The Evening Blues - 7-12-17
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features Chicago blues songwriter and musician Willie Dixon. Enjoy!
Willie Dixon w/ The Blasters - I'm Ready
“For the powerful, crimes are those that others commit.”
-- Noam Chomsky
News and Opinion
Human rights organisation Amnesty International has called for a independent investigation into the unnecessary loss of civilian life caused by the US-led coalition’s fight against Isis in Mosul. ...
A new report into the scale of the human rights abuses, released by Amnesty International on Tuesday, claims the US and its allies used imprecise and unnecessarily powerful weapons, contributing to the heavy civilian death toll. The human rights violations may constitute war crimes and an independent investigation was needed, the group said.
“The scale and gravity of the loss of civilian lives during the military operation to retake Mosul must immediately be publicly acknowledged at the highest levels of government in Iraq and states that are part of the US-led coalition. “The horrors that the people of Mosul have witnessed and the disregard for human life by all parties to this conflict must not go unpunished. Entire families have been wiped out, many of whom are still buried under the rubble today.
A video recently surfaced showing US-backed forces torturing captives near the Syrian city of Raqqa, ISIS' de facto capital that was recently invaded by coalition forces.
The video shows men in YPG uniforms kicking and stomping prisoners. One YPG fighter holds a knife as he repeatedly bounces up and down on a stool on the back of one detainee. He then smashes an object over his head. ...
Kurdish authorities in northern Syria have confirmed the incident, according to The Daily Beast. The Kurdish governmental body, or self-administration, in the Cizere Canton denounced the incident, saying it would prosecute the two YPG fighters, according to ARA News.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told Reuters on Tuesday that it had "confirmed information" that Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been killed. The report came just days after the Iraqi army recaptured the last sectors of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, which Baghdadi's forces overran almost exactly three years ago.
Russia's Defence Ministry said in June that it might have killed Baghdadi when one of its air strikes hit a gathering of Islamic State commanders on the outskirts of the Syrian city of Raqqa. But Washington said it could not corroborate the death and Western and Iraqi officials have been skeptical.
Reuters could not independently verify Baghdadi's death.
President Donald Trump has always had contradictions in his “tough guy” national security policy. For starters, he has proposed a nearly 10 percent increase in defense spending, but also claims that his demands for U.S. allies to spend more on defense are producing results. And during his campaign, he alluded to the need to stay out of unneeded wars. If allies pay more and the United States stays out of pointless brushfire wars, the U.S. government could seemingly spend less, not more, on defense.
However, allied defense spending is probably not going to increase that much. Our wealthy allies have long allowed the United States to spend most of the money on security, so that they can use their money to compete with U.S. commercial interests on the world market without fully opening their markets to American products and services. Trump is right to pressure the allies to do more, but they really won’t unless the United States tells them they are mostly on their own to provide security. Also, it remains to be seen whether an American president with already the most powerful military in human history, both absolutely and relatively (the United States spends on defense what the next seven highest spending countries do), can avoid the temptation to needlessly meddle in the affairs of other countries. Recent presidents from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama have been unable to resist the urge. ...
Apart from these contradictions in the use of conventional military forces, Trump has promised to overhaul a nuclear arsenal that he has called “obsolete.” Barack Obama left him an expensive program — $1 trillion over 30 years — to revamp the nuclear triad of bombers, land based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), and submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs). The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that the cost of that gargantuan program has already skyrocketed 20 percent to $1.2 trillion. If past defense programs are any guide, the expenses will continue to escalate over time, because the government procures weapons using a highly regulated and inefficient manner. And Trump’s post-election promise that the United States “must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability” has not even been figured into his already bogus budget of substantial tax cuts paid for by fantasy levels of economic growth (like the “cooked” budgets of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, which racked up huge budget deficits and thus accumulated mounting national debt).
First Look to Support Defense of Reality Winner in Espionage Act Prosecution - Intercept Admits Errors in Minimizing Risks of Source Exposure
The Intercept's parent company, First Look Media, has taken steps to provide independent support for the legal defense of Reality Winner, the NSA contract employee who was recently arrested in the first instance of the Trump administration using the 100-year-old Espionage Act to prosecute an alleged journalistic source. ... Belief that it is wrong for journalistic sources to be prosecuted under the Espionage Act is the key principle that moved the Press Freedom Defense Fund to provide support for Winner’s legal defense. With Winner’s consent, First Look’s counsel Baruch Weiss of the firm Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer may support the defense efforts while continuing to represent First Look’s interests. ...
At The Intercept, we have also been carefully examining our own role in Winner’s predicament. Our reporting practices came under immediate scrutiny after the publication of our story as the Trump administration’s DOJ suggested in an unsealed affidavit and search warrant that it had gleaned clues about the leaker’s identity in part from our reporting. An internal review of the reporting of this story has now been completed. The ongoing criminal case prevents us from going into detail, but I can state that, at several points in the editorial process, our practices fell short of the standards to which we hold ourselves for minimizing the risks of source exposure when handling anonymously provided materials.
Like other journalistic outlets, we routinely verify such materials with any individuals or institutions implicated by their disclosure and seek their comment, as we explain on our website. This process carries some risks of source exposure that are impossible to mitigate when dealing with sensitive materials. Nonetheless, it is clear that we should have taken greater precautions to protect the identity of a source who was anonymous even to us.
Amazon, Facebook, Netflix and a host of other tech giants will join with online activists, librarians, minority rights and free speech groups today in a day of protest against the Trump administration’s plans to roll back rules in what critics charge is a “war on the open internet”.
The “day of action” – which supporters claim will be the largest online protest in history – comes as the new head of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the US telecoms and media watchdog, prepares to defang tough rules protecting internet access in the US following pressure from cable companies and other internet service providers (ISPs).
Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight For the Future, the not-for-profit group organizing the day of action, said the protest came at a critical moment for the internet. “The internet has had a profoundly democratizing impact on our society. If we lose these protections, then we will lose all that diversity,” she said.
The FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, is a longtime critic of the 2015 “open internet” rules which he has called politically motivated and “heavy handed” and has claimed stifle innovation by imposing unnecessary burdens on cable companies. Those rules have been unsuccessfully challenged in the US courts but could now be overturned by the Republican-controlled FCC.
In May, the FCC voted two to one to start the formal process of dismantling “net neutrality” rules that prevent ISPs from creating fast lanes (or slow lanes) that could favor one service over another and potentially allow them to choose winners and losers online.
Socialism is stubborn. After decades of dormancy verging on death, it is rising again in the west. In the UK, Jeremy Corbyn just led the Labour Party to its largest increase in vote share since 1945 on the strength of its most radical manifesto in decades. In France, the leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon recently came within two percentage points of breaking into the second round of the presidential election. And in the United States, the country’s most famous socialist – Bernie Sanders – is now its most popular politician.
The reasons for socialism’s revival are obvious enough. Workers in the west have seen their living standards collapse over the past few decades. Young people in particular are being proletarianized in droves. They struggle to find decent work, or an affordable place to live, or a minimum degree of material security. Meanwhile, elites gobble up a growing share of society’s wealth. But grievances alone don’t produce political movements. A pile of dry wood isn’t enough to start a fire. It needs a spark – or several.
For the resurgent left, an essential spark is social media. In fact, it’s one of the most crucial and least understood catalysts of contemporary socialism. Since the networked uprisings of 2011 – the year of the Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street, and the Spanish indignados – we’ve seen how social media can rapidly bring masses of people into the streets. But social media isn’t just a tool for mobilizing people. It’s also a tool for politicizing them.
Social media has supplied socialists with an invaluable asset: the building blocks of an alternative public sphere. The mainstream media tends to be hostile to the left: proximity to power often leads journalists to internalize the perspectives of society’s most powerful people. The result is a public sphere that sets narrow parameters for permissible political discourse, and ignores or vilifies those who step outside of them. That’s why social media is indispensable: it provides a space for incubating new kinds of political thinking, and new forms of political identity, that would be inadmissible in more established channels.
France’s newly elected president, Emmanuel Macron, when asked in a press conference at the G20 summit in Hamburg why there was no Marshall plan for Africa, explained that Africa had “civilisational” problems. He added that part of the challenge facing the continent was the countries that “still have seven to eight children per woman”.
The condemnation online was swift and relentless. The US political scientist Laura Seay summarised the problem many had with Macron’s words in a series of tweets: “It is RICH for a French president to criticise Africa this way,” she said. “France’s colonial theory was called the ‘mission civilisatrice’, which purported to bring all the benefits of Frenchness to the continent. Part of the ‘mission’ was the institutionalisation of Catholicism as the official religion of French colonial territories in Africa.”
“We see all kinds of effects of the ‘mission civilisatrice’ in Francophone Africa today,” she continued, “like the church’s teaching against contraceptive use, which most African adherents take very seriously. Do women in Francophone Africa want to give birth to far more children than they can reasonably feed, clothe, and educate? I doubt most do.”
Macron’s words had commentators asking whether the “honeymoon” was now over as a chink appeared in the Golden Boy’s armour, but perhaps the signs were there all along. While still campaigning for the presidency, Macron called France’s colonial history in Algeria “a crime against humanity”. But this centrist politician quickly changed his mind when his rebuke of France’s brutal past was met with criticism at home. ... The test of Macron’s presidency is his foreign policy, particularly on Africa. At the moment he’s doing a fine job of proving he is cut from the same cloth as every leader who has come before him: adopting a paternalistic tone and happy to moralise, while profiting from the carnage France helped create – to which, at best, he turns a blind eye.
A black man who was killed by a North Carolina state trooper earlier this year was shot in the back and died after massive blood loss, according to an autopsy. The report by the state medical examiner’s office found that 31-year-old Willard Scott was hit once in the lower back and once in the buttock in the shooting, which happened in Durham in February. He was taken to a hospital but died of the wounds, the report released on Monday said. ...
The shooting happened around 1am on 12 February. Authorities said the trooper, who is white, observed Scott driving erratically and tried to pull him over with his siren and flashing lights. A highway patrol news release from February said the trooper followed Scott after he failed to stop, and the driver eventually got out of his car and fled on foot. “During the foot pursuit, an armed confrontation ensued,” the news release said. Authorities said a handgun that did not belong to law enforcement was found at the scene. ...
The NAACP described the autopsy as “confirming our worst fears” and said the family was urging a thorough investigation and further training for troopers on de-escalating conflicts. The statement said the district attorney “must prosecute [Trooper Jerimy Mathis] to the fullest extent of the law, as warranted by the investigation”.
The importance of money in determining a child’s life prospects is highlighted in a major new study published today – with household income found to have a significant impact on everything from children’s cognitive and educational outcomes to their social development and physical health.
“We can now confidently say that money itself matters and needs to be taken into account if we want to improve children’s outcomes,” says the review’s co-author, Kerris Cooper. “We often focus on gaps at school – but what the evidence shows is that money doesn’t only make a difference to children’s cognitive outcomes, it also makes a difference to their physical health, to birth weight, and to social and behavioural development.”
Fifty-five of 61 studies carried out in eight countries over the past three decades showed increases in income to have a positive effect across a variety of measures, according to the systematic review carried out by Cooper and Kitty Stewart of the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion at the London School of Economics.
The strongest evidence points to causal relationship between income and cognitive gains: an increase of US$1,000 in the year 2000 (roughly £860 in today’s currency) is associated with an improvement of between 5 and 27% in the “standard deviation” – meaning 5 to 27% of the gap between a poor and an average child would be closed if the former’s family had its income increased by this amount.
One US study, based on a randomised control trial and published last year, also shows how increased income reduces the likelihood of abuse or neglect.
Interesting. I'm not familiar with this news outlet (so read with grain of salt) - this article was linked at antiwar.com in an article by Justin Raimondo.
By her own account, the Russian lawyer that managed to slide her way into Trump Tower last year and meet with President Donald Trump’s eldest son, his campaign manager and son-in-law is a former Moscow prosecutor who had been denied a visa to enter the United States. Natalia Veselnitskaya filed an affidavit in a federal case in New York describing how she managed to get special permission to enter the United States after the visa denial to help represent a Russian company called Prevezon Holdings owned by the Russian businessman Denis Katsyv in a case brought against it by U.S. prosecutors. ...
Another player in the Russian influence scandal, the U.S.-based political firm Fusion GPS, was also involved in helping Prevezon, Katsyv and Baker Hostetler, according to the Grassley letter. Fusion has been a major focal point of the FBI and Congress because it hired a former British intelligence agent named Christopher Steele to produce a salacious intelligence dossier that made wild and still unsubstantiated claims about Trump ties to Russia.
Congressional investigators involved in the Russian influence case told Circa on Sunday that they are almost certain to probe if Veselnitskaya used her parole entry status to contact the Trump family and whether there is any connection to the Steele dossier and Fusion GPS. “This is new information that raises all sorts of new questions and we are digging into it as we speak,” one congressional investigator told Circa, speaking only on condition of anonymity. President Trump’s lawyers said Saturday they feared Veselnitskaya’s meeting at Trump Tower may have been part of a broader election opposition effort to smear the Republican by creating the impression he and his family had extensive ties to Russia as the Kremlin was interfering in the 2016 election.
“We have learned from both our own investigation and public reports that the participants in the meeting misrepresented who they were and who they worked for,” said Mark Corallo, a spokesman for President Trump’s legal team. “Specifically, we have learned that the person who sought the meeting is associated with Fusion GPS, a firm which according to public reports, was retained by Democratic operatives to develop opposition research on the President and which commissioned the phony Steele dossier. "
Julian Assange, the Wikileaks founder, has claimed that he contacted Donald Trump Jr and tried to persuade him to publish emails showing he was eager to accept sensitive information about Hillary Clinton via the anti-secrecy website.
Instead, the US president’s eldest son did so via Twitter, igniting a firestorm of criticism around his apparent willingness to work with the Russian government against his father’s Democratic rival. ...
Asked by another Twitter user to explain, Assange elaborated: “I argued that his enemies have it – so why not the public? His enemies will just milk isolated phrases for weeks or months ... with their own context, spin and according to their own strategic timetable. Better to be transparent and have the full context ... but would have been safer for us to publish it anonymously sourced. By publishing it himself it is easier to submit as evidence.”
It was not clear whether Assange’s use of the word “enemies” was the reference to the media or political rivals.
The US president, Donald Trump, has described the storm over his son’s meeting with a Russian lawyer as “the greatest witch-hunt in political history” and “sad!” In a typically combative tweet, Trump praised Donald Trump Jr and said “my son Donald did a good job last night” when he appeared on Fox News. “He was open, transparent and innocent,” Trump added. ...
Emails published by Trump Jr on Tuesday showed that Goldstone promised the lawyer would bring from Russia “some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary [Clinton]”. He said: “This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr Trump.”
Critics have said that the offer – and Trump Jr’s willingness to go ahead with the meeting – amount to proof of collusion. Trump Jr denies wrongdoing. On Tuesday evening, he told Fox News host Sean Hannity: “In retrospect I probably would have done things a little differently.” The meeting, he said, was “a nothing”. ...
Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, said it was “wild” that Trump’s son was being blamed for speaking with a Russian attorney. Lavrov – who met Trump last week at the G20 summit in Hamburg, together with Vladimir Putin – said he knew nothing of the meeting with the lawyer. Serious people were trying to “make a mountain out of a molehill”, Lavrov said. ...
Meanwhile, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov insisted that the Kremlin had not spoken to Agalarov and has no ties to Veselnitskaya.
In California, the Democratic Party holds the governorship and super majorities in both the State House and Senate, yet the Democratic establishment continues to side with corporate donors and oppose progressive legislation. Gov. Jerry Brown has suppressed efforts to ban fracking in the state, and the California Democratic Party was fined in May 2017 for laundering money from oil companies to Brown’s 2014 re-election campaign. Additionally, “debt free” college plan was watered down in the state legislature in favor of modest reforms.
Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon shut down a single payer health care bill in June 2017, fueling resentment from National Nurses United and progressive activists that worked to get it passed by the State Senate as Republicans in Congress work to scale back Obamacare. ... Rendon and Democratic leaders have received over $2.2 million from the pharmaceutical and health care industries since 2012, including from groups that lobbied against the bill. ...
On July 10, Politico reported that California Democrats were plunging into a “civil war,” and the article cast blame on progressive activists. Several weeks before, the author wrote a hit piece on Sen. Bernie Sanders’ political revolution, claiming it has hit a “rough patch.” In the article, Gov. Jerry Brown cautioned the Democratic Party from going too far to the left. “Look, you can always go too far. Trump has obviously gone too far in one direction. It’s possible to go too far in the other direction,” he told Politico.
The greatest impact individuals can have in fighting climate change is to have one fewer child, according to a new study that identifies the most effective ways people can cut their carbon emissions.
The next best actions are selling your car, avoiding long flights, and eating a vegetarian diet. These reduce emissions many times more than common green activities, such as recycling, using low energy light bulbs or drying washing on a line. However, the high impact actions are rarely mentioned in government advice and school textbooks, researchers found.
The new study, published in Environmental Research Letters, sets out the impact of different actions on a comparable basis. By far the biggest ultimate impact is having one fewer child, which the researchers calculated equated to a reduction of 58 tonnes of CO2 for each year of a parent’s life.
A giant iceberg twice the size of Luxembourg has broken off an ice shelf on the Antarctic peninsula and is now adrift in the Weddell Sea.
Reported to be “hanging by a thread” last month, the trillion-tonne iceberg was found to have split off from the Larsen C segment of the Larsen ice shelf on Wednesday morning after scientists examined the latest satellite data from the area.
The Larsen C ice shelf is more than 12% smaller in area than before the iceberg broke off – or “calved” – an event that researchers say has changed the landscape of the Antarctic peninsula and left the Larsen C ice shelf at its lowest extent ever recorded.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Willie Dixon & Walter "Shakey" Horton - My Babe!
Willie Dixon - I Just Want to Make Love to You + Bring it on Home
Willie Dixon - Wigglin Worm
Willie Dixon - Hoochie Koochie Man
Willie Dixon - The Real Thing
Willie Dixon - I Can't Quit You Baby
Willie Dixon - Crazy For My Baby
Willie Dixon - Wang Dang Doodle
J B Lenoir & Willie Dixon - Mama Talk To Your Daughter
Willie Dixon & The All Stars - Jungle Swing