The Evening Blues - 6-6-18



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The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: John Primer



Hey! Good Evening!


This evening's music features Chicago blues musician John Primer. Enjoy!



John Primer 24.11.17 - Mannish Boy

“A few more moons, a few more winters, and not one of the descendants of the mighty hosts that once moved over this broad land or lived in happy homes, protected by the Great Spirit, will remain to mourn over the graves of a people once more powerful and hopeful than yours. But why should I mourn at the untimely fate of my people? Tribe follows tribe, and nation follows nation, like the waves of the sea. It is the order of nature, and regret is useless. Your time of decay may be distant, but it will surely come, for even the White Man whose God walked and talked with him as friend to friend, cannot be exempt from the common destiny. We may be brothers after all. We will see.”

-- Chief Seattle


News and Opinion


Washington considers direct intervention in siege of Yemeni port city

In what would constitute a major escalation of the US role in the near-genocidal war waged over the last three years by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) against Yemen, US officials were in discussions yesterday on the Pentagon taking a direct role in the siege of the country’s Red Sea port city of Hodeidah. Saudi and UAE-led forces came within 10 km of Hodeidah on Monday, having pushed north up Yemen’s western coast with the aid of relentless air strikes against Houthi rebel forces, which control the city as well as the country’s northwestern provinces, including the capital of Sana’a, which is 230 miles to the north.

The Wall Street Journal Monday cited US officials reporting that “The Trump administration is weighing an appeal from the United Arab Emirates for direct US support to seize Yemen’s main port. ...” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a strong proponent of global US military intervention, has asked American officials to come up with a “quick assessment” of the prospects for a direct US military role in the siege of Hodeidah.

The Journal report cited one official raising doubts that the US-backed forces “would be able to do it cleanly and avoid a catastrophic incident.” Another senior American official, however, told the Journal: “We have folks who are frustrated and ready to say: ‘Let’s do this. We’ve been flirting with this for a long time. Something needs to change the dynamic, and if we help the Emiratis do it better, this could be good.’ ”

A battle for control of Hodeidah poses a direct threat to the city’s civilian population of 400,000, with the potential of a Saudi blitzkrieg combined with a direct US intervention recreating the kind of mass slaughter unleashed by the Pentagon in Mosul, Iraq and Raqqa, Syria. More broadly, such a siege threatens the lives of millions of Yemenis in the Houthi-controlled highlands, for whom Hodeidah is the sole aid lifeline in a country historically reliant on imports for 90 percent of its food. ...

Hundreds of foreign aid workers have reportedly evacuated the city, and it was reported on Monday that a UN aid vessel came under direct attack by Saudi warplanes. The city is already under bombardment from both the air and the sea. “Thousands of civilians are fleeing from the outskirts of Hodeidah which is now a battle zone,” Jan Egeland, secretary-general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, told Reuters. “We cannot have war in Hodeidah, it would be like war in Rotterdam or Antwerp, these are comparable cities in Europe.” He added that such a war would mean “nothing coming through” in terms of food and other aid for the country’s starving population.


What will be the outcome of Trump and Kim Jong-un's nuclear summit?

Rarely in modern in history has there been a summit with higher stakes and greater uncertainty over its outcome than the planned meeting in Singapore a week from now between Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump. ... But advance teams are in Singapore urgently working to prepare the meeting at short notice. And the opening moves have already been made, well ahead of the formal negotiations.

North Korea has stopped its nuclear and long-range missile tests, and made some moves towards dismantling a nuclear testing site – though the significance of what was blown up is in doubt.

For his part, Trump has given the regime more respect and recognition than it has ever received from the US in its 70-year history, with his effusive welcome of top aide Kim Yong-chol on Friday and his abrupt abandonment of previous US negotiating positions the same day. He accepted the North Korean insistence that any future denuclearisation would not be an “all-in-one” event as US officials had insisted, but a drawn-out phased process, involving multiple summits along the way. And the president unceremoniously dropped his mantra of “maximum pressure” that had hitherto defined his North Korea policy.

The road to an agreement immediately gets much steeper on 12 June if and when the two leaders sit down. Trump has sought to play down those expectations, characterising the meeting as “getting-to-know-you, plus”. But without a substantial “plus” in the form of progress in the direction of disarmament, the meeting will widely be deemed a failure. And to achieve that progress, Trump will have to make significant gestures towards what Kim wants most – security guarantees.

For Robert Gallucci, who led negotiations with the North Koreans in the Clinton administration, a detailed declaration on denuclearisation will be the key to Trump’s success or failure in Singapore. “If he doesn’t get anything else, that would be a win,” Gallucci said at a discussion at the Stimson Centre thinktank in Washington. “And if he gets everything else but doesn’t get that, that’ll be a loss.”

Iran launches plan to bolster uranium enrichment

Iran has launched a plan to increase its uranium enrichment capacity with new centrifuges, raising the pressure on European diplomats scrambling to rescue the crumbling nuclear deal after the US pulled out. “If conditions allow, maybe tomorrow night at Natanz [plant], we can announce the opening of the centre for production of new centrifuges,” said the vice-president, Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran, according to conservative news agency Fars on Tuesday.

“What we are doing does not violate the [2015 nuclear] agreement,” he said, specifying this was just the start of the production process and “does not mean that we will start assembling the centrifuges”. ...

On Monday, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, warned the Europeans that “Iran will never tolerate both suffering from sanctions and nuclear restrictions” and called for preparations to speed up uranium enrichment.

Iran insists its nuclear programme is for civilian uses only, but opponents in the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia accuse it of seeking to build an atomic bomb. The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, reacted swiftly to Salehi’s announcement, declaring that the Islamic republic’s aim was “unlimited enrichment of uranium to create an arsenal of nuclear bombs” to destroy his country.

Palestinian Nurse Shot Dead By Israeli Sniper

Israeli army says didn't deliberately kill Palestinian nurse in Gaza

The Israeli military said on Tuesday initial findings from an investigation into the killing of a Palestinian nurse during protests on the Gaza border showed that she was not shot deliberately.

Gaza health officials and witnesses said Israeli forces shot dead 21-year-old Razan al-Najar, a volunteer medic, as she ran toward the border fence, east of the south Gaza town of Khan Younis, in a bid to reach a casualty last Friday.

The investigation was continuing, the statement added, and findings will be examined by senior commanders and then passed to military prosecutors for consideration.

Thousands attended al-Najar’s funeral in Gaza on Saturday, including some people she had treated when they were wounded at previous border protests.

Knesset disqualifies bill seeking equal status for Jews and Arabs

Israel's Knesset disqualified a bill that called for all citizens to be treated equally, rejecting the argument it must recognise the rights of its Arab minority as equal to the Jewish majority.

The text of the bill stated its objective was "to anchor in constitutional law the principle of equal citizenship while recognising the existence and rights of the two, Jewish and Arab, national groups living within the country".

Haneen Zoabi, a Balad member of the Knesset and one of the bill's sponsors, told Al Jazeera the proposed legislation aimed to make Israel more democratic - especially in its treatment of Arab citizens. "The cancellation of our bill shows that democracy and equal rights do not go hand-in-hand with the way Israel defines itself as a Jewish state."

"It is clear that Israel considers democracy, or even demanding it, a threat to its existence," Zoabi added.

Under the current Israeli political and legal system, Jewish citizens are accorded preferential treatment and privileges.

Argentina Won’t Play Israel in Soccer Because Slaughtering Palestinians Has Consequences

Palestinians celebrated a diplomatic victory on Wednesday as Israel confirmed the cancellation of a high-profile visit to Jerusalem by Argentina’s national soccer team, which had been scheduled for Saturday. A statement from the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires late Tuesday night claimed that Argentina’s players had decided to back out of a planned game against Israel’s national team because of “threats and provocations directed at Lionel Messi,” the superstar Argentine captain. Supporters of Israel’s government were quick to assert, without evidence, that the player and his teammates had been threatened with violence.

While Palestinian officials and activists from the grassroots Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement had appealed to Messi to not take part in what they called a political stunt, the only threat they leveled against the player was that his popularity would suffer. The Palestine Football Association president, Jibril Rajoub, called on fans to burn replicas of the star’s shirt if he played in Jerusalem.

In a letter to his Argentine counterpart last week, Rajoub had urged Argentina to cancel the match because Israel’s sports minister, Miri Regev, had intervened to move it from Haifa, a city inside Israel’s 1948 borders, to Jerusalem, where Israel has ruled over hundreds of thousands of Palestinians it denies full civil rights since in 1967. “The Israeli government has turned a regular sports match into a political tool,” Rajoub argued. The match, he added “is now being played in order to celebrate the ’70th anniversary of the State of Israel,’ and the match itself is to take place in a stadium built on one of the at least 418 Palestinian villages destroyed by Israel 70 years ago, Al Malha.” ...

Even if the Argentine captain has not endorsed the boycott movement, Palestinian and Israeli activists correctly noted that his team’s refusal to play in Jerusalem was a blow to a central plank of the offer Israel’s government makes to its people: that the country can be accepted as a normal member of the international community without making any concessions for peace. ...

By pressing the Argentine soccer team to avoid Israel after the country’s military used snipers to shoot thousands of unarmed Palestinian protesters in recent weeks, activists have forced Israelis to suffer at least some consequences.

Jordan’s Prime Minister Ousted Amid Demonstrations — but Protests Against Austerity Continue

For the past week, Jordan, a country frequently touted by the West as a haven of stability in a chaotic region, found itself amid an uncharacteristic tumult. Protests erupted on May 30 with the announcement of International Monetary Fund-backed austerity measures, including a steep hike on taxes for Jordan’s cash-strapped, underemployed populace. After five days of widespread strikes and marches, Jordan’s King Abdullah II dismissed Prime Minister Hani Mulki on Monday. In the past, such symbolic moves have been enough to placate dissent, but this time, Jordanian protesters appear determined to hold out for more systemic change.

Hours after Mulki’s dismissal, thousands of demonstrators returned to the streets, calling for a full rollback of the proposed austerity measures. Among them was Mustafa al-Khalili, a 29-year-old engineer living in Amman. This week, as a first-time protester, al-Khalili has found common cause with Jordanians across socio-economic, tribal, and geographic divides. “People from every part of society are out together,” he told The Intercept in a phone interview. “We are united by one thing: We love our country and we are fed up with corruption.” ...

So far, security forces have generally shown restraint while containing the crowds, Hiba Zayadin, acting researcher for Human Rights Watch in Jordan, told The Intercept. Scattered arrests are usually followed by quick releases. “There have been a few shows of force here and there, and a few people have lost consciousness due to lack of oxygen in the crowd, but so far, the demonstrations have been largely peaceful,” she said.

The restraint may go both ways. Despite some chants that include calls for the government to fall, many protesters are adamant that they are not aiming to create “another Syria or Libya or Iraq,” says al-Khalili. Demonstrators tended to focus their anger on the parliament, the IMF, and other outside forces, stopping short of denouncing the monarchy. “The king is very important to stability, to uniting the different tribes and families. But he wants to work with us to stop corruption,” said al-Khalili. “What we need is representatives and a prime minister who are actually serious about fixing the economy, and who don’t get pushed around by lenders like the IMF.”

News of Mulki’s resignation gave a morale boost to protesters, but it did not bring any resolution on the issue of the austerity measures. Union leaders have called for a nationwide strike on June 6 and announced Monday that the planned strike would continue despite the prime minister’s ouster. Demonstrators vowed to continue protesting until the government walks back the austerity measures for good. “The message is much bigger than any one person, or even one bill,” Eyad Omari, a Jordanian investment banker who has attended the protests, told The Intercept. “Jordanian people are telling the parliament that things have changed. Now, if you want to be in our government, you have to serve our interests. We want them to know we are watching them.”

Ukraine's president defends faked murder of Russian journalist

Ukraine’s president has robustly defended the decision to fake the death of a journalist, as questions persist over the necessity of the stunt and an alleged “hit-list” of future potential victims. Last week Ukrainian authorities announced the murder of Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko at his apartment in Kiev, only for Babchenko to show up alive the next day at a press conference about his “murder”.

“If we want to protect the freedom of the press, if we want to protect journalists, this is the kind of technique we need to use,” said president Petro Poroshenko, speaking to Spanish newspaper El País. “Would you have preferred it if the Russian secret services had murdered that journalist?” Babchenko had received numerous threats on his life, prompting him to flee Russia for Ukraine a year ago. However, neither Poroshenko nor any other Ukrainian official has given any clear indication of how the fake death helped save his life or others, especially given that the supposed shooter was already believed to be cooperating with the SBU, Ukraine’s security service.

Authorities have suggested that the subterfuge was necessary to reveal a further list of victims that the Moscow-based “mastermind” wanted dead. There has been no hard evidence published yet to link the plot to Moscow, or to explain why the fake death was necessary to obtain the names. Borys Herman, who is currently in jail on suspicion of hiring the hitman to kill Babchenko, has also claimed he was working for the Ukrainian security services all along, adding further confusion to the case.

Naomi Klein: 4,645 Deaths in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria Were “State-Sponsored Mass Killing”

Chris Hedges has an excellent piece up at truthdig. It's worth clicking the link for a full read. Here's a taste:

The Second Sight of W.E.B. Du Bois

W.E.B. Du Bois, more than any intellectual this nation produced in the first half of the 20th century, explained America to itself. He did this not only through what he called the “color line” but by exposing the intertwining of empire, capitalism and white supremacy. ...

Regeneration and purification through violence is the credo of the American empire. D.H. Lawrence, like Du Bois, saw it, and said, “The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic, and a killer.” The pillars of American capitalism are genocide and slavery. America was not blessed by God. It was blessed, if that is the right word, by producing the most efficient killing machines and trained killers on the planet. It unleashed industrial violence on its enemies abroad and empowered armed white vigilante groups and gun thugs—the slave patrols, the Ku Klux Klan, the White Leagues (the armed wing of the Democratic Party), the Baldwin Felts and Pinkertons—to perpetrate a domestic reign of terror against blacks, Native Americans, Mexicans, Chinese, abolitionists, Catholics, radicals, workers and labor organizers. The ideological descendants of these killers have mutated into white hate groups and militarized law enforcement that terrorize immigrants and undocumented workers, Muslims and people of color trapped in our internal colonies. This bloody visage is the true face of America.

“Once in a while through all of us there flashes some clairvoyance, some clear idea, of what America really is,” Du Bois wrote. “We who are dark can see America in a way that white Americans cannot.” ... Outcasts are gifted, Du Bois wrote, with a “second-sight” or what he called a “double-consciousness.” It was, he wrote in “The Souls of Black Folk,” the sensation “of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others.” This gives to outcasts, as it did to many Jewish intellectuals in Nazi Germany, the ability to see behind what Du Bois called the veil. This sight is imperative not only for the outcasts, but for the nation. Those blinded by privilege and the myth of whiteness cannot fathom reality, or understand themselves, without these outcasts. The more the voices of these outcasts are shut out, the more collective insanity grips the country. By silencing the voices of the oppressed, we ensure our own oppression. ...

Du Bois attended the Versailles Conference that imposed punitive reparations on Germany, crippling its economy and setting the stage for fascism. But to Du Bois the decision by the victorious European powers to blithely carve up Africa, Indochina and the Middle East in open disregard for those who lived there was far more criminal. Self-determination, he saw, was only for white Europeans and Euro-Americans. He would help convene a Pan-African Congress to protest the renewed subjugation of people of color. The war, Du Bois argued, had nothing to do with democracy and freedom. It was a struggle between imperial powers for the ability to plunder the “dark world’s wealth and toil,” which is also, of course, what our wars in the Middle East are about.

The endemic violence that plagues the country stuns many white elites, but this violence is a daily reality to Iraqis, Afghans, Yemenis and, of course, poor Americans of color. ... “It is curious to see America, the United States, looking on herself, first, as a sort of natural peacemaker, then as a moral protagonist in this terrible time,” he wrote. “No nation is less fitted for this role. For two or more centuries America has marched proudly in the van of human hatred—making bonfires of human flesh and laughing at them hideously, and making the insulting of millions more than a matter of dislike—rather a great religion, a world-war cry: Up white, down black; to your tents, O white folk, and world war with black and parti-colored mongrel beasts.”

Du Bois saw redemption, certainly at the end of his life, not within the bowels of the empire but in liberation movements outside the empire struggling for freedom. He was arrested for “subversive” activities in 1951 and had his passport revoked for years. His books were removed from library shelves and eliminated from course curriculums. He remained steadfastly defiant. On Dec. 1, 1961, he formally joined the Communist Party. Soon after he left the United States to spend the rest of his life in Ghana.

Arizona police chief: Cops “weren’t at their best” when they violently beat unarmed man

Three police officers and a sergeant from the Mesa Police Department are on leave after they aggressively beat an unarmed man at an apartment complex, punching him even when he was on the ground. Mesa Police Chief Ramon Batista ordered the release of surveillance footage from the May 23 incident this week, showing the beating outside an elevator. "I don't feel that our officers were at their best," said Batista, who became police chief in the Phoenix suburb last summer. "I don't feel this situation needed to go the way that it went."

Batista said that Robert Johnson, 33, was not complying with the officers’ orders to sit down, but added that their use of force seemed disproportionate given the circumstances. In the video, you first see an officer patting down Johnson for weapons. Then they motion for him to stand against a wall. He leans against the wall and after a brief exchange, the officers charge toward him, punching him repeatedly in the face and abdomen. He eventually slumps to the ground.

Johnson’s lawyer Benjamin Taylor said Johnson is in “terrible condition” having suffered from trauma to his head and chest. ... “This is terrible for Mesa police culture, and we’re going to be doing everything we can to pursue justice for our client,” said Benjamin Taylor, a lawyer representing Johnson, according to the Arizona Republic. "Mesa has a culture of police brutality, and this affects all people that live in Mesa and travel through Mesa, and this culture needs to be cleaned up immediately."

Middle schoolers given bulletproof shields for starting high school

Students at a school in Pennsylvania have received a bulletproof backplate for their backpacks as a gift for graduating eighth grade. The ballistic shields were donated by a local company and given to students at St Cornelius school in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, as a leaving present before high school.

The manufacturer, Unequal, claims on its website that the shield is “kid friendly” and allows you to “be prepared” when “terror strikes”. The shield retails at $149 (although when the Guardian checked, the site was offering 10% off for people using the somewhat tasteless discount code “battle ready”).

In footage of the gifting ceremony, children were left speechless by the sombre tone of the gift. The president of Unequal was also invited to speak, telling students “it’s sad that times have called for such a product to be invented, but we have answered such a call”.

It comes at a time when sales of bulletproof backpacks, and other products that claim to provide protection during a school shooting, are booming. Manufacturers of the Bullet Blocker backpack, for example, say they saw a 300% increase since the Parkland shooting. Sales of school security equipment reached $2.7bn last year and technology analytics firm IHS expect that to increase this year.

Despite Rightwing Fearmongering, Experts Say Now Is the Time to Expand Social Security

As corporate media outlets predictably trumpeted the right-wing narrative that Social Security is in dire financial straits after the Social Security Trustees' annual report was released on Tuesday, advocacy groups and experts were quick to denounce the fearmongering and correct the record, arguing that the new analysis shows the program is "stronger than ever."

"Each year, the release of the trustees report provides an occasion for Social Security scaremongering by those wanting to shrink our social insurance system," Monique Morrissey, an economist with the Economic Policy Institute, noted in a blog post on Tuesday. "But not only can we afford current benefits, we can afford to expand them."

In addition to demonstrating that "there is sufficient revenue to pay for all benefits until 2034" even if Congress does nothing, Social Security Works president Nancy Altman said the Trustees' report clearly demonstrates that an ambitious expansion of Social Security benefits is also both affordable and desirable.

"Poll after poll shows that the American people overwhelmingly support expanding the program's benefits," Altman noted in a statement. "Social Security is a solution to our looming retirement income crisis, the increasing economic squeeze on middle-class families, and the perilous and growing income and wealth inequality."

"In light of these challenges and Social Security's important role in addressing them, the right question is not how can we afford to expand Social Security, but, rather, how can we afford not to expand it," Altman concluded.

Fed Up With Big Banks That Fund Climate Crisis and Oppression, Community Coalition Demands Public Bank for New York

Chanting, "Wells, Chase, B of A, public bank's a better way!" social justice groups rallied at the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday to demand that New York City divest from Wall Street banks and establish a public bank that is "expressly chartered to serve the public interest."

"New York deserves a public bank that will invest in community needs, and be accountable to New York City residents—one that will prioritize housing...and not prey on low-income New Yorkers," said Scott Hutchins, a member of the grassroots social justice group Picture the Homeless. The more than two dozen groups that gathered on Wall Street also included New York Working Families, the Pan-African Community Development Initiative, and Food & Water Watch.

Investment in Wall Street banks like Wells Fargo, Bank of Americas, and JPMorgan Chase is synonymous with harming the environment, propping up private prisons, and putting working families at risk for financial collapse as well as pushing them out of New York neighborhoods, argued the groups.

The rally came days after the Trump administration announced it would roll back the Volcker Rule, which since 2014 has prohibited banks from using their accounts to conduct risky, speculative trading, in an effort to avoid another financial meltdown like the one that threw the country into a recession in 2008.

"With the Trump Administration and Congress handing out massive corporate tax breaks, rolling back federal financial reform, and gutting the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Wall Street is heading straight for another crisis," said Deyanira Del Rio, Co-Director of New Economy Project. "A public bank will allow New York City to deposit our public money with a bank that belongs to New Yorkers." ...

"Here's the deal: New York City currently deposits billions of public dollars in the big Wall Street banks," said Stephan Edel, director of New York Working Families. "These bankers make millions off these deposits and high fees, while providing little benefit to the City, small businesses, and residents of New York. Our money should be put to use in our communities."

Puerto Rico, “Playground for the Privileged”: Investors Move In as Homes Foreclose & Schools Close

David Koch to retire from Koch Industries due to poor health

Conservative billionaire industrialist David Koch is retiring from his roles at Koch Industries and associated companies due to poor health, according to an internal memo seen by Reuters.

David Koch, 78, along with his elder brother Charles, have been a force in American politics since the 1980s. Their influence has largely been powered by a fortune centered on Koch Industries, the second-largest privately held company in the United States, whose operations range from refining and chemicals to ranching and forest products.

The brothers are known to spend heavily on conservative initiatives and to oppose government intervention in business. ...

David will also step down from his role as chairman for Americans for Prosperity, a grassroots conservative group that is a part of the Koch network, the memo said.



the horse race



The Two-Party Scam

They are back at it again. The Democrats are peddling change and hope as they promise a “better deal” if only they are entrusted with power. Nancy Pelosi has been touting the newest Democratic National Committee platform while pretending to be outraged about the excesses of Republicans. She promises to empower voters, strengthen ethics laws and fix campaign finance once she regains the speaker’s gavel.

What Pelosi is banking on is that voters are beset by “collective recollection deficit.” Never mind that Democrats had solid majorities in both houses of Congress and did the opposite of what she is now promising. Pay no attention to the fact that Barack Obama had a mandate when he made history in 2008. In a world according to neoliberals, iniquities took root on Jan. 20, 2017—and now all the ills of the world can be traced to Donald Trump.

We are witnessing the tried-and-true tactic of imprisoning voters in the moment. The duopoly continues to thrive because the media-politico establishment has conditioned us to have short-term outrage and disregard the connective nature of the two-party racket. Both parties are co-opted by corporations and the plutocrat class. They differ on the margins, but at their core, Democrats and Republicans’ primary purpose is to transfer wealth from the masses to the neo-aristocracy.

Malcolm X once said that Republicans are like wolves, while Democrats are like foxes. The former show you their teeth and have no problem revealing their mendacity. The latter smile and pretend to be your friends while they stick a shiv in your chest. The Blue Wave is the newest shiv Democrats are sharpening. They will promise the world until the first Tuesday of November, then they will kick their voters to the curb the minute the last vote is counted.

Prominent Progressive Sours On Bernie 2020

Cambridge Analytica director 'met Assange to discuss US election'

A Cambridge Analytica director apparently visited Julian Assange in February last year and told friends it was to discuss what happened during the US election, the Guardian has learned. Brittany Kaiser, a director at the firm until earlier this year, also claimed to have channelled cryptocurrency payments and donations to WikiLeaks. This information has been passed to congressional and parliamentary inquiries in the UK and US.

Cambridge Analytica and WikiLeaks are already subjects of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, but the revelations open up fresh questions about the precise nature of the organisations’ relationship. There was no known connection until October last year, when it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica had “reached out” to Assange in July 2016 and offered to help him index and distribute the 33,000 emails that had been stolen from Hillary Clinton.

Assange issued a statement saying that he had turned down the Cambridge Analytica offer. Alexander Nix, the company’s chief executive, told Westminster MPs the same in February, during an appearance at the Commons digital, culture, media and sport (DCMS) select committee. Nix said he found a contact for WikiLeaks’ speaking agency on the internet and sent Assange an email.

But visitor logs from the Ecuador embassy obtained by the Guardian and Focus Ecuador appear to show that Brittany Kaiser, a senior executive at Cambridge Analytica until earlier this year, visited Assange on 17 February 2017. Information passed to the DCMS committee in the UK and the Senate judiciary committee in the US states that the meeting was “a retrospective to discuss the US election”. ...

Damian Collins, the DCMS committee chair, asked Kaiser: “If Alexander Nix wanted to reach out to Julian Assange, couldn’t he do it through you?” Kaiser replied: “That’s what I was wondering when I found that out from the press – he could have asked me to put him in touch with the legal team. But he didn’t.” Kaiser told MPs that her principal connection to WikiLeaks was via John Jones QC. Jones represented Assange in his extradition case against the Swedish government and became a close, personal friend, visiting him weekly until he was killed by a train in April 2016.





the evening greens


Underreporting of toxic waste at hog farms prompts inquiry

Authorities in North Carolina have launched an investigation into widespread underreporting of dangerous toxins in dozens of feces-filled cesspools on giant hog farms that dot the eastern part of the state.

Testing of 55 waste lagoons at 35 hog-raising operations by regulators showed large discrepancies in levels of key pollutants compared with what was self-reported to the state by farmers. Excessive nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen, which can poison the water supply, were, in many cases, much higher than that reported by the farms.

The presence of hazardous heavy metals such as zinc and copper in the waste lagoons was even greater – zinc levels were as much as 101,108% higher in the regulators’ testing compared with what was reported to them.

Inspectors from North Carolina department of environmental quality (DEQ) took the samples from farms on 13 April and compared them with what was self-reported on that day. The farms are supposed to adhere to permits that restrict harmful pollutants befouling the air and water of nearby residents.

There are about 2,000 industrialized hog farms in North Carolina, making the state the second largest pork producer in the US. The pigs are kept in huge barns where their waste falls through slatted floors and is kept in huge cesspools before being sprayed on to nearby fields. The pig farms of North Carolina produce around 10bn gallons of feces a year, which is more than the volume of waste flushed down toilets by the human population of Germany.

Pipeline purchase, tariffs shake up climate change talks at G7

Doubt is percolating about Canada’s ability to deliver on its two biggest environment commitments at this week’s G7, with no agreement yet on a plastics waste charter and Canada’s recent pipeline purchase casting a pall over its commitment to climate change.

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said Tuesday it is still uncertain whether Canada will get its proposed zero plastics waste plan signed at this week’s G7 leaders summit. Speaking at the Canada 2020 conference Tuesday in Ottawa, McKenna said most of the negotiating has already taken place, but she was unable to say if all the G7 leaders will sign the charter when their two-day meeting in Quebec gets underway Friday. ...

Trudeau is also facing increased pressure to deliver a solid climate change commitment, particularly after committing to spend $4.5 billion buying the Trans Mountain pipeline. Luca Bergamaschi, the lead Italian negotiator on climate change from last year’s gathering, said European leaders see Trans Mountain as evidence Europe will have to carry the ball on climate.

The European contingent has lost patience with Trump’s stance on tariffs and climate change, and will be taking a hard-line approach on environmental issues, Bergamaschi added. “The Europeans are less willing to compromise in order to appease the U.S. and maintain unity at all costs,” he said.

U.S. Coastal Flooding Breaks Records as Sea Level Rises, NOAA Report Shows

The nation's coasts broke records for tidal flooding over the past year as storms combined with rising seas to inundate downtown areas of Miami, Boston and other major cities, according to a federal report released Wednesday. While some of the flooding coincided with hurricanes and nor'easters, much of it was driven mainly by sea level rise fueled by climate change, scientists with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) write.

The oceans are rising about 3 millimeters a year on average, driven primarily by melting land ice and warming water, which expands. That rate is accelerating, and it has led to a steady increase in U.S. coastal flooding in recent decades, the report shows. Several cities—including Boston, Atlantic City, and Sabine Pass, Texas—saw more than 20 days of high-tide flooding between May 2017 and April 2018, the "meteorological year" covered by the report.

"Though year‐to‐year and regional variability exist, the underlying trend is quite clear," the report says. "Due to sea level rise, the national average frequency of high tide flooding is double what it was 30 years ago." The report measured data from tidal gauges at 98 locations along the nation's coasts to see how often water levels rose above a point that typically inundates roads, infiltrates stormwater systems or otherwise disrupts daily life.



Also of Interest

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

The Syrian Observatory - Funded By The Foreign Office

In memory of Razan al-Najjar

It is time to levy sanctions against Israel

Why Our Green Parties Haven't Taken Off

‘Wealthy People Saw Puerto Rico Could Be Attacked’

Italy: The Center Cannot Hold

Colorado’s Democratic Party Kingmaker Is a Fracking Lawyer. What Could Go Wrong?

How Humanity Could Become Impossible To Propagandize


A Little Night Music


John Primer - Messin with the Kid

John Primer - Cairo

John Primer - I Want To Know

John Primer - I Called My Baby

John Primer - Going Back To Mississippi

John Primer - Stop Draggin' That Chain Around

John Primer & Bob Corritore - Poor Man Blues

John Primer - Double Trouble

John Primer - Pretty Women

John Primer & Real Deal Blues Band - Forty Days And Forty Nights

John Primer - Close To You

John Primer, Billy Branch - Sugar Sweet



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Comments

Raggedy Ann's picture

Just stopping by to say hi before I leave work for home. Hope all are having an enjoyable day. We have beautiful, warm weather - I'm loving it.

I read that Hedges piece yesterday - spot on. Thanks for including it in the EB.

The ME is erupting with no end in sight. I guess Jordan thought they'd slide through unscathed, but they've decided austerity is the answer and the people are responding with a resounding NO. We'll see what happens. As for Yemen - sheesh - fkn knock it off, America!

Well, better run away for the day.

Have a beautiful evening, everyone! Pleasantry

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10 users have voted.

"They'll say we're disturbing the peace, but there is no peace. What really bothers them is that we are disturbing the war." Howard Zinn

joe shikspack's picture

@Raggedy Ann

yep, i thought that hedges' piece was one of his best recent essays. i hope that folks will read the whole thing, i tried to give some of the gist of it, but there's a lot of interesting detail that i was unable to fairly include.

jordan really isn't choosing austerity, it is being pushed on jordan by the usual (u.s.-backed) economic hit men, responding to jordan's economic problems and "helping" with loan machinations with destructive terms.

have a great evening!

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6 users have voted.
Raggedy Ann's picture

@joe shikspack
I didn’t want to hear that! I’m just sick of the good ol’ US of A MIC shenanigans, interference, BS in the ME!

AAAAUUUUUUGGGGGHHHHH!!!!

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4 users have voted.

"They'll say we're disturbing the peace, but there is no peace. What really bothers them is that we are disturbing the war." Howard Zinn

joe shikspack's picture

@Raggedy Ann

well, the good news is that the jordanian people are not putting up with the imf screwing them. they are out in the streets, striking and organizing against neoliberal fuckery.

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Raggedy Ann's picture

@joe shikspack
that DOES make me feel somewhat better. Wink

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3 users have voted.

"They'll say we're disturbing the peace, but there is no peace. What really bothers them is that we are disturbing the war." Howard Zinn

joe shikspack's picture

@MrWebster

heh, that fellow really knows how to win friends and influence people. Smile

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3 users have voted.

Incredible. Companies steal more from employees than all forms of robberies including bank robberies, etc.

Wage theft—employers’ failure to pay workers money they are legally entitled to—affects far more people than more well-known and feared forms of theft such as bank robberies, convenience store robberies, street and highway robberies, and gas station robberies. Employers steal billions of dollars from their employees each year by working them off the clock, by failing to pay the minimum wage, or by cheating them of overtime pay they have a right to receive. Survey research shows that well over two-thirds of low-wage workers have been the victims of wage theft.

In 2012, there were 292,074 robberies of all kinds, including bank robberies, residential robberies, convenience store and gas station robberies, and street robberies. The total value of the property taken in those crimes was $340,850,358. By contrast, the total amount recovered for the victims of wage theft who retained private lawyers or complained to federal or state agencies was at least $933 million in 2012. This is almost three times greater than all the money stolen in robberies that year. Further, the nearly $1 billion successfully reclaimed by workers is only the tip of the wage-theft iceberg, since most victims never sue and never complain to the government.

https://www.epi.org/publication/wage-theft-bigger-problem-forms-theft-wo...

Check out Table 1 from link of companies stealing employee wages.
https://www.goodjobsfirst.org/sites/default/files/docs/pdfs/wagetheft_re...

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9 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@MrWebster

capitalism is organized crime.

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6 users have voted.

@joe shikspack

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4 users have voted.
ggersh's picture

thanks cause the insanity just goes on and on

NO MORE WAR

Washington considers direct intervention in siege of Yemeni port city
In what would constitute a major escalation of the US role in the near-genocidal war waged over the last three years by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) against Yemen, US officials were in discussions yesterday on the Pentagon taking a direct role in the siege of the country’s Red Sea port city of Hodeidah. Saudi and UAE-led forces came within 10 km of Hodeidah on Monday, having pushed north up Yemen’s western coast with the aid of relentless air strikes against Houthi rebel forces, which control the city as well as the country’s northwestern provinces, including the capital of Sana’a, which is 230 miles to the north.

The Wall Street Journal Monday cited US officials reporting that “The Trump administration is weighing an appeal from the United Arab Emirates for direct US support to seize Yemen’s main port. ...” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a strong proponent of global US military intervention, has asked American officials to come up with a “quick assessment” of the prospects for a direct US military role in the siege of Hodeidah.

The Journal report cited one official raising doubts that the US-backed forces “would be able to do it cleanly and avoid a catastrophic incident.” Another senior American official, however, told the Journal: “We have folks who are frustrated and ready to say: ‘Let’s do this. We’ve been flirting with this for a long time. Something needs to change the dynamic, and if we help the Emiratis do it better, this could be good.’ ”

A battle for control of Hodeidah poses a direct threat to the city’s civilian population of 400,000, with the potential of a Saudi blitzkrieg combined with a direct US intervention recreating the kind of mass slaughter unleashed by the Pentagon in Mosul, Iraq and Raqqa, Syria. More broadly, such a siege threatens the lives of millions of Yemenis in the Houthi-controlled highlands, for whom Hodeidah is the sole aid lifeline in a country historically reliant on imports for 90 percent of its food. ...

Hundreds of foreign aid workers have reportedly evacuated the city, and it was reported on Monday that a UN aid vessel came under direct attack by Saudi warplanes. The city is already under bombardment from both the air and the sea. “Thousands of civilians are fleeing from the outskirts of Hodeidah which is now a battle zone,” Jan Egeland, secretary-general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, told Reuters. “We cannot have war in Hodeidah, it would be like war in Rotterdam or Antwerp, these are comparable cities in Europe.” He added that such a war would mean “nothing coming through” in terms of food and other aid for the country’s starving population.

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5 users have voted.

"In 2008, Beijing and Washington pumped in massive amounts of money to bail out speculators in the name of saving the economy and helping workers. The reality is that they used workers’ money to enrich parasites." Andy Xie

joe shikspack's picture

@ggersh

apparently, this intervention in yemen is dragging out too long and resistance is growing too strong. so, the powers that be are becoming itchy to deliver the coup de grace, regardless of how many people it kills. the thing is to get it over quickly.

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3 users have voted.
ggersh's picture

EDIT,Sorry I didn't mention it earlier,
Thanks for posting it Joe.

Nellie gets it so right!!!!

the absolute horror and cruelty of the status quo is the status quo is not only homicidal it's suicidal, it's the mindfuck of all time

I hope I got that quote correct, it's at the 26:30 mark of the video

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6 users have voted.

"In 2008, Beijing and Washington pumped in massive amounts of money to bail out speculators in the name of saving the economy and helping workers. The reality is that they used workers’ money to enrich parasites." Andy Xie

The Aspie Corner's picture

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4 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@The Aspie Corner

the american right has been adopting what it sees as the successful tactics of the left for years, regardless of how farcical their expressions appear.

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2 users have voted.
Lookout's picture

Nothing the Great Mystery placed in the land of the Indian pleased the white man, and nothing escaped his transforming hand. Wherever forests have not been mowed down, wherever the animal is recessed in their quiet protection, wherever the earth is not bereft of four-footed life - that to him is an "unbroken wilderness"

But, because for the Lakota there was no wilderness, because nature was not dangerous but hospitable, not forbidding but friendly, Lakota philosophy was healthy - free from fear and dogmatism. And here I find the great distinction between the faith of the Indian and the white man. Indian faith sought the harmony of man with his surroundings; the other sought the dominance of surroundings.

In sharing, in loving all and everything, one people naturally found a due portion of the thing they sought, while, in fearing, the other found the need of conquest.

For one man the world was full of beauty, for the other it was a place of sin and ugliness to be endured until he went to another world, there to become a creature of wings, half-man and half-bird.

Forever one man directed his Mystery to change the world. He had made; forever this man pleaded with Him to chastise his wicked ones; and forever he implored his God to send His light to earth. Small wonder this man could not understand the other.

But the old Lakota was wise. He knew that a man's heart, away from nature, becomes hard; he knew that lack of respect for growing, living things soon led to lack of respect for humans, too. So he kept his children close to nature's softening influence.

Chief Luther Standing Bear - Oglala Sioux

This relates to our conversation last night.

In the mean time we'll continue in our role causing massive species extinction...There is a reason they call it the Anthropocene
https://therealnews.com/stories/study-humans-0-01-of-worlds-biomass-caus...

anthropocene.jpg
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4 users have voted.

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

joe shikspack's picture

@Lookout

while the first nations have much to teach the current mainstream culture, it almost seems unlikely that they can obtain the attention of the anthropocene's actors in order to share their wisdom.

with dominion, it seems, comes the right to destroy.

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enhydra lutris's picture

best wishes. Have a great evening, all.

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3 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

heh, just a quick howdy before i crawl off to bed. have a great evening!

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