The Evening Blues - 11-19-18
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features blues singer, fiddler, guitar and steel guitar player L.C. "Good Rockin" Robinson. Enjoy!
L.C. "Good Rockin'" Robinson - Train Time Blues
"If you go on with this nuclear arms race, all you are going to do is make the rubble bounce."
-- Winston Churchill
News and Opinion
European officials are seeking to act as intermediaries between Russia and the US in the hope of salvaging a cold war-era arms control treaty that Donald Trump has threatened to scrap. However, the diplomats involved are not confident of success in the effort to save the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty. Although they have the support of senior officials in the US defence and state departments, they face opposition from the White House, particularly from the national security adviser, John Bolton.
Nor is it clear whether Moscow is interested in a deal. The collapse of the INF would leave the Russian military free to deploy short- and medium-range nuclear missiles along its borders with Nato in Europe, and in China.
It would be hard for the US to benefit militarily from the treaty’s demise, as it would need allied states to offer launch sites for its missiles if they were to be deployed within range of Russia and China – and it is far from clear what country would offer its territory and thus make itself a target.
Yet Trump’s abrupt declaration at a political rally in Nevada on 20 October that he was going to pull the US out of the treaty, without informing allies, has focused criticism on Washington rather than Moscow. European officials have asked for time to make a last-gasp attempt to rescue the treaty, which they see as a key pillar of arms control in Europe. ...
Under the terms of the treaty, it would take six months for a US withdrawal to take effect, from the date of Washington’s formal notification of its intention to withdraw. But in the month since Trump’s declaration in Nevada, no such notification has been made. The under secretary of state for arms control and international security, Andrea Thompson, told journalists on Thursday that no decision on timing had been made and appeared to suggest the president had not yet made a final decision on withdrawal.
Houthi rebels have halted their drone and missile attacks against Saudi Arabia and its allies. The Iran-linked group also said they were ready for a ceasefire if the Saudi-led coalition "wants peace."
Houthi militants announced on Sunday that they would stop their "drone and missile strikes" against Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and their allies in Yemen.
The rebels said they were ready for a broader armistice if "the Saudi coalition wants peace" in a statement signed by Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, the head of the rebels' Supreme Revolutionary Committee.
The warring parties had previously given "firm assurances" to UN envoy Martin Griffiths that they would meet for peace talks in Sweden. While the date has not been set, Griffiths said it would be "soon" and that he plans to travel to rebel-held Sanaa later this week to discuss arrangements. Al-Houthi also called on fellow rebels to stop launching attacks against the Saudi alliance to show goodwill and deprive the alliance of any justification for further attacks against Houthi forces.
Donald Trump has refused to listen to audio tape of the murder of Saudi dissident and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, while saying the killing was “vicious”. In an interview with Fox News Sunday, the president told presenter Chris Wallace: “I don’t want to hear the tape, no reason for me to hear the tape.”
The news follows the CIA’s conclusion that the murder of Jamal Khashoggi was ordered by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, which further jeopardizes the relationship between the US and Saudi Arabia and is likely to damage the Saudi leadership and its standing in the world. ...
Trump has announced there will be a government report on Tuesday assessing the details and impact of the killing and possible options for the US response. ... On Saturday Trump, called a CIA assessment blaming the crown prince for the killing “very premature” and said he would receive a complete report on the case on Tuesday.
Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has said he will take on the defence minister portfolio, rejecting calls to dissolve his government even as early elections appeared increasingly likely. Netanyahu said heading to elections now, amid repeated violent confrontations with Gaza militants, was “irresponsible” of his coalition partners, who have been pushing for early polls since the resignation last week of the defence minister, Avigdor Lieberman, over a Gaza ceasefire.
“Today, I take on for the first time the position of defence minister,” said Netanyahu on Sunday, speaking from Israel’s defence headquarters in Tel Aviv in a statement broadcast live at the start of the evening news. “We are in one of the most complex security situations and during a period like this, you don’t topple a government. During a period like this, you don’t go to elections.”
The sudden coalition crisis was sparked by the resignation of the hawkish Lieberman, who had demanded a far stronger response last week to the most massive wave of rocket attacks on Israel since the 2014 Israel-Hamas war. ... The departure of Lieberman and his Yisrael Beiteinu party leaves the coalition with a one-seat majority in the 120-member parliament. Netanyahu’s other partners say that makes governing untenable and would leave the coalition susceptible to the extortion of any single lawmaker until elections scheduled for November 2019.
The education minister, Naftali Bennett, of the pro-settler Jewish Home party, has already threatened to bring down the government if he is not appointed defence minister. He and the justice minister, Ayelet Shaked, also of Jewish Home, will deliver a statement to the media on Monday. If the party leaves the coalition, it would strip Netanyahu of his parliamentary majority.
The United States has maintained an arms-length diplomatic relationship with Somalia since two American Black Hawk helicopters were shot down in Mogadishu in 1993. But an increase in activity in recent years is set to culminate this weekend, with the quiet opening of a renovated and expanded building that will apparently serve as an unofficial U.S. embassy or consulate in Mogadishu, according to diplomatic and other sources in the city. The facility will allow for a permanent diplomatic presence in the country, a place for the U.S. to host meetings and for limited staff to be based. U.S. officials are reluctant to discuss the building and its intended uses; the government seems keen to indicate it is neither an embassy nor a consular office. ...
The U.S. has not had an embassy or consulate in Somalia since 1991, when Americans were evacuated amid an anti-government uprising that catalyzed the complete collapse of the Somali state and deepened a long and bloody civil war. Relations between the U.S. and Somalia took a historic turn two years later with the “Black Hawk Down” incident, which took place during a U.S.-led military intervention precipitated by food shortages and political chaos. In that famous incident, two U.S. military helicopters were shot down, and a total of 18 American soldiers were killed during a raid to capture allies of a Somali warlord, Mohamed Farah Aidid. The Black Hawks crashed into Bakara, the main market in Mogadishu, sparking a 15-hour gun battle; the bodies of some of the U.S. soldiers were dragged through the streets. Those gory images and the subsequent national horror have since shaped U.S. policy abroad, influencing former President Bill Clinton’s decision not to put boots on the ground to intervene in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda or in Bosnia.
The U.S. building is located in Mogadishu’s equivalent of what was known as the “Green Zone” in Baghdad during the U.S. occupation of Iraq. At the moment, the vast majority of foreigners who come to the Somali capital do not even leave the massive airport complex-cum-military base that stretches across a section of the Mogadishu shoreline. The compound, secured by blast walls, is protected by the African Union Mission in Somalia and is entirely segregated from the rest of the city.
Following confirmation that the U.S. Department of Justice does have a sealed complaint against Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange—seemingly based on his work exposing the classified secrets of high-level U.S. government institutions and officials—NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden on Friday afternoon spoke out against any arrest or prosecution of the journalist, saying that one "cannot support the prosecution of a publisher for publishing without narrowing the basic rights every newspaper relies on." ...
Acknowledging that many people have come to "despise" Assange over the years for a variety of reasons, Snowden declared: "If you would deny a thing to your enemy, it is not a right. What do you stand for?"
Ever since suspicions were confirmed that the Trump administration is indeed working to prosecute and imprison WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for publishing authentic documents, the so-called “Resistance” has been struggling to explain exactly why it is so enthusiastically supportive of that agenda. And when I say struggling, I am being very, very generous. When news broke that a court document copy-paste error had inadvertently exposed the fact that the Trump administration is pursuing an agenda which experts of diverse political persuasions agree would have devastating effects on the freedom of the press, #Resistance pundit and DC think tank operative Neera Tanden responded by tweeting, “Never mess with karma”. As of this writing if you do a Twitter search for the words “Assange” and “karma” together, you will come up with countless Democratic Party loyalists using that concept to justify their support for a Trump administration assault on the press that is infinitely more dangerous than the president being mean to Jim Acosta. ...
There’s really no other way you can justify supporting a Trump administration agenda–an administration you claim to oppose–in a prosecution with legal implications that are severely detrimental to the free press, which you claim to support. The only way to justify it is with some vague, abstract notion that Assange is just “getting what he deserves” since the 2016 WikiLeaks publications of Democratic Party likely contributed to Trump’s electoral victory over Hillary Clinton, and the only way to reify that vague, abstract notion is with an appeal to some imaginary metaphysical principle, i.e. karma. ...
The noxious strain of American liberalism which promotes Russia conspiracy theories, supports the prosecution of government transparency advocates, and only attacks Trump as an idea rather than actually resisting his actual policies was never about any principle of any kind. There were preexisting agendas against Russia, alternative media, WikiLeaks, and government transparency long before Trump took office, and all of those agendas have been systematically advanced by the powerful using the “us vs them” herd mentality of the McResistance. These people aren’t supporting the prosecution of a leak publisher because of their ideological values, they are supporting it because that’s what powerful manipulators want them to do.
Human rights groups are calling on Canada to end the coerced sterilization of indigenous women, as a growing number of victims seek to join a class action lawsuit against government and medical professionals. At least 60 women have joined a pending class action lawsuit against doctors and health officials in the province of Saskatchewan, seeking compensation for the violation of their rights.
The lawsuit has yet to be certified by a judge, but this week Amnesty International announced it will lobby the UN committee against torture to increase pressure on the Canadian government to act. “Ultimately, this is about women who are supposed to have the right to make decisions about their bodies, having that right taken away from them,” said Amnesty’s Jacqueline Hansen.
The women allege their fallopian tubes were tied, burned or cut in public hospitals when the women were unable to give sufficient consent – which would be a breach of both medical ethics and the law. Some of the complainants have said they were told they would not be allowed to see their newborn child unless they agreed to the procedure.
The continued use of coerced sterilization was exposed 2015, when four women spoke about their experiences in the province of Saskatchewan. An investigation was launched and the province’s healthy authority issued an apology and new criteria for tubal ligations. But the pending lawsuit suggests that some cases occurred as recently as 2017.
Darius Anderson is one of California’s most powerful men. He promotes himself as a champion of liberal social causes, a philanthropist, a public servant, a man of integrity who cares about his community—especially racial minorities.
That image has not survived judicial scrutiny. A panel of arbitration judges has found that a company controlled by Anderson and his partner, Douglas Boxer, the son of former Senator Barbara Boxer, defrauded its Native American clients in a Bay Area casino deal. The partners convinced the Federated Indians of the Graton Rancheria to buy undevelopable swamp land in which they themselves held a large interest. They then made a secret deal with a Las Vegas gambling corporation in which they benefited at the Graton tribe’s expense.
The two-month long judicial proceeding took place behind closed doors at the San Francisco office of JAMS, a high-profile group of legal mediators formerly known as Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Services. A final binding arbitration award issued in April by the judging panel was confirmed by Superior Court Judge Richard Ulmer on June 1. That outcome has drawn almost no publicity. The only media to report on the findings of fraud against Anderson and Boxer is the North Bay Bohemian, a local alternative weekly newspaper.
For decades Anderson has advised and raised campaign funds for prominent state Democrats, including Nancy Pelosi, leader of the Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives, and Jerry Brown, governor of the west coast state. Another of his high-profile clients is Barbara Boxer, the longtime U.S. senator from California who retired in 2017. Her son Douglas partnered with Anderson in what judges found to be acts of fraud and deception against the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria that began after Sen. Boxer pushed through legislation restoring the tribe’s sovereignty and granting it the right to run a casino.
Color of Change: Facebook Retaliated Against Protests by Pushing Anti-Semitic, Anti-Black Narratives
Last month, an unsealed FBI indictment of four American white supremacists from the Rise Above Movement (RAM) declared that the defendants had trained with Ukraine’s Azov Battalion, a neo-Nazi militia officially incorporated into the country’s national guard. The training took place after the white supremacist gang participated in violent riots in Huntington Beach and Berkeley, California and Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017. The indictment stated that the Azov Battalion “is believed to have participated in training and radicalizing United States-based white supremacy organizations.”
After a wave of racist violence across America that culminated in the massacre of twelve Jewish worshippers at a Pittsburgh synagogue, the revelation that violent white supremacists have been traveling abroad for training and ideological indoctrination with a well-armed neo-Nazi militia should cause extreme alarm. Not only are white supremacists from across the West flocking to Ukraine to learn from the combat experience of their fascist brothers-in-arms, they are doing so openly — chronicling their experiences on social media before they bring their lessons back home. But U.S. law enforcement has done nothing so far to restrict the flow of right-wing American extremists to Azov’s bases.
There is one likely explanation for the U.S. government’s hands-off approach to Azov recruitment: the extremist militia is fighting pro-Russian separatists as a front-line proxy of Washington. In fact, the United States has directly armed the Azov Battalion, forking over anti-tank rocket launchers and even sending a team of Army officers to meet in the field with Azov commanders in 2017. Though Congress
passed legislation this year forbidding military aid to Azov on the grounds of its white supremacist ideology, the Trump administration’s authorization of $200 million in offensive weaponry and aid to the Ukrainian military makes it likely new stores of weapons will wind up the extremist regiment’s hands. When
queried by reporters about evidence of American military training of Azov personnel, multiple U.S. army spokespersons admitted there was no mechanism in place to prevent that from happening. ...
The revelations of collaboration between violent American white supremacists and a neo-Nazi militia armed by the Pentagon add another scandalous chapter to a long history of blowback that dates back to the 1950’s, when the CIA rehabilitated several Ukrainian Nazi collaborators as anti-communist assets in the Cold War.
The recent firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions has sparked a wave of protest and anxiety over the job safety of Special Counsel Robert Mueller. But there’s comparatively very little outcry over what one of Sessions’ final moves means for the safety of people’s actual lives; especially people of color. In his last day on the job, Sessions quietly issued a memo that would drastically curb the use of consent decrees. These decrees impose federal oversight of police departments accused of abuses and civil rights violations, such as in Baltimore and Ferguson, Missouri. Just weeks before his ouster, Sessions criticized plans for a consent decree in Chicago.
The FBI now classifies the far-right Proud Boys as an “extremist group with ties to white nationalism”, according to a document produced by Washington state law enforcement. The FBI’s 2018 designation of the self-confessed “western chauvinist group” as extremist has not been previously made public.
The Proud Boys was founded by the Vice Media co-founder Gavin McInnes. McInnes has insisted that his group is not white nationalist or “alt-right” but the Proud Boys have a history of misogyny and glorifying violence. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) lists them as a hate group.
The document also says: “The FBI has warned local law enforcement agencies that the Proud Boys are actively recruiting in the Pacific north-west”, and: “Proud Boys members have contributed to the recent escalation of violence at political rallies held on college campuses, and in cities like Charlottesville, Virginia, Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington.”
The report, and the FBI’s warning to south-west Washington police agencies about the Proud Boys’ role in escalating violence at these events came in August, two months before the group was involved in an infamous weekend of street violence in New York City and Portland, and not long after they participated in street violence in downtown Portland on 30 June.
The spirit of Gritty — the wild-eyed orange hockey mascot that’s been appropriated by antifascists — was alive and well in Philadelphia’s historic district on Saturday, as hundreds of people gathered in response to a planned far-right rally.
Protesters vastly outnumbered the poorly attended rally, organized by a coalition of fascists, far-right agitators, and MAGA faithful under the banner “We the People.” Zachary Rehl, a key member of the Proud Boys – a far-right group linked to recent violence in New York City – was one of the lead organizers of the event, and yet they comprised just a handful of the roughly 40 attendees. ...
There were scattered incidents of violent scuffles. On one occasion, a member of the far-right infiltrated the protest side, leading to a fist fight, and culminating in his arrest, and in the arrest of a antifascist. Law enforcement kept a close eye on clusters of black-clad antifa, who moved in groups of about ten, many who came equipped with helmets, gas masks and goggles.
Alan Swinney, a member of the Proud Boys, traveled all the way from Texas to attend Saturday’s event. ... Swinney said that over time, he’s seen momentum growing on both sides. He’s motivated by the left’s “refusal to accept legitimately elected leaders.” And, he added, the low attendance of this event shouldn’t fool you. “You say we’re outnumbered, but you forget that the cops are on our side,” Swinney said. “Cops don’t vote Democrat.”
Over on the protest side, which was bolstered by about a hundred members of the Democratic Socialists of America, the atmosphere was more carnivalesque. Aside from those wearing the colors of Gritty, the Philadelphia Flyers mascot, someone played a tuba, and one group of protesters weaved around the crowd inside a Chinese dragon that was made to look like the popular meme Grumpy Cat. ... But residents of Philadelphia also turned out in full force, including Jim O’Connor and Melanie Fortino, who were waving a rainbow LGBTQ flag and a “Resist” flag. “There’s Nazis in our town,” said Fortino. “And not doing anything is complicity.”
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib Aren’t Finished Challenging Incumbent Democrats Who Come Up Short
Now that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is transitioning from insurgent candidate to incumbent member of Congress, a major question on the minds of her soon-to-be colleagues has been whether she will continue the practice of endorsing primary challenges to sitting members of Congress, or whether she will work to ingratiate herself with the institution she’ll be joining. That question was given a resounding answer on Saturday evening, as she gathered on a strategy call with volunteers from the group Justice Democrats, which played a key role in the elections of Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, and other representatives-elect. ...
On the Saturday video call, Ocasio-Cortez announced to supporters that she and Justice Democrats would continue challenging incumbents in blue districts where the sitting member isn’t representative enough of the district, ideologically or demographically. And for that, Ocasio-Cortez said, she wants help recruit candidates. ...
The pledge from Tlaib and Ocasio-Cortez to continue to primary incumbents injects a new element of politics into intra-caucus maneuvering. The pair are rallying support for a Green New Deal and are likely to find an increasing number of converts eager to sign aboard in the next few weeks. Meanwhile, only a handful of incumbents refuse to take corporate PAC money, a number that is also likely to rise given the pressure of a potential primary. ...
In a span of two years, Justice Democrats ran candidates in 78 primaries, went on to compete in 26 general elections, and a total of seven Justice Democrats were elected, in the process winning 3.7 million votes, according to the group’s calculations. Though critics have pointed out that most of the organization’s candidates ended up losing their races, Ocasio-Cortez said Justice Democrats candidates, along with those backed by Our Revolution and other groups, “built so much progressive power in their districts that they really brought their districts to the cusp for 2020” regardless of the outcome.
Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez shook up the Capitol this week by cheering on a group of climate activists protesting inside the office of Rep. Nancy Pelosi. But that doesn’t mean the 29-year-old is anti-Pelosi. The Democrat insurgent from the Bronx wants to use her newfound national prominence to force climate change onto the top of her party’s agenda, and if Pelosi agrees, she’s open to supporting her bid to be re-elected Speaker of the House. ...
If Pelosi wants the gavel for the second time in her decades-long career, she’s going to need the support of Ocasio-Cortez and many more of the 50 freshman Democrats elected to Congress in the midterms earlier this month. Close to 60 Democratic challengers and incumbents alike publicly vowed to never support Pelosi during the heat of their campaigns. The former speaker can still overcome that opposition to win the majority of votes within the Democratic caucus when they vote as a party later this month.
But the big test comes in January when she’ll need the support of at least 218 members of the House, meaning merely 16 Democrats can derail Pelosi. That makes the freshman Democrats a powerful block, and they seem to know it.
An embattled Florida elections supervisor, Brenda Snipes, has resigned following the tumultuous and at times bitter voting and recount process in the knife-edge midterm election in her state, according to reports.
A few hours after the election recount finished in Florida on Sunday – almost two weeks after election day on 6 November – Snipes submitted a resignation letter, according to the Sun Sentinel and other reports.
Snipes, 75, is the Broward county supervisor of elections. The top elections official endured national humiliation last week after missing a midterms recount deadline by two minutes.
Jair Bolsonaro’s rise to power in Brazil has cast a shadow over the first global environment conference since the ultra-nationalist was elected to lead the most biodiverse nation on Earth. Participants at the the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, which opened in Sharm el-Sheikh on Saturday, expressed concerns that the former army captain would disrupt international efforts to prevent the collapse of natural life support systems in the same way that Donald Trump is undermining cooperation to stabilise the climate.
Bolsonaro will not enter office until January, but he has supported a weakening of protections for the Amazon, the richest area of biodiversity in the world. This would mean that less land is controlled by indigenous and forest communities and more is open to agribusiness, miners, loggers and construction companies. Much of his support during the election came from these interests.
This move is likely to put him on a collision course with the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, which aims to draw up a new deal for nature by 2020 that would halt and reverse the worst decline of life since the extinction of dinosaurs. Every nation except the US is a signatory. ...
Brazil’s position will become clearer in the coming months. Bolsonaro is expected to select a new minister for the weakened environment portfolio in the next few days. He recently chose Ernesto Araújo to become Brazil’s foreign minister. Araújo believes that international efforts to solve global problems are part of a cultural Marxist plot to curb growth in western economies and promote the rise of China.
Because 'Good Planets Are Hard to Find,' Extinction Rebellion Shuts Down London Bridges to Save Mother Earth
Mass arrests resulted on Saturday as thousands of people and members of the 'Extinction Rebellion' movement—for "the first time in living memory"—shut down the five main bridges of central London in the name of saving the planet, and those who live upon it, from destructive over-consumption, runaway greenhouse gas emissions, and the ongoing failure of global leaders to address the compounding and intensifying threats.
"The 'social contract' has been broken … [and] it is therefore not only our right, but our moral duty to bypass the government's inaction and flagrant dereliction of duty, and to rebel to defend life itself," Gail Bradbrook, an Extinction Rebellion organizer, explained to the Guardian.
Tiana Jacout, another protest organizer, told the BBC that shutting down the bridges was "not a step we take lightly," but "if things continue as is, we face an extinction greater than the one that killed the dinosaurs" millions of years ago. "We have tried marching, and lobbying, and signing petitions," she added. "Nothing has brought about the change that is needed."
"We are peacefully standing up for the Earth and for humanity," Cecelia B of Extinction Rebellion, declared in a statement. "People are dancing and singing and making new friends. This is a joyful rebellion and this is what the future looks like."
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
L.C. "Good Rockin'" Robinson - Bringin' My Baby Back Home
L.C. 'Good Rockin' Robinson - Summerville Blues
L.C. 'Good Rockin' Robinson - The Sky Is Crying
L.C. 'Good Rockin' Robinson - Jack Rabbit Boogie
L.C. "Good Rockin" Robinson w/Pinetop Perkins - Pinetop's Boogie Woogie
L.C. 'Good Rockin' Robinson - Things' So Bad In California, I've Got To Go
L.C. 'Good Rockin' Robinson - Mojo In My Hand
L.C. "Good Rockin'" Robinson - She Got It From The Start
L C Good Rockin' Robinson - House Cleanin' Blues