The Evening Blues - 4-10-19
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features New Orleans jazz clarinet player Johnny Dodds. Enjoy!
Johnny Dodds w/New Orleans Bootblacks - Flat Foot
"There are always too many Democratic congressmen, too many Republican congressmen, and never enough US congressmen."
-- Author Unknown
News and Opinion
There's a foreign lobby meddling in U.S. elections. I don't suppose that anything will be done about it, though. After all, they're not russians.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, who could be the first Jewish president of the United States two years from now, is currently the target of a pressure campaign on Facebook paid for by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the pro-Israel lobbying group known as AIPAC. The sponsored post urges Facebook users to add their names to an online petition telling Sanders that “America stands with Israel.”
[image of the ad at link. -js]
According to data from Facebook’s Ad Library, three versions of the sponsored post paid for by AIPAC are currently running across the country, focused mainly on users in three important Democratic primary states: California, Texas and Florida.
The text of the post makes no mention of why the lobbying group thinks the independent senator from Vermont needs such a reminder, but its only other current paid ads on Facebook all target Rep. Ilhan Omar, a progressive Muslim Democrat who has questioned the lobbying group’s influence. Sanders has been one of the few congressional voices to rise in defense of Omar. ...
AIPAC did not immediately reply to a request to explain why it chose to target Sanders with the Facebook ads.
“Our enemies come into our social media, and they intentionally try to divide us”: Rep. Tim Ryan warns about Russian interference in national news coverage while launching his 2020 campaign https://t.co/DVSQKyrxfZ pic.twitter.com/PEBfWjKZJq
— CBS News (@CBSNews) April 6, 2019
Voters in Israel delivered an overwhelming endorsement of the status quo by re-electing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has promised to simply ignore waning international pressure to end Israeli military rule over a captive population of millions of Palestinians living, without civil rights, in the territories it seized in 1967.
With more than 97 percent of the vote counted for Tuesday’s election, Netanyahu was in a commanding position to assemble a coalition of ethnic nationalist parties in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, including openly racist extremists who want to strip non-Jews of their citizenship and expel Palestinians from the occupied territories. ...
On the eve of the election, Netanyahu had appealed to ultranationalist voters by promising to annex large parts of the occupied West Bank, where more than 400,000 Israelis live in Jewish-only settlements that are illegal under international law, and maintain Israel’s military control over even those Palestinian population centers with limited self-government.
To see how impossible a Palestinian state would be following Israeli annexation of Jewish-only settlements in the West Bank, consider Julien Bousac's 2009 map of the resulting imaginary archipelago, showing the isolation of areas under Palestinian control https://t.co/txosIPWxMc pic.twitter.com/487TYUTdAC
— Robert Mackey (@RobertMackey) April 10, 2019
The prime minister’s pledge seemed to make formal what has been clear for the past decade of his rule: that Israel has no intention of ever honoring its commitments under the Oslo Peace Accords to facilitate the creation of a Palestinian state, and plans instead to continue ruling over a de facto single state in which nearly half of the population is denied citizenship or the right to vote based on ethnicity.
The scale of his victory can be judged by the fact that the party that posed the largest threat to his leadership was led by former generals who boasted of their role in pummeling Gaza and offered no plan to end the occupation.
They need to tank the Pentagon budget regardless of social spending. Military spending is too high period, not just too high relative to other spending.
Progressive Democrats Threaten to Tank $733 Billion in 'Crazy' Pentagon Spending If Social Programs Not Also Boosted
Members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus are threatening to wield their significant power in the House to tank a key budget measure unless the Democratic leadership agrees to boost healthcare, education, and other domestic social spending in line with the Pentagon's budget increase.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), co-chairs of the 104-member CPC, are leading the push for an amendment that would add around $33 billion per year to domestic spending programs as part of a crucial two-year spending bill, which could receive a vote as early as Tuesday. The legislation would hike Pentagon spending to $733 billion per year. ...
While the House Democratic leadership has agreed to bring the progressives' amendment on the floor for a vote, Politico reported late Monday that senior Democrats "privately hope it won't pass."
"House Democratic leaders are whipping the budget caps bill, but as of Monday night, the measure still didn't have enough votes to pass," Politico reported.
House Democratic leaders canceled a vote on the spending measure late Tuesday afternoon amid progressive backlash over the Pentagon budget. ...
"For us and for progressives... this is a big victory in that it became clear that without real, strong progressive inclusion into the process of a bill, we're not going to be able to get there," Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) said in a statement. "Hopefully everybody understands now that the best success for a united caucus is for us to be consulted and be at the table."
Progressives—along with a handful of libertarian-leaning Republicans—finally passed a bill in both houses of Congress last week to invoke the War Powers act and end US support for the Saudi-led bombing of Yemen, an entirely one-sided war that’s killed thousands of Yemeni civilians over the last four years with assistance and direction of the US military.
The bill’s proponents achieved this human rights victory with virtually no help from America’s leading liberal cable network. As activist pressure on lawmakers mounted over the past few months, the nominally liberal media powerhouse MSNBC was once again AWOL. The 24-hour cable news channel has yet to cover the war in all of 2019, repeating a similar no-show record when activists were attempting to end the war last spring; MSNBC ignored Yemen entirely from September 2016 through July 2018 (FAIR.org, 3/20/18).
In August 2018, after almost two years of not doing a single segment on the US war on Yemen (August 31, 2016–August 9, 2018), Chris Hayes finally reported on a US-made bomb that killed over 40 children in a Yemen school bus. ...
The October 2, 2018, murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents, and the subsequent bipartisan, CIA-sanctioned outrage by US media that one of their own was killed, did provide cover for a handful of MSNBC segments on the Yemen siege in the final three months of 2018. But as that outrage receded, so too did the interest of Hayes (and MSNBC’s other big name hosts) to highlight Yemen.
Ecuador reminded WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange once again Tuesday that he can't stay in the nation's London embassy indefinitely.
Foreign Minister Jose Valencia said a permanent stay in the embassy's cramped quarters isn't a viable option for anyone.
"It wouldn't be good for his state of mind, his health," Valencia told broadcaster Teleamazonas.
The remarks come as relations between Ecuador and Assange grow increasingly tense.
Wherever one looks, it is evident that the post-war Establishment élites are on the backfoot. They maintain a studied panglossian hauteur. But whether it is in Britain, where a PM seems ready to sacrifice her own party’s future on the altar of maintaining the cosy nexus between big business and Brussels’ smug ambitions to be a global economic player, rivalling the US or China. Or, whether it is Trump’s readiness to put America’s financial system into fiscal and debt jeopardy, in order to keep the cogs and wheels of the Military Industrial Complex whirring and spinning comfortably – at a time when US government over-spending already threatens to break dollar ‘trust’. ...
More fundamentally, the question is rarely asked: can America truly Be Made Great Again (MAGA), its military totally renewed, and its civil infrastructure refurbished, when starting out from a position today (year to date) where its shortfall of Federal revenue to expenditure is 30%; where its debt is now so great that the US may only survive by again repressing interest rates to a (zombifying) near zero? And again, is it truly feasible to force manufacturing jobs back to a high-cost base America, from their low-cost, offshoring in Asia – against the backdrop of an America made progressively ‘higher-cost’, through its locked-in monetary inflation policies – except by crashing the value of the dollar to make this high cost base platform globally competitive again? Is MAGA realistic; or will the re-capture of jobs back to the US from the low-cost world end by triggering the very recession which the Central Banks so fear?
And as the post-war élites in America and Europe become more and more desperate to maintain the illusion of being the vanguard of global civilisation, how will they cope with the re-appearance of a ‘civilization-state’ in its own right: i.e. China? How will the EU respond to a Pentagon obsessed with China, China, China, when that China is building its BRI [Belt and Road Initiative] right into Europe? Will it – like America – opt for protectionism, and promote mergers and mega entities to compete with heavy US and Chinese corporations? Is Europe even capable of restraining the US, as the latter builds its military containment of China, and expects Europe to play along?
In Europe, the push-back against an entrenched élite French ‘system’ benefitting the few, and failing the many, threatens to upturn the political coherence of France. In the UK, Brexit threatens to blow the British political party system apart. Differences over the UK’s relationship with the EU have never been deeper, more salient, and more entrenched than they are now. The differences between the urban cosmopolitan élite of London and rest of the country have never been more marked. ... Brexit is becoming bigger than ‘Brexit’. Old party allegiances no longer operate, and are being surpassed. The two major parties are split. Formerly loyal activists are calling their party leaderships treacherous – or worse. The party signifier is no longer class, or historic family adherence: It is ‘Leave’ or ‘Remain’. ...
It may be satisfying to think that this is an insular British reaction to Brexit, of little wider import. But that would be wrong. We are on the cusp of inflection. Is not similar occurring in the US, with the ‘deplorables’ (as latter day ‘Confederates’) facing-off against the northern urban liberals, much as in the US Civil War?
Theresa May’s request for a short Brexit delay has been torn up, putting the EU on track to instead extend Britain’s membership until 2020. Despite the prime minister’s desperate dash to Paris and Berlin to convince leaders of her plan to break the Brexit impasse, the European council president, Donald Tusk, signalled EU politicians’ lack of faith in her cross-party talks.
Against a backdrop of growing support among the EU27 for a lengthy Brexit delay, Tusk picked apart May’s appeal for a shorter delay to 30 June in a letter to the leaders inviting them to Wednesday’s summit, where they will agree the new end date. An EU diplomat said on Tuesday, following a late-night meeting of ambassadors, that the two end dates crystallising in EU capitals were the end of December or the end of March 2020.
A cabinet source voiced doubts over whether May could survive after presiding over such a long delay to Brexit, after previously having said she could not “as prime minister” accept a longer delay than 30 June. The source said some in No 10 now accept it is nearly game over and described all options as very difficult for the prime minister, raising questions about whether she can keep her warring party together much longer.
Theresa May has signalled that she would accept the EU’s likely offer of a lengthy Brexit delay at a summit of leaders as the UK would still be able to leave when the withdrawal agreement is approved.
Arriving in Brussels, the prime minister said it would still possible for Britain to quit by 22 May if the Commons chose to approve her Brexit deal in the coming weeks.
The House Judiciary Committee’s hearing on hate crimes and white nationalism was meant to be an opportunity to discuss the rising threat of far-right extremism and come up with targeted solutions. Instead, Tuesday’s hearing regularly veered off course — and into some of the most bitterly partisan debates of the moment.
The congressional hearing was the first since the violent “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, to specifically address the threat posed by white nationalists. But Republican committee members and some of the panelists they’d invited railed against the media’s treatment of President Donald Trump, asked why they were discussing white nationalism instead of antifa, and yelled about Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, one of only two Muslim women ever elected to Congress. ...
“What I think the hearing illustrated is just how deep the political divisions are: so deep that we can’t have unanimity about hate crimes and white nationalism,” said Brian Levin, a national expert in hate crimes who heads the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino. “We’re on thin ice with all kinds of extremism — white nationalism in particular — and we missed a real opportunity to explore the risk.”
For example, Mohammad Abu-Salha, a grieving Muslim physician and father whose two daughters and son-in-law were murdered in an apparent hate crime at UNC Chapel Hill in 2015, was repeatedly made to answer for the crimes committed by fanatical jihadists. At one point, Mort Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America and a staunch Trump supporter, proceeded to lecture Abu-Salha about Islam. “I am confused when the good doctor says that Islam does not promote hatred of Jews,” Klein said. “We need to have Muslims step up.” ...
After three churches in central Louisiana were destroyed by fire in little more than a week, civil rights advocates have expressed concern that black congregations are being targeted. ... Authorities have called the fires “suspicious”. Late last week, Louisiana Fire Marshal H “Butch” Browning said “patterns” had been discovered. “There certainly is commonality and whether that leads to a person or persons or groups, we don’t know,” he said. ...
In the same two-week span, a fire was “intentionally set” at a predominantly white church in Caddo Parish, Louisiana and at a building housing a social justice not-for-profit group in New Market, Tennessee. At the Tennessee blaze, which destroyed the headquarters of the Highlander Center, authorities found graffiti associated with the white power movement. According to the center’s executive directors, the fire destroyed “decades of historic documents, speeches, artifacts and memorabilia” from the civil rights movement.
According to FBI data, hate crimes have been on the rise in the US since 2015. Johnson tied the fires to “emboldened racial rhetoric and tension spreading across the country”.
Donald Trump has said he will not reinstate the widely-condemned policy of separating children from parents who had illegally crossed the US-Mexico border, amid concerns over a renewed hardening of the White House’s stance on immigration. ...
Trump’s week began with turbulence in his cabinet after Kirstjen Nielsen, the head of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), was ousted on Sunday following a disagreement on the best way to handle border security. The White House plans to remove more personnel in a purge of DHS leadership, an official familiar with the matter told the Associated Press. Trump, reportedly acting on the advice of his hardline immigration adviser, Stephen Miller, also announced the departure of the director of the Secret Service, Randolph Alles, on Monday.
Last week, Trump abruptly withdrew his nominee to lead Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (Ice), saying he wanted someone “tougher”. Top Republicans have cautioned Trump against more shakeups in the department, and the president faced bipartisan pushback on the idea of renewing the controversial family separation policy.
Oh looky, it's an impeachable offense.
"Behind the scenes," CNN reported Monday, citing two anonymous sources, "the president told border agents to not let migrants in. Tell them we don't have the capacity, he said. If judges give you trouble, say, 'Sorry, judge, I can't do it. We don't have the room.'"
"After the president left the room, agents sought further advice from their leaders, who told them they were not giving them that direction and if they did what the president said they would take on personal liability," according to CNN. "You have to follow the law, they were told." ...
The president also aggressively pushed to reinstate his family separation policy, CNN reported, confirming earlier reporting from NBC. "He just wants to separate families," an anonymous senior administration official told CNN. ...
The president's increasingly erratic immigration rhetoric comes as he is carrying out staff changes that critics warn could make his policies toward migrants even more brutal.
Donald Trump has threatened to impose US tariffs on $11bn (£8.4bn) of goods from the EU, raising the stakes in the transatlantic trade dispute between the world’s two largest economic superpowers.
The Trump administration announced the additional levies on EU goods – including roquefort and stilton cheese, wine and aircraft parts – as a response to subsidies for Airbus, the European aerospace and defence group, which it said were harmful to the US.
The latest threat by the White House to slap higher import tariffs on a major trading partner comes after a long-running dispute between the US and the EU over their state subsidy support for Airbus and Boeing, the world’s two biggest civil aerospace firms.
Over the past two years, some senior officials at the Securities and Exchange Commission have indicated that they would be open to corporations foisting mandatory arbitration on their shareholders, and now a team of pro-corporate players are ready to put them to the test. Two lawyers have joined with a high-profile Harvard professor on a pivotal case that could strip away shareholders’ rights to sue public companies. The Harvard professor, Hal S. Scott, runs a Wall Street advocacy group supporting deregulation. The lawyers both made their names busting labor unions; one of them, Jonathan Mitchell, is a current Trump nominee, and social media posts link the other, Wally Zimolong, to discriminatory views.
A trust run by Scott, an emeritus professor at Harvard Law School, sued Johnson & Johnson in a New Jersey federal court last month, seeking to force the company to allow shareholders to vote on a proposal that would take away their right to sue the company in court. Johnson & Johnson, relying on a determination by the SEC that such a measure would risk violating New Jersey state laws, declined to present the proposal to shareholders in advance of its April 25 annual meeting. On March 26, the trust sought a court injunction to force the company to include the proposal. On Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Michael A. Shipp denied the injunction but allowed the litigation to proceed.
The Doris Behr 2012 Irrevocable Trust lawsuit is in some sense perverse: a shareholder is seeking to restrict shareholder rights. But Scott has long decried class-action shareholder lawsuits as a boondoggle for lawyers and a burden on shareholders who bear the costs of defending and settling the suits. As president of the Committee on Capital Markets Regulation, he was an early proponent of rescinding shareholders’ rights to sue, suggesting in 2006 that shareholders be allowed to decide whether the companies they invest in should force arbitration. The Committee, according to a 2010 nonprofit filing, has been funded by such Wall Street titans as Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Fidelity Investments, Deloitte, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, and hedge fund billionaire Kenneth Griffin. In an op-ed in February, Scott said that most shareholder class actions “have no merit, damage shareholder interests, and tarnish the attractiveness of our public capital markets.” ...
What Scott has in common with attorneys Zimolong and Mitchell, according to F. Paul Bland, executive director at the watchdog organization Public Justice, is “an enormous zeal for the overdog.” ... Bland argues that a win by proponents of mandatory shareholder arbitration would wipe out the ability of small investors to fight back against fraud.
"I'm Mike Gravel, and I'm running for President."
— Mike Gravel (@MikeGravel) April 8, 2019
The #YachtCocaineProstitutes hashtag trending on Twitter Tuesday portrays Rep. Devin Nunes as a bumbling media critic ramping up a legal assault on his local newspaper. But the California Republican’s underlying lawsuit shows how public figures can use the courts to attack news organizations for coverage they don’t like. Nunes is suing the McClatchy Company, which owns 29 newspapers, for its reporting on an allegedly drug- and sex-filled party on a boat owned by a Napa Valley-based winery in which Nunes is a passive investor. Filed in a Virginia state court Monday, the defamation suit seeks $150 million in damages for what it says amounts to “character assassination.” ...
In his defamation suit in response to the Fresno Bee’s reporting, Nunes argues the media outlet “conspired” to push the narrative with Republican political strategist Liz Mair, who shared the article and other negative reports about Nunes on Twitter during his 2018 campaign. An outspoken critic of Nunes, Mair is named as a defendant in both the congressman’s lawsuit against McClatchy and a similar lawsuit he filed just weeks ago against Twitter. The complaint filed Monday framed Mair’s criticism of Nunes, the Bee’s reporting on the yacht rager, and McClatchy’s promotion of the piece across several of its newspapers as a nefarious plot to “interfere with [Nunes’] Congressional investigation of corruption by the Clinton campaign and alleged ‘collusion’ between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 presidential Election.”
hasty transcript of Barr comments on "spying" and failure of FBI leadership pic.twitter.com/hFvd3ABNvJ
— Quinta Jurecic (@qjurecic) April 10, 2019
Two-thirds of the ice in the glaciers of the Alps is doomed to melt by the end of the century as climate change forces up temperatures, a study has found.
Half of the ice in the mountain chain’s 4,000 glaciers will be gone by 2050 due to global warming already baked in by past emissions, the research shows. After that, even if carbon emissions have plummeted to zero, two-thirds of the ice will still have melted by 2100.
If emissions continue to rise at the current rate, the ice tongues will have all but disappeared from Alpine valleys by the end of the century. The researchers said the loss of the glaciers would have a big impact on water availability for farming and hydroelectricity, especially during droughts, and affect nature and tourism. “Glaciers in the European Alps and their recent evolution are some of the clearest indicators of the ongoing changes in climate,” said Daniel Farinotti, a glaciologist at ETH Zurich in Switzerland and one of the research team. ...
In February, a study found that a third of the huge ice fields in Asia’s towering mountain chains were also doomed to melt because of climate change, with serious consequences for almost 2 billion people downstream.
The Court of Appeals for the state of Washington on Monday overturned valve turner Ken Ward's burglary conviction because he was not allowed to present a climate "necessity defense" of his role in the multi-state action to shut down tar sands pipelines in 2016.
"Kenneth Ward appeals his conviction for burglary in the second degree after he broke into a Kinder Morgan pipeline facility and turned off a valve, which stopped the flow of Canadian tar sands oil to refineries in Skagit and Whatcom Counties," wrote Judge David Mann, who sent Ward's case back to a lower court for a third trial.
"Ward intended to protest the continued use of tar sands oil," Mann added, "which he contends significantly contributes to climate change, and the inaction by governments to meaningfully address the crisis of climate change."
If Ward's case goes to trial once again, he will be allowed to present the necessity defense, explained the Civil Liberties Defense Center, which represented Ward.
'Radical Agents of Physical and Social Chaos': Campaigners Target Big Banks Over Destructive Fossil Fuel Projects
Environmental campaigners this week are pressuring a pair of big banks to stop pouring billions of dollars per year into destructive fossil fuel projects that drive the global climate crisis. A coalition of more than 100 groups sent a letter (pdf) to Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan on Tuesday urging him "to refrain from any further financing of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) and to urge other financiers to do the same."
If completed, the ACP would carry fracked gas 600 miles across West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina. The pipeline is about two years behind schedule and $2 billion over budget, per an investor report released last month by Friends of the Earth and Oil Change International, which both signed the letter.
"As lead arranger and bookrunner for a loan to Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC, and especially as a multinational corporation that calls North Carolina home," the letter states, "Bank of America has a special responsibility to drop its support for this reckless project. The letter warns that "the ACP is economically and environmentally irresponsible; raises serious environmental justice, human rights, and climate crisis concerns; and does not build long-term shareholder value for its investors." It also faces several legal and regulatory hurdles.
Today we're joining 100+ organizations in calling on @BankofAmerica to commit to no addt'l financing of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline!
— Friends of the Earth (@foe_us) April 9, 2019
"The pipeline would devastate diverse communities, cultures, ecosystems, and the climate along its route," said Friends of the Earth senior campaigner Donna Chavis. "Bank of America will share blame for the environmental disruption caused by this project." Bank of America is one of the top funders of fossil fuel projects, according to the most recent Banking on Climate Change report, published in March. The bank ranked fourth overall and invested more than $33 billion in dirty energy projects in 2018 alone. Its three-year total was more than $106 billion. Citi ranked third, and Wells Fargo second.
The top funder of fossil fuel projects—JPMorgan Chase, which spent nearly $64 billion last year and over $195 billion since 2016—is also under fire from campaigners this week. Similar to protests held last year, advocacy groups are organizing a national day of action for Wednesday, with #ShutDownChase actions planned at branches in over 20 cities, including New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, and Seattle.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
hat tip azazello:
A Little Night Music
Johnny Dodds & Blind Blake - South Bound Rag
Johnny Dodds' Washboard Band - Bucktown Stomp
Johnny Dodds Washboard Six - Weary City
Johnny Dodds Orchestra - When Erastus Plays His Old Kazoo
Johnny Dodds w/New Orleans Wanderers - Perdido Street Blues
Johnny Dodds and his Chicago Boys - Wild Man Blues
Johnny Dodds - Clarinet Wobble
Johnny Dodds Hot Six - Too Tight
Johnny Dodds - Come on and Stomp, Stomp, Stomp
Johnny Dodds - Piggly Wiggly
Johnny Dodds - Pencil Papa
Johnny Dodds and his Beale Street Washboard Band - Forty and Tight