The Evening Blues - 1-8-17
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features Detroit bluesman Doctor Ross. Enjoy!
Dr Ross - Doctor Ross's Boogie
"Our capitalist elites have used propaganda, money and the marginalizing of their critics to erase the first three of philosopher John Locke’s elements of the perfect state: liberty, equality and freedom. They exclusively empower the fourth, property. Liberty and freedom in the corporate state mean the liberty and freedom of corporations and the rich to exploit and pillage without government interference or regulatory oversight. And the single most important characteristic of government is its willingness to use force, at home and abroad, to protect the interests of the property classes. This abject surrender of the state to the rich is expressed at this moment in the United States in the new tax code and the dismantling of environmental regulations. This degradation of basic democratic ideals—evidenced when the Supreme Court refuses to curb wholesale government surveillance of the public or defines pouring unlimited dark money into political campaigns as a form of free speech and the right to petition the government—means the society defines itself by virtues that are dead. The longer this illusion is perpetuated, the more an enraged public turns to demagogues who promise a new utopia and then, once in power, accelerate the assault."
-- Chris Hedges
News and Opinion
North Korea agreed on Friday to hold official talks with South Korea next week, the first in more than two years, hours after Washington and Seoul delayed a military exercise amid a standoff over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs. Trump, answering questions from reporters at the presidential retreat at Camp David, Maryland, expressed a willingness to talk to Kim but not without preconditions.
"Absolutely, I would do that," Trump said. "I have no problem with that at all." ...
On Sunday, North Korea announced a list of five officials who will represent Pyongyang, a day after South Korea confirmed its representatives, the South's unification ministry said. The North's delegation will be led by Ri Son Gwon, head of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland that is usually tasked with dealing with South Korean affairs.
CIA Director Mike Pompeo on Sunday expressed skepticism that upcoming talks between North Korea and South Korea will do anything to change Pyongyang's stance on their nuclear weapons.
“I hope that’s the case, but past history would indicate that this is a fake, this is not likely to lead to any true change in his strategic outlook, that is he would like to continue to maintain his nuclear capability, and that the president has said is unacceptable," Pompeo told CBS News's John Dickerson on "Face the Nation," referring to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
The international media has a poor record in reporting protests and uprisings in the wider Middle East since 2011. These complex struggles were presented as simple battles between good and evil, like a scene out of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Surprise and anguish were expressed when the supposed dawning of freedom and democracy in Libya, Syria and Yemen instead produced savage civil wars while Egypt and Bahrain became strikingly more authoritarian and repressive than before. ...
The recollection of being so very wrong about the likely direction of the Arab Spring should make the foreign media warier in reporting the demonstrations in Iran; which started in the city of Mashad on 28 December and swiftly spread all over the country. The Iranian government claims that its security forces have suppressed the protests or they are fizzling out, but there is evidence of fresh outbreaks, though at a reduced level. The slogans shouted and the limited number of interviews with protesters suggest that they are motivated by poverty, unemployment, rising prices and reduced subsidies for food and fuel, combined with rage against the greed and corruption of the ruling elite.
Many commentators downplay the protests as unlikely to have a long-term effect on Iran, on the grounds that they have no leadership, organisation, plan or coherent set of demands. But journalists tend to overrate the need for such neat organisational structures in order to confront the state; they are frustrated by the absence of identifiable leaders and spokespeople whom they can quote and interview. Some compare the demonstrators negatively, in terms of size and potential impact, with the mass rallies and marches in Tehran in 2009. This may be true, but the absence of an organised structure also makes suppression more difficult for government security forces, who find it easier to arrest opponents who are properly labelled and identifiable.
On the contrary, I find the lack of organisation, unpredictability and geographically widespread nature of the outbreaks of unrest a persuasive sign that they are genuine and express widespread discontent. Had they really been organised by the CIA and Mossad using Saudi money, as alleged by the Iranian chief prosecutor Mohammad Jafar Montazeri, journalists would probably be dealing with a slick PR operation producing graphic images of police brutality and injured protesters.
Hmmm... where else do the highlighted economic conditions exist? They seem so familiar...
The outbreak and nature of the unrest have taken many analysts of Iranian politics by surprise. Rather than emerging from liberal Tehran, these protests appear to have originated in working-class conservative cities and towns that the Islamic Republic likes to depict as its core constituency. One group of people, however, has long expected such an outbreak of discontent from the economically disadvantaged people in these areas: Iranian labor activists.
“Working people in Iran have been dreaming of a better life for four decades, but ,” says Mehdi Kouhestaninejad, a longtime Iranian trade unionist now living in Canada, who is active in the international solidarity movement for workers’ rights in Iran. “Many people inside and outside Iran may be shocked by what is going on, but trade unionists have been warning for the past 10 years that there will be an uprising against the ruling class and their kleptocracy.”
Unlike the 2009 Green Movement, which was largely a product of the educated, urban Tehrani middle class, the recent protests in Iran appear to reflect the anger of the country’s working-class masses. As Iranians grapple with high inflation, unemployment, and economic corruption, the burden of these problems has fallen most heavily on young people who lack the political connections to survive, let alone raise their standard of living. ...
The recent demonstrations represent the biggest public challenge to the Islamic Republic’s rule since the Green Movement. But it’s unclear what the future trajectory of these protests in Iran will be. Unlike the Green Movement, those who have taken to the streets in recent days have not won the backing of prominent members of the ruling establishment, nor have any identifiable leaders emerged.
According to the Iranian Interior Ministry, 90 percent of those detained across the country in recent days are under 25 years old – members of a generation that grew up under international sanctions and has little memory of the relative openness of the Islamic Republic under reformist President Mohammad Khatami. The apparent dissatisfaction of these working-class demonstrators stands as a significant challenge to the regime’s authority, given its proclaimed status as a defender of Iran’s conservative masses.
Since the outbreak of mass demonstrations and unrest in Iran last week, US media have mostly busied themselves with the question of not if we should “do something,” but what, exactly, that something should be. As usual, it’s simply taken for granted the United States has a divine right to intervene in the affairs of Iran, under the vague blanket of “human rights” and “democracy promotion.” (The rare exception, such as an op-ed by ex-Obama official Philip Gordon — New York Times, 12/30/17 — still accepted the premise of regime change: “I, too, want to see the government in Tehran weakened, moderated or even removed.”) With this axiom firmly established in Very Serious foreign policy circles, the next question becomes the nature, degree and scope of the “something” being done.
Leading the pack in the “do something” insta-consensus was the right-wing pro-Israel think tank Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), which has overwhelmed the narrative. In the past five days, FDD has had op-eds in influential US outlets like the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, New York Post and Politico, and has been quoted in a dozen more. Its punditry was marked by cynical “support” for Iranian protesters, demagoguing of the Iranian “regime” and disgust with the Obama-era Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), otherwise known as the Iran deal. ...
FDD op-eds and quotes followed a similar formula: express outrage on behalf of the protesters, applaud Trump for his hypocritical defense of the right to protest, and push for increased sanctions against Iran—often while taking a swipe at the hated Iran deal.
FDD’s pro-Iranian people posture was rarely accompanied by an explanation of their ideological project. The outfit—funded by big-name pro-Israel billionaires like casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, Home Depot founder Bernard Marcus (who’s said that “Iran is the devil”) and Wall Street speculator Paul Singer—are largely presented as bespectacled academics calling balls and strikes without a particular agenda beyond their self-proclaimed “defense of democracies.” (The name ought to provoke some skepticism, given the group’s eagerness to enlist the hereditary dictatorship Saudi Arabia in its anti-Iranian crusade — LobeLog, 2/26/16.)
As the usual crowd of neo-conservative regime-changers, liberal humanitarian interventionists, and Israel lobbyists join President Trump in backing anti-government street demonstrations in Iran, their collective silence has been deafening regarding the killing of at least 30 people in Honduras by police, after protests against alleged fraud in that country’s recent presidential election.
Do you smell a double standard? You should—and hardly for the first time.
The op-ed pages of major U.S. newspapers weren’t filled with columns demanding a tough response last July when Saudi authorities executed four Shia Muslim men for participating in protests against security forces who run a police state much tighter than Iran’s. The victims—like other pro-democracy demonstrators who have been condemned to death—were reportedly convicted on the basis of confessions produced through torture. Nor did many columnists and think-tank pundits complain when security forces in Bahrain killed five protesters last May amid what Human Rights First called a “ferocious crackdown against opposition human rights leaders.” The same tough Sunni monarchy crushed huge street protests in 2011 with the help of Saudi troops.
And now, amid serious accusations that the recent presidential elections in Honduras were stolen, where are the voices condemning the killing of protesters there by heavily armed military police? ...
Bottom line: In Iran, U.S. economic sanctions are contributing to the misery that drives protesters to the streets. In Honduras, by contrast, U.S. military aid supports many of the security forces that are killing protesters much closer to home. Yet most pundits with a national platform in the U.S. media ignore Honduras while insisting that Washington must denounce the Iranian government for its crackdown on dissidents. Go figure.
Speaking of media double standards, have you heard about this in the U.S. mainstream press?
A court convened Wednesday afternoon to hear the case of students at Fordham University who are suing the school, which had denied them the ability to form an official student club in December 2016. The petitioning students, Ahmad Awad, Sofia Dadap, Sapphira Lurie, and Julie Norris, who are represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights and Palestine Legal, had tried to form a club on one of the most contentious political issues on campus: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The fight over forming a Students for Justice in Palestine chapter had dragged on for more than two years. Students had applied to establish SJP at the Lincoln Center Campus in November 2015, but administrators had resisted from the beginning. The students were asking the court to uphold Fordham’s own policies and mission, and to reinstate the United Student Government’s vote in support of establishing the chapter. ...
Much of the debate around admitting the club has focused on SJP’s support for the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement, a nonviolent global campaign to pressure Israel to end its abuses of Palestinians’ rights, which has been met with controversy by Israeli political leaders and pro-Israel figures in the U.S. The fight over BDS has become a national one; state-level legislative bodies, Congress, civil rights groups, and, of course, pro-Israel advocacy groups are all heavily involved. But in no place does the fight seem to be as heated as on college campuses.
On Wednesday, the court broke without rendering a judgment, and it’s unclear when one will come. ...
“College campuses are where people are supposed to be exposed to new ideas,” said Rashid Khalidi, a Palestinian-American professor and co-director of the Center for Palestine Studies at Columbia University. “There is absolutely no reason why the policies of a country that is engaged in the longest occupation in modern history, which is entirely dependent on the support of the United States, should not be discussed openly and critically in the United States.”
On Monday, military prosecutors filed charges against Ahed Tamimi, the 16-year-old girl from Nabi Saleh in the West Bank, and against her mother, Nariman Tamimi. Ahed is charged with five counts of assaulting security forces and with incitement. Her mother is accused of photographing two incidents and incitement on social media. Also indicted was a cousin, Nur Tamimi, who took part in the incident. It seems the military prosecutors went out of their way to prepare a substantial case against Ahed, who – since her arrest and the publishing of the video that went viral – has become a new heroine of the Palestinian struggle. ...
In the video, Ahed is seen slapping soldiers and trying to kick them, while they contain the girls’ violence and, commendably, don’t strike or detain them. ... In stark contrast to the soldiers in the video, who did everything they could to block the tragic inertia of the occupation and the automatic cycle of violence, Israel seems bent on playing the villain in the Tamimi tragedy, dropping any pretense of trying to change the outcome.
Military prosecutors are determined to turn a few slaps by an adolescent who was born and grew up in an occupation into “aggravated assault.” They are using Tamimi to placate a vengeful public and send a deterrent message to young Palestinian men and women so they don’t dare rise up against the occupation.
Xiao Ercha lives in a tumbledown shanty beside a pigsty, thousands of kilometres and a world away from the awe-inspiring skyscrapers of Beijing and Shanghai. Tatty mosquito nets hang from the bamboo poles propping up its cracked asbestos roof; kittens and chickens scuttle across the shack’s earthen floor. Xiao shakes his head when asked to name the leader of his nation, the second largest economy on earth. “Xi Jinping who?” the 57-year-old farmer replies. “I recognise his face from the television - but I don’t know his name.”
That is about to change. For Xiao, who was born and raised in this tiny mountaintop hamlet near China’s southwestern borders with Myanmar and Laos, is one of millions of impoverished Chinese citizens being relocated as part of an ambitious and politically-charged push to “eradicate” extreme poverty in the world’s most populous nation. Over the next three years Xi Jinping’s anti-poverty crusade - which the Communist party leader has declared one of the key themes of his second five-year term - will see millions of marginalised rural dwellers resettled in new, government-subsidised homes.
Some are being moved to distant urban housing estates, others just to slightly less remote or unforgiving rural locations. Other poverty-fighting tactics – including loans, promoting tourism and “pairing” impoverished families with local officials whose careers are tied to their plight – are also being used. By 2020, Beijing hopes to have helped 30 million people rise above its official poverty line of about 70p a day while simultaneously reinforcing the already considerable authority of Xi, now seen as China’s most powerful ruler since Mao Zedong.
China’s breathtaking economic ascent has helped hundreds of millions lift themselves from poverty since the 1980s but in 2016 at least 5.7% of its rural population still lived in poverty, according to a recent UN report, with that number rising to as much as 10% in some western regions and 12% among some ethnic minorities. ... The current wave of anti-poverty relocations - a total 9.81 million people are set to be moved between 2016 and 2020 - are taking place across virtually the whole country, in 22 provinces. However, China’s western fringes, which still lag behind the prosperous east coast, are a particular focus.
The Trump administration announced Monday it will cancel the temporary residency permits for over 200,000 immigrants from El Salvador, many of whom have been living in the U.S. for decades. The move, one of the most significant steps in the Trump’s administration’s year-long efforts to drastically curb immigration, gives them 18 months to either leave the country or face deportation.
The Salvadoran immigrants entered the United States following earthquakes in 2001, and were allowed to stay after being awarded Temporary Protected Status, or TPS — a program that’s come under fire during Trump’s presidency. Their TPS designation is now set to expire on Sept. 9, 2019, the Department of Homeland Security said in a statement released Monday.
The department cast the 18-month window as both a chance to allow immigrants to organize an orderly departure — and also a chance for Congress to pass a law granting the Salvadorans a more permanent status. ...
Critics of Trump’s policy have warned that those being sent back from the United States face danger returning to El Salvador, a country where gang violence has made the murder rate 15 times what it is in the United States.
Billionaire Tom Steyer wants to get Trump impeached—and he’s spending at least $40 million to get it done
Billionaire and Democrat Tom Steyer, the biggest donor in American politics in 2014 and 2016, announced on Monday that he would be making a run at that title again in 2018.
Steyer told a crowd of reporters and supporters in Washington that he would spend $30 million in youth turnout across 10 states through his NextGen group for the 2018 midterms and expected to spend an additional $20 million-plus on his “Need to Impeach” campaign that is attempted to mobilize support behind deposing Trump (on top of the $20 million already spent).
“We are doubling down on our 'Need to Impeach' campaign,” said Steyer, who has already spent $20 million on commercials since the first one aired in October. “He has committed at least eight impeachable offenses, by my count.” ...
Steyer’s continuing impeachment campaign will likely dismay Democratic leaders who believe focusing on impeachment will alienate voters that would be more convinced by policy arguments.
Jared Kushner’s business dealings are under renewed scrutiny amid reports that the US’s top financial watchdog is looking into an investment-for-visa program run by the Kushner family’s real estate company and questions have been raised about his business dealings in Israel.
On Sunday, the Wall Street Journal confirmed that the real estate empire run by the family of Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law had received a subpoena from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requesting information.
Separately, the Kushner real estate company has reportedly entered into business relationships with Israeli financial institutions since Jared Kushner sought to establish himself as the administration’s Middle East peace broker.
According to the New York Times Kushner’s company received an investment nearing $30m from Menora Mivtachim, one of Israel’s largest insurers, in the spring of 2017, shortly before the president and his son-in-law visited the country. According to the report, the funds were directed into a Maryland development.
Kushner, who has been charged with brokering peace between Israel and Palestine, has taken out at least four loans from Bank Hapoalim, Israel’s largest bank and currently under a US Department of Justice criminal investigation.
Rising temperatures are turning almost all green sea turtles in a Great Barrier Reef population female, new research has found. The scientific paper warned the skewed ratio could threaten the population’s future. Sea turtles are among species with temperature dependent sex-determination and the proportion of female hatchlings increases when nests are in warmer sands.
Tuesday’s paper, from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, California State University and Worldwide Fund for Nature Australia, is published in Current Biology. It examined two genetically distinct populations of turtles on the reef, finding the northern group of about 200,000 animals was overwhelmingly female. While the southern population was 65%-69% female, females in the northern group accounted for 99.1% of juveniles, 99.8% of subadults and 86.8% of adults.
“Combining our results with temperature data show that the northern GBR green turtle rookeries have been producing primarily females for more than two decades and that the complete feminisation of this population is possible in the near future,” the paper said.The temperature at which the turtles will produce male or female hatchlings is heritable, the paper said, but tipped to produce 100% male or 100% female hatchlings within a range of just a few degrees.
“Furthermore, extreme incubation temperatures not only produce female-only hatchlings but also cause high mortality of developing clutches,” it said. “With warming global temperatures and most sea turtle populations naturally producing offspring above the pivotal temperature, it is clear that climate change poses a serious threat to the persistence of these populations.”
Demanding "bold action" from lawmakers in Washington state on Monday, activists and indigenous leaders rang in the start of the 2018 legislative session Monday with the launch of an initiative to urgently tackle the climate crisis.
"On the Peninsula, we're already seeing signs of a future we won't be able to live with—winter floods, summer droughts, wildfires, coastal devastation, acidifying seas, poisonous algal blooms," said Ed Chadd, a member of Olympic Climate Action. "If we don't act now, our orcas and salmon are goners...and then we will be. Climate change is not going to wait for us to get our act together."
The aims of the "Climate Countdown" initiative are two-fold, climate groups said in a statement: to prevent any new fossil fuel infrastructure in the state and to pass legislation ensuring the state's energy is 100 percent powered by renewables by 2028. ...
The day's event, which saw hundreds gathered at the capitol in Olympia, marks just the first of what the activists say will be "60 days for bold climate action" to coincide with the full legislative session. Each day over the next two months are set to include actions aimed at holding lawmakers' feet to the fire. ...
"Washington state should be leading on climate," added Emily Johnston of 350 Seattle. "But we aren't, and we're flat out of time. We're showing up in Olympia today to demand that the legislature acknowledge not just the reality but the unthinkable urgency of climate change. Nothing they ever do will be as consequential as what they do now."
Despite the fact that 2017 saw a flurry of devastating and "record-shattering" hurricanes, enormously destructive wildfires, and extreme droughts, a new report by Public Citizen published on Friday concludes that major American media outlets "largely failed" to connect these weather events to the broader global climate crisis.
Titled "Carbon Omission: How the U.S. Media Underreported Climate Change in 2017" (pdf) and written by Public Citizen's climate program director David Arkush, the analysis takes an in-depth look at the 2017 weather coverage of more than a dozen prominent newspapers and television networks, from the New York Times to the Denver Post to the Fox News Network. ...
While coverage of hurricanes, wildfires, and other major weather events frequently dominated newspaper headlines and television segments in 2017, the "proportion of pieces that mentioned climate change in climate-relevant contexts was decidely low," Arkush writes—even though scientific research has frequently demonstrated the link between climate change and extreme weather.
After scouring news coverage through LexisNexis and conducting "a separate targeted search of major outlets," Arkush discovered that:
- "Pieces on record heat were most likely to mention climate change, and even there the rate was just 33 percent";
- "Pieces on record or historic drought mentioned climate 24 percent of the time";
- News articles on "historic rainfall" mentioned climate a mere 10 percent of the time";
- Articles on "record or historic wildfires or floods mentioned climate just nine percent of the time";
- Just eight percent of stories discussing growing mosquito populations mentioned climate change, including 12 percent of pieces from major outlets";
- Despite the historic nature of 2017's hurricane season, only "four percent of pieces discussing Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, or Nate made the connection to climate change"; and
- "Just nine percent of stories mentioning climate change also mentioned mitigation or solutions."
Extreme weather throughout the U.S. and across the globe over the past several months led one analyst to call 2017 "the year climate change began to spin out of control," but the media's failure to "connect the dots on evidence right in front of our faces" has left many consumers of U.S. news uninformed about the link between climate change and these disastrous events, Arkush argues.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Dr. Ross - Turkey Leg Woman
Dr Isaiah Ross & His Jump & Jive Boys - Country Clown
Doctor Ross - Jivin Blues
Doctor Ross - Cannonball
Dr Ross - Call The Doctor
Doctor Ross - I'd Rather Be An Old Womans Baby Than A Young Girl's Slave
Doctor Ross - Bad Whiskey, Bad Women
Dr. Isaiah Ross - Feel So Good
Doctor Ross - My Bebop Gal
Dr Ross - My Black Name Is Ringing
Doctor Ross - Boogie Disease