The Evening Blues - 1-3-19
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features doo wop and r&b group The 5 Royales. Enjoy!
The 5 Royales - Women About To Make Me Go Crazy
"You're not supposed to be so blind with patriotism that you can't face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who says it."
-- Malcolm X
News and Opinion
Worth a full read:
Trump bows to domestic pressure by delaying his withdrawal from Syria; a storm is gathering in the Levant
In response to domestic pressure, Trump agreed to extend the deadline for withdrawal of thousands of US troops from the northeaster Syrian province of al-Hasaka from the initial 30 days previously announced until April this year. Journalistic warmongers and hawks in think-tanks and among the US establishment have been railing at Trump with implausible arguments for maintaining the presence of US forces in Syria. The attacks on Trump are mainly justified on the pretext of protecting the US allies, the Kurds, from possible extermination by the Turks. Other analysts dare to repeat the absurd US mantra that “ISIS has between 20,000 and 30,000 militants in Syria and Iraq” to justify the continuous occupation of northeast Syria. If these arguments were not enough, others claim that Trump would be delivering the north of Syria to Iranian and Russian scarecrows, or that he would be facilitating the “Iranian-Baghdad-Damascus-Beirut connection”. Trump remains determined to pull out, despite his allies Israel, France and the UK begging him to stay longer in the Levant. ...
The Arabs are engaged today in reopening their embassies in Damascus in an attempt to repair relationships they ruined during seven years of war. Sudan, the Emirates, Bahrein have all resumed official relations with the Syrian government, and soon Kuwait will do the same. Other countries are expected to follow suit. Saudi Arabia is not against the idea. Indeed, Sudan, Bahrein and the Emirates are very close allies to Saudi Arabia and would never move forward towards president Bashar al-Assad without Riyadh’s consent. ...
Damascus finds itself in a stronger position in 2019 than it has in the last seven years of war. Turkey is not willing to stand against Assad, but is relying on Iran and Russia to establish a proxy relationship with Damascus. President Erdogan needs Russia and Iran as strategic commercial allies. He knows that the US is not a reliable partner since it has armed Turkey’s enemies, the Kurdish YPG/PKK in Syria, to the teeth, on the pretext of fighting ISIS. He also is aware that Assad could support attacks inside Turkish borders by Kurds and Arab tribes if Turkey doesn’t align itself in a partnership with Russia, Iran and Syria. Turkey would suffer if Syria were to line up with the UAE and Saudi against it. The US Gulf allies, notably the Emirates, do not hide their animosity towards Ankara. The UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash says his country wants to return to friendship with Syria and aims to “stand against the Iranian and Turkish fronts in the region [of the Middle East]”. ...
ISIS still occupy five to six villages along the Euphrates river where US forces have given them quiet protection for many months. These villages are the only physical geography still under ISIS control in Syria and Iraq, yet the Pentagon ridiculously claims there are 20,000 to 30,000 ISIS militants in the two countries. Syrian intelligence estimates the number of ISIS militants in the Euphrates villages as less than 1500. In Iraq there remain ISIS sleeper cells yet, unless the Pentagon has details on every single sleeper cell, it is impossible to count the number of ISIS supporters in various Iraqi cities. Iraqi counter-terrorism units and Hashd al-Shaabi have established tight control on all provinces and have infiltrated many ISIS cells, quietly arresting many of them on a regular basis. Iraqi security forces estimate the number of ISIS militants at between 1500 and 2000 all over Iraq. ... There is also no doubt that its “Islamic State” has been thrown irretrievably into the bin of history. The impossibly high Pentagon estimates can only be interpreted as part of an effort to justify an indefinite US presence in Syria and Iraq. ...
President Trump’s decision to slow the withdrawal of US troops from Syria, after initial reports that he planned for a “rapid” withdrawal, are raising a lot of questions. ... After the US pullout went from a reported 30 days to “around four months,” does that mean Turkey’s timetable has also slowed for attacking Manbij? If not, Manbij could be attacked by Turkey with US forces inside the city, and the Syrian Army present to try to keep the invading Turks away.
Even if the US moves out of Manbij and other early targets for Turkey, the Syrian government’s involvement in the defense of Kurdish territory means the US will risk the appearance that they are handing over the defense of this region to Syria. In reality, the US has been comfortable with the Kurdish territory falling to Turkey, and wanted to facilitate that with the pullout. ... Trump may have found slowing the process necessary in the face angry opposition to the pullout from massive numbers of Congressional hawks. Yet it is forcing everyone to scramble to change plans to fit the still nebulous US schedule, and the future of the US-Turkey coordination is completely up in the air.
After President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of 2,000 troops from Syria last month, the U.S. military ramped up its bombing campaign against the Islamic State’s remaining territory in the eastern part of the country, according to sources on the ground and photographs we obtained. The fiercest attacks in the past week have occurred in Al Kashmah, a village on the Euphrates River near the border with Iraq, according to three sources in eastern Syria. Amid U.S. airstrikes and artillery fire by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, civilians and family members of ISIS fighters fled to villages to the south, the sources said. While Al Kashmah has not yet fallen, the only people remaining there are fighters representing what has become the front line of the war against ISIS in Deir al-Zour province.
The ISIS fighters are clustered in villages along the Euphrates, from the border with Iraq to south of Hajin, a former ISIS stronghold that fell to the SDF, a Kurdish-led militia, in mid-December. There are about 50,000 to 60,000 people who remain in those areas, according to a civilian activist in Deir al-Zour who documents rights abuses and asked not to be named out of safety concerns. “The civilians in these areas have no place to go or hide from the U.S. bombardment of their villages,” the activist said, noting that the residents have been harmed at the hands of the Syrian government, the United States, and ISIS alike.
The ISIS-held villages along the Euphrates have been the targets of U.S. bombing sorties since November as part of Operation Roundup. In addition to military targets, Operation Roundup bombed civilian areas, including a hospital, The Intercept and Al Jazeera reported last month.
Yemen's Houthi rebels on Tuesday said they were "surprised" by accusations from the United Nations food agency that they are stealing humanitarian aid and accused it of taking sides in the nearly four-year-old war. The World Food Program on Monday threatened to suspend some aid shipments to Yemen if the rebels did not investigate and stop theft and fraud in food distribution, warning that the suspension would affect some 3 million people.
The Associated Press reported Monday that armed factions on both sides of the conflict are stealing much-needed food aid, diverting it to their fighters or reselling it for profit. Some groups are blocking deliveries to communities they view as their enemies.
Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, head of the rebels' Supreme Revolutionary Council, said "we were surprised" by the allegations from the World Food Program, which he said "did not communicate officially" with the rebels. He said the decision to go to the media was "a major deviation in the work of the program."
"The work of these organizations is mostly politicized ... and this situation reflects that their work has shifted from independent to subordinate to the United States and Britain," he said.
Police have detained one of the leaders of France’s gilets jaunes anti-government movement for organising an unauthorised protest, as authorities adopt a tougher approach to try to curb the demonstrations. Eric Drouet, a lorry driver, already faces trial in June for “carrying a prohibited category D weapon”, after he was allegedly found with a wooden stick at a previous protest.
He was arrested by police on Wednesday night as he was heading towards the Champs Élysées in Paris, where several demonstrators had been waiting for him. They said they intended only to light candles for the people injured during demonstrations or killed in road accidents during the six weeks of protests on roads and roundabouts, which began in November as a fuel tax revolt but morphed into a movement against the president, Emmanuel Macron, and policies seen to favour the rich.
Drouet’s lawyer called the arrest “totally unjustified and arbitrary”. He said Drouet had intended to lay candles at Place de la Concorde in Paris then meet others in a private place. The economy minister, Bruno Le Maire, defended Drouet’s arrest, saying: “It’s called respecting the rule of law ... It’s normal that when you break the laws of the republic, you face the consequences.” ...
The authorities now appear to be clamping down on the continuing protests. The interior ministry wrote to local police chiefs this week saying the rural and suburban roundabouts and toll booths that have been occupied for weeks should be cleared of protesters. ...
Benjamin Cauchy, another gilets jaunes media figure who takes a more moderate line on the protests, said after Drouet’s arrest: “Unfortunately I have the impression that the government wants to radicalise the movement. The executive is pouring oil on the fire. They’ve just put another coin in the jukebox and the gilets jaunes song is going to go on playing, that’s for sure.”
Holy sh@t! Giuliani is a stopped clock!
Rudy Giuliani, a lawyer for President Donald Trump, said Monday that WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange had not done “anything wrong” and should not go to jail for disseminating stolen information just as major media does. “Let’s take the Pentagon Papers,” Giuliani told Fox News. “The Pentagon Papers were stolen property, weren’t they? It was in The New York Times and The Washington Post. Nobody went to jail at The New York Times and The Washington Post.”
Giuliani said there were “revelations during the Bush administration” such as Abu Ghraib. “All of that is stolen property taken from the government, it’s against the law. But once it gets to a media publication, they can publish it,” Giuliani said, “for the purpose of informing people.”
“You can’t put Assange in a different position,” he said. “He was a guy who communicated.” Giuliani said, “We may not like what [Assange] communicates, but he was a media facility. He was putting that information out,” he said. “Every newspaper and station grabbed it, and published it.”
Giuliani also said there was no coordination between the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks. “I was with Donald Trump day in and day out during the last four months of the campaign,” he said. “He was as surprised as I was about the WikiLeaks disclosures. Sometimes surprised to the extent of ‘Oh my god, did they really say that?’ We were wondering if it was true. They [the Clinton campaign] never denied it.” Giuliani said: “The thing that really got Hillary is not so much that it was revealed, but they were true. They actually had people as bad as that and she really was cheating on the debates. She really was getting from Donna Brazile the questions before hand. She really did completely screw Bernie Sanders.”
“Every bit of that was true,” he went on. “Just like the Pentagon Papers put a different view on Vietnam, this put a different view on Hillary Clinton.”
Greenwald. Worth a full read:
Veteran NBC/MSNBC Journalist Blasts the Network for Being Captive to the National Security State and Reflexively Pro-War to Stop Trump
A veteran national security journalist with NBC News and MSNBC blasted the networks in a Monday email for becoming captive and subservient to the national security state, reflexively pro-war in the name of stopping President Donald Trump, and now the prime propaganda instrument of the War Machine’s promotion of militarism and imperialism. As a result of NBC/MSNBC’s all-consuming militarism, he said, “the national security establishment not only hasn’t missed a beat but indeed has gained dangerous strength” and “is ever more autonomous and practically impervious to criticism.”
The NBC/MSNBC reporter, William Arkin, is a longtime prominent war and military reporter, perhaps best known for his groundbreaking, three-part Washington Post series in 2010, co-reported with two-time Pulitzer winner Dana Priest, on how sprawling, unaccountable, and omnipotent the national security state has become in the post-9/11 era. ... Arkin has worked with NBC and MSNBC over the years and continuously since 2016. But yesterday, he announced that he was leaving the network in a long, emphatic email denouncing the networks for their superficial and reactionary coverage of national security, for becoming fixated on trivial Trump outbursts of the day to chase profit and ratings, and — most incriminating of all — for becoming the central propaganda arm of the CIA, the Pentagon, and the FBI in the name of #Resistance, thus inculcating an entire new generation of liberals, paying attention to politics for the first time in the Trump era, to “lionize” those agencies and their policies of imperialism and militarism.
That MSNBC and NBC have become Security State Central has been obvious for quite some time. The network consists of little more than former CIA, NSA, and Pentagon officials as news “analysts”; ex-Bush-Cheney national security and communications officials as hosts and commentators; and the most extremists pro-war neocons constantly bashing Trump (and critics of Democrats generally) from the right, using the Cheney-Rove playbook on which they built their careers to accuse Democratic Party critics and enemies of being insufficiently patriotic, traitors for America’s official enemies, and abandoning America’s hegemonic role in the world.
Jeremy Corbyn will defy calls to change course on the party’s Brexit policy ahead of parliament’s vote on the deal, insisting that the government should secure a new deal with the EU if MPs reject Theresa May’s agreement. Under increasing pressure from Labour members and MPs to reconsider his approach as preparations for the delayed “meaningful vote” ramp up over the next week, Corbyn said on Wednesday that the party’s policy remained “sequential” and that no decision could be made on a second referendum until parliament voted down the deal on offer.
His remarks come as Westminster gears up for the end of recess and the return in earnest of the Brexit debate. MPs are expected to hold the delayed vote in the second week of January.
With Corbyn’s position coming under increasing scrutiny ahead of the crucial vote, it is understood that a number of high-profile leftwing Labour figures, including Ann Pettifor, a former adviser to the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, as well as the economics commentator Paul Mason, and Manuel Cortes, the general secretary of the TSSA trade union, are in advanced discussions about forming a policy commission to make the left’s case for remaining in the EU. Their planned intervention follows the publication of a new study revealing that an overwhelming majority of party members want the Labour leader to back a second referendum, though most remain loyal to Corbyn’s leadership.
Corbyn and several of his closest allies have been both publicly and privately sceptical of the policy, and the Labour leader has said in a previous interview with the Guardian that the party would pursue a negotiated Brexit deal even if it won a snap general election. Corbyn said May should return to Brussels once her deal is voted down to find an agreement that Labour could support, including a full customs union. “What we will do is vote against having no deal, we’ll vote against Theresa May’s deal; at that point she should go back to Brussels and say, ‘This is not acceptable to Britain’ and renegotiate a customs union, form a customs union with the European Union to secure trade,” he said.
'Stop This Fiscal Madness': Dems Urged to Vote Down 'Brainless Republican Idea' as Pelosi Plows Ahead With Pay-Go
After the incoming House Democratic majority's newly released rules package made clear that presumptive Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is moving to ram through a fiscally conservative "pay-go" measure despite widespread grassroots opposition, progressives condemned the proposed rule as a harmful "roadblock" to a bold agenda and urged their representatives to vote it down.
Tell your House member that PayGo is a no go!
Sign our petition: https://t.co/6RWr0Fwtoc
— SocialSecurityWorks (@SSWorks) January 2, 2019
If implemented, pay-go would require all new spending to be offset by budget cuts or tax hikes. Such a restriction, progressive lawmakers and economists argue, would unnecessarily hamstring the House Democratic majority's ability to pursue the bold agenda that voters demanded in the November midterms. ...
Just hours after the House Democrats' proposed rules package was made public, Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) — who will be sworn in on Thursday — and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) became the first lawmakers to vow to vote no if pay-go is included.
From 'Depleted' Food Stores to Understaffed Health Clinics, Native Americans 'Among Hardest Hit' by Trump Shutdown
Adding to the long and ever-growing list of harmful consequences stemming from President Donald Trump's government shutdown—from hundreds of thousands of furloughed workers to gutted food stamps offices to trashed public parks—the New York Times published a report late Tuesday highlighting the damage Trump's prolonged border wall temper tantrum has done to Native American communities.
"For one tribe of Chippewa Indians in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, the government shutdown comes with a price tag: about $100,000, every day, of federal money that does not arrive to keep health clinics staffed, food pantry shelves full, and employees paid," the Times noted. "The tribe is using its own funds to cover the shortfalls for now. But if the standoff in Washington continues much longer, that stopgap money will be depleted. Later this month, workers could be furloughed and health services could be pared back."
Because the staff of the Interior Department's Bureau of Indian Affairs has been significantly diminished due to the shutdown—which entered its 12th day on Wednesday—basic services such as road maintenance, healthcare, and disaster relief have been cut or put at risk, the Times reported.
The shutdown has also "curtailed a Department of Agriculture food program that helped feed about 90,000 Native American people in fiscal year 2017," the Times notes. Joseph Rupnick, chairman of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation in Kansas, said his tribe's food distribution center "will be depleted" if the partial government shutdown continues for much longer.
thats b/c its not a “govt shutdown” is a “shutdown of govt for the poor” & should be called such. Rightwing govt—finance, military—remain untouched as services for the indigent, elderly & POC get the chopping block. “Showdown” implies across the board cuts when thats not the case https://t.co/Jt8dABIOdx
— Adam H. Johnson (@adamjohnsonNYC) January 2, 2019
Donald Trump and top congressional leaders failed to resolve a partial government shutdown that has stretched well into a second week as the president refused to back off from his demands for billions of dollars for a long-promised wall along the southern US border with Mexico. ...
At a cabinet meeting prior to the briefing, Trump warned that parts of the government would could remain closed for a “a long time” without a deal. ...
On Capitol Hill after the briefing on Wednesday, Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, told reporters that it could take “weeks” to break the stalemate and that Wednesday’s meeting did not produce “any particular progress”. “We are hopeful that somehow in the coming days or weeks we will be able to reach an agreement,” he added. ...
Trump made his case for the wall during extensive comments to the press in which he made several false or misleading claims about illegal immigration and border wall. At the start of his cabinet meeting, Trump said the border was “like a sieve” and insisted the US needed a “physical barrier” to deter illegal border crossers.
In their first act after officially taking control of the House of Representatives on Thursday, Democrats will test their power in a newly divided Washington by passing legislation to end a partial government shutdown that is entering its 13th day. The 116th Congress was gaveled into session swathed in history, ushering in a diverse class of Democratic freshmen ready to confront president Donald Trump.
Though the vote on the proposed funding legislation is unlikely to break the impasse over the shutdown – Trump has vowed to reject it – it sets the tone for what is expected to be a tumultuous final two years of the president’s first term. ...
Trump started Thursday by blaming Democrats for the impasse, calling their opposition to a wall “strictly politics”. He wrote on Twitter: “The Shutdown is only because of the 2020 Presidential Election. The Democrats know they can’t win based on all of the achievements of ‘Trump,’ so they are going all out on the desperately needed Wall and Border Security – and Presidential Harassment. For them, strictly politics!” ...
If the House sends the bills to the Senate, which remains under Republican control, it would need 60 votes to prevail. Last month, the Senate easily passed legislation that would have funded the government through 8 February without money for Trump’s border wall.
Senator Bernie Sanders has said he was not aware of allegations of sexism and pay discrimination that occurred during his insurgent campaign for president in 2016 and pledged to “do better” should he run again in 2020. “I certainly apologize to any woman who felt she was not treated appropriately and, of course, if I run we will do better next time,” Sanders told CNN on Wednesday night.
His comments follow a New York Times report on Wednesday, which described one incident in which a female member of the Latino outreach team said she was told she was supposed to share a bedroom with three men she didn’t know. Another former staffer told the paper that she made $2,400 a month but that a younger male staffer whom she was supposed to manage made $5,000 a month. When she raised the issue her salary was adjusted to achieve parity.
The story was published days after more than two dozen staff members from his 2016 presidential campaign signed a letter seeking a meeting with the senator and his top advisers to address the issue of “sexual violence and harassment on the 2016 campaign, for the purpose of planning to mitigate the issue in the upcoming presidential cycle,” according to Politico, which obtained a copy of the letter.
The allegations are surfacing as the Vermont senator weighs a second run for the White House. Some former female staffers say the claims raise questions about whether he is the right candidate to lead the Democrats in the era of #MeToo and after a historic number of female candidates helped propel the party to power in the House of Representatives.
Interesting article, here's a taste to get you started:
When Republican Rep. Steve Scalise stepped to the dais in the U.S. House of Representatives in July and implored his colleagues to denounce a carbon tax, he didn't reach for dire predictions made by the fossil fuel titans that pushed for the resolution. Instead, he talked about America's farmers.
"Why don't we listen to what the American Farm Bureau Federation said about a carbon tax?" the Louisiana congressman said, holding up a letter from the group, the nation's largest farm lobby. "'Agriculture is an energy-intensive sector, and a carbon tax levied on farmers and ranchers would be devastating,'" he read.
Advocacy groups with close ties to the oil billionaires Charles and David Koch had urged House leaders to get the anti-tax resolution approved.
When the measure passed, by a big margin, it proved — not for the first time, nor the last - the Farm Bureau's role as a powerful defender of the nation's fossil fuel interests.
For more than three decades, the Farm Bureau has aligned agriculture closely with the fossil fuel agenda. Though little noticed next to the influence of the fossil fuel industry, the farm lobby pulled in tandem with the energy lobby in a mutually reinforcing campaign to thwart the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, legislation like the Waxman-Markey economywide cap-and-trade plan, and regulations that would limit fossil fuel emissions. ...
In pursuit of their common goals, the fossil fuel industry and the Farm Bureau worked to sow uncertainty about the scientific consensus on human-caused climate change and the economic consensus on how to solve the problem. Fossil fuel companies spent hundreds of millions of dollars to develop a network of think tanks and friendly lawmakers who gave climate denial political credibility as part of a decades-long misinformation campaign. The Farm Bureau provided a national grassroots network that was hard for Congress to oppose.
After garnering some criticism from progressives for leaving her plans to combat the climate crisis out of her announcement regarding a potential 2020 presidential run, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) indicated Wednesday that she broadly supports the Green New Deal. An aide to the senator told Axios that Warren backs the proposal that includes shifting the U.S. to 100 percent renewable energy in the next decade—a plan that has gained some traction in the House and elements of which the Senate could see in legislation Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is planning to introduce, following tireless advocacy by the youth-led Sunrise Movement.
"Senator Warren has been a longtime advocate of aggressively addressing climate change and shifting toward renewables, and supports the idea of a Green New Deal to ambitiously tackle our climate crisis, economic inequality, and racial injustice," the staffer told Axios. The statement suggested support for the sweeping green economy framework championed by progressive freshmen lawmakers including Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), which would create 10 million jobs over the next decade, putting Americans to work creating sustainable technology and infrastructure while rapidly transitioning away from fossil fuels in order to stem the climate crisis.
Warren's statement of support won praise on social media, including from progressives who argued that any Democrat who refuses to back the Green New Deal has no place in the 2020 presidential race.
Meanwhile, the Sunrise Movement acknowledged Warren's support but withheld praise, demanding to know whether the senator backs the specifics within the proposal—moving to 100 percent renewable energy by 2030, investing in communities that are most affected by the climate crisis, and a jobs guarantee for anyone who wants to help to create the new sustainable infrastructure.
No North Atlantic right whales were killed in Canadian waters last year – a rare glimmer of hope for officials working to protect one of the world’s most endangered species. While the government protection measures appear to be working, the outlook for the whales remains bleak: only 411 are believed to remain worldwide, with fewer females giving birth than in previous years.
The urgency in deploying environmental protections comes after a catastrophic 12 right whales were killed in Canadian waters in 2017 – the deadliest year on record for the species. Most of the deaths were the result of collisions with marine vessels. Rope entanglements from fishing boats were also suspected in two deaths. Another six were killed in American waters.
Sweeping measures introduced last year by Canada’s government include a 100-meter buffer zone between the whales and boats, fishing closures and vessel slowdowns. Violations of the rules can run steep: fines range from C$100,000 ($73,000) to C$500,000 ($366,543) – with repeat offenders facing potential jail time.
Large boats, including cruise ships, are required to slow their speed down to 10 knots in protection zones, reducing the risk of colliding with whales. The new limits have prompted some cruise ship companies to modify itineraries and bypass the region.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
The 5 Royales - Too Much Of A Little Bit
The 5 Royales - I'm With You
The 5 Royales - 1st Recording of Dedicated To The One I Love
The 5 Royales - Catch That Teardrop
The 5 Royales - I Like It Like That
The 5 Royales - I Ain't Getting Caught
The 5 Royales - Laundromat Blues
The 5 Royales - They Don't Know
The 5 Royales - Messin' Up
Five Royales - Roll With the Punch
The "5" Royales - Baby Don't Do It
The 5 Royales - Right Around The Corner