The Evening Blues - 7-23-19
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Gene Burks - You Got It
“Certified lunatics are shut up because of their proneness to violence when their pretensions are questioned; the uncertified variety are given the control of powerful armies and can inflict death and disaster upon all sane men within their reach.”
-- Bertrand Russell
News and Opinion
Almost a century ago, classical fascism abandoned democratic liberties in order to pursue internal cleansing and external expansion without ethical or legal restraints. Although Mussolini, Hitler, and Franco pursued these internal and external goals in different ways, they all set themselves in opposition to a series of "others" that were not only ideological (liberals and communists) but also ethnic (Jews, Roma and other minorities). Although US President Donald Trump, as well as the European parties, gathered under the Identity and Democracy umbrella, evince these traits in their rhetoric and, when they can, in their actions, their use of fascist techniques to stimulate their base and erode liberal democratic institutions are similar but not identical to those used by fascist dictators of the 1920s and 30s. ...
The main difference between the classical and contemporary incarnations of fascism is that the version we observe today is operating within democratic systems rather than outside them. Proponents of 20th-century fascism wanted to change everything from above; Mussolini defined it as "revolution against revolution". But fascism today aims to transform democratic systems from within. Thus over the past decade, racist, homophobic, and xenophobic laws have resurfaced within democratic regimes through democratic procedures across the globe. These recrudescences are potentially more dangerous than surviving pockets of classical fascism's anti-democratic ideology because mainstream conservative forces tend to ignore and even support them. This is particularly evident in the US where the Republican Party continues to endorse Trump's racism and hostility towards refugees and minorities as well as international and human rights agreements.
Another major difference between the two is that unlike classical fascism, its contemporary version does not concern itself with social welfare. Alongside its disastrous obsession with ethnic superiority, classical fascism took on the utopic duty of crafting an order which would better address the social and psychological needs of citizens who had been suffering the ravages of capitalism. But what has replaced this dimension in contemporary fascism? Having emerged in an age of neoliberalism and competitive individualism, today's far-right parties no longer feel the need to mobilise the masses by making grand promises of an alternative society or civilisation that would better their lives. Instead, they channel the anger and frustrations of isolated individuals who do not necessarily belong to the right or the left towards the "perpetual other" whose removal or ostracisation will supposedly solve all socioeconomic problems.
This is why Trump, for example, instead of supporting the Republican Party's economic policies or its version of traditional national values, preaches a reactionary and xenophobic version of American individualism - as his recent attack against four congresswomen of colour has demonstrated. ...
While there are indeed substantial differences between the fascism of the past and what we see today, the general historical trajectory will inevitably remain the same.
Donald Trump has said that he could win the Afghanistan war “in a week” but did not want to wipe the country “off the face of the Earth”.
At the same White House, the president also made a quixotic offer to mediate the longstanding Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan, claiming the Indian government had invited to act as broker – a claim quickly denied in New Delhi.
The president made his remarks sitting alongside the Pakistani prime minister, Imran Khan, who is seeking to have more than $1bn in US aid restored, after Trump cut it off last year blaming Islamabad for not doing enough to fight extremism. “The problem was Pakistan wasn’t doing anything for us. They were subversive,” he said. “To be honest, I think we have a better relationship with Pakistan right now than when we were paying that money. That money can come back.” ...
Trump also talked about the 18-year war in Afghanistan, as US officials pursue talks with Taliban officials, with cautious support from Islamabad. “Pakistan’s going to help us out to extricate ourselves,” Trump said at an Oval Office meeting with Khan. “We’re like policemen. We’re not fighting a war. If we wanted to fight a war in Afghanistan and win it, I could win that war in a week. But I don’t want to kill 10 million people. Afghanistan could be wiped off the face of the Earth. I don’t want to go that route.”
Trump added that there was hope that the Taliban would talk about peace in the coming days. A White House statement later acknowledged: “Pakistan has made efforts to facilitate the Afghanistan peace talks, and we are going to ask them to do more.”
Pompous Maximus reaches out like a true friend to the lapdogs taken in by President Bolton's scam:
The UK must be responsible for the safety of its own ships in the Gulf, the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, has said. His remarks reflect unresolved tensions between Britain and the US over Donald Trump’s plans for a US-led military taskforce to protect international shipping operating off the Iranian coast. The UK is meanwhile seeking to assemble a European naval protection force.
Speaking on Fox News, Pompeo said: “The responsibility in the first instance falls to the United Kingdom to take care of their ships. The US has a responsibility to do its part.”
He argued that the current crisis was not a result of US sanctions, but of longstanding Iranian malign behaviour in the region. “This is a bad regime; it’s not honouring the people of Iran,” he told the Fox & Friends television programme. “They’ve now conducted what amounts to national piracy – a nation-state taking over a ship that’s travelling in international waters.” ...
The US has been seeking to recruit allies to take part in a coalition, known as Operation Sentinel, to protect the sea lanes. “We’ll build out a big coalition of countries all across the world to do that. We’ll ultimately be successful,” Pompeo told CBS News.
Jeremy Hunt enters the contest for the most hypocritical statement by a state representative with a stunning entry that I'll call, "it's piracy for thee but not for me."
US President Donald Trump said Monday that chances of negotiating with Iran were dwindling, as he cited increasing tensions in the Gulf and blasted the Islamic republic as the world's top "state of terror."
The president cited a series of recent conflicts involving Tehran, including the downing of US and Iranian drones and, most recently, Tehran's announcement that it arrested 17 people in connection to a CIA spy ring, a claim Trump rejected as "lies."
"Frankly it's getting harder for me to want to make a deal with Iran, because they behave very badly," Trump told reporters in the Oval Office, as visiting Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan sat at his side.
"I'll tell you it could go either way, very easily," Trump added. "And I'm OK either way it goes." ...
He also used menacing language, saying the United States was "ready for the absolute worst."
"We are very geared up. They are really the number one state of terror in the world," Trump said.
'Ethnic Cleansing With Impunity': Israel Denounced for Demolishing Dozens of Palestinian Homes in Violation of International Law
Global outcry erupted on Monday—with one critic condemning the move as "ethnic cleansing with impunity"—after Israeli forces demolished dozens of homes in Sur Baher, a Palestinian village that straddles East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank.
"These demolitions are a flagrant violation of international law and part of a systematic pattern by the Israeli authorities to forcibly displace Palestinians in the occupied territories; such actions amount to war crimes," Saleh Higazi, deputy Middle East and North Africa director for Amnesty International, said in a statement Monday. "Israel must immediately end its cruel and discriminatory policy of home demolitions and forced displacement," added Higazi. "Instead of destroying families' homes Israel must dismantle parts of the fence/wall built inside the occupied Palestinian territories, including in parts of Sur Baher, in violation of international law."
Reuters explained in a report Monday that "parts of Sur Baher lie inside the municipal boundary of Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem and parts outside the barrier, in the West Bank. But some lie in between: just outside the Jerusalem line but still on the Israeli side of the barrier." An area known as Wadi al-Hummus falls on the Israeli side of what critics call the apartheid wall, but it is ostensibly under control of the Palestinian Authority.
Before dawn on Monday, bulldozers accompanied by hundreds of Israeli police and soldiers descended on Wadi al-Hummus. The demolition, which The Associated Press called "one of the largest operations of its kind in years," came after Israel's High Court of Justice ended a seven-year legal battle last month by dismissing Palestinians' challenge to an Israeli military order barring construction in the area.
Israel’s demolition of of Palestinian homes in E. Jerusalem is criminal “ethnic cleansing” designed to change the demographics of the city by increasing Jews & reducing Arabs. Anywhere else, there’d be US outrage. Cuz it’s Israel, there’s silence. Shame https://t.co/tTEJ8bqGle
— James J. Zogby (@jjz1600) July 22, 2019
Puerto Rico saw more massive protests on Monday as hundreds of thousands lined the streets following Governor Ricardo Rosselló’s attempt to cling on to power despite resigning as president of the ruling New Progressive party and announcing he will not run for re-election next year.
A general strike took place across the US territory on Monday morning, protesters chanting the now familiar cry of “Ricky resign!”, waving flags and banging drums. Demonstrations have gripped the island since hundreds of pages of leaked text messages between the governor and 11 members of his inner circle were published on 13 July.
The messages contain homophobic and sexist slurs against political rivals and cultural figures. They also contain a joke about dead bodies during Hurricane Maria, which devastated the island in September 2017.
Puerto Rico’s largest mall, Plaza de las Américas, closed before Monday’s demonstration along with many other businesses. Last week police used teargas and rubber bullets to disperse protesters at a huge rally outside the governor’s residence in the island’s capital, San Juan. ...
Rosselló and the 11 others implicated in the message scandal have been issued summonses by the island’s justice department. While a number of those in the chat group, including the former secretary of state Luís Rivera Marín, have resigned over the affair, Rosselló has maintained the messages contained nothing illegal.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 22, 2019
“Ricky Renuncia”: Half a Million Puerto Ricans Flood San Juan Demanding Resignation of Gov. Rosselló
Venezuela has been hit by a nationwide power outage which the government has blamed on an “electromagnetic attack” on the nation’s hydroelectric system. The information minister Jorge Rodríguez said authorities were working to restore electricity as quickly as possible after at least 14 of Venezuela’s 24 states – including the capital Caracas – lost power on Monday afternoon.
He appealed for calm and said contingency plans had been activated so that medical facilities would not be affected. Security forces were also being deployed to guarantee public safety.
Venezuela suffered a series of blackouts in March that left millions of people without running water and telecommunications. The power cuts were the worst in decades and exacerbated an economic crisis that has halved the size of the economy.
Boris Johnson, Britain’s blustering Brexit campaigner, was chosen as the U.K.’s next prime minister on Tuesday, with a resounding mandate from the Conservative Party but conflicting demands from a politically divided country.
Johnson is set to become prime minister on Wednesday after winning an election to lead the governing Conservatives. He will have just over three months to make good on his promise to lead the U.K. out of the European Union by Oct. 31.
Famed for his bravado, quips in Latin and blond mop of hair , Johnson easily defeated Conservative rival Jeremy Hunt, winning two-thirds of the votes of about 160,000 party members across the U.K. He will become prime minister once Queen Elizabeth II formally asks him to form a government, replacing Theresa May.
Boris Johnson has been elected by fewer than 100,000 unrepresentative Tory members. pic.twitter.com/cixmOtBvce
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) July 23, 2019
Well, it's come to this: The president basically just used the old reliable schoolyard taunt "I know you are but what am I" against the Squad.
The “Squad” is a very Racist group of troublemakers who are young, inexperienced, and not very smart. They are pulling the once great Democrat Party far left, and were against humanitarian aid at the Border...And are now against ICE and Homeland Security. So bad for our Country!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 22, 2019
His Monday tweet — apparently written either at or on the way to the late Justice John Paul Stevens’ memorial — isn’t the first time Trump has accused the progressive lawmakers of racism. He’s repeatedly alleged, without proof, that Omar is anti-Semitic. He claimed last week, again without proof, that all four women used the phrase “evil Jews.”
This is on the Illinois Republican County Chairmen’s Association’s Facebook site: pic.twitter.com/0qzKsiRzzq
— Rick Pearson (@rap30) July 21, 2019
The Louisiana cop who called AOC a “vile idiot” who “needs a round” has reportedly been fired, along with a fellow cop who “liked” the post. Gretna Police Chief Arthur Lawson on Monday afternoon fired officer Charlie Rispoli and another officer, Angelo Varisco, according to WDSU-NBC reporter Christina Watkins.
“It’s very, very disappointing,” Lawson said in a press briefing. "To insinuate a violent act against a seated U.S. congresswoman... it's completely irresponsible and intolerable." ...
The officer’s threat followed a week of AOC and “squad”-bashing from President Donald Trump, who called Ocasio-Cortez, Reps. Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib racist “troublemakers” on Monday. The four minority Congresswomen were also the subject of a since-deleted Facebook meme of a movie-style poster calling them “The Jihad Squad,” which was shared by the Republican County Chairmen's Association of Illinois.
Mexico has boasted of a sharp drop in the number of migrants attempting to travel through the country ahead of a US deadline for its southern neighbour to show that it is cracking down on irregular migration.
The foreign minister, Marcelo Ebrard, told reporters on Monday the migrant flow through Mexico had diminished by 36.2% since 7 June – when the Mexican government agreed to increase immigration enforcement to avoid Donald Trump imposing escalating trade tariffs. Figures from the National Immigration Institute showed an average of 4,156 migrants entered Mexico daily through its southern border during the week of 1-7 June. That figure fell to roughly 2,652 people a day during the week ending 19 July.
Ebrard attributed that decline to the deployment of 20,000 members of a newly formed militarised police force and “immigration laws being enforced”. He added: “We have not agreed on a number for the next 45 days” – with the Trump administration – “but we’re going to keep up this effort so the trend continues downward.”
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador once promised to not “do the dirty work” of any foreign government on the immigration issue, but his administration has taken action amid fears that Trump’s fury over the steady stream of migrants could dent Mexico’s export-driven economy.
Mexico border are released from detention centers only to go directly to the emergency rooms of local hospitals, according to two damning press reports issued this past week. The Atlantic magazine reported Sunday on what it termed “The Border Patrol–to–Emergency Room Pipeline,” describing immigrants, frequently exhausted, dehydrated or otherwise weakened by crossing the border in remote desert areas, then thrown into detention centers where they can’t wash their hands, even after using the bathroom, and are frequently denied clean drinking water and hot food.
A local pediatrician who visited a McAllen, Texas, detention center, Dolly Lucio Sevier, wrote a scathing report on the conditions there last month, calling them “tantamount to intentionally causing the spread of disease.” This is a tactic that harks back to the genocidal treatment of Native Americans in the 18th century, when deadly diseases like smallpox were deliberately spread among them through the distribution of infected blankets. ...
A July 16 report in the non-profit Texas Tribune found, “Cases of severe dehydration and overexertion among migrants are skyrocketing in deep South Texas as people push their bodies past the breaking point to get into the United States, new statistics obtained by the Texas Tribune show.” The report, citing local Border Patrol chief Rodolfo Karisch, found that agents are taking 30 migrants per day to the emergency room just in the Rio Grande Valley Sector. Multiplied across the other sectors of the US-Mexico border, that would add up to thousands of migrants a month going from detention centers to emergency rooms.
A nurse at a Rio Grande Valley hospital told the Tribune that migrants may be sick when they are detained, but they get worse because of being detained with other sick migrants in unsanitary conditions for a prolonged period. “They’re arriving here sick, and they get sicker,” she said. The Tribune report continued: “The nurse said young migrants going through the intake process had conditions that included diaper rash so bad that babies were bleeding, explosive diarrhea that oozes out of days-old diapers, chicken pox, antibiotic-resistant infections, multiple viral infections and at least one hungry baby who guzzled four bottles of formula.”
These press accounts—a rare exception in the American media—give a glimpse of the brutal conditions deliberately created by the Trump administration in its effort to block the flow of desperate and cruelly oppressed people from Central America, fleeing police dictatorships and drug gangs and seeking sanctuary in the United States. This brutality is what the congressional Democrats voted to fund last month when they approved Trump’s demand for $4.6 billion in additional spending on the border concentration camps.
The Trump administration plans to give immigration officials the authority to quickly deport tens of thousands of immigrants — without due process.
The administration plans on expanding “expedited removals,” a speedy deportation process in which migrants aren’t entitled to a hearing before an immigration judge, according to a notice that will be published in the federal register on Tuesday.
The new rule will apply to all unauthorized immigrants who can't prove they've been in the U.S. for at least two continuous years. ...
“Now, if ICE believes someone is undocumented and has lived in the U.S. for less than two years—with the burden on the immigrant to prove otherwise — they can deport that person within days, with almost no court review allowed,” Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, a policy analyst at the American Immigration Council, wrote on Twitter. The Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan immigration think tank, estimates that 297,000 unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. could be subject to expedited removal under the new policy.
There are four major reasons a contested convention is more likely to happen in 2020. A front-loaded primary calendar, crowded primary field, changes in superdelegate rules, and an increased ability for multiple candidates to raise serious money that could let them stick around longer in the race all raise the odds of a scenario like this occurring.
Indeed, some are already predicting it. ...
To win the Democratic nomination, a candidate needs to win a bare majority of the delegates awarded from state party primaries. If no one has a majority, then the drawn out and damaging process of negotiation and dealmaking between candidates begins. If that happens on the convention floor, what’s supposed to be a well-coordinated coronation of the nominee could turn into a televised free-for-all.
Citing Corporate Ties and Lack of 'Urgency,' Progressive Mayor Launches Primary Bid to Unseat Powerful Democrat Richard Neal
A progressive mayor who was born the same year Democratic Rep. Richard Neal took office announced Monday that he is challenging the House Ways and Means Committee chairman in the 2020 election.
Holyoke, Massachusetts Mayor Alex Morse launched his primary challenge against the centrist Democrat with a video in which he described his background as the son of parents who grew up in poverty, fighting for a sustainable economy in his hometown during four terms as mayor, objections to Neal's close ties with corporations, and denouncing the congressman's lack of "urgency" when it comes to fighting back against President Donald Trump.
"There's an urgency in this moment in our country and that urgency is not matched by our current representative in Congress," Morse says in the video. "It's no accident that we have disparities in the district. There's no transparency. It sends the message that wealthy donors and corporate PACs and corporations are far more important than the interests and needs and struggles of the people that we interact with each and every day."
Richie Neal, Ways and Means chair who has dragged his feet on Trump’s taxes, resisted impeachment and Medicare for All, now has a very credible progressive challenger, Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse https://t.co/0fIFN2mPt1
— Ryan Grim (@ryangrim) July 22, 2019
A really excellent article worth a full read:
Honduras is one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere — nearly two-thirds of its population lives in poverty. Its cities are ruled by violence, and its countryside, by vendetta. Police forces and government authorities are often corrupted by drug lords and gangs.
It is also among the countries in the world most vulnerable to climate change, because of its "high exposure to climate-related hazards," says the U.S. Agency for International Development. For a period of 20 years, from 1998 to 2017, it was among the three most weather-battered countries in the world, a distinction largely attributable to Hurricane Mitch, which devastated the country in 1998. The situation is projected to get more dangerous, especially in Western Honduras, which is predicted to become a climate "hotspot," with greater temperature increases.
Climate change, when layered onto this mix of economic instability, violence and weak governance, can become fuel — a threat multiplier that could aggravate all of Honduras' vulnerabilities, leaving people little choice but to leave their homes. The World Bank projects that nearly 4 million people from Central America and Mexico could become climate migrants by 2050. ...
In Honduras, agriculture employs nearly one-third of the country's population, and immigration analysts point to the fact that roughly half the adults apprehended at the U.S. border work in agriculture, underscoring the precarious nature of their lives at home. In El Niño years, agriculture in the Dry Corridor — a large swath of Central America characterized by dry, erratic weather conditions — is especially stressed. The tropical dry forest belt that stretches from southern Mexico to Panama has experienced declines in rainfall of up to 40 percent and intense heat for long stretches. In other years, heavy rainfall washes out crops or makes it impossible to plant or harvest.
"National security rests on economics as well as anything," said Richard Holwill, who was the U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for Inter-American affairs in the 1980s. "The Soviet Union didn't collapse because of a military threat, it collapsed because it could not maintain an economy."
"We can't just pull up a drawbridge, wall out the rest of the world and say, hey, we can survive here in this island that we call the United States," Holwill added. "We are interconnected, and our security is enhanced by ensuring that their world is stable."
'This is What the Climate Crisis Looks Like': One Day After Crushing Heat Wave, Flash Floods Inundate New York City
Less than a month after New York City declared a climate emergency, the reality of the crisis came crashing home Monday as streets across Brooklyn and Queens were inundated with flash flooding a day after power went down in three boroughs due to a heat wave.
Commuters headed home late in the day were stymied by trains shut down due to flash flooding from rain that hit the city after a days-long heat wave that drove temperatures into the triple digits.
After days of a deadly heatwave, New York is now facing historic flooding.
This is what the climate crisis looks like. https://t.co/6PXp3DdyiS
— Sunrise Movement (@sunrisemvmt) July 23, 2019
Con Ed cut power to areas in the boroughs of Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island Sunday night after the weekend heat wave strained the energy company's infrastructure.
On Monday evening, a rain storm that hit the area at 8pm caused flash flooding. Streets in Brooklyn were impassable as water rose to people's waists, leading at least one Uber driver, Walid Shawon, and his customer in Brooklyn's South Slope neighborhood to flee the vehicle from a window and swim to safety.
It's worth noting that as New York City's roads, subways, and other vital infrastructure struggle to deal with climate impacts, @NYGovCuomo is weighing whether to build a new, climate-wrecking fracked gas pipeline in the city's harbor. #StopNESE https://t.co/luX4kMjNVG
— 350 dot org (@350) July 23, 2019
Arizona, despite being GOP-dominated, is number 3 in the US for residential solar power production. In the first quarter of 2019 alone, Arizona homeowners put in 52.83 megawatts of new solar installations. As for industrial-scale solar, Arizona utility APS generates 1.4 gigawatts worth of solar power, equivalent to a small nuclear plant. APS’s rival TEP is planning residential solar installations in 90,000 Arizona homes. APS is also pursuing new storage capacity and wind power. Arizona now generates more electricity from solar than from hydroelectricity, though its 4 gigawatt Palo Verde nuclear plant is one of the state’s most important sources of power.
All five members of Georgia’s Public Service Commission are Republicans, and they just decided to double their order for new solar power and to close a coal plant, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Matt Kempner. They are planning enough solar to power 200,000 homes. Georgia has 3.2 million households, so that is 6% of the state’s homes. This is only the beginning, since solar panels over time are rapidly dropping in price and increasing in efficiency. These Republican officials haven’t taken these decisions to be politically correct or because they fear the climate emergency produced by the world spewing 37 billion metric tons a year of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. They made the decision because it makes good economic sense. And if even this GOP-dominated body in Red State is going in this direction, fossil fuels are doomed. ...
So, to summarize: Republican decision-makers increasingly see solar as just a good business investment that produces electricity more cost-effectively than coal. One important consideration is that the fuel is free, so that municipalities that want 25-year bids favor renewables over fossil fuels. Who knows how expensive natural gas will be in 2044? But sun and wind will still be free. And it should be underlined that the potential for increases in efficiency and decreases in price in solar panels is enormous.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Gene Burks - Monkey Man
Gene Burks - Shirley Jean
Gene Burks - Can't Stand Your Fooling Around
Gene Burks - You Don't Love Me
Gene Burks - Take My Hand
Dorothy Williams - Watchdog
Dorothy Williams - Closer To My Baby
Dorothy Williams - The Well's Gone Dry
Dorothy Williams - Country Style