The Evening Blues - 2-20-19
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features jump blues and r&b singer, drummer and bandleader Roy Milton. Enjoy!
Roy Milton - You Got Me Reeling & Rocking
“You know what uranium is, right? This thing called nuclear weapons like lots of things are done with uranium including some bad things.”
-- Donald J. Trump
News and Opinion
Sweet Jesus, what could possibly go wrong with this? The whole article is not for the faint of heart. Enormous corporations (Exelon Corp., Toshiba Energy, Bechtel Corp., Centrus, GE Power and Siemens USA) want to plant nuke plants all over the Middle East - that place that the U.S. has taken such great pains to bring stability and demockery to. They probably have the money to make it happen.
The administration of , despite concerns it would violate US law guarding against technology transfers, according to a new report by a congressional committee. Security analysts worry , potentially contributing to an arms race in the Middle East.
US legislators are concerned about the stability of Saudi leadership under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) because of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the war in Yemen.
Multiple unnamed "whistleblowers" have come forward to warn about White House attempts to speed the transfer of highly sensitive US nuclear technology to build new nuclear power plants in Saudi Arabia, according to the staff report by the House Oversight and Reform Committee. "The whistleblowers who came forward have warned of conflicts of interest among top White House advisers that could implicate federal criminal statutes," Representative Elijah Cummings, the Democrat chairman of the committee, said in a letter to the White House on Tuesday.
In November, a maritime incident saw Ukrainian boats enter Russian territorial waters without permission, leading to their capture and detention of their crew. US Admiral James Foggo says he is ‘irritated’ by that.
To that end, the admiral has ordered the USS Donald Cook, a destroyer, to enter the Black Sea and conduct naval exercises with Ukraine to “demonstrate solidarity” with what remains of the nation’s very limited navy.
In a speech to senior Russian officials in Moscow, Vladimir Putin said the possible deployment of missiles that could reach Moscow in 10 minutes was “dangerous for Russia,” and that Moscow would be forced to review “symmetrical and asymmetrical actions”.
“Russia will be forced to create and deploy types of weapons, which can be used not just against those territories, from which the direct threat will come, but also against those, where the centres of decision-making for using these missile systems will come,” the Russian president said. ...
During the speech, Putin reaffirmed Russia’s stance that it would not deploy short or intermediate-range missiles in western Russia unless similar weapons were first deployed in Europe.
Worth a full read:
The Trump administration is preparing a public argument for war on Iran. The Washington Times has some 'senior administration officials' claiming that Iran is allied with al-Qaeda and thus could and should be attacked:
Iran is providing high-level al Qaeda operatives with a clandestine sanctuary to funnel fighters, money and weapons across the Middle East, according to Trump administration officials who warn that the long-elusive, complex relationship between two avowed enemies of America has evolved into an unacceptable global security threat.
The Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) passed by Congress in the days after the 9/11 attacks provided the legal framework for President George W. Bush to order U.S. military action against the Taliban for harboring Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan. The law has underpinned the U.S. counterterrorism campaign and has largely gone unchanged for the past 17 years through three presidential administrations.
Congressional and legal sources say the law may now provide a legal rationale for striking Iranian territory or proxies should President Trump decide that Tehran poses a looming threat to the U.S. or Israel and that economic sanctions are not strong enough to neutralize the threat.
That Iran is colluding with al-Qaeda, which it actively fights in Syria and Iraq, is obviously nonsense.
Members of Venezuela’s opposition are gathering in Cúcuta, Colombia to shift stockpiled US aid to their homeland this weekend in defiance of their country’s embattled president Nicolás Maduro. “Saturday will be a day that goes down in our history,” said Omar Lares, the former mayor of Campo Elías in western Venezuela, who has been living in exile in the border city for two years and is now helping coordinate Saturday’s planned delivery of aid. ...
The Brazilian government said on Tuesday that it would also deliver humanitarian aid to the Venezuelan border by 23 February at the request of Juan Guaidó, the Venezuelan opposition leader. The distribution of the food and medicine from the northern Brazilian city of Boa Vista across the border would be in Venezuelan trucks driven by Venezuelan citizens organized by Guaidó, Brazil’s presidential spokesman General Otavio Rego Barros said.
Guaidó, who has been recognised by the US and dozens more countries as Venezuela’s legitimate interim president, set a deadline of Saturday for the aid to move across the border, though representatives in Cúcuta, Caracas and Washington are yet to decide how the aid will cross. Guaidó called for caravans of volunteers to carry the aid across at a speech before thousands of supporters in Caracas last week, though it would pit those civilians against the military – loyal to Maduro – which is under orders to block the aid.
he German government is leaning toward letting Huawei Technologies Co. participate in building the nation’s high-speed internet infrastructure despite U.S. warnings about the risks posed by the Chinese tech giant, according to senior German officials. Washington had asked it to restrict Huawei from bidding for so-called 5G infrastructure contracts in Germany, but Berlin is unwilling to do so, according to officials. ...
A recent probe by Germany’s cybersecurity agency with help from the U.S. and other allies failed to show that the Chinese company could use its equipment to clandestinely siphon off data, according to senior agency and other government officials. ...
The strategy of Deutsche Telekom AG , Germany’s former telephone monopoly and its dominant mobile and internet carrier, not to invest heavily in fiber connections to the home means Germany lags behind the rest of Europe—and most of Asia—in internet speed. This makes a fast 5G rollout crucial to bringing the country up to speed and enabling a range of new services such as autonomous vehicles and high-resolution video streaming. German industry representatives also back a rapid rollout, partly out of concern that China could retaliate by cutting off German companies from the Chinese market.
Brexit is already leading to a “palpable decline” in British influence at the UN, and that influence would be in freefall but for the UK’s commitment to spend 0.7 % of gross national income on overseas aid, a study has found. The report by the UK branch of the United Nations Association suggests Britain will lose political capital on the 15-member UN security council and the larger general assembly in New York because its campaigns will no longer be automatically aligned with those of the EU.
Based on more than 40 interviews, on and off the record, with current and previous UN-based diplomats, the report suggests the foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, will need to work harder to highlight a more value-based diplomacy, and a commitment to multilateralism, to retain the UK’s traction. ... The British Academy-funded report is one of many warning that the UK may lose diplomatic sway after Brexit, even though the UK’s permanent seat on the security council is not under challenge. ...
When asked whether Brexit had impacted the UK’s capacity for influence, a senior source from a non-EU state said: “Yes, I can feel the UK’s weight in the council is dwindling, you can feel it. Definitely when Brexit happens things will change.” An EU source at the UN said: “One of the risky things about Brexit is the inconsistency of the mood, and you know to be effective in the security council is this sort of mixture of being confident, consistent, reliable.”
Theresa May will present the EU with new legal proposals to solve the Irish backstop issue on Wednesday, which Downing Street hopes will be enough to convince Eurosceptics to back her Brexit deal. The chancellor, Philip Hammond, confirmed late on Tuesday that the government no longer intended to pursue alternative arrangements for the backstop in the withdrawal agreement, which had been championed by cross-factional MPs including Eurosceptic Steve Baker and soft Brexiter Nicky Morgan.
Instead, the prime minister is travelling to Brussels to meet Jean-Claude Juncker, the European commission president, with a plan to secure legal assurances that the backstop would not permanently bind the UK into a customs union.
She was forced to admit to Conservative MPs who met her on Tuesday night that the Irish backstop could not be replaced by the “Malthouse compromise” – proposals for a free trade agreement with as-yet-unknown technology to avoid customs checks on the Irish border. ...
No 10 had been hoping to secure a renegotiated withdrawal agreement and put this to parliament next week, but senior sources acknowledged time was running out. Hammond hinted the vote could still come next week, saying that “over the next few days, Members of Parliament need to think long and hard about the choice before them.”
Joan Ryan has become the eighth Labour MP to resign and join the breakaway Independent Group, claiming Jeremy Corbyn’s party has become “infected with the scourge of anti-Jewish racism”. Ryan, the MP for Enfield North, said she had been a member for four decades – but could no longer remain as a Labour MP. ...
In a signal of the leadership’s hardening attitude to the breakaway MPs, Corbyn’s close ally Jon Trickett, the shadow minister for the cabinet office, announced that Labour would consult on changing the law to allow constituents to remove an MP who resigns from their party.
“Communities should not have to wait for up to five years to act if they feel their MP is not properly representing their interests,” Trickett said. “This proposed reform has the dramatic potential to empower citizens and will be one of many measures the Labour party is planning to consult on and announce that will change the way politics in this country is done.”
Current law allows voters to petition for the recall of their MP, but only in specific circumstances – such as where they’ve committed a criminal offence, as in the case of Peterborough MP Fiona Onasanya.
Illinois workers and local Fight for $15 organizers celebrated a win on Tuesday as newly elected Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker signed a law that will gradually raise the state's hourly minimum wage from $8.25 to $15 by 2025. ...
While Pritzker's signature on Tuesday made Illinois the first Midwestern state, and fifth in the nation, to mandate a $15 hourly wage, the measure—which didn't receive any support from Republican lawmakers—does have some limitations in addition to its gradual implementation. As the Chicago Tribune outlined:
An estimated 1.4 million Illinois residents will see their pay go up Jan. 1 as a result of the law, which increases the statewide minimum wage to $9.25 per hour from $8.25. The minimum wage will increase again to $10 per hour on July 1, 2020, and will then go up $1 per hour each year on Jan. 1 until hitting $15 per hour in 2025...
In an attempt to ease the burden on employers, the law creates a tax credit to help businesses with 50 or fewer employees offset some of the cost of wage increases. Employers will be able to claim a tax credit for 25 percent of the cost in 2020, and the credit will scale back annually, then eventually phase out.
The law also preserves the way restaurants and other employers with tipped workers count gratuities toward employees' wages, and it sets a lower minimum wage for workers younger than 18 who work fewer than 650 hours in a year. The minimum wage for younger employees—currently $7.75 per hour—would increase to $8 on Jan. 1 and peak at $13 per hour in 2025.
West Virginia teachers celebrated Tuesday afternoon when they learned the strike they had staged had helped force the state House of Delegates to vote down an education reform bill that would have pulled funding away from public schools, redirecting it to private and charter schools and harming students across the state. The pro-privatization bill failed in a 53-45 vote.
The victory marks the second time in the past year that teachers in the state have used civil disobedience to force legislators to invest in public education. ...
Despite the inclusion of the very pay increases they fought last year to win, the teachers are calling on state lawmakers to reject an education reform bill (S.B. 451) because it also includes funding for charter schools and voucher programs which the state teachers union says would pull much-needed funding from public schools.
"By striking, we're basically saying, 'We refuse to take your pay raise under these conditions because we realize how bad privatization will be for our students and our schools,'" Jay O'Neal, a teacher in Charleston, told Jacobin. ...
Teachers argue legislators have rushed through the process without asking for their input and many believe the bill is actually punishment for the victory they won during last year's nine-day strike.
"This is not reform, this is retaliation," Brandon Wolford, a special education teacher and president of the Mingo County Education Association, told Jacobin. "Nothing in this proposal would make things better for students or staff. How does bringing in uncertified teachers [by legalizing charters] help our kids? How does taking public money and putting it into private hands help our schools? Unfortunately, the politicians are listening to the top one percent instead of listening to us."
Donald Trump plans to nominate Jeffrey Rosen as the next deputy US attorney general, a senior administration official said on Tuesday night.
Rosen, currently deputy secretary of the US Department of Transportation, would succeed Rod Rosenstein, who after the firing of the FBI director James Comey appointed special counsel Robert Mueller to investigate possible ties between Russia and Trump’s campaign.
Rosenstein is expected to step down by mid-March, a justice department official said on Monday.
Under federal law, states have to cover abortion costs for Medicaid beneficiaries who’ve gotten pregnant through rape or incest. But for the last 25 years, South Dakota hasn’t done that.
That fact was one of the more striking findings uncovered in a report released this month by federal investigators at the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office. The report, which broadly examined abortion access across the country, also dove into whether states are complying with Medicaid requirements. Thanks to a federal law known as the Hyde Amendment, federal dollars typically cannot be used to pay for abortion services, but state Medicaid programs must cover the cost of an abortion if the pregnancy either endangers the life of the woman or if it’s the result of rape or incest.
If someone is seeking an abortion in one of those circumstances, state Medicaid programs must cover a pill that induces abortions, called Mifeprex. But in another example of flouting federal rules, 13 states and Washington, D.C. won’t pay for the medication, the report discovered. ...
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which oversees Medicaid, didn’t know that so many states were out of compliance, according to the report — though it did know about South Dakota. The federal agency first sent a letter to South Dakota about the problem back in 1994, according to the report, but hasn’t done anything to force the state to comply with federal regulations.
Sanders, a self-styled democratic socialist who spent much of his nearly 30-year congressional career on the political fringe, cast his candidacy as the best way to accomplish the mission he started three years ago when he ran against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. “Together, you and I and our 2016 campaign began the political revolution,” he said in an email announcing his decision to supporters on Tuesday morning. “Now, it is time to complete that revolution and implement the vision that we fought for.” ...
Asked in an interview on CBS on Tuesday morning what would be different about his 2020 campaign, Sanders replied: “We’re gonna win.” ...
[N]o candidate will enter the race with as many advantages as Sanders, who ended the 2016 primary with more than 13m votes and nearly $230m raised, much of it through small donations. Now he begins a second run not as a political outsider but as a top-tier candidate with near-universal name recognition, a dedicated following and an unrivaled donor list. To this point, Sanders’ campaign announced on Tuesday night that in the first 12 hours after his launch, the senator raised a stunning $4m from 150,000 donors in all 50 states. The average donation was $27 – the same small-dollar amount he often touted as a sign of his grassroots revolution in 2016.
When all of the shouting is over, it appears that the Trump administration may legitimately qualify by a variety of standards as the most corrupt administration in U.S. history. Number one. Winning.
Interior Department Is Filled With Ex-Lobbyists Who Are Cozy with Their Former Employers, New Ethics Complaint Shows
Only a few short weeks after President Donald Trump nominated David Bernhardt, a former oil and agriculture industry lobbyist, to run the Interior Department, the agency is facing a slew of new allegations that top officials violated federal ethics rules by keeping cozy ties to their former employers.
A lengthy ethics complaint filed Wednesday by the Campaign Legal Center, a Washington, D.C.-based watchdog group, outlines “a disturbing pattern of misconduct” at the scandal-plagued Interior Department, including meetings that violate the White House’s own ethical pledge and good governance standards.
The Campaign Legal Center used public records, some of which were first obtained by The Intercept, to lodge the complaint against six top Interior Department officials, including Benjamin Cassidy, a top official at the department’s external affairs office and former National Rifle Association lobbyist; Assistant Secretary for Insular Affairs Douglas Domenech; White House liaison Lori Mashburn, a former Heritage Foundation staffer; and others.
The officials are among a little-known but powerful group of Department of Interior political appointees — many of whom joined the agency after careers with fossil fuel groups or conservative lobbying organizations. Amid an environment of persistent ethics issues at the Interior Department, these officials are responsible for the Trump administration’s ongoing campaign to roll back environmental protections and open public lands to extractive industry interests.
One week after Donald Trump called California’s high-speed rail project a “‘green’ disaster”, the US Department of Transportation announced plans to cancel $929m in federal grant funds that were yet to be paid toward the $77bn endeavor.
The department also “is actively exploring every legal option to seek the return from California of $2.5bn in federal funds FRA (Federal Railroad Administration) previously granted,” according to the statement released Tuesday.
The moves come a week after California Governor Gavin Newsom said during his state of the state address, that the high-speed railway project as currently planned, would cost too much and take too long”. Opponents of the ambitious project interpreted his comments as a declaration that “the train to nowhere has finally stopped” and that Newsom was canceling the leg of the plan that extended the railway from San Francisco to Los Angeles. But Newsom’s office later clarified that he meant only that “we have to be realistic about the project”.
Federal Railroad Administrator Ronald Batory argued on Tuesday that Newsom had “presented a new proposal that represents a significant retreat from the state’s initial vision and commitment and frustrates the purpose for which federal funding was awarded”. The Federal Railroad Administration determined that the California High-Speed Rail Authority, the state-run organization tasked with overseeing the project “has materially failed to comply with the terms” of the agreement that promised $929m in federal funds for construction, Batory wrote in a letter to Brian Kelly, the authority’s chief executive.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
hat tip Azazello:
A Little Night Music
Roy Milton And His Band - Baby I'm Gone
Roy Milton And His Solid Senders - Where There Is No Love
Roy Milton - Hush
Roy Milton - Boogie Woogie Baby
Roy Milton And His Solid Senders - Junior Jives
Roy Milton & His Solid Senders - Hop Skip & Jump
Roy Milton - R.M. Blues
Roy Milton - True Blues
Roy Milton - Oh Babe