The Evening Blues - 1-18-18
Hey! Good Evening!
Gene Burks - Monkey Man
"I have learned to hate all traitors, and there is no disease that I spit on more than treachery."
News and Opinion
The march to create an unaccountable fascist dictatorship continues on. Thanks congressworms!
Since 1947, section 504 of the National Security Act has mandated that the administration inform Congress if it intends to shift money from one intelligence project to another, if the new project has not been authorized by Congress. That notification can be — and almost always is — done in secret, but it is at least a minimal check on executive power.
The spending bill currently under consideration, known as a continuing resolution, or CR, breaks with that tradition, allowing funds to “be obligated and expended notwithstanding section 504(a)(1) of the National Security Act of 1947.”
Global confidence in US leadership has fallen to a new low, and the country now ranks below China in worldwide approval ratings, according to a new Gallup poll.
The survey of opinion in 134 countries showed a record collapse in approval for the US role in the world, from 48% under Obama to 30% after one year of Donald Trump – the lowest level Gallup has recorded since beginning its global leadership poll over a decade ago.
The result comes after a separate Gallup survey found that Trump reaches the first anniversary of his inauguration with the lowest average approval rating of any elected president in his first year. ...
The latest study confirms some of the worst fears of foreign policy analysts in the US and Europe that Trump’s “America first” approach, combined with his volatile and irascible personality, is weakening cohesion among western democracies in the face of a growing challenge from autocracies in Russia and China, and the rise of illiberal democracies and xenophobic nationalism inside Europe.
Germany is now seen as a global leader by many more people (41% of the sample), with China in second place on 31%. Russia has 27% approval for its global role according to the poll.
North and South Korea reached an agreement Wednesday for their athletes to march together under one flag at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics next month, a powerful gesture of reconciliation that further complicates President Trump’s strategy for dealing with the nuclear-armed regime of Kim Jong-un.
South Korea, the host of the games, said it hoped a partnership in sports could contribute to a political thaw after years of high tensions on the Korean Peninsula. It came even as the prospect of war over the North’s nuclear and ballistic missile tests has loomed large.
For the White House, however, the budding détente scrambles its strategy of pressuring the North, with sanctions and threats of military action, to give up its nuclear arsenal. This latest gesture of unity, the most dramatic in a decade, could add to fears in Washington that Pyongyang is making progress on a more far-reaching agenda.
White House officials warn that the ultimate goal of Mr. Kim is to evict American troops from the Korean Peninsula and to reunify the two Koreas under a single flag. They have cited that long-held goal to buttress their argument that Mr. Kim cannot be deterred peacefully as the Soviet Union was during the Cold War.
Following up on Tuesday’s statements from Vancouver that the US and allied nations want to ignore the North Korea diplomatic efforts with South Korea and pursue new sanctions, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson piled on with a threat of US military action against North Korea.
Tillerson’s position doesn’t make a lot of sense with all factors considered, suggesting the US goal is negotiations, and that the US would respond to North Korea’s refusal to negotiate with military force against them.
In reality, North Korea has repeatedly suggested negotiations in recent weeks, and been rebuffed every single time by the US. Tillerson is clearly aware of this, as every time he’s suggested talks, he too has been condemned by other Trump Administration officials.
Turkey said on Wednesday it would not hesitate to take action in Syria’s Afrin district and other areas unless the United States withdrew support for a Kurdish-led force there, but Washington denied such plans and said “some people misspoke”.
Turkish President Erdogan has repeatedly warned of an imminent incursion in Afrin after Washington said it would help the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), led by the Kurdish YPG militia, set up a new 30,000-strong border force. ...
The plan has infuriated Turkey, which considers the Syrian YPG as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militant group, which has fought an insurgency in southeast Turkey since 1984. The PKK is considered a terrorist group by the European Union, Turkey and the United States.
Deputy Prime Minister and Government Spokesman Bekir Bozdag told reporters after a Cabinet meeting the planned U.S.-backed force posed a threat to Turkey’s national security, territorial integrity and the safety of its citizens.
“We emphasized that such a step was very wrong,” he said. “Turkey has reached the limits of its patience. Nobody should expect Turkey to show more patience.”
As Secretary of State Rex Tillerson laid out the Trump administration's plans for the "open-ended" presence of U.S. military in their country, the Syrian government of President Bashar Al-Assad on Thursday decried the ongoing presence of U.S. soldiers in the country as a form of "aggression" which would not be tolerated.
The Syrians voiced their objections to the U.S. military's continued activities inside its territory—with the number of American soldier's believed to be around 2,000—with a statement from the Foreign Ministry which stated that the "American military presence on Syrian land is illegitimate and represents a blatant breach of international law and an aggression against national sovereignty."
The statement emerged after Tillerson on Wednesday, at a forum hosted by the right-wing Hoover Institute at Stanford University, argued that removing U.S. forces from inside Syria would only serve to "restore" Assad's grip on the country and "provide Iran the opportunity to further strengthen its position in Syria."
An Israeli court has ruled to keep a prominent Palestinian teen activist and her mother in custody until the end of their trial. Ahed Tamimi, 16, was detained last month during an overnight raid on her home in the occupied West Bank village of Nabi Saleh after a video of the teen slapping and hitting Israeli soldiers went viral. Shortly before, her 15-year-old cousin was severely wounded after Israeli forces shot him point-blank in the face with a rubber bullet. Her mother, Nariman, and her 20-year-old cousin Nour were arrested soon after.
Earlier in January, Ahed was indicted on 12 charges, including alleged assault, "incitement" and past instances of stone-throwing. Nariman was also indicted on an assault charge and "incitement" for uploading the video on social media. Nour is charged with allegedly assaulting a soldier and interfering with a soldier's duties. However, she has since been released on bail.
Ahed's next hearing is on January 31, the day she turns 17. Nariman and Nour's next court session will be in February.
A plan by New York mayor Bill de Blasio to house the city’s rising homeless population is facing opposition over a shelter that backs on to a super-luxury residential skyscraper on “Billionaires’ Row”.
According to the city’s department of homeless services, the former Park Savoy Hotel at 158 W 58th St in midtown Manhattan will house 150 homeless people. It is scheduled to open in March, and backs on to One57, a 75-storey skyscraper on 57th Street.
But the plan, part of a program to create 90 new shelters across all five New York boroughs that de Blasio says will be “in every kind of neighborhood”, is opposed by local residents who accuse the recently re-elected major of playing political games.
“I think de Blasio is trying to score points,” said Helen Caputi, who was walking her dog on the corner of 58th Street and 7th Avenue. “The people here are uppity, they don’t like it. I’m for helping the homeless people, but I think they could have placed the shelter elsewhere.”
Building superintendents and doormen said the plan was already facing stiff opposition from wealthy neighbors. “It’s not going to be a good thing cause you’ve got the Marriott and Hyatt hotels right here,” said the super at an adjacent building. “So it looks like there’s going to be a war with de Blasio."
Budget negotiations in Congress remained stalled on Thursday as Donald Trump, preparing to mark his first anniversary in office, faced the prospect of the first government shutdown in four years. US lawmakers are racing toward a deadline to pass a spending bill or trigger the shutdown – which would freeze most government services and leave federal workers going unpaid.
With funding for the government due to expire at midnight on Friday, negotiations over the budget continued to struggle amid a dispute over spending priorities and immigration. ...
Means testing has now come to disaster aid — and it only applies to Puerto Rico.
When Congress passed a $36.5 billion disaster relief bill to bolster rebuilding efforts in several wildfire and hurricane-damaged areas in October, it shortchanged Puerto Rico, giving it a $4.9 billion loan instead of the grant that other areas received. Now, it appears the debt- and hurricane-ravaged island won’t even get that money.
First reported in El Nuevo Dia, Puerto Rico’s daily newspaper, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Treasury Department informed the Puerto Rican government on January 9 that they will not disburse the loan through the Community Disaster Loans Program, after finding that Puerto Rico had a cash balance on December 29 of last year of $1.7 billion for ongoing operations. The letter also cited $6.875 billion scattered in various local government accounts. Since the loan was intended to fill in a gap in day-to-day funding, FEMA determined Puerto Rico does not need the money at this time. ...
There’s no question that the Puerto Rican government has lacked fiscal transparency. But the very fact that Puerto Rico must receive assistance as loans rather than grants, unlike any other entity receiving disaster assistance, is bad enough. That the island is being treated like a welfare recipient found to have too much money in its bank account takes it to another level. Among U.S. territories suffering from catastrophe, only Puerto Rico is being means-tested.
Russia’s richest have unleashed a swarm of lobbyists, consultants, and lawyers upon Washington, D.C., in recent months to help avert a looming threat to the estimated $1 trillion pile of riches they’ve stashed away outside Russia. The cause for the open checkbooks? A list of names. Or more accurately, a document with a cinematic nickname: “The Kremlin Report.”
The Treasury Department on Jan. 29 is set to publish a detailed report on the staggering wealth and business interests of Russian oligarchs and their family members, thanks to a once little-noticed provision tucked inside sanctions legislation that Congress forced U.S. President Donald Trump to sign with a veto-proof majority back in August.
“I’d refer to it as a name-and-shame list,” said Erich Ferrari, head of a Washington law firm specializing in sanctions. ...
The report won’t automatically trigger explicit penalties, but those who find their name in its pages have reason to fear they will become instantly radioactive in the elite upper reaches of Western financial institutions, effectively putting a big crimp in their extravagant lifestyles and limiting their ability to exploit their own astronomical wealth, experts said.
The stigma may be just the start of it. Being named by the report could indeed set the stage for further action, including real-life sanctions later on, U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, Democrat from Maryland and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told VICE News.
2017 was the hottest year since global records began that was not given an additional boost by the natural climate cycle El Niño, according to new data. Even without an El Niño, the year was still exceptionally hot, being one of the top three ever recorded.
The three main global temperature records show the global surface temperature in 2017 was 1C above levels seen in pre-industrial times, with scientists certain that humanity’s fossil fuel-burning is to blame.
The data, published on Thursday, means the last three years have been the hottest trio ever seen, with 2017 ranking second or third depending on the small differences between the temperature records. Furthermore, 17 of the 18 hottest years recorded since 1850 have occurred since 2000.
2017 also saw extreme weather events strike across the world, from hurricanes in the US and Caribbean to heatwaves in Australia and devastating floods in Asia. Many of these events have been shown to have been made much more likely by the heat resulting from global warming. ...
The three global temperature records are compiled by the UK’s Met Office and Nasa and Noaa in the United States. The Met Office said the average temperature in 2017 was 0.99C above that seen from 1850-1900, despite the Pacific Ocean moving into its cooler La Niña phase.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
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Gene Burks - You Got It
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Bobby Mitchell - Don't Mess With My Woman
Bobby Mitchell - Well I Done Got Over It
Bobby Mitchell - 4X11=44
Bobby Mitchell - I Would Like To Know
Bobby Mitchell - Try Rock 'n' Roll
Dorothy Williams - The Well's Gone Dry
Dorothy Williams - Watchdog