The Evening Blues - 12-4-17


The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: Billy Branch

Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features Chicago blues harmonica player Billy Branch. Enjoy!

Billy Branch - Blues Harp Explosion

"What this planet needs is more mistletoe and less missile-talk."

-- Unknown

News and Opinion

Yemen Houthi rebels kill former president Ali Abdullah Saleh

The Yemen civil war took a dramatic new turn on Monday when Houthi rebels backed by Iran killed the former president, punishing him for switching sides and seeking peace with Saudi Arabia.

Pictures of the corpse of Ali Abdullah Saleh appeared on Houthi-run television after the militia claimed it had killed him as he fled the capital, Sana’a. He had ruled Yemen for more than 30 years and was forced to resign in 2011 as part of the Arab spring political revolution.

Houthi military officials said Saleh was killed as he and other top party leaders were travelling from Sana’a to his hometown of Sanhan. Houthi fighters followed him in 20 armoured vehicles, then attacked and killed him and almost all those with him. Gruesome video of his blood-spattered body were distributed on social media.

Earlier his house was destroyed in fierce fighting that has erupted in Sana’a in the past two days between Houthi militia and forces loyal to Saleh. Saudi-led coalition warplanes pounded Houthi positions close to the city airport, and the ministry of the interior.

The Saudi bombing was part of a desperate and ultimately doomed bid to prop up Saleh and prevent the Houthis taking complete control of the capital. His death may prompt a furious reaction from Saudi Arabia which is determined to push back Iranian influence in the country.

Yemen: Former president Ali Abdullah Saleh killed

Your tax dollars fund Afghan child rape

Americans are rightly outraged over revelations that Congress spent $17 million since 1997 to pay off and muzzle victims of congressional sexual misconduct and other abuses. But the U.S. government has spent vastly more effectively bankrolling far more worse sexual atrocities in Afghanistan — in brazen violation of U.S. law. Since 2002, the U.S. has spent more than $70 billion financing Afghan security forces, including the Afghan military and police. A law sponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) prohibits the Pentagon from bankrolling any foreign military units if there is “credible information that the unit has committed a gross violation of human rights.”

The U.S. government has long known that U.S.-funded Afghan units routinely engage in "bacha bazi" — boy play. Afghan military commanders and police kidnap boys and use them as sex slaves. American troops have complained of seeing boys chained to beds and hearing their screams at night. As Aaron MacLean, who served in Afghanistan with the Marines, observed, the “Taliban have long used reports of rapes committed by government agents as a recruiting tool(.) Indeed, among the elements of Mullah Omar's rise to power was his reputation for taking violent action against those who kidnapped and raped children.”

The Pentagon ignored the abuse until a 2015 New York Times expose of American soldiers who were punished for protesting atrocities against young boys. ... After the Times’ report, 93 members of Congress requested that the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) investigate the problem. SIGAR finished and submitted its report early this year. In a brief section in its July 31 quarterly report, SIGAR noted, "Afghan officials remain complicit, especially in the sexual exploitation … of children by Afghan security forces. The Washington Post reported on November 26 that the Pentagon is blocking the release of the SIGAR report, instead releasing “its own report offering a far less authoritative review” of the abuses. ...

Americans would never tolerate federal funds paying for a notorious child rape regime in Cincinnati or Omaha. But your tax dollars are underwriting similar sordid abuses in Kandahar and Kabul. Doctors, teachers, and social workers can be jailed for failing to report child abuse here at home. But, six thousand miles away, U.S. troops risk their career for protesting pederasty. In his August speech announcing more troops for Afghanistan, President Donald Trump declared that “we will not dictate to the Afghan people how to live.” But, similarly, Trump has no right to force Americans to pay taxes for activities that shock their conscience. ... If the U.S. military cannot refrain from bankrolling child rape, then the U.S. should not be in Afghanistan.

Syrian Kurdish YPG says seized eastern region from Islamic State group

The Syrian Kurdish YPG militia said on Sunday it had fully captured Deir al-Zor’s eastern countryside from Islamic State with the help of both the U.S.-led coalition and Russia. ...

The SDF’s most powerful component, the YPG, announced that it had defeated Islamic State militants on its side “in cooperation with the Arab tribes.” The U.S.-led coalition and Russian forces in Syria provided “air and logistical support, advice and coordination on the ground,” its statement said. “We hope for an increase in this support and for ensuring the necessary air cover.” ...

The YPG said on Sunday it was forming civil councils for Deir al-Zor that include Kurds, Arabs and other components based on “the principle of democracy and self-rule.” It would mirror governing arrangements in other towns and cities that the Kurdish fighters and their allies captured. With Islamic State close to collapse in Syria, Syrian Kurdish leaders hope for a phase of negotiations to shore up their autonomy in the north. But in recent months, the Damascus government and its Iranian allies have more forcefully asserted ambitions to take territory under the control of Kurdish-led forces.

Jared Kushner Failed to Disclose He Led a Foundation Funding Illegal Israeli Settlements Before U.N. Vote

Jared Kushner failed to disclose his role as a co-director of the Charles and Seryl Kushner Foundation from 2006 to 2015, a time when the group funded an Israeli settlement considered to be illegal under international law, on financial records he filed with the Office of Government Ethics earlier this year.

The latest development follows reports on Friday indicating the White House senior adviser attempted to sway a United Nations Security Council vote against an anti-settlement resolution passed just before Donald Trump took office, which condemned the structure of West Bank settlements. The failure to disclose his role in the foundation—at a time when he was being tasked with serving as the president’s Middle East peace envoy—follows a pattern of egregious omissions that would bar any other official from continuing to serve in the West Wing, experts and officials told Newsweek. ...

The omission was first discovered by a team of researchers at American Bridge, a progressive research and communications organization, and shared exclusively with Newsweek on Friday afternoon. The researchers suggested Kushner’s failure may have been more than an inadvertent mistake, but instead an attempt to avoid "potential conflicts with his job negotiating Middle East peace." Newsweek later independently confirmed Kushner's omission on his multiple financial disclosures.  ...

Kushner demanded future national security adviser Michael Flynn "get on the phone to every member of the Security Council and tell them to delay the vote" on the West Bank settlement resolution, BuzzFeed reported Friday. The move may have violated the 200-years-old law called the Logan Act, which bars "unauthorized citizens" from negotiating with "foreign governments having a dispute with the United States."

Flynn's Plea Is Another NothingBurger In Russiagate

The Scalp-Taking of Gen. Flynn

Russia-gate enthusiasts are thrilled over the guilty plea of President Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn for lying to the FBI about pre-inauguration conversations with the Russian ambassador, but the case should alarm true civil libertarians. What is arguably most disturbing about this case is that then-National Security Adviser Flynn was pushed into a perjury trap by Obama administration holdovers at the Justice Department who concocted an unorthodox legal rationale for subjecting Flynn to an FBI interrogation four days after he took office, testing Flynn’s recollection of the conversations while the FBI agents had transcripts of the calls intercepted by the National Security Agency.

In other words, the Justice Department wasn’t seeking information about what Flynn said to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak – the intelligence agencies already had that information. Instead, Flynn was being quizzed on his precise recollection of the conversations and nailed for lying when his recollections deviated from the transcripts. For Americans who worry about how the pervasive surveillance powers of the U.S. government could be put to use criminalizing otherwise constitutionally protected speech and political associations, Flynn’s prosecution represents a troubling precedent.

Though Flynn clearly can be faulted for his judgment, he was, in a sense, a marked man the moment he accepted the job of national security adviser. In summer 2016, Democrats seethed over Flynn’s participation in chants at the Republican National Convention to “lock her [Hillary Clinton] up!” Then, just four days into the Trump presidency, an Obama holdover, then-acting Attorney General Sally Yates, primed the Flynn perjury trap by coming up with a novel legal theory that Flynn – although the national security adviser-designate at the time of his late December phone calls with Kislyak – was violating the 1799 Logan Act, which prohibits private citizens from interfering with U.S. foreign policy. But that law – passed during President John Adams’s administration in the era of the Alien and Sedition Acts – was never intended to apply to incoming officials in the transition period between elected presidential administrations and – in the past 218 years – the law has resulted in no successful prosecution at all and thus its dubious constitutionality has never been adjudicated.

Yates extrapolated from her unusual Logan Act theory to speculate that since Flynn’s publicly known explanation of the conversation with Kislyak deviated somewhat from the transcript of the intercepts, Flynn might be vulnerable to Russian blackmail. Yet, that bizarre speculation would require that the Russians first would have detected the discrepancies; secondly, they would have naively assumed that the U.S. intelligence agencies had not intercepted the conversations, which would have negated any blackmail potential; and thirdly, the Russians would have to do something so ridiculously heavy-handed – trying to blackmail Flynn – that it would poison relations with the new Trump administration. Yates’s legal theorizing was so elastic and speculative that it could be used to justify subjecting almost anyone to FBI interrogation with the knowledge that their imperfect memories would guarantee the grounds for prosecution based on NSA intercepts of their communications.

Basically, the Obama holdovers concocted a preposterous legal theory to do whatever they could to sabotage the Trump administration, which they held in fulsome disdain.

Trump lawyer offers new defense of tweet: president 'cannot obstruct justice'

The attorney for Donald Trump who sought to take the blame for a tweet that could signal the president took part in the obstruction of justice has offered a new defence of Trump’s actions: the president cannot obstruct justice. “The president cannot obstruct justice because he is the chief law enforcement officer under [the constitution’s Article II] and has every right to express his view of any case,” John Dowd told the Axios website.

Dowd spoke after legal experts voiced surprise and concern over his original claim. On Monday, he said any suggestion the Trump tweet had admitted obstruction of justice, whoever wrote it, would be “an ignorant and arrogant assertion”. ...

Under pressure as the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into Russian meddling in the election accelerates, Trump said in a tweet on Saturday that he fired Michael Flynn as national security adviser in February “because he lied to the vice-president and the FBI” about his discussions with Russia’s ambassador to the US last December. ... If Trump did fire Flynn for lying to the FBI, that would mean the president knew the retired general had committed a serious crime when, according to the former FBI director James Comey, the president asked Comey the next day to halt an FBI investigation into Flynn.

On Sunday Trump, who later fired Comey, again denied making such a request.

Corrections & Apologies: US media producing fake news as scandal embroils White House

ABC Suspends Reporter Brian Ross Over Erroneous Report About Trump

Brian Ross, the chief investigative correspondent for ABC News, has been suspended for four weeks without pay after incorrectly reporting that Michael T. Flynn, the former national security adviser, would testify that President Trump had directed him to make contact with Russian officials while Mr. Trump was still a candidate, the network announced on Saturday.

Mr. Trump directed Mr. Flynn to make contact after the election, as president-elect, the network said.

ABC initially issued a clarification after Mr. Ross made the statement during a live broadcast on Friday but later called it a correction.

“We deeply regret and apologize for the serious error we made yesterday,” ABC said in a statement on Saturday. “The reporting conveyed by Brian Ross during the special report had not been fully vetted through our editorial standards process.”

Mr. Ross’s initial report, which he said was informed by a confidant of Mr. Flynn’s, would have been a bombshell revelation in the continuing investigation into whether Mr. Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to interfere in the presidential election.

Abbas warns world leaders over Trump's recognition of Jerusalem

The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, has sought to rally last-minute diplomatic support to persuadeDonald Trump not to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, amid persistent speculation that he might do so in a speech this week.

The suggestion that Trump might unilaterally recognise Jerusalem – parts of which Palestinians also claim for the capital of their own future state – has been circulating in recent days as the US president deliberates on whether to renew the six-monthly waiver to a law mandating the transfer of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. ...

The suggestion that Trump could recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was being touted as a step short of moving the embassy. While largely symbolic, it is being fiercely opposed by a number of countries in the region. ...

The White House was warned again last week by US foreign policy and security officials of the risks to US diplomacy and security in the region raised by moving the embassy. Jordan’s foreign minister, Ayman Safadi, tweeted that he had contacted the US secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, over the risks of recognising Jerusalem. “Spoke with #US Secretary of State Tillerson on dangerous consequences of recognising Jerusalem as capital of Israel. Such a decision would trigger anger across #Arab #Muslim worlds, fuel tension & jeopardise peace efforts,” Safadi wrote.

Some very serious warplanes are flying near North Korea right now

The U.S. Air Force flew six advanced stealth tactical fighters over South Korea Monday, part of the largest ever joint airborne military exercises conducted by Washington and Seoul.

North Korea lashed out at the drills, warning they are pushing the Peninsula to “the brink of nuclear war.” The annual military exercises, long scheduled for this week, have garnered greater attention coming days after Pyongyang tested an intercontinental ballistic missile on Nov. 29. ...

Over the weekend, officials from North Korea and the U.S. exchanged barbs. Pyongyang’s Foreign Ministry said Saturday that Donald Trump was “begging for war,” a day later the state-run Rodong Sinmun newspaper said the exercises are “a dangerous provocation as it is driving the tension on the Korean peninsula to the brink of a nuclear war.”

In California Sunday, national security adviser H.R. McMaster warned the threat of war is on the Peninsula is growing daily, while Sen. Lindsey Graham urged the Pentagon not to send any spouses or siblings of soldiers to South Korea given the threat level. “I think we’re really running out of time,” he said.

North Korea: Russia accuses US of waging 'bloodthirsty tirade' with threat to destroy country

Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov says that America’s threat to destroy North Korea should war break out is “a bloodthirsty tirade” and a big mistake. Mr Lavrov made the comments while visiting Rome, where he criticised comments from US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley for saying that North Korea would be “utterly destroyed” if Pyongyang’s recent missile testing of a rocket that could potentially hit the US mainland provoked war.

“If someone really wants to use force to, as the US representative to the United Nations put it, destroy North Korea ... then I think that is playing with fire and a big mistake,” Mr Lavrov said, according to Russian news agencies. He continued to say that Ms Haley’s speech to the UN Security Council meeting was “a really bloodthirsty tirade”.

“We will do everything to ensure that [the use of force] doesn’t happen so that the problem is decided only using peaceful and political-diplomatic means,” Mr Lavrov said.

Catalan's deposed vice-president to contest election from prison

The deposed Catalan vice-president, Oriol Junqueras, looks poised to contest this month’s regional election from a prison cell after a judge at Spain’s supreme court denied him bail, saying it remained to be seen whether his pledge to abide by Spanish law was “truthful and real”.

Junqueras is among more than a dozen Catalan leaders facing possible charges of sedition, rebellion and misuse of public funds over their roles in October’s illegal independence referendum and the subsequent unilateral declaration of independence.

While Judge Pablo Llarena granted bail of €100,000 (£88,000) to six former Catalan cabinet members, he ruled that Junqueras should remain in custody along with the region’s former interior minister, Joaquim Forn, and the leaders of two pro-independence civil society groups.

Although the ousted vice-president and his former colleagues had agreed to renounce their unilateral drive for independence in the hope of obtaining bail, Llarena said there was a risk that Junqueras and Forn could commit the same crimes if released.

The decision came as a court in Belgium said it would decide on 14 December whether to grant a European arrest warrant against the former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont and four of his ministers, who fled Spain at the end of October, claiming they would not be granted a fair trial.

The President of Honduras Is Deploying U.S.-Trained Forces Against Election Protesters

Honduran president Juan Orlando Hernández, using the specter of rampant crime and the drug trade, won extensive support from the American government to build up highly trained state security forces. Now, those same forces are repressing democracy. The post-election situation in Honduras continues to deteriorate as Hernández, a conservative leader and stalwart U.S. ally in Central America, has disputed the result of last week’s vote while working to crack down on protests sweeping the nation.

Initial results showed Salvador Nasralla, an ex-sportscaster chosen by an alliance of left-wing political parties as their candidate, leading the vote count after the November 26 presidential election. The lead was substantial enough that a magistrate on the Supreme Electoral Tribunal estimated victory by Nasralla, characterizing his lead as “irreversible.”

The next day the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE by its Spanish initials) announced that Hernandez was closing the gap. Then it suddenly stopped publicizing the tally, alleging that its electronic system went down, prompting criticism from European Union election observers. Police and military flooded the streets in the hours of silence that followed. On Wednesday, the announcement that Hernández had overtaken Nasralla in the vote count was met with disbelief. In the words of Salvadoran journalist Carlos Dada, “There are only two possibilities: Either the TSE is of Olympic incompetence or it’s committing fraud.”

The turn of events led to chaos on the streets, and Hernández instituted a military-imposed curfew across the nation on Friday. At least one protester has been killed and scores of others have been injured and arrested in violent clashes with police. For human rights observers, the curfew and delay of an official recount are steps to produce an inevitable Hernández victory, regardless of the vote tally.

Several observers on the ground told The Intercept that they have seen elite military police from the TIGRES and Cobras units alongside the Honduran National Police involved in clashes with protesters in the capital, Tegucigalpa, and around the country. The three forces are increasingly coordinated as the violence soars, they say.

Rep. Ellison Condemns Apparent Election Tampering in Honduras & Calls for Halting U.S. Military Aid

Outrage Grows at Risk of Honduran Election Theft, 50 Groups Join Call

Outraged at the possibility of the theft of Honduras’ election by the discredited current administration, 50 US rights groups have joined call to urge the US to press Honduras for electoral transparency.

Elise Roberts, National Coordinator of Witness for Peace, stated: "As we return from two weeks observing and documenting in Honduras, our concerns about the Honduran electoral process and broader state violence and corruption continue to deepen. We've heard testimony of ongoing intimidation through use of US-funded security forces, incidents of fraud and violence at polling places, use of US-made munitions against anti-fraud protesters, and a total lack of transparency about the electoral process. Our partners in Honduras describe this process as the final phase of the coup, endorsed by US support and funding. Now more than ever, Honduras needs the people and government of the US to stand with them, to support independent, credible investigations into the electoral fraud and state violence, and to immediately cut all US funding to Honduran security forces."

“The US government’s collusion in the Honduras coup of 2009 has resulted in eight years of massive violence, spiraling poverty, and the brutal suppression of dissent. We, as US-based groups, cannot allow the US and Honduran governments to repeat this horrific tragedy of undermining democracy,” stated Chung-Wha Hong, Executive Director of Grassroots International. “Too many lives are at stake. Democracy is at stake.”

50 US rights groupshave so far joined the call for transparency include Witness for Peace/Acción Permanente por la Paz, Grassroots International, Code Pink, Friendship Office of the Americas, School of the Americas Watch, and the number continues to grow.

Worldwide media reports are multiplying of suspicious electoral tampering of Honduras’ election results by the ruling party which hand-picked the nation’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE). Nonetheless, the Chief Magistrate of the TSE, Mario Lobo, appeared to be bucking the trend when he announced late Wednesday that the official results are suspect, casting doubt on official claims of a win by incumbent candidate Juan Orlando Hernandez, of the incumbent National Party.

Honduras: Protesters Defy Military Crackdown and Flood the Streets to Protest Alleged Vote-Rigging

Oil-rich Venezuela is launching a cryptocurrency called the “petro”

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro will circumvent U.S. sanctions against his country by launching a cryptocurrency, he announced Sunday.

Called the petro, the currency will be backed by “the natural riches of the nation,” including gold, oil, gas and diamonds, and will solve the country’s deep financial crisis, Maduro claimed. ...

There are no details of how the cryptocurrency will work, but the government did announce the establishment of a “blockchain observatory” to oversee the launch. ...

Maduro’s announcement came hours after Bitcoin, the world’s most valuable cryptocurrency, hit an all-time high of almost $11,800.

Germany: SPD leader Schulz backs talks with Merkel on political impasse

Why is Defense Waste Taboo in the Tax Debate?

For all the talk about the big Republican tax cut it’s really only about $150 billion per year—although proponents multiply it by 10 years, so that $1.5 trillion sounds like a lot. Arguments about how to pay for it may end up derailing or neutering it in the end. Which is ironic, since Trump wants to add $50 billion to the defense budget. But no one wants to talk about defense waste during these tax debates. Why is the Pentagon budget untouchable?

The waste in defense today is incredible. It’s not that Americans don’t inherently care: My 2013 article, 16 Ways to Cut Defense is still at the top of the search engines after four years. ...

The fact that all this waste if off the table in budget debates is almost criminal. All the claptrap on cable news and not a word of these Pentagon boondoggles and mishandling of taxpayer funds! Most Republicans are ready to cut health care, much less reform much of its inordinate waste and monopoly pricing, but they can’t talk about military waste? House speaker Paul Ryan has a sad record on this issue. Years ago, in Tax Collectors for the Warfare State, I wrote how Ryan and many Republicans were ready to sacrifice the home mortgage interest deduction to pay for more war in Afghanistan.

It’s heading us toward eventual bankruptcy when even important tax cuts to bring back faster economic growth may be sacrificed to hang us on a cross of guns (with due respect to William Jennings Bryan speech about hanging America on a cross of gold).

The moral and intellectual bankruptcy of the Republican Party

The parallels between the Republican Party positions on taxes and climate change are striking. Both are morally appalling and reject the available evidence and expert opinion.

The Initiative on Global Markets’ panel of economic experts was recently asked about the Republican tax plan. Among the experts who took a position either way, there was a 96% consensus that the plan would not substantially grow the economy more than the status quo, and a 100% consensus that it would substantially increase the national debt.

Those numbers are quite similar to the 97% consensus among climate scientists that humans are driving global warming and the 95% consensus among economists that the US should cut its carbon pollution.

The House and Senate Republicans have passed similar versions of their tax bill, and neither chamber is allowing any climate policy to move forward.

Rep. Keith Ellison: GOP Tax Bill Would Reorder Society & Create “Hereditary Aristocracy” for Rich

Author of GOP Tax Plan Says Children’s Health Insurance Program Is Held Up “Because We Don’t Have Money Anymore”

The lead author of the Senate Republican tax plan, Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch of Utah, said that the federal government no longer has the money to fund the popular Children’s Health Insurance Program, known as CHIP. “The reason CHIP is having trouble [passing] is because we don’t have money anymore,” Hatch said. “We just add more and more spending and more and more spending, and you can look at the rest of the bill for the more and more spending.”

CHIP is an $8 billion program. The Senate bill passed in the early hours of Saturday morning includes $6 trillion in tax cuts, financed by $4.5 trillion in tax hikes elsewhere. Hatch, though, promised CHIP would still pass. “We’re going to do CHIP, there’s no question about it in my mind. It has to be done the right way,” he said.

As the expiration date for CHIP loomed over the end of September, lawmakers similarly assured the public they would reauthorize the popular bipartisan program that provides coverage to nearly 9 million kids and roughly 370,000 pregnant women. ...

Well this year, April came and went. Then May. Then June. Then Congress stressed they would definitely get to it before the August recess. Except then a new effort to dismantle the Affordable Care Act took hold, crowding out all else. When the Obamacare dismantlement effort died, legislators said, “No, no, it will be coming back.” Then they promised to reauthorize CHIP at least before it expired in September. “Well… okay we’ll get it done in October — states still have some federal funding left in their reserves,” they said next. And then, “All right, we hear you, we’ll definitely deal with it before Thanksgiving.”

Now it’s December and lawmakers are saying, “Don’t worry, we’ll get it done by the end of the year.” As tax reform picks up, health experts are feeling nervous.

Until the De Facto Ban On Kaepernick Is Lifted, The NFL’s Gestures Toward Criminal Justice Reform Ring Hollow

After the protests over systematic racism that rocked the NFL this year, the multi-billion business has finally decided to take some steps to show it shares the protesting players’ concerns. On Thursday, it came out that the NFL has agreed to pledge $89 million spread out over the next seven years to charities that address criminal justice reforms. That’s a start. It really is. It’s a nice start, but it’s not enough. Period.

As long as Colin Kaepernick is effectively banned from the NFL for protesting injustice and police brutality in America, no player should agree to any deal that weakens their power to not only bring him back, but ensure that what has happened to him never happens to another player again. ...

Since Kaepernick first took a knee, a staggering 1,500 people have been killed by American police. This year is on pace to be worse than last year. The problem that Kaepernick wanted to shed a light on is not getting better in any shape, form, or fashion. So yes, it’s good news that the NFL is committed to putting some money behind addressing this problem, but accepting such an offer from the league right now would be a significant mistake. ...

Colin Kaepernick, it is now almost universally agreed, has been effectively shut out of the NFL because of his stance against injustice in America. The man has impeccable character. He’s as generous with his time and money as any athlete in the league. He has never once been in trouble a day in his life. He’s quiet. He’s in a committed relationship. So nobody can say it’s any off the field antics that has kept him out of the league.

It’s his courage and bravery that has him banned from the NFL. And as long as Kaepernick is banned for standing up against injustice in America, no amount of hush money should cause players who share his passion for this issue to stop protesting.

the evening greens

'We'll see the battle lines': Trump faced by Native American alliance over Bears Ears

On Monday, Donald Trump will visit Salt Lake City. He is expected to formally announce plans to substantially shrink two Utah national monuments: Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears. A review of national monuments was conducted by the interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, who recommended boundary changes to 10 such areas. In seeking to open up more land for development and extractive industries, Trump has the support of Utah’s all-Republican congressional delegation.

Orrin Hatch, the senator who invited Trump to Utah, said in a video statement the “outcome” the president will announce “strikes an excellent balance where everybody wins”. Thousands of demonstrators, however, gathered at the state capitol on Saturday in a show of solidarity with Native American tribes that say the move against Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante is nothing less than a “monumental mistake”.

A coalition of five Utah tribes with ties to the land – the Navajo Nation, Ute Mountain Ute, Ute Indian Tribe, Hopi and the Pueblo of Zuni – has vowed to oppose any shrinkage of the national monument. Before the formation of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, in 2015, the tribes had never come together. Their leaders say legal action is likely if Trump announces a reduction.

Shaun Chapoose, chairman of the Ute Indian Tribe business committee, said this was a significant moment for Native Americans. Many citizens mobilized around tribes opposing the Dakota Access pipeline and alliances were forged around Bears Ears. Despite reverses suffered by the Dakota Access protesters, he said, he sees a reawakening of hope. “Indian country is coming out of its sleep,” Chapoose said. “It’s given an opportunity for us to voice concerns, and it’s made it OK for tribes to talk amongst themselves, like they used to do a long time ago. ...

Chapoose said that in backing extractive industry over preservation and Native American communities, the Trump administration had drawn a line in the sand. “It’s another slap in the face in the overall relationship between the federal government and the tribes, and local people,” he said. Chapoose said the issue had led locally to a polarization between supporters of the monument and people who want the freedom to use the land for mining, logging and riding off-road vehicles. “It’s turned us back into cowboys and Indians again,” he said. “The tension is higher than it started but it hasn’t reached a plateau. That’s going to happen Monday. Then we’ll see the battle lines.”

Time Inc. Buyer Helped Koch Brothers Airbrush Their Image Across the Internet

The Koch brothers claim they provided $650 million to purchase Time Inc. — which has faced a consistent decline in revenue as advertising income has faltered — only as a savvy business decision, and will refrain from interfering with any editorial or management decisions. ... Koch’s partner in the Time buyout, however, has a history of involvement in exactly the type of media manipulation that critics fear most. In the coverage of the Meredith-Time deal, little has been made of the fact that Meredith has worked as a social media marketing firm for Koch Industries.

In the early years of this decade, Meredith provided stealth marketing efforts to delete critical commentary about the Koch brothers and their political ventures. New Media Strategies, a subsidiary of Meredith, was retained by Koch Industries to airbrush Wikipedia articles relating to Koch Industries, David Koch, Charles Koch, the Tea Party, and Richard Fink, a strategist for the Koch brothers’ political operation. It’s not clear if such relationships continued after they were exposed.

An internal investigation by Wikipedia editors found that one account New Media Strategies employees working for Koch had also used a number of so-called sock puppet accounts to edit articles relating to the Kochs. In one instance, a Wikipedia editor named “MBMadmirer” changed an entry about the Koch brothers’ effort to finance groups that deny the link between pollution and climate change. In another instance, MBMadmirer attempted to promote criticism of Jane Mayer, a prominent journalist who has investigated the Koch brothers. When the news was revealed, New Media Strategies confirmed its arrangement. ... The edits show that New Media Strategy employees were busy working to shape the public perception of the Kochs since 2010.

Also of Interest

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

Flynn’s plea on Russian influence reveals… Israel’s influence

Cherry-picking Toward War with Iran

Special Giveaways in Tax Cut Bill Benefit Family Members, Colleagues of Key GOP Senators

GOP’s List of Economists Backing Tax Cut Includes Ghosts, Office Assistants, Ex-Felons, and a Sprinkling of Real Economists

A Little Night Music

Billy Branch - The Blues Follow Me Around

Billy Branch & Lurrie Bell - Help Me

Hubert Sumlin & Billy Branch - That's All Right

Billy Branch and the Sons of Blues - Blues Shock

Billy Branch - My Baby Caught the Train

Billy Branch - Sympathy For The Devil

Billy Branch - Polk Salad Annie

Billy Branch - Roaches

Billy Branch & Kenny Neal - Going Down Slow

Billy Branch - Going To See Miss Gerri One More Time

24 users have voted.


divineorder's picture

A little rhyme for Monday.


17 users have voted.

A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

joe shikspack's picture


things are going well, thanks! just got back from visiting some friends in scranton, pa. last night - a good time was had by all.

your tweet reminds me of this picture which was my computer desktop background for many, many years at work:


5 users have voted.
detroitmechworks's picture

is going to start communicating only by mediums where there are legal ramifications for interception.

As far as I know it's still illegal for the government to read your mail. Maybe I should start distributing a fanzine that is printed on Joint Rolling Paper. I can just see the investigator's frustration...

"Where is the Papers that they send you?"

"Huh? *Smooooooooke...* It was just here, man..."

14 users have voted.

I do not pretend I know what I do not know.

joe shikspack's picture


yep, anything that you don't want held against you in a court of law small cell with a single lightbulb that never goes off, loud music and some brutal thug with a rubber hose - maybe you shouldn't even write down.

3 users have voted.
divineorder's picture

Degrees above normal will finally be getting down in the teens for several nights in a row. Electricity is VERY expensive here, and at times like these jb and I are happy we only have 488 sq ft to heat!

The poor ( remember them?) in NM have a tough time in Winter.

Jb and I have recently began supporting the edgy NM group , New Energy Economy.

Very impressed at how they have taken on climate criminals at PNM, the commercial utility in NM.

I know some bluesters regularly read Counterpunch but wanted to share this in case anyone missed it.

“Check out New Energy Economy in Counterpunch today! We're taking this case to the Supreme Court. PNM is cooking...

New Energy Economy

New Energy Economy is dedicated to creating green jobs, boosting the economy, and addressing climate change with bold solutions.

New Mexico energy”

8 users have voted.

A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

Azazello's picture

Can it be true ? Yes, Thomas Frank has actually appeared on PBS' News Hour tonight.
What to make of this, a thaw, glasnost ? We shall see.

8 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


wow. i wonder if frank had to sign something that said he believes that russia is the bane of the universe.

thanks for the heads-up, i'll see if i can find it on youtube.

6 users have voted.
Azazello's picture

@joe shikspack
He mentioned What's the Matter ... but didn't plug Listen Liberal.
Still, I can't remember the last time I saw Frank in the MSM.

6 users have voted.
enhydra lutris's picture

another Honduran coup d'etat. Where oh where is that proud defender of democracy, secretary HRC, when tyrants need HER? If only she'd won, she could send the marines to help Hernandez stabilize things.

7 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 --

divineorder's picture

@enhydra lutris


Very interesting vid


5 users have voted.

A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

joe shikspack's picture

@enhydra lutris

i'm sure that hillary's little helpers over at the cia are having a field day fixing the election in honduras. after all, interfering in elections is what the u.s. does well.

4 users have voted.
mimi's picture

SPIEGEL Interview with Martin Schulz:
'I'm Made of Stern Stuff'
Right, so much stern stuff, it gives him a stuffy nose, I have a hard time not to punch.

SPD leader Martin Schulz twice ruled out a continuation of the grand coalition with Chancellor Merkel's conservatives. Now, though, he has little choice but to consider such an alliance anyway. He speaks with DER SPIEGEL about what that means for him, his party, Germany and Europe.

I am in a state of confusion. I thought I was a solid Social Democrat and even though I never voted in Germany the last 35 years being a German Expat in the US, I still had the feeling nothing had changed from the little bit I heard. Now I am back and watch a lot of German TV. Mr. Schulz is a guy I have a distinct distrust and dislike for. On the other hand I would never have thought I would support or trust a conservative Christian Democrat. Yet I do. Big Al doesn't give a pass to Angela Merkel, but I do, but she is the only one from that CDU party (and it has nothing to do with her being a woman). And one day I try to figure out why that is. Hopefully, after doing the research I want to do, I will not have to change my mind about her. Now all the other guys in the conservative Christian Democratic Party are kabuki dancing power addicted weasels I wouldn't vote for in a life time. It's beyond me why people are so afraid of a minority government.

Ah, the German fate, heh ...
The Dispiriting Prospect of a New Grand Coalition

Historically Poor

The goal, then, is that of a political alliance matching Merkel, Schulz and Seehofer, a list of names that symbolizes such a coalition's biggest weakness. It would be a trio from the stone age of German politics - a paleo-coalition. All three led their parties to historically poor results in the parliamentary elections on September 24. All three have powerful opponents in their own party. And all three have lost significant amounts of power in recent weeks.

More than anything, though, the triumvirate of the walking wounded has no idea how to design their alliance of convenience such that it is actually advantageous to all. In tax and social welfare policy, the parties are likely to come up with the kind of lazy compromises that make it even more difficult to determine what the parties stand for and which don't actually help the country. When it comes to the vital issue of climate protection, neither the SPD nor the conservatives are particularly passionate about it. And on Europe, an issue which both Merkel and Schulz would like to make the focus of any alliance, there are more open questions than either of them are willing to admit.

Losers to the power.

Thanks Joe, for the extensive, exhausting and excellent collection of articles. It just gives me a stuffed up brain. Too late to read over here. Hopefully til next weekend I catch up.

Good Night from Germany.

9 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


thanks for the info. i haven't really absorbed german internal politics enough to feel like i know much about them, so your occasional info is always helpful.

have a good one!

4 users have voted.
mimi's picture

@joe shikspack
I hear and read in Germany's TV media. So, I got a little "off subject' with this. Smile

1 user has voted.
divineorder's picture



# Occupy!

# 13 areas hitting the streets

6 users have voted.

A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

joe shikspack's picture


that's kinda funny:

Senate Republicans have achieved the unthinkable: They’ve written a giant corporate tax cut that many of their corporate donors do not like.

i'm sure that they will figure out a way to screw us all and please their masters, however.

4 users have voted.
Unabashed Liberal's picture

slide in here, and say 'hi,' and that I hope that you had a nice weekend trip/visit! We ended up taking two days to make a 14-16 hour trip, 'cause we stopped overnight--thinking that we might catch the SEC Championship Game. We ended up having to settle on listening to it on XM Radio. And, as it turned out, it was a lousy game--from our perspective! Sad

Anyhoo, I'll give my 'trivia' calendar a rest this evening, and pick up a theme from another calendar--which celebrates each day of the month.

December 4 is 'National Dice Day'

National 'Dice' Day  (Screenshot)_0.png

Dice, which are celebrated today, are small throwable objects that can land in various positions and produce different numerical outcomes. They are used in gambling games such as craps, and in tabletop games such as Monopoly and backgammon. Most commonly a die is a cube with between one and six dots, or pips, on each side. Dice of other shapes can also be used. . . . Dice are usually thrown by hand or from a dice cup, and sometimes are thrown into a dice tray.

. . . Various civilizations used dice in games. Dice have been around since before recorded history, and it isn't known from where they originated. The oldest evidence of dice was found during an excavation at the Burnt City in south-eastern Iran, where the found dice were estimated to be from 2800-2500 BCE. . . .

Various religious texts mention the use of dice or something similar to them. Psalm 22 in the Bible mentions "casting lots," . . .

National Dice Day is being observed today!


Still trying to figure out the best route to opposing so-called Medicare X. I'm tempted to create a Facebook account, but, so far, I've been cautioned against it to the point that I guess I'll pass. (Problem is, I've noticed that a lot of media that I run across, is only viewable if you have a Facebook account.)

We'll be in the area of DT's rally (have property there) this week, although not sure we'll be in Escambia County the evening of the 8th. Have to admit that we've had a chuckle over the press reporting on this rally--as though it's a 'secret' that Pensacola (FL) and Mobile (AL) are in the same media market. Duh!!! Biggrin

(We have learned to 'keep our mouths shut' about Moore, down there. It's just not worth the hassle to joust with those folks. Whew!)

Hey, Everyone have a nice evening!



“I believe in the redemptive powers of a dog’s love. It is in recognition of each dog’s potential to lift the human spirit and therefore– to change society for the better, that I fight to make sure every street dog has its day.”
--Stasha Wong, Secretary, Save Our Street Dogs (SOSD)

5 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 had a great weekend visiting friends.

heh, who would have thought that coney island was in scranton, pa. - or that they would serve texas weiners? go figure.


regarding protesting medicare x... might i suggest that if you post your information here, you can link to it on facebook, tweet it on twitter and so can those of us who have accounts there. just sayin'...

4 users have voted.
Unabashed Liberal's picture

@joe shikspack @joe shikspack

imagine that the ambience was very cool, as well.

Hey, it's a given that I'd post about the topic at EB. My first thought was to Tweet with a new (empty) account that I created a while back, by using hashtags, etc., to (hopefully) distribute it to large venues.

Lately, though, I've come across an awful lot of media (sometimes Tweeted) that requires one to have a Facebook account to watch it. Probably, I'll take a pass on creating one, since, the few family members that we have who had a FB account, closed theirs due to privacy concerns, etc.

From what I'm hearing, I'm even beginning to worry that I could run into trouble on Twitter (as a conspiracy theorist) for opposing corporatist neoliberal health care programs like Medicare X!

Frankly, I'm convinced that the crackdown on social media is the 'real' reason for the "Russia, Russia, Russia" meme.

Remember, a couple years back, I posted an excerpt of the WJC interview with the 'Money Honey' (Maria Baritoromo) in which WJC stated that he would like to see a government-sponsored "Ministry of Truth! (This was prior to FSC's Presidential run.)



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

so why not turn a blind eye to pederasty in Afghanistan? Gawd, a snail has more morals than this country does.

6 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


yeah, and those are just the things that we've heard about recently. not that the us doesn't have a history of spreading slavery to other countries pretty much since the beginning of the nation empire.

6 users have voted.
Raggedy Ann's picture

Whew! I'm not one for roller coasters, but I haven't seen a jumping off point, yet. I'm hanging on for dear life.

Hope all c99ers are doing well this evening.

Have a beautiful evening and restful dreams! Pleasantry

7 users have voted.

"They'll say we're disturbing the peace, but there is no peace. What really bothers them is that we are disturbing the war." Howard Zinn

joe shikspack's picture

@Raggedy Ann

heh, better buckle up, it's going to be a bumpy ride. Smile

have a great evening!

6 users have voted.