The Evening Blues - 10-24-18
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features Chicago blues singer and guitarist Jimmy Lee Robinson. Enjoy!
Jimmie Lee Robinson - I'll Be Coming Home
"Your national greatness, swelling vanity; your denunciation of tyrants, brass-fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to Him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy-a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour."
-- Frederick Douglass
News and Opinion
Donald Trump has said for the first time that Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman could have been involved in the operation to kill dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi noting that “the prince is running things over there” in Riyadh.
The comments, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, appeared to mark a shift in the president’s view of Khashoggi’s murder on 2 October in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. He has hitherto appeared to take Saudi royal denials of involvement at face value. But on a day the state department announced it would sanction Saudi officials implicated in the writer’s death, the president appeared to give the benefit of the doubt to King Salman but not necessarily to his powerful son. ...
Trump told the Wall Street Journal he had closely questioned Prince Mohammed about Khashoggi’s murder, posing questions repeatedly and “in a couple of different ways”.
“My first question to him was, ‘Did you know anything about it in terms of the initial planning’,” Trump said. Prince Mohammed replied that he didn’t, Trump said. “I said, ‘Where did it start?’ And he said it started at lower levels.”
Asked if he believed the denials, the president paused for several seconds. “I want to believe them. I really want to believe them,” he said.
Body parts belonging to murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi have been found, according to two Sky sources.
The sources have told Sky News the Saudi dissident had been "cut up" and his face "disfigured".
One source also suggested the writer's remains were discovered in the garden of the Saudi consul general's Istanbul home - located around 500 metres away from the consulate.
It contradicts the explanation being made by Saudi officials that the body was rolled up in a carpet and handed to a local collaborator who was tasked with disposing of the evidence.
Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, has broken a three-week public silence over the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, describing the journalist’s murder as a “heinous crime that cannot be justified”.
Speaking in Riyadh at the Future Investment Initiative conference, nicknamed “Davos in the desert”, the prince said all culprits would be punished, and that “justice would prevail”.
They were his first remarks since the global outcry over the killing on 2 October of the Washington Post columnist at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, an event that continues to reverberate around the region. Members of the prince’s security staff are among those named by Turkish authorities as having carried out the killing.
Erdogan is happy to talk about Khashoggi, but not the hundreds of Turkish journalists he’s thrown in jail
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has masterfully positioned himself as a leading voice on the murder of Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul on October 2. On Tuesday, while presenting the Turkish state’s official account of Khashoggi’s “vicious, violent murder,” Erdogan amplified the Washington Post columnist’s stature as a world-renowned journalist and vowed to conduct an independent investigation as a project of conscience.
But Erdogan’s self-anointed role as the slain journalist's advocate belies an uglier truth: his own track record on press freedom is dismal.
Since the failed military coup in 2016, Erdogan’s government has rounded up and arrested over 50,000 of his critics, and fired or suspended more than 130,000 people from civil service jobs. He’s been especially hostile towards the country’s independent press — where hundreds of journalists have been imprisoned and roughly 200 media outlets shuttered in the last two years alone.
Erdogan’s war on independent media has earned Turkey the distinction of being “the world’s biggest prison for professional journalists,” according to Reporters Without Borders. Turkey ranks near the very bottom of the NGO's World Press Freedom index — 157 out of 180 countries. The NGO reports that many members of the press have spent more than a year in prison before trial and that in some cases they've been sentenced to life imprisonment for their reporting.
Canada’s prime minister has said he is unlikely to cancel the sale of armored personnel carriers to Saudi Arabia, despite growing pressure to hold Riyadh accountable for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Justin Trudeau said the 2014 agreement for light armored vehicles, signed by Canada’s previous Conservative government and a Canadian unit of US weapons maker General Dynamics Corp, had been written in such a way that taxpayers would have to pay a large amount of money to end it.
“The contract signed by the previous government ... makes it very difficult to suspend or leave that contract,” Trudeau told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, saying his Liberal administration was looking at a number of options. Trudeau said: “I do not want to leave Canadians holding a billion-dollar bill because we’re trying to move forward on doing the right thing.” Trudeau added that he found it “incredibly frustrating” that the terms of the contract with the Saudis meant he could not discuss it in more detail.
The opposition left-leaning New Democrats said on Monday in Parliament that Canada should not be arming the Saudis when they are attacking civilian targets in the war in Yemen. The New Democrats, who will be competing for the same voters as Trudeau in 2019 elections, last week called the Khashoggi matter “the latest addition in a series of horrible acts by Saudi Arabia”.
John Bolton suffers a crippling shortage of olives.
The US national security adviser, John Bolton, has confirmed that the US will withdraw from the landmark intermediate-range nuclear forces treaty (INF) after meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin and senior Russian officials.
Speaking in Moscow, Bolton said that Russia had been violating the treaty for years and that rising powers such as China meant that it was a “new strategic reality out there”. Bolton also said that China’s cyber-attacks against the United States made Russia seem like the “junior partner”. He did not go into detail.
The INF was a “bilateral treaty in a multipolar ballistic missile world”, Bolton said, adding that no formal steps had yet been taken but that the US would exit the treaty “in due course”.
Bolton met with Putin at the Kremlin on Tuesday, where he came to explain the US exit from the INF. The Russian leader joked that the US seal showed an eagle carrying olives branches and arrows. “The question is: did your eagle already eat all the olives and only the arrows are left?”
“Hopefully I’ll have some answers for you,” Bolton replied. “But I didn’t bring any more olives.”
Ecuador does not plan to intervene with the British government on behalf of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in talks over his situation in the South American country’s London embassy, Ecuador’s foreign minister said on Tuesday.
Foreign minister José Valencia said in an interview with Reuters that Ecuador’s only responsibility was looking after Assange’s wellbeing, after the Australian national sued the country over new conditions placed on his asylum in the London embassy.
“Ecuador has no responsibility to take any further steps,” Valencia said. “We are not Mr Assange’s lawyers, nor are we representatives of the British government. This is a matter to be resolved between Assange and Great Britain.”
A conference in Brussels backed by the Israeli government is to push for all European political parties to sign up to “red lines” that declare boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) tactics to be “fundamentally antisemitic”. The two-day convention, attended by Israel’s minister of Jerusalem affairs, Ze’ev Elkin, will propose a text for prospective MEPs and political parties to sign up to before European elections in May next year.
The text urges EU member states to sign up to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s “working definition of antisemitism” and exclude from government any politicians or parties that breach it.
Most controversially, one of the red lines – based on a resolution adopted by Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union in Germany in 2016 – calls on “all political parties to pass a binding resolution rejecting BDS activities as fundamentally antisemitic”. ...
The Israeli government has changed tack in recent years, from ignoring the BDS movement against Israel in the years after it was founded in 2005, to launching an international campaign against it, arguing the campaign aims to delegitimise the Jewish state. Israel passed a law barring the entry of foreigners who publicly support a boycott of Israel, and has set up groups in other countries to counter BDS activities and arguments.
'Caught Red Handed!': Trump's Last-Minute Promise to Middle Class Mocked as Confession GOP Tax Scam Only for Corporations and the Rich
On top of efforts to drum up openly racist "voter fraud" narratives and stoke xenophobic hysteria over the migrant caravan in an attempt to galvanize their right-wing base ahead of the Nov. 6 midterm elections, President Donald Trump and the GOP are also offering a last-minute promise of a major middle class tax cut that critics are mocking as an overt admission that the Republican tax law passed nearly a year ago has done virtually nothing to help workers—while sending an enormous windfall to rich donors and big corporations.
"Caught red handed!" declared Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF) in a Twitter graphic after the president vowed to push a 10 percent middle class tax cut if Republicans retain control of Congress next month. "Trump says he and the GOP are working on a 'very major tax cut' for working families. So is he finally admitting that the GOP tax scam was just for the rich and corporations—not for working families like he claimed?"
If the GOP tax law was such a boon for working families, Patriotic Millionaires asked Trump on Tuesday, "why are you scrambling to claim another tax cut for them is going to happen before the midterms?"
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) characterized Trump and the GOP's promise to pile another tax cut on top of their $1.5 trillion giveaway—which many Republicans are not touting on the campaign trail because it remains extremely unpopular—as "empty rhetoric" given that Congress is not even in session to work on such a measure. "This empty rhetoric is an admission by Donald Trump that his tax law only helps corporations and the donor class," Wyden said. "The middle class will see straight through this scam just like they did with Trump's broken promise to deliver $4,000 wage increases."
With Kavanaugh Aboard, Supreme Court Shields Wilbur Ross From Testifying Under Oath About How He Lied Under Oath
Intensifying widespread fears that the recent addition of Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court will solidify the judicial body's power to act as a legal shield for President Donald Trump's astonishingly corrupt administration, the high court ruled Monday night that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross will not have to testify in a lawsuit challenging the White House's overtly discriminatory move to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.
Given that Ross appears to have lied under oath at least twice about the decision to add the citizenship question to the census—first about his central role in pushing for the addition, and then about the crucial advisory roles played by Trump's racist former aide Steve Bannon and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach—the Supreme Court's order protecting Ross from sitting for a deposition was described as a "major blow" for the coalition of civil rights groups and state attorneys general working to stop the White House from rigging the census against immigrants and communities of color.
Vox's Matt Yglesias argued in a tweet on Monday that the fundamental reason the Supreme Court decided to shield Ross from testifying is because the court "is run by Republicans who want to help other Republicans rig the 2020 census so they can elect more Republicans." ...
According to the civil rights organizations challenging the White House's census changes, the addition of a citizenship question would promote fear among already underrepresented minority and immigrant communities and deprive them of much-needed federal funding. "If implemented, this harmful and costly decision would have far reaching implications for Latinos and all Americans, depressing response rates and threatening the fair and equitable distribution of political representation and billions of dollars in federal funding," Arturo Vargas, chief executive officer of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund, argued in a statement in August.
They had walked nearly 10 hours the day before in 90-degree heat with no shade. Mothers held their infant children, breastfeeding them as they walked to try and quiet them. Fathers implored their 3-year-olds to keep putting one foot in front of the other. When this group of several thousand people finally arrived here, they slept on the ground in the open air and went to the bathroom anywhere they could find. On Tuesday – under equally grueling conditions – the mostly Honduran migrants set off again, to a city another 26 miles north. All of them were exhausted, but they saw no point in staying put. Their goal is to reach the United States — still at least 1,050 miles away — or 53 days away, if they walk 20 miles a day without stopping.
President Trump has turned the caravan into a race-baiting talking point at campaign rallies this week, characterizing the group as an “assault on the sovereignty of our country.” At one point he said without proof that criminals and “Middle Easterners” have embedded in the group, a claim repeated Tuesday by Vice President Mike Pence. (Women and children comprise more than half of the approximately 5,100 migrants counted by the Suchiate municipal government in southern Mexico).
President Trump on migrant caravan: "You're going to find MS-13, you're going to find Middle Easterners, you're going to find everything.”
I found kids on a swing set tonight pic.twitter.com/mjsBXEMLR3
— James Fredrick (@jameslfredrick) October 23, 2018
“They see us as animals. And we aren’t. We are human beings,” said Irineo Mujica, director of the migrants rights group Pueblo Sin Fronteras, at a fiery press conference in Tapachula on Monday. “We have the right to live without fear. To seek a better life for our families.” But among those walking, many say reaching the United States isn't their goal; rather, it is getting out of Honduras, where life has gotten markedly worse under President Juan Orlando Hernandez, who took office in January 2014. ... Many Hondurans in the caravan in their late 20s refer to themselves as “old,” because they say they have no future ahead of them and are living only for their children. Gangs routinely charge “rent” — a euphemism for extortion — and those who can’t pay are often killed.
Fascism is ascendant in the U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A ...
With two weeks left before the midterm elections, Trump is amplifying a dark vision of what the country could look like if Democrats gain control in Congress. At campaign rallies, on Twitter and in his public commentary, he has issued urgent – if groundless – warnings about terrorists at the border, a socialist takeover and rampant crime.
Long on rhetoric but short on truth, the president has trained his focus on a migrant group trekking through Central America toward the US southern border, a procession the president has called “an assault on our country”. The so-called caravan has swelled to more than 7,000 Central Americans, many of whom have said they are fleeing poverty and violence in their native countries and dream of a better life in Mexico or the US. Yet without citing evidence, Trump has claimed the caravan is embedded with criminals, gang members and “unknown Middle Easterners”, an apparent attempt to exploit fear of terrorism and immigration.
“That is an assault on our country and in that caravan you have some very bad people and we can’t let that happen to our country,” Trump said at a rally in Houston on Monday night. He repeated a baseless claim that Democrats “had something to do with” organizing the migrant expedition. And then declared himself a “nationalist”, a term he typically avoids using directly about himself at such events. But in a sign that he wants to escalate the rhetoric, he shouted “use that word” to the cheering crowd. They erupted in chants of “U-S-A”.
At least six bombs targeting high-profile liberal figures were delivered over the last 48 hours, sending shockwaves down the spine of the Acela corridor as the Trump administration’s violent invective manifested in what officials are calling an act of terror.
The scare began Tuesday, when authorities discovered a pipe bomb left in the mailbox of Democratic donor George Soros in Katonah, New York. Late Tuesday night, Secret Service agents charged with sorting mail discovered an explosive device addressed to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s home in Chappaqua, New York. The next morning, agents discovered another bomb, addressed to former President Barack Obama’s office in Washington D.C. Hours later, CNN’s New York headquarters were evacuated after an explosive device addressed to former CIA director John Brennan, a frequent contributor to the network, was discovered in a mailroom.
The offices of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz near Fort Lauderdale, Florida, were also evacuated Wednesday after receiving a package containing an explosive device. According to NBC, the package was originally addressed to former Attorney General Eric Holder, but was undeliverable and rerouted to Wasserman Schultz, whose office was listed as the package’s return address. Reports also indicate a bomb addressed to Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters was intercepted by Capitol Hill police at a Congressional mail processing center. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo also said he had been targeted with a suspicious package, though that claim — and another suggesting the White House was a target — was later debunked.
John Miller, the head of the NYPD’s counterterrorism unit, said Wednesday that the bombs addressed to CNN, Obama, Clinton, Soros, and possibly others, appeared to be sent by the same person. He says his office and the FBI are both investigating the bombs as a pattern.
President Donald Trump insists that China is aggressively interfering in the 2018 midterms elections. It’s a claim that's been echoed by Vice President Mike Pence. Unfortunately for the White House, Facebook and Twitter officials have found absolutely no evidence of meddling from Beijing, according to a Bloomberg report published Wednesday.
Officials from the social media giants claim the only political meddling campaigns originate from Russia and Iran. The revelation comes a week after cybersecurity firms FireEye, CrowdStrike and Symantec similarly concluded that China is not trying to influence the November vote.
Trump told the UN last month that China “has been attempting to interfere in our upcoming 2018 election.” That was followed a week later by Pence, who claimed Russian interference in U.S. elections “pales in comparison” to Chinese meddling. ...
The only evidence cited by the White House is an advertising supplement placed in the Des Moines Register by the Chinese government that criticized the administration’s trade policies.
In 'Historic' Shift—and Catching Up With Voters—225 Democrats Running for Congress in 2018 Back Medicare for All
The majority of Democrats running in congressional races are banking not on centrist healthcare plans in the hopes of appealing to moderate voters, a new survey suggests—but on the increasingly popular Medicare for All proposal, which now has the support of a majority of Americans across the political spectrum. National Nurses United (NNU) surveyed hundreds of Democratic House candidates and found that 52 percent of them proudly back a universal healthcare program in the form of Medicare for All. Running in races across the nation, 225 Democrats who will appear on ballots for national seats support the proposal.
"We're enormously pleased to see Democratic candidates in a majority of House races endorse the reform that will guarantee universal care without the devastating costs that threaten so many families," said Jean Ross, co-president of NNU, in a statement.
The news comes on the same day as the release of a Hill.TV and HarrisX poll which found that 92 percent of Democrats and 52 percent of Republicans support Medicare for All. Enthusiasm for the proposal is on the rise despite Republicans' efforts at fearmongering and warning against a system that would expand access to one of the country's most consistently popular social programs to all Americans.
A piece of the United States has been dramatically wiped off the map after an island in Hawaii was washed away by a powerful hurricane. East Island, a remote spit of gravel and sand that sat atop a coral reef, has vanished after having this misfortune to come into contact with Hurricane Walaka, an intense storm that surged past Hawaii earlier this month. Scientists have confirmed the disappearance of the 11-acre island after comparing satellite images of the surrounding French Frigate Shoals, part of an enormous protected marine area in the north-western Hawaiian Islands. ...
“The island was probably one to two thousand years old and we were only there in July, so for it to be lost right now is pretty bad luck,” Chip Fletcher, a professor of earth sciences at the University of Hawaii, said. ...
East Island was, at about half a mile long and 400ft wide, the second largest island in the the French Frigate Shoals, an atoll in the far western reaches of the Hawaiian archipelago. ... Despite its size, the island played an important role for wildlife, including the critically endangered Hawaiian monk seal, a species that numbers just 1,400 individuals, with many of the seals raising their young on East Island. Green sea turtles, which are also threatened, and seabirds such as albatrosses, which often had their young preyed upon by circling tiger sharks, also depended on the island.
If conditions align, an atoll would always be at a small risk of being erased by a powerful hurricane. But climate change is causing the ocean and atmosphere to warm, making storms fiercer, while there’s evidence that hurricanes are moving further north into the latitudes where East Island once lay. Rising sea levels are also eroding away low-lying islands, with several fragments of land in the Pacific vanishing in recent years.
The habitat of one of the world’s most endangered tigers is under threat, according to environmental groups, as forests in Malaysia are cleared to meet growing demand for durians, the divisively pungent fruit hugely popular in China. Forests in the region of Raub in Malaysia, which has become a popular destination for Chinese and Singapore tourists on “durian tours”, are being burned and cleared to make way for plantations to grow the Musang King variety of the spiky but stinky fruit.
The land is home to the Malayan tiger, which is considered “critically endangered” with fewer than 300 left in the world. Environmental groups have said destroying their habit could have a “devastating” impact on the tigers’ survival. ...
The demand for durian in China has driven up prices and led to a surge in large-scale durian farming in Malaysia over the past year, with some predicting they could eventually replace palm oil as Malaysia’s biggest export. However, just as palm oil has led to the destruction of the habitat of endangered wildlife such as orangutans, campaigners are concerned the shift towards durian will prove equally destructive to the endangered tiger population.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Jimmie Lee Robinson - All My Life
Jimmy Lee Robinson - Twist It Baby
Jimmy Lee - Chicago Jump
Lonesome Lee - Lonely Travelin'
Jimmie Lee Robinson - Angry Lover
Jimmie Lee Robinson - Times is Hard
Jimmie Lee Robinson - Rosa Lee
Jimmie Lee Robinson - (Big) Boss Man
Jimmie Lee Robinson - Ah' W Baby