The Evening Blues - 11-24-15
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features New Orleans piano player Champion Jack Dupree. Enjoy!
Champion Jack Duprée - Chicken Shack
"We Americans are not usually thought to be a submissive people, but of course we are. Why else would we allow our country to be destroyed? Why else would we be rewarding its destroyers? Why else would we all — by proxies we have given to greedy corporations and corrupt politicians — be participating in its destruction? Most of us are still too sane to piss in our own cistern, but we allow others to do so and we reward them for it. We reward them so well, in fact, that those who piss in our cistern are wealthier than the rest of us.How do we submit? By not being radical enough. Or by not being thorough enough, which is the same thing."
-- Wendell Berry
News and Opinion
Vladimir Putin has called Turkey “accomplices of terrorists” and warned of “serious consequences” after a Turkish F-16 jet shot down a Russian warplane on Tuesday morning, the first time a Nato country and Moscow have exchanged direct fire over the crisis in Syria.
The Russian president, speaking before a meeting with King Abdullah II of Jordan in Sochi, said the plane had been shot down over Syrian airspace and fell 4km inside Syria. Putin said it was “obvious” the plane posed no threat to Turkey.
“Our military is doing heroic work against terrorism … But the loss today is a stab in the back, carried out by the accomplices of terrorists. I can’t describe it in any other way,” he said. Putin suggested the Turks were shielding Islamic State terrorists from Russian attacks, saying: “Do they want to make Nato serve Isis?” ...
The Turkish military said it scrambled two F-16 fighter jets after a plane entered Turkish airspace in the province of Hatay at 9.20am on Tuesday, warning it to leave 10 times in five minutes before shooting it down. ...
Russia’s defence ministry, in a series of tweets, confirmed that a Russian Su-24 had been shot down, but insisted the plane had never left Syrian airspace and claimed that fire from the ground was responsible. “At all times, the Su-24 was exclusively over the territory of Syria,” the defence ministry said.
World War III was trending on Twitter Tuesday as the world waited to see how Russia would respond to Turkey shooting down one of its warplanes.
Russian president Vladimir Putin slammed the incident as "stab in the back by terrorist helpers," as NATO held what it described as an "extraordinary meeting" Tuesday afternoon just hours after the incident. ...
Russia's foreign minister canceled a planned trip to Turkey scheduled for Wednesday, while Russia's Ministry of Defense said Turkey's defense attache in Moscow had been "urgently summoned" to receive an "official protest" over his nation's actions.
"The Defense Ministry considers actions of the Turkish Air Force as an unfriendly act," it said in a statement. "At present, the Russian Defense Ministry is designing a complex of measures directed to respond such incidents."
The shooting down by Turkish forces of a Russian Su-24 warplane follows rising tension between the two countries over a continuing Russian bombing campaign against ethnic Turkmen villages in north-western Syria, close to Turkey’s border. ... Turkey has repeatedly expressed concern over the attacks on the Turkmens, a Sunni Muslim minority who many Turks regard as their kith and kin. Like the Ankara government, the Turkmens oppose the regime of the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad.
Turkey summoned Russia’s ambassador at the weekend to protest over the “intensive” bombing of the villages. Ahmet Davutoğlu, Turkey’s prime minister, said Ankara had demanded an immediate end to Russian military operations along the border. “It was stressed that the Russian side’s actions were not a fight against terror, but they bombed civilian Turkmen villages and this could lead to serious consequences,” Turkey’s foreign ministry said. ...
Like the US and Britain, Turkey says Russian forces have been predominantly targeting a range of anti-Assad rebel groups inside Syria, rather than concentrating their fire on Islamic State forces. Turkey also regards the areas in north-west Syria held by the Bayır-Bucak Turkmens as an important buffer preventing the territorial expansion of Syria’s Kurdish minority militias, whom it regards as terrorists linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK). ...
Ottoman Turkey and tsarist Russia fought a war in 1877-78. And Stalin briefly laid claim to parts of eastern Turkey at the end of the second world war. But ties have improved in recent times, with a series of energy and trade deals. Russia is now Turkey’s second-largest trading partner and 60% of its natural gas comes from Russia.
Economic dependence is one powerful reason, among several, why Erdoğan will not want this latest border incident to escalate into a wider confrontation – although this is something that may not be entirely within his control.
Backed by Russian airstrikes, the Syrian military offensive in the Homs Province seems to be making some headway, retaking the towns of Mahin and Hawwarin, some 40 miles southeast of Homs, and expelling ISIS from the area.
ISIS had been making gains in that part of Homs prior to the new offensive, aiming to cut off the main highway between Homs and Damascus. The Syrian military claimed a large number of ISIS were killed in today’s fighting, but did not offer numbers.
War is the great clarifier, and in the case of the battle against Islamist insurgents, including ISIS and al-Qaeda in Syria, the downing of the Russian war plane by the Turkish military has demonstrated this principle quite dramatically.
The US and its NATO allies, including Turkey, claim to be fighting ISIS, otherwise known as the “Islamic State,” but the Turks’ main fire has been directed at the Kurds and the Syrian regime itself. Turkey has been the main conduit for aid to the Islamic State, and the Turkish intelligence agency has long collaborated with Islamists in the region. ...
This incident has revealed what the real sides are in the Syrian civil war: who is fighting whom, and for what. The Russian plane crashed into Syrian territory and one of the pilots was shot from the skies as he parachuted: this barbaric act was captured on video by the rebels, who are being reported as affiliated with the Turkmen “10th Brigade.” This is just for public consumption, however: in reality, the area is controlled by an alliance of rebel forces dominated by the al-Nusra Front, which is the official Syrian affiliate of al-Qaeda. The jihadists took control of the area in March of this year, and has been the focal point of recent fighting between al-Qaeda and Syrian government forces backed by the Russian air offensive.
Vice is reporting:
“Russia sent helicopters to search for the downed pilots. Syrian fighters later fired at a helicopter forcing it to make an emergency landing in a nearby government-held area, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. A Syrian insurgent group, recipient of US Tow missiles, said its fighters hit the helicopter with an anti-tank missile.”
So here we have it: US-backed jihadists, including al-Qaeda, are using weapons supplied by Washington to fight the Russians and the Syrian government.
Yes, folks, your tax dollars are going to support Islamist crazies in Syria. The same people who attacked Paris are being aided and abetted by the US – and if that isn’t a criminal act, then there is no justice in this world.
French president Francois Hollande heads to the White House on Tuesday, calling for urgency in the war against Islamic State but also attempting to smooth ruffled feathers over his next diplomatic stop.
Hollande’s decision to follow talks with Barack Obama with a trip to Moscow two days later to meet Russian president Vladimir Putin is not likely to go down well with his American hosts.
“There is dissatisfaction on the US side about the optics of going from the US to see Putin,” a source in Washington said. “If Russia is serious about this effort, they should really be coming to the coalition.”
[Global Hegemon demands Putin submit and swear fealty to the realm! - js]
The talks may also be complicated by Turkey’s shooting down of a Russian warplane on Tuesday, claiming it had violated Turkish airspace and had ignored repeated warnings. Russia said the SU-24 was downed by artillery fire, but Turkey claimed that its F-16s fired on the Russian plane. The Russian ministry of defense said the plane was over Syrian territory “throughout the flight”. ...
On Monday, Putin visited Assad’s other key backer, Iran, for talks with supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. “The Americans have a long-term plot and are trying to dominate Syria and then the whole region,” Khamenei was quoted as saying. “This is a threat to all countries, especially Russia and Iran.”
Being hostile toward Russia is an end unto itself in US foreign policy, and something that’s been a focus for generations. With the Paris attacks bringing renewed focus to the ISIS war, and French calls for cooperation, President Obama is warning him away from any possible cooperation with Russia.
It’s not just a US fear that they’ll have to share the ISIS war with Russia, but a fear that, if they’re in the middle of a mutual war against ISIS it’ll make it a lot more difficult for European nations, particularly France, to agree to extend sanctions against Russia over Ukraine.
The sanctions were already a tough sell, with the Ukrainian civil war in a state of ceasefire since February, and the administration sees French calls for a “grand coalition” as nearing a rapprochement with Russia that the US desperately wants to avoid.
France continued its bombing of Islamic State (IS) targets on Monday, while Britain offered the country the use of one of its air bases in Cyprus. Meanwhile, the United States released details of new strikes over the weekend that destroyed almost 300 oil trucks and a crude collection point, part of its ongoing strategy to target the militant group's oil production, a significant source of its financing.
France, which has intensified its bombing campaign since the attacks on Paris which killed 130 people, reported that jets from the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier had destroyed targets in the Syrian IS stronghold of Raqqa on Monday, as well as in Ramadi and Mosul in Iraq.
During a visit to Paris on Monday UK Prime Minister David Cameron offered France the use of an air base in Cyprus to target the militant group, as well as air-to-air refueling services.
Cameron told French President Francois Hollande he was convinced Britain should carry out airstrikes alongside France on the group in Syria — but first he will have to persuade the country's members of parliament.
Given the stakes, you might think that someone in a position of power – or one of the many candidates for U.S. president – would offer some pragmatic and realistic ideas for addressing this extraordinary threat [of the global terrorism crisis created by Islamic State and al Qaeda]. But most Republicans – from Marco Rubio to Carly Fiorina to Ted Cruz – only offer more of “more of the same,” i.e. neocon belligerence on steroids. ... On the Democratic side, frontrunner Hillary Clinton wins praise from the neocon editors of The Washington Post for breaking with President Barack Obama’s hesitancy to fully invade Syria.
To Clinton’s left, Sen. Bernie Sanders has punted on the issue of what to do in either Syria or the Middle East, failing to offer any thoughtful ideas about what can be done to stabilize the region. He opted instead for a clever but vacuous talking point, arguing that the Saudis and other rich oil sheiks of the Persian Gulf should use their wealth and militaries to bring order to the region, to “get their hands dirty.”
The problem is that the Saudis, the Qataris and the Kuwaitis – along with the Turks – are a big part of the problem. They have used their considerable wealth to finance and arm Al Qaeda and its various allies and spinoffs, including the Islamic State. Their hands are already very dirty. ...
Freezing or confiscating Saudi bank accounts around the world might finally impress on the spoiled princes of the Persian Gulf oil states that there is a real price to pay for dabbling in terrorism. Such an action against Saudi Arabia also would send a message to smaller Sunni sheikdoms that they could be next. Other pressures, including possible expulsion from NATO, could be brought to bear on Turkey.
If the West finally got serious about stopping this financial and military support for Al Qaeda, the Islamic State and their jihadist allies in Syria, the violence might finally abate. And, if the United States and Europe put pressure on the “moderate” Syrian opposition – whatever there is of it – to compromise, a political solution might be possible, too.
Right now, the biggest obstacle to a political agreement appears to be the U.S. insistence that President Assad be barred from elections once Syria achieves some stability. Yet, if President Obama is so certain that the Syrian people hate Assad, it seems crazy to let Assad’s presumed defeat at the polls obstruct such a crucial deal.
The only explanation for this U.S. stubbornness is that the neocons and the liberal hawks have made “regime change” in Syria such a key part of their agenda that they would lose face if Assad’s departure was not mandated. However, with the future of Western civilization in the balance, such obstinate behavior seems not only feckless but reckless.
This article is well worth reading in full:
How does ISIS pay for its operations? This is the key question as the war against the terror organization advances to a new level in the wake of the Paris atrocities. But the mainstream’s approved answer is part of the problem.
That approved answer, from many political leaders and assorted “terrorism experts,” is that ISIS (also known as ISIL, Islamic State and Daesh) funds its operations through a variety of illicit activities such as illegal antiquity sales, kidnapping for ransom, holding up banks, and peddling crude from oil fields it controls in northern Syria and Iraq.
The line, dutifully parroted by news outlets from The New York Times to The Wall Street Journal and the Guardian, is nothing if not politically convenient. ...
[See the article for full analysis of ISIS' finances. - js]
While illicit oil sales may play an important role, they are also probably not as profitable as believed. Assuming they were filled to the brim, the 116 tanker trucks that U.S. planes destroyed on Monday may have contained a hundred barrels of crude each, oil that, at today’s prices, ISIS would be lucky to sell for around $30 a barrel. Thus, the damage to the Islamic State’s “treasury” weighs in at a relatively minor $350,000 or so.
ISIS is by now a very large operation. Troop-size estimates start at 20,000 to 31,500 (figures put out by the C.I.A. in September 2014) and go as high as 200,000, although 100,000 seems more plausible. Fighters reportedly earn anywhere from $350 a month to $800 or more. These are very imprecise numbers, but at the very least they suggest an organization with a monthly budget in the tens of millions.
So the proceeds from a hundred-odd oil trucks doesn’t explain how ISIS pays its bills. Nor does the speculation about ISIS’s antiquity sales. So if Islamic State does not get the bulk of its funds from such sources, where does the money come from?
The politically inconvenient answer is from the outside, i.e., from other parts of the Middle East where the oil fields are not marginal as they are in northern Syria and Iraq, but, rather, rich and productive; where refineries are state of the art, and where oil travels via pipeline instead of in trucks. It is also a market in which corruption is massive, financial controls are lax, and ideological sympathies for both ISIS and Al Qaeda run strong. This means the Arab Gulf states of Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia.
Why is telling the truth so difficult? A big part of the answer is money. Because the U.S., France and other Western powers are dependent on the Gulf states for oil and see the Gulf states as an increasingly important market for high-tech weaponry. ... The U.S. thus supplies the Saudis with bombs with which to flatten Yemeni neighborhoods, generate more refugees and, in the process, strengthen “Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula” so that the U.S. can then send in drones to take out a few Al Qaeda operatives. Everyone makes out – arms manufacturers, the Pentagon, Washington politicians like the Clintons who benefit from Saudi largesse, even Al Qaeda, which, while it may lose a few personnel, sees its power grow as a consequence.
Turkey is a major military power, with an army of 400,000 soldiers and a very large air force, yet it doesn't have long-range air defenses — a pretty glaring deficiency for a country perched in a dangerous neighborhood, with the Ukrainian conflict to the north and the Middle Eastern powder keg sitting on its southern border. The Turkish government was close to a giant, $3.4 billion deal with a Chinese firm to buy just such a system, but in a sudden twist, cancelled it last week. And it made the announcement just while it was hosting China's president Xi Jinping at the G20 summit last week in Antalya. ...
The deal struck with CPMIEC [China Precision Machinery Import-Export Corp] in September 2013 was politically controversial from the outset. Instead of going with the expected choice of a system produced by its European or American allies, Ankara instead selected a Chinese firm sanctioned by the US for violating the Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Act. The choice of China over Turkey's NATO allies did not seem to make for particularly good politics and, unsurprisingly, drew criticism. ...
The whole process may have been a long-running negotiation tactic that failed to pan out for Ankara. "I think, in the greater scheme of things, what [Turkish] President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan and Prime Minister [Ahmet] Davutoglu were thinking was to gain some more leverage for either the United States or European systems. To get them to agree with more know-how transfers or lower the price…" Dr. Barin Kayaoglu, an independent international affairs analyst said.
Oh my, The Empire ramps up its anti-Russian efforts in Ukraine as another member of the NATO group shoots down a Russian plane over Syria and US-supplied al-Qaeda proxy forces shoot down a Russian rescue helicopter with a TOW missile. Coincidence?
The Pentagon has announced today a dramatic escalation of its training operation in Ukraine, moving from its small training mission for Ukraine’s National Guard to a direct training program for Ukraine’s regular military forces, as well as special operations troops.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has made it clear he sees the purpose of the training as “to learn how to beat Russia,” and the escalation of the training toward combat troops is likely to add some tensions to US-Russian relations, with Poroshenko openly envisioning his country as the staging ground for a global war on Russia.
Russian officials are downplaying the seriousness of the program so far, however, with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov citing the disastrous state of the US-trained armies in Iraq and Afghanistan as proof the US training won’t be a real game-changer.
Weekend sabotage of the power lines leading from Ukraine into the Crimean Peninsula is only expected to take 3-4 days to repair, according to engineers familiar with the situation, but that is only once they are able to get access to the site of the pylons destroyed in Ukrainian Kherson.
The pylons were blown up by some as-yet-unknown faction, and Ukrainian ultra nationalists are out in force, preventing repair crews from reaching the site to try to effect repairs. This means the peninsula will be without electricity for the foreseeable future.
To make matters worse for the Crimeans, Ukrainian Premier Arseniy Yatsenyuk imposed a “temporary ban” on all cargo entering the peninsula by land. This effectively forces Crimea to rely purely on shipments by sea for basic goods.
Islamic State's Egyptian branch claimed responsibility for a coordinated attack that killed five people in a hotel in North Sinai on Tuesday where judges overseeing a parliamentary election were staying. It's Islamic State in Egypt's deadliest attack since it took credit for downing a Russian airliner last month, killing all 224 people onboard.
On Tuesday, a militant tried to drive a car bomb into the Swiss Inn hotel in the provincial capital al-Arish before security forces opened fire, causing the car to explode, the military and a witness said. At the same time, a suicide bomber broke into the hotel restaurant and blew himself up, while a gunman entered the guest rooms area and killed a judge. Seventeen people were wounded, the Health Ministry reported.
Following the attack, the IS affiliate in the Sinai issued a claim of responsibility. ...
Over the past year, IS has carried out similar attacks in the region as part of its bid to topple the Cairo government. The group killed three policeman in a suicide attack on a police officer's club earlier this month.
White House spokesman says president trusts staff who brief him on war against Islamic State, amid allegations that intelligence has been whitewashed
Barack Obama has confidence in the staff who brief him on the war against Islamic State, his spokesman said on Monday, despite an official investigation into claims of an intelligence whitewash.
The Pentagon’s inspector general is investigating allegations by the US military’s central command (Centcom) intelligence analysts that supervisors revised conclusions of their reports to exaggerate progress and play down failures in Iraq and Syria.
Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, said Obama has made clear to his advisers he wants a warts-and-all account of the fight against Isis. “The president does have a lot of confidence in the individuals who are responsible for presenting intelligence information to him, primarily because he has given them very specific instruction about his desire to get the possible sense of what’s actually happening on the ground, even if it means coming to the president with some bad news,” he said.
Colonel John C. Hope is a decorated West Point graduate with a sterling 32-year service record. On Monday, he went public and accused the Pentagon of punishing him for speaking out against waste and inefficiency he saw in Afghanistan.
Hope worked for the Task Force For Business Stability Operations (TFBSO), which he says blew millions of dollars on ill-conceived projects and then purposefully tried to mislead investigators appointed by Congress. Hope says his superiors at the Pentagon have retaliated against his criticism of TBSO and jeopardized his career by holding up his performance review — a step necessary for bonuses, promotions, and new assignments — for eight months.
On Monday, after months of fighting behind the scenes, Hope spoke to VICE News. "I didn't want it to go this way," he said. "The Pentagon is trying to silence me, and that's not going to happen." ...
Hope spent nine months as the top military official for TFBSO in Afghanistan. The program, which was disbanded last year, was designed to promote "free market" principles in war zones. It recruited CEOs and private businesspeople to invest in Afghanistan, and it spent more than $800 million in taxpayer money from 2009 to 2014.
From Hope's perspective, the program was a colossal failure. "There were so many things about the Task Force that were so screwed from the get-go," he said. "You can't get your hand around a single success story."
TFBSO's most famous project, a natural gas pipeline through the city of Sheberghan, is still incomplete despite hundreds of millions of dollars in US taxpayer investment. "They just left the country without finishing the last 7 kilometers," Hope said.
In Hope's telling, TFBSO's leadership in Washington had no understanding of the realities of investing on the ground in Afghanistan. "It was a whole bunch of people who had no idea what they were doing, spending lots of money," he said. "When the program was disbanded all the top guys decided it was time to get out of town… before someone comes around and asked for accountability."
Voting ended Monday in Egypt's first parliamentary elections since a military coup deposed the elected government more than two years ago, but young people largely stayed away from the polls. Probably fewer than one in four eligible voters showed up at the polls, and there were no international monitors watching over the vote. Many young Egyptians stayed home to express their disgust with a government that has repressed demonstrations brutally.
"I don't want to support this government in any way," said Sami Ibrahim, a 27-year-old radiologist living in Cairo. "I don't want blood on my hands."
Parliamentary elections are held in two stages of two days each in Egypt, and turnout appeared higher on Sunday and Monday than it was during the first round of voting last month. But in many places it is still unlikely to have topped 25 percent, the figure the government gave for the last round, which has been widely ridiculed as inflated. ...
Many of the country's youth hope to emigrate, feeling their chance of having a say in a participatory political system is over, and looking for a better standard of living. According to 2013 data from a government statistics agency, a staggering 60 percent of young Egyptians want to emigrate for work.
On Friday, seven more British women received payouts from London's Metropolitan Police for being deceived into relationships with undercover officers engaged with gathering information on activist groups over two and a half decades.
Along with the undisclosed settlement, the women received an official apology. Yet one of them also pointed out to VICE News that there are likely still many women who don't yet realize that they were in relationships with men who didn't really exist.
"Thanks in large part to the courage and tenacity of these women in bringing these matters to light it has become apparent that some officers, acting undercover while seeking to infiltrate protest groups, entered into long-term intimate sexual relationships with women which were abusive, deceitful, manipulative, and wrong," Met Police Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt said.
In his statement, Hewitt also agreed it was "irrelevant" whether the undercover men had feelings for the women or not.
"I acknowledge that these relationships were a violation of the women's human rights, an abuse of police power and caused significant trauma. I unreservedly apologize on behalf of the Metropolitan Police Service… Sexual relationships between undercover police officers and members of the public should not happen."
Protesters in Minneapolis have vowed not to be intimidated after five people were shot near the site of an ongoing demonstration over the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man by a police officer.
The victims were transported to two local hospitals and are being treated for non-life-threatening injuries, the Minneapolis police department said in a statement.
Police were called to the scene just before 11pm on Monday night. The shootings occurred in an alley about a block away from the fourth precinct station, where protesters have been conducting a sit-in since the shooting of 24-year-old Jamar Clark on 15 November, the Star Tribune reported.
On Twitter, the department said it was searching for three white male suspects. No arrests had yet been made as of Tuesday morning, police said.
Gunmen described by witnesses as voicing white supremacist remarks shot and wounded five Black Lives Matter protesters as they gathered in Minneapolis on Monday night to protest the police killing of unarmed African-American man Jamar Clark earlier this month.
"Tonight, white supremacists attacked the #4thPrecinctShutDown in an act of domestic terrorism,"Black Lives Matter Minneapolis said on Facebook. The group explained that the unarmed demonstrators were shot "by white supremacists who were asked to leave [and] followed out." ...
Meanwhile, reports are emerging that, in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, the police maced witnesses and at least one person filming the attack. The police department declined to respond to those charges in its statement.
A charge of murder is expected to be filed against a white Chicago police officer accused of shooting a black teenager 16 times, just one day before a deadline by which a judge has ordered the city to release a squad-car video of the incident.
Veteran officer Jason Van Dyke is expected to be indicted on Tuesday on a murder charge in the killing of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, an official close to the investigation told the Associated Press. The official spoke on condition of anonymity so as not to pre-empt an announcement of the charges.
City officials and community leaders have been bracing for the release of the video, fearing an outbreak of unrest and demonstrations similar to what occurred in Ferguson, Baltimore and other cities after young African American men were slain by police. The judge ordered the dash-cam recording to be released by 25 November after city officials had argued for months it could not be made public until the conclusion of several investigations.
Several people who have seen the video say it shows the teenager armed with a small knife and walking away from several officers on 20 October 2014. They say Van Dyke opened fire from about 15ft and kept shooting after the teen fell to the ground. An autopsy report says McDonald was shot at least twice in his back. It also said PCP, a hallucinogenic drug, was found in the teen’s system.
Last Wednesday, 88 Democrats joined 244 Republicans in the House to advance a bill that amounts to a stand-down order to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. If it becomes law, CFPB will no longer be able to crack down on racial discrimination in auto lending that costs individual African-American and Hispanic consumers hundreds of dollars, while earning dealers hundreds of millions in ill-gotten profits. ...
This victory is far from the only perk auto dealers have secured. Thanks to a dealer-friendly provision inserted into the bill that created the CFPB in the first place, the agency cannot monitor dealers directly. In the cases of racial discrimination, for instance, CFPB can only fine the lenders who finance car purchases, not the dealers who make the markups. ...
In all, 65 Democrats, all with auto dealers in their districts, co-sponsored the bill, including an astonishing 15 members of the Congressional Black Caucus, Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, representing communities harmed by racial discrimination. ...
While over 60 civil rights and consumer groups worked to limit Democratic defections — and did manage to flip a few of the bill’s co-sponsors — the National Automotive Dealers Association outmatched them.
Bankers still earn too much for simply turning up to work to handle other people’s money, according to John Cryan, the joint boss of Deutsche Bank.
Cryan, who took over as the co-chief executive of Germany’s biggest bank in July, included his own pay deal in his criticism of rewards more akin to those earned by self-made tycoons. He also said that, seven years after the financial meltdown, traders were rewarded too quickly for profits that could evaporate.
“Many people in the sector still believe they should be paid entrepreneurial wages for turning up to work with a regular salary, a pension and probably a healthcare scheme and playing with other people’s money,” Cryan said at a conference in Frankfurt on Monday. “There doesn’t seem to be anything entrepreneurial about that except the compensation structures,” he added, according to Bloomberg News.
Cryan made his comments weeks after warning that staff bonuses must reflect the cost of Deutsche Bank’s fines for past misconduct and as bankers plot to extract the biggest payout from their firms in the new-year bonus round. Traders, in particular, are still paid for short-term profits that are subject to clawback if their deals go awry. ...
Deutsche Bank does not intend to pay a dividend this year or next year and is reported to be planning cuts of at least 8,000 jobs in the coming years.
The bank warned in October that it would lose more than €6bn (£4.4bn) – a record loss – in the third quarter of its financial year because of large impairment charges. The bank also set aside €1.2bn for litigation costs. Like other banks, Deutsche was caught up in the Libor-rigging scandal and it faces a separate investigation in Switzerland for alleged price fixing in the precious metal market.
A woman whose grandfather shot a home [movie] of the assassination of president John F Kennedy that has since been misplaced is suing the US government, demanding the film be returned or that she be paid $10m in compensation.
Gayle Nix Jackson filed the lawsuit in federal court on Saturday, one day before the 52nd anniversary of Kennedy’s death. The film was shot by her grandfather Orville Nix and shows the assassination in Dealey plaza in Dallas on 22 November 1963.
Jackson’s lawsuit claims the film is as important as the assassination footage captured by Abraham Zapruder with his movie camera. The federal government settled with Zapruder’s heirs in 1999 to purchase the film for $16m. ...
The eight-millimetre film was taken from the opposite side of the president’s limousine from where the Zapruder film was shot.
Orville Nix sold his film to the UPI news agency for $5,000 in 1963 with an understanding it would be returned after 25 years. During that period, it was turned over to the US government for the Warren Commission and other official investigations of the Kennedy assassination, the lawsuit said.
The film was last known to be in possession of the government for the House select committee on assassinations in 1978. Its whereabouts have been unknown ever since, the lawsuit said.
Donald Trump touted the benefits of waterboarding in a campaign rally on Monday night, telling a crowd that “you bet your ass” he would bring it back into use.
Addressing thousands of people in Columbus, Ohio, the Republican frontrunner praised waterboarding, an interrogation method that has been called torture. “I would approve more than that,” he said.
Trump told supporters: “Would I approve waterboarding? You bet your ass I would. In a heartbeat. I would approve more than that. It works.”
The Republican frontrunner then added “… and if it doesn’t work, they deserve it anyway for what they do to us”.
"I don’t trust the church or the government. A Democrat or a Republican. A Pope or a bishop or them other men," declared activist and hip-hop star Killer Mike, reciting his own lyrics to a boisterous Atlanta crowd on Monday night.
"But after spending five hours tonight with someone who has spent the last 50 years radically fighting for your rights and mine, I can tell you that I am very proud tonight to announce the next president of the United States: Senator Bernie Sanders," thundered the Atlanta-born rapper, whose real name is Michael Render.
Before the Democratic candidate took the stage for his campaign rally, Killer Mike spoke for six minutes about the need for "political revolution," invoking the legacy of another "son of Atlanta," Martin Luther King—the revolutionary who fought the "war on poverty," and the "war machine that uses your sons and your nephews to go to other lands and murder."
International trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) need to be carefully examined piece by piece because they can take precedence over a country’s own laws.
Case in point: the World Trade Organization (WTO) on Friday ruled that dolphin-safe tuna labeling rules – required by U.S. law, in an effort to protect intelligent mammals from slaughter — violate the rights of Mexican fishers.
As a result, the U.S. will have to either alter the law or face sanctions from Mexico. ...
The WTO has ruled in Mexico’s favor on four separate occasions since 2011, most recently last Friday, in a final ruling that cannot be appealed. Though the U.S. changed its label standards several times, most recently in 2013, the WTO said that the law discriminates against tuna caught in Mexico, relative to other countries. Informing consumers of the fishing practices used to catch their tuna, the WTO concluded, represented a “technical barrier to trade.” ...
The same language that enabled the WTO to rule for Mexico and against U.S. sovereign law is replicated in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, according to the Sierra Club. ... This calls into question the numerous claims from the Administration that no trade agreement can force the U.S. to change its laws. In the case of tuna labeling, that has already occurred, and now may happen again.
[The global trade deal sword cuts both ways. Mexico may have won the right to dump its dolphin-unsafe tuna onto the American market, but it may lose its food-plant biodiversity to Monsanto. See this excellent article: Ultimate Weapon in Existential Struggle: Using the TPP for Hostile Takeover of Mexican Agriculture - js]
Underscoring yet another reason why an ambitious climate deal must come out of upcoming COP21 talks in Paris, a new United Nations report warns of the "high price" of extreme weather disasters that are spurred in large part by a warming globe and rising sea levels.
"Weather and climate are major drivers of disaster risk and this report demonstrates that the world is paying a high price in lives lost," said Margareta Wahlström, head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), in a press release on Monday.
The report and analysis compiled by UNISDR and the Belgian-based Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED)—entitled The Human Cost of Weather Related Disasters (pdf)—demonstrates that since the first UN climate change conference (COP1) in 1995, 606,000 lives have been lost and 4.1 billion people have been injured, left homeless or in need of emergency assistance, as a result of weather-related disasters including floods, storms, heatwaves, and droughts.
And the numbers have been climbing along with global temperatures, as weather-related disasters occurred almost daily over the last decade. In total, an average of 335 such disasters were recorded per year between 2005 and 2014, an increase of 14 percent from 1995-2004, and almost twice the level recorded during 1985-1995.
Surprising? Really, Washington Post? You're kidding, right? Who writes the Post's headlines?
Climate change has long been a highly polarizing topic in the United States, with Americans lining up on opposite sides depending on their politics and worldview. Now a scientific study sheds new light on the role played by corporate money in creating that divide.
The report, a systematic review of 20 years’ worth of data, highlights the connection between corporate funding and messages that raise doubts about the science of climate change and whether humans are responsible for the warming of the planet. The analysis suggests that corporations have used their wealth to amplify contrarian views and create an impression of greater scientific uncertainty than actually exists.
“The contrarian efforts have been so effective for the fact that they have made it difficult for ordinary Americans to even know who to trust,” said Justin Farrell, a Yale University sociologist and author of the study, released on Monday in the peer-reviewed journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Champion Jack Dupree - Jack's Boogie
Champion Jack Dupree - Alberta
Champion Jack Dupree + King Curtis - Poor Boy Blues
Champion Jack Dupree - Everything's Gonna Be Alright
Champion Jack Dupree - Drunk Again
Champion Jack Dupree - Junker's Blues
Champion Jack Dupree - Strollin'
Champion Jack Dupree - Nasty Boogie
Champion Jack Dupree - Bring Me Flowers While I'm Living
Champion Jack Dupree - One scotch one bourbon one beer
Champion Jack Dupree - Shakin' mother for you
Champion Jack Dupree - Big Leg Emma
Champion Jack Dupree - My Home In Louisiana
Champion Jack Dupree - When I've Been Drinking
Champion Jack Dupree - Shim Sham Shimmy
Lightning Junior (Jack Dupree) - Somebody Changed the Lock on My Door
Champion Jack Dupree - Barrelhouse Woman
Champion Jack Dupree - Shake Baby Shake
Champion Jack Dupree - Tongue Tied Blues
Champion Jack Dupree w/Mickey Baker - Under Your Hood
Champion Jack Dupree - Sneaky Pete
Champion Jack Dupree - Stumblin' Block
Champion Jack Dupree - Hamburger Blues und Boogie Festival