The Evening Blues - 10-15-19


The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: Jimmy Smith

Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features jazz organ player Jimmy Smith. Enjoy!

Jimmy Smith - Watermelon Man

“Every nation has the right to demand proper treatment and no country should violate the territory of any other country.”

-- Mustafa Kemal Ataturk

News and Opinion

Trump asks Turkey for ceasefire and orders sanctions as violence escalates

Donald Trump spoke directly to the Turkish president, Tayyip Erdogan, on Monday to demand an immediate ceasefire in Syria while announcing a series of punishments for Ankara that critics saw as an attempt to save face. The US president’s conversation with Erdogan was revealed by the vice-president, Mike Pence, who said he would soon be travelling to the Middle East. “The United States of America did not give a green light for Turkey to invade Syria,” Pence insisted to reporters at the White House. ...

As the situation in northern Syria spiralled out of control, and the White House scrambled to catch up, the president said he had issued an executive order to impose sanctions on current and former Turkish officials and was immediately freezing negotiations on a $100bn US-Turkey trade deal. Trump said he was also reimposing tariffs of 50% on Turkish steel – one of a series of measures taken last year to win the release of the American pastor Andrew Brunson from detention. In May, Trump scaled tariffs back to 25%.

“I am fully prepared to swiftly destroy Turkey’s economy if Turkish leaders continue down this dangerous and destructive path,” the president said on Monday. The statement confirmed that all 1,000 US troops in northeastern Syria are pulling out entirely, although they will “redeploy and remain in the region”. It added that a “small footprint” of US forces are staying in At Tanf Garrison in southern Syria “to continue to disrupt remnants” of the Islamic State.

Along with Pence’s upcoming trip, defense secretary Mark Esper said he would next week travel to Brussels to request that Nato allies punish Turkey over the invasion, which he said had “resulted in the release of many dangerous ISIS detainees”. The White House appears to have shifted to a strategy of claiming that the Turkish invasion was inevitable and it is merely moving US forces out of harm’s way.

On a Monday evening conference call, a senior administration official said: “This was not something that was caused by an action of President Trump. This was something that was caused by an action of President Erdogan who, after reported warnings that this was a bad idea, he shouldn’t do it and the United States in no way endorsed this activity, took a very, very rash ill-calculated action that has had what, for him, were unintended consequences.”

Syrian troops enter Kurdish fight against Turkish forces

Syrian troops have begun sweeping into Kurdish-held territory on a collision course with Turkish forces and their allies, a day after the beleaguered Kurds agreed to hand over key cities to Damascus in exchange for protection. The deal, which Kurdish leaders emphasised they had made reluctantly after four days of bombardment by Turkish artillery and jets, threatens to open a new front in Syria’s nearly nine-year civil war, and signals the likely end of US and European military deployments in the country’s north-east.

There were several flashpoints across north-eastern Syria on Monday. Syrian rebel groups loyal to Ankara launched an assault on the Kurdish-held city of Manbij with support from Turkish artillery and an air strike, a rebel commander told the Guardian. The militiamen – including many fighters who hailed from the city and fled years ago – clashed not only with Kurdish fighters but Syrian regime troops, fighting together for the first time since Sunday’s deal.

US troops were understood to still be on the ground in pockets of north-east Syria, including al-Saediya village, about 4 miles (7km) west of Manbij. US armoured vehicles were also stationed on a bridge into Kobane, sources said, trying to deter the Syrian regime’s entry into the city where Kurds and the US cooperated to inflict Islamic State’s first major defeat in 2015.

Turkish offensive in Syria: 'Of course the US is to blame'

US airstrikes try to keep Syrian forces from advancing into area

The ability of the Syrian government to get into the area was hindered by US military forces who are nominally withdrawing from the area. Reports are that the US launched multiple airstrikes against pro-government forces in the area.

Perhaps the most problematic aspect of the US meddling in Syria’s defense of Syria is that US ground troops remain in control of Qarakozaq bridge, which is on the highway between Manbij and Kobane. This means Syrian forces cannot directly go back and forth between the two cities they’ve agreed to defend.

That may just be temporary, as US forces aren’t meant to be sticking around long in that area, but that they’re openly stalling Syrian deployments is likely to further anger the Kurds, and give the impression that the US is not only ‘getting out of the way’ for Turkey’s conquest of the area, but openly undermining any attempt to resist the Turks.

US seizes only two British Isis prisoners in Syria, leaving others

US forces in north-east Syria have been able to seize only two British Islamic State prisoners despite previous briefings that they intended to forcibly take a few dozen from Kurdish custody.

Kurdish military refused to allow US special forces to take anyone apart from Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh, forcing them to leave behind several dozen detainees and prompting warnings that an opportunity to put other Isis leaders on trial had been missed.

The duo are members of the “Beatles” cell, a group of Britons accused of being responsible for the torture and beheading of British and US hostages, incidents that were apparently filmed and broadcast on social media.

Initial briefings suggested the US had hoped to take about 40 prisoners to Iraq as Turkey’s invasion of north-east Syria began, but officials acknowledged that only Kotey and Elsheikh had been seized, indicating the plan had at least partially backfired.

Well now, there's a Guardian headline for you. Oooh foreboding! Is it halloween yet?

Russian shadow falls over Syria as Kurds open door for Assad

The moment that changed the Middle East arrived with a sudden silence. Just before 7pm on Sunday, the internet was cut across north-eastern Syria where, for half an hour, the Kurds of the region had been digesting a news flash. The Syrian government was returning to two towns, Manbij and Kobane. The implication quickly sunk in. ... A day later, the ramifications of the momentous week that preceded the Kurds allowing the Assad regime to retake the province is still sinking in, across Syria and far beyond in Riyadh, Baghdad, Cairo and the Gulf.

Something far bigger was at play here; the end of US influence in Syria and the plunge in its status elsewhere. The public handover on show was that between the Assad regime and the Kurds, but the real power shift was between Washington – whose fighting troops have all but left the region, 16 years after invading Iraq – and Moscow, whose reach and influence across the Middle East has now been cemented.

As if to celebrate the moment, Vladimir Putin arrived in Riyadh for a state visit on Monday, his first in 12 years, hosted by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, who three weeks earlier had similarly felt the humiliation of abandonment by US allies.

After Iran launched an attack against the kingdom’s oil production centres, the crown prince was expecting a US retaliation. None was forthcoming, and he felt abandoned by an ally that had sworn to protect Saudi interests. “Did you see what they [the US] did to us?” the crown prince asked Iraqi leaders in Riyadh a fortnight ago. “It was unbelievable.”

In northern Syria, the US decision to abandon the Kurds, who had helped lead the global fight against Isis, had bewildered locals and left them with very few options. “It’s better to go for compromise than genocide,” said Muzlum Abdi, commander in chief of the US-raised force, formerly known as the SDF. Kurds, led by leaders of the Kurdistan Workers party (the PKK) had held talks with Russian officials in Qamishli in recent days about the terms of their pact with Damascus. Fighting Turkey to the north, and left without a protector after Donald Trump ordered the US military to leave, the Kurds held a very weak hand.

“The Russians have been accusing us of allowing the Americans into the region in the first place,” said Arshan Mizgin Ahmed. “We have paid a heavy political price for that.”

Aaron Maté and Ben Norton discuss Syria war, US withdrawal, Turkish invasion

Trump is right to take troops out of Syria. Now they must leave Iraq and Afghanistan

Donald Trump is right to extricate the US from Syria. American troops have no strategic reason to be in that country. If they stayed any longer they would only be sucked in deeper – if they tried to impose a sort of peace, they would be attacked by all sides. The outside world has no dog in the Turkish-Kurd fight. The US should get out of Syria as it must leave Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf.

While Trump’s motives or thought process for the latest move aren’t exactly clear – as ever – that he has enraged conservative and liberal interventionists alike is as reassuring as it is alarming. Belligerent meddling is now embedded in the west’s world view. But just as there is rarely a good time to intervene in other people’s troubles, so there is rarely a good time to stop. Were there a way in which a US army could swiftly bring peace and concord to northern Syria it might be different. There is none. Nothing in the modern history of the Middle East – not the Taliban or the Saddam or Assad regimes – has equalled the horror unleashed by the US’s “wars of 9/11”. They have come to seem as interminable as they are unspeakable. ...

The two most recent presidents, Barack Obama and Trump, came to office firmly in favour of withdrawing from the region. But the US’s military-industrial complex proved too powerful for them. Trump has been particularly emphatic about this, but his unpredictability and aggressive rhetoric has muddied his intentions. He has played hard and soft with Iran, tried to leave Afghanistan but not dared to do so, and now leaves the Kurds in the lurch. ...

It is as if the defeat of the Soviets in 1989 had cheated western armies of a third world war, leaving them determined to visit one on someone else – if not communism, then Islam. If Trump manages to end this self-defeating cycle, he deserves credit.

Syrian army, Iran threaten counterattack against Turkish invasion of Syria

The war unleashed by Turkey’s invasion of Syria, targeting formerly US-backed Kurdish forces, escalated out of control this weekend as the Syrian army and Iran moved to counterattack. With Turkish troops and allied Al Qaeda militias advancing deep into Kurdish-held territory in Syria, the Middle East is only days away from an all-out war between the major regional powers that could trigger a global conflict between nuclear-armed world powers. ...

Turkey’s Syrian “rebel” allies, the Islamist Syrian National Army (SNA, formerly the Free Syrian Army), are executing Kurdish civilians in areas they hold, according to multiple reports. Kurdish politician Hevrin Khalaf was executed; her bullet-riddled car appeared in a video surrounded by SNA fighters. Beyond Al Qaeda-linked calls to destroy infidels, the British Daily Telegraph noted, the SNA’s main outlook “is sectarian: they are anti-Kurdish and they are Arab chauvinists.”

Yesterday evening, the Syrian army announced it would march on the area. The official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported: “Syrian Arab Army units began moving north to confront Turkish aggression on Syrian territory... The movement comes to confront the ongoing Turkish aggression on towns and areas in the north of Hasaka and Raqqa provinces, where the Turkish forces committed massacres against locals, occupied some areas and destroyed infrastructure.” ...

Iran, which has deployed tens of thousands of troops as well as drones to Syria in recent years to back the Syrian regime against a NATO-led proxy war, indicated it would support the Syrian army. Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s Advisor for International Affairs Ali Akbar Velayati met with Syrian Ambassador to Iran Adnan Mahmoud yesterday in Tehran. He gave Iran’s “full support to Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, calling for the withdrawal of the Turkish forces,” SANA reported. Velayati added, “The principled policy of Iran is based on supporting the people and government of Syria and defending their righteous stances in a way that entails continuing joint cooperation until terrorism and terrorist organizations are completely eliminated.” ...

What is unfolding in the Middle East is a bloody debacle produced by three decades of imperialist wars waged by Washington and its European allies since the 1991 Gulf War in Iraq. Their inflaming of national, ethnic and sectarian divisions in an attempt to divide and rule this oil-rich region has placed it on the brink of an all-out conflagration. Former US allies across the region are turning against Washington amid the deep discrediting of these wars and of the entire capitalist political order among hundreds of millions of people in the Middle East, America and Europe.

In Victory for People's Movement, Ecuador Protests End With Government Capitulation on Fuel Subsidies

Indigenous groups in Ecuador celebrated Monday after news broke late Sunday that the country's leader, President Lenín Moreno, would make a deal with protestors that shut down the Latin American nation in nearly two weeks of demonstrations and scrap a controversial austerity package. ...

Moreno signed directive 883, restoring the subsidies, on Sunday evening.

The protest movement in Ecuador began on October 2 after a coalition of indigenous groups, the Confederation of Indigenous Nations in Ecuador (CONAIE), launched demonstrations against the Moreno government's proposal to eliminate fuel subsidies in an effort to reduce the country's debt to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Moreno also proposed slashing salaries for public workers as a way to generate funding to pay down the IMF debt.

The New York Times on Monday explained the dispute at the heart of the clashes:

Elimination of the popular subsidies was a keystone of the broad austerity plan required by the IMF in order to extend Ecuador a credit line. The loan was meant to bolster the country’s economy, which has deteriorated in recent years because of lower oil prices and a strengthening dollar that has left the country’s exports more expensive.

CONAIE president Jaime Vargas told The Guardian that the work is just beginning to negotiate a way forward for Ecuador but that he was heartened by what the protest movement—which reportedly left seven demonstrators dead and over 2,100 wounded or arrested—accomplished.

"We want peace for our brothers and sisters in this country," said Vargas. "We don't want more repression." ...

Anti-war advocacy group CodePink urged caution from those celebrating the cessation in hostilities. "This may be a victory for the indigenous people of Ecuador," the group tweeted, "but neoliberalism still reigns in the country."

Catalan separatists sentenced: "This is not a legal issue, it's a political issue"

Violent clashes over Catalan separatist leaders' prison terms

The Catalan independence crisis erupted again on Monday as police and protesters clashed at Barcelona airport hours after the Spanish supreme court jailed nine Catalan separatist leaders over their roles in the failed bid for secession two years ago. Protesters took to the streets, with many gathering at Barcelona’s El Prat airport after the court acquitted the nine defendants of the charge of violent rebellion but convicted them variously of sedition, misuse of public funds and disobedience.

By late afternoon, thousands of protesters had answered a call from the Tsunami Democràtic movement designed to bring the airport to a standstill.

Thousands set off by car, train and metro. When police closed the station, even more made the three-and-a-half hour journey on foot. Several people were injured as police baton-charged protesters on the concourse of Terminal 1, the main international terminal. Foam bullets were reported to have been fired and video emerged of national and the regional Catalan police beating demonstrators and attacking journalists. Thirteen people received medical attention and more than 60 flights were cancelled. ...

On Monday morning, Catalonia’s former vice-president Oriol Junqueras was convicted of sedition and misuse of public funds and sentenced to 13 years in prison. He was also banned from holding public office for 13 years. The former Catalan foreign minister Raül Romeva, labour minister Dolors Bassa and regional government spokesman Jordi Turull were each convicted of the same offences and sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment and handed 12-year bans on holding office.

Carme Forcadell, a former speaker of the Catalan parliament, was sentenced to 11 and a half years, while the former interior minister Joaquim Forn and territorial minister Josep Rull got 10 and a half years each. Two influential pro-independence grassroots activists, Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez, were found guilty of sedition and given nine-year sentences. Three other independence leaders were found guilty of disobedience and handed fines and bans from holding office.

Spain may not survive Catalan outrage – ex-Scottish First Minister Salmond on protests in Barcelona

Fiona Hill testifies about Trump's decision to oust ambassador to Ukraine

The fourth week of the impeachment inquiry against Donald Trump opened with testimony before Congress by the kind of witness who has created the most trouble for the president so far. Fiona Hill, the British-born former senior director for Europe and Russia on the National Security Council, is a career public official with deep professional knowledge and no political ties to Trump.

Hill testified on Monday morning before three congressional committees about Trump’s decision, over the strenuous objections of aides including herself, to recall the US ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, from her post. ...

Looming ominously for the White House is the scheduled testimony on Thursday of Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union. A previous attempt by Sondland to testify was blocked by the state department, as part of a blanket White House defiance of the impeachment inquiry. Congress is also due this week to receive relevant documents from an array of the most powerful figures in the administration, including the vice-president, the defense secretary and the White House chief of staff.

Out of the flow of new information, congressional investigators hope to fill in the picture of the Trump administration’s dealings in Ukraine, and answer the question of whether Trump’s conduct rises to the “high crimes and misdemeanors” cited in the constitution as grounds for impeachment.

Fusion GPS founders to release book on Trump’s ties with Russia

The former journalists Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch are to publish a book on Donald Trump’s relationship with Russia, including an account of how they commissioned the British ex-spy Christopher Steele to write his dossier on the future president. Crime in Progress: The Secret History of the Trump-Russia Investigation will be published in December by Penguin Random House in the US and UK.

Simpson and Fritsch founded the Washington intelligence firm Fusion GPS. In summer 2015, it began investigating Trump and Moscow. It hired Steele the following spring, as a contractor. ...

It is understood the book does not identify the human sources behind the dossier. It does argue that Steele’s memos – which were passed to the FBI, which briefed President Obama and Trump – were substantially correct. ...

Thus far, Simpson and Fritsch have avoided talking publicly about their work. In 2017, Simpson testified to Congress in a closed-door hearing, with the transcript made public later. Fusion GPS is battling a lawsuit filed by Alfa Bank, which is cited in Steele’s dossier. Alfa denies wrongdoing.

There's a lot of detail in this article that can't be captured here. If you're interested in Ukrainegate, this would be an excellent article to read in full.

DC’s Atlantic Council Raked in Funding from Hunter Biden’s Corruption-Stained Ukrainian Employer While Courting His VP Father

With its relentless focus on corruption in Russia and Ukraine, the Atlantic Council has distinguished itself from other top-flight think tanks in Washington. Over the past several years, it has held innumerable conferences and panel discussions, issued a string of reports, and published literally hundreds of essays on Russia’s “kleptocracy” and the scourge of Kremlin disinformation. At the same time, this institution has posed as a faithful partner to Ukraine’s imperiled democracy, organizing countless programs on the urgency of economic reforms to tamp down on corruption in the country.

But behind the curtain, the Atlantic Council has initiated a lucrative relationship with a corruption-tainted Ukrainian gas company, the Burisma Group, that is worth as much as $250,000 a year. The partnership has paid for lavish conferences in Monaco and helped bring Burisma’s oligarchic founder out of the cold. This alliance has remained stable even as official Washington goes to war over allegations by President Donald Trump and his allies that former Vice President Joseph Biden fired a Ukrainian prosecutor to defend his son’s handsomely compensated position on Burisma’s board.

As Biden parries Trump’s accusations, some of the former vice president’s most ardent defenders are emerging from the halls of the Atlantic Council, which featured Biden as a star speaker at its awards ceremonies over the years. These advocates include Michael Carpenter, Biden’s longtime foreign policy advisor and specialist on Ukraine, who has taken to the national media to support his embattled boss.

Even as Burisma’s trail of influence-buying finds its way into front page headlines, the Atlantic Council’s partnership with the company is scarcely mentioned. Homing in on the partisan theater of “Ukrainegate” and tuning out the wider landscape of corruption, the Beltway press routinely runs quotes from Atlantic Council experts on the scandal without acknowledging their employer’s relationship with Hunter Biden’s former employer.

Botham Jean, Then Atatiana Jefferson: Outrage in Texas as Police Kill Another Black Resident at Home

Fort Worth officer who killed black woman in her home charged with murder

The Fort Worth police officer who fatally shot Atatiana Jefferson inside her bedroom after arriving to conduct a welfare check was charged with murder on Monday night. Booking records at the Tarrant county jail show that Aaron Dean was arrested on a murder charge. Hours earlier, the interim Fort Worth police chief, Ed Kraus, said that Dean had resigned and would have been fired had he not done so.

Jefferson, 28, was playing video games with her eight-year-old nephew in the early hours of Saturday morning, her family’s lawyer said, when she was killed by the officer who was outside the property, had not parked in front of the house, did not identify himself and appears to have given her no time to respond to his initial command before shooting through a window.

“There is simply no justification for his actions,” Ashley Carr, Jefferson’s oldest sister, said at a press conference on Monday morning. “She was enjoying her life in her home, where no one would have expected her life to be in harm’s way, especially not in the hands of a civil servant who had taken the oath to serve and protect. ...

The officer, who was initially placed on administrative leave, was scheduled to be interviewed by the Fort Worth police department’s major case unit on Monday. He had worked for the department for about 18 months and his record was clean except for a traffic accident. Kraus said that Dean was not cooperating with the investigation.

Keiser Report: GE loots its employee pension fund

the horse race

Homewreckers: How Wall Street, Banks & Trump’s Inner Circle Used the 2008 Housing Crash to Get Rich

Worth a read, here's a small taste:

In Midst of Bankruptcy Fight, Elizabeth Warren Said “Joe Biden Should Not Be Allowed to Sell Out Women”

So far, the interactions between Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren during the Democratic presidential campaign have remained remarkably tame, a surprise to anybody who watched the two begin tangling as far back as the 1990s. It’s especially surprising considering the strong words that Warren, a Massachusetts senator, had for the not-yet vice president back in the day. One of Warren’s few shots at Biden throughout the campaign came in a gaggle with reporters after a rally in April in Iowa, when she was asked about her fight against bankruptcy reform. “I got in that fight because [families] just didn’t have anyone — and Joe Biden was on the side of the credit card companies,” Warren said.

“It’s all a matter of public record,” she added. Indeed it is, which makes it all the more surprising that debate moderators have so far declined to press Warren on some of her previous criticisms of Biden. After all, their battle over bankruptcy laws goes to the heart of their political and ideological disagreements. For Warren, Biden’s successful push to make it harder for struggling people to file for bankruptcy is Exhibit A in her case that big money — in this instance, from credit card companies based in Delaware — corrupts the system, rigging it against regular people. ...

While MBNA, the credit card company based in Delaware, was pushing the legislation, Biden faced charges of being too close to the company. “I’m not the senator from MBNA,” he protested to the Washington Post in 1999. Three years earlier, his son Hunter Biden had joined MBNA as a senior official. In 2001, Hunter Biden became a federal lobbyist, but stayed on at MBNA as a consultant at a fee of $100,000 per year.

The bill was finally signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2005, and it blocked the ability of people to discharge private student loan debt. Such debt soared in the wake of the legislation, now reaching crisis levels. Biden also opposed an amendment that would have made it easier to discharge medical debt.

Hillary's Newest/Dumbest Excuse For Losing Election

As Democrats Head to Debate Stage, Buttigieg Attacks Warren and Sanders—Who Have Outearned Him—for Small-Dollar Donations

A day before 12 candidates in the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates take the stage for the fourth debate of the primary, South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg criticized several of his opponents for their reliance on grassroots, small-dollar fundraising and bold policy proposals—despite the broad popularity and success of both.

On "Good Luck, America," a political news show airing on Snapchat, Buttigieg took aim at Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)—and indirectly at Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)—for raising campaign funds mostly through small individual contributions.

"We're not going to beat Trump with pocket change," Buttigieg told host Peter Hamby.

Critics noted that Sanders and Warren are the top fundraisers of the Democratic primary, raising $46 million and $35 million mainly through small donations.

"Pocket change is beating Pete, though," journalist Krystal Ball tweeted.

Krystal Ball: Only Bernie, Yang, or Tulsi could hit Warren where it hurts

To Tackle Ills of 'Unfettered Capitalism,' Sanders Plan Would Give Workers Seats on Corporate Boards and Reverse Trump Tax Cuts

Taking aim at the vast inequities produced by America's business-dominated economic system, Sen. Bernie Sanders on Monday unveiled a far-reaching proposal that would roll back President Donald Trump's tax cuts and transfer more power to U.S. workers by giving them seats on corporate boards and ownership shares in their companies.

"The establishment tells us there is no alternative to unfettered capitalism, that this is how the system and globalization work and there's no turning back. They are dead wrong," Sanders, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, writes on his website. "The truth is that we can and we must develop new economic models to create jobs and increase wages and productivity across America."

"Instead of giving huge tax breaks to large corporations that ship our jobs to China and other low-wage countries, we need to give workers an ownership stake in the companies they work for, a say in the decision-making process that impacts their lives, and a fair share of the profits that their work makes possible in the first place," said the Vermont senator.

In his "Corporate Accountability and Democracy" plan, Sanders proposes, among other reforms:

  • Giving workers the power to directly elect at least 45 percent of their firm's board of directors;
  • Requiring large corporations and all publicly traded companies "to provide at least two percent of stock to their workers every year until the company is at least 20 percent owned by employees";
  • Rolling back "all of the disastrous corporate tax breaks enacted under Trump, closing corporate tax loopholes, and demanding that large corporations pay their fair share of taxes";
  • Halting corporate mega-mergers and retroactively undoing mergers that have taken place under Trump; and
  • Eliminating corporations' use of offshore tax havens.

Peter Gowan, senior policy associate at the Democracy Collaborative, a left-wing think tank, told Vox that "this is the most ambitious plan on corporate ownership ever put out by a presidential candidate."

New Hampshire Journalist Paul Steinhauser: How Tulsi could shake up tonight's debate

the evening greens

An excellent piece by Yanis Varoufakis and David Adler. It's a great summary/explainer of the economic trickery that has been deployed against the 99% by central banks and nasty politicians.

A recession is coming. When it does, we need to demand a Green New Deal

American carnage and Brexit collapse, detention camps and environmental breakdown – the daily barrage of bad news makes it easy to forget that these are disparate symptoms of the same disease unleashed by the 2008 financial crisis. Back then, activists in Europe and the US pushed for a holistic cure: a Green New Deal to deliver necessary investments in people and planet. But establishment economists waved them off, preferring a shot-in-the-arm of easy money. Now, all the grave symptoms of recession have returned – and the old drugs don’t work any more, antibiotics to which the disease has already adapted.

But now is not the time for I-told-you-so. Never before has so much idle cash accumulated as in the past decade – and never before has circulating capital failed so miserably to invest in human health and habitat. We are long overdue for a Green New Deal.

Back in 2008, commentators were quick to announce the death of financialized capitalism. Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve, was trotted out in front of Congress to apologise for his faith in self-regulating financial markets. Activists occupied town squares from Oakland to Madrid. And even the CEO of Goldman Sachs admitted he had a “reason to regret”. It seemed like radical change was around the corner. It wasn’t. Far from collapsing, banks like Goldman Sachs turned around to record profits, hand out record bonuses, and rehash the risky practices that produced the Great Recession. ...

Instead of punishing the irresponsible architects of the crash, our governments punished the pensioners, the poor and anyone who rose up to challenge the regressive cuts they imposed. ...

If 2008 saw the original development of the Green New Deal proposal, then, 2019 is the time to deploy it: a moment when the architects of the old strategy, pockets empty, no longer seem able to defend it. “There was unanimity,” said Mario Draghi, retiring president of the ECB, “that fiscal policy should become the main instrument.” But fool me twice, shame on me. Having squandered the last crisis, we cannot fall again for Draghi’s promise of a mild Keynesian stimulus in the face of human extinction. Instead, we must mobilize behind the Green New Deal as the only reasonable response to the coming recession.

It is tempting to think of the present moment as a crossroads: we either get our Green New Deal, or we descend into eco-fascism. But the fallout from the last recession suggests that – if we do not articulate a shared demand – we might just as easily get a slightly reconfigured version of the status quo: a little more green around the edges, sure, but with roughly the same distribution of power and resources. Such a plan is already under way in Europe, where the European commission now calls for a “green deal” with none of the transformative content of the Green New Deal agenda.

With the climate strikers marching on their front feet – and the old guard caught retreating on its heels – we have a clear opportunity to achieve a true systems change. But it will require us to make clear to our governments: it is a Green New Deal or bust.

Indigenous Mapuche pay high price for Argentina's fracking dream

The ancient and spectacular rock formations of Neuquén province in Argentina’s Patagonia region are a paleontologist’s dream, rich with dinosaur fossils. But the image quickly fades to the sight and sound of the fracking well that exploded on 14 September and burned continuously for 24 days, spewing hot gas and other elements into the air from nearly two miles below ground. The raging fire was finally put out on Monday by a team of experts who flew from Houston with 56 tons of special equipment. “This shouldn’t be happening,” Campo Maripe said, “but these are the consequences of fracking.”

Fracking accidents happen regularly in Vaca Muerta (Dead Cow in Spanish), one of the world’s largest shale oil and gas reservoirs. In 2018 alone, there were an estimated 934 incidents at 95 wells. There have been leaks from drilling sites, and claims from local people of water pollution and increased ill health affecting them and their livestock.

For Argentina’s leaders there is a bigger picture. They believe the shale reservoir can rescue the country from its ongoing economic crises.

“This province will transform us into a world power,” the president, Mauricio Macri, said on Tuesday to a crowd of 3,000 people in Neuquén, referring to the nearly 2,000 fracking wells that have been drilled there since the discovery of the deposits was announced in 2011. Twenty companies own a total of 36 concessions in Vaca Muerta, covering a combined area of about 8,500 sq km (3,300 sq miles). The Argentine oil company YPF leads the pack with 23 areas, of which 16 are operational, in partnership with the US firm Chevron.

For the environmentalist Maristella Svampa, the promise that Vaca Muerta could turn Argentina into a new Saudi Arabia is a myth, like that of El Dorado, the city of gold the Spanish conquistadors searched for in South America. “It’s the magical illusion of sudden wealth,” she said.

Neuquén’s indigenous Mapuche people claim Vaca Muerta has brought them not wealth, but discrimination, dispossession and health problems. The Campo Maripe community, comprising about 125 people among 35 families, is one of more than 40 Mapuche communities in Neuquén. “When we went to school the other students would yell: ‘Here come the Indians,’” says Mabel Campo Maripe, 52, who shares community chief duties with her brother Albino. “Those same people today refuse to accept we are Mapuches because that would give us a right to our land.”

They say the denial of their cultural identity is being used by the Neuquén authorities to refuse the Campo Maripe community legal rights over the Loma Campana plateau, where they say they have grazed their cattle and goats for nearly a century. Pockmarked with close to 500 fracking wells that have sprung up in the past seven years, the plateau is the centre of the fracking boom.

Mussels, the backbone of the river ecosystem because they control silt levels and filter water, are facing a mysterious affliction

Mussels are the backbone of the river ecosystem because they control silt levels and filter water. And they are facing a mysterious affliction in hotspots in the US and abroad.

Wildlife biologist Jordan Richard, who works for the US Fish and Wildlife Service, is part of a team investigating the bizarre declines in Tennessee and Virginia, as well as Oregon and Washington. The group includes biologists, pathologists and epidemiologists from the University of Wisconsin and the US Geological Survey. They say others are researching similar episodes in Spain.

Of the roughly 300 freshwater mussel species in North America, 71% are considered endangered, threatened or of concern, largely because of human degradation of rivers. They are also vulnerable to the climate crisis, because of heat and changes to precipitation. In the southeast US alone, nearly two dozen species of mussels are thought to have gone extinct.

“When you talk about these massive global extinctions, these are the species that are really blinking out, and there’s so many of them nobody even notices,” Richard said.

Also of Interest

Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.

The Predictable Mess on Syria’s Border with Turkey

Syrian Government Regains Control Over Country's Northeastern Parts

CIA, FBI computers used for Wikipedia edits

Why Barack Obama Was Particularly Unsuited to Live up to the Ideals of the Nobel Peace Prize

News Articles on the Fed’s Secret Trillions in Loans to Wall Street During the Last Crisis Have Been Purged from Bloomberg News

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A Little Night Music

Jimmy Smith - Root Down (And Get It)

Jimmy Smith - Got My Mojo Workin

Jimmy Smith - Organ Grinder's Swing

Jimmy Smith - The Sermon!

Jimmy Smith - Uh Ruh

Jimmy Smith - Blues In The Night

Jimmy Smith - Big Fat Mama

Jimmy Smith - Midnight Special

Jimmy Smith - Back at the Chicken Shack

Jimmy Smith Quartet - Eight Counts For Rita

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ggersh's picture

Looks like the greatest orange one speaks with forked tongue

As for Catalonia being driven by the hellish neoliberalism
it looks likes our buddies across the pond are getting the
same, take a knee and listen to the Queen

Another Angry Voice
19 hrs ·

If you didn't have time to catch the Queen's speech today I'll run through some of the most important aspects of it for you:.

An old lady who was elected by nobody read out a bizarre speech prepared for her by the administration of a proven liar who was elected Prime Minister by a tiny cabal of wealthy hard-right ultranationalists, and has nowhere near the parliamentary numbers to deliver any of the false promises the speech contained.

Aside from promising to deliver a hard-right interpretation of Brexit that nobody voted for, the speech also contained a promise to strip UK citizens of their automatic right to travel, live, work, study, and/or retire in any one of 31 European countries, as if that's some kind of good thing.

The speech also contained a pledge to disenfranchise 11 million (mainly poor) British citizens for the "crime" of not having a passport or driving licence. At the last general election there was just one single proven case of electoral impersonation, yet the Tories are attempting to collectively punish 11 million Brits for the crime of this one individual.

There's a term for this kind of rotten agenda, and that's "voter suppression".

But perhaps the most absurd aspect of the speech were the numerous promises to put more funding into the NHS, schools, and policing, without the vaguest mention of the last nine years of ruinous Tory austerity fanaticism that has stripped huge amounts of funding from these services, and reduced them to the parlous states they're in now, nor that the increased funding is only a tiny fraction of the £billions that have been stripped away over the last 9 years.

Back in 2015 all three of the main Westminster parties went into the general election promising "more of the same", with varying degrees of ruinous hard-right austerity fanaticism in their manifestos.

The election of the consistent anti-austerity pro-investment figure of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader in the aftermath of that election has completely rewritten the narrative, with virtually nobody left still publicly defending and promoting failed, economically illiterate austerity fanaticism (apart from hapless Lib-Dem leader Jo Swinson of course).

But rather than admit that their fanatical and economically illiterate austerity fanaticism caused a tidal wave of poverty, misery, death, and destruction, and apologise for it ... the Tories have clearly settled on the policy of simply pretending the last nine years of austerity ruination never happened, whilst distracting the public with the window dressing of spending increases that represent only a tiny fraction of the funding they've ripped out of these services since 2010.

All of Boris Johnson's promises of increased spending on public services represent absolute proof that Corbyn the other austerity-sceptics were absolutely right when they said that it's impossible to indiscriminately cut your way out of a crisis, and that stuff like well funded public services, a vibrant education sector, and investment in infrastructure and research and development are actually crucial to maintain a stable and successful economy.

Tory promises of spending increases on public services is crystal clear proof that their claims that austerity fanaticism was necessary and unavoidable were outright lies.

If we can afford to fund public services now, when the deficit still hasn't been cleared, it's beyond obvious that we could afford to fund public services back when the Tories were ideologically wrecking them.

Most people will, understandably, focus on the Brexit and voter suppression aspects of the Queen's Speech, but the Tories' massive ideological U-turn on austerity fanaticism, and their pathetic efforts to hide the tire marks leading back to the economic crime scene are incredibly telling, especially since Tory/Lib-Dem austerity fanaticism is what caused the collapse in living standards that resulted in the furious 2016 Brexit backlash in the first

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tRump amerika's last president

voting in ameriKa is an illusion

I'm fairly sure that the R's have finally figured out
that the D's are no longer necessary

joe shikspack's picture


heh, but we knew he was a liar when he told us that he loved us ...

heh, and then there's the british trump. do you hear that flushing sound?

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Wally's picture

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joe shikspack's picture


i guess we'll see. the media would like a scrap, so perhaps they'll facilitate it.

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joe shikspack's picture


heh, a great, largely unreported story, deep-sixed by the mainstream media.

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Azazello's picture

Evening all ...
Here's a couple of articles about Tulsi Gabbard:
From HuffPo, Tulsi Gabbard Wants A New Job. A Primary Challenger Wants Her Current One. Will the DCCC refuse to support a challenger to a sitting Congresswoman ?
From Raw Story, CNN panel stunned after Bakari Sellers calls Tulsi Gabbard ‘a puppet for the Russian government’
Surprise, surprise.

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mimi's picture

outside the US. I am so mad.

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Azazello's picture

This article says something about CNN International, whatever that is.
How to Watch Tonight’s Democratic Debate

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joe shikspack's picture


maybe try cnn international's facebook page live stream.

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mimi's picture

@joe shikspack @joe shikspack @joe shikspack
that what I get to be principled and never use facebook... I guess I have to change my attitudes towards my Zuckerberg boycott. Smile

Just woke up and have to catch up what's going on.

Doesn't transfer and is hang up.

If there is an archival page, where the complete debate is saved, pls. let me know.

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mimi's picture

Watch the Entire CNN/NYT Democratic Presidential Debate (5 Videos).

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mimi's picture

@joe shikspack
I can't find anything. Great moments on CNBC has nothing on her.
Pfft ... jeezus frigging christ...

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@mimi got the 2d least amount of talking time, ahead of only newcomer billionaire Tom Steyer. I felt her timing was a bit off last night, leaving some important stuff to the very end of her response which meant that final important comment seemed rushed and not fully fleshed out.

And it was disappointing not to see any of the others, esp the other two progressives, take a second to defend her from the smears from the NYT and CNN.

She will now have to struggle again to qualify for the Nov debate as it's unclear how much she advanced her candidacy last night.

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joe shikspack's picture


wow, even huffpost is after tulsi. heh, so cnn found some state legislator to be their attack dog, eh? fabulous.

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Shahryar's picture

in the 60s. Boutiques loved to play his records and it made shopping even better.

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joe shikspack's picture


heh, great sales plan.

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a record of failure

Since its arrival, following a coup that forced out former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the UN Stabilisation Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) has been considered by many Haitians to be an affront to sovereignty.

MINUSTAH's credibility was further eroded by its peacekeepers' implication in human rights violations. Early in its mission, in a raid targeting criminal gangs, MINUSTAH peacekeepers fired over 22,000 bullets into the thin-walled houses of Haiti's Cite Soleil neighbourhood, killing more than 20 women and children. Neither MINUSTAH nor the Haitian police investigated the event. Moreover, despite a "zero tolerance" policy, MINUSTAH personnel engaged in widespread sexual exploitation and abuse of women and children, with perpetrators generally returning home without prosecution or accountability. In 2015, Haiti had one of the highest rates of sexual abuse and exploitation of any peacekeeping mission in the world.

Perhaps most damningly, the UN took more than five years to publicly admit a role in Haiti's devastating cholera epidemic, which has claimed over10,000 lives and infected more than 800,000 people since 2010, despite numerous scientific studies from 2011 onwards establishing that the disease was introduced as a result of reckless disposal of human waste from a MINUSTAH base. By its own admission, this response left "a blemish on the reputation of UN peacekeeping and the organisation worldwide".

It is no coincidence that MINUSTAH, which cost more than $7bn, and its smaller successor force, the UN Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH), which wraps up today, had limited success in promoting the rule of law, and remained a point of controversy in the country throughout their mandates. In Haiti, the UN logo has come to symbolise impunity and abuse. Unsurprisingly many Haitians hold a negative perception of UN peacekeeping.

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joe shikspack's picture


it's pretty awful that every effort to put haiti on its feet have failed miserably. granted, most of them were destroyed by grifters both local and foreign.

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Bollox Ref's picture

might be a mite puzzled by recent events.

Also, too, Erdogan is no Ataturk.

Neither is Trump for that matter.

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from a reasonably stable genius.

joe shikspack's picture

@Bollox Ref

i think that ataturk is rolling over in his grave. erdogan is pretty much the anti-ataturk.

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Anja Geitz's picture

Now that actually did make me laugh out loud. As well as Abby Huntsman's question to Hillary about what she would do differently. Jimmy was right when he said that apparently Abby didn't read Hillary's book, because according to HER, losing wasn't HER fault. It was everyone else's.

Just a laugh riot that woman, right?

You know what actually is funny about that election? The hilarious memes that were generated in response to HER gobsmacking hubris.

hillary is a liar window signs.jpg
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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

joe shikspack's picture

@Anja Geitz

hillary wants to make being a homicidal sociopath fun again. great.

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Anja Geitz's picture

@joe shikspack

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There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

lotlizard's picture

and how Spanish forces are dealing with protesters such as those occupying the Barcelona airport.

Also instructive: in France, Macron’s police blinding and maiming participants in the Yellow Vest movement.

Or — the example I keep coming back to — Obama green-lighting the Saudi military’s crushing Bahrain’s democracy movement in 2011. (Obama had the final say because the U.S. Fifth Fleet is headquartered in Bahrain.)

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Great music!
I am headed to bed. My work day stretched to 12 hours, and I am just tired, and tired of "thinking" about work.
What I am thinking about is round up a group of at least 12 people to create a 5 day guided tour to Guatemala.
I have a few folks interested.
Mate' is really good.
Of course, our country will prevent their genocide. Like we did the Yemens.
I am so glad I am old.

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