The Evening Blues - 1-4-18
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features jazz trumpeter and former Presidential candidate Dizzy Gillespie. Enjoy!
Dizzy Gillespie & Louis Armstrong - Umbrella Man
“The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerated the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than the democratic state itself. That in its essence is fascism: ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or any controlling private power.”
-- Franklin D. Roosevelt
News and Opinion
Facebook is declining to say why it appears to be picking and choosing political leaders to censor at the request of the US government after it deleted the social media accounts of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov. The Silicon Valley technology company deleted Kadyrov’s Instagram and Facebook profiles after the United States imposed travel and economic sanctions on him over allegations of human rights abuses. Facebook told the New York Times that it had a “legal obligation” to disable his accounts once they confirmed they were run by someone on a US sanctions list.
That legal obligation did not appear to extend to other key individuals on US sanctions lists, including the Venezuelan president, Nicolás Maduro, Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, and Guatemalan congressman Julio Antonio Juárez. Facebook declined to explain why it had deleted some accounts but not others under US sanctions law. A company spokeswoman told the Guardian: “We operate under the constraints of US laws, which vary by circumstance.”
“We will continue to work with appropriate government authorities to ensure we meet our legal obligations and to explore options for complying with the law in a way that maximises free expression on our platform and keeps people safe.” The case has raised concern among civil liberties groups, who worry that economic sanctions imposed by the US, in service of Washington’s foreign policy, are being used to censor political speech. ... The fact Facebook has left accounts of other sanctioned individuals untouched suggests the social network may be subject to US government pressure behind the scenes.
Once the Cold War ended, the justification for 50 years of massive military spending, global warfare and coups was finally over. Like U.S. allies, enemies and neighbors around the world, Americans breathed a sigh of relief and welcomed the “peace dividend.” Robert McNamara and Lawrence Korb, former cold warriors of both parties, testified to the Senate Budget Committee that the U.S. military budget could be cut in half from its FY1990 level over the next 10 years. Committee chairman Senator Jim Sasser hailed “this unique moment in history” as “the dawn of the primacy of domestic economics.” But the peace dividend was short-lived, trumped by what Carl Conetta of the Project for Defense Alternatives has dubbed the “power dividend,” the drive to exploit the end of the Cold War to consolidate and expand U.S. military power. Influential voices linked to military industrial interests had a new refrain, essentially “Give War a Chance.” But of course, they didn’t put it so plainly. ...
Despite surely being well aware of the reality behind the propaganda, Undersecretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz crowed to General Wesley Clark, “With the end of the Cold War, we can now use our military with impunity.” As the Clinton administration took over the reins of the U.S. war machine in 1992, Madeleine Albright challenged General Colin Powell on his “Powell Doctrine” of limited war, asking him, “What’s the point of having this superb military you’re always talking about if we can’t use it?” Albright was appointed Secretary of State in 1997, mainstreaming new political pretexts for otherwise illegal wars such as “humanitarian intervention” and the “responsibility to protect.” ...
Giving war a chance has not worked out well, to put it mildly, in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Honduras, Yemen, Libya, Syria or Ukraine. All remain mired in violence and chaos caused by U.S. invasions, bombing campaigns, coups and covert operations. In every case, U.S. policy decisions have either made these countries’ problems worse or are entirely responsible for the incredible problems afflicting them. Many of those decisions were illegal or criminal under U.S. and/or international law. The human cost to millions of innocent people is a historic tragedy that shames us all. In every case, the U.S. could have made different decisions, and in every case, the U.S. can still make different decisions. ...
In Mr. Trump’s new national security strategy, he promised Americans that he will “preserve peace through strength.” But the U.S. is not at peace today. It is a nation at war across the world. The U.S. has 291,000 troops stationed in 183 foreign countries, amounting to a global military occupation. It has deployed special operations troops on secret combat and training missions to 149 countries in 2017 alone. It has dropped 39,000 bombs and missiles on Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan since Trump took office, and the U.S.- and Iraqi-led assault on Mosul alone killed an estimated 40,000 civilians. Pretending we are at peace and vowing to preserve it by diverting more of our resources to the military industrial complex is not a national security strategy. It is an Orwellian deception taken straight from the pages of 1984.
At the dawn of 2018, nobody could accuse the American public of not giving war a chance. We have let successive presidents talk us into war over each and every international crisis, most of which were caused or fueled by U.S. aggression and militarism in the first place, in the belief that they may have finally found an enemy they can defeat and a war that will somehow make life better for somebody somewhere. But they haven’t.
Amid reports that President Donald Trump is preparing to announce cuts to U.S. security assistance to Pakistan, a chorus of Pakistani officials slammed the move, including Imran Khan—a political leader and fierce opponent of the American drone program—who denounced Trump for attempting to "humiliate and insult" his country and urged the government to never again be used as an American "gun for hire."
"The lesson we must learn is never to be used by others for short-term paltry financial benefits," Khan said in a scathing statement issued through a spokesperson on Thursday. "We became a U.S. proxy for a war against the Soviet Union when it entered Afghanistan and we allowed the CIA to create, train, and arm Jihadi groups on our soil and a decade later we tried to eliminate them as terrorists on U.S. orders. The time has come to stand firm and give a strong response to the U.S."
Such a response would include removing "excessive U.S. diplomatic, non-diplomatic, and intelligence personnel," denying the U.S. unfettered use of its facilities, and "creating a cooperative framework with China, Russia, and Iran to seek peace in Afghanistan," Khan said.
"It is time for Pakistan to delink from the U.S.," Khan concluded. "While Pakistan does not seek a conflict with the U.S., it cannot continue being the scapegoat for U.S. failures in Afghanistan."
Donald Trump has called potential talks between North and South Korea “a good thing” and the South Korean presidency said he had agreed there would be no military drills with South Korea during next month’s Winter Olympics.
South Korea’s presidential Blue House said Trump told South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in, in a telephone call that he hoped inter-Korean talks would lead to good results and that he would send a high-level delegation, including members of his family, to the Winter Olympics, which will be held in South Korea.
In a tweet ahead of the South Korean statement, Trump hailed potential talks between North Korea and South Korea as “a good thing” and took credit for any dialogue after Seoul and Pyongyang this week signalled willingness to speak.
Asked about the suspension in drills, a Pentagon spokesman, Col Rob Manning, said: “The Department of Defense supports the president’s decision and what is in the best interest of the [South Korea]-US alliance.”
Protests throughout Iran are cresting right as a crisis point for the landmark nuclear deal approaches. Starting on January 13, a week from Saturday, Trump will face a deadline over reimposing economic sanctions that the U.S. agreed to lift under the 2015 nuclear deal. Despite the agreement, those sanctions have remained in place, technically; it’s just that president Obama and, thus far, Trump, periodically agree not to enforce them, keeping the deal alive.
In other words, as unrest in Iran spreads, Trump has an imminent opportunity to kill the Iran nuclear deal he despises, all by doing nothing. And as of right now, there’s no wave of concerted allied diplomacy aimed at keeping him in, The Daily Beast has learned.
That’s in marked contrast to the last time Trump brought the U.S. to the precipice of withdrawing from the Iran deal was October, when he “decertified” Iranian compliance with the deal, even though the International Atomic Agency has consistently found Iran to live up to its obligations under what’s formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Before he did, the White House and the State Department endured a full-court press from the U.S.’ traditional European allies to save the deal. ... But the Europeans are relatively silent this time. “We’re not pressing the White House, which is aware of our position,” a senior European diplomat told The Daily Beast.
As Politico observed, if Trump declines to waive sanctions, the implications for the deal’s future are far greater than any decertification. (After all, the whole American “certification” concept was a product of U.S. legislation, not the deal itself.) The Iranians will be able to claim that the nuclear deal is dead, that Americans killed it and that it ought to no longer be subject to the negotiated restraints on its nuclear program.
President Trump doubled down on his support for Iranian protesters Wednesday morning, assuring that at the “appropriate time” they would see aid from the United States.
“Such respect for the people of Iran as they try to take back their corrupt government. You will see great support from the United States at the appropriate time!” Trump tweeted.
Protests have rocked the Islamic Republic for nearly a week, leaving at least 21 people dead. At least 450 have been arrested in protests that have spread from Tehran to cities throughout the Muslim nation, the semi-official ILNA news agency reported.
The State Department announced Tuesday that it would use Facebook and Twitter to communicate directly with Iranian protesters, posting in Farsi on the social media platforms.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard has been deployed to protest hotspots across the nation, saying they’ve been charged with quelling “sedition” nationwide. Protests are still being held across the nation, though Tehran is said to be unusually calm.
The city of Piranshahr was decidedly less quiet, with the Revolutionary Guard issuing a statement reporting that three of their intelligence agents were killed in a fight with “anti-revolutionary elements.”
Though they didn’t elaborate on what that meant, this presumably means a fight with protesters.
U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley’s declaration that the United States intends to cut aid the Palestinians, and possibly to UNRWA, the United Nations’ relief agency for Palestinian refugees, is no less worrying to Israel than it is to the Palestinian Authority. Officially, Israel has come out time after time against UNRWA employees’ flirtation with messages supporting terror and the funding the agency provides for the grandchildren of the original Palestinian refugees from 1948. In practice, however, the agency funds educational activities and medical services for hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, and a sharp cut in its resources could bring thousands of them into the streets to confront the Israeli army.
Moreover, if a war were to break out in Gaza, international organizations would be the only ones that Israel could turn to in order to prevent a humanitarian disaster in the enclave.
Trump’s latest flurry of tweets also expressed disappointment with both Israelis and Palestinians following the Jerusalem recognition announcement. Trump complains that the Palestinians have suspended the peace process in protest (although in practice it has been at a standstill for years) and that Israelis haven't responded to his gesture with a readiness to make concessions to the Palestinians.
What would happen if Donald Trump carries out his threats to stop US aid to Palestinians?
If he means a cutoff of US funding to the Palestinian Authority, potentially bringing about its collapse, he would be robbing Israel of one of its key tools for maintaining its regime of occupation and apartheid over millions of Palestinians. That is something many Palestinians might welcome.
But if he means cutting US funding for UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees, that could cause a humanitarian catastrophe. It would inflict suffering on millions of people who have been forced to depend on UNRWA’s provision of health and education services and emergency food and shelter because Israel denies them their rights.
Cutting aid to UNRWA – as Trump’s UN ambassador Nikki Haley suggested the US might do – would also have far-reaching effects, potentially destabilizing Jordan and Lebanon, where large Palestinian refugee populations live.
Serious security flaws that could let attackers steal sensitive data, including passwords and banking information, have been found in processors designed by Intel, AMD and ARM.
The flaws, named Meltdown and Spectre, were discovered by security researchers at Google’s Project Zero in conjunction with academic and industry researchers from several countries. Combined they affect virtually every modern computer, including smartphones, tablets and PCs from all vendors and running almost any operating system.
Meltdown is “probably one of the worst CPU bugs ever found”, said Daniel Gruss, one of the researchers at Graz University of Technology who discovered the flaw.
Meltdown is currently thought to primarily affect Intel processors manufactured since 1995, excluding the company’s Itanium server chips and Atom processors before 2013. It could allow hackers to bypass the hardware barrier between applications run by users and the computer’s core memory. Meltdown, therefore, requires a change to the way the operating system handles memory to fix, which initial speed estimates predict could affect the speed of the machine in certain tasks by as much as 30%.
The Spectre flaw affects most modern processors made by a variety of manufacturers, including Intel, AMD and those designed by ARM, and potentially allows hackers to trick otherwise error-free applications into giving up secret information. Spectre is harder for hackers to take advantage of but is also harder to fix and would be a bigger problem in the long term, according to Gruss.
A white Ohio police officer who fatally shot a black man in a Walmart store says he believed he faced an “imminent threat”, although he acknowledges he never saw the man point what turned out to be an air rifle or threaten anyone.
The Beavercreek officer Sean Williams made his statements during a deposition in a federal lawsuit filed by the family of John Crawford III. Crawford, 22, was killed 5 August 2014, after police responded to a 911 call about someone waving a rifle in a store in Beavercreek, a Dayton suburb.
The Dayton Daily News reports in Thursday editions that depositions show police relied on the lone 911 caller, who said a man had a rifle. The civil case is scheduled for trial next month. Crawford’s relatives sued Beavercreek police and Arkansas-based Walmart, alleging negligence and civil rights violations. Police and Walmart have denied the allegations. ...
Officer Williams and police Sgt David Darkow have said Crawford refused to respond to commands. The Daily News says both officers said during their civil depositions that they didn’t realize Crawford was talking on his cellphone and didn’t know if he heard their commands.
At least six Motel 6 locations in Washington state regularly shared information on their guests with Immigration Customs and Enforcement, a lawsuit filed Wednesday by Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson alleges. In total, the facilities are accused of sharing the private information of more than 9,000 guests; six of those people were subsequently detained by ICE.
“This information was provided on an almost daily basis by some motels without the ICE agents having provided any documentation or evidence of reasonable suspicion, probable cause, or a search warrant for the requested guest registry information,” the lawsuit states. “Motel 6 was aware that the ICE agents used the guest registry information to identify and single out guests based on national origin, including guests with Latino-sounding names.”
Ferguson’s lawsuit was sparked by a September report in the Phoenix New Times that said two Phoenix-area Motel 6 facilities regularly shared information about their hotel guests with ICE. This practice reportedly led to the detention of at least 20 people there.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has made it abundantly clear that he’s no fan of marijuana and he’s unleashing the full power of federal law enforcement on states that have legalized weed. The Department of Justice announced Thursday that Sessions is rescinding an Obama-era policy that guides federal prosecutors on when to target marijuana growers, sellers, and other businesspeople in Colorado, Washington, Oregon, California, and other states where the drug is now legal. ...
The move doesn’t appear to be a direct crackdown, but it will allow U.S. Attorneys to prosecute marijuana cases at their own discretion. Previously, federal prosecutors were instructed to only pursue cases that involved flagrant violations of state law, such as marijuana being shipped across state lines or sold to children. The Justice Department called the move a “return to the rule of law,” and said has instructed federal prosecutors “to follow well-established principles when pursuing prosecutions related to marijuana activities.” ...
Erik Altieri, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), warned that the move by Sessions “flies in the face of sensible public policy and broad public opinion,” and imperils an industry estimated to be worth $16 billion. ... “The American people will not just sit idly by while he upends all the progress that has been made in dialing back the mass incarceration fueled by marijuana arrests and destabilizes an industry now responsible for over 150,000 jobs,” Altieri said. “Ending our disgraceful war on marijuana is the will of the people and the Trump Administration can expect severe backlash for opposing it."
The delegate from the 94th House District in Virginia was elected Thursday by drawing names out of a bowl. The lucky winner was Republican David Yancey, the incumbent, who defeated Democrat Shelly Simonds in their district in the Newport News-area of Virginia.
While drawing names to determine an election has happened before in Virginia, what made today’s luck-of-the-draw unique was it also determined whether the Virginia House of Delegates would be split down the middle between Democrats and Republicans or if Republicans would continue to control the legislative body, something the GOP has done for nearly two decades.
If Simonds had won and there had been no other legal challenges, the two parties would have had to figure out how share power in Virginia’s House of Delegates.
Originally, Simonds lost the race by 10 votes and asked for a recount. After that recount, she appeared to have won by one vote. But then Yancey’s campaign brought a legal challenge resulting in a panel of judges deciding to count an oddly-marked ballot for Yancey. That created a tie in the race. There were multiple legal back and forths, but in the end the Virginia Board of Elections put a 1705 law into practice to break the tie through a random lottery.
Lawyers for Donald Trump moved on Thursday to try to shut down the explosive new book which has exposed chaos behind the scenes at the White House. Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, by Michael Wolff, is due to be released on Tuesday. But after extracts from the book were made public by the Guardian, the White House has been thrown into a frenzy.
First, Trump issued a remarkable personal statement denouncing Steve Bannon, his one-time confidant, whom he castigated as self-aggrandizing and not a critical figure. “Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my presidency,” Trump said. “When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind.” The White House spokeswoman, Sarah Sanders, said the president was “furious and disgusted” at Bannon’s attacks on his family, which included the claim that Donald Trump Jr’s Trump Tower meeting with a group of Russians who had promised dirt on Hillary Clinton had been “treasonous” and “unpatriotic”.
Then on Thursday, as the White House struggled to contain the fallout from the book, a lawyer for Trump sent a letter demanding Wolff and his publisher, Henry Holt & Co, “immediately cease and desist from any further publication, release or dissemination”, or excerpts and summaries of its contents. The legal notice, sent by Beverly Hills-based attorney Charles Harder, also demanded a copy of the book. Harder sent a similar letter to Bannon on Wednesday night, accusing the former chief strategist of violating an employee agreement and defaming the president.
The Guardian published details from the book on Wednesday after obtaining a copy from a bookseller in New England. New York magazine then rushed to publish a lengthy extract and more details began to emerge. ...
Ben Wizner, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s speech, privacy, and technology project, said Trump’s cease-and-desist lawsuit had no chance of success. “Even Donald’s Trump’s lawyers aren’t crazy enough to present this to a court,” he said. “It would be extraordinary and unprecedented for a court to respond to these claims by blocking publication. That is not going to happen."
Wow! This article contains one of the most outrageous unsupported conjectures by a scientist imaginable:
"the consequences to humans of staying on that trajectory are so dire that it is hard to imagine we would go quite that far down that path"
Now that is a dangerous underestimation of the power of human greed and stupidity.
Ocean dead zones with zero oxygen have quadrupled in size since 1950, scientists have warned, while the number of very low oxygen sites near coasts have multiplied tenfold. Most sea creatures cannot survive in these zones and current trends would lead to mass extinction in the long run, risking dire consequences for the hundreds of millions of people who depend on the sea.
Climate change caused by fossil fuel burning is the cause of the large-scale deoxygenation, as warmer waters hold less oxygen. The coastal dead zones result from fertiliser and sewage running off the land and into the seas.
The analysis, published in the journal Science, is the first comprehensive analysis of the areas and states: “Major extinction events in Earth’s history have been associated with warm climates and oxygen-deficient oceans.” Denise Breitburg, at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in the US and who led the analysis, said: “Under the current trajectory that is where we would be headed. But the consequences to humans of staying on that trajectory are so dire that it is hard to imagine we would go quite that far down that path.”
“This is a problem we can solve,” Breitburg said. “Halting climate change requires a global effort, but even local actions can help with nutrient-driven oxygen decline.” She pointed to recoveries in Chesapeake Bay in the US and the Thames river in the UK, where better farm and sewage practices led to dead zones disappearing.
However, Prof Robert Diaz at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, who reviewed the new study, said: “Right now, the increasing expansion of coastal dead zones and decline in open ocean oxygen are not priority problems for governments around the world. Unfortunately, it will take severe and persistent mortality of fisheries for the seriousness of low oxygen to be realised.”
The oceans feed more than 500 million people, especially in poorer nations, and provide jobs for 350 million people. But
After swathes of forest clearance, millions of tonnes of concrete and decades of hydro-expansion, Brazil has raised hopes that it may finally step back from the construction of new mega-dams. In a surprise statement, a senior government official said hydropower policy needed to be rethought in the face of environmental concerns, indigenous sensitivities and public unease.
Anti-dam activists welcomed the apparent shift, despite scepticism about the declared motives, which they believe mask a drying up of bribes from the construction industry. The decision could reprieve the Tapajos and free-flowing rivers from a plan to open half the Amazon basin to hydro-development.
Brazil already gets more than 70% of its electricity from hydropower – one of the highest proportions in the world. ... But in recent years, the dam builders – backed by the Workers’ party administrations of Dilma Rousseff and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva – pushed north into the Amazon with the huge Belo Monte project on the Xingu river, despite environmental concerns, court battles and fierce resistance from indigenous residents.
The Tapajos was the next major river in the sights of the consortium led by utility Eletrobras and major construction firms such as Odebrecht. Two dams have already been completed on the Teles Pires tributary and hundreds more were planned elsewhere.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
The Trumpet Kings Meet Joe Turner - TV Momma
Dizzy Gillespie - Blues After Dark
Dizzy Gillespie + George Benson - A Night In Tunisia
Dizzy Gillespie - Blue Funk
Joe Turner & Trumpet Kings - 'Tain't Nobody's Bizness If I Do
Dizzy Gillespie - Be Bop
Dizzy Gillespie w/Ed Cherry - Dizzy's Blues
Mongo Santamaria with Dizzy Gillespie and Toots Thielemans - Afro Blue
Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Getz, Sonny Stitt - Dark Eyes
Dizzy Gillespie - Blues Walk
Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins, Sonny Stitt - After Hours