that attempted to discredit Muslim activists, among others.
The New Yorker first published an article by Adam Entous and Ronan Farrow on Psy-Group, which used former Israeli military, intelligence and governmental advisers to influence politics around the US. Psy-Group, which reportedly ceased operations in 2018 following an FBI investigation into possible 2016 US election interference reported on previously by The Electronic Intifada, used shadowy and coercive methods to attempt to undermine the Palestine solidarity movement in the US. Psy-Group raised at least $1.2 million to conduct dark web surveillance, in-person intimidation, online blacklists and smear campaigns against Palestinian rights activists.
Theresa May has called for MPs to “come together” to back her deal after claiming to have secured the legally binding changes parliament wanted to ensure the EU cannot trap the UK in the Irish backstop and a permanent customs union. But within minutes of the start of a late-night joint press conference in Strasbourg, those words rang hollow, as Jean-Claude Juncker, the European commission president, conceded the EU had not agreed to the prime minister’s central demand.
Juncker told reporters that a freshly negotiated legal add-on to the Brexit deal, emphasising the temporary nature of the Irish backstop, “complements the withdrawal agreement without reopening it”. He added that the new text was in “spirit and letter by letter” in accord with the EU’s commitment to an insurance policy from which he has repeatedly insisted neither side could unilaterally withdraw. ...
Following the historic defeat of her deal by 230 votes in January, May had promised MPs that she would secure a unilateral exit mechanism from the backstop, a time-limit or its replacement with an alternative arrangement, such as a technological fix. Asked whether she had secured those objectives in her 11th-hour dash to Strasbourg for talks with Juncker, May did not directly answer.
Jeremy Corbyn said May’s “negotiations have failed” and he called on MPs to reject the deal. “This evening’s agreement with the European Commission does not contain anything approaching the changes Theresa May promised Parliament, and whipped her MPs to vote for,” Corbyn said. “Since her Brexit deal was so overwhelmingly rejected, the prime minister has recklessly run down the clock, failed to effectively negotiate with the EU and refused to find common ground for a deal Parliament could support.”
The United Nations postponed last week for the third time the publication of a blacklist of Israeli and international firms that profit directly from Israel’s illegal settlements in the occupied territories. The international body had come under enormous pressure to keep the database under wraps after lobbying behind the scenes from Israel, the United States and many of the 200-plus companies that were about to be named.
UN officials have suggested they may go public with the list in a few months. But with no progress since the UN’s Human Rights Council requested the database back in early 2016, Palestinian leaders are increasingly fearful that it has been permanently shelved.
That was exactly what Israel hoped for. When efforts were first made to publish the list in 2017, Danny Danon, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, warned: “We will do everything we can to ensure that this list does not see the light of day.” He added that penalising the settlements was “an expression of modern antisemitism”.
Justice for Stephon Clark: Protests Erupt as DA Fails to Charge Cops Who Killed Unarmed Black Father
When Senate Democrats unveiled legislation to fully restore net neutrality last week, every member of the party's caucus signed on to the bill—except one. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), the lone Democratic holdout, is now the target of a grassroots campaign by internet advocacy group Fight for the Future, which is crowdfunding a billboard that accuses her of "siding with corporate donors to kill net neutrality."
Let's be very clear.
Elected officials can't hide from #NetNeutrality
— Fight for the Future (@fightfortheftr) March 11, 2019
"There's no excuse for not supporting this bill," Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future, said in a statement. "Voters from across the political spectrum are outraged and overwhelmingly want their elected officials to support real net neutrality protections."
According to Fight for the Future, the Sinema billboard will be displayed at "one of the busiest intersections in Phoenix, Arizona."
'They May Have the Money... We Have the People': Sanders Calls for Citizen Co-Sponsors of Medicare for All
With his new and improved Medicare for All legislation coming in the next few weeks, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Tuesday issued a call for "citizen co-sponsors" of the bill to show the insurance industry and the political establishment that the public is "ready to fight harder than ever for the fundamental belief that healthcare should be a right."
"It was not long ago that the idea of Medicare for All was dismissed and ridiculed by the corporate media and political establishment of this country. Too radical, they said. Fringe. Crazy. Pie in the sky. Well, they are not saying that anymore," the Vermont senator and 2020 presidential candidate wrote in an email to supporters. "That is because of you... You've led the way. It is not because of me. It is because of us. That is the political revolution."
Sanders' call for citizen co-sponsors comes as the insurance and pharmaceutical industries are marshaling their limitless resources to stop Medicare for All and uphold the most expensive and least effective healthcare system in the industrialized world.
Acknowledging that the corporate forces profiting from the status quo are "spending billions of dollars in lobbying and campaign contributions" to defeat Medicare for All, Sanders said the deep-pocketed opposition can be overcome by an organized and energized grassroots movement. "They may have the money, but we have something more powerful: We have the people," Sanders declared.
CEO of Southwest Key, the largest network of shelters for migrant children in the U.S., has resigned
Juan Sanchez, the founder and CEO of Southwest Key, the largest network of shelters for migrant children in government care, resigned from his post Monday, according to an internal memo sent to Southwest Key employees and obtained by VICE News. ...
As of December 2018, Southwest Key reported housing 3,644 migrant children children across the U.S., and it has processed over 20,000 in the last two years. It operates 26 shelters in Texas, Arizona, and California. ...
The organization received widespread attention last summer and fall following controversies surrounding the agency’s management and treatment of undocumented minors in its shelters. Southwest Key has been plagued by accusations of sexual abuse at several shelter sites, criticized for its role housing children who were separated from their parents, and subject to FBI and DOJ investigations into its business practices.
Donald Trump should not be impeached unless the reasons are overwhelming and bipartisan, given how divisive it would be for the country, the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, has said.
“I’m not for impeachment,” Pelosi, the top US Democrat, said in a Washington Post interview published on Monday.
“Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path, because it divides the country,” she said. “He’s just not worth it.”
"He’s just not worth it?"
Is defending our legal system “worth it?"
Is holding the President accountable “worth it?"
Is doing what’s right "worth it?"
Or shall America just stop fighting for our principles and do what's politically convenient?https://t.co/dQqTMpccnZ
— Tom Steyer (@TomSteyer) March 11, 2019
Elizabeth Warren could not have asked for a better illustration for her point.
Curious why I think FB has too much power? Let's start with their ability to shut down a debate over whether FB has too much power. Thanks for restoring my posts. But I want a social media marketplace that isn't dominated by a single censor. #BreakUpBigTech https://t.co/UPS6dozOxn
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) March 11, 2019
The idea that Facebook might be censoring political speech contrary to its interests proved irresistible to many Facebook critics, but the company said there was a much more mundane explanation. “We removed the ads because they violated our policies against use of our corporate logo,” a spokesperson told Politico. “In the interest of allowing robust debate, we are restoring the ads.”
NY Times parody election coverage.
"Careening over a liberal cliff"! pic.twitter.com/sXTDBM2pzY
— Peter Hart (@peterfhart) March 11, 2019
Arizona Senate candidate Mark Kelly will appear later this month at a high-dollar fundraiser in Washington, D.C. hosted by one of the city’s top corporate lobbying firms. The K Street firm represents major fossil fuel companies, including Exxon Mobil and Chevron; Wall Street banks such as JPMorgan Chase; defense industry giant Lockheed Martin; and the lobby group PhRMA.
Kelly’s fundraiser with the corporate lobbying behemoth comes as he launched his campaign on the back of a pledge not to accept corporate PAC donations. Indeed, the invitation to the fundraiser, obtained by The Intercept, specifies that attendees should not pay with corporate PAC checks. Instead, those lobbyists will be asked to pay with personal checks, meaning that disclosure records will not reflect any contributions from drug makers, banks, or any other clients associated with the lobbying firm, Capitol Counsel.
The firm also represents Walmart, the NFL, Comcast, the American Health Care Association, the Health Care Service Corporation, the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, Edison Electric Institute, the National Business Aviation Association, and the Internet and Television Association. ...
“This campaign is about the people of Arizona, not corporate PACs and the mess they’ve created in Washington,” Kelly is quoted as saying on his campaign website. “I won’t take a dime of corporate PAC money, and I’ll only answer to Arizonans.”
The United States is pumping out so much oil as a result of the so-called "shale revolution" that it's set to become a net oil exporter in 2021. That's according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), which announced the projection Monday in its five-year forecast. "U.S. production growth has exceeded expectations," the analysis states.
The United States will drive global oil supply growth over the next five years thanks to the remarkable strength of its shale industry, triggering a rapid transformation of world oil markets https://t.co/pj0xruy1Tc #OOTT pic.twitter.com/g4VWGvOFBN
— IEA (@IEA) March 11, 2019
Calling the country "the stand-out champion of global supply growth," IEA executive director Fatih Birol said, "The second wave of the U.S. shale revolution is coming."
"It will see the United States account for 70 percent of the rise in global oil production and some 75 percent of the expansion in LNG [liquified natural gas] trade over the next five years," he said. "This will shake up international oil and gas trade flows, with profound implications for the geopolitics of energy." ... By 2024, the report says, the U.S. will export more oil than Russia and will edge up to the number two exporter spot, right behind Saudi Arabia. Brazil, now under the leadership of right-wing Jair Boslanaro, is also projected to experience a surge in oil supply. The report additionally finds no peak in oil demand; it is set to increase at an annual average of 1.2 mb/d until 2024.
It isn't acceptable, in 2019, that the @IEA puts out a press release like this, full of triumphalist echoing of Big Oil's messaging, without mentioning the #climate implications in any way. Or the economics of oil production and the #shale debt mountain. https://t.co/nOWuQPRpuR
— Jeremy Leggett (@JeremyLeggett) March 11, 2019
A new study contradicts fears that using solar geoengineering to fight climate change could dangerously alter rainfall and storm patterns in some parts of the world.
Published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Climate Change, the analysis finds that cooling the Earth enough to eliminate roughly half of warming, rather than all of it, generally would not make tropical cyclones more intense or worsen water availability, extreme temperatures or extreme rain. Only a small fraction of places, 0.4%, might see climate change impacts worsened, the study says.
Many climate experts have warned that cooling the Earth but keeping twice as much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as before industrialization could put some regions at risk. One scientist who read the paper published on Monday said it was not comprehensive enough to conclude that solar geoengineering – most likely involving spraying sulphur dioxide into the atmosphere, thereby mimicking gas from volcanoes and reflecting the sun’s heat – would be safe.
Some climate advocacy groups argue that banking on an unproven technology could hamstring efforts to reduce carbon dioxide still spewing from power plants and cars. But study co-author David Keith, a Harvard professor who works in engineering and public policy, said researchers should not rule out geoengineering yet. “I am not saying we know it works and we should do it now,” he said. “Indeed, I would absolutely oppose deployment now. There’s still only a little group of people looking at this, there’s lots of uncertainty.” Keith said the study’s main message was that “there is the possibility that solar geoengineering could really substantially reduce climate risks for the most vulnerable”.
Here Come the Frankenfish: Critics Warn GE Salmon Import Approval Puts Consumers and Fisheries at 'Serious Risk'
The Trump administration has lifted a ban on importing genetically engineered or GE salmon, which critics have long called "Frankenfish," in a move that consumer advocates charge "runs counter to sound science and market demand." The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the decision on Friday, more than three years after approving GE salmon as the first biotech animal authorized for commercial sale and consumption in the United States.
That approval as well as the agency's repeal of the import alert are major wins for the biotech industry—and have come despite concerns (pdf) repeatedly raised by environmental and public health advocates about the threats to wild salmon populations and consumers. ...
The Trump administration's guidelines for the GE or GMO labeling law, released last year by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), have been described by critics as "a disaster." As Common Dreams reported in December, "To make the disclosure, food producers have four options: text, a friendly-looking symbol, an electronic or digital link, or a text message."
"USDA's new guidelines don't require adequate mandatory labeling, don't require calling the fish 'genetically engineered,' and don't help consumers know what kind of fish they are buying," George Kimbrell, legal director at the Center for Food Safety, said in a statement on Monday.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
The Ronettes - Is This What I Get For Loving You
The Ronettes - I Can Hear Music
The Ronettes - Do I Love You?
Ronettes - Best Part of Breakin Up
The Ronettes - Baby, I Love You
The Ronettes - Shout
The Ronettes - Why don't they let us fall in love
The Ronettes - Here I Sit
The Ronettes - Chapel of Love