The Evening Blues - 6-13-19
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features jazz, blues and boogie woogie pianist and bandleader Sammy Price. Enjoy!
Sammy Price - Swingin The Boogie
"You are not going to get peace with millions of armed men. The chariot of peace cannot advance over a road littered with cannon."
-- David Lloyd George
News and Opinion
As the Trump administration intensifies the conflict with China and rearms the US military in preparation for “great power” conflict, the leading Democratic candidates are lining up to demonstrate their commitment to America’s “wars of the future.” Former Vice President Joe Biden and Mayor Pete Buttigieg, the Democratic frontrunner and the fourth-ranked candidate, respectively, gave speeches on foreign policy Tuesday, positioning themselves as more aggressive and reliable stewards of the US-China conflict than Trump. ...
Calling China a “threat,” Biden, speaking in Davenport, Iowa, said, “We are in a competition with China. We need to get tough with China. They are a serious challenge to us.” The former vice president criticized Trump for alienating US allies and said as president he would “build a united front of allies to challenge” China, adding, “We need to rally more than half the world’s economy to hold China to account.” ... Biden’s declaration Tuesday that China is a “threat” to the United States is just the latest manifestation of the emerging bipartisan consensus within the American political establishment that the United States must intensify all aspects of the economic, technological and military confrontation with the nuclear-armed country of 1.3 billion people. ...
But an even more unvarnished—and more chilling—statement about the implications of the US-China conflict came from Buttigieg, the former naval intelligence officer and current small city mayor who has inexplicably skyrocketed in the opinion polls to the top ranks of Democratic candidates. ...
America, he said, must “refocus on future threats,” adding, “Our military capabilities exist for a reason… we stand ready to use force.” He implied that Trump was insufficiently aggressive toward North Korea, declaring that “you will not see me exchanging love letters on White House letterhead with a brutal dictator.” To underscore the point, he said, “Sanctions must remain in place.” Turning to China, he said, “Meeting the challenge of China means maintaining investments in the military.”
The most chilling part of his foreign policy speech was his statement that a common external enemy would serve as the basis for “national unity” and the “battle” at home. “The new China challenge provides us with an opportunity to come together across the political divide,” he said. “At least half the battle is at home.” He called for “revitalizing” America’s intelligence services so they can engage in “spreading the right kinds of information,” and stressed the need to “disseminate truth” by “bridging private and public sectors.” The promotion by state intelligence agencies of what they judge to be the “right kinds of information” is more commonly known as state propaganda, and their efforts to “combat falsehoods” are more commonly known as censorship.
That's quite a railroad that the U.K. is building ...
The home secretary, Sajid Javid, has revealed he has signed a request for Julian Assange to be extradited to the US where he faces charges of computer hacking.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Thursday, Javid said: “He’s rightly behind bars. There’s an extradition request from the US that is before the courts tomorrow but yesterday I signed the extradition order and certified it and that will be going in front of the courts tomorrow.”
Javid’s decision opens the way to the court sending the WikiLeaks founder to the US. ...
Javid said: “It is a decision ultimately for the courts, but there is a very important part of it for the home secretary and I want to see justice done at all times and we’ve got a legitimate extradition request, so I’ve signed it, but the final decision is now with the courts.”
Apparent attacks on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday forced their crews to abandon ship and left one vessel ablaze, a month after four tankers were damaged in the same area, raising alarms about the security of a vital passageway for much of the world’s petroleum.
The early morning incidents, which two shipping companies involved and the White House described as attacks, elevated tensions in a region already unsettled by the escalating conflict between the United States and some of its allies, and Iran.
Frictions have become so intense that other nations have pleaded with all sides to stay calm rather than provoke an all-out war. On Wednesday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan, who was visiting Iran and trying to bridge the gap between Iran and the United States, warned of the risk of stumbling into military conflict. Last month, Jeremy Hunt, the British foreign secretary, said, “We are very worried about the risk of a conflict happening by accident with an escalation that is unintended on either side.”
It was not immediately clear how the most recent incidents unfolded or who was involved, just as the circumstances of last month’s attacks remain murky. The two ships that were struck on Thursday appeared to have been more seriously damaged than those hit in May.
Iranian officials have denied any involvement in attacks on tankers.
Warnings of Effort to 'Maneuver the US Into a War' as Trump Officials Rush to Blame Iran for Attacks on Gulf Tankers
As Trump administration officials rushed to blame Iran for the reported attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday, the timing and apparent target of the explosions immediately prompted warnings that they may have been part of a deliberate effort to provoke a war between the U.S. and Iran.
The alleged attacks, which set a Japanese-owned tanker ablaze, came as Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in an attempt to reduce dangerous military tensions between the Iran and the U.S. ...
Jamal Abdi, president of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), said in a statement that Thursday's attacks could have been carried out by "actors in the region and beyond who want to maneuver the U.S. into a war."
"With [national security adviser] John Bolton seeking to maneuver the U.S. into a war with Iran," said Abdi, "the sabotage of more oil tankers underscores the increasingly dangerous situation in the Middle East as the Trump administration pursues its maximum pressure approach toward Iran."
"The fact that the sabotage occurred amid Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's state visit to Iran—where he is believed to have communicated a message from Trump to Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei—underscores that the likely motive of the attackers is to prevent any easing of tensions," Abdi added. "For Congress, these attacks are yet another warning sign that Trump and his team are leaning into a disastrous war in the Middle East."
So literally while Japan's Abe is meeting with Iran's Ayatollah Khamenei, a Japanese oil tanker is attacked in the Gulf of Oman.
Sounds like some are afraid Japan may succeed in starting diplomacy.
The message appears to be: Don't you dare stand in the way of my war plans...
— Trita Parsi (@tparsi) June 13, 2019
While the Trump White House has not yet publicly assigned blame for the alleged attacks, one anonymous Defense Department official told CBS News—without citing any evidence—that it is "highly likely Iran caused these attacks." According to the Washington Post, "U.S. military officials have assessed that the attacks were carried out by Iran or forces under its influence." The officials have not provided any proof to support their claim.
The effort to blame Iran for the tanker attacks on Thursday is reminiscent of the unsubstantiated accusations in May from Bolton and the U.S. intelligence community that Iran was behind separate attacks on Saudi and UAE vessels in the Strait of Hormuz. As the New York Times reported, it continues to be unclear who was behind last month's tanker attacks, despite Bolton's assertion at the time that Iran was "almost certainly" responsible.
Saudi Arabia has said it will carry out urgent reprisals as it accused Iran of being behind a late-night cruise missile attack by Houthi rebel fighters on a Saudi international airport that injured 26 people. The Saudi foreign ministry said the Command of Joint Forces of the Coalition promised it “will take urgent and timely measures to deter these Iranian-backed terrorist Houthi militias”. The attack on Abha airport was condemned across the Middle East and by the US defence department.
The Saudi-backed Yemeni government, which has been fighting a four-year civil war against the Houthi rebels, claimed the missile directed at the airport had been supplied by Iran, even claiming Iranian experts were present at the missile’s launch.
Iran strongly denies Saudi claims of aiding the Houthi movement.
The Houthi rebels insist they have a right to defend themselves from a Saudi directed blockade, and reported an initial Saudi reprisal that hit densely populated areas in the north of the country.
Diplomats will fear that the conflict in Yemen is spilling over into the dispute between Washington and Tehran, particularly if the US backs claims that Iran is directing the increasingly sophisticated Houthi attacks deep into Saudi territory.
Senators have locked in the votes needed for an initial move to block President Trump’s Saudi arms sales, paving the way for a high-stakes veto showdown. The Senate is expected to take up the 22 resolutions of disapproval as soon as next week, to block each of the sales, after Trump invoked an emergency provision under the Arms Export Control Act to push through the sales without a congressional review period.
Because lawmakers are challenging the sales under the same law, they need only a simple majority to send the resolutions to the president. With all 47 members of the Democratic caucus expected to support the resolutions, they needed to win over at least four Senate Republicans to have the simple majority needed to send the resolution to the House, where Democrats have pledged to follow suit with blocking the sales.
Three GOP senators — Sens. Rand Paul (Ky.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Todd Young (Ind.) — signed on as sponsors when the resolutions were rolled out last week. A spokesman on Tuesday confirmed that Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) has signed on as a co-sponsor, giving Democrats their crucial fourth vote.
Former UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday urged nuclear powers to "get serious" about disarmament, warning of a "very real risk" that decades of work on international arms control could collapse. Ban told a Security Council meeting that the US pullout of the Iran nuclear deal sends the wrong signal to North Korea, where President Donald Trump is hoping to persuade Pyongyang to scrap its nuclear program.
"There is also the very real risk that the whole architecture of arms control and nuclear non-proliferation that was built up during the decades of superpower confrontation may collapse, through a combination of neglect, hubris and ill-founded threat analysis," Ban said.
Global disarmament efforts suffered a blow after the United States scrapped the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty in February, prompting Russia to suspend its participation. Russia is threatening to pull out of negotiations on a new START treaty, another key arms control treaty that caps the number of nuclear warheads and is due to expire in 2021.
Brazil’s far right president, Jair Bolsonaro, is being advised by aides who “froth hate for indigenous people,” the head of Brazil’s indigenous affairs agency has told colleagues after he was fired from his post. Franklimberg de Freitas addressed around 100 staff at the Funai agency after his dismissal on Tuesday, which he blamed on pressure from the country’s powerful agribusiness lobby, which has long sought to develop the vast indigenous reserves of the Amazon.
The episode is the latest clash in the battle over indigenous rights under Bolsonaro, who promised “not one more centimetre” of land would be allocated to indigenous people and moved to dismantle Funai’s power on his first day in office.
“The president is very badly advised when it comes to indigenous politics in this country,” de Freitas said in his speech, reported by local newspaper Folha de S.Paulo and confirmed by the Guardian. He singled out a senior agriculture ministry official Nabhan Garcia, who is the president of an agribusiness lobby. “Nabhan, when he talks about the indigenous people, froths hate for them,” said de Freitas who added that Funai is seen as “an obstacle to national development” in Bolsonaro’s government.
The New York Times is reporting that the Justice Department investigation into the Russian inquiry may go beyond attorney general William Barr’s original question of why the FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign.
In planning to interview senior CIA officers, the Justice Department is indicating that they “are focused partly on the intelligence agencies’ most explosive conclusion about the 2016 election: that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia intervened to benefit Donald J. Trump.”
The interview plans are the latest sign the Justice Department will take a critical look at the C.I.A.’s work on Russia’s election interference. Investigators want to talk with at least one senior counterintelligence official and a senior C.I.A. analyst, the people said. Both officials were involved in the agency’s work on understanding the Russian campaign to sabotage the election in 2016.
While the Justice Department review is not a criminal inquiry, it has provoked anxiety in the ranks of the C.I.A., according to former officials. Senior agency officials have questioned why the C.I.A.’s analytical work should be subjected to a federal prosecutor’s scrutiny. Attorney General William P. Barr, who is overseeing the review, assigned the United States attorney in Connecticut, John H. Durham, to conduct it.
The Justice Department has not submitted formal written requests to talk to the C.I.A. officers, but law enforcement officials have told intelligence officials that Mr. Durham will seek the interviews, two of the people said. Communications officers for both the C.I.A. and the Justice Department declined to comment.
The C.I.A. director, Gina Haspel, has told senior officials that her agency will cooperate — but will still work to protect critical pieces of intelligence whose disclosure could jeopardize sources, reveal collection methods or disclose information provided by allies, according to current and former American officials. Ms. Haspel will not block the interviews and has told the agency that talking with Mr. Durham need not jeopardize secrets and is consistent with cooperating with Mr. Barr’s inquiry.
Operatives at a controversial cybersecurity firm working for the United Arab Emirates government discussed targeting The Intercept and breaching the computers of its employees, according to two sources, including a member of the hacking team who said they were present at a meeting to plan for such an attack.
The firm, DarkMatter, brought ex-National Security Agency hackers and other U.S. intelligence and military veterans together with Emirati analysts to compromise the computers of political dissidents at home and abroad, including American citizens, Reuters revealed in January. The news agency also reported that the FBI is investigating DarkMatter’s use of American hacking expertise and the possibility that it was wielded against Americans. ...
It is not clear if an attack against The Intercept was ever carried out. The Intercept was unable to find evidence of an attack by DarkMatter on its computers. But the targeting would have happened in 2016, so it’s possible that malicious messages were rejected by a spam filter or discarded in the intervening years.
Conservative leadership candidates including Boris Johnson hoping to force a “deal or no deal” Brexit in October have been handed a boost after MPs defeated a Labour-led attempt to tie the next prime minister’s hands. Labour vowed it would not end efforts to stop no deal but the defeat bolstered Johnson’s claim at his leadership launch that MPs would not be prepared to “reap the whirlwind” of halting Brexit entirely as Tory MPs prepared for the first round on voting to choose the next prime minister on Thursday.
Tory MPs cheered as the motion was defeated by a majority of 11 on Wednesday night, after which Jeremy Corbyn was heard to say: “You won’t be cheering in September.”
The former Conservative MP Nick Boles warned opponents of a no-deal departure were fast running out of options – apart from a confidence vote to bring down the government. “No-deal Brexit on 31 October is back to being a racing certainty,” he said. “It is very hard to see where any further legislative opportunities will come from. So it’s now a question of politics – specifically whether a PM pursuing a no-deal Brexit can command and sustain the confidence of the House of Commons.”
Johnson officially launched his campaign on Wednesday saying he believed a new government “with a new mandate, a new optimism, a new determination” could leave the EU with an amended deal by 31 October. However, the leadership frontrunner warned that he was determined to leave the EU by that date, whether he had achieved a new deal or not.
Fierce protests erupted in Memphis on Wednesday night following a fatal shooting by law enforcement and ended with at least two dozen police officers, two journalists and a number of demonstrators injured. Armed officers faced off in the Tennessee city with crowds angered by news that federal marshals had shot dead a local man, whom authorities described as a fugitive, officials said.
Memphis’s mayor, Jim Strickland, said six officers were taken to the hospital. ...
The incident that led to protests and clashes unfolded about 7pm. At that time, “multiple officers” with the US marshals service’s Gulf Coast regional fugitive taskforce came across a man who was “wanted on multiple warrants”, the authorities said. He was outside a home and getting into a vehicle when marshals encountered him and tried to arrest him, according to the Tennessee bureau of investigation.
“While attempting to stop the individual, he reportedly rammed his vehicle into the officers’ vehicles multiple times before exiting with a weapon,” the bureau asserted in a statement. “The officers fired, striking and killing the individual. No officers were injured.”
Police were called to the area for crowd control after news of the shooting circulated online. As more protesters arrived, more police appeared, ultimately leading to confrontation.
Are these morons just trying to top each other for the most outrageously racist and violent action that can be taken by police officers? These guys should win a prize - preferably one that includes attractive orange jumpsuits embossed with the name of their new state incarceration facility.
Officials disclosed the extraordinary number of rounds in a report released this week, months after six policemen shot the aspiring rapper who had fallen asleep inside his car at a Taco Bell. The 9 February killing, which McCoy’s family has called an “execution by a firing squad”, sparked national outrage and has led to intense scrutiny of the Vallejo police department’s frequent use of deadly force and history of misconduct and abuse cases.
The 51-page report by David Blake, a paid “expert” and retired officer, concluded that the killing was “in line with contemporary training and police practices associated with use of deadly force”. He said “the 55 rounds fired by 6 officers in ~3.5 seconds is reasonable based upon my training and experience as a range instructor as well as through applied human factors psychology”. ...
The police department in the city, 30 miles north-east of San Francisco, has insisted that the officers fired out of “fear for their own safety”, alleging that McCoy had reached for a gun on his lap. But body-camera footage, released after significant public pressure, cast doubts on parts of the police narrative. The videos only showed McCoy moving his hand to scratch his shoulder before officers opened fire. The police did not try to wake him up or announce that they were officers, and his family and their lawyers have said it seemed clear McCoy was not alert or awake when the police all opened fire.
The game of musical chairs to make the first Democratic presidential debate just ended, and one governor appears to have been left standing. Monmouth University just released what's expected to be the final poll that could have made a difference for candidates hoping to claw their way onto the debate stage in two weeks, and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock didn’t get what he needed.
Bullock appeared to be the only candidate on the bubble for making the debates, with 20 of his rivals apparently qualifying either by getting the 65,000 donors or reaching 1 percent in at least three national and early-state polls the Democratic National Committee deemed credible. The deadline to make the cut is midnight Wednesday. ...
Along with Bullock, Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) and small-town Florida mayor Wayne Messam and former Sen. Mike Gravel (D-Alaska), a quasi-candidate, won’t be on the debate stage. All the other candidates appear to have qualified, according to their campaigns.
Texas Progressive Jessica Cisneros Announces Primary Challenge to Unseat "Trump's Favorite Democrat" in Congress, Henry Cuellar
Jessica Cisneros, an immigration and human rights lawyer from south Texas, announced Thursday that she will take on Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) in the 2020 primary. Cisneros was recruited by Justice Democrats, the progressive group behind the 2018 campaigns of Reps. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), and Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.).
In comments to HuffPost, Justice Democrats executive director Alexandra Rojas made clear there's a target on Cuellar.
"Our grassroots progressive movement has an opportunity to build a more accountable Democratic Party by unseating one of the worst amid our ranks and ushering in a new generation of leaders," Rojas said.
In her announcement video, Cisneros said that the differences between her and Cuellar were stark and that Cuellar's right-wing voting record shows that the incumbent is not the kind of Democrat that his constituents need. Cisneros is running on a platform that prioritizes progressive policies like Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, and free public college.
A new analysis reveals Wednesday that over 20 popular children's cereals and snacks are contaminated with glyphosate—the main ingredient in the weedkiller Roundup.
The testing was commissioned by the Environmental Working Group (EWG)—the third round of such testing it's undertaken—and looked at popular General Mills-made products, including several Cheerios varieties and various kinds of Nature Valley granola bars.
The findings come as glyphosate, which the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer declared a "probable carcinogen" in 2015, faces legal scrutiny as thousands of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma sufferers say that Bayer-Monsanto's Roundup caused their cancer. Three courts in California have so far sided with plaintiffs and ordered the agri-chemical giant to pay billions in damages.
"As these latest tests show, a box of Cheerios or other oat-based foods on store shelves today almost certainly comes with a dose of a cancer-causing weedkiller," said Olga Naidenko, Ph.D., vice president for science investigations at EWG.
The world’s fattest parrot is facing an existential threat in the form of a dangerous fungal infection which has already endangered a fifth of its species. Seven of New Zealand’s native kakapo have died in recent months after falling victim to the respiratory disease aspergillosis. The latest was on Tuesday, where a 100-day-old chick died at the Auckland Zoo.
The nocturnal and flightless parrot ingratiated itself with world after it mated with a zoologist’s head during a BBC documentary. The incident led it to being described as the “party parrot” and finding a life-long fan in Stephen Fry.
Kakapo, whose males can grow to 4.8 pounds (2.2kg), were once found in large numbers all over New Zealand. However, habitat destruction and pest invasion forced the bird to edge of extinction. The discovery of a previously unknown population of kakapo in the 1970s led to a resurgence of their numbers. The parrot was then the focus of a conservation effort that saw the bird’s population rise from a low of 51 ageing birds to three times that number.
The total population of kakapo is currently 142 adults and 72 living chicks. All of these live on remote islands away from predators. However, in late April, the first case of aspergillosis in the kakapo population was detected. Since then 36 birds, or a fifth of their total numbers, have been sent to veterinary hospitals around the country for diagnosis and treatment.
— CREDO Mobile (@CREDOMobile) June 12, 2019
The United States creates more planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions through its defense operations alone than industrialized countries such as Sweden and Portugal, researchers said on Wednesday. The Pentagon, which oversees the US military, released about 59m metric tons of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in 2017, according to the first study to compile such comprehensive data, published by Brown University.
The Pentagon’s emissions were “in any one year ... greater than many smaller countries’ greenhouse gas emissions”, the study said. If it were a country, its emissions would make it the world’s 55th largest contributor, said Neta Crawford, the study’s author and a political scientist at Boston University.
Request for comments to the Pentagon went unanswered.
Last week, we learned that the Food and Drug Administration had detected PFAS compounds in pineapple, sweet potato, meat, and chocolate cake. The presence of the industrial compounds in our food was made public by the Environmental Working Group after a staff member of the Environmental Defense Fund took photos of the research at a scientific conference in Europe.
While the FDA fields questions about why it didn’t present this information to the public itself (the agency released the data along with a statement on Tuesday), it has become clear that 3M, the company that originally developed PFOS and PFOA, had known for a very long time that these toxic and persistent chemicals were in our food.
According to a 2001 study sponsored by 3M, 12 samples of food from around the country — including ground beef, bread, apples, and green beans — tested positive for either PFOA or PFOS. One piece of bread had 14,700 parts per trillion of PFOA, though the report noted that the sample was considered “suspect.”
The Environmental Protection Agency has known about the study for years, but it is not clear if the FDA was aware of the research. The Environmental Working Group mentioned the 3M study in a 2002 report on PFAS chemicals and alerted the Centers for Disease Control.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Sam Price - Sammy Sings the Blues
Sammy Price - Gotta Boogie, Gotta Woogie
Sammy Price - Swing Out In The Groove
Sammy Price And The Rock Band - Rib Joint
Sammy Price - St. James Infirmary
Sammy Price - Royal garden blues
Sammy Price w/Betty Janette - Backwater Blues
Sammy Price - Cow Cow Blues
Sammy Price - Boogie Woogie Soul Train