The Evening Blues - 7-18-19
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This evening's music features New Orleans r&b singer Bobby Mitchell. Enjoy!
Bobby Mitchell - 64 Hours
“The people of the United States will do anything for Latin America, except read about it.”
-- James Barrett Reston
News and Opinion
Five of the 24 men sentenced last week by an Italian court to life in prison for their roles in a brutal and bloody U.S.-backed Cold War campaign against South American dissidents graduated from a notorious US Army school once known for teaching torture, assassination, and democracy suppression.
On July 8 judges in Rome’s Court of Appeals sentenced the former Bolivian, Chilean, Peruvian and Uruguayan government and military officials after they were found guilty of kidnapping and murdering 23 Italian nationals in the 1970s and 1980s during Operation Condor, a coordinated effort by right-wing military dictatorships in Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, Paraguay, Brazil—and, later, Peru and Ecuador—against perceived leftist threats. The campaign, which was characterized by kidnappings, torture, disappearances and murder, claimed an estimated 60,000 lives, according to human rights groups. Victims included leftists and other dissidents, clergy, intellectuals, academics, students, peasant and trade union leaders, and indigenous peoples.
The United States government—including military and intelligence agencies—supported Operation Condor with military aid, planning, and technical support as well as surveillance and torture training during the Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter and Reagan administrations. Much of this support, which the U.S. attempted to justify within the context of the global Cold War struggle against communism, was based at U.S. military installations in Panama. It was there that the US Army opened the School of the Americas in 1946, which would graduate 11 Latin American heads of state over the following decades. None of them became their country’s leader by democratic means, leading critics to dub the SOA “School of Assassins” and “School of Coups” because it produced so many of both. ...
It can now be revealed that several men sentenced to life in prison in Rome last week are also SOA graduates. According to a database of over 60,000 SOA alumni compiled from U.S. military records by School of the Americas Watch (SOAW), a Georgia-based activist group founded by Father Roy Bourgeois in 1990, five SOA trainees are among the 24 men found guilty by the Italian court. Two of them are named among SOAW’s “most notorious SOA graduates”: former Bolivian interior minister Luis Arce Gómez, who is currently serving a 30-year prison term for genocide, assassination and drug trafficking, and Luis Alfredo Maurente, a Uruguayan captain implicated in the torture and disappearance of nearly 100 people in Uruguay and Argentina. Arce Gomez completed communications, tactical officer and radio repair courses at SOA in 1958; Maurente attended SOA in 1969 and 1976, studying military intelligence. The three other SOA graduates uncovered among the 24 defendants are: Hernán Ramírez Ramírez (Chile; command course, 1970), Ernesto Avelino Ramas Pereira (Uruguay; motor officer course, 1962) and Pedro Antonio Mato Narbondo (Uruguay; unspecified, 1970).
SOA operated in Panama from 1946 until 1984, when it was relocated to Fort Benning, Georgia. In a bid to rebrand itself amid growing public outcry over graduate atrocities, SOA changed its named to the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC) in 2000, with a greater emphasis on human rights. However, the school’s alumni continue to make dubious headlines to this day, with four of the six generals behind the 2009 Honduran coup and former Mexican commandos now employed as mercenaries for international drug cartels among its more notorious recent alumni.
Radhya Al-Mutawakel is the chairperson of the Yemeni NGO Mwatana for Human Rights, which is releasing its annual report on the war in Yemen, based on more than 2,000 interviews with eyewitnesses. She spoke to FRANCE 24 about the report, which reveals new evidence of violations committed in Yemen by the Houthi rebels, the Hadi government, the Saudi- and Emirati-led coalition, and proxy forces loyal to the UAE. Our guest also urged Western countries to stop selling weapons to the coalition.
Western countries "are fuelling the war in Yemen by selling arms to the Saudis and Emiratis", Radhya Al-Mutawakel told FRANCE 24's Marc Perelman.
"How many Yemenis should be killed until France or other countries are convinced that they should stop selling weapons as a message to the Saudis and Emiratis?" she asked.
On Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed bills expressing disapproval of US arms sales to both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The bills passed 238-190, with four Republicans supporting the bills. A third vote also passed 237-190.
The House bills mirror Senate versions which were passed last month over the objection of the Trump Administration. President Trump has threatened to veto them, and Congress appears to lack the two-thirds majority needed to override such a veto.
See if you can spot the flaw in the Trump administration’s new arms control initiative:
President Trump is sending a high-level delegation to meet with Russian counterparts in Geneva this week to pursue an arms control treaty that for the first time would cap the nuclear arsenals of not just the two largest powers, but China as well.
Mr. Trump broached the idea with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia during their meeting in Osaka, Japan, last month and has also signaled his ambition for such a three-way accord to President Xi Jinping of China, administration officials said on Monday. Russia has expressed interest; China has not [bold mine-DL].
China has no interest in being part of a trilateral arms control agreement. Their nuclear arsenal is much smaller, and they would have no reason to take part in negotiations that have traditionally been between the U.S. and Russia. China also sees the administration’s decision to quit the INF Treaty as an additional reason not to negotiate with the U.S. ...
[T]he Trump administration ought to be engaging with Russia on an extension of New START, but they have made no effort to do this. The article notes the administration’s refusal to extend the treaty:
Mr. Trump’s team has also signaled that it is not interested in renewing the New Start treaty of 2010 that expires in 19 months despite Russia’s entreaties to keep it.
If Bolton gets his way, New START will die with nothing to replace it. I assume that is the real point of this bizarre proposal to include China in a new treaty. They must know that China would never agree to the idea, and so they pretend to want a trilateral treaty so that they can distract from the fact that they’re killing New START with neglect.
The Pentagon on Wednesday warned against new military action in an area of Syria where U.S. troops are deployed as Turkey appears to be massing for an incursion against American-allied Kurdish forces there.
"Unilateral action into northeastern Syria by any party, particularly as U.S. personnel may be present or in the vicinity, is of grave concern. We would find any such actions unacceptable," Pentagon spokesman Navy Cmdr. Sean Robertson says.
The statement comes amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and Turkey after the NATO member began receiving Russian S-400 surface-to-air missiles last week in defiance of months of U.S. warnings that could result in new sanctions from the administration or from Congress. ...
Turkey has previously massed forces on its southern border as a deterrent to other countries with interests in Syria. However this latest deployment appears different – and with far more perilous consequences.
"It's an act of desperation. They don't really have many other options, so they're resorting to these kinds of threats that could perhaps give them leverage," says Omar Lamrani, a senior military analyst at private geopolitical intelligence firm Stratfor, which has also tracked the Turkish movements. "But I don't think it's going to convince the U.S., especially Congress, to back away from imposing retaliatory measures."
The United States said on Wednesday that it was removing Turkey from the F-35 fighter jet program, a move that had been long threatened and expected after Ankara began accepting delivery of an advanced Russian missile defense system last week. ...
Used by NATO and other U.S. allies, the F-35 stealth fighter jet is the world’s most advanced jet fighter. Washington is concerned that deploying the S-400 with the F-35 would allow Russia to gain too much inside information of the stealth system. ...
The Pentagon had already laid out a plan to remove Turkey from the program, including halting any new training for Turkish pilots on the advanced aircraft.
Over a round of golf this past weekend, Sen. Rand Paul asked President Donald Trump’s blessing for a sensitive diplomatic mission. Paul proposed sitting down with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif to extend a fresh olive branch on the president’s behalf, according to four U.S. officials. The aim: to reduce tensions between the two countries. Trump signed off on the idea.
With Zarif in New York City this week for U.N. meetings and private sitdowns with journalists and think-tank experts, the prospect of the dovish Kentucky senator serving as the administration’s chief diplomatic emissary has rankled many administration officials, who are expressing concern that Paul’s intervention threatens to scuttle the president’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Tehran.
It is unclear whether the senator will meet with Zarif. He and his office declined multiple requests for comment. But the president’s willingness to tap Paul as the go-between with a top Iranian official is a demonstration both of his unorthodox approach to foreign affairs and his continuing desire, even as his aides threaten to squeeze Iran until it capitulates to U.S. demands, to entice the Islamic Republic’s leaders to the negotiating table.
Trump has been attempting to start negotiations with Iran for months, a campaign that has included letters to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, an attempt to use Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as an emissary to Tehran, and public comments expressing his desire to talk. Some Iranian officials have said that they are open to negotiations, but only after the administration removes sanctions. Khamenei, however, has likened talking with the U.S. to drinking “poison.”
The House has adopted a proposal from Democratic Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar that would force President Donald Trump's administration to disclose details about how it shares the FBI's watchlist of more than 1 million individuals classified as "known or suspected terrorists" with foreign countries.
Omar's amendment to the Intelligence Authorization Act was adopted Tuesday night on the House floor by a voice vote. It would require a report within 180 days detailing which foreign countries get access to the database and how such decisions are made.
Omar's office said the bill is expected to pass the House this week. It would then head to the Republican-controlled Senate.
The watchlist has been subject to multiple lawsuits challenging its constitutionality. Critics say the list is mismanaged and innocent Muslims end up on it with no recourse for clearing their names. Omar has expressed concerns that countries with poor human-rights records, such as Saudi Arabia and China, receive the list and submit names for inclusion.
"Giving the same people who violently murdered Jamal Khashoggi access to the watchlist puts lives in danger," Omar and 10 other members of Congress wrote in a letter last month to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. "We have also received credible reports that Uyghur activists have been added to the watchlist at the behest of the Chinese government. It is unacceptable for U.S. resources to contribute to the brutal repression of political dissidents abroad."
US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota) put forth a new 'pro-boycott' resolution in Congress “affirming that all Americans have the right to participate in boycotts in pursuit of civil and human rights at home and abroad, as protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution.” While the resolution does not mention the acronym BDS, it seems clear that this was a response to an anti-BDS resolution.
Omar’s resolution revealed on Wednesday, cosponsored by Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan) and Rep. John Lewis (D-Georgia), seeks to oppose “unconstitutional legislative efforts to limit the use of boycotts to further civil rights at home and abroad,” and “urges Congress, States, and civil rights leaders from all communities to endeavor to preserve the freedom of advocacy for all by opposing anti-boycott resolutions and legislation.” ...
At the end of the hearing, she told reporters that she’d be traveling to Israel and the Palestinian territories in a few weeks. “I am going in a couple of weeks and so I’ll learn more.” She did not provide any additional details regarding her travel plans.
Find out if your congressworm is among the 137 Democrats or 195 Republicans who voted affirmatively to support the rise of fascism. Roll call on the motion to table here.
Is racism an impeachable offense? A record number of Democrats seem to think so.
Ninety-five House Democrats, including several junior members of leadership and a few committee chairmen, signaled Wednesday they want to impeach President Donald Trump. They voted to allow the House to take up articles of impeachment over his bigoted attacks on four freshman Democrats and immigrants generally.
It was the first time House Democrats have taken up the issue since taking control of the chamber in January, although Rep. Al Green of Texas, the author of the measure, has brought it up twice before. The last time he forced a vote, only 66 Democrats voted to proceed with impeachment.
And like the previous times, Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and her top lieutenants refused to allow the measure to move forward. A majority of the House voted with all Republicans to squash the resolution, after GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy of California moved to set aside the legislation.
Trump fans eventually break out in "send her back!" chants directed toward Ilhan Omar, a Somali refugee who serves in Congress who Trump viciously smeared. pic.twitter.com/LX3eAEkfci
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) July 17, 2019
Il Douchey has found the formula:
Republican voters don’t seem to mind the racist tweets President Trump fired off this week. In fact, a new poll released Wednesday shows support for the president among the GOP actually rose just after his attacks on the four congresswomen of color known as “The Squad.”
The national survey from Reuters/Ipsos found Trump’s net approval among Republicans climbed by 5 percent from the previous week, up to 72 percent.
Going after four Democratic congresswomen one by one, a combative President Donald Trump turned his campaign rally Wednesday into an extended dissection of the liberal views of the women of color, deriding them for what he painted as extreme positions and suggesting they just get out. “Tonight I have a suggestion for the hate-filled extremists who are constantly trying to tear our country down,” Trump told the crowd in North Carolina, a swing state he won in 2016 and wants to claim again in 2020. “They never have anything good to say. That’s why I say, ‘Hey if you don’t like it, let ‘em leave, let ‘em leave.’”
Eager to rile up his base with the some of the same kind of rhetoric he targeted at minorities and women in 2016, Trump declared, “I think in some cases they hate our country.” ...
Taking the legislators on one at a time, Trump ticked through a laundry list of what he deemed offensive comments by each woman, mangling and misconstruing many facts along the way. Taking the legislators on one at a time, Trump ticked through a laundry list of what he deemed offensive comments by each woman, mangling and misconstruing many facts along the way. Omar came under the harshest criticism as Trump played to voters’ grievances, drawing a chant from the crowd of “Send her back! Send her back!” ...
Trump hasn’t shown signs of being rattled by the House rebuke, and called an impeachment resolution that failed in Congress earlier Wednesday “ridiculous.” The condemnation carries no legal repercussions and his latest harangues struck a chord with supporter in Greenville, whose chants of “Four more years!” and “Build that wall!” bounced off the rafters.
Donald Trump is scared. Though it has always been hard to ascertain what he knows and does not know, it appears he knows he is unpopular: he fired three of his five internal pollsters in June because of their dismal projections. The Republicans know this, too. But they also have no substantive policy agenda to present to the American people, only white rage and resentment, racism and xenophobia, all of which have culminated in the Trump administration’s spectacle of wanton cruelty along the southern border.
As the 2020 election campaign begins, Trump and the Republicans have not been coy about their strategy. They intend to foment hatred of “the other” among their predominantly white base, to weaponize false accusations of antisemitism against progressive politicians, to pour kerosene on the fires of the culture wars and fight – against women’s rights, LGBT rights, reproductive rights – with renewed vigor. Hence President Trump’s latest stream of racist invective on Twitter, this time directed at the group of four, first-year congresswomen – Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib – that some affectionately refer to as “the Squad”. ...
The members of the Squad, in stark contrast to not only the Republicans but the rest of the Democrats, have championed progressive policy proposals – from the Green New Deal to Medicare for All to student debt cancellation to abolishing Ice and the Department of Homeland Security to increasing the top marginal tax rate to 70%. These proposals are popular, and not only among liberal Democrats, but across a wide swath of the American public. A poll conducted earlier this year found that 60% of independent voters supported Ocasio-Cortez’s 70% top tax-rate proposal, as did 45% of Republicans. Polls consistently show a clear majority of Americans back Medicare for All. Even as sweeping a proposal as the Green New Deal enjoys more support than opposition among likely voters, Obama-to-Trump voters and moderates. There is an obvious desire for the kind of transformational politics that the members of the Squad have brought to Congress. ...
If there is a lesson from Trump’s most recent racist tirade, it is that between the Republicans’ xenophobic nationalism and the Squad’s multiracial social democracy, there is no longer a viable middle ground. In a show of rank pettiness and political irresponsibility, the Democratic House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, lashed out at the Squad in an interview with the New York Times, and the official House Democrats’ Twitter account, controlled by corporate Democrat Hakeem Jeffries, fired off a vicious attack on Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff. These attempts by the centrist Democratic leadership to challenge the Squad’s progressive agenda only backfired, opening the door for Trump, whose sole natural talent may be trolling, to exploit the Democrats’ intra-party divisions. And yet by Monday, the Democrats’ leadership had lined up to defend Ocasio-Cortez and the other members of the Squad.
What this made clear is the fact that it is not Pelosi or Jeffries or Schumer who is leading the opposition to Trump but the Squad: four, first-year congresswomen who have presented a coherent, comprehensive alternative not only to the odious Republicans but to the feckless moderates within their own party. That there are so few members of the Squad, and that they are so easily identifiable, reflects the sorry state of the Democrats. But the Squad has also shown the power of an unabashedly progressive politics in style as well as substance. They are popular, so are their policies. And this has everyone who opposes them – from Trump and the Republicans to Pelosi and the centrist Democrats – terrified.
Dozens Arrested as Over 1,000 Jewish Activists and Allies Shut Down Entrances to ICE Headquarters Demanding Closure of Trump Detention Camps
Over a thousand progressive Jewish activists and allies on Tuesday shut down the entrances to ICE headquarters in Washington, D.C. to protest President Donald Trump's treatment of migrants and demand the closure of the administration's detention camps.
As The Daily Beast reported, ICE employees "were forced to walk around the protesters, looking for ways to enter the building, as people outside caught glimpses of workers inside checking the doors."
"We will not allow them to get to their destructive place of work," said one activist who attended the demonstration, which was organized by Jewish advocacy group Never Again Action and immigrant rights campaigners with Movimiento Cosecha.
Protesters locked arms in the middle of the street leading to ICE headquarters and faced off with city police. Dozens of demonstrators were reportedly arrested during the action, which lasted around five hours.
"It's not just symbolic—we're actually shutting down ICE," one organizer told Buzzfeed.
"More than a thousand Jews, immigrants, and allies shut down DHS/ICE headquarters for hours today," wrote historian Angus Johnston. "This is a more significant development in the history of this administration than the House censure resolution."
Amnesty International USA has called for a detention center for migrant children in Florida to be closed down and for congressional public hearings to be held into conditions at the facility, which lies near Miami and was recently visited by a slew of 2020 Democratic candidates.
The human rights group said in a new report that the detentions were “cruel and unlawful” and “the disastrous consequences of US policies toward children seeking protection”.
“The temporary emergency facility at Homestead is far from meeting basic standards under US and international law for providing and safe and healthy environment for children,” Amnesty US’s executive director, Margaret Huang, told the Guardian. ...
Based on interviews with children formerly detained at Homestead, along with current facility staff members, the Amnesty study titled No Home For Children describes the fear and confusion of children at being held indefinitely and with inadequate levels of care.
“Homestead is an industrial line for processing mass numbers of children, instead of focusing on their best interests,” said Denise Bell, researcher for refugee and migrant rights, who described the detention of child migrants as “a stain on the US human rights record”.
Amnesty said it had gained access to Homestead twice, in April, when it found over 2,100 children, and again in July, when it held just under 2,000 children. At the height of its operation, Homestead’s numbers soared to 2,500.
Nestled among the red-rock cliffs of Zion national park and the Grand Canyon, California condor chicks No 1,000 and 1,001 blinked into this world. Their birth signalled success for a decades-long program to bring North America’s largest bird back from the brink of extinction. As a result of hunting, diminishing food and dwindling territory, the number of birds in the wild numbered just 22 in the early 1980s. Lead poisoning was also a major killer, caused by inadvertently ingesting bullets that hunters left inside dead animals that the enormous birds, which have a wingspan of 9.5ft and weigh up to 25lb, scavenged for food.
Facing imminent extinction, the few remaining wild birds were placed into a captive breeding program in 1987 and slowly released back into the wild starting in the early 1990s. Biologists estimate that the 1,000th and 1,001st chicks hatched in May this year, but they were only able to confirm their existence over the past several days, because the raptors build their nests inside caves carved into steep, sometimes inaccessible cliffs. “You know, condors can be secretive,” said Janice Stroud-Settles, a wildlife biologist at Zion National Park in Utah. ...
The 1,000th hatchling’s parents were both born in captivity, and the mother has already lost two chicks. Her firstborn probably died – as many baby condors do – in an initial, unsuccessful attempt to fledge (AKA fly) the nest, park officials say. She found herself unable to properly care for her second chick after her mate died of lead poisoning.
“Now that she’s re-coupled with a new mate, we’re hoping this chick will successfully fledge once it’s old enough to fly – sometime in the fall,” Stroud-Settles said, noting that the nesting site she chose has a large “porch” area where the growing chick can practice flapping before taking its perilous first flight. ...
The 1,001st chick, which was also born to parents bred in captivity, lives in a nest near the north rim of the Grand Canyon. And researchers are currently searching for up to four more chicks that may have hatched since, said Tim Hauck, who manages the condor program at The Peregrine Fund, a non-profit focused on protecting birds of prey.
Trump's Drilling Leases on Public Lands Could Release 4.7B Metric Tons of Carbon—More Than All 28 EU Countries Emit in a Year
A national conservation group revealed Wednesday that President Donald Trump's drilling leases on public lands could lead to the release of more carbon emissions than the European Union contributes in an entire year. The Wilderness Society estimates that U.S. companies will release at least 854 million and as much as 4.7 billion metric tons of carbon if it develops leases in public waters and lands.
"Taking into account the potency of shorter-lived climate pollutants like methane, lifecycle emissions resulting from the development of these leases could be as high as 5.2 billion metric tons," the group's new report reads.
The 28 countries in the EU released four billion metric tons in one year, according to the most recent available data.
Regardless of exactly how many leases are put to use by oil and gas companies, the Wilderness Society reports, "These leasing decisions have significant and long-term ramifications for our climate and our ability to stave off the worst impacts of global warming." Since taking office in 2017, Trump has offered up 378 million acres of public land to oil and gas companies and has sought to overturn the Obama administration's ban on coal leases.
Hmmm, if New York sinks beneath the waves, so does Wall Street who funds climate change and the impending extinction. I'd like to modestly propose that some scientist consider the viability of setting all Wall Street movers and shakers out on ice floes immediately to stop sea level rise.
Spraying trillions of tons of snow over west Antarctica could halt the ice sheet’s collapse and save coastal cities across the world from sea level rise, according to a new study.
The colossal geoengineering project would need energy from at least 12,000 wind turbines to power giant seawater pumps and snow cannons, and would destroy a unique natural reserve. The scientists are not advocating for such a project, but said its apparent “absurdity” reflects the extraordinary scale of threat from rising sea level.
Ending the burning of fossil fuels remains the key to tackling the climate crisis and sea level rise, the researchers said. But the carbon emissions pumped into the atmosphere so far may already have doomed the west Antarctic ice sheet.
A series of earlier studies concluded the accelerating loss of ice from the region could not be stopped by emissions cuts any more, meaning the oceans will rise by three metres in the coming centuries. This would leave major cities across the world, from New York to Kolkata to Shanghai, below sea level.
“As scientists we feel it is our duty to inform society about every potential option to counter the problems ahead,” said Prof Anders Levermann, at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, who led the research. “As unbelievable as [the proposal] might seem, in order to prevent an unprecedented risk, humankind might have to make an unprecedented effort.”
“The effort needed would be huge, like an Antarctic moon landing,” he said, though the cost would be less than abandoning even one city like New York. “It is up to society to make this choice – it can’t shy away from making decisions.”
Unsatisfied with destroying just one planet, capitalists set their sights on the rest of the neighborhood:
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Bobby Mitchell - I'm Gonna Be A Wheel Someday
Bobby Mitchell - Don't Mess With My Woman
Bobby Mitchell - You've Got The Nerve
Bobby Mitchell - Well I Done Got Over It
Bobby Mitchell - I Would Like To Know
Bobby Mitchell - Sister Lucy
Bobby Mitchell - You’re Doing Me Wrong
Bobby Mitchell - Try Rock 'n' Roll
Bobby Mitchell - Rack Em Back
Bobby Mitchell - Goin' Round In Circles
Bobby Mitchell - I Don't Want To Be A Wheel No More