The Evening Blues - 4-11-19
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features blues shouter Jimmy Rushing. Enjoy!
Jimmy Rushing - Going To Chicago
"Instead of discussion and argument, brute force rises up to the rescue of discomfited error, and crushes truth and right into the dust. 'Might makes right,' and hoary folly totters on in her mad career escorted by armies and navies."
-- Adin Ballou
News and Opinion
Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, was arrested on Thursday inside Ecuador’s Embassy in London, where he had lived since 2012 under diplomatic protection. London’s Metropolitan Police Service said in a statement its officers were “invited into the embassy by the Ambassador, following the Ecuadorian government’s withdrawal of asylum.”
— Jen Robinson (@suigenerisjen) April 11, 2019
A subsequent police statement confirmed that Assange was “further arrested on behalf of the United States authorities, at 10:53 hrs after his arrival at a central London police station. This is an extradition warrant under Section 73 of the Extradition Act.”
Assange, 47, was then taken from a central London police station to Westminster Magistrates’ Court. The force explained that it acted initially on a warrant issued by that court after Assange took refuge in the embassy in 2012, violating bail conditions by not attending a hearing on his attempt to resist extradition to Sweden, where he was wanted for questioning on sexual misconduct allegations leveled against him by two women. ...
The judge later found Assange guilty of failing to surrender and scheduled a court appearance for May 2 on the U.S. extradition request.
He says Julian Assange’s behaviour is “the behaviour of a narcissist who cannot get beyond his own selfish interest”
— Daniel Sandford (@BBCDanielS) April 11, 2019
Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, charged in computer hacking conspiracy. Click here for copy of the indictment: https://t.co/9JItxR6VRX
— U.S. Attorney EDVA (@EDVAnews) April 11, 2019
A Spanish judge is investigating an alleged extortion scheme in which suspects in Madrid offered video and audio surveillance to the editor of WikiLeaks in exchange for €3 million, WikiLeaks said on Wednesday. The surveillance was taken over the past year inside the Ecuador embassy in London, where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has legally been granted political asylum since 2012, said Kristinn Hrafnsson, the WikiLeaks editor, at a press conference in the British capital. Included in the “trove” of material was a copy of a legal document regarding Assange’s defense strategy that was briefly left behind in a conference room in the embassy, Hrafnsson said.
“It is a grave and serious concern when legal meetings are being spied upon and legal documents are stolen,” he said. “That is something that not even prisoners have to endure.” Assange was also filmed being examined by his doctor in the embassy, Hrafnsson said. “Nobody expected that this was recorded and stored and found its way to some dubious individuals in Spain,” he said.
Jennifer Robinson, Assange’s lawyer, called it a breach of attorney-client privilege. “The documents you have seen [presented at the press conference] demonstrates just how much surveillance he has been under and it is a breach of confidence for us, his lawyers, and his doctors to provide medical care in the embassy,” Robinson said. “This is a severe breach of attorney-client privilege and fundamentally undermines our ability to defend and provide defense to Julian Assange.”
Hrafnsson communicated with the alleged extortioners and was given samples of what they possessed, the WikiLeaks editor said. He then traveled to Spain and secretly videotaped a meeting with “four individuals” in which Hrafnsson learned the extent of the material that they possessed. They told them him that €3 million was “a good deal” as they had had offers of €9 million for the material. Hrafnsson then went to the Spanish police who opened an investigation. He said he knew the identity of one of the four who had a prior conviction on similar charges and was seen as the “ringleader.” ...
“Extortion is a serious matter,” Hrafnsson said, “but of greater concern to me is that this is material gathered by spying by the government of Lenin Moreno and officials who work on his behalf against an individual who was granted diplomatic protection by the Ecuadorian government.” In an apparent reference to Moreno, Hrafnsson said: “We know from reports that this is the work of one person to service the interests of the United States government who want to indict and imprison a publisher for the crime of publishing truthful material.” Robinson said WikiLeaks would file a “fresh complaint” to the UN special rapporteur on privacy rights, who has said he will visit Assange on April 25. The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer will also visit Assange that day, WikiLeaks said.
President Trump promised to veto a resolution ending U.S. involvement in the brutal Yemen civil war even before House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent it to his desk. But a diverse group of lawmakers — including some of the president's strongest allies — think they can convince him to put down the veto pen and sign it into law.
They just have to get a meeting first. ...
“I think there is a part of the president who thinks we’ve been at war too long and in too many places — he’s talked about bringing troops home from Syria, he’s talked about bringing troops home from Afghanistan,” said Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who signed the letter along with Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah). “They have already disengaged a little bit. They are no longer refueling, so I think we’ve already had an impact, but we’re hoping to have more.” ...
But their Democratic partners aren’t nearly as optimistic as they are.
“I think if we get to the president, we can convince him. The question is whether all of his advisers are going to block it,” said Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), before joining Pelosi for the War Powers Act signing ceremony at the Capitol. “I can’t convince [National Security Advisor John] Bolton. Bolton’s been wrong on every single foreign policy issue for the last 30 years – he’s like the perpetual ghost who haunts American foreign policy.”
Baghdad and Washington are in talks to transfer and place on trial tens of thousands of suspected Isis fighters and their families from detention centres in Syria to prison camps in Iraq, with Iraqi officials seeking a multibillion dollar fee to receive remnants of the terror group captured over five years of war.
Discussions about what to do with Isis members, among them thousands of foreign men, women and children, have been pushed intensively by US officials, who have also lobbied coalition partners to remove their citizens from two cramped detention centres in Syria’s north-east, which one former senior US official described as a “volcano”.
Baghdad has asked for a $10bn (£7.6bn) fee up front, then $1bn per annum to receive the detainees, senior western officials have told the Guardian. The size of the mooted price tag has led some in Washington and London to view it as a rebuff of a US plan, rather than a willingness to take a stake in a politically sensitive and dangerous operation, just as a war-weary Iraq had begun to recover.
Other Iraqi pre-conditions include no access for humanitarian workers to any facilities on Iraqi soil, or objection to the death penalty. Neither is likely to fly with Britain or France, which remain opposed to sending its citizens to countries that carry out executions.
The US state department did not respond to a request for comment. Current and former US officials have said the administration wants to do everything possible to guarantee the security of its Kurdish allies, and to remove the burden of holding the Isis fighters, all while withdrawing US troops from northern Syria. A significant break-out by Isis detainees would undermine the justification for the withdrawal, which the US president, Donald Trump, has insisted must take place.
Donald Trump’s three-quarters-of-a-trillion-dollar defense budget request submitted to Congress last month contains a dirty secret, one that should make us all think twice about perpetual war and public support for it.
The youth of America don’t want to serve in the military any more.
The situation has become so dire that just to maintain America’s ground forces – the army and Marine Corps – the two services are resorting to unprecedented pay raises, bonuses and socialist trappings. ... Official military polling shows that fewer and fewer young Americans consider the military as a career or as a transitional step – only some 12.5% – the lowest number in a decade.
In order to attract a sufficient number of those who are able to serve, the Pentagon spends $1.6bn on recruiting. And this year, the army is offering new recruits bonuses of up to $40,000, as well as incentives that include student loan repayments. Those bonuses have been markedly increasing. In 2013, the army spent $121m on sign-up bonuses, a number that more than doubled to $290m in 2017. The final numbers aren’t in for 2018, but the estimate is that the number will be closer to $600m, doubling the bonuses again in a single year. ...
These sweeteners are all required even though nearly three-fifths of service members and their families have at least two other immediate family members who serve or have served in the military, according to a survey by Blue Star Families, a non-profit founded by military spouses in 2009. But even that pool of “legacy” recruits is dwindling. The 2017 Blue Star Families Military Family Lifestyle Survey shows that a growing number of military families are no longer willing to recommend that their children join the service.
Wow, India has figured out something important that has utterly eluded the morons that run U.S. elections - a verifiable paper trail.
The world’s largest-ever election has started in India, with voters in more than 20 states casting their ballots in the first phase of the country’s marathon six-week polls.
The contest in the vast country of 1.3 billion people is dominated by local issues but also viewed as a referendum on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a staunch Hindu nationalist who rode a wave of popularity five years ago to become the first leader of a majority government in decades.
Polls are now open in more than 90 seats, about a sixth of the total in the Indian parliament’s lower house, with six more voting days to be held before the results are announced on 23 May. ...
India’s phased election process allows federal security personnel to be shuttled around the country to secure the integrity of a contest involving up to 900 million eligible voters, more than the next five largest democracies combined.
Their fingers are marked with indelible ink to prevent anyone voting twice. Symbols and pictures are displayed next to candidate’s names to aid the country’s estimated 266 million illiterate citizens.
Britain will remain as a member state of the EU until 31 October, with the option to leave earlier if Theresa May can secure Commons support for the Brexit deal, after a Franco-German carve-up of the UK’s future. A marathon six-hour debate among the EU leaders concluded with the prime minister being offered a longer extension than she had sought but providing a new autumn no deal cliff-edge to focus minds in Westminster.
“This extension is as flexible as I expected and a little bit shorter than I expected but it is still enough to find the best possible solution”, the European council president, Donald Tusk, told a media conference that began after 2am local time. He said of the extra six months of EU membership. “Please do not waste this time”. The EU would also hold a symbolic June summit to review the UK’s behaviour as a member state following an outspoken intervention by the French president, Emmanuel Macron, about the need to avoid a “rogue” Britain undermining the European project.
Speaking afterwards, Theresa May repeatedly ducked questions about her future as prime minister, after having previously said she would not accept an extension beyond 30 June. ... May also once again blamed MPs for being the cause of public frustration over the failure to implement Brexit. ...
The compromise autumn date was carved out after the EU’s Franco-German engine found itself divided over how to deal with Britain’s political crisis. A senior EU source described it as “26 to one”. The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, had clashed with Macron, both over Berlin’s insistence that May’s government can be trusted, and that a no-deal scenario should not be risked by offering up only a short delay such as one ending on 30 June, as requested by the British prime minister.
A Republican congressman has spread false allegations that the US representative Ilhan Omar denied the September 11 hijackers were terrorists, as part of a new wave of abuse directed at her by some conservatives. Representative Dan Crenshaw of Texas shared a tweet falsely reporting that Omar had said she “does not consider [September 11] a terrorist attack on the USA by terrorists”, while accusing the Minnesota congresswoman of playing down the attack.
Crenshaw was responding to a short video clip of a speech given by Omar in California last month, when she complained that all Muslims suffered the consequences of the actions by a small group of them on 11 September 2001, when al-Qaida terrorists hijacked four passenger jets and flew them into the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon building outside Washington, while one crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. Crenshaw was joined by Ronna McDaniel, the Republican party chairwoman, who claimed Omar had shown she was “anti-American”, and the Fox News host Brian Kilmeade, who questioned Omar’s loyalty to the US during a broadcast on Wednesday morning.
Omar described the attacks against her as “dangerous incitement” and urged colleagues to condemn them. She said: “My love and commitment to our country and that of my colleagues should never be in question. We are ALL Americans!”
Amid Wave of Anti-Choice Laws, Texas GOP Holds Public Hearing on Putting Women to Death for Obtaining Abortions
Apparently seeking to capitalize on a political moment in which states have passed some of the most restrictive anti-choice laws in the country since Roe vs. Wade passed in 1973, the state House Judiciary Committee held a public hearing that stretched into the early morning hours on House Bill 896. The proposed legislation would criminalize abortion in the state without exception and would classify the medical procedure as a homicide—making it possible for women who get abortion care to be executed by the state.
Republican state Rep. Tony Tinderholt introduced the bill, saying it would make women more "personally responsible."
The proposal includes a specific attack on Roe vs. Wade, noting that state officials would be required to treat abortion as a crime "regardless of any contrary federal law, executive order, or court decision."
With opposition even from the anti-choice group Texans for Life and with the committee reportedly reluctant to send the bill to the full House, H.B. 896 is currently unlikely to become law in Texas. But women's rights advocates expressed shock and outrage that the bill was given the state's first-ever public hearing on a proposal to classify women as criminals for obtaining abortions.
The US Treasury Department will not comply with a deadline set by Democratic legislators to hand over Donald Trump’s tax returns, the secretary of the treasury Steve Mnuchin announced.
“The committee requests the materials by April 10, but the treasury department will not complete its review of your request by that date,” Mnuchin wrote in a letter to Ways and Means Committee chairman Richard Neal.
In his letter, Mnuchin cited concerns over “an abuse of authority” and wrote that the law cited in Neal’s request could not be used “for purposes of embarrassing or attacking political figures of another party”.
Emphasizing the political weight of the request, he added that the department is seeking counsel from the department of justice “to ensure that our response is fully consistent with the law and the Constitution”.
California lawmakers have advanced legislation that would be the strictest measure in the US limiting when police can use deadly force. The bill would allow officers to use lethal force only when there is no reasonable alternative. Supporters say the measure would save lives by pushing offers to use de-escalation tactics, which could curb unnecessary killings that disproportionately affect black Americans. ...
The Democratic assemblywoman Shirley Weber of San Diego said: “It’s time to make clear that the sanctity of human life is policing’s highest priority,” adding later that her proposal “is designed to change the culture of policing in California”. California police kill people at a rate 37% higher than the national average per capita, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, which supports the legislation. Police in the state killed 172 people in 2017, more than two-thirds of whom were people of color.
Police in Kern county, California, killed more people per capita than in any other American county in 2015, a Guardian investigation found.
Weber’s measure got party-line support. But it faces a tough fight in the full assembly. ...
The two Republicans on Tuesday’s panel opposed the measure they said could make officers hesitate for a fatal second if they have to consider alternatives to lethal force. Law enforcement groups are supporting a radically different legislative plan to curb deadly shootings, which would require that every department have policies on when officers should use de-escalation tactics and other alternatives to deadly force.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (along with a handful of other 2020 Democrats) introduced a new Medicare for All bill Wednesday morning that has a key difference from his last single-payer bill.
The 2019 bill would ensure that Medicare for All includes benefits for at-home long-term care for people with chronic illnesses or disabilities. It’s a significant expansion of previous Medicare for All efforts, which have been pushed in Congress for decades. Medicare, as it exists, does not cover long-term care, which includes nursing homes and home-based assisted living. Sanders’ plan doesn’t come with a price tag, although the inclusion of long-term care will likely raise the cost for single-payer healthcare, which could reach as high as $30 trillion over a decade, although that’s contested. ...
Sanders’ bill also maintains its four-year timeline for implementing Medicare for All, unlike a separate, more aggressive Medicare for All bill introduced in the House by Rep. Pramila Jayapal in February, which called for a 2-year implementation. ... Sanders’ 2019, however, bill will still functionally eliminate the private insurance industry by outlawing private insurers from offering coverage already provided in the sweeping legislation.
Utah representative Ben McAdams, a Democrat, warned ominously this week that a “day of reckoning is coming”. It’s the kind of sober language typically used to describe a climate crisis which – if we continue on with business as usual – could end human civilization as we know it. McAdams, though, was describing a decidedly less grave threat, if it can be considered a threat at all: the federal deficit. He and 26 other members of the so-called Blue Dog Coalition – centrist and fiscally-conservative Democrats – are pushing for a constitutional amendment that would prohibit the federal government from running a deficit if there isn’t a war or recession happening. Social security and Medicare would be spared from the brutal spending cuts the amendment would bring about ... but that’s it.
At a time when scientists are calling for governments to adopt a “wartime footing” to address the existential threat of climate change, the proposal isn’t just a stupid play into Republican hands. It’s climate denial.
McAdams’ proposal emerged after a lengthy fight between those so-called moderate Democrats and the 90 member Congressional Progressive Caucus over a proposed budget measure, which House Democratic leadership moved to cancel a vote on Tuesday afternoon amidst rising tensions. Progressive wanted more domestic spending and less for our already bloated military. Moderates – radically – want to curb spending overall.
And for what? There’s nothing inherently dangerous about a growing deficit; vigilante bondholders are not going to come knocking on America’s door threatening our sovereignty. And a country that issues debt in its own currency like the US is never going to face the kind of sadistic punishment the Troika visited upon Greece several years back. Deficits do matter, of course. But what’s important isn’t their dollar value. It’s whether the things that public money is pouring into are actually putting the economy on a stronger footing. ...
Centrist Democrats, meanwhile, paint themselves as the fiscally responsible wing of their party out to curb waste on both sides of the aisle. Yet what’s so responsible about kneecapping the government’s ability to avert $32bn worth of infrastructure damage, $118bn from sea level rise and $141bn in costs due to heat related illness, according to the National Climate Assessment? If there were some foreign invader threatening to inflict this much damage on the US, neither conservative Democrats nor Republicans would bat an eye before throwing as many resources as possible toward fighting them off. Because the threat is posed by climate change – and these politicians’ fossil fuel executive donors – their response has ranged instead from indifference to outright denial. They may not all quibble with the scientific consensus on global warming, but they’re doing everything they can to sabotage reasonable responses to it.
Four million children develop asthma every year as a result of air pollution from cars and trucks, equivalent to 11,000 new cases a day, a landmark study has found.
Most of the new cases occur in places where pollution levels are already below the World Health Organization limit, suggesting toxic air is even more harmful than thought.
The damage to children’s health is not limited to China and India, where pollution levels are particularly high. In UK and Australian cities, the researchers blame traffic pollution for three-quarters of all new childhood asthma cases.
Canada has the third highest rate of new traffic-related asthma cases among the 194 nations analysed, while Los Angeles and New York City are in the top 10 worst cities out of the 125 assessed. Children are especially vulnerable to toxic air and exposure is also known to leave them with stunted lungs.
The research, published in the journal Lancet Planetary Health, is the first global assessment of the impact of traffic fumes on childhood asthma based on high-resolution pollution data.
Donald Trump's war on the environment will continue Wednesday as the president aims to make it easier to build pipelines—angering environmental groups.
An executive order designed to loosen regulations around pipeline construction and ensure the country continues to rely on fossil fuels for its energy needs is expected to be announced by the president during a visit to Texas Wednesday.
The order will allow Trump—and any of his successors—to be the decider on pipeline project approvals, currently the responsibility of the secretary of state due to the cross-border nature of the infrastructure.
Trump is also expected to announce an executive order streamlining the permitting process for infrastructure projects, a thorn in the side of energy giants that are frequently stymied by state resistance.
"So much for the virtues of federalism," said Washington Post columnist Catherine Rampell.
hat tip studentofearth:
The Florida Senate Thursday affirmed the right of green thumbs statewide to grow vegetable gardens in their front yards. ... Sen. Rob Bradley’s SB 82 prohibits a county or municipality from regulating vegetable gardens on residential properties, voiding any current regulations regarding the produce patches. ...
Bradley, a Fleming Island Republican, filed a similar bill that passed during last year’s session, but the clock ran out and a House version was never filed. Lucky for garden enthusiasts, Rep. Elizabeth Fetterhoff, R-DeLand, has filed the House version (HB 145), which is identical in language. Her bill has passed through two of its committee stops, and has yet to be scheduled for a third.
The vegetable garden proposal is rooted in a legal dispute about an ordinance in Miami Shores that banned the gardens from being planted in front yards. Hermine Ricketts and Tom Carroll, who ate from their vegetable garden for 17 years, sued the village. In November 2017, an appeals court upheld a ruling that the couple does not have a constitutional right to grow vegetables in their front yard. They appealed the ruling to the Florida Supreme Court, which declined to grant review.
Ricketts and Carroll faced $50 in daily fines after the village amended its ordinance in 2013. They had to dig up their garden – which can’t grow in their backyard because of a lack of sun. ...
The bill only preempts local government rules, not rules or gardening restrictions set by homeowners associations or other groups.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
The song remains the same, despite the failure to launch:
A Little Night Music
Jimmy Rushing - Good Morning Blues
Jimmy Rushing w/Count Basie - I Left My Baby
Jimmy Rushing w Dizzie Gillespie Quintet - Blues After Dark
Jimmy Rushing - I Want A LIttle Girl
Jimmy Rushing w/Count Basie - Take Me Back Baby
Dave Brubeck And Jimmy Rushing - Evenin'
Jimmy Rushing - Mr. Five by Five
Jimmy Rushing - Everyday I Have the Blues
Jimmy Rushing - Clothes Pin Blues
Jimmy Rushing and Billy Taylor - Boogie Woogie