The Evening Blues - 1-20-23


The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: Son Seals

Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features Chicago blues guitarist Son Seals. Enjoy!

Son Seals - On My Knees

“Nobody today is nearly smart enough to make the sorts of weapons even the poorest nations had a million years ago. Yes, and they were being used all the time. During my lifetime, there wasn’t a day when, somewhere on the planet, there weren’t at least three wars going on. And the Law of Natural Selection was powerless to respond to such new technologies. No female of any species, unless maybe she was a rhinoceros, could expect to give birth to a baby who was fireproof, bombproof, or bulletproof.”

-- Kurt Vonnegut

News and Opinion

Poland could send Leopard tanks to Ukraine without German approval

The Polish prime minister has said his country would be willing to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine without securing Germany’s approval if Berlin does not agree to their re-export at Friday’s meeting of western defence ministers at Ramstein airbase.

Mateusz Morawiecki said in a radio interview on Thursday that “consent was of secondary importance” when it came to German-made tanks, because the key issue was to get military aid to Ukraine urgently.

“We will either obtain this consent quickly, or we will do it ourselves,” Morawiecki added, heaping further pressure on Berlin to allow German made Leopard 2s to be sent to Ukraine in preparation for a spring offensive.

His comments came as the US Defense Department formally announced new military assistance for Ukraine valued at up to $2.5bn, including armoured vehicles and support for Ukraine’s air defence. The aid includes 59 Bradley fighting vehicles and 90 Stryker armoured personnel carriers, but not Abrams tanks.

Poland, along with Finland, has said it wants to give 14 Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, which would normally require German approval, but it is one of a number of countries trying to force the pace at a time when Berlin is still negotiating.

Bakhmut Operationally Encircled, Russia Advance Zaporozhye; West Talks Tank Deliveries Ramstein

US “likely” to send long-range missiles to Ukraine

The United States will “likely” announce that it is sending long-range missiles with a range of over 100 miles to Ukraine this week, US officials told Politico. The weapons system, known as the ground-launched Small Diameter Bomb, is a rocket-launched maneuverable glide bomb with double the range of the HIMARS missiles Washington has already provided.

Seeming to confirm Politico’s report, Ben Hodges, former commanding general of US Army Europe, wrote on Twitter: “GLSDB (ground launched small diameter bombs) will reduce sanctuary for Russians. Life is about to start getting very uncomfortable for Russian navy, air force and ammunition handlers on Crimea, along the ‘land bridge’... and hopefully soon for repair crews on Kerch Bridge.”

Hodges’ statement implies that the missiles would be used to attack the Crimean Peninsula.

The announcement would mark a repudiation of Biden’s pledge in May that “We are not encouraging or enabling Ukraine to strike beyond its borders,” and his declaration that “We’re not going to send to Ukraine rocket systems that strike into Russia.”

The announcement is expected to be made Friday at the meeting of the imperialist powers funding, arming and directing the Ukrainian military, which will be held at America’s Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany.

Russia moves to leave European treaties

President Vladimir Putin instructed Russian lawmakers on Tuesday to adopt a law that would formally end the country’s participation in 21 treaties and charters related to the Council of Europe. Moscow withdrew from the human rights body last March, claiming it had been captured by the US and its allies and only serves Western political objectives. ...

The CoE was established in 1949 by several Western European countries, with a mission to promote “democracy, human rights and the rule of law.” Russia joined the organization in 1996 and in 1998 ratified the human rights convention.

In February 2022, however, 42 out of 47 members voted to suspend Moscow’s membership, citing the conflict in Ukraine. Russia condemned the “openly political” decision by which the nominally neutral body sided with the US and NATO, and withdrew from the CoE on March 15.

In June, Putin signed a law that declared all verdicts of the European Court of Human Rights after March 15 null and void in Russia. Moscow formally repealed the convention accepting the ECHR jurisdiction in September 2022. The following month, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) adopted a resolution urging member countries to declare “the current Russian regime as a terrorist one.”

Peru: growing outrage over protest deaths as president urged to resign

Peru’s capital city is bracing for further unrest as thousands of protesters from across the country pour into Lima to demand the resignation of President Dina Boluarte, after nearly six weeks of turmoil that has claimed close to 50 lives.

Two more people were killed late on Wednesday and another seriously injured in Macusani, a city in the southern region of Puno. After the deaths, protesters torched a police station, forcing officers to flee in a helicopter. In Lima, police fired teargas after clashes broke out with protesters.

Outrage over the rising death toll has powered the growing protests, which began in early December in support of ousted former president Pedro Castillo but have shifted overwhelmingly to demand Boluarte’s resignation, the closure of congress and fresh elections. Boluarte was Castillo’s vice-president, who replaced him after he attempted to shutter congress and rule by decree on 7 December.

Human rights organisations and the UN have accused Peru’s security forces of using disproportionate force in the protests, including firing live ammunition and launching teargas canisters from helicopters.

Edgar Stuardo Ralón, vice-president of the Inter American Commission on Human Rights, detailed last week that a fact-finding mission had “received reports of indiscriminate shootings against demonstrators in certain regions … as well as other reports of shots aimed at vital points [of the body] with lethal and high-calibre weapons in violation of the principle of the gradual use of force.”

Jeremy Corbyn on Freeing Julian Assange, the Working Class, Brazil, Peru & Ending Ukraine War

Harvard reverses decision on role for Israel critic after outcry

Following a storm of protest, Harvard’s Kennedy School has reversed its decision to deny a fellowship to the former head of Human Rights Watch (HRW), Kenneth Roth, over criticisms of Israel.

The decision by the Kennedy School dean, Douglas Elmendorf, to refuse Roth a position at the school’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy drew widespread condemnation, including from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other free speech advocates, and hundreds of Harvard faculty and students.

Roth told the Guardian at the time that the move amounted to “donor-driven censorship” over HRW’s exposure of Israel’s human rights abuses and the group’s recent report accusing Israel of practicing a form of apartheid in the occupied Palestinian territories. Roth said he regarded the move as a reflection of “how utterly afraid the Kennedy School has become of any criticism of Israel”.

On Thursday, Elmendorf told Kennedy School staff and students that the decision had been a mistake and that Roth would be accepted after all.

“I now believe that I made an error in my decision not to appoint him,” he said in the email. “I am sorry that the decision inadvertently cast doubt on the mission of the School and our commitment to open debate in ways I had not intended and do not believe to be true.”

More than 1m march in France amid strikes over plan to raise retirement age

More than 1 million people have taken part in demonstrations across France as transport, schools and refineries were hit by strikes in protest at Emmanuel Macron’s unpopular plans to raise the retirement age by two years to 64. The interior ministry said 1.12 million people protested nationwide on Thursday, with 80,000 taking part in the biggest rally in Paris. Trade unions said the figure was even higher.

Police made arrests on the edges of the march in central Paris amid clashes with officers in the early afternoon. Police said 15 people were arrested before the Paris march and 15 during it, for offences such as carrying illegal weapons or throwing projectiles. Shopkeepers around the Place de la République boarded up windows and shopfronts after the authorities warned of a possibility of vandalism after the marches or black bloc-style tactics.

Local and regional train services across France ground almost to a standstill, and public transport in cities including Paris was “very disrupted”, according to operators. Many primary schools closed for the day. Authorities estimated 40% of primary teachers and more than 30% of secondary teachers went on strike. Unions said participation was higher, at 70% in primary schools. ...

The 24-hour strike and protests in 200 towns and cities are the first big test for Macron since his re-election against his far-right rival Marine Le Pen last spring.

Macron has made the pensions issue a marker of his aim to transform France and overhaul its social model and welfare system. He insists he will deliver his key election pledge to change the French pension system – raising the retirement age for most people to 64 from 62 and increasing the years of contributions required for a full pension. Opinion polls have shown most French people oppose these proposals and view them as unjust, even if many agree with a need for change.

The Most Mental Tweet Ever From A Corporate Journalist

Mainstream media ignores Twitter files exposing MSM lies

Manchin Pitches Social Security Deal With GOP

Sen. Joe Manchin provoked outrage Wednesday by suggesting congressional Democrats should agree to pursue changes to Social Security as part of a debt ceiling agreement with Republicans, an idea one advocacy group condemned as "negotiating with legislative terrorists."

In an interview on Fox Business—conducted at the annual gathering of corporate and political elites in Davos, Switzerland—the West Virginia Democrat said that "we have a debt problem" and argued members of both parties should "work together" on solutions. The senator singled out Social Security, even though the program can't by law add to long-term deficits.

While Manchin voiced opposition to GOP calls to privatize Social Security, saying such proposals "scare the bejesus out of people," he said Congress "should be able to solidify it, so the people who have worked and earned it know they're going to get it."

The problem, from the perspective of Social Security defenders, is Manchin's suggested avenue for reforms: Bipartisan congressional committees that critics have denounced as "a Trojan horse to cut seniors' benefits."

"Hell no to even a single penny of cuts to Social Security's earned benefits," the progressive group Social Security Works tweeted Wednesday in response to Manchin's comments. "Hell no to fast-track commissions designed to cut benefits behind closed doors."

Under legislation that Manchin has introduced alongside Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Congress would establish bipartisan "rescue" committees for the nation's trust fund programs—including Social Security and Medicare—and give the panels 180 days to devise "legislation that restores solvency and otherwise improves each." (Analysts and advocates reject the notion that Social Security is in financial crisis and needs "rescuing.")

The bills produced by the bipartisan committees would then be placed on an expedited path to floor votes in both chambers of Congress, with no amendments allowed.

US supreme court says it has not determined who leaked Dobbs draft

The US supreme court said on Thursday it has not determined who leaked a draft of the court’s opinion overturning abortion rights, but that the investigation continues.

According to a 23-page report released by the court after an eight-month investigation, the investigative team “has to date been unable to identify a person responsible by a preponderance of the evidence”.

On 2 May, the bombshell leak was made public after Politico published the draft opinion of Justice Samuel Alito that overturned Roe vWade. Within 24 hours, Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed the draft’s authenticity and ordered court marshal Gail Curley to investigate the leak.

Investigators “conducted 126 formal interviews of 97 employees, all of whom denied disclosing the opinion” in sworn affidavits under the penalty of perjury. According to the Wall Street Journal, the interviews were at times fairly brief and included questions such as: “Did you do it? Do you know anyone who had a reason to do it?”

Some employees had to amend their written statements after they “admitted to telling their spouses about the draft opinion or vote count”, the report said, adding that “some personnel handled the Dobbs draft in ways that deviated from their standard process for handling draft opinions”. The court said it could not rule out that the opinion was inadvertently disclosed, “for example, by being left in a public space either inside or outside the building”.

US government hits debt ceiling as Biden and House Republicans face off

The US government has hit the ceiling on its debt, brushing up against its legal limit of $38.381tn and piling pressure on Congress to approve an increase to avoid a debt default in the coming months that would send a shock wave through the global economy.

In a letter to congressional leaders, the treasury secretary, Janet Yellen, said it would begin taking “extraordinary measures” to make the government’s cash on hand last until Congress acts. These include a “debt issuance suspension period” lasting from today until 5 June, as well as suspending investments into two government employee retirement funds.

“As I stated in my January 13 letter, the period of time that extraordinary measures may last is subject to considerable uncertainty, including the challenges of forecasting the payments and receipts of the US government months into the future. I respectfully urge Congress to act promptly to protect the full faith and credit of the United States,” Yellen wrote.

The countdown toward a possible US government default puts the spotlight on frictions between President Joe Biden and House Republicans, raising alarms about whether the US can sidestep a potential economic crisis.

the horse race

Heh, it's time for "progressives" to get creative, now that the House has changed hands and their bills have little chance of coming to the floor, much less being passed.

House Dems Introduce Bill to Overturn Citizens United

To end an era in which wealthy corporations have been given free rein to spend nearly unlimited money on political campaigns, Democrats in the U.S. House on Thursday proposed a constitutional amendment that would overturn the hugely consequential Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision by U.S. Supreme Court, saying the ruling "has dangerously eroded" the government's ability to serve the public interest.

Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Dean Phillips (D-Minn.), and Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) led dozens of co-sponsors in introducing the Democracy for All Amendment two days before the 13th anniversary of the Citizens United decision, in which the court struck down a ban on corporate independent expenditures. ...

The proposal, said the campaign finance reform group End Citizens United, "strikes at the heart" of the 2010 ruling.

"It would affirm the right of the people to pass state and federal laws by restoring Congress' and the states' authority to place [limits] on political spending," said the group.

In addition to overturning Citizens United, the Democrats aim to overturn the "fundamental flaws" and legal precedents that underpinned the court's reasoning in 2010 and in "an entire line of cases dating back to the 1976 Buckley v. Valeo decision, which prevented meaningful regulation of campaign expenditures by corporations and special interest groups."

the evening greens

Light pollution rapidly reducing number of stars visible to naked eye, study finds

“There is no light in earth or heaven / But the cold light of stars,” wrote the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. But for myriad writers and artists, that source of inspiration could be fading as research has revealed light pollution is rapidly reducing the number of stars visible to the naked eye. The study, published in the journal Science, suggests locations with 250 visible stars at present will have just 100 visible stars in 18 years.

“If these trends continue, eventually it will be very difficult to see anything at all in the sky, even the brightest constellations. Orion’s belt will start to disappear at some point,” said Dr Christopher Kyba, of the German Research Centre for Geoscience and first author of the research.

The team write that the glow produced by artificial lighting grew exponentially over the 20th century with population growth, new technologies, and expansion of towns and cities. However the impact of a shift to light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in recent years is unclear. Satellites that can measure skyglow have limited resolution and cannot detect some wavelengths of light emitted by LEDs.

To delve deeper, the team analysed 51,351 citizen scientist observations of stars visible to the naked eye, made between 2011 and 2022 as part of a project called Globe at Night. Participants were asked to use a website to view a selection of star charts for their location – each showing an incrementally greater number of the stars that exist in that patch of sky – and pick the chart that best matched what they could see. ... The results reveal that on average across locations where participants made observations, sky brightness is increasing by 9.6% a year, with the figure slightly lower, at 6.5%, in Europe and slightly higher, at 10.4%, in North America.

Californians ‘harvest’ water during historic storms

When Kitty Bolte looked at her yard at the start of California’s powerful winter storms, she saw more than half a foot of standing water behind her house. At first Bolte, a horticulturalist by trade, contemplated pumping it out on to the street. But with the historic rains coming in the midst of a historic drought, that seemed oddly wasteful.

So instead, she and her boyfriend decided to save it. They found a neighbor selling IBC totes – large 330-gallon plastic containers surrounded by wire – on Craigslist, and filled them up using an inexpensive Home Depot pump. They also dragged some spare garbage cans outside to sit under the downpour, gathering 800 gallons in all.

California has experienced some of the heaviest winter storms in memory this month, causing widespread and destructive flooding. But the influx of water has also prompted another, more hopeful question – how can we keep some of it around for good? ...

Bolte’s plan is to store the water she gathered and use it in the summer to water their native trees, which helps assuage her guilt about cultivating a garden in a drought. “This makes me feel relieved to keep them alive in the summer by not using water that could be used for other sources.” ...

The practice can be as simple as putting out a bucket when it rains. It saves money by reducing future water bills. It also keeps stormwater from carrying trash, chemical and pet waste into the Pacific Ocean – reducing the bacterial spikes that happen after storms. Harvesting also saves energy: 20% of all the power generated in California goes into moving, treating and using water. And when water enters a yard instead of the streets it helps to replenish underground aquifers.

Deforestation in Brazil: Soya farming eats up savanna region

Greta Thunberg blasts decision to let UAE oil boss chair climate talks

Four years after taking the World Economic Forum by storm, Greta Thunberg returned to Davos on Thursday to blast the United Arab Emirates for appointing the head of its state-owned oil company to chair the Cop28 climate talks later this year.

Thunberg said it was “completely ridiculous” that Sultan Ahmed al-Jaber, chief executive of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), will preside over the next round of global climate talks in Dubai in November.

She told an event on the sidelines of the WEF’s annual meeting in Davos that lobbyists have been influencing these conferences “since, basically, forever”.

“This just puts a very clear face to it,” she added. “It’s completely ridiculous.”

Also of Interest

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

Ukraine - Pressing For Tanks

Israel’s Hard-Right Turn Fails to Raise Alarm in US Media

US Supreme Court About to Eviscerate the Right to Strike

Republicans demand massive cuts in social spending as countdown begins for debt ceiling crisis

FTC Urged to Crack Down on Egg Industry's 'Organized Theft'

San Francisco man arrested after spraying homeless woman with hose

‘All-natural’ Simply Orange Juice has high toxic PFAS levels, lawsuit alleges

Legendary US musician David Crosby dies aged 81

Leftist vs. Liberal Critiques of the Twitter Files

Keenan Anderson: BLM Cofounder Patrisse Cullors Demands Justice for Cousin’s Death After LAPD Tasing

How Adam Schiff directed Twitter censorship

A Little Night Music

Son Seals ~ Going Back Home

Son Seals - Bad Axe

Son Seals - I Can't Hear Nothing But The Blues

Son Seals - Let It Go

Son Seals - Your Love Is Like A Cancer

Son Seals - Buzzard Luck

Son Seals - Cotton Picking Blues

Son Seals - Frank And Johnnie

Son Seals - The Woman I Love

Son Seals - Jelly , Jelly

Son Seals - Sadie

Son Seals - Going Home Where Women Got Meat On Their Bones

15 users have voted.


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joe shikspack's picture


and other members of the Squad and Progressive House Caucus - might be able to swing by?

pfffffttt!!! that would require a spine.

12 users have voted.

12 users have voted.
mimi's picture

The USA and Germany will not donate tanks yet. - me: good decision
(yet?) - dare you idiots to ever donate tanks.

One of the reasons: it will take a lot of time to train them to operate the Abrams; - me: dishonest and bad and fake excuse or explanation.

I should close my eyes and put some plugs in my ears and ignore all those bullshitters there are.

Good Night from my parts of the woods.

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usefewersyllables's picture


It's great for shareholder value to not show all that obsolete stuff on the books any more. Helluva tax deduction, that...

11 users have voted.

Twice bitten, permanently shy.

joe shikspack's picture


perhaps the u.s. doesn't want to turn up the heat on the boiling frog so quickly. the neocons probably want to see what happens after they help elensky bomb crimea again.

8 users have voted.
mimi's picture

that's the beginning of the end, isn't it?

8 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


it's probably just a justifiable precaution given the changes that our societies have made over the past decades, turning their foundational documents into damned pieces of paper, surveilling every citizen 24/7/365 and using unconstitutional law (such as the espionage act) to punish those who provide the details of their corruption.

8 users have voted.

takes a while to get there

9 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

which used to be an important city for Ukraine to keep control of, but now we’re being told that it isn’t. Serge explains why it actually is.

I see so many people saying that Russia is taking too long to win the war. Ukraine had 8 years to build defenses and Russia doesn’t want to lose lots of people by just throwing them at these defenses. Here’s some of the trenches.

Russo-Ukrainian War: The World Blood Pump

The bird’s eye view of this conflict reveals a fascinating meta-structure to the war. In the above section, I argue for a view of the front structured around Russia progressively breaking through sequential Ukrainian defensive belts. I think that a similar sort of progressive narrative structure applies to the force generation aspect of this war, with Russia destroying a sequence of Ukrainian armies.

Let me be a bit more concrete. While the Ukrainian military exists at least partially as a continuous institution, its combat power has been destroyed and rebuilt multiple times at this point through western assistance. Multiple phases - life cycles, if you will - can be identified:

In the opening months of the war, the extant Ukrainian army was mostly wiped out. The Russians destroyed much of Ukraine’s indigenous supplies of heavy weaponry and shattered many cadres at the core of Ukraine’s professional army.

In the wake of this initial shattering, Ukrainian combat strength was shored up by transferring virtually all of the Soviet vintage weaponry in the stockpiles of former Warsaw Pact countries. This transferred Soviet vehicles and ammunition, compatible with existing Ukrainian capabilities, from countries like Poland and the Czech Republic, and was mostly complete by the end of spring, 2022. In early June, for example, western sources were admitting that Soviet stockpiles were drained.

With Warsaw Pact stockpiles exhausted, NATO began replacing destroyed Ukrainian capabilities with western equivalents in a process that began during the summer. Of particular note were howitzers like the American M777 and the French Caesar.

Russia has essentially fought multiple iterations of the Ukrainian Army - destroying the pre-war force in the opening months, then fighting units that were refilled from Warsaw Pact stockpiles, and is now degrading a force which is largely reliant on western systems.

This led to General Zaluzhny’s now-famous interview with the economist in which he asked for many hundreds of Main Battle Tanks, Infantry Fighting Vehicles, and artillery pieces. In effect, he asked for yet another army, as the Russians seem to keep destroying the ones he has.

I want to note a few particular areas where Ukraine’s capabilities are clearly degraded beyond acceptable levels, and observe how this relates to NATO’s effort to sustain the Ukrainian war-making effort.

On Serge's homepage he has numerous essays on the history of past wars if anyone is interested in that. It was his 1st essay on this conflict that got me interested in what he has to say. I suggest reading the first one and the one on the politics of war.

Great essay on how NATO is demilitarizing’s almost funny

Tanks for Nothing: NATO Keeps On Demilitarising Itself in Ukraine

The headline gives away what the essay is about. Russia said that one of its goals was to demilitarize Ukraine, NATO is doing that to itself by itself by clearing out all its own equipment and sending it to Ukraine so that Russia can destroy it. Also it seems like every other day Biden is finding a few billion dollars to spend on Ukraine whilst people here sure can use those dollars instead. Funny how during this fight over the debt ceiling no one is calling that out.

I took Sam swimming in the snow today. She went right for the deep powder and started making snow tunnels with her nose and just had a swell time. Until some dumb woman let her dawg out to play and he kept getting ruff with Sam who unkindly told him to knock it off. I kept telling her that he was playing too ruff. She finally got the hint and went away. Sam went back to snorkeling…

Have a great weekend all. Thanks for the news and blues.

15 users have voted.

I feel like I’m riding in the backseat of a '66 Thunderbird with Thelma at the wheel and Louise riding shotgun

joe shikspack's picture


a lot of people seem to have military advice and criticism for the russians. it doesn't seem like they are having more effect on the russians than commentators in a booth at a football game. somehow, like the commentators, regardless of the ineffectuality of their advice and complaints, they can't shut up and stick to the play by play as the game get played.

re: nato demilitarizing itself. it will be darkly funny at the end of this when putin explains his strategy in ukraine was to proceed slowly enough to let the whining zelensky bleed the west dry of military and economic resources.

glad sam is having fun in the snow despite the occasional rude companion. give sam a scritch for me and have a great weekend!

12 users have voted.

I've heard more than a few people say the loss of Soledar has little to no strategic importance. A small town, prewar population 8K, there are many other roads to supply Bakmut. The before and after videos show a town completely demolished, the population is now zero.

Soledar did matter. Now that the Russians have taken Soledar they will move on to another town, and that town will be leveled and depopulated. I doubt many of these towns will be rebuilt. People will take root wherever they end up.

Eventually Soledar and all towns will be part of Ukraine again, and to what end will the thousands of lives lost to demolish a small town serve?

1 user has voted.
snoopydawg's picture

@ban nock

You might learn how much propaganda you are believing that your main news sites are feeding you. Good grief you don’t remember babies being thrown out of incubators and Saddam had WMDs just to name 2 recent events that your media sources got wrong?

What was that Bush saying? "Fool me once shame on you, fool me again shame on me, fool me for the 3rd time there won’t be one cuz I won’t get fooled again."

13 users have voted.

I feel like I’m riding in the backseat of a '66 Thunderbird with Thelma at the wheel and Louise riding shotgun

joe shikspack's picture

@ban nock

i sincerely doubt that soledar will be part of ukraine at the conclusion of the u.s.-provoked hostilities with russia. i see no reason why russia would give it up.

it is terrible and immoral that so many people have lost their lives in the process of this war. it was also terrible and immoral that somewhere in the vicinity of 10,000 civilians of the donbass region were slaughtered