The Evening Blues - 5-15-18


The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: Cab Calloway

Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features jazz singer Cab Calloway. Enjoy!

Cab Calloway - Saint James Infirmary Blues

"We have about 50% of the world’s wealth, but only 6.3% of its population. … In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity. … To do so, we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and day-dreaming; and our attention will have to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives. … We should cease to talk about vague and … unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of the living standards, and democratization. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are then hampered by idealistic slogans, the better."

-- George F. Kennan

News and Opinion

Palestinians Mark 70th Anniversary of Nakba After Israel Kills 61 & Wounds 2,700 Protesters in Gaza

U.S. Media Whitewashes Gaza Massacre

Typical of mindset of corporate media reporting on what happened in Gaza on Monday as Israeli soldiers killed more than 50 protesting Palestinians, is this tweet from CNN. It says: “Death toll rises to at least 52 people during clashes along the border fence between Israel and Gaza, Palestinian officials say. More than 2,400 people have been injured.” CNN’s new slogan is “#FactsFirst.”

Adam Johnson, who writes for the media watchdog Fairness and Accuracy in Media, responded to CNN with a tweet of his own:

Craig Murray, a former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, said on his blog that he did a Google News search for the word “massacre” and found not one reference to Gaza. A New York Times headline on Monday said: “Dozens of Palestinians have died in protests as the U.S. prepares to open its Jerusalem Embassy.” Journalist Glenn Greenwald responded: “Most western media outlets have become quite skilled – through years of practice – at writing headlines and describing Israeli massacres using the passive tense so as to hide the culprit. But the all-time champion has long been, and remains, the New York Times. #HaveDied.”

Yet another CNN headline simply read: “Dozens die in Gaza.” Journalist Max Blumenthal responded: “Maybe they were old. Perhaps they were very sick. They just up and died! Who will solve the mystery behind these deaths?” Blumenthal later offered a possible solution to the mystery: “According to the White House, Khhamas launched 41 protesters into unsuspecting Israeli bullets.”

Deflecting blame from Israel is one thing. But projecting it onto the victim is quite another. Israel’s UN Ambassador Danny Danon on Monday called for the U.N. Security Council to, “Condemn Hamas for their war crimes,” because “every casualty on the border is a direct victim of Hamas.” ... That’s one way to wash the Israeli government’s (blood-soaked) hands of the matter. ... Danon’s position was callously promoted by the White House on Monday. Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah was asked several times to condemn Israel’s military response. “We believe Hamas is responsible for these tragic deaths,” he said. “Their rather cynical exploitation of the situation is what’s leading to these deaths and we want it stopped.” He later blamed Hamas for a “gruesome and unfortunate propaganda attempt.”

Unsurprisingly, Congress also lined up behind the Jewish State, mostly ignoring what went on in Gaza.

An 8-month-old baby in Gaza died from teargas inhalation

An 8-month-old baby girl is among those killed by Israeli troops during mass protests in Gaza over the official relocation of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, Palestinian officials reported Tuesday.

Laila Anwar Ghandour is one of eight children killed Monday when Israeli troops used deadly force against protesters along the border, according to Palestine’s health ministry. The baby died of asphyxiation from teargas.

The baby’s parents held her funeral on Tuesday, the day of "Nakba," a memorial of the 700,000 Palestinians who were driven from their homes exactly 70 years ago after the creation of Israel.

Jared Kushner veered off-script with inflammatory remarks about Gaza protests

Jared Kushner made a wildly controversial comment about the unrest in Gaza to a crowd at the U.S. Embassy opening in Jerusalem on Monday that did not appear to be part of his prepared remarks and was not included in excerpts of the speech later released by the White House.

"As we have seen from the protests of the last month and even today, those provoking violence are part of the problem and not part of the solution," Kushner said in a rare public appearance. His comments were in reference to the Palestinians protesting the embassy moving from Tel Aviv. In the hours leading up to the ceremony, and continuing though the day, at least 52 Palestinians were gunned down and over 2,000 more were injured by Israeli soldiers in the contested Gaza Strip, making it the deadliest day between Israelis and Palestinians since the 2014 Gaza War, according to CNN.

The president's son-in-law and senior adviser has been overseeing Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts for several months, mostly behind the scenes, and this speech was arguably his most significant policy speech to date.

But Kushner’s comments as the violence raged on weren’t included in the excerpts of his remarks delivered to the press ahead of time, according to TIME Magazine. And while VICE News was unable to verify the report, MSNBC News reporter Ayman Mohyeldin says that they were completely omitted from an official White House transcript he obtained.

Gazan Writer: Protesters Are Seeking Freedom from World’s Largest Concentration Camp

As World Condemns 'Appalling' Crimes, US Defends Israeli Massacre in Gaza and Blocks Call for UN Probe

After making the widely condemned and erroneous assertion that responsibility for Israel's massacre of more than 50 Palestinians "rests squarely with Hamas," the Trump administration on Monday unilaterally blocked a United Nations statement that expressed "outrage" at Israel's killings and demanded "an independent and transparent" investigation.

While the U.S. refused to even permit an investigation into Israel's murderous behavior—let alone denounce it—during an emergency U.N. Security Council meeting, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley took the further step of applauding Israel forces during her speech for showing admirable "restraint" as it mowed down dozens of peaceful demonstrators, and attempted to blame Iran for stoking "violence throughout the Middle East."

In sharp contrast to Haley's "disgusting" and fact-free speech, Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, directly condemned Israel's actions in a statement on Tuesday, repeating the call for an independent probe and saying "enough is enough."

"We condemn the appalling, deadly violence in Gaza yesterday during which 58 Palestinians were killed and almost 1,360 demonstrators were injured with live ammunition by Israeli security forces," Colville said. "The rules on the use of force under international law have been repeated many times but appear to have been ignored again and again. It seems anyone is liable to be shot dead or injured: women, children, press personnel, first responders, bystanders, and at almost any point up to 700 meters from the fence."

Gearing Up for the Third Gulf War

The New York Times recently reported that U.S. Army Special Forces were secretly aiding the Saudi Arabian military against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. It was only the latest sign preceding President Trump’s Iran announcement that Washington was gearing up for the possibility of another interstate war in the Persian Gulf region. The first two Gulf wars — Operation Desert Storm (the 1990 campaign to drive Iraqi forces out of Kuwait) and the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq — ended in American “victories” that unleashed virulent strains of terrorism like ISIS, uprooted millions, and unsettled the Greater Middle East in disastrous ways. The Third Gulf War — not against Iraq but Iran and its allies — will undoubtedly result in another American “victory” that could loose even more horrific forces of chaos and bloodshed.

Like the first two Gulf wars, the third could involve high-intensity clashes between an array of American forces and those of Iran, another well-armed state. While the United States has been fighting ISIS and other terrorist entities in the Middle East and elsewhere in recent years, such warfare bears little relation to engaging a modern state determined to defend its sovereign territory with professional armed forces that have the will, if not necessarily the wherewithal, to counter major U.S. weapons systems.

A Third Gulf War would distinguish itself from recent Middle Eastern conflicts by the geographic span of the fighting and the number of major actors that might become involved. In all likelihood, the field of battle would stretch from the shores of the Mediterranean, where Lebanon abuts Israel, to the Strait of Hormuz, where the Persian Gulf empties into the Indian Ocean. Participants could include, on one side, Iran, the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and assorted Shia militias in Iraq and Yemen; and, on the other, Israel, Saudi Arabia, the United States, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).  If the fighting in Syria were to get out of hand, Russian forces could even become involved.

All of these forces have been equipping themselves with massive arrays of modern weaponry in recent years, ensuring that any fighting will be intense, bloody, and horrifically destructive. Iran has been acquiring an assortment of modern weapons from Russia and possesses its own substantial arms industry. It, in turn, has been supplying the Assad regime with modern arms and is suspected of shipping an array of missiles and other munitions to Hezbollah. Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE have long been major recipients of tens of billions of dollars of sophisticated American weaponry and President Trump has promised to supply them with so much more.

This means that, once ignited, a Third Gulf War could quickly escalate and would undoubtedly generate large numbers of civilian and military casualties, and new flows of refugees. The United States and its allies would try to quickly cripple Iran’s war-making capabilities, a task that would require multiple waves of air and missile strikes, some surely directed at facilities in densely populated areas. Iran and its allies would seek to respond by attacking high-value targets in Israel and Saudi Arabia, including cities and oil facilities. Iran’s Shia allies in Iraq, Yemen, and elsewhere could be expected to launch attacks of their own on the U.S.-led alliance. Where all this would lead, once such fighting began, is of course impossible to predict, but the history of the twenty-first century suggests that, whatever happens, it won’t follow the carefully laid plans of commanding generals (or their civilian overseers) and won’t end either expectably or well. Precisely what kind of incident or series of events would ignite a war of this sort is similarly unpredictable. Nonetheless, it seems obvious that the world is moving ever closer to a moment when the right (or perhaps the better word is wrong) spark could set off a chain of events leading to full-scale hostilities in the Middle East in the wake of President Trump’s recent rejection of the nuclear deal.

An excellent article:

The World Will Not Mourn the Decline of U.S. Hegemony

There are good reasons to bemoan the presence of the childish, racist, sexist and ecocidal, right-wing plutocrat Donald Trump in the White House. One complaint about Trump that should be held at arm’s-length by anyone on the left, however, is the charge that Trump is contributing to the decline of U.S. global power—to the erosion of the United States’ superpower status and the emergence of a more multipolar world.

This criticism of Trump comes from different elite corners. Last October, the leading neoconservative foreign policy intellectual and former George W. Bush administration adviser Eliot Cohen wrote an Atlantic magazine essay titled “How Trump Is Ending the American Era.” Cohen recounted numerous ways in which Trump had reduced “America’s standing and ability to influence global affairs.” He worried that Trump’s presidency would leave “America’s position in the world stunted” and an “America lacking confidence” on the global stage.

But it isn’t just the right wing that writes and speaks in such terms about how Trump is contributing to the decline of U.S. hegemony. A recent Time magazine reflection by the liberal commentator Karl Vick (who wrote in strongly supportive terms about the giant January 2017 Women’s March against Trump) frets that that Trump’s “America First” and authoritarian views have the world “looking for leadership elsewhere.” ... I recently reviewed a manuscript on the rise of Trump written by a left-liberal American sociologist. Near the end of this forthcoming and mostly excellent and instructive volume, the author finds it “worrisome” that other nations see the U.S. “abdicating its role as the world’s leading policeman” under Trump—and that, “given what we have seen so far from the [Trump] administration, U.S. hegemony appears to be on shakier ground than it has been in a long time.”

I’ll leave aside the matter of whether Trump is, in fact, speeding the decline of U.S. global power (he undoubtedly is) and how he’s doing that, to focus instead on a very different question: What would be so awful about the end of “the American Era”—the seven-plus decades of U.S. global economic and related military supremacy between 1945 and the present? Why should the world mourn the “premature” end of the “American Century”?

The clumsy and stupid Trump has taken the imperial baton from the elegant and silver-tongued “imperial grandmaster” Obama, keeping the superpower’s vast global military machine set on kill. ... That Trump murders with less sophistication, outward moral restraint and credible claim to embody enlightened Western values and multilateral commitment than Obama did is perhaps preferable to some degree. It is better for empire to be exposed in its full and ugly nakedness, to speed its overdue demise.

Overtures continue ahead of Trump-North Korea summit

Top figures in the Trump administration are continuing to build up expectations that North Korea will submit to US demands for the complete and verifiable destruction of its small arsenal of nuclear weapons. A summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has been scheduled for Singapore on June 12. ... US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reported that he had held “conversations … about the strategic decision that Chairman Kim has before him … and if he is prepared, in exchange for the assurances we are ready to provide to him … to fully denuclearise.”

Pompeo claimed that the US would “work with North Korea to achieve prosperity on the par with our South Korean friends”—suggesting that massive economic assistance would be provided to the isolated and backward state. ... In its own apparent overture, the North Korean regime announced on May 11 that it will invite international media to observe controlled explosions aimed at sealing its main nuclear test site deep in the mountains at Punggye-ri. The shutting down of the facility has been scheduled for May 23–25. The North Korean media has announced the test site is no longer needed, as the country has fully operational nuclear weapons.

Speculation is well underway on the prospect of a rapprochement between the US and North Korea that will open the way for a flood of investment into the north by South Korean and other corporations. A comment published by Bloomberg News suggested that North Korea would be the “next Vietnam.” After the Vietnamese Stalinist regime restored capitalist relations in 1986, large-scale manufacturing operations were established in the country, with workers paid wages and enduring conditions far worse than even those in China’s free trade zones. ...

The perspective of “reunification” on the Korean Peninsula promoted by both North and South Korea does not mean an end to the separate states or the border between them. The South Korean capitalist class wants to maintain the North Korean military regime intact to preside over the ruthless exploitation of the working class and brutally repress any resistance. In exchange, the ruling clique around Kim Jong-un would be provided wealth, privilege and guarantees of its survival.

The prospect nevertheless remains that the Trump-Kim talks will rapidly break down over the definition of “denuclearisation” and the timeframe for it to be implemented. North Korea’s key demands are that the US sign a peace treaty to formally end the 1950–53 Korean War—which concluded with only an armistice—and give assurances that it will not militarily threaten North Korea in the future. ... Kim has hinted that his regime is prepared to accept American forces remaining, but China will placing immense pressure on North Korea to at least insist on the removal of the US THAAD anti-missile system that was deployed on the pretext of defending South Korea against any North Korean attack. The system, which is also operational in Japan, Hawaii and Guam, is above all targeted at monitoring and nullifying China’s nuclear arsenal.

EU tells Iran it will try to protect firms from US sanctions

Tehran is being given assurances that European governments will seek to protect companies doing business in Iran from renewed US sanctions, as foreign ministers prepare to meet in Brussels to salvage the nuclear deal. Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, met Federica Mogherini, the EU external affairs chief, on Tuesday morning and will meet the foreign ministers of France, Germany and the UK – the three European signatories to the deal – in the evening.

Iran wants assurances that EU trade with Iran will continue to grow, despite Donald Trump pulling the US out of the nuclear deal. Zarif said after his first meeting that talks were “moving in the right direction”, adding that it was “a nice and constructive meeting”.

The crisis, potentially plunging the US and Europe into a sanctions war and raising serious questions about European economic sovereignty, will also be discussed at a meeting of EU heads of state on Wednesday in Sofia.

In a pre-emptive strike on Tuesday, the US treasury imposed new sanctions on the governor of the Iranian central bank, Valiollah Seif, and the Iraq based Al-Bilad Islamic Bank – in both cases for allegedly moving millions of dollars to Hezbollah on behalf of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. The US treasury said the move would cut off Iran’s access to the critical bank network. The US has said it will progressively reintroduce the main sanctions against Iran, starting with the automobile and civil aviation sectors on 6 August. Energy and finance will follow on 4 November.

Ahead of Vote on Gina Haspel, Senate Pulls Access to Damning Classified Memo

As the Senate prepares for a Wednesday vote on whether to confirm Gina Haspel as director of the CIA, the Senate Intelligence Committee has restricted access to a classified memo that Democratic staff put together, detailing Haspel’s role in advocating for torture and later destroying related evidence.

On Monday morning, Elizabeth Falcone, a senior aide for Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, the top-ranking Democrat on the intelligence committee, announced the decision to restrict access in an email to Democratic legislative directors. The memo had previously been available for senators and staff with security clearances to review in a Secure Compartmented Information Facility housed within Congress. Staff will no longer be able to review the document, and senators will only be able to do so upon request. It has been removed from the SCIF. ...

The decision to restrict access to the memo is especially unusual given that Warner just last week criticized the CIA for an “unacceptable” lack of transparency in the run-up to Haspel’s hearing. ... Warner’s move has heightened fears among Haspel opponents that Warner is preparing to vote to confirm Haspel. ... People briefed on the contents of the memo say that it is not possible to read it and come away without serious doubts about whether Haspel ought to be confirmed.

Ecuador spent millions on spy operation for Julian Assange

Ecuador bankrolled a multimillion-dollar spy operation to protect and support Julian Assange in its central London embassy, employing an international security company and undercover agents to monitor his visitors, embassy staff and even the British police, according to documents seen by the Guardian.

Over more than five years, Ecuador put at least $5m (£3.7m) into a secret intelligence budget that protected the WikiLeaks founder while he had visits from Nigel Farage, members of European nationalist groups and individuals linked to the Kremlin. Other guests included hackers, activists, lawyers and journalists. ...

Documents show the intelligence programme, called “Operation Guest”, which later became known as “Operation Hotel” – coupled with parallel covert actions – ran up an average cost of at least $66,000 a month for security, intelligence gathering and counter-intelligence to “protect” one of the world’s most high-profile fugitives.

An investigation by the Guardian and Focus Ecuador reveals the operation had the approval of the then Ecuadorian president, Rafael Correa, and the then foreign minister, Ricardo Patiño, according to sources. Correa has defended the decision to give Assange political asylum and described the UK’s behaviour towards Ecuador as “intolerable”.

Shaun King nails it:

Stop Asking What Happened Before Someone Started Filming Police Brutality

Black people don't wear body cameras. We probably should, but we aren’t filming 360 degrees of our lives 24/7. So when an everyday black man, woman, boy, or girl ends up being confronted with racism or bigotry or police brutality of some kind, it just so happens that the filming tends to start when the horror is already well underway. That’s an important and necessary fact to lift up. When black folks are literally just living our lives, going about our business, we don’t think, “Golly, I should probably start filming right now just in case brutality or bigotry breaks out so that I have the beginning, middle, and end of it all on film.”

That’s not how life works – not for African-Americans – or for anybody. ... And it’s that fact that is now producing a tired trope I hear every single day from people who witness the awful videos and then ask the question, “But what happened before this was being filmed?”

The question itself is rooted in racism. When we witness African-Americans being brutalized in the most horrific ways imaginable, when we see discrimination of the worst degree humiliating or degrading African-Americans who just want to live their lives in peace, what happened before someone was forced to consider the need to begin filming an incident really does not matter.

Here’s why. The question is most often asked because the person asking wants to believe that the brutality or discrimination was necessary and justified. What I am telling you is that brutality and racial discrimination are never justified.

Black 22-year-old killed during arrest died from “homicide by asphyxiation,” autopsy finds

The cause of death for Keeven Robinson, a 22-year-old black man who died while four white police officers were arresting him just outside New Orleans, was “homicide by asphyxiation,” the Jefferson Parish Coroner’s office announced Monday. Robinson, who police were watching as the subject of an undercover narcotics investigation, suffered “significant traumatic injuries to the neck, the soft tissue of the neck,” Jefferson Parish Coroner Dr. Gerry Cvitanovich said in a press conference Monday morning.

“This initial medical classification does not take into account whether the homicide was an intentional act, accidental act, or an act incidental to a law enforcement action,” a spokesperson for the sheriff's office said in a statement provided to NBC affiliate WDSU News. ...

According to The Times-Picayune, the incident began when detectives spotted Robinson, who was suspected of dealing narcotics, at a gas station. Robinson fled, wrecked his car, hopped a few fences, and led the detectives on a foot race before he was caught in the backyard of a home. During the struggle in the backyard, Robinson stopped breathing. He was taken to the hospital where he could not be revived.

Alabama teacher salaries unchanged for ten years

Alabama teachers’ salaries have remained stagnant for ten years. In addition, the salaries teachers currently earn are worth even less due to steadily rising living expenses. When considering inflation, the average salary for an Alabama teacher is seven percent lower now than it was during the 1999-2000 school year. Between 2009 and 2017, the value of a teacher’s salary dropped by nine percent against the rate of inflation. In March, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed into law a 2.5 percent cost-of-living increase for the state’s K-12 teachers. The raise, which will go into effect in October, marks the first cost-of-living increase Alabama’s teachers have seen since 2008.

Amy Marlowe, the assistant chief of member advocacy and outreach for the Alabama Education Association (AEA), was quick to assure reporters for that the state’s teachers appreciate the miniscule pay raise; however, she said that she doubted it would be “enough” for teachers, who have endured stagnating wages and low morale after years of attacks upon education spending in the state. “I think teachers are a sleeping giant right now,” Marlowe told Had legislators not assured teachers that another raise would be granted in 2019, she said, “I think we would have had a hard time containing them.”

Marianne Hayward, the president of the Jefferson County chapter of the Alabama Federation of Teachers (AFT), acknowledged the militant mood among the rank-and-file. Speaking to, Hayward speculated that the raise represented a political ploy by state lawmakers during an election year—lawmakers who have probably nervously watched news of teachers’ strikes in other states. “I think we’ve been desensitized to think ‘oh thank you so much for 2 percent’,” Hayward said. She noted a “strong undercurrent” of discontent among AFT members. Between the low pay and the deteriorating working conditions, Hayward remarked, “They’re going to reach a breaking point.”

'Tax Amazon': Seattle passes plan for corporate wealth tax to fund housing

A parade of hardhat union workers and threats from hometown-behemoth Amazon did not stop Seattle leaders from passing on Monday a “head tax” meant to fund housing projects and homeless services. A watered-down version of the tax, which will charge the city’s largest employees $275 per worker annually, is now expected to be enacted by Seattle’s mayor, Jenny Durkan. The tax is projected to generate about $48m a year to address a housing crisis spurred on by Amazon’s rapid growth.

A broader tax proposal prompted the tech company to halt construction on one Seattle office tower and put off a lease of another tower. Union construction workers marched on city call to protest the tax, which also drew opposition from business interests. Socialists and self-styled members of the “Seattle silent majority” squared off prior to Monday’s vote. Neither side supported the compromise, and most speakers blamed city leaders for an escalating homelessness crisis that has seen city sidewalks, parks and roadsides packed with tents and shacks.

About 60% of the tax revenue will go to new housing projects for low and middle-income Seattle residents. The remainder would go to homeless services, including shelter beds, camps and overnight parking. On Friday, city council members approved a proposal to charge the large employers in the city $500-per-employee. Following a veto threat from Durkan, the council decreased the total charge and included a five-year sunset provision over objections of supporters of the original legislation.

“Do not capitulate to [Amazon CEO Jeff] Bezos’ bullying,” Emily McArthur, an organizer with Socialist Alternative, demanded of the council. “Tax Amazon. Be leaders.”

the evening greens

Investors Controlling $2.5 Trillion Stand With Indigenous People Against Trump Plan to Drill 'Sacred' Arctic Refuge

An indigenous group was joined by investors controlling trillions of dollars in assets on Monday as they called for fossil fuel companies and the banks that fund them to end efforts to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge—making clear that harming the protected land is bad for business as well as destructive to indigenous groups' land and the environment. "We strongly urge banks and oil and gas companies to honor their fiduciary duty to investors and refuse to engage in drilling in the Arctic Refuge," the investors wrote. "We, as investors, encourage expanding support for the wide range of clean energy solutions and sustainable industries in Alaska, instead of helping to destroy this natural wonder."

The diverse group of investors included religious endowments like the Episcopal Church and the Dominican Sisters, asset management groups, and healthcare companies, whose combined assets amount to $2.52 trillion. Their letter echoed grave concerns raised by environmentalists and the indigenous people of the area. About 7,000 Gwich'in people live near the refuge and rely on the caribou that roam there for sustenance. The local tribe calls the refuge "The Sacred Place Where Life Begins," and have demanded that the Trump administration protect the refuge from the fossil fuel industry instead of opening it to oil and gas development, as Republicans in Congress voted to do last December.

"It is both deeply unethical and unwise to permanently destroy lands vital to the culture and existence of the Gwich'in to pursue this high-risk gamble," wrote the Gwich'in Steering Committee in its own letter, which was co-signed by more than 100 green campaigners and indigenous rights groups. "Any oil company or bank that supports drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge faces enormous reputational risk and public backlash. Their brands would be associated with trampling on human rights, destroying one of the world’s last remaining intact wild places, and contributing to the climate crisis."

The letters from the groups come after the Trump administration last month took its first major step toward opening the Arctic Refuge to oil and gas development, when the Interior Department began its environmental review to determine the effects of drilling with the goal of beginning to sell drilling leases to oil companies.

Keiser Report: Fracking and Russian Trolls

'This Is a Big Deal': Fearing 'Public Relations Nightmare,' Pruitt's EPA Blocked Release of a Major Water Contamination Study

Fearing a "public relations nightmare," President Donald Trump's White House and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), under the reign of administrator Scott Pruitt, blocked the release of a major water contamination story, according to emails obtained by the Union of Concerned Scientists and reported on by Politico. News of the Trump administration's interference with a federal study on "a nationwide water-contamination crisis" infuriated reporters, politicians, experts, and advocates for public health and the environment. Friends of the Earth tweeted, "Scott Pruitt is more worried about journalists than poisoning millions of Americans."

The chemicals that were under review are PFOA and PFOS, which, as Politico notes, "have long been used in products like Teflon and firefighting foam"—as well as by the Department of Defense, when it conducts exercises at U.S. bases—despite the fact that they "have been linked with thyroid defects, problems in pregnancy, and certain cancers, even at low levels of exposure." The study, conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), reportedly shows that these chemicals are dangerous to human health at far lower levels than previously known or diclosed by the EPA, and have "contaminated water supplies near military bases, chemical plants, and other sites from New York to Michigan to West Virginia."

One email sent by a White House aide to a staffer who oversees environmental issues at the Office of Budget and Management said:

The public, media, and Congressional reaction to these numbers is going to be huge. ...The impact to EPA and [the Defense Department] is going to be extremely painful. We (DoD and EPA) cannot seem to get ATSDR to realize the potential public relations nightmare this is going to be.

"Soon after the Trump White House raised concerns about the impending study," Politico reports, "EPA chief of staff Ryan Jackson reached out to his HHS counterpart, as well as senior officials in charge of the agency overseeing the assessment to discuss coordinating work among HHS, EPA, and the Pentagon." However, according to HHS, there are no plans to publicly release the study.

Inspector general says Pruitt lied about threats to justify his security detail

Things just keep getting worse for EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. On April 26, Pruitt testified he had received threats so intense and “unprecedented in terms of quality and type” that they justified his constant, 24/7 taxpayer-funded security detail that accompanied him everywhere — including on his personal trips to Disneyland and the Rose Bowl. What's more, Pruitt said, even the inspector general himself had documented death threats against him, and in an August 2017 inspector general document, listed threats against Pruitt and others as reasoning for the round-the-clock security detail.

But on Monday, EPA Inspector General Arthur Elkins disputed that in a letter to Democratic Senators Tom Carper and Sheldon Whitehouse, adding that Pruitt had actually ordered his constant security right after he was confirmed as EPA administrator.

Also of Interest

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

Western leaders betrayed Palestinians 70 years ago. There is no sign that’s about to change

Ivanka Trump Opens U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem During Israeli Massacre of Palestinians in Gaza

Gaza killings: Names and faces of those killed by Israeli forces this week

Federal court wants to know who, if anyone, is spying on Guantánamo defense attorneys

How rightwing groups wield secret 'toolkit' to plot against US unions

A Little Night Music

Cab Calloway - Strictly Cullud Affair

Cab Calloway and his Orchestra - Trickeration

Cab Calloway - Nobody's Sweetheart

Cab Calloway - The Reefer Man

Cab Calloway - Blues In The Night

Cab Calloway - Zaz Zuh Zaz

Cab Calloway - Calloway Boogie

Cab Calloway - Jumpin Jive

Cab Calloway - Hi De Ho

Cab Calloway - Minnie the Moocher

19 users have voted.


ggersh's picture

Good evening Joe, killing others is all we got
left as a people and country.

I'm both a Jew and an amerikan how much more embarrassing can it get?

12 users have voted.

If our governments and institutions can no longer tell us the truth because it undermines the ruling elites, they've failed the citizenry. And if we remain complicitly silent, then we've failed ourselves.

joe shikspack's picture


the older i get, the more that i get the disturbing feeling that thomas hobbes was not so far off base.

4 users have voted.
Benny's picture

Evening, Joe and all,

Appreciate the Cab Calloway. Today has been more blues than good news in general though.

10 users have voted.

One equal temper of heroic hearts, Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will. To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.--Tennyson

joe shikspack's picture


it's been a pretty blue day, news wise. given the way the people of the world are treating each other, i guess we don't have to worry about the blues disappearing.

5 users have voted.
Azazello's picture

I've got some stuff to add.
Bolivian President Evo Morales warns of US plan to invade Venezuela. I don't doubt it. telesur
Caitlin hits it out again. Fifteen Thoughts About Israel
The Crimean Bridge opens. This is a big deal, the Ukies can't cut Crimea off anymore.

11 users have voted.
mimi's picture

several times. Did the US msm so too?

6 users have voted.
Azazello's picture

I don't watch the MSM much.

5 users have voted.
mimi's picture

more out of regular TV in Germany than from the US TV news. I think the "ARTE Journal"
which broadcasts in German in between the major German TV channels, ARD and ZDF, is pretty good in covering foreign policy and foreign news events.

It's telling, though, that they don't offer the "ARTE Journal" in English on their English website. It's always the same. You have to dig the good stuff and make sure you don't translate it, so people outside don't find it. Sigh.

2 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


thanks for the links! caitlyn sneaked that essay in on me after i checked out her page. it's really good, i'll be posting some excerpts from it tomorrow.

now that bolton is part of trump's war cabinet, i'd say there's a 50-50 chance of a u.s. invasion of venezuela. in the past, economic hitman tactics, cia dirty tricks or a military coup would have sufficed. with bolton pulling the strings, though, the pressure to drop bombs is probably going to rise exponentially.

5 users have voted.
Raggedy Ann's picture

Cab Calloway - I love his music. Thanks for Cab, joe.

This whole Gaza thing has me infuriated, but what else is new? Ivana and Kushner are an embarrassment, but that's the administration we have - full of privileged assholes who think they know better than everyone else. Meanwhile, as if they are not human beings, genocide continues.

I'm healing up! Can type with my left hand, now and my foot should be in a regular shoe next week!

Have a beautiful evening, folks! Pleasantry

11 users have voted.

"If there is not justice for the people, let there be no peace for the government." Emiliano Zapata

joe shikspack's picture

@Raggedy Ann

i'm glad to hear that you're healing up. good luck, i hope you're back at full capacity soon.

the whole israeli brutalization of palestinians thing has bothered me for years and the more i think about it the more it pisses me off, since i can't seem to stop my government from supporting their war crimes with my tax dollars.

8 users have voted.
mimi's picture

now fully translated and posted to Der Spiegel International:

Trump Strikes a Deep Blow to Trans-Atlantic Ties

Attack on Europe's Pride

The mood in Paris, Brussels and Berlin is reminiscent of the period just prior to the war in Iraq. Most of Europe refused to back the U.S. in that conflict, even if the British and the Italians joined then-President George W. Bush in the offensive. This time around, however, the Europeans are united in their desire to preserve the deal with Iran, even if nobody knows how they might be able to.

An attack on the Iran deal is an attack on the pride of European foreign policy. To be sure, EU member states often find it impossible to produce a joint statement on overseas developments, such as the U.S. decision to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. But Europe has consistently demonstrated unity on the Iran deal and along with Germany, France and Britain, the EU was a decisive participant in the talks.
Hardly surprising, then, that Mogherini adopted an aggressive tone on Tuesday evening when she stepped before the cameras at 8:30 p.m. in Rome just a few minutes after Trump had made his announcement. The nuclear deal, she said, is culmination of 12 years of diplomacy. "It belongs to the entire international community." She then appealed to Iran to continue to adhere to the deal. "Stay true to your commitments, as we will stay true to ours."
Farewell to America

In truth, Trump hasn't backed out of the deal, he has violated it by simply reimposing sanctions against Iran. That is the view widely held in the German government as well.

More than anything, though, Trump has humiliated Europe to a greater degree than any U.S. president before him. Macron fawned over him recently in the White House, Merkel swung by for a working lunch and British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson also made the trip across the Atlantic in an attempt to save the deal and somehow find some kind of a compromise. But it was all in vain.

In the end, Trump backed out of the deal in the most brutal manner possible, with a combative speech and the reintroduction of all sanctions against Iran. He was unable to offer any convincing reasons for why he has chosen this particular moment in time to leave the deal. He wasn't even able to claim that Iran hadn't lived up to its end of the bargain because Tehran has demonstrably adhered to its provisions.
In Aachen on Tuesday, Merkel essentially repeated the sentences she uttered last year during an appearance in Bavaria: "Europe can no longer rely on the U.S. It must take its fate into its own hands." Last year, her statement to that effect caused quite a stir both within Germany and beyond. This time, it was merely a statement of fact: The trans-Atlantic relationship has suffered tremendous damage. Merkel added that a joint foreign policy was "an existential necessity."
But is that something Europe is able to do?
The feeling of alienation runs deep. Wolfgang Ischinger, formerly Germany's ambassador in Washington and currently the head of the Munich Security Conference, tweeted this week: "Is the transatlantic alliance dead? If one side refuses to even consider the arguments presented by the other side: are we still together, as we try to manage challenges to our shared security interests? Or are we now drifting apart for good? Sad questions!"
It sounds like a couple that, despite their best intentions to stay together, doesn't seem capable of making things work.
"In one respect, the trans-Atlantic alliance is indispensable for the foreseeable future, namely on the issue of nuclear protection," Ischinger says. "That cannot be replaced by anyone else. From a security perspective, we cannot cut the umbilical cord that binds us to the U.S." He adds: "Given our security policy interests, there is nothing we can do except lament the loss of a real partnership while nevertheless doing all we can to overcome this phase and work towards the time in two-and-a-half years when Trump is no longer in office and there is a new situation. For now, we have to hunker down as best we can."
U.S. Niels Annen, minister of state in the Foreign Ministry, told DER SPIEGEL that Trump's withdrawal from the nuclear deal is "an erroneous decision with long-term, grave consequences for our relationship."
'Deeply Frustrated'

As Donald Trump was holding his 11-minute tirade against the Iran deal on Tuesday, a man was standing silently in the doorway of the Diplomatic Reception Room. John Bolton looked serious but satisfied. But it didn't take long for the mask to come off. "We're out of the deal," he crowed a quarter-hour later to a room full of journalists in the White House. And he then repeated the sentence a second and then a third time: "We're out of the deal." He seemed liberated, almost euphoric. A furious warrior had achieved his target.

There is hardly a crisis in the world that John Bolton does not feel can be solved with war. The solution to Saddam Hussein-controlled Iraq? Bombing. Iran under Hassan Rouhani? Bombing as necessary. Libya? Syria? North Korea? Apply pressure, regime change, bombing. For Bolton, war is a more effective extension of politics. If there is one thing you can't accuse him of, it's inconsistency.

no comment other than that I believe the article reflects the mood in Germany accurately. I guess some twisted weirdos in the US get a kick out of that as well.

14 users have voted.

@mimi and how Merkel's hands are tied

German companies in US do business of something like $500B per year and the Trump budget gives them big tax cuts.

So Merkel does not want to rock the boat.

5 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


this should be a very interesting historical moment. either the governments of europe will chip away at u.s. hegemony, or, they will be reined in by their banks and business interests diminishing their national sovereignty.

7 users have voted.

@joe shikspack So EU giant Siemans CEO Joe Keaser said no new Iranian orders yesterday.

I don't think Joe is happy about this. But he sorta got burned about some turbine sales to Russia/Crimea. It may be the case that the political leaders want to fight back against Trump, but EU companies have no choice but to honor the sanctions.

German and other companies are being made to pay dearly for US foreign policy.

6 users have voted.
Azazello's picture

Iran sanctions mean that Boeing and Airbus lose a potential customer, Sukhoi gains one.
Puget Sound Business Journal

4 users have voted.

@Azazello The Russians reacted by becoming more self-sufficient and went from French cheese to Russian made cheese.

7 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


i wonder if the european governments will be able to stand up to their transnational corporations and their banks to demand that they honor the iran deal. should be interesting.

5 users have voted.
lotlizard's picture

@joe shikspack  
the so-called Qualitätsmedien (“quality media” = German MSM) will end up propagandizing viewers and readers into going along with Trump and Netanyahu — because, even more than protecting their own people, the current cultural elite in Germany believes that a top priority of all Germans should be the protection of Jews anywhere in the world and particularly in Israel. This is the one thing where the globalist German establishment and the otherwise reviled German “New Right“ / Alt-Right are in absolute agreement.

Es ist schon viel gewonnen, wenn Deutschland Juden auf der ganzen Welt seine uneingeschränkte Solidarität gibt. Sicherheit für Juden als deutsche Staatsräson. Und das gilt dann noch selbstverständlicher auch für alle Juden in Israel.

Tichys Einblick is a German “New Right“ / Alt-Right magazine.

1 user has voted.
Not Henry Kissinger's picture

Run Away!!! Run Away!!!

Keep Running!!!

Brave Sir Boris ran away.
Bravely ran away away.
("I didn't!")
When danger reared it's ugly head,
He bravely turned his tail and fled.
("I never!")
Yes, brave Sir Boris turned about
And gallantly he chickened out.
("You're lying!")
Swiftly taking to his feet,
He beat a very brave retreat.
Bravest of the brave, Sir Boris!

12 users have voted.

The drama of the deep state in full factional meltdown makes Mario Puzo look like a dime store hack.

joe shikspack's picture

@Not Henry Kissinger

heh, i expect, especially in boris' case, a closed mouth gathers no feet. Smile

5 users have voted.
mimi's picture

North Korea threatens Trump with rejection of summits.

North Korea is threatening to cancel the summit of leaders Kim Jong Un with US president Donald Trump due to military exercises by the USA with South Korea.

This was reported by the South Korean news agency Yonhap on early Wednesday (local time). Planned high-level reconciliation talks with South Korea for the same day were therefore cancelled. This threatens a severe setback after weeks of thawing in this dangerous conflict in which North Korea could end up using nuclear bombs. The US, on the other hand, saw no reason to postpone or cancel the meeting.

"We continue and drive the plans for President Trump and Kim Jong-un meetings," said the U.S. State Department spokeswoman, Heather Nauert, on Tuesday in Washington. The American military exercises with South Korea were in no way a provocation. "These are things that we are doing all over the world," she said.

According to the North Korean news agency KCNA, the military exercises were not set as desired. For example, the South Korean and US air forces simulated attacks on the north with the so-called «Max Thunder» Exercises – This was a provocation amid the warming of intra-Korean relations.

This exercise violated the joint agreements between South and North Korea after the 27 April summit and were a deliberate military provocation. "The United States will have to take careful consideration of the fate of the planned North Korea summit," the report said.

Despite the relaxation signals from North Korea, the US and South Korea had launched the annual "Max Thunder" manoeuvre on Friday, a two-week air defence exercise. According to reports by South Korean media, about 100 fighter planes take part in the maneuver.

7 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


to push the limits of acceptable behavior to a little beyond the absolute limit throughout whatever process trump engages in with north korea - and probably after any deal is made, too.

6 users have voted.
The Aspie Corner's picture

8 users have voted.

Modern education is little more than toeing the line for the capitalist pigs.

joe shikspack's picture

@The Aspie Corner

the lies shouldn't be surprising when the facts all point out that the israelis are war criminal monsters.

6 users have voted.

Here is the link again

World will not bemoan end of US hegonomy

Just that one article describes who we are

"Why is it that people cannot see the obvious?"

That is one of the themes of "The Overstory" by Richard Powers. Just finished it. Fiction. Trees are main characters.

The Overstory may present an even greater challenge to the sense of exceptionalism we humans carry around inside us. It’s the story of immense, long-lived creatures whom many people think of as little more than simple automatons, but who, in fact, communicate and synchronize with each other both over the air and through complex underground networks, who trade with and protect and sustain their own and other species. It’s about immensely social beings with memory and agency who migrate and transform the soil and regulate the weather and create a breathable atmosphere. As the great Le Guin put it, the word for world is forest.

Our kinship with trees seems, at face value, much more distant and abstract, but we share a considerable amount of our genes with them, and they (trees come from many different families in their own right) represent several large branches of the single, ramifying experiment called life on earth, a big-boled thing on which we humans occupy just one small and remote branch. Trees exhibit a flexibility in the face of change and challenge that we used to think was exclusively animal in nature. We have depended on trees not just for the invention of civilization but for our very existence. Without them, no us.

excellent interview in LA Review of books. Later in interview

When a person says, “I live in the real world,” they generally mean that they live in the artificially created social world, the human-made world that is hurtling toward a brick wall of its own making. This is what I’d ask the critics of the literature of extra-human awe: Which is more childish, naïve, romantic, or mystical: the belief that we can get away with making Earth revolve around our personal appetites and fantasies, or the belief that a vast, multi-million-pronged project four and a half billion years old deserves a little reverent humility?

Of course, the real question about optimism and hopefulness is: Hopeful for what? I have zero hope that our current culture of consumer individualism will survive. How could it? Its basic principles are at war with real real life, and fantasy can’t defeat inexorable biological truths. There is no place for a system predicated on endless growth in a world of finite resources being infinitely recycled. Anyone who can’t conceive of a way for humans to exist other than capitalism will find herself pinned under overwhelming despair.


we know it cannot survive

sold a bill of goods in Hope and Change.

no one knows how the Anthropocene is going to turn out

That’s why The Overstory is swarming with Greek and Egyptian and pagan European and Indian and Chinese and Indigenous American myths about trees. It’s trying to resurrect a very old form of tree consciousness, a religion of attention and accommodation, a pantheism of sorts that credits other forms of life — indeed, the life-process as a whole — with wanting something.

Here’s to Unsuicide: An Interview with Richard Powers

Search on the web and find book reviews, I like the interviews best, and a NPR interview out of Boston. I can provide more links if anyone would like them

8 users have voted.
The Aspie Corner's picture

@DonMidwest ...not that there's any employment in the tech industry to be had anyway. It's all either outsourced, automated or Visa'd.

4 users have voted.

Modern education is little more than toeing the line for the capitalist pigs.

joe shikspack's picture


no one knows how the Anthropocene is going to turn out

heh, i have some ideas. i'm pretty sure that it isn't going to turn out so well for most humans.

4 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture


I read this yesterday and was blown away by how he showed how we don't give a rat's ass about anyone's lives in other countries.

The highway of death slaughter was a Fucking war crime of the highest magnitude! . The Iraqi troops were returning to Iraq and we bombed the first and last trucks and then our jets flew for over an hour slaughtering over 10,000 men. What type of person could do something that heinous? To deliberately kill trapped and desperate people who had families waiting for them to come home.

Gawd, I hope that there will be some kind of justice for them one day. Unfucking believable!

4 users have voted.

Disclaimer: No Russian, living or dead, had anything to do with the posting of this proudly home-grown comment

US companies are using Russia as a way to squash their competitors and practices. A local paper had an article on laser company and said that their competitior was such-and-such and Kremlin linked. WTF. I looked at the competitor and turns out founded by a noted Russian scientist in his field who was an American citizen. Absolutely nothing nefarious other than they had a better product.

7 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


i would imagine that the new russia hysteria will follow pretty closely in the footsteps of the mccarthy era, with people using whatever leverage they can for personal advantage.

7 users have voted.
enhydra lutris's picture

be? Is the world ready to look elsewhere for leadership? Oh please, please let it be so.

7 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

i'm sure that they're ready for new leadership, the question is are they ready to do what's necessary to stop the u.s. from crapping on them and telling them how wonderful it is to be crapped on by such an exceptional nation?

7 users have voted.
mimi's picture

@joe shikspack
I think having been in between two chairs, nevertheless on the comfy NATO chair, made Germans so sick and tired (Merkel's bio and that of her family) has been closely emerged in that tiring pulling between the religions, McCarthy-ists and Mao - and other Communist doctrines), everybody is just so sick of it that they turn over, crawl under their bed and won't do anything, hoping one day everybody is so hungry to crawl out again and somehow survive on something. I think that's a human behavior pattern on which everybody can count. We all want to eat, it's just a matter how long you can imagine that starving might be an option.

1 user has voted.

@joe shikspack

...i'm sure that they're ready for new leadership, the question is are they ready to do what's necessary to stop the u.s. from crapping on them and telling them how wonderful it is to be crapped on by such an exceptional nation?

When you know you're dealing with pathological criminals causing harm to all around them in every conceivable way, using government-buying levels of wealth typically drained from the thereby-impoverished people of Earth and the thereby-failing global natural life support system to use against these victims... why deal with them at all?

If you lie down with psychopaths, you may never get up again - the sane reaction is to run screaming, for your life, before the threat of the giant economic and military machine used to scare you onto abject submission is activated against you anyway, as it inevitably will be.

And much of the world banding together against a US-industrialist-funded psychopathic horror is what stopped the seemingly unstoppable global takeover of fascism the last time, mainly thanks to Russia.

This isn't so much about countries, but about a pathology that must be eradicated from all places of power over others.

(All emphasis below, mine.)

Switzerland & United States are the world’s most corrupt nations – report
Published time: 5 Feb, 2018 09:24
Edited time: 26 Mar, 2018 12:39

A new study from advocacy group Tax Justice Network reveals that Switzerland is the world’s most-corrupt country, with a “high secrecy score of 76.” It’s followed by the US and the Cayman Islands.

“Switzerland is the grandfather of the world’s tax havens, one of the world’s largest offshore financial centers, and one of the world’s biggest secrecy jurisdictions or tax havens,” said the group’s report ‘Financial Secrecy Index — 2018 Results’.

It explained that “the Swiss will exchange information with rich countries if they have to, but will continue offering citizens of poorer countries the opportunity to evade their taxpaying responsibilities.

“These factors, along with ongoing aggressive pursuit of financial sector whistleblowers (resorting at times to what appear to be non-legal methods) are ongoing reminders of why Switzerland remains the most important secrecy jurisdiction in the world today,” said the report.

The index ranks countries for the assistance their legal systems provide to money-launderers, and to all people who seek to protect corruptly-obtained wealth. The higher the secrecy score, the more corrupt the government is.

In order to create the index, a secrecy score is combined with a figure representing the size of the offshore financial services industry in each country.

According to the report, the United States’ secrecy score (60) is rising, which results in attracting corrupt wealth. In 2013, the US was in the sixth place, and in 2015 it took the third in the rating.

“These factors, along with ongoing aggressive pursuit of financial sector whistleblowers (resorting at times to what appear to be non-legal methods) are ongoing reminders of why Switzerland remains the most important secrecy jurisdiction in the world today,” said the report.

The index ranks countries for the assistance their legal systems provide to money-launderers, and to all people who seek to protect corruptly-obtained wealth. The higher the secrecy score, the more corrupt the government is.

In order to create the index, a secrecy score is combined with a figure representing the size of the offshore financial services industry in each country.

According to the report, the United States’ secrecy score (60) is rising, which results in attracting corrupt wealth. In 2013, the US was in the sixth place, and in 2015 it took the third in the rating.

“The continued rise of the US in the 2018 index comes off the back of a significant change in the US share of the global market for offshore financial services. Between 2015 and 2018 the US increased its market share in offshore financial services by 14 percent,” said the report. In total the US accounts for 22.3 percent of the global market in offshore financial services.

“The US provides a wide array of secrecy and tax-free facilities for non-residents, both at a Federal level and at the level of individual states.”

The report added that “Financial secrecy provided by the US has caused untold harm to the ordinary citizens of foreign countries, whose elites have used the United States as a bolt-hole for looted wealth.” ...

Obviously, these traits have disastrous effects in other essential areas, as we've been seeing...

If they use any excuse to attack, by any/all of multiple methods, countries on their lists of the order in which they want to subjugate/destroy the world in incremental global conquest and will use any means to do so, with no respect for any domestic or international law, or even that of species survival - why on Earth would anyone want to support them?

UN nuclear watchdog chief inspector suddenly bows out, sets off speculations
Published time: 12 May, 2018 02:31
Edited time: 14 May, 2018 10:29

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief of inspections Tero Varjoranta has announced his resignation three days after the US pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal. The official did not provide any reason for his departure.

Varjoranta was serving as the head of the agency's Department of Safeguards, tasked with determining whether countries that are party to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) abide by the agreement.

The Finnish-born official took the job in October 2013 and was also a deputy director general of IAEA, which, during his tenure, repeatedly asserted Iran's compliance with the landmark nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The accord, which was struck between five UN Security Council members plus Germany and Iran, received a huge blow on Tuesday when US President Donald Trump, a long-time critic of the deal, announced the US' withdrawal and the reinstatement of economic sanctions on Iran.

Varjoranta has been temporarily replaced by the acting director of the Agency's Office for Verification in Iran, Massimo Aparo, with the IAEA spokesperson stating that "the agency's safeguards activities will continue to be carried out in a highly professional manner."

Asked about the cause of Varjoranta's abrupt resignation, the official said that "the agency cannot comment on personal matters, which are confidential."

The day after Trump's decision, which has drawn condemnation from the US' European allies and even his own party ranks, the IAEA again reaffirmed that Iran was complying with its nuclear commitments, which has it cap its nuclear program in return for sanctions relief.

Iran, as well as the remaining signatories of the pact, vowed to stick to its provisions pending future talks.

In wake of the US exit, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini stressed that the UN nuclear watchdog is "the only impartial, international organization that is in charge of monitoring Iran's nuclear commitments." This includes scrutinizing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's claims that Iran has an active, clandestine nuclear weapons program.

Washington, on the other hand, immediately threw its support behind Netanyahu's PowerPoint presentation. It declared that the show "provides new and compelling details" of Iran's alleged nuclear activities and is "consistent with what the United States has long known."

The IAEA "has done a very good job" with its thorough inspections of Iran's nuclear facilities and a "switch of one or two people" even in its senior leadership is not going to affect its operations, Peter Galbraith, the former US ambassador to Croatia and author of several books on the Middle East, told RT.

The appointment of Aparo is "quite normal" since he was one of most senior subordinates of the resigned official handling an important portfolio, he said. Galbraith also dismissed chances that a new deal could be struck between Iran and the US, arguing that US withdrawal puts Iran "in position to basically ask for better implementation of this original deal" from Europe in particular, since the remaining signatories all want Iran to stay in it.

"The end result is going to be a better deal for Iran," while the "Americans will have no say," he noted.

Kaveh Afrasiabi, the former adviser to Iran's nuclear-negotiating team noted, as he spoke about the reshuffle, that "there's a history of bullying powers trying to influence the IAEA." However, the appointment of Aparo, who has on-site experience in Iran, may turn out for the better.

"The fact that you have an acting deputy director who was on the ground in Iran and now can go to Moscow along with [IAEA chief] mister [Yukiya] Amano who has a meeting with President Putin on Monday to give a full account of Iran's compliance with all necessary details – this is very important."

Afrasiabi said that a new deal is not on the cards, as Trump "burned the bridge with Iran" and has "zero credibility with the Iranian people."

Zero credibility with anyone; everyone knows how the US PTB work. And it seems pretty obvious that that resignation was due to threats, perhaps against family members, as have been used before - not that even these always work anyway. But importantly, the point was made that IAEA is not going to lie to 'justify' even more war crimes to be yet again committed by pathologically greedy and ruthless self-interests against a much smaller and inoffensive population of civilians.

Now, if only the less/uncorrupted members of the UN would do the same - and rescind the ability of any single country or small, self-interested bloc within the UN to override the ethics of the less/uncorrupted representatives of the rest of the world in order to more freely trample the more vulnerable among their planned victims in direct violation of the stated purpose, making this purchased, universally destructive US veto over justice and human decency within the UN in itself a UN violation having no validation for existing at all...

Assad: Why talk to Trump if he doesn’t control the US?
Published time: 10 May, 2018 10:16
Edited time: 11 May, 2018 07:36

Meeting with Donald Trump would be pointless because the deep state – not the president – controls the US, Bashar Assad said in an interview. He noted that the agenda of the deep state is to create conflict aimed against Russia.

In an exclusive interview with Athens daily Kathimerini, Assad said there was no reason to meet face-to-face with Trump, since the US president “says something today, and does the opposite tomorrow,” and is likely not even in control of policy decisions.

“[W]e don’t think the president of that regime is in control,” Assad told the paper, referring to Trump. “We all believe that the deep state, the real state, is in control, or is in control of every president, and that is nothing new. It has always been so in the United States, at least during the last 40 years, at least since Nixon, maybe before, but it’s becoming starker and starker, and the starkest case is Trump.” ...

Europe to ditch US dollar in payments for Iranian oil – source
Published time: 16 May, 2018 07:38
Edited time: 16 May, 2018 09:40

The European Union is planning to switch payments to the euro for its oil purchases from Iran, eliminating US dollar transactions, a diplomatic source told RIA Novosti.

Brussels has been at odds with Washington over the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, which was reached during the administration of Barack Obama. President Donald Trump has pledged to re-impose sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

“I’m privy to the information that the EU is going to shift from dollar to euro to pay for crude from Iran,” the source told the agency.

Earlier this week, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said that the foreign ministers of the UK, France, Germany, and Iran had agreed to work out practical solutions in response to Washington’s move in the next few weeks. The bloc is reportedly planning to maintain and deepen economic ties with Iran, including in the area of oil and gas supplies.

Mogherini stressed that the sides should jointly work on the lifting of sanctions as an integral part of the historic nuclear deal. “We're not naive and know it will be difficult for all sides.” ...

And what appears (if not more kabuki) to potentially be a shiny little light (besides that of the Green Party brightening the outlook for Canadians:

Jagmeet Singh Calls For Investigation Into Israel As Trudeau And Scheer Silent
The Rational National

Published on 15 May 2018

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh has condemned Israel's recent actions while Justin Trudeau and Andrew Scheer remain silent.

Since we've all been in the process of having an unimaginable hell PTB-imposed upon us anyway, I find it comforting to think that at least a good chunk of the world is moving away toward a prospective survival rather than actively working toward their own destruction with the suicidally murderous psychopathic lunatics variously running/forming much what we may laughingly term our (potentially pre-selected/subverted) governments and Justice systems.

Recognition of reality and survival are intertwined, and both have that 'liberal bias'; only the human qualities of empathy and ethics, freely expressed and exerted within democracies governed strictly of, by and for the people, can save us from the psychopaths incapable of all of the above.

Trump has been our potential savior in that he's more blatantly revealed the pathogens that must be eliminated from politics/policy/power - and from the cultures/societies pathologized over the decades by this.

See the first line below, in my sig; in my estimation, the elimination of the 'normalization' and media-conditioned social acceptance as politically/socially 'legitimate' of pathology inimical to the recognition of intrinsic human worth which is integral to democracy, to any true civilization, and ultimately to not only sustainability but to life itself. Such eradication of the psychopathic from politics and humanizing of policy forms a most basic essential to any hope of survival.

0 users have voted.

Psychopathy is not a political position, whether labeled 'conservatism', 'centrism' or 'left'.

A tin labeled 'coffee' may be a can of worms or pathology identified by a lack of empathy/willingness to harm others to achieve personal desires.