The Evening Blues - 2-9-18
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features an assortment of things that I ran across on Youtube while looking for other things. Enjoy!
The Spotnicks - The Rocket Man
"Nations and governments don’t exist anymore. Not in the sense that they used to, anyway. The notion of meaningfully separate, sovereign governments is at this time a fairy tale told to the masses to keep us from realizing that we’re all being thrown into the gears of an exploitative threshing machine that only exists to feed the avaricious agendas of a few ruling elites.
This has all been made possible by an ongoing war on the societal concept of sovereignty. Our concept of sovereignty is now so weakened that a powerful government can get away with invading another country and claiming “self defense” when it kills the people there, so weakened that constant domestic surveillance by secretive and unaccountable intelligence agencies is now considered normal, so weakened that the public will ferociously defend a police officer that guns down a civilian who reached for his wallet a little too fast."
-- Caitlin Johnstone
News and Opinion
It’s a bit like saying you broke into someone’s house and strangled them from behind with a garotte in self-defense.
Believe it or not, it appears very likely that the US military’s latest act of butchery waged upon Middle Easterners on their own land was not about self-defense at all, but about oil. The always insightful Moon of Alabama makes a compelling case that not only is America’s version of events full of plot holes, but that the whole thing could very well have been “a trap” to sabotage a local deal that had been made for the SDF to turn over an oil and gas field to the Syrian government in the near future.
This would fit in perfectly with comments Professor Joshua Landis made about the attack, saying that America’s plan is to keep Syria weak, poor and divided in order to disadvantage US/Israel/Saudi rivals Iran and Russia. It would also clarify US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s assertion a few weeks ago that thousands of American troops are being kept in Syria to prevent Assad from regaining control of areas that have been liberated from ISIS.
This is what the new imperialism looks like.
Last night the U.S. military announced that it had "self defended" against an attack by Syrian government troops on Syrian ground:
Syrian pro-regime forces initiated an unprovoked attack against well-established Syrian Democratic Forces headquarters Feb. 7.
Coalition service members in an advise, assist, and accompany capacity were co-located with SDF partners during the attack eight kilometers east of the agreed-upon Euphrates River de-confliction line.
In defense of Coalition and partner forces, the Coalition conducted strikes against attacking forces to repel the act of aggression against partners engaged in the Global Coalition's defeat-Daesh mission.
Might this whole operation have been a trap? The U.S. military clearly knew that something was going to happen in the area. Local deals were made between the Syrian government side and locals Arabs holding the oil fields. The U.S. told the SDF to move out of the way. When the government aligned groups started to take over the field, as presumably agreed upon, the U.S. bombed them.
The "attack on coalition forces" the U.S. claimed as justification for its bombing seems not to have taken place at all. How else does one explain that sole casualty of the claimed battalion size attack with strong artillery support is "one wounded SDF" fighter? A later U.S. military statement to a journalist seems to be vague about the reality of an attack:
After 20 to 30 artillery and tank rounds landed within 500 meters of the SDF headquarters location, Syrian Democratic Forces supported by the Coalition targeted the aggressors with a combination of air and artillery strikes.
Is the U.S. military emphasizing the "SDF headquarters location" because the headquarter was no longer there as the SDF had already withdrawn from it? And why is a tank round landing some 500 meters away seen as a direct attack? Tanks rounds may deviate from the targeted point by a meter or two. There is no chance that rounds landing some 500 meters away were intended to hit the headquarter location. Whatever the Syrian forces have been hitting at, if they hit at all, was not the SDF headquarter location.
The story the U.S. military is trying to sell here stinks.
Today, February 7, is the 16th anniversary of one particularly sinister and misguided development in Bush’s “war on terror” — a memorandum, entitled, “Humane Treatment of Taliban and al Qaeda Detainees,” which was sent to just a handful of recipients including Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Attorney General John Ashcroft, CIA director George Tenet, and General Richard B. Myers, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
As I explained in an article marking the 10th anniversary of the issuing of the memorandum, in February 2012, on the day itself the only mention of it came from Andrew Cohen in the Atlantic, who reminded readers that the heading of the memo “was a cruel irony, an Orwellian bit of business, because what the memo authorized and directed was the formal abandonment of America’s commitment to key provisions of the Geneva Convention. This was the day, a milestone on the road to Abu Ghraib, that marked our descent into torture — the day, many would still say, that we lost part of our soul.”
Turkey has long accused the United States of supporting terrorism by providing arms to a Kurdish militia in northern Syria. But the group says many of its weapons - including anti-tank missiles - have come from other sources, Turkey among them.
That militia, the People's Protection Units (YPG), has proven a formidable enemy for the Turkish military, which launched an operation against it near the Syrian city of Afrin three weeks ago.
One of the most effective weapons in the YPG’s arsenal has been anti-tank missiles, which they have employed in hit-and-run attacks.
"Most of the weapons that we have, came originally as support from the Turkish army to these groups of mercenaries," YPG spokesman Nouri Mahmoud told The National, referring to Syrian Arab rebel groups that receive support from Turkey.
"We got the majority of the missiles we have from the black market in Idlib, Azaz, Al Bab and Jarablus," Mr Mahmoud said, naming areas of Syria under the control of those groups.
"We got these weapons even though Afrin is besieged by Turkey from three directions."
The behind-the-scenes break between Washington and Seoul over North Korea has now spilled into public view. One day ahead of the Winter Olympics Opening Ceremonies, the two governments are sending out contradictory messages about whether the Games are the beginning or the end of engagement with Pyongyang.
Speaking before his bilateral meeting with Vice President Pence on Thursday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in stated his clear desire for the upcoming meetings between South and North Korean officials to serve as a path to real negotiations over Pyongyang’s nuclear program and ultimately a deal to end the tensions that have roiled the Korean peninsula for decades.
“We certainly hope to utilize this opportunity to the maximum so that the Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games can become a venue that leads to dialogue for the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula as well as to establishing peace on the Korean peninsula,” Moon said. Pence, speaking after Moon, said nothing about the senior-level North-South interactions scheduled for Friday in Pyeongchang. Rather, the vice president reiterated his desire to continue the American-led campaign of “maximum pressure” on the Kim Jong Un regime. ...
Earlier Thursday, at Yokota Air Base in Japan, I asked Pence directly how he planned to deal with Moon’s public desire to build off of the North-South Olympic engagement. Pence said the Trump administration wants the warming of relations with North Korea to end when the Olympic flame is extinguished.
“We also reaffirm our commitment to continue well beyond the Olympics — when the Olympics are long a distant memory — to continue to isolate North Korea economically and diplomatically,” Pence said. It’s the message Pence has been repeating at every stop on his Asia trip; the Trump administration does not support a diplomatic breakthrough at this time.
The European Union could put in place regulations to protect its firms doing business in Iran if the United States withdraws from the 2015 nuclear deal and restores extraterritorial sanctions, a senior EU official said on Thursday. European countries have been looking to increase trade with Iran since Paris, Washington and other world powers agreed to lift most economic sanctions in 2016 in exchange for limitations on Tehran’s nuclear programme.
But U.S. President Donald Trump on Jan. 12 vowed to restore U.S. sanctions unless France, Britain and Germany change what he calls the “worst deal ever” to his liking, effectively putting it on life support until mid-May. While European nations have been adamant that they would stick to the deal should Washington pull out, Europe would need to find ways to limit any impact from possible U.S. sanctions to ensure their firms continue to do business with Tehran.
Denis Chaibi, head of the Iranian taskforce at the EU’s external action service, said one of the options would be to restore “blocking regulations”, a system from 1996 that would protect its firms. ... The regulations were agreed in 1996 as a countermeasure to the U.S. extraterritorial economic sanctions against Cuba, which EU governments argued benefited U.S. foreign policy interests at the expense of European sovereignty.
The inauguration ceremony for Juan Orlando Hernández's second term as president of Honduras was held in a sparsely attended stadium guarded by hundreds of soldiers and police officers decked out in riot gear. Outside, in the streets of Tegucigalpa, protesters did what they've been doing since November, when Hernández went against the country’s constitution to run for a second term: They blocked roads, burned tires, and chanted, using the president's initials, "Out with JOH!" ...
Honduras's constitution explicitly forbids a president from running for a second term, but Hernández ran anyway. Then, after international observers found multiple signs of fraud in the election, the electoral tribunal controlled by Hernández's party declared him the victor. The country erupted in protest, and the government responded with force, at times firing live rounds into crowds of demonstrators. Some 30 people have died in the violence thus far.
Today's crisis has roots going back almost a decade, and has been consistently enabled by the United States. In 2009, President José Manuel Zelaya was ousted in a military coup engineered by the National Party, which remains in power today. The justification for the coup was that Zelaya was setting himself up for re-election — which is precisely what Hernández went on to do last year, except successfully. After initially condemning the coup in 2009, the United States then reversed course: Hillary Clinton's State Department endorsed the coup regime by allowing it to hold new elections without restoring Zelaya to power.
Since then, the U.S. has given more than $111 million in security assistance to Honduras's military and police, even after the Honduran government was implicated in massive corruption scandals and high-profile political assassinations.
President Rodrigo Duterte stands accused of killing thousands of people in his years-long campaign to rid the Philippines of drugs. Now those accusations have drawn the attention of the International Criminal Court, which announced Thursday it would examine deaths tied to Duterte's drug war.
“While some of such killings have reportedly occurred in the context of clashes between or within gangs, it is alleged that many of the reported incidents involved extrajudicial killings in the course of police anti-drug operations,” ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in a statement. The ICC's preliminary investigation could put Duterte on course to face charges of crimes against humanity at the Hague. ...
Duterte’s drawn widespread criticism and scrutiny from human rights advocates and diplomats, who say his forces, which reportedly include paid hitmen, frequently kill or intimidate suspects with impunity. But that hasn’t stopped Duterte from being unabashedly proud of the bloodshed. He once described an operation that killed 32 people as “beautiful,” and he has jailed and threatened opponents who don’t agree. ...
The ICC was careful to stress it is not currently investigating Duterte, but examining evidence from within the country to see whether it has a possible case against him for the future. If it chooses to go forward, it could examine Duterte’s entire career, including when he first launched his drug war as mayor of Davao City.
The records, which also showed officers expressing sympathy with white supremacists and trying to protect a neo-Nazi organizer’s identity, were included in a court briefing from three anti-fascist activists who were charged with felonies after protesting at a Sacramento rally. The defendants were urging a judge to dismiss their case and accused California police and prosecutors of a “cover-up and collusion with the fascists”.
Defense lawyers said the case at the state capital offers the latest example of US law enforcement appearing to align with neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups while targeting anti-fascist activists and Donald Trump protesters after violent clashes.
“It is shocking and really angering to see the level of collusion and the amount to which the police covered up for the Nazis,” said Yvette Felarca, a Berkeley teacher and anti-fascist organizer charged with assault and rioting after participating in the June 2016 Sacramento rally, where she said she was stabbed and bludgeoned in the head. “The people who were victimized by the Nazis were then victimized by the police and the district attorneys.” ...
Felarca’s attorneys obtained numerous examples of CHP officers working directly with the TWP [Traditionalist Workers Party], often treating the white nationalist group as victims and the anti-fascists as suspects.
Democrats are no longer in a position to make demands. And undocumented immigrants may be the ones who suffer as a result.
In a bipartisan budget deal passed in the wee hours of the morning Thursday, Congress managed to increase the debt ceiling, pass a two-year budget, and funnel disaster aid to states and territories hit by hurricanes, floods, and fires.
All of those issues had one thing in common: Republicans likely needed Democratic votes to get them done. And by taking them off the table until at least 2019, some Democrats fear they can no longer push Republicans to act by giving citizenship to undocumented immigrants protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
“All the leverage is gone,” Rep. Luis Gutierrez of Illinois told reporters Wednesday night. He opposed the budget deal because it didn’t protect Dreamers and because he didn’t trust House Speaker Paul Ryan’s vague commitment to fix DACA. ...
MEGA-BILL PASSES HOUSE 240-186:
- ENDING a few-hour shutdown
- Extending spending until March 23
- Increasing spending over 20% for next two years
- Raising debt ceiling one year
Goes to WH where POTUS may need to wake up a bit early to sign.
— Lisa Desjardins (@LisaDNews) February 9, 2018
In December, Republicans achieved their long-held dream of lowering taxes for the wealthy and corporations and increasing taxes for pretty much everyone else. Democrats were universal in their hostility toward the project, but as the Trump administration has pulled off a PR coup — with companies announcing “Trump bonuses” and workers seeing bumps to their take-home pay — the party has not yet formulated its response nor have they suggested what they’ll do when and if they return to power.
In interviews with The Intercept, a range of Democratic senators either said they have not yet thought about what repeal and replace would look like, or offered broad guidelines for a policy, rather than specific plans. ... Republicans began promising to repeal the Affordable Care Act before it had even been signed into law, but devoted no serious effort to developing a replacement, a failure that contributed to their inability to repeal it once they took power.
Montana Sen. Jon Tester didn’t have any specific ideas in mind, but offered some principles the party should look at. “It wouldn’t increase the debt on our kids by a trillion-four, and the middle-class tax breaks — what we have would be permanent,” he said. He was, however, fairly pessimistic about any changes happening in the near future. “There are a lot of things that could be changed in that, but I don’t see any effort to do any of those things,” he conceded. “I think we’ve got what we’ve got for the next 30 years.”
With Democrats and self-styled #Resistance activists placing their hopes for taking down Donald Trump’s presidency in the investigation being led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, online groups such as MoveOn and Avaaz are launching campaigns to come to the Special Counsel’s defense in the event of him being removed by the president. In an action alert to supporters on Wednesday, Avaaz announced plans to hold some 600 events around the country to defend Mueller in case Trump tries to fire him. “This is nuts,” Avaaz writes. “Trump is clearly gearing up to fire the independent official investigating Russia’s influence over the election — if he does, he’ll have delivered a death blow to one of the fundamental pillars of our democracy.” Avaaz claims that hundreds of thousands of supporters have signed up for actions protesting Mueller’s possible removal, and that more than 25 national organizations support the protests. The group calls it potentially “the largest national mobilization in history.”
Social psychologists have long talked about how emotional manipulation can work effectively to snooker a large percentage of the population, to get them, at least temporarily, to believe the exact opposite of the facts. These techniques are known in the intelligence community as “perception management,” and have been refined since the 1980s “to keep the American people compliant and confused,” as the late Robert Parry has reported. We saw this in action last decade, when after months of disinformation, about 70% of Americans came to falsely believe that Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11 when the truth was the opposite – Saddam was actually an enemy of the Al Qaeda perpetrators.
Such emotional manipulation is the likely explanation for the fact that so many people are now gearing up to defend someone like Mueller, while largely ignoring other important topics of far greater consequence. With no demonstrations being organized to stop a possible war with North Korea – or an escalation in Syria – hundreds of thousands of Americans are apparently all too eager to go to the mat in defense of an investigation into the president’s possible “collusion” with Russia in its alleged meddling in election 2016.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s enforcement activity against polluters has fallen to its lowest level in a decade, with the first year of the Trump administration seeing a sharp drop in fines for companies that break environmental rules.
Figures released by the EPA show that 115 environmental crime cases were opened in the 2017 financial year, down from a peak of nearly 400 in the 2009 financial year, which was largely under the Obama administration.
A total of $1.6bn in new penalties were levied against polluters in 2017, in the fiscal year that ended 30 September. This was around a fifth of the $5.9bn instigated by the Obama administration in 2016 but still higher than any other year stretching back to 2007.
The EPA pointed to the $1.2bn it secured from private entities to clean up superfund sites, toxic areas that have been abandoned by polluting industries, and said that a total of $2.98bn had been levied in criminal fines, restitution and court-ordered projects. These cases, the EPA said, reduced or eliminated 217m pounds of air pollution and 412m cubic yards of contaminated water. ...
However, the bulk of the $2.98bn received in penalties in 2017 is made up of the pursuit of Volkswagen for cheating on its emissions tests. The settlement, struck under the Obama administration, included a $2.8bn criminal fine for VW that was paid out in the 2017 financial year.
The Trudeau government treated Donald Trump’s election as “positive news” for Canada’s energy industry and welcomed the help of Canada’s main corporate oil group in lobbying the US administration, documents show. Meetings conducted by senior government officials with TransCanada and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) reveal an one-sided approach more reminiscent of former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s secret oil advocacy than Justin Trudeau’s green electoral promises.
The Liberal government has strongly backed the export of Alberta tar sands via the Keystone XL pipeline, which was initially rejected by the Obama administration on climate grounds but approved by Trump in March 2017.
The documents, obtained through access-to-information, show the Parliamentary Secretary to Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister met around the same time with TransCanada’s CEO Russ Girling and CAPP to discuss the continued promotion of the pipeline and oil exports. The briefing note states that the oil lobby group “specifically will be interested to hear the outcomes of the recent visits by Prime Minister Trudeau and Minister Freeland to the United States, as well as volunteering their services (or those of members) in the Government’s U.S. engagement efforts.” The Parliamentary Secretary was advised to respond by saying “we welcome your engagement offer and would like to stay in touch.”
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
hat tip, snoopy:
A Little Night Music
Billy Miranda & Group - Run Rose
Johnny Mc Coy and The Cyclones - Scrub Bucket
Them - Baby Please Don't Go
The Bop Kats - Here Comes The Fuzz
Ace Holder - Wabba Suzy Q
Les Jaguars - Guitare Jet
Sanford Clark - Modern Romance
THE RONDELS - SATAN'S THEME
Willie B - Bad Mouthin'
Mel McGonnigle - Rattle Shakin Mama
The Hi-Tombs - Sweet Rockin' Mama
Johnny and The Cyclones - Twisted Fender
The Duals - Stick Shift