The Evening Blues - 2-19-18
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features Chicago blues guitarist Hip Linkchain. Enjoy!
Hip Linkchain - Cold Chills
"In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies."
-- Winston Churchill
News and Opinion
A Consensus Emerges: Russia Committed an “Act of War” on Par With Pearl Harbor and 9/11. Should the U.S. Response be Similar?
In the wake of last week’s indictments alleging that 13 Russian nationals and entities created fake social media accounts and sponsored political events to sow political discord in the U.S., something of a consensus has arisen in the political and media class (with some notable exceptions) that these actions not only constitute an “act of war” against the U.S., but one so grave that it is tantamount to Pearl Harbor and 9/11. Indeed, that Russia’s alleged “meddling” is comparable to the two most devastating attacks in U.S. history has, overnight, become a virtual cliché. ...
[T]he last few days have ushered in an explosion of this rhetoric from politicians and journalists alike. On Friday night’s Chris Hayes show on MSNBC, two separate guests – Democratic Congressman Jerry Nadler and long-time Clinton aide Philippe Reines – posited Pearl Harbor as the “equivalent” of Russian meddling, provoking a shocked reaction from Hayes:
... Let’s leave aside what a stinging indictment this claim is of the Obama presidency. It not only means that Obama allowed an attack of the magnitude of Pearl Harbor and 9/11 to happen on his watch, but worse, did very little – basically nothing – in response, allegedly due to fears that any retaliation would be criticized by Republicans as partisan. But for those who really believe this rhetoric, can fears of political attacks really justify inaction by the Commander-in-Chief – whose primary duty, we’re so often told, is to protect the Nation – in the face of a Pearl Harbor or 9/11? To posit this equivalence is to condemn Obama in the harshest possible terms, to accuse him of utter malfeasance in protecting the nation.
But the more important question is the one these chest-beating politicians and pundits notably refrain from addressing. If Russian election meddling is on par with the Pearl Harbor and 9/11 attacks, then should the U.S. response be on par with its response to those attacks? Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor prompted U.S. involvement in a world war and, ultimately, dropping two nuclear bombs on Japan; 9/11 initiated wars in multiple countries that still, 17 years later, have no end in sight, along with a systematic and still-worsening erosion of basic civil liberties. ...
The Kremlin said Monday the indictment of 13 Russians on charges relating to U.S. election meddling did not prove Russian state involvement. The indictment, drawn up by the office of special counsel Robert Mueller and released Friday, accuses 13 Russian citizens and three Russian companies of disrupting the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign in favor of Donald Trump, a conspiracy known as “Project Lakhta.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call that the indictment contained no evidence of Russian state involvement. “They are talking about Russian citizens, but we have heard in announcements from Washington accusations about the involvement of the Russian state, the Kremlin and the Russian government,” Peskov said. He said that allegations the Russian state ran the conspiracy were “unfair and baseless.”
“There are no indications that the Russian state could have been involved in this and nor can there be any. Russia did not meddle, does not have the habit of meddling in the internal affairs of other countries, and is not doing so now.”
Mueller’s indictment said that Russia’s propaganda arm had coordinated a sophisticated, yearslong conspiracy to interfere in U.S. domestic politics and generate support for Trump over his rival Hillary Clinton.
The top Democrat on the House intelligence committee suggested on Monday that Robert Mueller may still present evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, despite last week’s indictments stating that such connections relating to those cases were merely “unwitting”.
“It’s very clear from this 37-page indictment that this was a massive Russian operation and part of its design was to promote the campaign of Donald Trump,” Schiff said. The indictment, he said, “tore any veneer off the argument that the Russians were not involved, and were involved for the purpose of helping him and hurting others.” ...
But the indictment did not allege that Trump’s team had knowingly colluded, only that Russian operatives “communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump campaign”.
Oh my, the New York Times has noticed a glaring flaw in its usual and customary propaganda...
Bags of cash delivered to a Rome hotel for favored Italian candidates. Scandalous stories leaked to foreign newspapers to swing an election in Nicaragua. Millions of pamphlets, posters and stickers printed to defeat an incumbent in Serbia.
The long arm of Vladimir Putin? No, just a small sample of the United States’ history of intervention in foreign elections. ...
Most Americans are understandably shocked by what they view as an unprecedented attack on our political system. But intelligence veterans, and scholars who have studied covert operations, have a different, and quite revealing, view. “If you ask an intelligence officer, did the Russians break the rules or do something bizarre, the answer is no, not at all,” said Steven L. Hall, who retired in 2015 after 30 years at the C.I.A., where he was the chief of Russian operations. The United States “absolutely” has carried out such election influence operations historically, he said, “and I hope we keep doing it.”
Loch K. Johnson, the dean of American intelligence scholars, who began his career in the 1970s investigating the C.I.A. as a staff member of the Senate’s Church Committee, says Russia’s 2016 operation was simply the cyber-age version of standard United States practice for decades, whenever American officials were worried about a foreign vote. “We’ve been doing this kind of thing since the C.I.A. was created in 1947,” said Mr. Johnson, now at the University of Georgia. “We’ve used posters, pamphlets, mailers, banners — you name it. We’ve planted false information in foreign newspapers. We’ve used what the British call ‘King George’s cavalry’: suitcases of cash.”
The United States’ departure from democratic ideals sometimes went much further. The C.I.A. helped overthrow elected leaders in Iran and Guatemala in the 1950s and backed violent coups in several other countries in the 1960s. It plotted assassinations and supported brutal anti-Communist governments in Latin America, Africa and Asia.
[... And here's where the New York Times' Scott Shane goes totally off the rails. (c'mon, you knew it had to happen...) - js]
But in recent decades, both Mr. Hall and Mr. Johnson argued, Russian and American interferences in elections have not been morally equivalent. American interventions have generally been aimed at helping non-authoritarian candidates challenge dictators or otherwise promoting democracy. Russia has more often intervened to disrupt democracy or promote authoritarian rule, they said.
Syrian Kurdish forces and the Damascus government have reached an agreement for the Syrian army to enter the Afrin region to help repel a Turkish offensive, a senior Kurdish official said on Sunday. Badran Jia Kurd, an adviser to the Kurdish-led administration in northern Syria, told Reuters army troops would deploy along some border positions and could enter the region within the next two days.
The deal underscores the increasingly tangled battlefield in northern Syria, driven by a web of rivalries and alliances among Kurdish forces, the Syrian government, rebel factions, Turkey, the United States and Russia. The complex relationship between the Damascus government and Syrian Kurdish forces, which each holds more territory than any other side in the war, will be pivotal in how the conflict unfolds. ...
Although Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government and the YPG have mostly avoided direct conflict, they have occasionally clashed and they espouse utterly different visions for Syria’s future. While both have at times suggested a long-term agreement between them might be possible, Assad says he wants to take back the whole country. Jia Kurd said the agreement with Damascus on Afrin was purely military and included no wider political arrangements.
South Korean president says Pyeongchang games will pave the way for better relations with Kim Jong-un's regime
Korean President Moon Jae-in today signalled another important step in the newly-found friendship with Kim Jong Un who had threatened to destroy his country. The Korean leader, who successfully negotiated a political minefield when he placed US Vice President in seating close to the North Korean leader’s sister at the Olympic opening ceremony, said relations had improved. He was confident, he declared, that the way was now open for a thaw between the US and North Korea because of the Winter Olympics. ...
The US Vice President Mike Pence and Kim’s sister Kim Yo Jon ignored each other in the Olympic VIP box as the Korean leader played host with other dignitaries as the games opened. But the North Korean leader’s sister delivered a letter inviting Moon to his country. Moon said he had not yet reached a decision on whether to accept the invitation. But he told journalists at the Winter Olympics tonight: ‘Another very important goal that we set out was to make this an Olympics of peace. ...
‘We hope that the dialogue between the two Koreas will be able to lead to dialogue between the United States and North Korea, and eventually de-nuclearisation.’
He said the Olympics, which are mid-way and have been largely free of any political disturbances, were successful.
Throughout Saturday and Sunday, Israeli warplanes have been pounding the Gaza Strip, with officials reporting strikes against 18 separate targets overnight. Two civilians were reported killed, both teenagers in Rafah hit by tank fire.
The attacks started after a bombing at the Gaza-Israel border. Israeli Army officials say Palestinians rose a flag inside Gaza, but near the border, and planted an explosive device on it. The device detonated when Israeli troops crossed into Gaza after the flag.
Swastikas were scrawled on Poland’s embassy in Tel Aviv Sunday, the latest act in a growing feud over Warsaw’s controversial laws on Holocaust speech. The graffiti was found a day after Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told a reporter that Jews, as well as Poles and others, were among those who perpetrated the Nazi Holocaust, sparking a furious denunciation from Israel. ...
Morawiecki, attending a security conference in Munich, was asked by an Israeli reporter whether it would be against the Polish law for him to tell the story of his mother, who fled Poland during World War II after learning her neighbors were about to denounce her to the Gestapo. The Polish premier responded: “It's not going to be punishable, not going to be seen as criminal, to say that there were Polish perpetrators, as there were Jewish perpetrators, as there were Russian perpetrators, as there were Ukraine and German perpetrators.”
Faced with a backlash, Morawiecki's spokeswoman Joanna Kopcinska said Sunday the comments “were by no means intended to deny the Holocaust, or charge the Jewish victims of the Holocaust with responsibility for what was a Nazi German perpetrated genocide.”
The role of Poles in Nazi atrocities in Poland during World War II is a touchy subject for Warsaw, which has long objected to the phrase “Polish death camps” to describe the Nazi camps built on invaded Polish territory.
Dozens of teenage students lay down on the pavement in front of the White House on Monday to demand presidential action on gun control after 17 people were killed in a school shooting in Florida.
Parent and educators joined the gathering, where protesters held their arms crossed at their chests. Two activists covered themselves with an American flag while another held a sign asking: “Am I next?”
“It’s really important to express our anger and the importance of finally trying to make a change and having gun control in America,” said Ella Fesler, a 16-year-old high school student from Alexandria, Virginia.
She added: “Every day when I say ‘bye’ to my parents, I do acknowledge the fact that I could never see my parents again.”
Meanwhile the White House said Donald Trump was supporting an effort to improve background checks on gun buyers.
The nation's secretaries of tate gathered for a multiday National Association of Secretaries of State conference in Washington, D.C., this weekend, with cybersecurity on the mind. Panels and lectures centered around the integrity of America’s election process, with the federal probe into alleged Russian government attempts to penetrate voting systems a frequent topic of discussion. ...
Over the past year, a number of states are moving back toward the use of paper ballots or at least requiring a paper trail of votes cast. For instance, Pennsylvania just moved to require all voting systems to keep a paper record of votes cast. Prior to last year’s elections in Virginia, the commonwealth’s board of elections voted to decertify paperless voting machines — voters statewide instead voted the old-fashioned way, with paper ballots. ...
Oregon Secretary of State Dennis Richardson proudly touted his state’s system to The Intercept during an interview at the NASS conference. Oregon is one of two states in the country to require its residents to vote by mail, a system that was established via referendum in 1998. Richardson argued that this old-fashioned system offers some of the best defense there is against cyber interference. ...
America’s paper ballot states may seem antiquated to some, but our neighbors to the north have used paper ballots for federal elections for their entire history. Thanks to an army of officials at 25,000 election stations, the integrity of Canada’s elections is never in doubt. “It’s highly decentralized and it’s paper-based so documents can be verified easily afterwards,” Marc Mayrand, former chief electoral officer of Elections Canada, told the National Post. “So, there may be an error in transmission from time to time or there may be somebody trying to hack the web system that publishes results for the general public. But it’s always verifiable, you can always go back to your paper trail.”
Dennis Kucinich Vows to End All Oil and Gas Drilling in Ohio If Elected Governor, and Then Take the Industry to Court
The man who saved Cleveland — and paid the ultimate political price for it — now wants to do the same for Ohio. Dennis Kucinich, the boy mayor of Cleveland who went on to serve nearly two decades in Congress, is running for governor on a platform of radical change to the way the energy industry operates in the state.
“Fresh water and clean water are not negotiable issues,” Kucinich told The Intercept, pointing to the water contamination associated with oil and gas drilling. “They’re not negotiable.” In a press conference in late January, the Ohio Democratic gubernatorial candidate unveiled one of the most cutting-edge environmental platforms of any candidate in the country. Kucinich called for a total end to oil and gas extraction in the state of Ohio. To accomplish this, he would deploy a battery of radical policies. He would, for instance, utilize eminent domain to seize control of oil and gas wells throughout the state and then shutter them. He would block all new drilling permits and order a total ban on injection wells.
Kucinich would also deploy the Ohio State Highway Patrol to stop and turn away vehicles that possess fracking waste. Under a Kucinich administration, Ohio would give subsidized health screens to residents living near fracking sites; that data would then be used to file a class-action lawsuit against fracking companies similar to how states took Big Tobacco to court in the ’90s.
A spokesperson for the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, which represents a number of oil and gas companies, derided the plan in an interview with The Intercept. ... When asked about the economic concerns from the chamber, the candidate was blunt about the tradeoffs. “No one has taken the time to monetize the value of fresh water, but ask the people in Flint about that,” he replied. ...
Lea Harper, the managing director of the Ohio-based Freshwater Accountability Project, conceded that some believe Kucinich’s plan isn’t politically viable, but countered that the expansion of fracking in Ohio is too destructive to ignore. “People are saying [Kucinich’s plan is] unrealistic, but what’s unrealistic is that fracking is going to continue as it has and it’s going to be OK. It’s about time someone came out to expose the industry for what it’s doing to our environment and to people,” she said.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
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Hip Linkchain - You Left Me With A Broken Heart
Hip Linkchain - Night Life
Hip Linkchain, Jimmy Miller, Ernest Gatewood & Tyrone Centuray - Same Old Blues
Hip Linkchain - Change My Blues
Hip Linkchain - Diggin' My Potatoes
Hip Linkchain w/Pinetop Perkins - All My Whole Life
Hip Linkchain - Millionaire`s Blues
Hip Linkchain & Barrelhouse Chuck - Someday
Hip Linkchain - Call Muddy Waters
Hip Linkchain - House Cat Blues