The Evening Blues - 10-11-17
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features blues guitarist, singer and songwriter Jimmy Reed. Enjoy!
Jimmy Reed - There'll Be A Day
"Fascism is nothing but capitalist reaction."
-- Leon Trotsky
News and Opinion
Donald Trump ramped up his war with the news media on Wednesday morning, suggesting that it might be appropriate to challenge the license of NBC News in response to what he claimed was its “fake news”.
With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License? Bad for country!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 11, 2017
The spat between Trump – who worked for NBC for 14 years as the host of The Apprentice – and the network’s news arm has been swirling ever since NBC’s report on the strained relationship between Trump and the secretary of state, Rex Tillerson. It appears that Trump’s most recent outburst was triggered by a report that Trump requested a tenfold increase in the US nuclear arsenal, a report Trump called “made up” and “pure fiction”.
NBC News attributed that report to three unnamed officials “who were in the room”.
Trump followed up the tweet by remarking to reporters in the Oval Office: “It is frankly disgusting the press is able to write whatever it wants to write.”
As is often the case, the implications of Trump’s tweet are unclear.
Here's an extract from the NBC report that aroused the Orange Menace's ire:
President Donald Trump said he wanted what amounted to a nearly tenfold increase in the U.S. nuclear arsenal during a gathering this past summer of the nation’s highest-ranking national security leaders, according to three officials who were in the room.
Trump’s comments, the officials said, came in response to a briefing slide he was shown that charted the steady reduction of U.S. nuclear weapons since the late 1960s. Trump indicated he wanted a bigger stockpile, not the bottom position on that downward-sloping curve.
According to the officials present, Trump’s advisers, among them the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, were surprised. Officials briefly explained the legal and practical impediments to a nuclear buildup and how the current military posture is stronger than it was at the height of the buildup. In interviews, they told NBC News that no such expansion is planned.
The July 20 meeting was described as a lengthy and sometimes tense review of worldwide U.S. forces and operations. It was soon after the meeting broke up that officials who remained behind heard Tillerson say that Trump is a “moron.”
Amid the latest signs of escalating tensions between Washington and Pyongyang, President Donald Trump was blasted on Wednesday for ordering B-1 bombers to fly over the Korean peninsula—a move critics characterized as a dangerous but intentional provocation.
According to John Dean, former White House counsel to President Nixon, Trump "thinks he'll be admired for killing millions... so he's trying to provoke war to not be the aggressor."
He thinks he’ll be admired for killing millions. His stupid base would approve, so he’s trying to provoke war to not be the aggressor. https://t.co/VMYaxRQzyE
— John Dean (@JohnWDean) October 11, 2017
A statement from the U.S. military said the display, which included missile drills over the waters east and west of the peninsula, was the first nighttime exercise conducted between the U.S. Air Force, the Japan Air Self-Defense Force, and Republic of Korea air force units.
It came hours after President Donald Trump met with his top military advisors to discuss "a range of options to respond to any form of North Korean aggression or, if necessary, to prevent North Korea from threatening the United States and its allies with nuclear weapons," and weeks after Kim Jong Un's regime—following ominous threats by Trump—warned of its "right to shoot down the U.S. bombers even when they are not yet inside the airspace border of our country.
U.S. President Donald Trump will make an announcement this week on an “overall Iran strategy,” including whether to decertify the international deal curbing Tehran’s nuclear program, the White House said on Tuesday.
“He’ll make that later this week,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters when asked about the certification decision and the administration’s broader strategy on Iran.
Trump, who has called the 2015 pact agreed between Iran and six world powers an “embarrassment,” is expected to announce that he will decertify the deal ahead of an Oct. 15 deadline, a senior administration official said last week.
Trump is also expected to designate Iran’s most powerful security force, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp, as a terrorist organization as part of a new Iran strategy.
The United States believes that Hezbollah is determined to give itself an option to carry out attacks inside the United States, Nicholas J. Rasmussen, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said on Tuesday.
"It is our assessment that Hezbollah is determined to give itself a potential homeland option as a critical component of its terrorism playbook," Rasmussen said during a briefing.
Rasmussen noted that before September 11, 2001 Hezbollah was responsible for more American deaths than any other foreign terrorism group.
Rasmussen announced a multimillion dollar reward for tips leading to the arrest of two Hezbollah officials.
Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont and other regional politicians signed a document declaring Catalonia’s independence from Spain, but it was unclear if the document would have any legal value.
“Catalonia restores today its full sovereignty,” says the document, called “declaration of the representatives of Catalonia.” ...
Puigdemont told the assembly earlier that the effects of the declaration would be suspended to allow time for talks to reach a negotiated solution to the standoff over the northeastern region.
The supreme court on Tuesday dismissed one of two cases over Donald Trump’s ban on visitors from mostly Muslim countries, suggesting it will step away from the controversy for now.
The court got rid of a case that originated in Maryland and involves a ban that has now expired and been replaced by a new version.
But the justices took no action on a separate case from Hawaii. That dispute concerns both the travel ban and a separate ban on refugees, which does not expire until 24 October.
Mexico’s foreign minister has warned that terminating Nafta could bring relations with the US to a breaking point, raising the prospect that bilateral cooperation against drug trafficking and illegal migration could be adversely affected by Donald Trump’s bellicose trade rhetoric.
The threat from the foreign minister, Luis Videgaray, came as Donald Trump once again threatened to tear up the three-country trade treaty between the US, Canada and Mexico ahead of a fourth round of Nafta negotiations.
Mexico and the US work closely on issues such as border security, combatting drug cartels and efforts to stop migrants reaching the US border, but relations between the two neighbors have grown increasingly tense since Trump launched his election campaign on a wave of anti-Mexican sentiment.
Federal officials privately admit there is a massive shortage of meals in Puerto Rico three weeks after Hurricane Maria devastated the island.
Officials at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) say that the government and its partners are only providing 200,000 meals a day to meet the needs of more than 2 million people. That is a daily shortfall of between 1.8m and 5.8m meals. “We are 1.8 million meals short,” said one senior Fema official. “That is why we need the urgency. And it’s not going away. We’re doing this much today, but it has to be sustained over several months.”
The scale of the food crisis dwarfs the more widely publicized challenges of restoring power and communications. More than a third of Puerto Ricans are still struggling to live without drinking water. However, Fema provides no details on food deliveries, keeping its public statements to the most general terms. On its website, Fema says it has provided “millions of meals and millions of liters of water”.
Conditions on Puerto Rico remain dire; just 16% of islanders having access to electricity. While commercial flights have resumed, and most gas stations have reopened, much of the island’s economy remains at a standstill. Less than 400 miles of the island’s 5,000 miles of road are open to traffic. Many residents are voting with their feet and leaving their homes behind. The population of the island of Vieques has declined from around 9,000 to little more than 6,000, according to relief workers.
, a new Harvard study based on Guardian data has found. The finding is just the latest to show government databases seriously undercounting the number of people killed by police.
“Right now the data quality is bad and unacceptable,” said lead researcher Justin Feldman. “To effectively address the problem of law enforcement-related deaths, the public needs better data about who is being killed, where, and under what circumstances.”
Feldman used data from the Guardian’s 2015 investigation into police killings, The Counted, and compared it with data from the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS). That dataset, which is kept by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), was found to have misclassified 55.2% of all police killings, with the errors occurring disproportionately in low-income jurisdictions.
NVSS data has been collected since the late 1800s and today is responsible for, among other things, aggregating all annual US deaths. In 1949, the report added a category to capture “legal intervention” as a cause of death along with classifications like cancer, heart disease and accidents. Typically these determinations are made by local medical examiners and coroners, reported on death certificates, and submitted to the CDC.
Researchers found the accuracy varied wildly by state, with just 17.6% misclassification in Washington, but a startling 100% in Oklahoma.
In June, officials at a privately run Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center in rural Georgia sentenced an immigrant detainee to a month in solitary confinement to punish him for encouraging fellow detainees to stop working in protest of low wages at the facility. Three days after the detainee shouted “no work, no pay” in a facility kitchen, according to ICE records, “the detainee was found guilty of encouraging others to participate in a work stoppage and was sentenced to 30 days of disciplinary segregation.”
Immigrants confined in ICE facilities often work for only $1 per day, but the immigration agency’s guidelines state that all such work must be voluntary. Earlier this year, a federal judge cleared the way for a class-action lawsuit originally brought by nine ICE detainees alleging that ICE contractor the GEO Group had profited off forced labor in violation of federal anti-slavery laws.
In the case of the Georgia facility, ICE’s records obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request simply list “work stoppage” as the reason for using solitary confinement to punish the immigrant detainee, who is originally from Haiti. ...
Azadeh Shahshahani, an attorney with the Atlanta-based social justice group Project South, who has extensively criticized conditions at Stewart, said in an email that this is not the first hint of forced work at the privately run facility.
“This is extremely disturbing,” Shahshahani said. “We keep hearing from ICE and the prison corporation that the program is ‘voluntary.’ We have always questioned how a labor program in a corporate prison setting for sub-minimum wages could be truly voluntary. In the past, we had documented at least one instance where detained immigrants who did not want to work were threatened with being put in the hole.”
New Jersey Teachers Union Backs Pro-Trump Candidate, Warning Democrats Not to Take Educators for Granted
In an otherwise predictable New Jersey election season, the state’s largest public sector union has come out behind a Trump-supporting Republican facing an incumbent Democrat. The New Jersey Education Association, which is New Jersey’s top political spender, is backing Republican Fran Grenier against Steve Sweeney, the Democratic state Senate president and New Jersey’s second most-powerful elected official. The controversial endorsement has angered liberal allies, but the union remains unapologetic in its message: Democrats cannot take teachers for granted.
It’s a contentious move, but one that is unlikely to change the ultimate outcome of the election. Democrats are expected to control all three branches of government after November, a major turning point for the Garden State. After seven years under Republican Gov. Chris Christie — a man boasting an impressively low 15 percent approval rating — a majority of voters are expected to cast their ballot for Phil Murphy, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate running against the GOP’s Kim Guadagno. And with a state legislature that’s also expected to remain blue, progressives have been eagerly anticipating their chance to start reversing the policies of Christie’s tenure.
That explains why the NJEA has decided to spend hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars in what’s shaping up to be the most expensive legislative race in state history to try to unseat Sweeney: The union feels the top Democrat has betrayed it one too many times.
EPA chief Scott Pruitt is using MAGA math to recalculate the social cost of greenhouse gas pollution, as a way to justify the repeal of the Clean Power Plan. Following the Trump administration’s America First ethos, Pruitt’s “alternate analysis” drastically lowers the previous government estimate — because he’s only calculating for costs to the U.S. The government panel assembled in 2009 to figure the social cost of carbon calculated for global effects and put the cost of climate damage by 2020 at about $50 per metric ton of carbon. Pruitt’s analysis effectively slashes that figure to between $1 and $6 per metric ton, according to think tank Resources for the Future.
That figure comes from a complex set of calculations, taking into account public health factors, the costs of extreme weather events and a rising sea level, among other factors. ... The social cost of carbon allows policymakers to weigh the value of policies aimed at curbing climate change — the estimate was used, for instance, to justify the Clean Power Plan as cost-effective — but if there’s a lower cost-benefit for solutions to climate change, policymakers are less likely to see the value in those policies. It’s been used by the federal government to in more than 150 proposed and final regulatory measures, on everything from land-use decisions to standards for vehicle fuel efficiency to appliances’ efficiency standards, according to Resources for the Future.
The first thing to know about California wine country’s wildfires is that there is nothing rural, or remote about them. “This was a wildfire in a city,” Santa Rosa Mayor Chris Coursey told NPR Tuesday morning, describing how it roared across the hills and into his city’s streets.
He was not exaggerating. In Santa Rosa, a mostly suburban town of roughly 175,000 people, the aftermath litters the landscape. Destruction is largely hidden behind carefully-zoned blocks of neighborhood developments and outdoor shopping malls cluttered with high-end storefronts and coffee shops, but the permeating scent of a never-ending campfire lingers, growing acrid with odors of melting metal, home cleaning chemicals, and electricity wires as you draw nearer to the scene. ...
Back on San Miguel Road, a young father in a yellow and black Wu-Tang T-shirt stood in his front yard, idly spraying water from a hose. His home remained standing, unaffected save for some charred mulch near his front-door walkway. Across the street, his neighbor’s house was charred black, the fence half standing, palm trees blown out. ... That’s not the case just a few miles in any given direction, where policemen block off roads so firemen can work in 24-hour shifts to contain more than a dozen wildfires that have killed at least 17, and destroyed more than 1,500 buildings across a combined 115,000 acres of land.
Emergency officials say a mixture of heat, dry air, and strong winds transformed the sudden wildfires into an all-consuming blaze that quickly ripped through parts of the countryside and into city and suburban areas. After a cool, windless Tuesday that afforded emergency crews an opportunity to make up some ground, Sonoma County officials warn that a warmer, windier Wednesday could bring fresh troubles.
Big Bend national park is Texas at its most cinematic, with soaring, jagged forest peaks looming over vast desert lowlands, at once haughty and humble, prickly and pretty. It is also among the most remote places in the state. Even from Alpine, the town of 6,000 that is the main gateway to the park, it is more than an hour’s drive to one of the entrances.
So far from anywhere, it might seem an unlikely location to be scarred by air pollution. Yet for decades its stunning vistas have been compromised by poor air quality that Texas, working with the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is supposed to address.
But environmental advocates fear that the Trump administration’s pro-coal agenda will derail the prospects of improvement, at least in the short term. Tuesday’s announcement that the EPA plans to abandon the 2015 Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon emissions came less than two weeks after the agency revealed a revised plan to combat regional haze in Texas and Oklahoma that critics say will do little to cut pollution. ...
The National Park Service and EPA carried out a study in 1999 to understand what causes haze in Big Bend, which is worse in the warmer months. It found that sulphate particles formed from sulphur dioxide sources such as coal power plants and refineries were a key cause. Researchers discovered that substantial amounts of sulphate particulates came not only from Texas and Mexico, but the distant eastern US. When air flows from the east, production in America’s coal heartlands has an effect on Big Bend’s scenery.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Jimmy Reed - I'm gonna help you
Jimmy Reed - I Got The Blues
Jimmy Reed - You're Something Else
Jimmy Reed - The judge should know
Jimmy Reed - Baby What You Want Me To Do
Jimmy Reed - Signals of Love
Jimmy Reed - I'm Mr Luck
Jimmy Reed - High and Lonesome
Jimmy Reed - Little Rain
Jimmy Reed - Down In Virgina
Jimmy Reed - Baby, Whats Wrong