The Evening Blues - 10-21-19


The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: Harold Burrage

Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features Chicago blues singer Harold Burrage. Enjoy!

Harold Burrage - She Knocks Me Out

“Russian asset” is nothing more than a completely meaningless noise that war pigs make with their face holes, no more coherent and communicative than the barking of a dog or the chattering of a squirrel. If we were to come up with a definition for that term which reflects the way it is actually being used in modern political discourse, that definition would be something like, “An incantation which magically makes political dissent look like something treasonous and Machiavellian.”

-- Caitlin Johnstone

News and Opinion

Lots more at the link and worth a visit, if only to marvel at the stunning stupidity of our former foreign policy leaders, including John McCain and Hillary McCarthy. Of course there will be no accountability for them.

US Has Backed 21 of the 28 ‘Crazy’ Militias Leading Turkey’s Brutal Invasion of Northern Syria

Footage showing members of Turkey’s mercenary “national army” executing Kurdish captives as they led the Turkish invasion of northern Syria touched off a national outrage, provoking US government officials, pundits and major politicians to rage against their brutality.

In the Washington Post, a US official condemned the militias as a “crazy and unreliable.” Another official called them “thugs and bandits and pirates that should be wiped off the face of the earth.” Meanwhile, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described the scene as a “sickening horror,” blaming President Donald Trump exclusively for the atrocities.

But the fighters involved in the atrocities in northern Syria were not just random tribesmen assembled into an ad hoc army. In fact, many were former members of the Free Syrian Army, the force once armed by the CIA and Pentagon and branded as “moderate rebels.” This disturbing context was conveniently omitted from the breathless denunciations of US officials and Western pundits. According to a research paper published this October by the pro-government Turkish think tank SETA, “Out of the 28 factions [in the Turkish mercenary force], 21 were previously supported by the United States, three of them via the Pentagon’s program to combat DAESH. Eighteen of these factions were supplied by the CIA via the MOM Operations Room in Turkey, a joint intelligence operation room of the ‘Friends of Syria’ to support the armed opposition. Fourteen factions of the 28 were also recipients of the U.S.-supplied TOW anti-tank guided missiles.

In other words, virtually the entire apparatus of anti-Assad insurgents armed and equipped under the Obama administration has been repurposed by the Turkish military to serve as the spearhead of its brutal invasion of northern Syria. The leader of this force is Salim Idriss, now the “Defense Minister” of Syria’s Turkish-backed “interim government.” He’s the same figure who hosted John McCain when the late senator made his infamous 2013 incursion into Syria.

The “sickening horror” this collection of extremists is carrying out against Kurds is, in fact, the same one it imposed on Syrians across the country for the past seven years. Before, when their goal was regime change in Damascus, they had the blessing and wholehearted support of official Washington. But now that they are slaughtering members of a much more loyal US proxy force, their former patrons and enablers are rushing to denounce them as “bandits and pirates.” ...

When the Turkish military and its proxy force overwhelmed the Kurdish YPG this October, Hillary Clinton angrily denounced their brutality. Back in 2012, however, when Clinton was Secretary of State, she junketed to Istanbul to rally support for those very same militias during a “Friends of Syria” conference convened by Erdogan.

As Trump Downplays Attack on Kurds, Amnesty Details Turkish War Crimes and 'Utterly Callous Disregard for Civilian Life'

Just hours after U.S. President Donald Trump downplayed Turkey's assault on Kurds in Syria by likening it to a parking lot squabble, Amnesty International on Friday presented damning evidence that Turkish forces and their allies have committed war crimes and displayed a "shameful disregard for civilian life" in northeastern Syria.

Based on video footage, medical records, and witness testimony from journalists and aid workers, Amnesty's new report details numerous appalling instances of Turkish forces and their Syrian rebel allies indiscriminately bombarding residential areas, abducting civilians, and committing murder in cold blood.

"In one of the most horrific attacks documented," Amnesty said, "a Kurdish Red Crescent worker described how he pulled bodies from the wreckage of a Turkish airstrike on 12 October at around 7 am, in which two munitions landed near to a school in Salhiye, where civilians displaced by the fighting had sought shelter." The aid worker told Amnesty that four people, including two children, were killed in the Turkish strike.

"I couldn't tell if they were boys or girls because their corpses were black. They looked like charcoal," he said. "The other two people killed were older men, they looked older than 50. Honestly, I am still in shock."

The report also highlights the case of Hevrin Khalaf, a Kurdish female politician and Secretary General of the Future Syria political party who was "dragged out of her car, beaten, and shot dead" on October 12 by fighters with Ahrar al-Sharqiya, a Syrian rebel group allied with Turkey. "A medical report seen by Amnesty International lists a series of injuries inflicted on Hevrin Khalaf," the group said, "including multiple gunshot wounds to the head, face, and back as well as fractures to her legs, face and skull, detachment of skin from her skull, and loss of hair as a result of being dragged by the hair."

Kumi Naidoo, secretary general of Amnesty International, said in a statement that "killing defenseless people in cold blood is utterly reprehensible and a blatant war crime."

"The Turkish military offensive into northeast Syria has wreaked havoc on the lives of Syrian civilians who once again have been forced to flee their homes and are living in constant fear of indiscriminate bombardment, abductions, and summary killings," said Naidoo. "Turkish military forces and their allies have displayed an utterly callous disregard for civilian lives."

In addition to demanding that Turkey halt its attacks on northeastern Syria, Amnesty urged nations that export arms to the country to immediately suspend any weapons transfers.

"The USA is the largest exporter of weapons to Turkey," Amnesty noted. "Other suppliers include Italy, Germany, Brazil, and India."

Erdogan’s Ambitions Go Beyond Syria. He Says He Wants Nuclear Weapons.

Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, wants more than control over a wide swath of Syria along his country’s border. He says he wants the Bomb.

In the weeks leading up to his order to launch the military across the border to clear Kurdish areas, Mr. Erdogan made no secret of his larger ambition. “Some countries have missiles with nuclear warheads,” he told a meeting of his governing party in September. But the West insists “we can’t have them,” he said. “This, I cannot accept.”

With Turkey now in open confrontation with its NATO allies, having gambled and won a bet that it could conduct a military incursion into Syria and get away with it, Mr. Erdogan’s threat takes on new meaning. If the United States could not prevent the Turkish leader from routing its Kurdish allies, how can it stop him from building a nuclear weapon or following Iran in gathering the technology to do so? ...

Already Turkey has the makings of a bomb program: uranium deposits and research reactors — and mysterious ties to the nuclear world’s most famous black marketeer, Abdul Qadeer Khan of Pakistan. It is also building its first big power reactor to generate electricity with Russia’s help. That could pose a concern because Mr. Erdogan has not said how he would handle its nuclear waste, which could provide the fuel for a weapon.

There is another element to this ambiguous atomic mix: The presence of roughly 50 American nuclear weapons, stored on Turkish soil. The United States had never openly acknowledged their existence, until Wednesday, when Mr. Trump did exactly that. Asked about the safety of those weapons, kept in an American-controlled bunker at Incirlik Air Base, Mr. Trump said, “We’re confident, and we have a great air base there, a very powerful air base.” But not everyone is so confident, because the air base belongs to the Turkish government.

Here's How Trump's 'Great' Syria Ceasefire Deal Is Going 24 Hours Later

President Trump is trumpeting the agreed ceasefire on the Turkey-Syria border as a “great day for civilization” that would save “millions of lives.” But the Turks say it will give them everything they want from their Syrian offensive — and it hasn’t even stopped their deadly onslaught.

Just hours after the U.S.-brokered agreement was supposed to impose a 120-hour ceasefire, shelling and artillery fire was reported around the Kurdish-held town of Ras al-Ain, one of the key targets of the nine-day-old Turkish offensive to push the Kurds out of northern Syria. The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces said it lost five fighters amid attacks from the Turkish military and its proxy militias, which struck civilian areas including a hospital.

Despite his efforts to paint the deal as a triumph of diplomacy, Trump has faced blistering criticism at home and abroad over the agreement. Critics say it’s a capitulation to Ankara that renders the U.S.’ abandonment of the Kurds virtually complete, while simultaneously ceding five years of strategic influence in the conflict to rival Russia. ...

If Erdogan was grateful for the favorable deal, he wasn’t showing it Friday. When asked in a news conference about an extraordinary Oct. 9 letter from Trump in which the U.S. leader warned him not to be a “fool,” a “tough guy” or a “devil” by invading Syria, Erdogan said he wouldn’t forget the slight. Describing the letter as out of line with political and diplomatic courtesy, Erdogan said: “It is not right for us to forget it.”

“I want you to know that we will do what is required about this issue when the right time comes.”

Trump leaning toward keeping a couple hundred troops in eastern Syria: report

President Trump is reportedly considering a plan that would leave a small force of roughly 200 U.S. troops in eastern Syria.

The New York Times reported Sunday that Trump is considering a plan floated by top generals that would leave a remainder force behind in Syria with a dual-purpose mission: to prevent the resurgence of ISIS following Turkey's invasion in the region and to prevent Syrian government forces and their Russian allies from seizing control of oil production facilities in the region.

A senior administration official told the Times that Trump favors the plan, which he has been considering for roughly a week, and feels that it would be sufficient to prevent the reversal of U.S. gains against ISIS and allow Kurdish forces in the region to maintain control of oil fields in the area.

Kurdish fighters leave Syrian border town, giving Turkey control

Kurdish officials say their fighters have evacuated Ras al-Ayn, giving Turkey and its allies control of one of the border cities that has borne the brunt of fighting since Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw US troops from north-eastern Syria.

The Turkish defence ministry said a convoy of 86 vehicles left the city on Sunday afternoon carrying fighters from the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Front (SDF) and wounded civilians south to cities beyond the 20-mile buffer zone that Turkey is seeking to clear along its border with Syria.

Kino Gabriel, an SDF spokesman, confirmed Ras al-Ayn had been abandoned as part of a five-day, US-brokered ceasefire with Turkey, in place since Thursday. “We don’t have any more fighters in the city,” he said. Fighters remain deployed in other areas inside the buffer zone including the cities Kobane and al-Darbasiyah, Kurdish activists said. ...

Erdogan said on Saturday that his country would “crush the heads” of Kurdish militants if they did not withdraw in time. He said he would discuss the deployment of Syrian government forces in the safe zone during talks with Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, next week, but warned Ankara would “implement its own plans” if a solution was not reached.

Kings Bay Plowshares 7: Trial Begins for Liz McAlister & Others for Breaking Into Nuke Sub Base

Spain's deputy PM tells Catalan president to 'stop telling impossible lies'

Spain’s deputy prime minister has told the Catalan president to “stop lying” to the region by promising independence, and accused rightwing Spanish parties of “irresponsibility, disloyalty and selfishness” as the country reels from a week of violent protests across Catalonia. The supreme court’s imprisonment last Monday of nine separatist leaders for sedition over their roles in the failed bid for Catalan independence two years ago prompted violent unrest that left two people in a critical condition, hundreds more injured and cost more than €2m (£1.7m). ...

Carmen Calvo, the deputy prime minister in Spain’s socialist caretaker government, defended its response to the violence as “very proportional”, adding that it was keen to avoid the kind of scenes of police brutality that greeted the unilateral Catalan independence referendum of 2017. She said the government was doing everything in its power to make sure the situation did not escalate further. “We’re trying not to make any mistakes now that would hinder future political negotiations within the constitution,” she said. “That’s the most responsible but complicated and difficult position.”

Calvo said the pro-independence Catalan president, Quim Torra, was an activist who had never understood that he was meant to be the president of all Catalans, including the half who oppose independence. She said Torra was inflaming the situation by not condemning the violence by a minority of demonstrators strongly enough, and by now threatening to hold another unilateral and illegal independence referendum. ...

“The independence movement’s biggest problem politically is that they’ve lied to the Catalan people. They said this referendum was legal and would bring about a break [from Spain]. They told them the split was possible, that the right to self-determination exists in a democracy like Spain – which is a total lie. There’s no right to unilateral separation in this democracy nor any other.”

Spain's Sanchez under pressure over Catalan protests amid unionist rally

Chile: protests rage despite president's retreat over subway fare increase

Protests and violence in Chile have spilled over into a new day and turned deadly despite the president cancelling a subway fare hike that prompted the violent demonstrations. Officials in the Santiago region said three people died in fires at two looted supermarkets early on Sunday. Five more people later were found dead in the basement of a burned warehouse and were not employees, authorities said. ...

President Sebastián Piñera, facing the worst crisis of his second term as head of the South American country, announced on Saturday night that he was cancelling a subway fare hike imposed two weeks ago. Piñera said in a national address broadcast from the presidential palace in Santiago late on Saturday that he had listened “with humility” to “the voice of my compatriots” and to discontent over the cost of living in one of Latin America’s wealthiest yet most unequal nations. He also announced a working group to address their concerns.

The fare boost had led to major protests that included rioting that caused millions of dollars in damage to burned buses and vandalized subway stops, office buildings and stores. After meeting with the heads of the legislature and judicial system on Sunday, Piñera said they discussed solutions to the current crisis and that he aims “to reduce excessive inequalities, inequities abuses, that persist in our society.”

“We Want Democracy to Be Restored”: Protesters in Chile Decry Inequality Amid Military Crackdown

Military Returns to Streets in Chile as Unrest Simmers

Demonstrators in Chile continued their "pots and pans" protests Sunday following a week of unrest that saw hundreds arrested and the military patrolling the streets for the first time in decades. A curfew and state of emergency are still in effect in Santiago and several other cities, The Associated Press reported.

The country's billionaire rightwing President Sebastián Piñera announced late Saturday that he was suspending a planned 4 percent increase in subway fares. That fare hike had prompted hundreds of young people on Monday to jump metro turnstiles and triggered protests in other cities in the country. But that may not have been the only catalyst. As The Guardian noted, the "latest protests follow grievances over the cost of living, specifically the costs of healthcare, education, and public services." ...

In addition to the curfew and state emergency, the government responded to the unrest by dispatching the military to city streets.

It marks the first time the army marched through the streets of Santiago, AP noted, since 1990, when the brutal dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet, who ousted Salvador Allende in a U.S.-backed coup, ended.

Hong Kong protests: police fire water cannon with blue dye as crowds defy ban

Hong Kong police have fired water cannon and tear gas at crowds holinding an illegal march, with hardcore protesters throwing petrol bombs and trashing businesses to cap a week of anger after recent attacks on pro-democracy demonstrators. Authorities had forbidden Sunday’s rally in Tsim Sha Tsui, a densely-packed shopping district filled with luxury boutiques and hotels, citing public safety and previous violence from hardcore protesters.

But tens of thousands joined the unsanctioned demonstration, keeping pressure on the city’s pro-Beijing leaders after nearly five months of protests and political unrest. In a familiar pattern, the huge rally began peacefully.

But it soon descended into chaos as smaller groups of protesters hurled petrol bombs at police, subway entrances and at Chinese mainland bank branches, and vandalised multiple shops. Police responded with volleys of tear gas and rubber bullets, and baton charges. Throughout the afternoon, a water cannon truck chased protesters down Nathan Road, one of the city’s busiest shopping thoroughfares, leaving it streaked with blue dye.

The dye in the water, used to identify protesters, also contains a painful pepper solution.

As the protesters fled, frontliners stayed behind to slow the advance of riot police, setting fire to makeshift barricades. Clashes went on deep into the night. A Xiaomi and a Best Mart store – both mainland Chinese businesses – were set alight.

Tensions were running high after the leader of the group organising the weekend rally, Jimmy Sham, was hospitalised after being attacked by unknown assailants wielding hammers earlier in the week. Late on Saturday, a man handing out pro-democracy flyers was stabbed in the neck and stomach, reportedly by an assailant who shouted pro-Beijing slogans.

World economy is sleepwalking into a new financial crisis, warns former Bank of England governor Mervyn King

The world is sleepwalking towards a fresh economic and financial crisis that will have devastating consequences for the democratic market system, according to the former Bank of England governor Mervyn King. Lord King, who was in charge at Threadneedle Street during the near-death of the global banking system and deep economic slump a decade ago, said the resistance to new thinking meant a repeat of the chaos of the 2008-09 period was looming.

Giving a lecture in Washington at the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund, King said there had been no fundamental questioning of the ideas that led to the crisis of a decade ago. “Another economic and financial crisis would be devastating to the legitimacy of a democratic market system,” he said. “By sticking to the new orthodoxy of monetary policy and pretending that we have made the banking system safe, we are sleepwalking towards that crisis.”

He added that the US would suffer a “financial armageddon” if its central bank – the Federal Reserve – lacked the necessary firepower to combat another episode similar to the sub-prime mortgage sell-off.

King, Mark Carney’s predecessor as Bank of England governor, said that following the Great Depression of the 1930s there had been new thinking and intellectual change. “No one can doubt that we are once more living through a period of political turmoil. But there has been no comparable questioning of the basic ideas underpinning economic policy. That needs to change.”

The former Bank governor said the economic and political climate had rarely been so fraught, citing the US-China trade war, riots in Hong Kong, problems in key emerging countries such as Argentina and Turkey, the growing tensions between France and Germany over the future direction of the euro, and the increasingly bitter political conflict in the US at a time when the willingness of the US to act as the world’s policeman was disappearing. “Ripples on the surface of our politics have become breaking waves as the winds of change have gained force,” he said.

Boris Johnson could be held in contempt of court over Brexit letter

Boris Johnson could be held in contempt by a Scottish court after he urged EU leaders to ignore a letter asking for an extension to the Brexit deadline. Scotland’s most senior judge, Lord Carloway, and two other judges will hear allegations on Monday that the prime minister broke a promise he made to the court that he would not try to sabotage the request for an extension.

The UK government’s lawyers pledged in writing and in court this month that the prime minister would honour the provisions of the Benn act, seeking an extension to article 50 if he failed to get a Brexit deal passed by 19 October.

The court needs to decide whether those pledges included not trying to frustrate that act, known in full as the European Union (Withdrawal) (No 2) Act, by simultaneously asking for the extension request to be ignored. ...

After losing a knife-edge Commons vote on Saturday on a delay to his deal, Johnson sent an unsigned copy of the letter required by the act but also sent another personal letter to Brussels that explicitly asked EU leaders not to agree yet to an extension.

Johnson is reported to have spoken privately to key EU figures on Saturday to make the same point, as he tries to buy extra time to force his deal through Westminster before the planned Brexit day on 31 October.

Labour seeks new alliance to kill off Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal

Boris Johnson’s hopes of winning a clear majority for his Brexit plan faced a new threat on Sunday night as Labour declared that it would seek the backing of rebel Tories and the DUP for amendments that would force him to drop the deal – or accept a softer Brexit. As both sides sought to gather parliamentary support after Saturday’s vote to force Johnson to seek a new delay to the UK’s departure from the European Union, Sir Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, said Labour was prepared to talk to the prime minister’s former allies in the Democratic Unionist party (DUP) about forging a better deal.

The news raises the prospect that a new parliamentary alliance could form at the 11th hour – forcing the government into a softer departure from the EU or a confirmatory vote on whether to leave at all. ...

Johnson will attempt to win parliamentary backing for his Brexit deal in a straight yes or no vote on Monday. This would be a move to show support for his EU withdrawal agreement before MPs have the chance to scrutinise the full legislation and attach amendments that could be problematic for the government.

He is thought to be very close to securing a majority for approving his deal, having the support of around eight Labour MPs and a handful of independents, along with most former Tories from whom he withdrew the whip. But Labour party sources said they expect the Speaker, John Bercow, to prevent Johnson holding another “meaningful vote” on the deal on Monday, because the prime minister tried and failed to do so on Saturday.

Mick Mulvaney seeks Trump damage control over impeachment

Senior Trump administration officials were on Sunday scrambling to defend the president from escalating domestic and foreign policy scandals, ranging from impeachment proceedings in Washington to the US troop withdrawal in northern Syria. Acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney was forced to row back comments he made earlier in the week acknowledging the administration withheld military aid to Ukraine in order to elicit assistance investigating Donald Trump’s political opponents. ...

Mulvaney has denied that the Biden request was tied to the decision to withhold aid. The acting chief of staff is under the spotlight in the impeachment inquiry after testimony from a state department official, George Kent, placed him at the centre of efforts to create a separate diplomatic channel to Ukraine staffed by Trump loyalists including outgoing energy secretary Rick Perry and Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani. ...

Reports also emerged on Sunday that Mulvaney was facing ejection from his post before the impeachment inquiry began. CNN reported that Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner and other advisers began screening for new candidates last month. Mulvaney, a former South Carolina congressman, is the third White House chief of staff under Trump although he retains the “acting” prefix. He said on Sunday he had not considered tendering his resignation this week. ...

On Saturday evening Trump was forced into an embarrassing climbdown, announcing his golf resort in Doral, Florida would no longer host the G7 summit next year following bi-partisan criticism of the decision.

Sallie Mae's Hawaii Retreat While Millions Struggle to Repay Loans Bolsters Argument to 'Cancel All Student Debt,' Sanders Says

Critics of the United States' student debt crisis took aim at loan corporation Sallie Mae on Friday after NBC News reported on a trip the company's executives took over the summer to Hawaii to celebrate record-breaking sales in 2018.

NBC reported Thursday night that more than 100 executives and salespeople used some of the profits raked in from 45 million Americans who collectively owe $1.6 trillion in student loans for an all-expenses-paid retreat in Maui in August.

Sallie Mae lent $5 billion last year to 374,000 borrowers. One in five Americans owe student debt, a crisis which has contributed to many young people delaying or forgoing home ownership, starting a small business, and having a family.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) tweeted that the story of Sallie Mae's celebration bolstered his argument, central to his 2020 presidential campaign, that all student debt must be canceled.

Sallie Mae was founded in the 1970s to provide federal student loans, but has since transitioned to a private loan servicer. Critics including the state of Illinois, which sued Sallie Mae in 2017 for deceptive practices, accuse the corporation of using the same subprime lending tactics used by banks before the 2008 financial meltdown—offering loans to people who are unlikely to be able to repay them. "Sallie Mae had a big part in creating a place where we are in the student debt crisis," Ashley Harrington, senior policy counsel on student debt at the Center for Responsible Lending, told NBC.

Journalist Heidi N. Moore tweeted that Sallie Mae's practice of offering private loans with high interest rates allows the company to collect huge profits while borrowers spend years barely making a dent in their debts, despite regular payments.

"When we talk about Sallie Mae celebrating its 'profits,' we are actually talking about the company's success in creating a business model and payment terms that exploit borrowers, so that loans become a perpetual burden," Moore tweeted.

William Barr's speech on religious freedom alarms liberal Catholics

Prominent liberal Catholics have warned the US attorney general’s devout Catholic faith poses a threat to the separation of church and state, after William Barr delivered a fiery speech on religious freedom in which he warned that “militant secularists” were behind a “campaign to destroy the traditional moral order”. The speech last Friday at the University of Notre Dame law school, in which Barr discussed his conservative faith and revealed how it affects his decision-making as the nation’s chief law-enforcement officer, has set off a fierce debate among Catholic intellectuals from across the political spectrum, as well as among Catholics inside the justice department.

C Colt Anderson, a Roman Catholic theologian and professor of religion at Jesuit-run Fordham University, said in an interview that he was unaware until this week that Barr was a fellow Catholic. Now, after reading the speech, Anderson believes the attorney general, in revealing his devotion to an especially conservative branch of Catholicism, is a “threat to American democracy”. He described the speech as a “dog whistle” to ultra-conservative Catholics who, he says, have aligned themselves to Donald Trump in a campaign to limit the rights of LGBTQ Americans, immigrants and non-Christians, especially Muslims, and to criminalize almost all abortions. “The attorney general is taking positions that are essentially un-Democratic” because they demolish the wall between church and state, Anderson said.

In the hallways of the justice department in Washington, there has been a similar furor among some Catholics employees who answer to Barr. “I was shocked by the speech and all this fire and brimstone,” said a senior department career official who considers himself a devout Catholic, speaking on condition that he not be identified for fear of losing his job. “At least it helps me understand why Barr has been so willing to put his own reputation on the line to defend Trump so fiercely in every battle,” beginning with the congressional investigation that is likely to end in the president’s impeachment, he said. “Trump is Barr’s imperfect vessel in serving a much higher cause: the gospel.”

Allegations of Child Abuse Against Customs and Border Protection Go On for Tens of Thousands of Pages

Being run over by a vehicle, beaten while handcuffed, and even threatened with rape — they’re all examples of the treatment migrant children and teenagers have said they endured while in the custody of Customs and Border Protection.

Some of the kids claim officers hit them for no reason. One boy said officers accused him of lying about his age and told him he’d be raped by an adult man if he didn’t tell the truth.

The documents, which ACLU of San Diego obtained through a FOIA request, relate to allegations of abuse made against Customs and Border Protection officers by people in custody, or made by people on their behalf, between 2009 and 2014. The documents predate the Trump administration — but the ACLU says they’re indicative of a broader pattern of abuse and mistreatment within the Customs and Border Protection, one of the largest law enforcement agency in the country.

“This didn’t happen overnight,” Mitra Ebadolahi, a senior staff attorney at the ACLU of San Diego, told VICE News. “For those of us who have been paying attention to those problems for many years, unfortunately much of what has happened more recently — although devastating and truly horrifying — is not necessarily surprising.”

the horse race

Exclusive to Rising: Ryan Grim shares excerpts of his conversation with AOC and Sanders

Sanders: I Wouldn’t Make Obama’s Mistake of Shutting Down Grassroots Pressure on Washington

After winning the election in 2008, Barack Obama, before being sworn in as president, effectively shuttered the unprecedented grassroots army his campaign had mobilized. The decision, which took his 10-million-plus donors and volunteers off the political battle field, is regularly cited today as having handicapped his first-term agenda. Bernie Sanders, asked on Saturday afternoon whether he would make a different decision if he were to win the presidency in 2020, said, “Yes, I absolutely would.” ...

On the contrast with Obama’s strategy, Sanders said that he met with former president and shared his thoughts directly.

“I’m a great fan of Barack Obama, who’s a friend of mine. He and I have actually discussed this very issue. His view is, it’s hard to do it,” said Sanders. “I understand that. But the essence of my politics, and I think Alexandria’s as well, is that we need an ongoing grassroots movement of millions of people to pressure Congress, to pressure the corporate establishment, so that we can bring about the changes that this country desperately needs. So that’s why I have said that I will not only be commander-in-chief, I’m going to be organizer-in-chief.” (An aide to Sanders said the meeting with Obama came in the spring of 2018.)

After the interview, speaking before the crowd of more than 25,000, the largest of the campaign for any Democrat so far, Ocasio-Cortez officially endorsed the Vermont senator for president, giving a boost to a campaign that needs momentum after Sanders’s heart attack. Though Sanders has led fundraising, his main progressive rival, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., now regularly leads polls nationally and in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Ocasio-Cortez’s rise is a manifestation of Sanders’s idea that by building a mass movement, working people can be lifted up. She was inspired by his campaign, volunteered for it, and then ran herself.

Bernie’s Back: AOC Backs Sanders as 26,000 Rally in NYC at Largest Presidential Rally of 2019

Warren caves on M4A; Nina Turner calls out copycats

Jill Stein Challenges Hillary Clinton to Debate After 'Russian Asset' Smear

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday made the baseless claim that Dr. Jill Stein, the Green Party's 2016 nominee for president, was a Russian agent—an allegation that was met with derision from Stein and an invitation to debate.

"In light of the latest slanderous allegations from Hillary Clinton, I challenge her to a debate," tweeted Stein.

"It's a shame HRC is peddling conspiracy theories to justify her failure instead of reflecting on real reasons Dems lost in 2016," Stein added.

Max Blumenthal on why Hillary Clinton smeared Tulsi Gabbard and Jill Stein

In their coverage of Hillary McCarthy's latest emanations, the World Socialist Website makes some interesting points about the motivations and ambitions of the corporate Democrats.

Hillary Clinton slanders Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, Green Party candidate Jill Stein as Russian spies

Hillary Clinton, the widely despised former Democratic Party presidential candidate, has slandered two of her political opponents—Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and 2016 Green Party presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein—as traitors and Russian spies. The World Socialist Web Site has fundamental political differences with both Ms. Gabbard and Dr. Stein. But Clinton’s claims, made without the slightest effort at factual substantiation, are an attempt to criminalize the anti-war statements of the two candidates as treasonous.

Clinton’s attacks on Gabbard and Stein make clear once again that the Democrats’ assertions of “Russian meddling” in the 2016 election were primarily aimed not at Trump, but at the anti-war and anti-capitalist sentiments that led millions of people to refuse to vote for her in 2016. They underscore how the Democrats have appropriated the McCarthyite tactics historically associated primarily with the Republican right.

As a central part of their anti-Russia campaign, Clinton and the Democrats promoted the media effort to poison public opinion against journalist Julian Assange by slandering him as a “Russian agent,” preparing the way for the Trump administration to indict him on bogus espionage charges and secure his imprisonment in London under conditions that threaten his life. At the same time, in the name of countering the supposed menace of Russian “fake news,” the Democrats pressured Google to slash search traffic to left-wing political websites and insisted that Facebook and Twitter delete left-wing accounts with millions of followers. ...

Toward the end of Thursday’s interview, Clinton implicitly called for censorship. She condemned the growth of internet news outlets, which have broadened the number and range of sources of information available to the population. “I think it’s a lot harder for Americans to know what they’re supposed to believe,” she said. In the 1970s, with only three major national newspapers, “It was a much more controllable environment.”

Meanwhile on MSDNC Planet Hillary ...

This MSNBC Clip Is Everything Ugly About Russia Smears

There’s a video clip circulating on Twitter right now that simply has to be seen to be believed, in which a gaggle of MSNBC pundits are seen furiously agreeing with each other that Tulsi Gabbard has incriminated herself by pushing back against Hillary Clinton’s obnoxious claim that she is a Russian asset.

Now, to be clear, all of these panelists are knowingly lying when they suggest that Clinton may not have been talking about Gabbard. Literally everyone knew that Hillary Clinton was talking about Gabbard from the moment news broke about her libelous comments, which, as Gabbard pointed out in a recent interview, was evidenced by the fact that all the news headlines about those comments featured Gabbard’s name. ... The self-evident fact that Clinton was referring to Gabbard was then quickly confirmed by a Clinton aide.

The panelists are also lying when they claim that Gabbard has not denied being a Russian asset; obviously if you call something a “smear” as Gabbard has consistently been doing you are saying that it is false. But that should not matter. Claiming that an evidence-free conspiratorial McCarthyite smear is true because the target of that smear did not prostrate themselves sufficiently to deny it is disgusting and shameful in and of itself. The burden of proof is always on the party making the claim, and extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. If an extraordinary claim is made with no evidence at all, the party making that claim should be promptly shamed and dismissed. ...

So let’s say directly what the MSNBC panelists above tried to get away with saying indirectly: MSNBC aired a segment in which panelists falsely claimed that Tulsi Gabbard incriminated herself as a Russian asset by responding to Hillary Clinton’s smear job. They lied, and they will get away with lying, because billionaire-controlled media like MSNBC is designed to manufacture consent for the status quo upon which the empires of billionaires like Brian L Roberts (whose parent company Comcast controls NBC) are built. Call the propagandists what they are, and shame these passive aggressive Red Scare tactics for the brain poison that it is.

Pete Buttigieg channels Captain Obvious:

Buttigieg: Clinton should have evidence for claim Tulsi Gabbard is ‘Russian asset’

Pete Buttigieg has criticised Hillary Clinton over controversial remarks about Tulsi Gabbard, one of his competitors for the Democratic presidential nomination, saying the former nominee should have provided evidence for her claim Gabbard is “a Russian asset”.

Clinton made the remarks about the military veteran and Hawaii congresswoman to former Obama aide David Plouffe’s Campaign HQ podcast.

Clinton suggested Gabbard was being “groomed” by Moscow to act as a spoiler in the 2020 race. US intelligence agencies agree Russia is seeking to influence the next election as it did Clinton’s losing battle with Donald Trump.

Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, was asked about the controversy on the Sunday talk shows. He generally sidestepped but on CNN’s State of the Union he said: “Statements like that ought to be backed by evidence.

Media, Hillary team-up to smear Tulsi

Hillary must have enjoyed the feeling of relevance that the response to her Tailgunner Joe McCarthy impression smearing Tulsi Gabbard and Jill Stein got her. From the "this malevolent fishwife just won't go away" file:

'Don't be a dick, OK?' Hillary Clinton tweets parody of Trump Erdogan letter

On Sunday afternoon, Hillary Clinton tweeted a mocked-up letter from John F Kennedy to Nikita Khrushchev that was meant squarely to mock a real letter from Trump to Recep Tayyip Erdogan which was revealed to the public this week.

“Found in the archives,” Clinton wrote, over an image of what purported to be a letter from the US president to the Soviet leader on 16 October 1962, during the Cuban missile crisis.

“Dear Premier Khrushchev,” the “letter” began. “Don’t be a dick, OK?”

the evening greens

Worth a full read:

Leaked Audio Reveals How Coca-Cola Undermines Plastic Recycling Efforts

For decades, Coca-Cola has burnished its public image as an environmentally caring company with donations to recycling nonprofits. Meanwhile, as one of the world’s most polluting brands, Coke has quietly fought efforts to hold the company accountable for plastic waste. Audio from a meeting of recycling leaders obtained by The Intercept reveals how the soda giant’s “green” philanthropy helped squelch what could have been an important tool in fighting the plastic crisis — and shines a light on the behind-the-scenes tactics beverage and plastics companies have quietly used for decades to evade responsibility for their waste. The meeting of the coalition group known as Atlanta Recycles took place in January at the Center for Hard to Recycle Materials in Atlanta’s south side.

Among the topics on the agenda for the recycling experts was a grant coming to Atlanta as part of a multimillion-dollar campaign Coke was launching “to boost recycling rates and help inspire a grassroots movement.” But it quickly became clear that one possible avenue for boosting recycling rates — a bottle bill — was off the table.

Here’s John Seydel, director of the Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Resilience:

“Something that I wanted to bring up here, just thinking, making sure to look at other cities as well as states for policies that would be pushing for more — or incentivize more recycling. And I think it’s been a very long time since the state of Georgia has even considered something like a bottle bill. I do think that’s something worth looking at.”

Seydel was right. If they were truly interested in increasing the recycling rate, a bottle bill or container deposit law, which requires beverage companies to tack a charge onto the price of their drink to be refunded after it’s returned, would be well worth looking at. People are far more likely to return their bottles if there’s a financial incentive. States with bottle bills recycle about 60 percent of their bottles and cans, as opposed to 24 percent in other states. And states that have bottle bills also have an average of 40 percent less beverage container litter on their coasts, according to a 2018 study of the U.S. and Australia published in the journal Marine Policy.

But bottle bills also put some of the responsibility — and cost — of recycling back on the companies that produce the waste, which may be why Coke and other soda companies have long fought against them.

“I'll tell you that the answer is a big no.”

That’s Gloria Hardegree, executive director of the Georgia Recycling Coalition, an organization that receives funding from Coca-Cola.

[More from the tape at the link. - js]

While other soda companies have opposed bottle bills, Coke should know better than almost anyone how successful deposits can be in getting customers to return their bottles: They pioneered the system. For decades, Coca-Cola was available only in returnable glass bottles. ... But all that changed after Coke began a shift to plastic bottles in the 1950s. As the waste piled up, the public began to push the company to take responsibility for it. Coke pushed back hard with a double-edged strategy attacking efforts to make the industry deal with its waste while pushing forward the message that consumers were instead to blame for the problem.

Both were accomplished largely through generic-sounding organizations that worked on behalf of Coke and other soda and bottle companies while keeping their brand names out of the public eye. In 1953, right after Vermont passed the country’s first bottle bill, a group of beverage and packaging companies along with Philip Morris founded the anti-litter organization Keep America Beautiful. ... Coke’s strategy of using other organizations to convey its messages proved useful. In 1968, when state and federal legislation was proposed that would have made deposits on nonreturnable containers mandatory, Coke didn’t lobby against it, at least not publicly. Instead, it was the National Soft Drink Association, funded by Coke, that did the work to defeat the bill. At the same time, Keep America Beautiful was letting people know that “keeping America beautiful is your job.” Those who failed at that job were “litterbugs,” or, as the nonprofit organization made disturbingly clear in a video that year, pigs.

To Combat Dishonest Marketing, New 'Farm vs. Factory' Website Contrasts Industrial and Sustainable Agriculture

The national nonprofit Food & Water Watch on Friday launched its "Farm vs. Factory" website, an interactive tool that aims to shed light on the differences between sustainable and industrial agriculture.

"Clever marketing and sneaky messaging have made it difficult to differentiate between small scale farming and industrial animal production," the group said in a statement. "This website maps out the characteristics, proliferation, and history of industrial agriculture while showcasing what sustainable farms do differently."

Last year, Food & Water Watch began a nationwide campaign to outlaw factory farms and released a report (pdf) detailing how "these operations produce enormous volumes of waste, pollute the air and water, exploit workers, harm animal welfare, fuel antibiotic resistance and climate change, and harm the rural communities they are purported to benefit."

The new farm vs. factory website features side-by-side comparisons of each approach to agriculture, with sections focused on animals, crops, and humans. Each comparison features photos or videos. ...

The website also features a resources page where those interested can learn more about the impacts of industrial agriculture as well as how to get involved in grassroots political efforts to tackle food and water issues and outlaw factory farming.

Also of Interest

Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.

New York Times Fakes The Record About Arming The Syrian Rebels

The Road to Damascus: How the Syria War was Won

Informant Reveals FBI’s Already Vast Powers to Investigate Right-Wing Extremists

“Russian Asset” Is A Meaningless Noise War Pigs Make With Their Face Holes

Democrats Want to be Economic Populists. Why Are They Clinging to a Flawed Reagan-Era Tax Credit?

Marianne Williamson explains how she, Tulsi, and Yang have been marginalized

Bill McKibben on How Climate Crises and New Technologies Will Change What It Means to Be Human

Extinction Rebellion Faces Backlash Over 'Self-Defeating' Disruption of London Public Transit

A Little Night Music

Harold Burrage - Stop, For The Red Light

Harold Burrage - One More Dance

Harold Burrage - You K.O.'D Me

Harold Burrage - Messed Up

Harold Burrage - A Heart (Filled With Pain)

Harold Burrage - Feel So Fine

Harold Burrage - Crying For My Baby

Harold Burrage - I'll Take One

Harold Burrage - A Fool (For Hiding My Love From You)

Harold Burrage - I Don't Care Who Knows

Harold Burrage - More Power To You

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Good evening, everyone! I'm just off to vote and praying with both hands that enough people do not vote those moron Conservatives into government. Wish us luck!

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joe shikspack's picture

@Le Frog

best of luck to you. i hope that your fellow countrymen can keep canada the kind of place that lefty americans dream about escaping to.

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ggersh's picture

"We thank You for President Trump who also exhibits great courage in face of constant criticism. We ask You give him strength to endure & wisdom to lead and to recognize You as the sovereign of the universe, with solution to everything"

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The fucking ocean caught fire, they just bombed Iraq, Syria, they’re killing kids in Yemen, ramping up nuclear escalations against Russia, China and Facebook is warning users that it’s those who criticize this system who are the dangerous extremists.

joe shikspack's picture


the really scary thing is that ben carson was a brain surgeon.

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snoopydawg's picture

The judge is not going to allow a fair hearing and is just going through the motions at this point. When you know that a person is being mistreated you put a stop to all proceedings until it's stopped. The most obvious is that you have someone who has not been charged with a crime in your country's supermax prison.

Craig Murray said he was so upset after the hearing that he's still shaking and having heart palpitations and can't write. Shame on everyone involved with this persecution! There are some real dushebags on Twitter today.

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The donor class doesn’t want it, and Americans elect the bribed. So suck it up.

The Ostrich should be the national bird not the Eagle

joe shikspack's picture


well, it just goes to show you. assange doesn't have to go to all of the trouble of going back to australia to face a kangaroo court.

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lotlizard's picture

@joe shikspack  
The “little” Remainers and Leavers among the common people are just trying to survive.

But at the top, both Remainer and Leaver party big shots are just competing to see who is going to be better at serving the aims of the West’s imperial elites.

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Joe, people dealing with mental illness advise against using words causally - "demented" etc. I am still working hard to replace ableist words/phrases [learnt "blinkered view" is a good replacement for "blindly"]

Killary, who herself was victim of smears etc is classy as ever. And her authoritarian followers play foot soldiers in destroying reputations.

Waiting for Chilean Michelle Bachelet to condemn the government atrocities. Ten, nine, eight....

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joe shikspack's picture


point taken. replaced with "malevolent fishwife." my apologies to any evil spirits that feel unfairly compared and, of course, william shakespeare.

hillary and her lickspittles are doing a great job of demonstrating to the public just what sort of people they are.

i wonder how bachelet feels about the tanks rolling in the streets of santiago again.

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joe shikspack's picture

lotlizard's picture

Maybe that could somehow partly explain why the Democrats willingly reduced itself and seduced its followers to become the preferred spooks’-tool party?

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