The Evening Blues - 2-21-18
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features delta bluesman Bukka White. Enjoy!
Booker White - Aberdeen Mississippi Blues
“People almost invariably arrive at their beliefs not on the basis of proof but on the basis of what they find attractive.”
-- Blaise Pascal
News and Opinion
The establishment Russia narrative is soul-wiltingly dull. Oh hey a shocking shocking bombshell revelation about something Russia did, everyone freaks out, then people actually look into the nature of the allegation and it turns out it's nothing. Lather, rinse, repeat. An interminable addition of zeros, day after day after day after day. ...
The power establishment which lied about Iraq, lied about Libya, lied about Vietnam, and is currently lying about Syria is not entitled to the benefit of the doubt that it is telling the truth about Russia and its new cold war escalations with that country. It most certainly carries the burden of proof, and it has most certainly failed to meet that burden.
From the false Nayirah testimony to the Gulf of Tonkin incident to "Saddam has WMD" to "Gaddafi's troops are taking Viagra for rape" to the Bana Alabed psyop, there is an abundance of publicly available evidence that the US power establishment will unhesitatingly lie to the public to manufacture consent for war, and the mainstream media will unhesitatingly help them. You do not need to dip into tinfoil hat territory to see this. This is publicly available information.
The US-centralized empire has every incentive to lie in order to manufacture support for escalations which hobble the Russia-China tandem, and has an extensive history of doing so. It isn't up to us to come up with a perfect "counter narrative" for how that happened behind the opaque wall of deep state secrecy; that's an argument from ignorance. It isn't up to us to prove a negative, it is up to them to prove their positive claim. Prove the DNC hack, prove that the troll farm had ties to the Russian government and an intention of disrupting the election, provide proof of any Trump-Russia collusion whatsoever. That has not happened. At all.
There is currently no convincing reason to believe that this isn't another "Saddam has WMD", and there is every reason not to. Iraq was an absolutely unforgivable crime against humanity, and it is everyone's duty to prevent the US-centralized empire from ever being given that trust again. World-threatening escalations keep mounting between two nuclear superpowers and this evidence-free narrative is being used to justify it. In a post-Iraq invasion world, this is simply unacceptable.
For decades, British politicians have cowered in fear at the power of the nation’s popular and largely unregulated tabloid newspapers, which are owned by a handful of billionaires, and skew heavily to the far-right. So the prime minister presumably thought it would be good politics to joke on Wednesday in the House of Commons about a smear campaign launched by the tabloids on Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the opposition Labour party. Referring to a recent barrage of poorly sourced stories in The Sun and The Mail accusing Corbyn of having helped Czechoslovakia spy on Britain during the Cold War, May introduced a tortured pun about the Labour leader wanting her to sign “a blank Czech.”
Corbyn’s response, a theatrical yawn, delighted his supporters.
A more potent sign that the attacks had failed was how quickly other members of May’s party retreated when the allegations about Corbyn were thoroughly debunked by former British spies and records available in the archives of the Czech secret service. Those records, an archivist told the BBC, showed only that a spy posing as a diplomat had spoken with Corbyn in the 1980s, but had not recruited him as a source. ...
Faced with overwhelming evidence that their effort to tie Corbyn to Czech intelligence had failed, reporters for the far-right tabloids moved on to loudly demanding that the Labour leader permit the release of a supposed file on him compiled by the East German secret service, the Stasi. That effort also fell flat when German officials who oversee the Stasi archive announced that they had found no documents at all on Corbyn.
Heh. I'm sure that the U.S. didn't meddle in Honduras' election. By the way, need a bridge?
It was the middle of the night when they broke down the door. The children, aged 3 and 6, and their parents were all fast asleep in their home in Pimienta, a town 18 miles south of San Pedro Sula, in northwestern Honduras. “They arrived at three in the morning,” said the mother of two whose home was raided. U.S.-trained and supported special forces agents, known as TIGRES, as well as criminal investigation officers searched the family home, flipping over the beds and ripping pillows apart while she and her children watched. Her partner had already been handcuffed and taken outside. ...
According to Honduran law, search warrants should only be executed between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., but there have been numerous reported cases of nighttime raids by security forces over the past several months, as the Honduran government cracks down on protests against the contested elections that delivered the presidency to incumbent Juan Orlando Hernández in November. ...
Hernández was sworn in for his second term on January 27, two months after the November 26 general elections were marred by widespread reports of fraud. An early 5-point lead favoring opposition candidate Salvador Nasralla evaporated after the election data transmission system went offline for hours. Observers from the Organization of American States documented a host of irregularities and refused to endorse Hernández’s victory, claiming it was impossible to have any certainty about the outcome. ...
The Trump administration has supported Hernández — a longtime U.S. ally in the region — as the victor of the election, and security assistance continues to flow. The State Department issued a certification back in November, two days after the contested election, allowing Honduras to receive millions of dollars of aid that was conditioned on progress with regard to human rights and corruption.
GOP Senator Says Trump Is Ready to Start War With North Korea, Which Would Be “One of the Worst Catastrophic Events in History”
It didn't get much notice, but Sen. Jim Risch made extremely alarming remarks on Sunday at the Munich Security Conference, in which he said President Donald Trump is prepared to start a “very, very brief” war with North Korea that would be “one of the worst catastrophic events in the history of our civilization.” Trump would go to these extraordinary lengths, the Idaho Republican said, in order to prevent the government of Kim Jong-un from developing the capacity to deliver a nuclear warhead to the U.S. via an intercontinental ballistic missile. ...
Risch said he and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H. — who was sitting next to him on stage at the conference in Germany — had “drilled down with the administration” on its North Korea policy. Risch emphasized that the Trump administration was not bluffing. If Risch is correct, Trump is willing to cause “mass casualties the likes of which the planet has never seen” in a conflict with North Korea, rather than rely on principles of deterrence that have prevented nuclear war between the U.S. and Russia and the U.S. and China for many decades.
None of Risch’s remarks addressed the fact that the U.S. Constitution gives Congress, rather than the president, the power to declare war.
North Korean officials pulled out of an historic face-to-face meeting with Mike Pence during the Winter Olympics, the vice president’s office said Tuesday. The VP was scheduled to meet members of the North Korean delegation, including Kim Yo Jong, the younger sister of leader Kim Jong Un, and Kim Yong Nam, the nominal head of state, but Pyongyang backed out less than two hours before the secret gathering was due to start on Feb. 10, officials said.
Hours before the withdrawal, North Korean officials sent a message to Pence’s team saying they were unhappy with his attacks on the regime, but that the meeting was still on.
The proposed sit-down between the two countries, which have been locked in a tense standoff over the North’s nuclear ambitions, had not been made public until it was first reported by the Washington Post Tuesday. The meeting was agreed to prior to Pence’s departure from the U.S., after the CIA had been informed Pyongyang was interested in meeting Pence at the Games. It was scheduled to take place in the neutral grounds of South Korea’s presidential Blue House on the afternoon of the VP’s final day in the country.
A close confidant of embattled Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has agreed to testify for the state against him in a corruption investigation, Israeli media reported Wednesday.
Shlomo Filber, a friend of Netanyahu’s whom he personally appointed as head of Israel’s Communications Ministry, was among a number of the prime minister’s associates arrested Sunday as part of an investigation known as “Case 4000.”
The investigation, just one of the corruption probes surrounding Netanyahu, is looking into whether a deal was cut with Bezeq, Israel’s largest telecom, to pass regulations benefiting the company in exchange for positive media coverage of the prime minister on one of its subsidiary news websites. ...
Securing testimony from someone in the prime minister’s inner circle would be a significant coup for investigators. The reports have fed speculation that Netanyahu, who denies all the allegations against him, is preparing to call an early election in a bid to shore up his support and stall the probes into his affairs.
The United States supreme court dealt a blow to Wall Street whistleblowers on Wednesday when it ruled that protections for them passed by Congress after the 2008 financial crisis only apply to those who report problems to the government, not more broadly, such as to a boss.
The justices decided unanimously that measures in the Dodd-Frank Act that protects whistleblowers from being fired, demoted or harassed only applies to people who report legal violations to the Securities and Exchange Commission, the federal government’s financial watchdog. In a narrow interpretation of the law, they said employees who report problems only to company management don’t qualify.
Reporting internally still affords some protections under an older law, the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act. But the two laws differ in aspects such as how long people have to bring a lawsuit, for example if they have been fired after reporting suspected illegal activity in their company, and how much compensation they can receive.
Two lower federal courts had backed the SEC’s own point of view, that those blowing the whistle internally are protected by Dodd-Frank measures.
One of the same banks that drove the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, or PREPA, into the red will now be paid to help auction it off to the highest bidder. Citigroup Global Markets Inc., or Citi, will be the main investment bank consultant in the restructuring and privatization of PREPA, the Washington-appointed Fiscal Control Board — the body now overseeing Puerto Rico’s finances — announced recently. Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló first announced the move toward privatization last month.
“Citi will advise the Board on PREPA’s privatization,” the Fiscal Control Board wrote in a statement, “as well as the restructuring of PREPA’s debt pursuant to Title III proceedings in federal bankruptcy court. Citi will take the lead in identifying private sector solutions that fulfill the vision laid out by Governor Rosselló.” ...
Citi is responsible for having underwritten large chunks of the utility’s $9 billion in debt, and at one point owned at least hundreds of millions of dollars in PREPA bonds directly, according to an analysis from the Action Center on Race and the Economy. Citi “has been profiting from helping push Puerto Rico over the edge for a long time,” said Carrie Sloan, ACRE’s research director.
Student survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school shooting confronted Florida’s lawmakers on Wednesday to demand gun control reforms, as thousands of teenagers walked out of lessons in solidarity at schools across the state. About 100 students from the Parkland school travelled 450 miles to the state capital of Tallahassee to spend the morning meeting with Republican and Democratic party legislators, and the Florida governor Rick Scott, in small groups.
“Some heard us loud and clear, others did not,” Spencer Blum, a Stoneman Douglas junior, said of the meetings, which took place exactly one week after a 19-year-old expelled former student killed 14 students and three adult staff members with a legally purchased semi-automatic AR-15 assault rifle.
The students, however, found themselves under attack from several right-wing commentators. CNN commentator Jack Kingston said he believed their sorrow was being “hijacked by left-wing groups who have an agenda” while former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly questioned in a tweet if the students were “in an emotional state and facing extreme peer pressure in some cases.” The radio host Rush Limbaugh said when he heard of the students’ plans for protests and a march he “started putting two and two together” and had some of the language before.
Also in Tallahassee on Wednesday, a sizeable anti-gun rally was taking place on the steps of the city’s capitol building, organised by a coalition of activist groups and supported by students from local schools, who were excused from lessons to attend. Elsewhere in Florida, students at dozens of high schools walked out of classes and staged campus demonstrations in support of the Stoneman Douglas #NeverAgain campaign.
On their first full day lobbying Florida lawmakers in Tallahassee to change the state's gun laws, students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School quickly learned change does not happen very fast in government, if at all.
With Douglas students in the gallery Tuesday, the Florida House voted down a motion to take up a ban on assault weapons such as the AR-15 used by Nikolas Cruz when he killed 17 people at the school on Valentine's Day.
The final motion vote was 36-71. ...
News 13 reports the students held a candlelight vigil before meetings at the Senate office building. The students were told at the time that only GOP reforms already being considered have a chance at being passed in the final three weeks of the current session. Those reforms included raising the firearm possession age from 18 to 21 and banning bump stocks.
In the wake of a string of horrific mass shootings by people who in many cases had emotional problems, it has become fashionable to blame mental illness for violent crimes. It has even been suggested that these crimes justify not only banning people with a history of mental illness from buying weapons but also arming those without such diagnoses so that they may protect themselves from the dangerous mentally ill. This fundamentally misrepresents where the danger lies.
Violence is not a product of mental illness. Nor is violence generally the action of ordinary, stable individuals who suddenly “break” and commit crimes of passion. Violent crimes are committed by violent people, those who do not have the skills to manage their anger. Most homicides are committed by people with a history of violence. Murderers are rarely ordinary, law-abiding citizens, and they are also rarely mentally ill. Violence is a product of compromised anger management skills.
In a summary of studies on murder and prior record of violence, Don Kates and Gary Mauser found that 80 to 90 percent of murderers had prior police records, in contrast to 15 percent of American adults overall. In a study of domestic murderers, 46 percent of the perpetrators had had a restraining order against them at some time. Family murders are preceded by prior domestic violence more than 90 percent of the time. Violent crimes are committed by people who lack the skills to modulate anger, express it constructively, and move beyond it. ...
Violent crimes committed by people with severe mental illnesses get a lot of attention, but such attacks are relatively rare. Paolo del Vecchio of the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has said, “Violence by those with mental illness is so small that even if you could somehow cure it all, 95 percent of violent crime would still exist.” A 2009 study by Seena Fazel found a slightly higher rate of violent crime in schizophrenics—but it was almost entirely accounted for by alcohol and drug abuse. Likewise, the MacArthur Violence Risk Assessment Study found that mentally ill people who did not have a substance abuse problem were no more violent than other people in their neighborhoods.
With no clear explanation of the causes of violent crime from the mental health field, and with significant encouragement from the gun lobby, the public has begun to seize on the wrong explanation for tragic, violent events. ... The attribution of violent crime to people diagnosed with mental illness is increasing stigmatization of the mentally ill while virtually no effort is being made to address the much broader cultural problem of anger management. This broader problem encompasses not just mass murders but violence toward children and spouses, rape, road rage, assault, and violent robberies. We are a culture awash in anger.
Shocking hygiene failings have been discovered in some of the US’s biggest meat plants, as a new analysis reveals that as many as 15% (one in seven) of the US population suffers from foodborne illnesses annually. A joint investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ) and the Guardian found that hygiene incidents are at numbers that experts described as “deeply worrying”.
US campaigners are calling once again for the closure of a legal loophole that allows meat with salmonella to be sold in the human supply chain, and also warn about the industry’s push to speed up production in the country’s meat plants. And UK campaigners warn that the UK could be flooded with “dirty meat” if a US trade deal is signed post-Brexit.
The findings are worrying, according to Prof Erik Millstone, a food safety expert at Sussex University, “because of the risks of spreading infectious pathogens from carcass to carcass, and between portions of meat. The rates at which outbreaks of infectious food poisoning occur in the US are significantly higher than in the UK, or the EU, and poor hygiene in the meat supply chain is [a] leading cause of food poisoning in the US.” ...
The documents seen by the Bureau and Guardian do not reveal the full numbers of non-compliance reports across the whole sector. However, one dataset covering 13 large red meat and poultry plants over two years (2015-17) shows an average of more than 150 violations a week, and 15,000 violations over the entire period. Thousands of similar violations were recorded at 10 pork-producing plants over a five-year period up until 2016, further documents show.
Citing concerns about the impacts of the climate crisis on communities across the United States, mayors representing more than 51 million Americans have come out against efforts at the nation's top environmental agency to repeal the Clean Power Plan, an Obama administration rule that aimed to cut carbon emissions from power plants. Although many environmentalists have criticized the plan as "woefully inadequate," the Trump administration's attack on it has raised alarm among activists and policymakers alike.
Last March, in a move decried as "terribly irresponsible," President Donald Trump signed an executive order demanding a review of the plan—which has faced challenges in federal court—ahead of its possible repeal. In December, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it was seeking public comment for how to replace it.
In a letter addressed to Scott Pruitt, the Trump-appointed EPA administrator, 236 mayors from 47 states wrote, "We strongly oppose the proposed repeal of the Clean Power Plan, which would put our citizens at risk and harm our efforts to address the urgent threat of climate change."
"Communities across the country are experiencing the effects of climate change today: sea level rise; hotter, longer, and more frequent heat waves; increased extreme weather; and many other harmful impacts," they noted. "Residents of our communities have experienced harmful impacts of climate change such as dirtier air, increased heat-related illnesses and deaths, damaged and disappearing coastlines, longer droughts and other strains on water quantity and quality, and increasingly frequent and severe storms and wildfires. No one is insulated from the impacts of climate change—people in cities of all sizes, along with suburban and rural communities are all at risk," they continued. "Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is essential to protect our citizens against the worst impacts of climate change."
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Bukka White - Parchman Farm Blues
Bukka White - Chi Chi Boogie
Bukka White - Fixin To Die Blues
Bukka White - Jack O'Diamonds
Bukka White - Jelly Roll Blues
Booker (Bukka) White - Shake 'Em On Down
Bukka White - Bukka's Jitterbug Swing
Bukka White - The New Frisco Train
Bukka White - World Boogie
Bukka White - Copenhagen 1970