The Evening Blues - 8-21-19
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features Chicago blues musician Maurice John Vaughn. Enjoy!
Maurice John Vaughn - I Don't Care
"The first atrocity, the first war crime committed in any war of aggression by the aggressors is against the truth."
-- Michael Parenti
News and Opinion
Worth a full read, here's a taste:
Forget uranium enrichment: Has Iran mastered time travel?
Last month, the Trump White House put out a typically Orwellian statement, chock-filled with lies, distortions, and half-truths about Iran and the 2015 nuclear deal. One line in particular stood out from the rest: “There is little doubt that even before the deal’s existence, Iran was violating its terms.”
strange wording in this new White House statement on Iran. "There is little doubt that even before the deal’s existence, Iran was violating its terms." pic.twitter.com/6b8Wizod2p
— John Hudson (@John_Hudson) July 1, 2019
Huh? The Iranians were violating an agreement — before it even existed?
Is it any surprise that even the foreign minister of Iran took to Twitter to join the online ridiculing of the White House?
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) July 2, 2019
So it is incumbent upon journalists to do in 2019 what we collectively did not do in 2003: Check the facts, challenge the lies, debunk the myths.
China and Russia have accused the United States of stoking a new arms race by testing a cruise missile, just weeks after Washington withdrew from a cold-war era missile control treaty that would have barred the test launch. The ground-launched missile, a conventionally-configured version of the nuclear-capable Tomahawk cruise missile, hit its target after over 500 kilometres of flight during Monday’s test, the Pentagon said in a statement.
Ground-launched versions of the missile had been removed from service decades ago, after the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty was signed by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987. The treaty’s ban on missiles with ranges between 500km and 5,500km aimed to reduce the ability of both countries to launch a nuclear strike at short notice.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov condemned the latest US missile launch, but said Moscow was not looking to start a new arms race, and would not deploy any new missiles unless the US did first. “All this elicits regret, the United States has obviously taken the course of escalating military tensions. We will not succumb to provocations,” the TASS news agency quoted him saying. “We won’t allow ourselves to be pulled into a costly arms race.”
Beijing also attacked the US for provocative behaviour, warning that the missile test could lead to “another round of the arms race”, and have a “serious negative impact” on international and regional security.
Japan’s government will reportedly state that North Korea is capable of miniaturising nuclear warheads in a forthcoming defence report, it has emerged.
Tokyo will upgrade its estimate of the regime’s nuclear capability, having said last year only that the technical feat was a possibility, the conservative Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper said on Wednesday, without citing sources. ...
North Korea has conducted six rounds of short-range missile launches in recent weeks, in an apparent attempt to pressure Washington into making concessions in any future talks over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons programme.
North Korea’s state KCNA news agency said the most recent launch, on Friday last week, was in protest at joint US-South Korea defence drills that the regime claims are a rehearsal for an invasion. The latest drills, named called 19-2 Dong Maeng, began on 5 August and ended on Tuesday.
KCNA said Kim had overseen the launch of the unspecified “new weapon” and expressed “great satisfaction” over his military’s “mysterious and amazing success rates” in recent testing activity. “It is our party’s goal … to possess invincible military capabilities no one dare provoke, and to keep bolstering them,” it quoted Kim as saying.
Greenland, and more specifically its purchase by the US, is being actively discussed in Donald Trump’s Oval Office. But what exactly is it that makes one of the world’s most desolate places such an attractive proposition? For the president, it is the real estate deal of a lifetime, one that would secure a land mass a quarter the size of the US and cement his place in US history alongside President Andrew Johnson, who bought Alaska from Russia in 1867, and Thomas Jefferson, who secured Louisiana from the French in 1803.
To Trump’s advisers, the planned multibillion-dollar takeover challenges China’s dominance of the world’s industrial metals and helps to block Russia’s renewed military ambitions. ...
Greenland harbours some of the largest deposits of rare-earth metals, including neodymium, praseodymium, dysprosium and terbium, along with uranium and the byproducts of zinc. US corporations once thought of China as a benign supplier of rare-earth metals for mobile phones, computers and more recently electric cars. And the US government was relaxed when Chinese companies began hoovering up mines across central and southern Africa to secure an even greater dominance of the global market.
The arrival of Xi Jinping as China’s leader, and his more aggressive foreign policy stance, has spooked many US policymakers. Among Trump’s advisers, the need for greater economic independence has raced up the agenda. A target for the US is Greenland Minerals, an Australian company that has generated a good deal of excitement since it started operating on Greenland’s south-west peninsula in 2007 to develop the Kvanefjeld mine, which is home to many rare-earth metals.
More than 100m tonnes of ore are believed to be sitting below the surface and the project is expected to become one of the largest global producers outside China.
Donald Trump has cancelled his trip to Denmark and postponed his meeting with the Danish prime minister after she said that Greenland was not for sale. Speaking on Sunday during a trip to Greenland, Mette Frederiksen called purchasing the island, a semi-autonomous Danish territory, “an absurd discussion”. ...
By Tuesday night, the meeting was officially off. “At this time, the visit to Denmark is canceled,” Judd Deere, a White House spokesman, told the New York Times. The change of heart comes after Trump’s proposal to buy Greenland was widely written off as unfeasible and unwelcome. Local residents have called the idea “crazy” and “patronizing”.
I promise not to do this to Greenland! pic.twitter.com/03DdyVU6HA
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 20, 2019
Frederiksen, who has been visiting the island to meet its premier, Kim Kielsen, told reporters on Sunday that Greenland could not be sold because it did not belong to Denmark. “Greenland is not Danish. Greenland is Greenlandic. I persistently hope that this is not something that is seriously meant,” she said.
The idea has come up before: the US offered Denmark $100m to buy Greenland in 1946 after the idea of a land swap with Alaska was rejected. The US later came to an agreement to maintain an airbase in northern Greenland, Thule air force base, that was originally designed as a refueling base for long-range bombers.
The Trump administration has approved the sale of 66 F-16 fighters to Taiwan in a move expected to anger Beijing. Taiwan will get the latest version of the Lockheed Martin-built fighter, the F-16C/D Block 70, in the $8bn deal, the state department said.
Mike Pompeo, secretary of state, said in a statement that president Donald Trump had green-lighted the proposed sale after Congress was notified last week.
The F-16s “are deeply consistent with the arrangements, the historical relationship between the United States and China”, Pompeo said. “Our actions are consistent with past US policy. We are simply following through on the commitments we’ve made to all of the parties.”
Taiwan’s plan to upgrade its air defences comes amid increasing Chinese military incursions into its air space. Beijing regards Taiwan as a part of China awaiting reunification, but the island is self-ruled and is a close ally of the United States. ...
On Monday, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson, Geng Shuang, said US arms sales to Taiwan “severely violate” agreements between Washington and Beijing and “constitute severe interference in China’s internal affairs.”
Pakistan PM Imran Khan Calls on World to Pay Attention to India's "Fascist, Racist Hindu Supremacist Ideology and Leadership"
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday likened the Indian government to that of Nazi Germany in comments that represented the latest escalation in tensions between the two rivals that have been sent into overdrive over the disputed territory of Kashmir since India invaded the region in early August.
"India has been captured, as Germany had been captured by Nazis, by a fascist, racist Hindu Supremacist ideology and leadership," tweeted Khan. "This threatens 9 million Kashmiris under siege in [India-Occupied Kashmir] for over two weeks which should have sent alarm bells ringing across the world with U.N. Observers being sent there."
India's behavior, Khan said, was evidence of "the link between the Nazi ideology and ethnic cleansing and genocide ideology of the RSS-BJP Founding Fathers." RSS refers to the 93-year-old Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the Hindu nationalist paramilitary group that birthed Modi's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi told U.S. President Donald Trump Monday that Khan's tweets were a barrier to peace in the region. ...
India's takeover of Kashmir has resulted in an authoritarian crackdown, with military rule over the territory and the imprisonment of many political and activist leaders. ... And, as reported by The New York Times on Saturday, Modi's government is preparing to take further steps to promote Hindu nationalist ideology by stripping the country's non-Hindu minorities of citizenship and placing them in planned detention camps.
The Modi government is intentionally targeting religious minorities as part of its strategy, Indian human rights activist Harsh Mander told the Times. "Muslims are the enemy," said Mander. "It's a war on the Indian Constitution."
In his tweets Sunday, Khan referred to Modi's detention plans for victims of the new policies as a dangerous precedent. "Already four million Indian Muslims face detention camps and cancellation of citizenship," said Khan. "World must take note as this genie is out of the bottle and the doctrine of hate and genocide, with RSS goons on the rampage, will spread unless the international community acts now to stop it."
— Andrew Feinberg (@AndrewFeinberg) August 21, 2019
President Donald Trump revealed again on Tuesday that he subscribes to the anti-Semitic belief that American Jews harbor a secret dual loyalty to Israel. Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office, the president first accused Democratic lawmakers of insufficient support for the state of Israel before adding, “I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.”
Trump: “Any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat -- I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty” pic.twitter.com/s1caMPEkbR
— Bloomberg TicToc (@tictoc) August 20, 2019
That Trump was accusing the vast majority of American Jews who vote for Democrats in election after election of being disloyal to Israel was clear in the context of his full answer to the question he was asked: Should U.S. aid to Israel be suspended following the Israeli government’s decision to prevent two Democratic congresswomen, Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, from visiting the Palestinian territories it occupies? ...
This was at least the second time this year that Trump invoked the anti-Semitic trope of dual loyalty. Speaking to a group of Jewish Republicans in April, the president referred to Israel’s leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, as “your prime minister.”
“Thank you to Wayne Allyn Root for the very nice words. “President Trump is the greatest President for Jews and for Israel in the history of the world, not just America, he is the best President for Israel in the history of the world...and the Jewish people in Israel love him....
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 21, 2019
....like he’s the King of Israel. They love him like he is the second coming of God...But American Jews don’t know him or like him. They don’t even know what they’re doing or saying anymore. It makes no sense! But that’s OK, if he keeps doing what he’s doing, he’s good for.....
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 21, 2019
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 21, 2019
The European Union has rebuffed Boris Johnson’s attempts to tear up the Irish backstop, in a coordinated response that appeared to close the door on further meaningful Brexit negotiations.
In remarks shortly before the prime minister departed for a whistle-stop tour to meet European leaders, Johnson put the blame for the EU’s hardline response at the feet of Conservative rebels, claiming his negotiating strategy was being undermined by those who said they could prevent no deal.
The president of the European council, Donald Tusk, accused the British government of failing to admit that its policies would lead to the return of a hard border on the island of Ireland.
As the standoff played out, the government confirmed that British officials would stop attending most EU meetings from 1 September, a move denounced by critics as showing contempt for British influence in Brussels and allies across Europe.
Johnson suggested the EU’s position was influenced by the manoeuvres of Conservative MPs who have been examining legislative methods to stop no deal in the House of Commons, including former cabinet ministers like Philip Hammond. Downing Street has insisted that leaving on 31 October cannot be stopped by any means, even if parliament were to pass legislation.
Immigrants in federal immigration custody are deliberately being denied medical and mental health care, a class-action lawsuit filed Monday alleges. The suit, filed in a California federal court by the Southern Poverty Law Center and other immigrant advocacy groups, was brought on behalf of 15 immigrants currently detained at eight different Immigration and Customs Enforcement facilities across the country.
The 210-page complaint details several instances of guards in ICE facilities denying necessary medical care and supplies to detainees. Two diabetic immigrants have been denied insulin, the suit alleges. ...
In some cases, the suit claims, ICE’s inability to provide detainees with adequate care also affects their immigration cases. Staff at the Adelanto ICE Processing Center in California failed to give a deaf detainee access to a sign language interpreter, the suit claims, and asked him to sign documents he didn’t understand. Another plaintiff in the case, a 38-year-old Marine veteran also detained in California, has had to help interpret for deaf detainees, despite not being fluent in sign language, because they have routinely been denied access to accredited interpreters.
Though there have been several lawsuits filed against ICE alleging neglect and substandard care in the past, the latest class-action suit is among the first to allege that ICE deliberately and systematically denies care to the more than 50,000 people in its custody, many of whom are detained for years while they wait for their cases to be processed. “Although ICE detains individuals in a patchwork — and currently ballooning — system of private prisons, county jails, and directly operated facilities,” the complaint reads, “the inhumane and punitive conditions described herein are startlingly similar across the entire system.”
In the two weeks since a gunman killed 22 people in El Paso, law enforcement officials say they have thwarted six separate mass shootings or white supremacist attacks across the US. At least four of the alleged foiled plots also appeared to involve men espousing far-right viewpoints and racist ideologies, with echoes of the Texas massacre. The 21-year-old suspect in that shooting, considered the deadliest anti-Latino attack in modern US history, allegedly authored a racist anti-immigrant “manifesto”.
In online posts and in their alleged planned massacres, the suspects in these recent cases targeted LGBTQ people, Jewish people, black Americans, Latinos and Muslims, according to law enforcement and media reports on the six men. Four of them were white men in their 20s, and all but one of them were believed to be armed, some with extensive weaponry. ...
[Click link for details of foiled plots. - js]
Brian Levin, the director for the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, said there is often a cluster of violent threats and possible copycat attacks after high-profile mass shootings. But he also expected there could be more families and friends reporting their loved ones who may be plotting shootings. “This is the new normal,” he said. “The people most able to thwart these attacks are often not law enforcement, but those closest to them – friends, family, coworkers and fellow students … We’re not dealing with foreign-based terrorists, but the mass killer down the block.”
The NYPD Finally Fired the Cop Who Killed Eric Garner — but the Police Reaction Shows How Little Will Change
For five years, the public — along with the New York Police Department itself — has known that Officer Daniel Pantaleo killed Eric Garner on a Staten Island street corner using a prohibited chokehold maneuver. We have known, for all those years, that Garner called out, “I can’t breathe,” 11 times before he could take no more breaths. A deputy police commissioner, acting as a judge in Pantaleo’s department trial this year, wrote in her opinion that the officer had been “untruthful” and that fellow cops who testified in his defense were “unhelpful and unreliable.”
Pantaleo deserved at the very least to be fired and lose his pension. This simple fact has long been established but was only officially recognized by the police department on Monday. In a press conference, Police Commissioner James O’Neill announced, “In this case, the unintended consequence of Mr. Garner’s death must have a consequence of its own. Therefore, I agree with the Deputy Commissioner of Trial’s legal findings and recommendations. It is clear that Daniel Pantaleo can no longer effectively serve as a New York City Police Officer.”
Pantaleo’s long overdue firing is scant justice for a life so callously and brutally ended. Furthermore, as O’Neill’s specific comments make clear, Monday’s decision will not alter the entrenched police ideology that allows for deaths like Garner’s to proliferate. ... “Today is a day of reckoning, but can also be a day of reconciliation,” O’Neill said. The rest of his remarks made clear that it will be no such thing. “If I was a cop, I would probably be mad at me,” said O’Neill about the decision to fire Pantaleo. The comment was as grim as it was revealing of the police assumption of impunity in even the gravest cases. ...
On cue, the reliably blustering Police Benevolent Association, the largest police union in the city, released a furious statement, accusing the commissioner of siding with “anti-police extremists.” The union has already stated that it will argue for Pantaleo to be able to appeal his termination, as is permitted under New York civil service law. That the officer’s firing would still raise police ire evidences an institution rotten to the core.
The manager of Amy McGrath’s Kentucky Senate campaign was behind the recent firing of McGrath’s potential rival in the Democratic primary, according to Kentucky sources with knowledge of the unusual development in the high-profile race. On Friday, WLEX, an NBC affiliate in Lexington, announced that it had fired Matt Jones as the host of “Hey, Kentucky,” a show he had launched on the station four years ago. Jones, Kentucky’s most popular sports radio host, has been openly deliberating a challenge to Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, and has been publicly critical of the early stages of McGrath’s campaign.
Mark Nickolas, McGrath’s campaign manager, has boasted in Kentucky political circles that he was responsible for Jones’s firing, according to sources with knowledge of the situation. His efforts set up a potentially epic campaign blunder: Jones has been pondering a challenge to McGrath, and the fact that he is no longer employed by the TV station removes one of his most persuasive reasons not to run. After all, he no longer has a TV show to lose. Nickolas did not respond to requests for comment. A spokesperson for McGrath told the Courier-Journal, a Kentucky newspaper, that the campaign had “nothing to do with” Jones’s firing.
Jones discussed his firing in a Monday interview on his radio show, saying he believed Nickolas to be responsible. “He was the one who pressured to make that happen,” Jones said. “If not for him, I’d still be hosting the show. And I knew that. It is also true, because I heard from many people, that he went around bragging about it. I mean, he went around to people, Amy McGrath’s campaign man, and bragged that he was the person to do it.”
Iceland has marked its first-ever loss of a glacier to climate change as scientists warn that hundreds of other ice sheets on the subarctic island risk the same fate. As the world recently marked the warmest July ever on record, a bronze plaque was mounted on a bare rock in a ceremony on the barren terrain once covered by the Okjökull glacier in western Iceland. ...
The plaque bears the inscription “A letter to the future”, and is intended to raise awareness about the decline of glaciers and the effects of climate change. “In the next 200 years all our glaciers are expected to follow the same path. This monument is to acknowledge that we know what is happening and what needs to be done. Only you know if we did it,” the plaque reads.
It is also labelled “415 ppm CO2”, referring to the record level of carbon dioxide measured in the atmosphere last May. ...
Iceland loses about 11bn tonnes of ice per year, and scientists fear all of the island’s 400-plus glaciers will be gone by 2200, according to Howe. Glaciers cover about 11% of the country’s surface.
People who spend their childhood in areas with high levels of air pollution may be more likely to later develop mental disorders, research suggests. Air pollution has become a matter of growing concern as an increasing number of studies have found links to conditions ranging from asthma to dementia and various types of cancer.
There are also signs it may take a toll on mental health. Research published in January found that children growing up in the more polluted areas of London were more likely to have depression by the age of 18 than those growing up in areas with cleaner air. But a study by researchers in the US and Denmark has suggested a link between air pollution and an increased risk of mental health problems, including bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and personality disorders.
A pair of environmental groups on Tuesday filed suit against the President Donald Trump administration over the Environmental Protection Agency's recent approval of expanded use of the bee-killing pesticide sulfoxaflor across 200 million acres in 12 states.
The Center for Food Safety and the Center for Biological Diversity filed the suit (pdf) in the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals against the EPA and agency administrator Andrew Wheeler.
In a statement, George Kimbrell, legal director at the Center for Food Safety, said the decision to allow the pesticide was "pure pro-pesticide politics."
"Trump's EPA can't justify throwing our already imperiled pollinators under the bus," said Kimbrell. "That's why the agency offered no chance for the public or independent researchers to comment. And that’s why we're suing them."
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Maurice John Vaughn - [Everything I Do] Got To Be Funky
Maurice John Vaughn & A.C. Reed - I Got Money
Maurice John Vaughn - Generic Blues
Maurice John Vaughn - Nothing Left To Believe In
Maurice John Vaughn - Small Town Baby
Maurice John Vaughn - Traveling Man
Maurice John Vaughn - I Want To Be Your Spy
A.C. Reed & Maurice John Vaughn - Mojo Hand
Maurice John Vaughn - Computer Took My Job