The Evening Blues - 4-20-17


The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: Gertrude "Ma" Rainey

Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features "The Mother of the Blues," Gertrude "Ma" Rainey. Enjoy!

Ma Rainey - Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

"What’s the point of debating economic justice when there’s an unelected power coalition expressly dedicated to making sure that economic justice never happens? What’s the point of debating the merits of non-interventionism if there’s an unelected power coalition expressly dedicated to making sure that America keeps bullying, invading, attacking and destabilizing? What’s the point in debating left vs. right in a country that does not have a single viable pro-human political party?"

-- Caitlyn Johnstone

News and Opinion

U.S. Bombed a Mosque in Syria, Killing Dozens of Civilians, Investigators Conclude

As my colleague Alex Emmons reported last month, Syrian activists and first responders accused the United States of killing dozens of civilians in an airstrike that mistakenly targeted a mosque in the rebel-held village of al-Jinah on the evening of March 16.

Confronted with these claims, a Pentagon spokesman, Navy Captain Jeff Davis, told The Intercept that they were mistaken. “The area was extensively surveilled prior to the strike in order to minimize civilian casualties,” Davis said. “We deliberately did not target the mosque.” ...

But, as Human Rights Watch reported this week, witnesses in al-Jinah said that the building destroyed by two armed, Reaper drones firing Hellfire missiles was the newly built Omar Ibn al-Khatab mosque, where about 300 civilians had gathered for the Muslim night prayer. At least 38 people were killed in the attack, which included the dropping of a 500-pound bomb. ...

But perhaps the most convincing case that the U.S. bombing was a deadly error is a richly detailed video report on the strike produced by Forensic Architecture, a research agency, based at Goldsmiths, University of London, led by the Israeli architect Eyal Weizman.

Obama and Clinton Brought Slavery to Libya

Nearly every day there is a new report of desperate migrants rescued at sea in the Mediterranean. Some are less fortunate and are among the estimated 12,000 who have died there in the last three years alone. Their point of embarkation is Libya, a nation now a haven for human traffickers because of President Barack Obama and his secretary of state, Hillary Clinton.

Their deliberate destruction of Libya was a war crime by all standards of international law. That country was just one victim of the American plan to eliminate secular governments in the Middle East. Under the guise of a phony “responsibility to protect” and with cover from organizations such as Human Rights Watch, American propaganda gave an atrocity the appearance of a humanitarian act. Now come reports from media and the International Organization for Migration that African migrants are being openly bought and sold in Libya. This practice would not be taking place if Muammar Gaddafi not been murdered by American backed jihadists in 2011. ...

There can be no plan for reviving the peace movement that doesn’t include a reckoning of responsibility for the disasters that Obama and Clinton brought to the world. “We came, we saw, he died,” is one of the more memorable Hillary Clinton statements, memorable for all the wrong reasons. Obama knew better than to be so crass, but he privately called Libya a “shit show” as if he were a bystander and not the perpetrator.

While the corporate media make hay out of very dubious evidence of atrocities allegedly committed by the Syrian government, the atrocities caused directly by the American government go unmentioned. Or rather they are reported absent of any context of American responsibility.

Maybe the "mother of all bombs" isn't all that effective if there are still enough ISIS troops left that it requires the US to send in "boots" to fight them.

U.S. troops still battling Islamic State near site of Afghan bomb strike

U.S. troops are still battling suspected Islamic State fighters near the site where "the mother of all bombs" was dropped in eastern Afghanistan last week, a U.S. military official said on Wednesday.

Afghan estimates of heavy militant losses and no civilian casualties have been impossible to verify in the remote region, with access to the area where the bomb fell still blocked. ... After arriving at the site the day after the strike, U.S. troops fighting alongside Afghan forces have since left, but continue to conduct operations in the broader area, said U.S. military spokesman Captain William Salvin.

"Access has been restricted but that's because it's a combat zone," he told Reuters. "We are in contact with the enemy."

Pentagon Clashes With Civilian Aid Workers Over Planned Military Assault In Yemen

The Pentagon advanced its case for a controversial US-backed military assault on a strategic port city in Yemen last week to a room of State Department officials and skeptical humanitarian aid groups, BuzzFeed News has learned.

The Defense Department is in favor of providing logistical and intelligence support for an ambitious operation led by the UAE military to retake the Houthi-controlled city of Hodeida. But key bureaus inside the State Department and the US Agency for International Development oppose the initiative, believing it will trigger a full-blown famine in the country by closing the port where most of the humanitarian aid in the impoverished country enters.

During the meeting on Thursday, convened at the request of aid agencies, a Pentagon official tried to ease those concerns by floating the possibility that the operation could be “clean” and result in the Saudis taking full control of the port in “four to six weeks.” But aid groups view that forecast as wildly optimistic and fear the Pentagon is attempting to understate the complexity of the mission in order to win support for it inside the Trump administration. It’s unclear where that four-to-six–week figure came from. One senior Pentagon official who wasn’t present at the meeting told BuzzFeed News that such expectations were unrealistic — and that retaking the port “could take months.” ...

Last week, the UN World Food Program said Yemen is on the brink of “full-scale famine,” and classified 7 million people in the country as “severely food insecure.” Scott Paul, a senior policy adviser at Oxfam, said, “The likeliest scenario for the Hodeidah operation, involving a lengthy or indefinite closure of the port, would precipitate famine in parts of Yemen over a matter of months, costing many thousands of lives.”

"Biggest Humanitarian Catastrophe Since 2003 Invasion": Journalist Anand Gopal on Battle for Mosul

U.S. May Not Be Able to Shoot Down North Korean Missiles, Say Experts

Top generals have been insisting for years that if North Korea launched a missile at the United States, the U.S military would be able to shoot it down. But that is a highly questionable assertion, according to independent scientists and government investigators.

In making it, the generals fail to acknowledge huge questions about the effectiveness of the $40 billion missile defense system they rely on to stop a potential nuclear-armed ballistic missile fired by North Korean or Iran, according to a series of outside reviews.

"They are leading political leaders to believe that they have a military capability that they don't, in fact, have," says physicist David Wright, who has studied the program for years as co-director of the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Last year, the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, concluded that the agency that runs the missile defense system "has not demonstrated through flight testing that it can defend the U.S. homeland." In nine simulated attacks since the system was deployed in 2004, interceptors have failed to take out their targets six times, even though the flight tests were far less challenging than an actual attack, according to The Los Angeles Times, which published an investigation of the missile defense system last year that uncovered a previously unknown test failure.

Californians, make those knees knock while you clamor for a big, strong patriarchal figure to protect you from this North Korean hobgoblin. Never mind the fact that the hobgoblin is being activated by threats from Washington.

North Korea nuclear threat: should California start panicking?

In test blasts, military parades and propaganda videos that show San Francisco and Washington DC in ruins, North Korea has broadcast its intention to be a world nuclear power. Less clear, experts say, is how close the secretive nation is to realizing its ambitions to threaten the mainland of the United States.

As rhetoric between the two nations has ratcheted up in recent weeks, residents of major West Coast cities such as San Francisco, Portland and Seattle have begun to ask out loud: should they be worried? ...

North Korea would need to overcome two feats of engineering to threaten the American mainland: a working ICBM system and a warhead for one of those missiles. Unlike shorter-range missiles, long-range missiles have multiple engines and flight stages, meaning North Korean engineers have to make rockets – and bombs – that can survive the violent vibrations of launch, the wrenching g-forces of flight, and the temperature changes of takeoff and re-entry from space.

“Producing a warhead that can handle all that is a challenge,” said Joseph Bermudez, an analyst for 38 North, a thinktank affiliated with the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Although Kim has said he wants to test an ICBM later this year, Bermudez doubted the test would be a success.

In February, North Korea fired a medium-range missileinto the Sea of Japan, travelling about 300 miles. North Korea has also developed a missile with an estimated range of 2,200 miles, almost halfway to Hawaii, but so far struggled to launch it.

Oops, the Trump administration is running out of patience with Iran, too.

Iran: Tillerson toughens tone on Iran, branding nuclear deal a 'failure'

Assange says WikiLeaks will show 'all sorts of illegal actions by the CIA'

In a podcast interview, WikiLeaks head Julian Assange characterized his site's most recent series of leaks as showing "all sorts of illegal actions by the CIA." In the same interview for the "Intercepted" podcast, Assange accused the CIA director of slamming him "to get ahead of the publicity curve."

"In fact, the reason Pompeo is launching this attack is because he understands we are exposing in this series all sorts of illegal actions by the CIA, so he’s trying to get ahead of the publicity curve and create a pre-emptive defense," Assange said.

CIA, FBI launch manhunt for leaker who gave top-secret documents to WikiLeaks

The CIA and FBI are conducting a joint investigation into one of the worst security breaches in CIA history, which exposed thousands of top-secret documents that described CIA tools used to penetrate smartphones, smart televisions and computer systems.

Sources familiar with the investigation say it is looking for an insider -- either a CIA employee or contractor -- who had physical access to the material. The agency has not said publicly when the material was taken or how it was stolen.

Much of the material was classified and stored in a highly secure section of the intelligence agency, but sources say hundreds of people would have had access to the material. Investigators are going through those names.

UN Holocaust files reveal Allies' knowledge

Previously ignored and hard to access, the Holocaust files kept by the UN War Crimes Commission (UNWCC) have finally been made publicly available, potentially debunking many assumptions about the Nazi genocide of the European Jews. ...

The files make clear that Allied forces knew more about the details of the Nazi concentration camp system before the end of the war than has generally been thought - thanks in part to files collected by the exiled governments of Belgium, Poland, and Czechoslovakia, who spent a lot of time collecting hundreds of pages of detailed evidence of war crimes to indict specific leading Nazis - including Adolf Hitler himself.

"That shows what the Allies knew," Dan Plesch, director of the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy at the SOAS department of the University of London, told DW. "Frankly, the continental European exiled governments were limited and suppressed by elements in the US State Department and the British Foreign Office, who didn't support what their own ambassadors were doing in the [war crimes] commission."

Not only that, few scholars have picked up on the fact that as early as December 1942, various Allied governments were releasing statements explicitly condemning the Nazis for exterminating the European Jews. "The BBC broadcast this in 23 languages at the time," said Plesch. "This is very early public condemnation by the Allies, including the Soviet Union, of the Holocaust while it was at its height."

How France’s presidential election could break – or make – the EU

With two convinced Eurosceptics and an equally fervent pro-European among the four contenders with a chance of reaching the run-off, France’s too-tight-to-call presidential election could conceivably break – or make – the EU. European officials and diplomats appear generally unconvinced that France, a core member of the bloc, will actually leave – an idea touted, not always forcefully, by the hard-left candidate, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, and his far-right rival, Marine Le Pen. More worrying, and perhaps more likely, is the prospect of Paris turning its back. The EU would not survive Frexit, though “that seems quite remote”, said one senior diplomat. “But active inside opposition would almost be worse.” ...

A victory for Emmanuel Macron, the liberal, overtly pro-EU centrist who, polls predict, will win if he is one of the two second round finalists, would offer France a chance to reform, and Europe a chance to rebound. “It would show that liberal, pro-EU centrists may yet have a future in European politics,” says Charles Grant of the Centre for European Reform. “Macron wants reforms to pep up France’s economy and strengthen its position in Europe.”

With the eurozone economy starting to recover and after the defeat of the anti-EU Geert Wilders in the Netherlands, Macron – dubbed “Brussels’ sweetheart” by his opponents – would be “a huge boost”, one European commission staffer said. Unfortunately for the EU, however, the former banker and Socialist economy minister, who has never held elected office, may be favourite to win the second round – but he is not sure to make it past the first.

François Fillon moves back into contention in French presidential race

Against all expectations except perhaps his own, François Fillon, the scandal-hit rightwing candidate for the French presidency, is back in the race. Setting aside an earlier focus on economic shock therapy, Fillon appeared alongside his former rival Alain Juppé on Wednesday in an awkward show of centre-right unity, four days before the first round of voting in an election now too tight to call. ...

For three months, from November to January, Fillon – a free-market liberal and social conservative in a country where that mix is almost unknown – was the firm favourite to be the next occupant of the Elysée palace. To the surprise of many, the former prime minister had comfortably seen off his one-time boss, the former president Nicolas Sarkozy, and the more moderate Juppé to win the nomination of the centre-right Les Républicains party. The Thatcherite-style reforms Fillon promised for what he called a “bankrupt” France – cutting taxes and public spending, slashing public sector jobs, raising the retirement age and liberalising labour laws – were tough but necessary, his supporters felt.

But then the satirical and investigative newspaper Le Canard Enchaîné revealed he had paid his British-born wife Penelope hundreds of thousands of euros of public money for parliamentary assistance she allegedly did not provide. ... He has consistently denied any wrongdoing, but has admitted having made some mistakes. “I’m not asking you to love me,” he all but implored at one recent Paris rally. “I’m just asking you to support me, because it is in France’s interests.”

But with the first round now fast approaching and the two frontrunners appearing to run out of steam, Fillon’s support has firmed. Perhaps suffering from scandal fatigue, some rightwing voters earlier tempted by Macron to the centre and Le Pen further to the right may be returning to the fold. Recent polling shows the two frontrunners on 23-34% of the vote, leading Fillon and by barely three points and with Mélenchon a point or two behind. But with as many as one-third of voters still undecided, any two of the leading four could go through to the 7 May runoff.

Greece on alert after anarchist group sends parcel bombs to European leaders

European authorities have been shaken by the re-emergence of a Greek protest group classed as a terrorist organization by the U.S. state department.

On March 16, a parcel arrived at the German ministry of finance addressed to Wolfgang Schauble, the country’s steely second-in-command. Police said the package was designed to look like it was sent by Adonis Georgiadis, the deputy leader of Greece’s conservative opposition New Democracy party.

But in reality, this was no friendly exchange between two like-minded politicians. The intercepted parcel – containing a small scale explosive mechanism – had most likely been mailed by a group known as the conspiracy of fire cells (CFC), an organization that’s been active in Greece for the past decade and is considered by many to be the most dangerous anarchist group in the country.

At the same time, another parcel, which successfully exploded, arrived in the International Monetary Fund’s offices in Paris. This one was sent in the name of current New Democracy spokesperson Vasilis Kikilias and injured one person. While the CFC didn’t claim this attack, the method and timing are very suggestive.

The group’s anarchist ideology – with its roots in the anti-dictatorial struggle of 1967 – is one of several anarchist movements that have gained a new energy in recent years, thanks to the financial crisis that has been dogging Greece since 2010. Not limiting their discontent to simple anti-austerity slogans, the group seeks to attack institutions and specific people in Greece and abroad that they deem responsible for the present situation.

Somebody is working overtime to promote divisions among the proles. I guess that there will be a bonus in their paycheck allowing them to purchase an extra lump of horseflesh* at the outer party company store.

* By the standards of the early twentieth century, even a member of the Inner Party lives an austere, laborious kind of life. Nevertheless, the few luxuries that he does enjoy his large, well-appointed flat, the better texture of his clothes, the better quality of his food and drink and tobacco, his two or three servants, his private motor-car or helicopter -- set him in a different world from a member of the Outer Party, and the members of the Outer Party have a similar advantage in comparison with the submerged masses whom we call 'the proles'. The social atmosphere is that of a besieged city, where the possession of a lump of horseflesh makes the difference between wealth and poverty. And at the same time the consciousness of being at war, and therefore in danger, makes the handing-over of all power to a small caste seem the natural, unavoidable condition of survival.

-- George Orwell

White Nationalists, Neo-Nazis & Right-Wing Militia Members Clash with Antifa Protesters in Berkeley

Top Republican Paul Ryan assures UK of US trade ties in London visit

The US stands ready to agree a free trade deal with the UK as soon as possible, Paul Ryan, the Republican speaker of the House of Representatives, has said in London. He also predicted that the UK would be able to sign a Brexit agreement with the EU, adding that the US, as a special ally, would be standing by the UK all the way through the talks.

Ryan’s remarks, echoing previous promises by Donald Trump, will be music to the ears of the international trade secretary, Liam Fox, who was in the Policy Exchange thinktank audience addressed by Ryan.

He said: “Now that article 50 has been invoked, the UK and the EU will determine the best path forward over the course of these negotiations. We want the parties to come together and strike a lasting agreement: a strong UK-EU relationship is in all of our best interests.

“In that same vein, the United States will work closely with our EU friends and chart a path forward on TTIP [Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership] negotiations. At the same time we are committed to working with President Trump and your government to achieve a bilateral trade agreement between the United States and Britain.

Cleveland man will be released after 23 years in prison for murder he didn't commit

A Cleveland, Ohio man who thought he’d be spending the rest of his life in prison will soon know freedom again.

Evin King, 59, was convicted of killing his girlfriend, Crystal Hudson, in 1994 and sentenced to life in prison with eligibility for parole after 15 years. But with advances in DNA testing confirming his innocence, King is set to be released Wednesday.

Hudson was found strangled and beaten in a closet in her apartment. At the time of King’s conviction, the DNA samples gathered as evidence couldn’t be tested. After the Ohio branch of the Innocence Project took up King’s case, the organization successfully motioned for new DNA testing in 2008. Forensics later revealed that while the samples gathered from semen found in Hudson’s body and in skin cells underneath her fingernails matched, they didn’t come from King. He began filing for his freedom in 2010.

“After learning of the current analysis of the evidence, I believe that it is my duty to vacate Evin King’s conviction,” Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley said in a statement. His office filed a motion to vacate King’s conviction Tuesday, which was granted Wednesday morning, the bailiff for Judge Brian Corrigan, who oversaw the motion, told VICE News. Provided there are no other holds, King will be released Wednesday.

Donald Trump Expected to Pick Shadow Banker for Key Position at the Fed

The Federal Reserve's vice chair for supervision is arguably the most important financial regulator in the federal government. No agency has greater oversight responsibility of U.S. financial institutions than the Fed. And the vice chair influences what kinds of trades those institutions can make, how they must prepare for unexpected losses, and what punishment to mete out when banks fail to uphold the law.

Hedge funds and private equity firms are sometimes called “shadow banks” because they exist outside the regulatory perimeter, even though they engage in bank-like lending and investment activities. They want to keep it that way. And President Trump’s expected nomination of Randal Quarles to the vice chair’s role is about as close a guarantee as the shadow banking sector can get that the feds won’t be bothering them any time soon.

Quarles served two stints in the Treasury Department, under both Bush administrations, but afterward, he moved to the Carlyle Group, the $169 billion private equity giant. Quarles was part of the financial services team, which appears to be registered in the Cayman Islands tax haven. ... Currently, Quarles runs another private investment firm, The Cynosure Group, on behalf of a number of wealthy families. ...

At the Fed, Quarles would be able to prevent the designation of shadow bank investment funds as systemically important financial institutions, which face stronger regulation and capital requirements. Quarles could also play a strong role in overhauling the Volcker rule, potentially allowing shadow banks to suck up more money from other financial players. He would almost certainly be an evangelist for the industry from inside Washington. As Quarles told the Financial Times in 2008, “Private equity has become popular to demagogue unfairly but I don’t believe that politicians are succumbing to that temptation.” If confirmed, Quarles would also sit on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, helping guide decisions about interest-rate policy.

the horse race

Key Official in Trump-Russia Investigation Will Step Down

Mary B. McCord, who has been helping oversee the Justice Department’s probe into Russian interference in the presidential election, is stepping down from her post as the acting head of the department’s national security division and leaving the federal government in the coming weeks, a source familiar with McCord’s role told The Intercept. The source, who asked not to be identified as McCord’s departure has not been formally announced, said that McCord plans to work in academia after leaving government.

It was not immediately clear who will take over for McCord. ... McCord is a career civil servant who became acting assistant attorney general in charge of the national security division in October, when John Carlin, an Obama appointee, resigned. In that role, McCord was responsible for counterintelligence and counterterrorism investigations at Justice. In his testimony before Congress, FBI Director James Comey described the Russia probe as “a counterintelligence investigation” and said it would “include an assessment of whether any crimes were committed.”

“Any major investigation related to counter-intelligence or cyber-related counter-intelligence would fall under Mary’s leadership,” said Luke Dembosky, who served as deputy assistant attorney general at the national security division until last spring. ... Comey has been the public face of the federal investigation into Russian meddling with the election, although it is being handled inside the bureau by the counterintelligence division. Sessions has recused himself from the Russia probe, leaving acting deputy attorney general Dana Boente as the top official responsible for the investigation.

Keiser Report: Russian Connection

Chaffetz calls it quits

Utah Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz unexpectedly announced Wednesday that he would not run for re-election in 2018 or any other office. The chairman of the powerful House Oversight Committee, Chaffetz also ran for Speaker of the House in 2015 after Rep. John Boehner stepped down.

Anticipating people’s surprise, Chaffetz said in a Facebook post that “for those that would speculate otherwise, let me be clear that I have no ulterior motives” and that his decision was the result of “long consultation with my family and prayerful consideration.”

Left Vs. Right Is A Nonsensical Debate As Long As There’s A Deep State In America

Bernie Sanders appeared alongside DNC Chairman Tom Perez in a joint interview on MSNBC to promote their doomed-before-it-started “unity tour” Tuesday night, and, as he has been known to do from time to time, began ranting about Wall Street and the “billionaih” class. Chris Hayes decided to make things interesting and press Tom Perez to find out if he agreed with Sanders’ populist message about oligarchs and the ruling class, to which Perez responded, “Well listen, mealy-mouthed vapid nothing political speak Donald Trump, empty-headed bloviating drivel Donald Trump equivocations and avoidance please don’t let David Brock hit me again.”

Or something like that, I can’t be bothered transcribing that snivelling toadie. Here’s the clip:

So while trying to promote “unity”, the official leader of the Democratic party and the unofficial leader of the Democratic party together illustrated perfectly the only real political division existing in rank-and-file America today: those who pretend that America is a democracy wherein people get to use their votes to determine the direction in which their nation will move, and those who recognize that the most powerful nation in the world is in fact controlled by a few ruling elites who are not answerable to elected officials in any meaningful way. Perez avoided the question because his political career depends upon his ability to subvert that question and ultimately strangle it to death in its sleep; the Democratic establishment relies on kowtowing to the donor class and promulgating the narrative that all of America’s problems are caused by Republicans and bigotry. Meanwhile, that donor class occupies a crucial seat within the American deep state. ...

[T]he only real political divide in America right now is those who support the deep state and those who oppose it. Those who buy into the corporate media propaganda used to manufacture the consent of the governed for a system that exploits and oppresses them, and those who fight against that propaganda. This division crosses both of America’s phoney political parties and runs straight through all other cultural and ethnic divisions in the nation.

Russia-Bashing Helps Wall Street Democrats

After Hillary Clinton’s devastating loss nearly six months ago, her most powerful Democratic allies feared losing control of the party. Efforts to lip-synch economic populism while remaining closely tied to Wall Street had led to a catastrophic defeat. In the aftermath, the party’s progressive base — personified by Bernie Sanders — was in position to start flipping over the corporate game board. Aligned with Clinton, the elites of the Democratic Party needed to change the subject. Clear assessments of the national ticket’s failures were hazardous to the status quo within the party. So were the groundswells of opposition to unfair economic privilege. So were the grassroots pressures for the party to become a genuine force for challenging big banks, Wall Street and overall corporate power.

In short, the Democratic Party’s anti-Bernie establishment needed to reframe the discourse in a hurry. And — in tandem with mass media — it did. ...

For the Democratic Party’s most hawkish wing — dominant from the top down and allied with Clinton’s de facto neocon approach to foreign policy — the U.S. government’s April 6 cruise missile attack on a Syrian airfield was an indication of real leverage for more war. That attack on a close ally of Russia showed that incessant Russia-baiting of Trump can get gratifying military results for the Democratic elites who are undaunted in their advocacy of regime change in Syria and elsewhere. The politically motivated missile attack on Syria showed just how dangerous it is to keep Russia-baiting Trump, giving him political incentive to prove how tough he is on Russia after all. What’s at stake includes the imperative of preventing a military clash between the world’s two nuclear superpowers. But the corporate hawks at the top of the national Democratic Party have other priorities.

the evening greens

'Payout Time': Exxon Seeks Waiver From U.S. Sanctions to Drill in Russia

Exxon is applying for a waiver from the U.S. Treasury Department to bypass U.S. sanctions against Russia and resume offshore drilling in the Black Sea with the Russian oil company Rosneft, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

Among those charged with deciding to grant the permit is Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the former CEO of Exxon who previously oversaw the company's Russia operations. ...

Exxon was previously granted a permit to bypass the sanctions in 2014. Tillerson has said that he would recuse himself from Russia-related matters for two years as Secretary of State.

Cold snap: massive iceberg just off coast draws Canadians eager for close-up

A towering iceberg is causing traffic jams in a remote town on Canada’s east coast, as tourists jostle for a glimpse of the mass of ice sitting in shallow water just off Newfoundland.

The iceberg, which has dwarfed the nearby small town of Ferryland, is estimated to measure some 46 metres (150ft) at its highest point. “It’s the biggest one I ever seen around here,” mayor Adrian Kavanagh told the Canadian Press. “It’s a huge iceberg and it’s in so close that people can get a good photograph of it.”

So far this year the number of icebergs moving into the North Atlantic shipping lanes has spiked, forcing vessels to either slow down or make long detours. Some 616 icebergs have moved into the shipping lanes so far this year, as compared to 687 in all of 2016. Experts say uncommonly strong counterclockwise winds may be drawing the icebergs south. Global warming has also been linked to the increase, as it has accelerated the process by which chunks of the Greenland ice sheet break off and float away.

Apple promises to stop mining minerals to make iPhones — it just isn’t sure how yet

Apple has one of the most aggressive sustainability and recycling programs in tech, but it still pulls plenty of metals and toxic rare-earth materials out of the ground to make iPhones, iPads, Macbooks and other products. That’s about to change. The company is set to announce a new, unprecedented goal for the tech industry, “to stop mining the earth altogether.” ...

“We’re actually doing something we rarely do, which is announce a goal before we’ve completely figured out how to do it,” Apple’s Vice President of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives and a former head of the EPA, Lisa Jackson, told VICE News during an exclusive visit to Apple’s environmental testing lab on Monday. “So we’re a little nervous, but we also think it’s really important, because as a sector we believe it’s where technology should be going.” ...

Apple’s latest environmental achievements are notable, but they will likely be eclipsed by Apple’s new goal of giving up mining altogether. That’s because even though recycling phone components can have its own environmental impact, the kind of mining that Apple relies on is notorious for its labor abuses, and the pollution it discharges into local waterways. For instance, a Washington Post report last year revealed that, children had been seen working in Cobalt mines in the Congo — and cobalt is an important component in the lithium batteries that companies like Apple and Samsung rely on. (Apple has since helped launch a Responsible Cobalt Initiative and it completed an audit of its supply chain.)

Also of Interest

Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.

Why should Somalia’s children starve to pay for a debt crisis they didn't create?

13 Questions That Expose Charter School Falsehoods

A Little Night Music

Ma Rainey - Booze And Blues

Ma Rainey - Prove It On Me Blues

Gertrude 'Ma' Rainey - Chain Gang Blues

Ma Rainey - Oh Papa Blues

Louis Armstrong & Ma Rainey - See See Rider Blues

Gertrude 'Ma' Rainey - Stack O'Lee Blues

Ma Rainey - Black Cat Hoot Owl Blues

Ma Rainey - Barrel House Blues

Ma Rainey & Papa Charlie Jackson - Big Feeling Blues

19 users have voted.


Pricknick's picture

I sometimes think about how many news and political organizations will admit they were wrong when it's revealed that Clinton didn't lose because of Russia.
What am I thinking?
And hey. That picture of the iceberg is both beautiful and frightening on a global scale.

9 users have voted.

Regardless of the path in life I chose, I realize it's always forward, never straight.

joe shikspack's picture


heh, the news media will one day (and only one day) admit it was wrong, on page e53, beneath the fold in subscript type. the clinton people, on the other hand, will never, ever admit error.

yep, it's pretty impressive when greenland comes to visit. Smile

4 users have voted.
mimi's picture

I ran into this story and wondered if I should read that book.
Yikes! New Behind-the-Scenes Book Brutalizes the Clinton Campaign
'Shattered,' a campaign tell-all fueled by anonymous sources, outlines a generational political disaster.

Shattered is sourced almost entirely to figures inside the Clinton campaign who were and are deeply loyal to Clinton. Yet those sources tell of a campaign that spent nearly two years paralyzed by simple existential questions: Why are we running? What do we stand for?

If you're wondering what might be the point of rehashing this now, the responsibility for opposing Donald Trump going forward still rests with the (mostly anonymous) voices described in this book.

If I were not that tired of all of those anonymous voices ... it sure sounds like juicy gossip. I wonder what dkmich had to say about that book...
Good Night.

8 users have voted.

“Politicians and diapers must be changed often, and for the same reason.” -- Mark Twain

joe shikspack's picture


i guess i'm just not all that interested in deconstructing how clinton lost. i would be interested in reconstructing the means by which she won the democratic party nomination - i think that might be a useful disclosure.

9 users have voted.
mimi's picture

@joe shikspack @joe shikspack
juicy gossip from anonymous voices would have indicated ... that I don't read stuff like that.
But then I haven't read the book and won't make a judgement. Oh well, I failed again to cross over the way I thought I would.

It's hard not to lose hope these days and not be totally disinterested in Madame Clinton and her "career path".

3 users have voted.

“Politicians and diapers must be changed often, and for the same reason.” -- Mark Twain

So with the Georgia election, which I expect the goper to win in the run-off, establishment democrats will have lost three federal positions since Putin, erh ah, Trump became President. By the way, after looking at Osoffs web page--platitudes and definitively not progressive.

Pundits want to read into these elections some message about Trump. Actually the message is about democrats. Judging by these elections, the democratic party strategy of focusing on Russia to the exclusion of all else is not winning them elections. The democratic party establishment thought they had a winning electoral strategy that would even turn republicans against Trump.

I think DC dems are deluding themselves as they live in the bubble of the NYTimes, WaPO, and the NY mass media centers. They think the massive coverage of Russia/Trump reflects the mood of the people in Georgia and Kansas. Looks like dems and their enablers are doubling down on Russia. I think yesterday's Maddow show was on Putin/Russians secretively meeting with Prince of Blackwater fame.

As I tell my democratic party friends. The DNC needs to hire Putin as unlike the DNC, he knows how to win American elections.

8 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


i guess it's fine with me if the democrats want to keep descending into further irrelevance, the more they double down, the easier it will be to kick them to the curb and launch a replacement party.

6 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

president but hopefully he will be remembered as the first Black president responsible for bringing slavery back in vogue.
Don't forget that he lowered Malaysia's ratings so that they could be included in the TPP even though they are involved in slavery and human trafficking.
This should be his legacy.

5 users have voted.

Sessions would have taken Jesus away from his homeless refugee parents

joe shikspack's picture


"barack t. slavery-enabler." a fitting label for a man of his record and inclinations.

3 users have voted.
Bollox Ref's picture

reminds me of desperate 'one hit wonders' from the '80's trying to salvage something in their late 50's in the here and now.

Doomed from the start.

5 users have voted.

from a reasonably stable genius.

joe shikspack's picture

@Bollox Ref

it seems like it comes at a stage in the democratic party's career where rather than touring, they ought to be booking into las vegas casinos for long runs.

5 users have voted.
Pricknick's picture

@Bollox Ref
I could find some of those

'one hit wonders'

from the 80's and 70's.
Good medicine. Some might say cronic.

2 users have voted.

Regardless of the path in life I chose, I realize it's always forward, never straight.

smiley7's picture

Today Trump praised Italy including a mention of Pavarotti immediately following his name saying, "he's a friend, great friend of mine."

I wanted to throw rocks at the computer.

Guess they have Nancy Reagan's seance table in 24/7 mode at the WH.

Thanks for the news and blues!

5 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


well, i suppose that it's good he actually knows an italian person. "i like pavarotti" sounds far more genuine than, "i like mexico, see, i'm eating a taco bowl."

3 users have voted.
smiley7's picture

@joe shikspack
BS, but Chris Hayes just called him out on it; citing a letter to Trump from the Pavarotti family asking Trump to stop using his

Nessun Dorma

during his campaign and more. Good!

So: let's celebrate the great,

4 users have voted.
Lookout's picture

Maduro speaks out (30 sec)

And for those of you who can't make it to DC but wanted to be part of the Science March or Climate March, Democracy now is going to live stream them.

Saturday, April 22, 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. ET
March for Science as scientists from across the country gather in Washington, D.C. to defend the vital role science plays in the nation’s health, safety, economy, and government.

Saturday, April 29, 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. ET
People’s Climate March in Washington, D.C., organized to protest the Trump Administration’s climate change denying agenda.

No it's not like being there, but you didn't burn a bunch of Carbon to get there either.

We'll hope everyone has a good evening. The rose breasted grosbeaks have come for their spring visit this week and that's been fun. All the best to all of you!

7 users have voted.

“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

joe shikspack's picture


yeah, i've been watching what's going on in venezuela and it doesn't look good. i find myself wondering how much longer maduro and the chavista movement can hold out against the cia and the rest of the us ratfucking brigade forces arrayed against them.

4 users have voted.
Unabashed Liberal's picture

Thanks for tonight's edition of News & Blues, Joe. Will check back in when I get back from the neighborhood ATM; but, thought I'd leave you Guys with something to chew on in the meantime.

The Dude is downright scary, if you ask me.





“I believe in the redemptive powers of a dog’s love. It is in recognition of each dog’s potential to lift the human spirit and therefore– to change society for the better, that I fight to make sure every street dog has its day.”
--Stasha Wong, Secretary, Save Our Street Dogs (SOSD)

The SOSD Fantastic Four

Available For Adoption, Save Our Street Dogs, SOSD

Taro, SOSD

6 users have voted.

"The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it."
--George Bernard Shaw, Irish Dramatist & Socialist
"We [corporations] are the government!" Actor John Colicos (1978)

joe shikspack's picture

@Unabashed Liberal

i know that it's bad karma, but i can't get the satisfying image of al from receding from sight on an ice floe out of my head after listening to him scheming to undermine social security.

8 users have voted.
Unabashed Liberal's picture

@joe shikspack

anything, it would be too good for ol' Al considering all the damage he's done over the years. I forgot to date the video--it was clipped from a December 2013 appearance on Washington Journal.

Enjoyed the Johnstone piece, and quote--she has become one of my favorite writers. And she's spot on about the 'deep state.'

I am happy for Mr King. I cannot fathom having to cope with being unjustly imprisoned, much less for 23 years. If I can relocate it, I might throw up a video of a CBS 60 Minutes video (with the late Ed Bradley) about a capital murder case/conviction that I'm familiar with from years ago. The interview was conducted in the late 80's while we were living in Interior Alaska. As a child, I knew the owner of the place where the murder of the 18 year old girl occurred.

Thankfully, after several appeals, Mr McMillan (the wrongly accused) was exonerated, the charges were dismissed, and he was released. IIRC, he spent about 7 years in confinement.

This wasn't a case of DNA evidence exonerating someone--it was one of legal malfeasance, including charges of Perjury, False Accusation, and Official Misconduct, most likely stemming (at least partly) from racial animus.


“I believe in the redemptive powers of a dog’s love. It is in recognition of each dog’s potential to lift the human spirit and therefore– to change society for the better, that I fight to make sure every street dog has its day.”
--Stasha Wong, Secretary, Save Our Street Dogs (SOSD)

2 users have voted.

"The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it."
--George Bernard Shaw, Irish Dramatist & Socialist
"We [corporations] are the government!" Actor John Colicos (1978)

karl pearson's picture

@Unabashed Liberal Found this interesting info in Wiki regarding Al From, founder of the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC):

From led the DLC from its inception in 1985 until he stepped down as CEO in April 2009.[10][11][12]
He founded the DLC in 1985, at a time as Roll Call writes, "Democrats appeared to be on the brink of a permanent excursion into the political wild following Walter Mondale’s 49-state drubbing by incumbent President Ronald Reagan in 1984.”[13]
In 1991, the Reverend Jesse Jackson called the DLC “Democrats for the Leisure Class,” and in 2003, former Democratic National Committee Chair and Vermont Governor Howard Dean sharply criticized From and the DLC as the Republican wing of the Democratic Party.[14][15]

With his talk of Social Security, it looks as if Al From is going to lead the Democrats into the desert for 40 years. The Dems will stay there too, unless they return to their FDR roots.

3 users have voted.
Unabashed Liberal's picture

@karl pearson

for the link and excerpt.

One of my worst fears is that they'll sneak through a funding 'reform,' and we won't even have a chance to fight it.


“I believe in the redemptive powers of a dog’s love. It is in recognition of each dog’s potential to lift the human spirit and therefore– to change society for the better, that I fight to make sure every street dog has its day.”
--Stasha Wong, Secretary, Save Our Street Dogs (SOSD)

3 users have voted.

"The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it."
--George Bernard Shaw, Irish Dramatist & Socialist
"We [corporations] are the government!" Actor John Colicos (1978)

enhydra lutris's picture

Russians to interfere with our governance by meddling in our elections with words instead of just using bullets like we do when we interfere with other people's governance. I think a lot of people need to be reminded of that.

9 users have voted.

That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

joe shikspack's picture

@enhydra lutris

but, but, using words instead of bullets - that's just so sneaky! Smile

8 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

i'll check back in tomorrow.

3 users have voted.
divineorder's picture

could oppose a march in support of science? Heh.

2 users have voted.

A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

joe shikspack's picture


glad that there's a branch near you. i may head down to dc to check it out if i can shake loose from some other commitments.

0 users have voted.