The Evening Blues - 5-21-19
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features blues guitarist and singer Fenton Robinson. Enjoy!
Fenton Robinson - I Believe
“I therefore hate the corrupt, slaveholding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of the land... I look upon it as the climax of all misnomers, the boldest of all frauds, and the grossest of all libels. Never was there a clearer case of 'stealing the livery of the court of heaven to serve the devil in.' I am filled with unutterable loathing when I contemplate the religious pomp and show, together with the horrible inconsistencies, which every where surround me. We have men-stealers for ministers, women-whippers for missionaries, and cradle-plunderers for church members. The man who wields the blood-clotted cowskin during the week fills the pulpit on Sunday, and claims to be a minister of the meek and lowly Jesus. . . . The slave auctioneer’s bell and the church-going bell chime in with each other, and the bitter cries of the heart-broken slave are drowned in the religious shouts of his pious master. Revivals of religion and revivals in the slave-trade go hand in hand together. The slave prison and the church stand near each other. The clanking of fetters and the rattling of chains in the prison, and the pious psalm and solemn prayer in the church, may be heard at the same time. The dealers in the bodies of men erect their stand in the presence of the pulpit, and they mutually help each other. The dealer gives his blood-stained gold to support the pulpit, and the pulpit, in return, covers his infernal business with the garb of Christianity. Here we have religion and robbery the allies of each other—devils dressed in angels’ robes, and hell presenting the semblance of paradise.”
-- Frederick Douglass
News and Opinion
Worth a full read:
On Wednesday, the day it was announced that the U.S. birthrate fell for the fourth straight year, signaling the lowest number of births in 32 years, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed into law the most draconian anti-abortion law in the country. That the two developments came at the same time could not have been more revelatory. The ruling elites are acutely aware that the steadily declining American birthrate is the result of a de facto “birth strike” by women who, unable to afford adequate health insurance and exorbitant medical bills and denied access to paid parental leave, child care and job protection, find it financially punitive to have children. Not since 1971 have births in the United States been at replacement levels, considered to be 2,100 births per 1,000 women over their lifetimes, a ratio needed for a generation to replace itself. Current births number 1,728 per 1,000 women, a decline of 2% from 2017. Without a steady infusion of immigrants, the U.S. population would be plummeting.
“The effort to block birth control and abortion is not about religion nor about politicians pandering to a right-wing base, nor is it a result of prudery, nor is it to punish women for having sex,” Jenny Brown writes in her book “Birth Strike: Hidden Fight Over Women’s Work.” “It is about the labor of bearing and rearing children: who will do it and who will pay for it.” ...
As long as wages are kept artificially low (nearly four in 10 middle-aged Americans have no emergency savings, and a third have less than $25,000 invested for retirement), as long as pensions are denied, children become, as in the developing world, the only form of retirement insurance. Policymakers assume that these assaults, coupled with the privatization and destruction of Social Security, will force women to up the birthrate. Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court makes likely the overturning of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion. Indeed, the Alabama law, which makes no exception for victims of rape or incest, is designed to be legally challenged and brought before the U.S. Supreme Court. ...
Ignore the religious rhetoric and moral posturing about abortion. This debate is not about the sanctity of life. It is about corporate capitalists who desperately need more bodies and intend to coerce women to produce them.
Naming and shaming the corporate fascists:
Journalist Judd Legum, the founder and former editor-in-chief of ThinkProgress, revealed Monday at his new subscription service outlet Popular Info that corporate donations to state legislators instrumental in pushing abortion bans in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio, and Missouri are in contrast to the public image of those companies. ...
Legum took aim at six specific companies: AT&T, Walmart, pharmaceutical giants Pfizer and Eli Lilly, Coca-Cola, and insurance corporation Aetna. Each corporation proudly promotes inclusion, equality, and concern for the health of women in company statements.
"In their corporate literature, these companies present themselves as champions of women and gender equality," wrote Legum. "But they have collectively donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to politicians seeking to roll back reproductive rights."
Of the six companies, AT&T donated by far the most—$196,600, about three times as much as the next highest donor, Eli Lilly, at $66,250.
The new reporting follows a post from Legum on May 15 concentrated on Alabama and featuring companies like Exxon, Caterpillar, Boeing, State Farm, and others. The article also featured five of the six companies from Monday's report, save Aetna.
After being confronted in public for doing evil, the "Don't Be Evil" company makes a new policy.
Google changed its advertising policy this week, after facing scrutiny for providing tens of thousands of dollars in free advertising to an anti-abortion group that runs misleading ads designed to deter women from terminating their pregnancies.
Starting in June, advertisers running ads “using keywords related to getting an abortion” will first have to distinguish themselves as an organization that “either provides abortions or does not provide abortions”, according to the new policy update.
The advertisers must get certified by submitting an application that requires basic information about the organization. “Depending on how you’re certified, Google will automatically generate one of the following in-ad disclosures for your abortion product or service ads: ‘Provides abortions’ or ‘Does not provide abortions’,” the new policy reads.
Despite Anti-American 'Baiting' by NYT, Sanders Makes 'No Apologies' for Opposing Reagan-Backed Death Squads
In response to what one observer described as "anti-American baiting" by a New York Times reporter over the weekend, Sen. Bernie Sanders refused to shy away from his record of opposition to Reagan-backed death squads and coup plotters in Nicaragua throughout the 1980s.
Reagan backed a vicious anti-Sandinista war that would leave ~60,000 dead. The CIA helped contras lay underwater mines in Nicaraguan ports. But Sanders is the rude one for objecting to "anti-American" baiting? It is not right-wing or "like Trump" to object to NYT's pro-war bias. https://t.co/eljEGCi6WY
— Sarah Lazare (@sarahlazare) May 19, 2019
During an interview published in the print edition of the Times on Sunday, journalist Sydney Ember repeatedly asked Sanders about supposed anti-American chants that rang out during a rally he attended in Managua in 1985, when the Reagan administration was funneling arms and money to the right-wing Contras in support of their brutal and deadly effort to topple the Sandinista government of Nicaragua.
"The United States at that time—I don't know how much you know about this—was actively supporting the Contras to overthrow the government," Sanders told Ember, who co-authored a Times story last week detailing Sanders's foreign policy positions during his tenure as mayor of Burlington, Vermont. "Of course there was anti-American sentiment there," Sanders said. "This was a war being funded by the United States against the people of Nicaragua. People were being killed in that war."
When Ember continued the same line of questioning, asking Sanders whether he "would have stayed at the rally" had he heard the "anti-American" chants from the crowd, Sanders responded, "I think Sydney, with all due respect, you don't understand a word that I'm saying."
"I strongly oppose U.S. policy, which overthrows governments, especially democratically elected governments, around the world," said Sanders. "So this issue is not so much Nicaragua or the government of Nicaragua. The issue was, should the United States continue a policy of overthrowing governments in Latin America and Central America? I believed then that it was wrong, and I believe today it is wrong. That's why I do not believe the United States should overthrow the government of Venezuela."
This is supposedly the “objective Journalist with hurt feelings. pic.twitter.com/KhKaPUxL1J
— Mr. Tatersalad (@MTatersalad) May 20, 2019
The United States for now has ruled out holding any negotiations with Nicolás Maduro and instead is focused on how to orchestrate a “dignified exit” for the Venezuelan leader after an opposition uprising and a series of sanctions failed to oust him from power.
“We have been very clear that negotiations with Maduro are not possible,” a senior State Department official told the Miami Herald.
However, the official said the United States continues to discuss how to give the Venezuelan leader a way out that could lead to a political transition. The United States and more than 50 other countries do not consider Maduro the legitimate president of Venezuela, but recognize the head of the National Assembly, Juan Guaidó, as Venezuelan interim president.
“The word negotiation is not one that we really use,” the official said. “The best we can offer is what we call off-ramps, which are different ways in which we can facilitate a dignified exit to Maduro. We are having those conversations.”
At the same time, the Venezuelan opposition has formally requested U.S. military support.
Two former CIA contractors who designed the harsh interrogation program used after the Sept. 11 attacks are being summoned to testify before the military tribunal at the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen were among a dozen approved witnesses listed in a letter sent Monday by prosecutors to defense lawyers for five men charged in the 2001 attacks.
Defense lawyers in the long-running Sept. 11 military tribunal want to question Mitchell and Jessen as part of an effort to exclude statements the defendants made to the FBI at Guantanamo after being subjected to brutal treatment in clandestine CIA detention facilities. The defense lawyers are also seeking to compel testimony from dozens of current and former CIA officers who were involved with what the government called the "enhanced" interrogation program.
Mitchell and Jessen gave depositions in a civil lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of three former U.S. prisoners, including one who died in custody. That case was settled for undisclosed terms in August 2017 and the two former contractors did not testify in court. "This will be the first time Dr. Mitchell and Dr. Jessen will have to testify in a criminal proceeding about the torture program they implemented," said James Connell, a lawyer for Ammar al Baluchi, one of the five Guantanamo prisoners facing trial by military commission for their alleged roles in the attack.
The Iranian foreign minister, Javad Zarif, has hit back at Donald Trump’s “genocidal taunts” after a strongly worded warning from Trump that Tehran should not think of attacking the US.
Goaded by #B_Team, @realdonaldTrump hopes to achieve what Alexander, Genghis & other aggressors failed to do. Iranians have stood tall for millennia while aggressors all gone. #EconomicTerrorism & genocidal taunts won't "end Iran". #NeverThreatenAnIranian. Try respect—it works!
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) May 20, 2019
Iranian president Hassan Rouhani said late on Monday he favoured talks and diplomacy but not under current conditions, according to state news agency IRNA. “Today’s situation is not suitable for talks and our choice is resistance only,” Rouhani was quoted as saying.
Trump said on Monday provocations by Iran – which he called the “No. 1 provocateur of terror.” – would be met with “great force,” but that he was also willing to negotiate.
There is an open debate in Tehran over whether Trump is seriously threatening war with Iran or instead using a form of psychological warfare to persuade the Iranians to renegotiate the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. On Monday afternoon he tweeted less alarmingly, criticising reports the US was trying to set up talks and adding: “Iran will call us if and when they are ever ready. In the meantime, their economy continues to collapse – very sad for the Iranian people!”
President Donald Trump Monday appeared to play down the immediate threat posed by Iran to the United States, while saying he is ready to talk if Tehran takes the first step.
Trump's latest comments appeared aimed at dialing back fears that his administration is pushing for war. "We have no indication that anything's happened or will happen," he told reporters at the White House when asked about the Iranian threat to US interests, adding: "We have no indication that they will."
Trump repeated earlier threats that Iran would face "great force" if it took aim at the United States. However, he said he would welcome talks. "If they call we will certainly negotiate, but that is going to be up to them," he said. "I only want them to call if they are ready."
Trump has blown hot and cold over Iran, leading many in Washington to fear he is rushing to conflict, but then indicating that he has no desire to embroil the United States in another distant war.
Meanwhile hundreds of Property-of-the-War-Machine Congressworms want to keep the U.S. at war with Syria, demonstrating that virtually all of these war-mongering assholes need to go.
Hundreds of members of the U.S. Congress signed a letter to President Donald Trump on Monday arguing that the United States should remain engaged with the conflict in Syria, saying they were “deeply concerned” about extremist groups in the country.
“As some of our closest allies in the region are being threatened, American leadership and support are as crucial as ever,” said the letter, signed by nearly 400 of the 535 members of the House of Representatives and Senate. ...
The lead signers of the letter were the Democratic chairman and ranking Republican of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, Representatives Eliot Engel and Mike McCaul, and the Republican chairman and ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senators Jim Risch and Bob Menendez.
A Palestinian boy killed by Israeli occupation forces during protests in March was fatally injured by an explosive grenade, an investigation by the human rights group Al-Haq has found. Adham Nidal Amara, 17, was directly injured in his face, killing him, as he took part in the rallies marking the one-year anniversary of the Great March of Return protests east of Gaza City on 30 March. ...
The injuries to Amara’s face, destroying his lower jaw, had not been seen before, even during a year of protests in which Israeli forces had inflicted what doctors said were typical of war wounds. ...
The “severity of the deep injury which completely disfigured [Amara’s] jaw” made it difficult for the pathologist who performed an autopsy on the boy to determine what caused it, according to Al-Haq. ... When Amara’s body was washed for burial, his uncle “documented that a solid light-green object had been found inside [Amara’s] mouth,” according to Al-Haq.
The rights group stated that the bullet “is consistent with a 40 mm grenade cartridge, which may be launched from a direct-fire weapon.” Al-Haq added that the ammunition may be a type of explosive grenade prohibited under international law. The Israeli military’s use of such weaponry “may amount to war crimes,” the group stated.
Tensions between China and the U.S. ratcheted up several notches over the weekend as Washington sent a warship into the disputed waters of the South China Sea. On Sunday, a U.S. warship sailed into waters claimed by China in the hotly disputed South China Sea, with the U.S. Navy confirming that one of its vessels sailed close to the Scarborough Shoal, as part of what it describes as “freedom of navigation” exercises. ...
The exercise in the South China Sea was carried out against the backdrop of tit-for-tat tariffs, as well as the Trump administration’s efforts to undermine China’s most prominent global technology company.
Google announced it would no longer give Huawei full access to its Android operating system, a move that will cripple Huawei’s smartphone business. The ban will mean Huawei, the world’s second biggest vendor of smartphones, will no longer be able to offer its smartphone users access to Google’s core services like, Google Maps, YouTube, and the Google app store.
Google said it had no choice but to bar Huawei from its system after the Trump administration announced last week that it will blacklist the Chinese company.
U.S. chipmakers like Intel, Broadcom, and Qualcomm, which provide components to Huawei, have also decided to cut the company off, according to sources speaking to Bloomberg. The effect will be to stifle Huawei’s ability to make both its smartphones and its networking equipment.
The more you know about Facebook, the more you'll hate this predatory corporation. Worth a full read:
Among the mega-corporations that surveil you, your cellphone carrier has always been one of the keenest monitors, in constant contact with the one small device you keep on you at almost every moment. A confidential Facebook document reviewed by The Intercept shows that the social network courts carriers, along with phone makers — some 100 different companies in 50 countries — by offering the use of even more surveillance data, pulled straight from your smartphone by Facebook itself.
Offered to select Facebook partners, the data includes not just technical information about Facebook members’ devices and use of Wi-Fi and cellular networks, but also their past locations, interests, and even their social groups. This data is sourced not just from the company’s main iOS and Android apps, but from Instagram and Messenger as well. The data has been used by Facebook partners to assess their standing against competitors, including customers lost to and won from them, but also for more controversial uses like racially targeted ads.
Some experts are particularly alarmed that Facebook has marketed the use of the information — and appears to have helped directly facilitate its use, along with other Facebook data — for the purpose of screening customers on the basis of likely creditworthiness. Such use could potentially run afoul of federal law, which tightly governs credit assessments. Facebook said it does not provide creditworthiness services and that the data it provides to cellphone carriers and makers does not go beyond what it was already collecting for other uses.
The expected demise of Theresa May’s Brexit plan has sparked open feuding over what comes next, with the chancellor, Philip Hammond, arguing that proponents of a no-deal Brexit are betraying the referendum result. The cabinet will discuss on Tuesday the final details of what Downing Street calls a “new and improved deal” to be presented to the House of Commons, expected to include reassurances on areas including the Irish backstop, workers’ rights and environmental protections.
In an indication of the turmoil gripping the party, it emerged on Monday night that the former deputy prime minister Michael Heseltine has had the whip suspended after saying he would vote Liberal Democrat in Thursday’s European election.
With Conservative MPs near unanimous in saying May will lose the vote on her deal in the week starting 3 June, and Labour not minded to come to her rescue, attention is shifting to what happens when she leaves No 10, as she has promised to do soon afterwards. Boris Johnson is the current clear favourite to succeed May but he will face intense opposition, especially if he opts to pursue a no-deal departure should negotiations with the EU on a revised Brexit plan founder.
Hammond is due to castigate proponents of leaving the EU with no deal in his most scathing terms yet when he speaks on Tuesday evening to the annual dinner of the CBI, which also vehemently opposes no deal.
Detained, Abused & Denied Medical Care: How Trump Immigration Policies Led to Child Deaths at Border
A 16-year-old Guatemalan boy died in U.S. government custody Monday in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. He was the third Guatemalan migrant child to die in immigration custody in the past week, and the fifth to die in U.S. immigration custody since December, according to NBC News.
A 10-year-old girl died on the Mexican government’s watch Tuesday when she was being treated for a sore throat, according to the Washington Post. And a 2 ½-year-old boy died the same day after he spent several weeks in an El Paso, Texas, hospital. The toddler was detained on April 3 with his mother, who told Border Patrol agents her son was ill. In both instances, the cause of death has not been released.
The 16-year-old, who was not named, was arrested for illegal entry in the U.S. on May 13 near Hidalgo, Texas. He was sent to the Weslaco Border Patrol Station on Sunday and was due to be placed with the Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement, which handles migrant children. He was found unresponsive Monday morning, and his cause of death is not yet known.
This article contains a devastating critique of Rahmbo's record as Mayor of Chicago and explains why he should never be allowed to hold a position of public trust again. Of course now he wants to be a teevee pundit. As the blurb about the article says, "Rahm Emanuel wants to become a pundit. His track record of being wrong on everything makes him perfectly qualified for cable news."
The Definitive Guide for Cable Hosts, Bookers, and Editors to the Fraud and Failure that was Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel leaves office Monday after two terms, and America might begin seeing a lot more of him after that. He’s already been shopping around for a cable news gig, meeting with executives at CNN and MSNBC, and is represented by his brother Ari’s talent agency. He’s been making the rounds of cable shows, dispensing advice about how Democrats need to focus on winning over Donald Trump’s base. He’s been taking up regular space in The Atlantic, Washington’s resting spot for chin-stroking thoughtfulness.
He’s even advised party leaders to “drive what I call a triangulation“ — using the term for the discredited strategy under which the Clinton administration (and a younger Rahm Emanuel) pursued punitive welfare reform and mandatory minimum sentences in order to win over Republican voters. He also famously advised grassroots party activists to “take a chill pill” following Trump’s election, while Emanuel unsuccessfully tried to find common ground with the new administration on infrastructure spending and on limiting police oversight in Chicago.
Emanuel appears to be “developing a new side gig: warning Democrats about the dangers of 21st Century progressivism,” criticizing newly-elected U.S. Reps. Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and “hoping there’s a demand for one last defender of the neoliberalism that defined his career — a voice to warn his party against the perils of socialism,” according to Chicago Magazine. This, despite the fact that six socialists were elected to the City Council in Chicago’s recent election.
Emanuel has a set of talking points to claim a variety of accomplishments for his mayoralty, and he’s even writing a book on “why mayors rule the world” — though one local pundit says the book “sounds more like a revisionist memoir about an egomaniac’s eight years in office building his personal brand and the fancy part of town while letting down struggling Chicagoans.”
President Trump has ordered former White House counsel Don McGahn to ignore a subpoena to appear before Congress on Tuesday.
The move fuels an intensifying dispute between the Trump administration and House Democrats over access to witnesses and documents, as Trump plows forward with a strategy to deny all congressional subpoenas.
The Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel sent a 15-page letter to the White House concluding that Congress could not force McGahn to testify, and Trump has ordered McGahn not to make an appearance, the White House said on Monday.
“Congress may not constitutionally compel the President’s senior advisers to testify about their official duties,” the DOJ letter reads. “This testimonial immunity is rooted in the constitutional separation of powers and derives from the President’s independence from Congress.”
Pushing Pro-Coal Proposal, Trump's EPA to Downplay Plan's Danger Using Scientifically-Unproven Method
The New York Times reported Monday that as the White House prepares to replace the Obama-era Clean Power Plan with the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) plan, the Trump administration will bolster its case for the regulatory rollback by effectively rescinding the EPA's own estimate that it could lead to 1,400 premature deaths per year.
That estimate was made using a peer-reviewed methodology under which the existence of fine particles of chemicals—also known as particulate matter—in the air were found to be dangerous even if they were below the level considered to be toxic. Under the EPA's new plan, only particulate matter which reaches that level will be considered a public health risk which could lead to premature deaths.
As Lisa Friedman reported in the Times, "The new methodology would assume there is little or no health benefit to making the air any cleaner than what the law requires," allowing the EPA to estimate that the continued operation of coal plants under the ACE plan would not lead to more deaths from respiratory illnesses, heart disease, and other conditions linked to air pollution.
Climate activists in Australia called for escalated pressure after the surprise re-election of conservative Prime Minister Scott Morrison over the weekend. ...
Calling the results "horrifying," NYU professor Kate Crawford said on Twitter: "We're on the brink of climate catastrophe. Australia is one of the top carbon emitters per capita in the world. The new leader has no climate change policy, and walked into parliament waving a chunk of coal. Not even kidding."
As Reuters reported,
Battered by extended droughts, damaging floods, and more bushfires, Australian voters had been expected to hand a mandate to the Labor party to pursue its ambitious targets for renewable energy and carbon emissions cuts.
Instead, they rejected the opposition's plans for tax reform and climate action, re-electing a Liberal-led center-right coalition headed by Morrison, a devout Pentecostal churchgoer who thanked fellow worshippers for his win at a Sydney church early on Sunday.
"A coalition of a small number of bad actors now threaten the survivability of our species," Michael Mann, atmospheric science professor and director of the Penn State Earth System Science Center, told ThinkProgress. He pointed to "the fossil fueled Murdoch media empire, which saturated the country with dishonest right-wing campaign propaganda."
Morrison's win drew praise from extractive industries, perhaps unsurprisingly due to his status as a "coal-cuddler."
Earthworms are not doing very well at the moment. This year, a scientific study found that 42% of fields surveyed by farmers were seriously deficient in earthworms; in some fields they were missing altogether. Particularly hard-hit were deep-burrowing worms, which are valuable in helping soil collect and store rainwater, but were absent from 16% of fields in the study.
The cause of these earthworm declines? The usual. An overstretched environment, creaking at its seams from the demands of modern Homo sapiens. But you may not have heard about the worrying impact on earthworms because … well, this is basically an organism with a mouth and an anus and that’s about it.
I would argue that, even with this anatomical simplicity, worms have more charm and charisma than many politicians or Instagroan influencers – and more to offer us. If the needs of earthworms are met, the land becomes, as if by magic, more fertile. Though modern farming practices are contributing to worms’ decline, farmers are, encouragingly, coming to understand that worms are allies, not enemies.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Fenton Robinson – Mississippi Steamboat
Fenton Robinson – Crazy Crazy Lovin
Fenton Robinson – Find A-Way
Fenton Robinson - As the Years Go Passing By
Fenton Robinson – Smokestack Lightning
Fenton Robinson – You've Got To Pass This Way Again
Fenton Robinson - Tennessee Woman
Fenton Robinson – Say You're Leavin'
Fenton Robinson – The Getaway
Fenton Robinson – Moaning for My Baby
Fenton Robinson – She's a Wriggler
Fenton Robinson – Leave You In The Arms Of Your Other Man
Eddie Taylor & Fenton Robinson at NBBO Blues Festival NL. 1979