The Evening Blues - 10-10-18
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features r&b and jazz saxophonist Earl Bostic. Enjoy!
Earl Bostic - Cracked Ice
“One need only to admit that public tranquillity is in danger and any action finds a justification. All the horrors of the reign of terror were based only on solicitude for public tranquillity.”
-- Leo Tolstoy
News and Opinion
Worth a full read:
Nothing less than the future of politics across the West – and across the Global South – is being played out in Brazil. Stripped to its essence, the Brazilian presidential elections represent a direct clash between democracy and an early 21st Century, neofascism, indeed between civilization and barbarism. Geopolitical and global economic reverberations will be immense. The Brazilian dilemma illuminates all the contradictions surrounding the Right populist offensive across the West, juxtaposed to the inexorable collapse of the Left. The stakes could not be higher.
Jair Bolsonaro, an outright supporter of Brazilian military dictatorships of last century, who has been normalized as the “extreme-right candidate,” won the first round of the presidential elections on Sunday with more than 49 million votes. That was 46 percent of the total, just shy of a majority needed for an outright win. This in itself is a jaw-dropping development. His opponent, Fernando Haddad of the Workers’ Party (PT), got only 31 million votes, or 29 percent of the total. He will now face Bolsonaro in a runoff on October 28. A Sisyphean task awaits Haddad: just to reach parity with Bolsonaro, he needs every single vote from those who supported the third and fourth-placed candidates, plus a substantial share of the almost 20 percent of votes considered null and void. ...
Bolsonaro is a symptom of a much larger disease. He has only reached this level, a head-to-head in the second round against Lula’s candidate Haddad, because of a sophisticated, rolling, multi-stage, judicial/congressional/business/media Hybrid War unleashed on Brazil. Way more complex than any color revolution, Hybrid War in Brazil featured a law-fare coup under cover of the Car Wash anti-corruption investigation. That led to the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff and Lula being thrown in jail on corruption charges with no hard evidence or smoking gun. In every poll Lula would win these elections hand down. The coup plotters managed to imprison him and prevent him from running. Lula’s right to run was highlighted by everyone from Pope Francis to the UN’s Human Rights Council, as well as Noam Chomsky. Yet in a delightful historical twist, the coup plotters’ scenario blew up in their faces as the front-runner to lead the country is not one of them, but a neofascist.
“One of them” would ideally be a faceless bureaucrat affiliated with the former social democrats, the PSDB, turned hardcore neoliberals addicted to posing as Center Left when they are the “acceptable” face of the neoliberal Right. Call them Brazilian Tony Blairs. Specific Brazilian contradictions, plus the advance of Right populism across the West, led to their downfall. Even Wall Street and the City of London (which endorsed Hybrid War on Brazil after it was unleashed by NSA spying of oil giant Petrobras) have started entertaining second thoughts on supporting Bolsonaro for president of a BRICS nation, which is a leader of the Global South, and until a few years ago, was on its way to becoming the fifth largest economy in the world.
It all hangs on the “vote transfer” mechanism from Lula to Haddad and the creation of a serious, multi-party Progressive Democratic Front on the second round to defeat the rising neofascism. They have less than three weeks to pull it off.
Donald Trump put his name to an opinion article in USA Today published on Wednesday, in a rallying cry to voters ahead of the midterm elections and warning that a big Democratic win would bring America closer to socialism and “suffering, misery and decay”.
The president opened with a warning to senior citizens and all Americans of the dangers of a so-called universal healthcare system with guaranteed government health insurance for all. He went on to say Democrats were in favor of “open-border socialism” and raised the alarm about the country swinging to the left, particularly with the emergence of younger, progressive insurgents who have shaken up the liberal establishment this election cycle.
“The truth is that the centrist Democratic party is dead,” Trump wrote on Wednesday. “The new Democrats are radical socialists who want to model America’s economy after Venezuela.” ... Trump’s article warned: “If Democrats win control of Congress this November, we will come dangerously closer to socialism in America. Government-run healthcare is just the beginning. Democrats are also pushing massive government control of education, private-sector businesses and other major sectors of the US economy.”
ACLU Fights Back as Trump Pushes 'Stealth Proposal' to Limit Public's Right to Protest Outside White House
As the Trump administration and the Republican-controlled Congress face mass protests in Washington, D.C. against their attacks on healthcare, immigrants, women, and the poor—as well as well as their support for white supremacists and men accused of sexual assault—civil liberties advocates are speaking out against an "unconstitutional" National Park Service (NPS) proposal that would severely limit Americans' ability to protest near the White House and on the National Mall.
With the Oct. 15 deadline for public comment on the proposed rule rapidly approaching, the D.C. branch of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has submitted its 33-page takedown of policy changes that the group warns would violate the First Amendment rights of demonstrators that have been affirmed by "court orders that have stood for decades."
In a blog post published Tuesday, the ACLU of D.C.'s legal co-director Arthur Spitzer noted President Donald Trump's "record of attacking the rights of protesters" and declared, "The heart of the matter is clear: President Trump might not like having protesters on his doorstep, but the First Amendment guarantees their right to be there."
Outlining the ACLU's critiques of the NPS "stealth" proposal, Spitzter highlighted three provisions that civil libertarians have found especially alarming:
- Closing all but five feet of the 25-foot-wide White House sidewalk along Pennsylvania, which is "perhaps the most iconic public forum in America";
- Amending existing rules about spontaneous demonstrations in a way that the ACLU warns would dramatically limit such protests; and
- Charging demonstrators for "administrative, equipment, and monitoring costs" similar to the fees NPS imposes for "special events" like historical reenactments and festivals;
The National Mall, as NPS acknowledged in its August proposal, "is a preeminent national landscape that is home to the enduring symbols of our country including various trees and gardens that symbolize cultural and diplomatic exchanges and gifts from others nations" as well as "monuments, memorials, statues, and other commemorative works." While an NPS spokesman told the Washington Post in August that the idea for charging protesters fees for support and security "came out of just the sheer cost" of past demonstrations, the ACLU says that is no reason to treat demonstrators any differently than the 45 million non-demonstrators who visit the National Mall every year.
"Managing public lands for the benefit of the American people is what Congress funds the National Park Service to do. That includes demonstrators just as much as tourists or hikers," wrote Spizter. "While the park service may be strapped for funds, it cannot balance its budget on the backs of people seeking to exercise their constitutional rights."
The latest fallout from the disappearance and presumptive murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi could see the Saudis losing their main source of arms. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) says he intends to force a vote on blocking further US arms sales to the Saudi kingdom.
Sen. Paul announced the plan on a local radio show, saying he hopes to force a vote in the Senate by the end of the week which would force a full halt to US arms shipments if there is “any indication” the Saudis are behind killing Khashoggi.
Funny or frightening? You decide:
A new report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office brings both good and bad news. For governments around the would that might like to sabotage America’s military technology, the good news is that this would be all too easy to do: Testers at the Department of Defense “routinely found mission-critical cyber vulnerabilities in nearly all weapon systems that were under development” over a five-year period, the report said. For Americans, the bad news is that up until very recently, no one seemed to care enough to fix these security holes.
In 1991, the report noted, the U.S. National Research Council warned that “system disruptions will increase” as the use of computers and networks grows and as adversaries attack them. The Pentagon more or less ignored this and at least five subsequent warnings on the subject, according to the GAO, and hasn’t made a serious effort to safeguard the vast patchwork of software that controls planes, ships, missiles, and other advanced ordnance against hackers.
The sweeping report drew on nearly 30 years of published research, including recent assessments of the cybersecurity of specific weapon systems, as well as interviews with personnel from the Department of Defense, the National Security Agency, and weapons-testing bodies. It covered a broad span of American weapons, examining systems at all of the service branches and in space.
The report found that “mission-critical cyber vulnerabilities” cropped up routinely during weapons development and that test teams “easily” took over real systems without detection “using relatively simple tools and techniques,” exploiting “basic issues such as poor password management and unencrypted communications.” Testers could also download and delete data, in one cases exfiltrating 100 gigabytes of material, and could tap into operators’ terminals, in one instance popping up computer dialogs asking the operators “to insert two quarters to continue.” But a malicious attacker could pull off much worse than jokes about quarters, warns the GAO: “In one case, the test team took control of the operators’ terminals. They could see, in real-time, what the operators were seeing on their screens and could manipulate the system.”
Posing as surrogates for, say, Russian or Chinese military hackers, testers sometimes found easy victories. “In some cases,” the GAO found, “simply scanning a system caused parts of the system to shut down,” while one “test team was able to guess an administrator password in nine seconds.” The testers found embarrassing, elementary screw-ups of the sort that would get a middle school computer lab administrator in trouble, to say nothing of someone safeguarding lethal weapon systems. For example, “multiple weapon systems used commercial or open source software, but did not change the default password when the software was installed, which allowed test teams to look up the password on the Internet.”
Guatemala’s former vice-president Roxana Baldetti has been jailed for more than 15 years on corruption charges linked to a multimillion-dollar fraud over a bogus scheme to clean up a contaminated lake, thanks to an investigation backed by the UN crime fighting force. Public prosecutors backed by the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (Cicig) uncovered a criminal network run by Baldetti which conspired to award an $18m government contract to an Israeli company for a clean-up potion that turned out to be sea water.
Tuesday’s verdict was hailed by anti-impunity campaigners battling to save the commission from expulsion by the current president who is fighting impeachment arising from multiple corruption allegations.
President Jimmy Morales argues that his decision to end the commission’s mandate next September was not personally motivated, and used a speech at the UN last month to claim Cicig was a threat to peace. Morales, who was elected in 2015 on an anti-corruption platform, is facing charges of illegal campaign financing and fraud thanks to investigations backed by Cicig. His brother, son and political party also face corruption charges.
The standoff between the beleaguered president and popular anti-impunity commission has escalated in recent months. Morales has blocked the Cicig chief, Iván Velásquez, from re-entering Guatemala in defiance of court orders ruling the ban unconstitutional.
Brett Kavanaugh took his seat on the far right of the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday, but before the Court’s newest racist, pro-torture, corporate, patriarchal pig could don his new robes the Democratic National Committee was filling email boxes with appeals for funds to turn Republican victory into defeat in November. “The only way we'll be able to protect our rights is by regaining a Democratic majority in Congress,” writes Seema Nanda, the DNC’s chief executive officer. “If we don't, women's reproductive justice, affordable health care, and the future of our democracy will all be at risk.” The Democrats have been singing that same song for decades -- indeed, generations -- even as they passively allowed reactionary justices to become dominant on the High Court, their hard right rulings only slightly tempered by the “swing” votes of, first, Sandra Day O’Connor -- who is credited with rescuing “diversity,” the pale replacement for affirmative action, as a public policy option – and, later, Justice Anthony Kennedy , whose seat Kavanaugh now fills. Whenever the Democrats’ GOP-lite policies became indefensible, the party’s apologists would caution exasperated Black voters: “But what about the Supreme Court? You can’t allow the Republicans to decide the law of the land for the next 20 years!”
But their assurances that the Democratic Party would hold back the corporate legal juggernaut were always a sham. ... The Supreme Court was already a right-wing club when John Roberts was nominated in 2005. Twenty out of 42 Democrats voted to confirm the reactionary jurist. Two months later, right-winger Alito was confirmed after 19 Democrats joined 53 Republicans to halt a filibuster against his nomination by Senators Barack Obama and Harry Reid. Brett Kavanaugh represents an imminent threat to “women's reproductive justice, affordable health care, and the future of our democracy,” as DNC operative Seema Nanda put it,because the Democratic Party, as a body, collaborated in laying the groundwork for an ultra-right majority. And, when West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin made it clear he would vote to confirm Kavanaugh, the party’s honchos made it just as plain that he would not be punished.
Yet, the Democrats have the gall to continue playing the Supreme Court card, when it is already too late to reverse the damage they have helped to inflict. Make no mistake: the Democratic Party is a corporate party that will never create a real political crisis -- never shut down the Senate, which is within the power of a unified minority party – unless the interests of their masters, the Lords of Capital, are threatened. ... The Democrats are a fraudulent opposition, and totally shameless, moving from election to election, financed by an oligarchy whose interests both parties regard as paramount. They have no vision beyond endless austerity and war, the same agenda as the Republicans -- with a racial and ethic “diversity” twist. The long legal twilight time is over and deep darkness has now fallen on the U.S. Supreme Court, with the active and passive collaboration of the Democratic Party.
A good deal of the uproar over the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court stems from the expectation that he will remain there for three, perhaps even four decades. The Constitution, most people believe, mandates that judges be appointed to the bench for life, unless they commit a crime or other impeachable offense. As only one Supreme Court justice has ever been impeached—Samuel Chase in 1803—and none convicted, removal for cause is unlikely at best. Because it is assumed lifetime tenure is enshrined in, any attempt to alter that arrangement would require an amendment, another unwieldy and improbable prospect.
The question of intent gets thornier yet. As Scalia himself said in a speech explaining textualism, the philosophy to which both Thomas and Kavanaugh ascribe, “If you are a textualist, you don’t care about the intent, and I don’t care if the Framers of the U.S. Constitution had some secret meaning in mind when they adopted its words. I take the words as they were promulgated to the people of the United States, and what is the fairly understood meaning of those words.” The fairly understood meaning of the phrase “good behavior” is not “for life.”
It could just as easily be postulated that what the Framers had in mind was not that judges could remain on the bench until they fell over dead, but rather that, as long as they discharged their duties professionally, they could not be removed solely for their political views. ... The argument as to whether “good behavior” means “for life” is hardly academic. If one takes the textualist view of Article III that today’s roster of conservative justices hold so dear, establishing term limits for justices would not require a constitutional amendment, just an act of Congress.
The former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg rejoined the Democratic party on Wednesday, going back to his political roots weeks before midterm elections and amid speculation that he might run for the White House in 2020.
Bloomberg, the billionaire founder and chief executive of the global media company Bloomberg LP, said in a post on social media he was re-registering as a Democrat, citing a potential constitutional crisis under the Republican president, Donald Trump, a fellow New York businessman. ...
Bloomberg, 76, was a longtime Democrat who became a Republican before running for mayor of the largest US city in 2001. He left the Republican party to become an independent in 2007 and served three terms as New York’s mayor, stepping down in 2013.
He has considered running for president in the past as an independent but never did.
What's Not in the Latest Terrifying IPCC Report? The "Much, Much, Much More Terrifying" New Research on Climate Tipping Points
If the latest warnings contained in Monday's report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)—which included pronouncements that the world has less than twelve years to drastically alter course to avoid the worst impacts of human-caused global warming and that nothing less than keeping all fossil fuels in the ground is the solution to avoid future calamities—have you at all frightened or despondent, experts responding to the report have a potentially unwelcome message for your already over-burdened heart and mind: It's very likely even worse than you're being told.
After the report's publication there were headlines like: "We have 12 years to act on climate change before the world as we know it is lost. How much more urgent can it get?" and "Science pronounces its verdict: World to be doomed at 2°C, less dangerous at 1.5°C" and "A major new climate report slams the door on wishful thinking." But as Jamie Henn, co-founder and the program director for the international climate group 350.org, stated in a tweet on Tuesday, the "scariest thing about the IPCC Report" is the fact that "it's the watered down, consensus version. The latest science is much, much, much more terrifying." ...
According to Durwood Zaelke, founder of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development, speaking to The Guardian in the wake of the latest IPCC report, it "fails to focus on the weakest link in the climate chain: the self-reinforcing feedbacks which, if allowed to continue, will accelerate warming and risk cascading climate tipping points and runaway warming." In August, as Common Dreams reported, research published by Johan Rockström and his colleagues at the Stockholm Resilience Centre in Sweden found that it is precisely these feedback loops and tipping points that should most frighten and concern humanity. While nascent and not conclusive in its findings—two of the reasons you won't find it referenced in the IPCC report—the study warned that humanity may be just 1°C away from creating a series of dynamic feedback loops that could push the world into a climate scenario not seen since the dawn of the Helocene Period, nearly 12,000 years ago.
Quoted in Tuesday's Guardian article about the dangers of ignoring potential tipping points, Nobel prize laureate Mario Molina, who shared the award for chemistry in 1995 for his work on ozone depletion, said: "The IPCC report demonstrates that it is still possible to keep the climate relatively safe, provided we muster an unprecedented level of cooperation, extraordinary speed and heroic scale of action. But even with its description of the increasing impacts that lie ahead, the IPCC understates a key risk: that self-reinforcing feedback loops could push the climate system into chaos before we have time to tame our energy system, and the other sources of climate pollution."
A Minnesota judge abruptly dismissed charges against three climate change activists during their trial on Tuesday, saying prosecutors had failed to prove that the protesters’ attempt to shut down two Enbridge Energy oil pipelines caused any damage. The Clearwater county district judge Robert Tiffany threw the case out after prosecutors rested their case and before the protesters could use their defense: that the threat of climate change from using crude oil drilled from Canadian tar sands was so imminent that the activists’ actions were not only morally right, but necessary.
The attorneys had long fought to use a “necessity defense” during the trial of the three Seattle-area residents, two of whom admitted turning the emergency shut-off valves on the northwest Minnesota pipelines in 2016 as part of a coordinated action in four states. Such a defense has been used by other activists protesting pipelines. ...
“I’m very relieved the state of Minnesota acknowledged that we did no damage and intended to do no damage,” the defendant Emily Johnston said. “I also admit that I am disappointed that we did not get to put on the trial that we hoped for.” ...
Climate change activists have increasingly turned to direct actions against oil and gas pipelines, with mixed legal success . Valve-turner cases in other states resulted in convictions that are under appeal. A Massachusetts judge in March cleared 13 gas pipeline protesters who used a necessity defense. While the cases generally have not set binding legal precedents, activists are hoping they help legitimize direct action as a tactic against climate change.
Hurricane Michael has whipped up into a category 4 monster storm as it makes its final approach to the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday, on track for a catastrophic, record-breaking landfall mid-Wednesday as the region’s strongest storm in living memory, with gusts up to a deadly 165mph.
A category 4 storm has never made landfall in the panhandle before, and Michael’s vast size means the effects will be felt along the coast from New Orleans to Tampa Bay, and inland as far as the Carolinas. It is forecast to blow in with sustained winds of 145mph and still to be a hurricane by the time it reaches southern Georgia, with winds continuing over 75mph. A tornado watch is in effect for the region.
More than 500,000 people were either ordered or advised to evacuate as Michael, fueled by the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, closed in, packing sustained winds of 145mph and a life-threatening storm surge of up to 14ft.
#Michael making a big show of clearing/warming its eye in the past 15 minutes or so. As horrifying as it is to see this happen so close to land, it's also incredible to be able to watch in near-real time -> https://t.co/uYMgn3138I pic.twitter.com/B1Qzd64zRl
— Jack Sillin | weather.us (@JackSillin) October 10, 2018
Alaska voters are considering a ballot measure that would make the state's already strong protections for salmon fisheries even stronger, and make new mining and oil exploration projects difficult — if not impossible. The measure, called Proposition 1, is intended to protect Alaska’s salmon runs, especially in Bristol Bay, the designated site of the massive proposed open-pit mine project, the Pebble Mine. The site contains some of the largest undeveloped copper and gold deposits in the world.
As things stand, the state has to prove that any big project would not impact healthy salmon waterways. If Prop 1 passes, the roles reverse, and the project would have to prove the habitat is not home to salmon at all, a drastic change to current regulation. "Salmon streams don't recover. That's the point of this ballot measure," said Morgan Jones, a third-generation fisherman supporting Prop 1 and opposing the Pebble Mine. "Once you dig up a salmon nest, it's gone. It's not like you can re-lay a place where salmon can spawn."
But the mining industry argues the measure goes too far and would force all mines to endure lengthy regulatory delays. ... But the pro-salmon campaign is being outspent 9 to 1, and mining proponents say they have good reason to spend more than $11 million on opposing Prop 1: They argue that the costs of the measure are impossible to predict, but it could effectively end mining and oil exploration in the state.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
Your tax dollars at work:
A Little Night Music
Earl Bostic - That's The Groovy Thing
Earl Bostic - Stompin At The Savoy
Earl Bostic & Bill Doggett - Bubbins Rock
Earl Bostic - Special Delivery Stomp
Earl Bostic - Rockin' and Reelin'
Earl Bostic - Blue Skies
Earl Bostic - Flamingo
Earl Bostic - No Name Jive, Southern Fried
Earl Bostic - Bugle Call Rag
Earl Bostic - Pink Panther
Earl Bostic - Cherokee