The Evening Blues - 12-28-18



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The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: Jerry McCain


Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features blues harmonica player Jerry McCain. Enjoy!

Jerry McCain - I'm King Bee

“The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend.”

-- Robertson Davies


News and Opinion

Worth a full read, richly detailed with facts you aren't supposed to think about.

Trump Critics of Syria Withdrawal Fueled Rise of ISIS

President Donald Trump’s announcement of an imminent withdrawal of US troops from northeastern Syria summoned a predictable paroxysm of outrage from Washington’s foreign policy establishment. Former Secretary of State and self-described “hair icon” Hillary Clinton perfectly distilled the bipartisan freakout into a single tweet, accusing Trump of “isolationism” and “playing into Russia and Iran’s hands.” Michelle Flournoy, the DC apparatchik who would have been Hillary’s Secretary of Defense, slammed the pull-out as “foreign policy malpractice,” while Hillary’s successor at the State Department, John Kerry, threw bits of red meat to the Russiagate-crazed Democratic base by branding Trump’s decision “a Christmas gift to Putin.” From the halls of Congress to the K Street corridors of Gulf-funded think tanks, a chorus of protest proclaimed that removing US troops from Syria would simultaneously abet Iran and bring ISIS back from the grave.

Yet few of those thundering condemnations of the president’s move seemed able to explain just why a few thousand U.S. troops had been deployed to the Syrian hinterlands in the first place. If the mission was to destroy ISIS, then why did ISIS rise in the first place? And why was the jihadist organization still festering right in the midst of the U.S. military occupation? Too many critics of withdrawal had played central roles in the Syrian crisis to answer these questions honestly. They had either served as media cheerleaders for intervention, or crafted the policies aimed at collapsing Syria’s government that fueled the rise of ISIS. The Syrian catastrophe was their legacy, and they were out to defend it at any cost.

During the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, Clinton, Kerry, and the rest of the Beltway blob lined up reflexively behind George W. Bush. The insurgency that followed the violent removal of Iraq’s Ba’athist government set the stage for the declaration of the first Islamic State by Abu Musab Zarqawi in 2006. Five years later, with near-total consent from Congress, Hillary enthusiastically presided over NATO’s assault on Libya, cackling with glee when she learned that the country’s longtime leader, Moammar Gaddafi, had been sodomized with a bayonet and shot to death by Islamist insurgents — “We came, we saw, he died!” It was not long before an Islamist Emirate was established in Gaddafi’s hometown of Sirte, while 31 flavors of jihadi militias festered in Tripoli and Benghazi. ...

How ISIS overran large swaths of territory in northeastern Syria and established its de facto capital Raqqa is scarcely understood, let alone discussed by Western media. That is partly because the real story is so inconvenient to the established narrative of the Syrian conflict, which blames Assad for every atrocity that has ever occurred in his country, and for some horrors that may not have ever taken place. Echoing the Bush administration’s discredited attempts to link Saddam Hussein to Al Qaeda, some neoconservative pundits hatched a conspiracy theory that accused Assad of covertly orchestrating the rise of ISIS in order to curry support from the West. But the documented evidence firmly established the success of ISIS as a byproduct of the semi-covert American program to arm Assad’s supposedly moderate opposition. ...

There are now real reasons to fear that a Turkish advance will ignite a resurgence of ISIS. Turkey was not only a source of aid and oil sales to the jihadist group, it currently oversees a mercenary force of Salafi militiamen that includes droves of former Islamic State fighters. If the Turkish onslaught proves destabilizing, Iran and its allied Shia militias could ramp up their deployment in Syria, which would trigger a harsh reaction from Israel and its Beltway cut-outs. Then again, the Kurdish YPG is in high level negotiations with Damascus and may team up with the Syrian military to fill the void. From an anti-ISIS standpoint, this is clearly the best option. It is
therefore the least popular one in Washington. Whatever happens in Syria, those who presided over U.S. policy towards the country over the past seven years are in no position to criticize. They set the stage for the entire crisis, propelling the rise of ISIS in a bid to decapitate another insufficiently pliant state. And though they may never face the accountability they deserve, the impending withdrawal of American troops is a long overdue and richly satisfying rebuke.

Documentary on Impact of Vietnam War Recalls Responsibility to Stand Up & Say No to War

Bolton’s Hawkish Syria Plan Backfired, Pushing Trump to Get Out

A fateful decision by National Security Adviser John Bolton to expand the United States’ goals in Syria backfired, and is a key reason why President Donald Trump ordered a total withdrawal of U.S. troops, two senior administration officials told The Daily Beast. Bolton in September added a second mission to the already open-ended operation in Syria: In addition to destroying the so-called Islamic State, U.S. troops would stay in Syria indefinitely, forcing Iranian forces there to eventually withdraw. ...

Bolton’s revised policy led to broad and public articulation by the State Department’s envoy on Syria, Ambassador Jim Jeffrey. But officials said Jeffrey was implementing what he thought was a policy Trump endorsed. “The president wants us in Syria until [Iran’s withdrawal] and the other conditions are met,” he said in late September. ... “Bolton and Jeffrey repeatedly said U.S. forces are in Syria to counter Iran; the Defense Department never defined the mission that way. It was always about defeating ISIS,” a senior administration official said. “They were adamant about countering Iran, but the president never signed off on that mission.”

But other officials said the expanded, open-ended mission was provocative to the Turks, who saw confirmation of their suspicions that the U.S. was presiding over the de facto creation of a northeastern Syrian Kurdish mini-state on its border, a prospect it considered intolerable. ... During a Dec. 14 phone call first reported by the AP, Erdogan told Trump that his anti-ISIS mission was accomplished, and questioned the rationale of a prolonged U.S. deployment, with the prospect of a Turkish invasion hanging overhead. Erdogan, who requested the call, told Trump that Turkey could handle the ISIS threat in the future and then asked him: if ISIS is 99 percent defeated, “Why are you still there?”

One of the senior administration officials confirmed those details to The Daily Beast. “Erdogan was like, look, I’m going in and the president was like OK, I’ll come out,” the senior official said—a response that shocked both U.S. officials and even Erdogan, who warned Trump against a precipitous pull-out. ...

The Pentagon is still negotiating to keep U.S. air power in the fight over Syria, in support of British and French troops who Pentagon officials hope will backfill departing U.S. troops on the ground. “The decisions are still in process,” the official said.

Bring the Troops Home & Stop the Bombing: Medea Benjamin on U.S. Withdrawal from Syria & Afghanistan

Syrian troops mass at edge of Kurdish town threatened by Turkey

Syria’s military has arrived at the frontline of the flashpoint town of Manbij, after Kurdish fighters appealed to Damascus for help against the threat of attack by Turkey in the face of the withdrawal of US troops from the area. It was not immediately clear whether US personnel, who are based in the town and have been patrolling Manbij and the tense frontline between it and adjacent towns where Turkey-backed fighters are based, were still present. The US-led coalition against Isis did not respond to a request for comment.

“We invite the Syrian government forces … to assert control over the areas our forces have withdrawn from, in particularly Manbij, and to protect these areas against a Turkish invasion,” a statement from the People’s Protection Units (YPG) said. The Syrian army had already mobilised before the public Kurdish invitation. It said on Friday morning that units had entered the town on the western bank of the Euphrates. A monitor and several local sources said Syrian troops had only massed on the edges of the town rather than the city centre, and that the Syrian flag had been raised above official buildings for the first time in years.

Syrian rebel groups backed by Turkey said in response that they had also begun moving towards Manbij in full readiness for a military operation. The conflicting reports from Manbij are a harbinger of the chaos that is likely to ensue at the end of the 60-100 day timetable for the withdrawal of US troops, with the remaining fighting forces in Syria scrambling to replace them.

The Syrian army said in a statement it would guarantee “full security for all Syrian citizens and others present in the area”. Russia, the main ally of the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, said the development was a positive step which could stabilise the situation in north-east Syria. Turkish officials are due to arrive in Moscow on Saturday for talks over Syria’s future after the US withdrawal. As Russia controls much of Syria’s airspace, Erdoğan is likely to need cooperation from Moscow for any aerial bombardment of the YPG.

Saudi king orders major reshuffle of top government posts

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has ordered a wide-ranging overhaul of top government posts, including a new foreign minister, after the international fallout from the killing of the Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi nearly three months ago. He also ordered a shakeup of the kingdom’s two supreme councils that oversee matters related to the economy and security. Both are headed by the king’s son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whose powers, including roles as deputy prime minister and defence minister, were untouched in the overhaul.

The changes appear to further consolidate Prince Mohammed’s grip on power by appointing advisers and members of the royal family who are seen as close to him.

Adel al-Jubeir, the foreign minister who took over the post in 2015 from the late Prince Saud al-Faisal, has been replaced by Ibrahim al-Assaf, formerly a longtime finance minister. Jubeir was appointed to the rank of minister of state for foreign affairs. Assaf had been serving as a minister of state before being named foreign minister. He holds seats on the boards of the state-owned oil company Saudi Aramco and the kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund. Prince Mohammed oversees both entities. ...

The king issued a number of other royal decrees, which were read out on state TV, including the replacement of the media and education ministers. Turki al-Shabanah, a Saudi TV presenter, was named media minister, with Hamad al-Sheikh appointed minister of education. Meanwhile, Prince Abdullah bin Bandar – the son of Prince Bandar al-Saud, who once served as Saudi ambassador to Washington – was named head of the national guard. The force is tasked primarily with the protection of the Al Saud ruling family. Prince Abdullah had been deputy governor of Mecca.

Palestine to apply for full UN membership in January: FM

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki declared on Wednesday that Palestine would "initiate an application to gain full state membership at the United Nations" in January.

Al-Malki told the official radio station Voice of Palestine that he would file the application to upgrade Palestine's status from an observer state to a full-member state to the UN Security Council (UNSC) during his upcoming visit to New York next month, upon Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' instructions.

To secure full state membership, the Palestinians need support from at least nine out of the UNSC's 15 member states.

Al-Malki also said he would demand the UNSC implementation of Resolution 2334 and ask the International Criminal Court (ICC) to open an official inquiry into Israeli settlement construction.

Ukraine's Petro Poroshenko announces end of martial law

Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko has announced the end of a martial law, which was introduced last month after a clash with Russia in the Sea of Azov. During a live-streamed military cabinet meeting in capital Kiev on Wednesday, Poroshenko said that not renewing the measure despite the ongoing "Russian threat" was his "principled decision".

"Today, right now, at 2:00pm (12:00 GMT), the martial law ends," he said. "I would like to highlight that the Russian threat has not gone away." Under the martial law, Ukraine banned Russian men of combat age from entering the country and boosted security at critical sites such as nuclear power stations and Black Sea ports.

Poroshenko said he would have asked the parliament to renew it if it was not getting in the way of the presidential elections due on March 31.

Senate Security Expert Suspended From Facebook - RussiaGate Crumbling

Wells Fargo to pay $575m settlement for setting up fake banking accounts

Wells Fargo will pay $575m in a settlement with attorneys general from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, who were investigating fake accounts opened without the knowledge of customers and other dubious practices.

The bank has been under a cloud since 2015, when it acknowledged that employees had opened millions of fake bank accounts for customers in order to meet sales goals. It has also said that it sold auto insurance and other financial products to customers who didn’t need them.

Wells Fargo had already been ordered to pay more than $1.2bn in penalties and faced stricter regulations. Under the new agreement announced on Friday, the bank will also create teams to review and respond to customer complaints about its banking and sales practices.

'Beyond Repulsive': Outrage After Trump DHS Secretary Blames 'Parents' and 'Open Borders' Advocates for Deaths of Children in US Custody

As human rights groups, Democratic lawmakers, and the United Nations demanded an independent probe into the deaths of two Guatemalan children in U.S. Border Patrol custody, President Donald Trump's Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen sparked outrage on Wednesday by declaring that "open borders" advocates and the kids' "own parents"—not Trump's inhumane treatment of immigrants—are to blame.

"Our system has been pushed to a breaking point by those who seek open borders," Nielsen said in a statement just hours after eight-year-old Felipe Alonzo-Gomez died in U.S. custody on Christmas day. "Smugglers, traffickers, and their own parents put these minors at risk by embarking on the dangerous and arduous journey north."

Nielsen, who signed off on the Trump administration's internationally condemned family separation policy, was immediately denounced for attempting to deflect attention and blame away from the White House's anti-immigrant agenda.

In a statement on Wednesday, National Nurses United (NNU) pinned the deaths of the two young children on Trump's treatment of asylum-seekers fleeing violence and persecution as "criminals."

"Nurses, whose life work is to protect and heal, are appalled at the lack of humane treatment for vulnerable children, and their families, who are seeking refuge and safety in the U.S.," said Bonnie Castillo, RN, executive director of NNU, in a statement on Wednesday. "Our government must stop treating these families, and their children as criminals. The imagery of a migrant child dying on Christmas day is especially disturbing, but we need a policy of caring and compassion every day."

The 8-year-old boy who died in Border Patrol custody on Christmas Eve had the flu​

The young Guatemalan boy who died in U.S. Border Patrol custody on Christmas Eve tested positive for the flu, officials with the New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator said Thursday. It’s still unclear, however, exactly what led to the 8-year-old’s sudden death after two visits to the hospital just days after he was arrested on Dec. 18 at the border in Texas with his father.

“While this result indicates that the child had influenza, determining an accurate cause of death requires further evaluation of other laboratory specimens and interpreting the findings in the context of the symptoms and autopsy findings,” officials cautioned in Thursday’s news release. ...

Felipe was the second Guatemalan child to die in Border Patrol custody this month; Jakelin Caal Maquin crossed the border with her father on Dec. 6 and died at an El Paso hospital with liver failure, dehydration, and shock two days later.

Trump administration suggests broke workers pay rent with manual labor during the shutdown

The Trump administration has some advice for government workers living through the holidays without a paycheck during the government shutdown: instead of paying rent, offer to paint.

As President Donald Trump digs in his heels on funding the border wall and lawmakers trickle back into Washington, there’s still no resolution to the budget impasse in sight.

Government workers, meanwhile, are struggling to pay their bills, and the government has some advice for them: If your landlord is bugging you about paying rent that you don’t have because you don’t have a paycheck, offer to do manual labor instead.


The Office of Personnel Management, the agency that essentially functions as the federal government’s human resources department, tweeted out a series of sample letters on Thursday, templates that government workers can personalize and send to the people they owe money during the shutdown.


US government shutdown will last into 2019 as Congress struggles for deal

The partial government shutdown will continue into 2019, with leaders in the House of Representatives advising members on Thursday that no votes would be held this week. The Senate was expected to follow suit. There had been a narrow chance that the House would convene on Thursday afternoon and vote on a deal to end the shutdown. But there was no sign that any headway had been made on such a deal, and Donald Trump remained insistent that the shutdown would continue until Congress supplies billions for a border wall with Mexico.

On Twitter on Thursday morning, Trump accused the Democrats of “obstruction” for failing to go along with his wall idea and asserted that Democrats “know it [the wall] is really needed”. Democrats say a border wall would be an expensive and ineffective solution to a problem that Trump exaggerates. The shutdown began when the Republican majority in the Senate was unable to rally support for Trump’s wall, after House Republicans passed an 11th-hour wall funding bill on 20 December. The shutdown went into effect at midnight on 21 December.

Negotiations to reopen the government, such as there have been, will shift when Congress reconvenes on 3 January, when a new Democratic majority takes control of the House. Having failed to procure wall funding when his party controlled both houses of Congress, it was unclear how Trump intended to carry the day with Democrats partially in charge.

Trump continued to berate Democrats throughout the day, tweeting: “This isn’t about the Wall … This is only about the Dems not letting Donald Trump & the Republicans have a win.” Trump also revived a 2011 tweet on immigration from Barack Obama, which read: “I strongly believe that we should take on, once and for all, the issue of illegal immigration.” Trump added: “I totally agree!”

Trump threatens to close the border with Mexico

On the seventh day of the partial government shutdown, President Donald Trump threatened to “close the southern border entirely” if “obstructionist Democrats” refused to cave and give him funding for his border wall.

But can he do that?

“The answer is yes,” said Frank Mora, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Western Hemisphere, who served during President Barack Obama’s first term. “He just needs to present a kind of consultative explanation, under national security terms, why he would do this or why he needs to do this.”

Trump wouldn’t be the first president to seal off the southern border: Nixon closed sections of the border during Operation Intercept in an attempt to keep drugs from entering the U.S. So did Reagan, briefly, when a DEA agent went missing. Trump could, in theory, do the same, especially for reasons of national security, according to experts. He doesn’t even need Congressional approval. ...

Trump took to Twitter Friday to say that if the Dems didn’t give him the $5 billion he wants to finally put up his infamous border wall, he’d shut down the border (much like the government). The president did not, however, explain what closing the border would actually mean — only that the decision would be a “profit making operation” because the “United States loses soooo much money on trade with Mexico.”



the evening greens

This is the worst oil disaster you’ve never heard of

Eight years ago, the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico devastated communities, wildlife and livelihoods all along the Gulf coast. While dying dolphins and oil-soaked marsh grass dominated the headlines, the human cost was catastrophic. Now, it appears that a new disaster is slowly unfolding that may soon eclipse that horrific event to become the worst environmental disaster in US history.

In 2004, Hurricane Ivan triggered an undersea mudslide that sank an oil platform owned by Taylor Energy. Since then, between 300 and 700 barrels of oil have been spewing into the Gulf of Mexico every day. Let’s put that into perspective. The Deepwater Horizon disaster spilled almost 200m gallons of oil into the Gulf. To date, the Taylor spill has released as much as 140m gallons of oil into the Gulf. What is even more shocking is that, 14 years since the Taylor oil platform sank, federal officials estimate the uncapped wells could continue polluting the Gulf for decades, perhaps even a century. It is a nightmare scenario that should terrify anyone who cares about the health of the wildlife and people who live along the Gulf coast.

Meanwhile, the damage caused by the BP Deepwater Horizon leak remains a stark reminder of the havoc an oil spill can unleash on marine wildlife, coastal communities and local businesses that rely on a healthy ocean. With these tragedies still fresh in our collective national consciousness, you would think no administration would pursue drastic expansion of risky offshore oil and gas development.

Unfortunately, you would be wrong.

Even as the magnitude of the Taylor Energy spill comes to light, the Trump administration is gearing up to announce the next iteration of its draft plan for offshore oil and gas development. It will be a revision of the plan announced this past January that proposed opening an astounding 98% of federal waters to oil and gas development. ...

As America continues to struggle with the after-effects of the BP oil spill and begins to wake up to the reality of the Taylor oil spill, we cannot allow the Trump administration to sow the seeds of yet another disaster that will devastate the health of our environment and the livelihoods of countless hard-working American families.

Report on President's Environmental Record So Far 'Reminds Us That Trump Soap Opera Has Dire Real-World Consequences'

A New York Times investigative report on President Donald Trump's nearly two-year environmental record and how his industry-friendly policies are impacting communities nationwide, published in the Thursday paper, "reminds us that the Trump soap opera has dire real-world consequences." That's according to 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben, who added on Twitter that "futures are foreclosed because he's a tool of dirty energy."

The "must-read" report focuses on examples from California, North Dakota, Texas, and West Virginia, with special attention paid to policy changes at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Interior Department—which have both seen Trump-appointed agency heads resign amid numerous ethics probes. Acknowledging a previous Times analysis of the 78 environmental rules—including many implemented under former President Barack Obama—that the Trump administration and Republican-controlled Congress have worked to eliminate, the report details how the EPA, at the behest of industry lobbyists, quashed a ban on the toxic pesticide chlorpyrifos, which has "sickened substantial numbers of farmworkers" in rural California, where more than a third of U.S. produce is grown.

While that move is being contested in federal court, it exemplifies how the administration has often defied scientific findings and warnings in favor of demands from pesticide producers, fossil fuel developers, and other polluting industries. As the Times put it:

Since taking office, Mr. Trump has consistently sided with powerful economic constituencies in setting policy toward the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the presence of chemicals in our communities.

In the process, he has frequently rejected or given short shrift to science, an instinct that has played out most visibly in his disdain for efforts to curb global warming but has also permeated federal policy in other ways.

The Times also examines Trump's rollbacks—and the subsequent public health consequences—of air quality regulations that aimed to reduce dangerous levels of sulfur dioxide pollution from coal-burning power plants in Texas; policies crafted to clean up West Virginia waterways polluted with arsenic, mercury, and selenium by the coal industry in West Virginia; and limits targeting flaring and leaks of methane on federal or tribal lands, including the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota.

Trump administration to consider changes to Obama-era mercury rule

The Trump administration will reconsider the reasoning for restrictions on toxic mercury pollution from coal plants that is linked to developmental delays in children, it was announced on Friday. The power industry has largely met the restrictions, which were imposed under former president Barack Obama, with plants either installing required controls or shutting down.

The standards will remain in place, but the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will re-evaluate the government’s argument for why they are necessary and whether they will ultimately be tightened, the agency said on Friday. The move by the Trump administration is part of a series of environmental rollbacks pursued on behalf of coal interests, decisions scientists say are detrimental to public health.

Charles Driscoll, a professor of environmental engineering at Syracuse University, said the administration was trying to “prolong the operation, the longevity of coal-fired power plants”. While weakening mercury standards would not bring shuttered coal plants back to life, it could help some plants stay online a little longer, opponents of the change warned before the proposal was released. The rollback could also be part of a broader Trump administration legal strategy to to benefit industry by ignoring some health benefits of cutting pollution.

Japanese Prosecutors Demand 5 Years in Prison for Executives Facing Trial for Fukushima Nuclear Disaster

More than seven years after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, prosecutors in Japan on Wednesday demanded that three former executives from Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) each face five years behind bars for failing to ensure the safety of the power plant.

In March of 2011, the most powerful earthquake to ever strike Japan triggered a tsunami that caused three reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex to melt down, forcing hundreds of thousands of nearby residents to evacuate. In court on Wednesday, the prosecution accused TEPCO's leadership of "postponing" safety measures designed to protect the plant from powerful tsunamis. "It was easy to safeguard the plant against tsunami, but they kept operating the plant heedlessly," prosecutors said at the trial at the Tokyo District Court, according to The Asahi Shimbum, a Japanese newspaper. "That led to the deaths of many people."

While the prosecution claims at least 44 people died in connection with the incident, other estimates have put the number around 1,600. Prosecutors called for the five-year sentences, the maximum punishment allowed for the charges, during closing arguments on Wednesday. The three executives standing trial for negligence resulting in death and injury are former TEPCO chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata, 78, as well as former vice presidents Sakae Muto, 68, and Ichiro Takekuro, 72. They all pleaded not guilty. ...

The executives' trial follows a class-action suit decided late last year, when a federal court ordered TEPCO and the Japanese government to pay a total of 500 million yen ($4.4 million USD) to thousands of plaintiffs—who received, at most, a few thousand U.S. dollars each. Meanwhile, in the region around the nuclear facility, public health concerns persist.


Also of Interest

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

A Reuters Report on Iran That Fueled US Diatribes

Arms sales to Saudis leave American fingerprints on Yemen’s carnage

Universal Basic Income Is Easier Than It Looks

Israeli novelist Amos Oz dies aged 79


A Little Night Music

Jerry McCain - Twist "62"

Jerry McCain - That's What They Want

Jerry McCain - The Jig's Up

Jerry McCain - I Don't Care Where I Get My Loving

Jerry McCain - Jet Stream

Jerry McCain - Stay Out of Automobiles

Jerry McCain - Courtin' In A Cadillac

Jerry McCain - Steady

Jerry McCain - You Don't Love Me No More

Jerry McCain - She's Tough

Jerry McCain - Juicy Lucy


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Comments

NCTim's picture

I sometimes ponder what other people see, or don't see.

The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend.

Translation: Myopia is a mental condition.

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8 users have voted.

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself. - Friedrich Nietzsche -

QMS's picture

@NCTim
The mind can see lots without eyes.

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7 users have voted.

Listen to your higher mind.

joe shikspack's picture

@NCTim

yeah, it's kinda funny how it seems to be that so many people can look at the same thing and see so many different things.

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enhydra lutris's picture

@joe shikspack
'cause

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4 users have voted.

That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

joe shikspack's picture

@enhydra lutris

have a great weekend!

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NCTim's picture

@joe shikspack Hear what your mind allows your ears to hear.

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3 users have voted.

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself. - Friedrich Nietzsche -

joe shikspack's picture

@NCTim

or just listen to whatever you don't mind...

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2 users have voted.
enhydra lutris's picture

@joe shikspack

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2 users have voted.

That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

mimi's picture

@NCTim
comprehend I think it would end up as a trauma the mind can't help to aovid to see. What do you think? Might that be true?

As the EBs are the best archives of important news and opinion and analysis articles, I start dreaming (again) to do something with them. I want to start all over again. So help me God.

Have a good weekend, all.

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3 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@mimi

i think that the mind is a clever instrument and can create all sorts of means of arranging to avoid understanding what it sees in a particular way. i think that people do see things that cannot be unseen, things that are genuinely traumatic and that they spend years, even lifetimes trying to come to grips with. but, i think the grappling with the reality of what they have seen is indicative more of the character of the individual than the slippery ability of the mind to mitigate the consequences of what has been seen by creating alternate personal realities or even just simply forgetting.

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mimi's picture

@joe shikspack
thx.

the grappling with the reality of what they have seen is indicative more of the character of the individual than ...

... I have to think over this a little bit more. ...

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Anja Geitz's picture

It would've been difficult to imagine even five years ago that I would eventually reach a point where I now regard US foreign policy as complicitly criminal in every sense of the word.

How ISIS overran large swaths of territory in northeastern Syria and established its de facto capital Raqqa is scarcely understood, let alone discussed by Western media. That is partly because the real story is so inconvenient to the established...

Inconvenient to the established bullshit is more like it. Thanks for posting stories like this. It makes me feel less alone in my despair and fury.

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9 users have voted.

If we surrendered to earth's intelligence we could rise up rooted, like trees
~ Rainer Maria Rilke

snoopydawg's picture

and I'd be surprised if more people have gotten sick after being held in "ice box" rooms.

IMG_3032.JPGThe Iceboxes at the Border

Migrants, immigration activists, and even — allegedly — U.S. government officials have a nickname for the frigid, cramped holding cells in Customs and Border Protection facilities: las hieleras, or “the iceboxes.” Women and children detained at the border will routinely spend several nights crowded into these tiny rooms, according to reports, wrapped in foil blankets, shivering, and denied mattresses and medicine.

In 2013, three undocumented immigrants sued the government over abuses they said they’d suffered in CBP custody, specifically citing the bitterly cold temperatures. “[One woman’s] lips eventually chapped and split,” read one of their suits. “The lips and fingers of her two sisters and her sister’s child also turned blue.” Since then, it seems, little has changed: On December 19, BuzzFeed News reported that a five-month-old girl has been hospitalized with pneumonia after being held in a hielera for five days with her mother. Within two days of being released from detention, she had a 102.7-degree fever and was throwing up.

From Buzzfeed

The girl had been taking the antibiotic amoxicillin, but Portillo said she wasn't allowed to keep the medication in detention. She described the temperatures inside the cells as "freezing."

Portillo told agents that her daughter was sick shortly after being detained, but they told Portillo it was normal and that everyone coming into the holding cells was ill. She wasn't allowed to get new medication or see a doctor.

"I said I needed a hospital because her breathing was getting worse," Portillo told BuzzFeed News. "The agents told me I wasn't in a position to be asking for anything and that they didn't tell me to come to the United States."

I do not think that I could work for the private prison and detention centers because they are more interested in money than making sure that people are well taken care of. And don't they cost more than ones run by the states because of it? Think I read that somewhere.

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8 users have voted.

America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
- strife delivery

Anja Geitz's picture

@snoopydawg

That I suspect the agents working in these detention centers do not see as such. I suspect they believe that providing even minimal care to many of these migrants is akin to enabling their decision to come to the United States in the first place. I also doubt very much they see the connection between US foreign policy and the failed states these migrants are fleeing from. Trump's policy only emboldens this kind of treatment that I am certain is seen as a "deterrent". How tragic that the lapse of their humanity isn't even a blip on their internal radar.

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5 users have voted.

If we surrendered to earth's intelligence we could rise up rooted, like trees
~ Rainer Maria Rilke

joe shikspack's picture

@Anja Geitz

heh, people in the u.s. are not generally the reflective sorts. everybody knows that there's at least two sides to every story, but americans are kept busy meeting their survival needs and distracted or entertained to within an inch of their lives.

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6 users have voted.
Anja Geitz's picture

@joe shikspack

Perfect depiction of the hamster wheel so many of us are trapped on. One of the main reasons I moved away from Manhattan was to free myself of that kind of distraction where everyday life pelts you with hundreds of demands for your attention. My mind was both restless and starved for nourishing thoughts that would enable me to get in touch with the authentic part of who I am and how my life reflects that.

Thankfully I found that here in Southern California puttering around in my garden and chanting with fellow Buddhists. It's a place where I don't listen to the radio, or watch TV, or read a newspaper. In fact, if it wasn't for this blog, I'd have no idea what was going on in the world. And frankly, even that is sometimes too much information.

Your perceptions, Joe, are spot on. Good to be in the company of a kindred spirit.

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1 user has voted.

If we surrendered to earth's intelligence we could rise up rooted, like trees
~ Rainer Maria Rilke

ggersh's picture

definitive proof is right here

https://jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com/

26 DECEMBER 2018
Stocks and Precious Metals Charts - Making Stocks Great Again - Big Bounce Off Deeply Oversold

Feeding the beast
"They have record kinds of numbers. So I think it's a tremendous opportunity to buy. Really a great opportunity to buy."

D. J. Trump, 25 December 2018

As soon as Trump said the above on Christmas Day, I was fairly certain that my theory of why Treasury Secretary Mnuchin was calling the banks was correct.

The word came back to Trumpolini that the fix was in, and he could not resist making a statement to show what a great stock market trend caller he is.

Mnuchin did not need to know how the Banks were doing with regard to liquidity. And he certainly didn't need to let it slip that he was calling the Banks to the public. He was getting Wall Street in line, and giving the other wiseguys out there a heads up so they would not get in the way.

And then Trump came out an hung a lantern on it. It was like erecting three billboards proclaiming the official desire to 'Make Stocks Great Again.'

And so we saw the rescue of the stock markets today, in the first real, concerted attempt by government and business to pump that bubble back up.

And it worked fairly well. And those who had faith in the bubble were rewarded.

And if you think that they did this for your benefit, you are rather foolish.

so another check has been paid to that great account marked, 'moral hazard.'

I was only a little surprised that they did not put their minds to this sooner in the decline. Perhaps they needed for the oversold condition to work itself into place, and get a clear path for the ramp higher in the busy holiday schedule.

I did not watch television after the first couple of hours, because we went out and about with the company that is still here. My son's girlfriend is a real sweetheart from Shanghai via London, and is a wonderful helper in the kitchen.

She has never seen an actual prime rib roast of size before. And she was very much taken with the electric carving knife. She kept volunteering to cut the roast for me. She found the whole thing to be fascinating. LOL. Tonight we are going out for a hot pot dinner. I am really enjoying all this.

I have marked the Fibonacci retracement levels on the charts. I may have to tinker with them a bit. The problem is where to mark the beginning of the decline.

Let's see how long they can keep this pig aloft.

Gold and silver were higher most of the day, with silver hanging on but gold given up its safe haven gain.

Have a pleasant evening.

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9 users have voted.

“The downward spiral of dumbness in America is about to hit a new low.”

Hunter S. Thompson

trumpolini, amerika's last president

we are being governed by a minority of the minority

joe shikspack's picture

@ggersh

back when i had economics classes, we were taught that stock prices had to be supported by something called "fundamentals," which were indicators of the actual value of a stock. those days appear to be over and stock values appear to be more related to market manipulations and the underlying belief that the government won't allow the larger players in the market to become insolvent.

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6 users have voted.

Even conservatives agree

"State-level marijuana legalization has significantly undercut marijuana smuggling," David Bier, an immigration policy analyst at Cato, wrote in the paper, published last week. "Based on Border Patrol seizures, smuggling has fallen 78 percent over just a five-year period. Because marijuana was the primary drug smuggled between ports of entry, where Border Patrol surveils, the value of the agency’s seizures overall — on a per-agent basis — has declined 70 percent."
...
The Cato paper also calls into question President Trump's push to erect a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, which has led to a partisan dispute that caused an ongoing government shutdown this week.

"Given these trends, a border wall or more Border Patrol agents to stop drugs between ports of entry makes little sense," Bier wrote. "State marijuana legalization starting in 2014 did more to reduce marijuana smuggling than the doubling of Border Patrol agents or the construction of hundreds of miles of border fencing did from 2003 to 2009."

border.png

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8 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@gjohnsit

imagine what could happen if the u.s. legalized drugs and stopped creating refugees south of the border by propping up brutal right-wing regimes.

sadly, that's not the game the capitalist powers that be want to play.

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5 users have voted.
NCTim's picture

@gjohnsit Prices have dropped dramatically too. CO this summer, consumer grade $125/oz. I am old enough to know a nickel bag is 1/4 oz. and why it was called a nickel bag. Just imagine growing it alongside your tomatoes and peppers! No more dealing with skeevy characters, nor supporting organized crime.

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5 users have voted.

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself. - Friedrich Nietzsche -

Raggedy Ann's picture

The dumb ass, Herr Drumpf, is digging in cuz he promised his base and he can hold his breath longer. Temper tantrums have many residual effects - not always good.

It snowed until 3:00 pm. We got around 10 - 12 inches. More might come in the night. We laid in supplies and have no need to leave for days. I’m looking forward to this home-time.

Have a beautiful evening and weekend, folks! Pleasantry

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6 users have voted.

Women are human beings, not prey.
(I forgot where I read it although it might have been in The Intercept)

joe shikspack's picture

@Raggedy Ann

wow! that's a great holiday snow storm! heh, we got temps almost in the 60's and drenching rains.

i am wondering how far trump is going to take this. the congress does not appear to be all that willing to offer him some sort of face-saving compromise (yet).

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4 users have voted.
NCTim's picture

@Raggedy Ann I have a chocolate chip, walnut and banana bread in the oven.

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4 users have voted.

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself. - Friedrich Nietzsche -

lotlizard's picture

and everyone who supported the administration of which she was a prominent part.

Two dead children are a tragedy — half a million dead children are a statistic “worth it.”

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7 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@lotlizard

yep, horrible, ghoulish, sociopatic morons like albright make you wonder how it is that regular people allow this despicable charade to continue.

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5 users have voted.
Unabashed Liberal's picture

to all--hoping that 2019 will bring much happiness and prosperity to Everyone!

We're had a mixed holiday. Wonderful visit with Family, but, got word that Mr M will have to undergo another surgery late January. (He's a very private person, so, all I can say is that it won't be as major/have as long a recovery period, as the last one. Which is a major relief.)

We are so much looking forward to bringing home Pup mid-January, since we've experienced such a massive 'void' since we lost our precious 'B.' For 42 years, we had either 3, 2, or 1 dog--and it was for only 7 years, that we had just one fella.

Hey, no "news," here. I've only had a chance to glance at my (until recently, dormant) Twitter account, every few days. I re-titled it a couple months before the midterms, hoping to advocate for expanding Traditional Medicare.

Anyhoo, here's a rather dated Tweet and link that I sent out, regarding implementing a Medicare 'Buy-In' plan. Guess it goes without saying--I'm not at all in favor of those types of plans. (They bolster the ACA, and, would be offered in the so-called Marketplace Exchanges.)

Weather's turned relatively mild, last day or so--aside from the monsoon conditions, that is. Actually, will be sorta glad to see more seasonal temps (and less rain), since we practically need a canoe to navigate the yard!

Everyone have a nice and dry and warm weekend! PleasantryByeBlue Onyx

"Dogs have given us their absolute all. We are the center of their universe. We are the focus of their love and faith and trust.

They serve us in return for scraps. It is without a doubt the best deal man has ever made."

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7 users have voted.

"The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it."
--George Bernard Shaw, Irish Dramatist & Socialist
"We [corporations] are the government!" Actor John Colicos (1978)

joe shikspack's picture

@Unabashed Liberal

best wishes for your 2019 as well!

glad to hear that the new pup is on its way and i hope that mr. m's surgery goes well and sets him up for a long, happy, healthy time.

have a wonderful weekend!

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4 users have voted.
Unabashed Liberal's picture

@joe shikspack

piece, earlier this week (written by Lambert).

I totally agree with one of the links in his essay, regarding a "Buy-In." It pretty much said what I've been saying--implementing a BI plan would make matters worse, if the goal is a true MFA system. That's because Buy-In's are expected to alleviate some of the insurance premium cost strains on the Marketplace Exchanges, therefore, bolstering the ACA.

Regardless of what lawmakers are saying--that's the real reason that they're being proposed; not as a path to transitioning to a single-payer system.

Blue Onyx

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4 users have voted.

"The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it."
--George Bernard Shaw, Irish Dramatist & Socialist
"We [corporations] are the government!" Actor John Colicos (1978)

joe shikspack's picture

@Unabashed Liberal

i'm pretty sure that the goal of the democratic party is not mfa. it's get elected by pretending to support something called mfa, but deliver more obamacare.

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4 users have voted.
Unabashed Liberal's picture

@joe shikspack @joe shikspack

it's get elected by pretending to support something called mfa, but deliver more obamacare.

Bingo!

HelpBlue Onyx

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3 users have voted.

"The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it."
--George Bernard Shaw, Irish Dramatist & Socialist
"We [corporations] are the government!" Actor John Colicos (1978)

snoopydawg's picture

He wrote the report on how destabilizing Syria would see the rise of ISIS. Could this have been the reason? Inquiring minds want to know.

2012 Defense Intelligence Agency document: West will facilitate rise of Islamic State “in order to isolate the Syrian regime”

The newly released DIA report makes the following summary points concerning “ISI” (in 2012 “Islamic State in Iraq,”) and the soon to emerge ISIS:

Al-Qaeda drives the opposition in Syria
The West identifies with the opposition
The establishment of a nascent Islamic State became a reality only with the rise of the Syrian insurgency (there is no mention of U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq as a catalyst for Islamic State’s rise, which is the contention of innumerable politicians and pundits; see section 4.D. below)
The establishment of a “Salafist Principality” in Eastern Syria is “exactly” what the external powers supporting the opposition want (identified as “the West, Gulf Countries, and Turkey”) in order to weaken the Assad government
“Safe havens” are suggested in areas conquered by Islamic insurgents along the lines of the Libyan model (which translates to so-called no-fly zones as a first act of ‘humanitarian war’; see 7.B.)
Iraq is identified with “Shia expansion” (8.C)
A Sunni “Islamic State” could be devastating to “unifying Iraq” and could lead to “the renewing facilitation of terrorist elements from all over the Arab world entering into Iraqi Arena.” (see last non-redacted line in full PDF view.)

IMG_2995.JPG

I'm hoping that some day people will take their blinders off and see Obama for who he really is. "Ended two wars and didn't start any new ones'' my ass.

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5 users have voted.

America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
- strife delivery

joe shikspack's picture

@snoopydawg

He wrote the report on how destabilizing Syria would see the rise of ISIS. Could this have been the reason?

well, they say that he was fired in 2014 for "mismanagement and temperament issues."

the always annoying cnn has some ideas about flynn, too: The mystery of Mike Flynn

i wouldn't rely much on any analysis from cnn, but it does seem to reflect the "conventional wisdom" about flynn in the mainstream press.

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5 users have voted.