The Evening Blues - 8-15-16


Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features New Orleans r&b and soul singer Lee Dorsey. Enjoy!

Lee Dorsey - Sneakin' Sally Through The Alley

"Demoralize the enemy from within by surprise, terror, sabotage, assassination. This is the war of the future."

-- Adolf Hitler

News and Opinion

Details Abound in Drone ‘Playbook’ — Except for the Ones That Really Matter Most

In response to a court order in an ACLU lawsuit, the government late Friday evening (as is its wont) released five documents relating to its process for nominating terrorism suspects for kill or capture. Most notable was the "Presidential Policy Guidance," a document particularly central to the government’s targeted killing program. ...

The dominant impression from reading the PPG is the extent to which it signals that targeted killings outside war zones have become the new normal for the United States. True, the PPG appears to be a remarkably detailed document outlining the approval process for targeted killings (and, notably, little-used capture operations) among various committees of the National Security Council and, in some cases, involving the president himself. But while the document has already been celebrated by some for pulling back the curtain on its “extraordinarily detailed” process, the PPG’s emphasis on process has a dark side.

Most critically, the PPG’s length and numbingly bureaucratic tone make clear just how normalized the killing of terrorism suspects far from any battlefield has become inside the executive branch. Under the Constitution and international law, these kinds of strikes are supposed to be — at best — exceptional and rare. The “playbook” belies that background, giving off the sense that these matters are business as usual.

The document’s emphasis on process, rather than on an elaboration of its legal standards for conducting targeted killings, obscures yet another, long-running criticism of the program: That for all the layers of internal decision making by government agencies, no court has any role in checking their work.

"Fractured Lands: How the Arab World Came Apart": NYT Mag Examines Region Since 2003 U.S. Invasion

Syria: the unravelling continues

It certainly looks as if ISIS is in retreat. Over the past couple of months, it has lost territory in both Iraq and Syria. Its two signal captures in Iraq a couple of years ago, Fallujah and Mosul, have either been lost or are about to be, with Fallujah retaken in June, and Mosul now the focus of an imminent ground offensive. And in Syria, many, civilian and ISIS alike, are fleeing the de facto capital of the Islamic State, Raqqa, before the approaching anti-ISIS coalition of mainly Kurdish, Arab, Assyrian, Armenian, Turkmen and Circassian militias, aided and abetted by US airpower, launches the inevitable, final assault.

With the loss of territory, especially in oil-rich Iraq, ISIS’s revenues are drying up, too. Reports suggest that it is having to cut fighters’ pay, levy new taxes, and, in a fiat born of desperation rather than devotion, increase fines for breaking its religous code. ISIS, which won adherents so quickly by dint of its sheer success, its fearful potency, is now losing them just as quickly, as its failures mount and its impotence emerges. Kurdish forces claim that ISIS fighters are now shaving off their beards, and even disguising themselves as women, in an attempt to flee Syria with the refugees. ...

And here we come to the decline of ISIS. Because the principal beneficiary of ISIS’s struggles has not been some mythical moderate force; it has been the al-Qaeda spin-off, al-Nusra, with some reports suggesting that it has picked up 3,000 to 4,000 recruits from ISIS since the spring. Such is its growing strength that there have been reports that al-Nusra is in the process of breaking the Assad regime’s five-year-long siege of Aleppo, Syria’s second city. It’s certainly looking the best bet to take on the Syrian government, which, after all, remains the West’s avowed objective. This is why the US-led coalition has already been indirectly supporting al-Nusra, with French government intelligence reports showing that US air strikes against ISIS avoided endangering positions held by al-Nusra. And, last year, former CIA director David Petraeus talked of directly arming ‘some individual fighters, and perhaps some elements, within al-Nusra’. Of course, arming a descendant group of al-Qaeda might pose a few PR problems for Western governments still claiming to be fighting the war on terror. Which is why al-Nusra, keen on more monies and arms from Western agencies, has recently rebranded itself as Fatah al-Sham and announced it is no longer affiliated with al-Qaeda. Not that a lack of direct Western support will really hinder al-Nusra given the amount of backing already being given to its associates.

So, even though ISIS now appears to be slowly but surely falling away, this is no vindication of Western intervention, airstrikes or no airstrikes. It was Western meddling in the region, first with destruction of the Iraqi state in 2003, and then with undermining of the Syrian state from 2011 onwards, that paved the way for the emergence of ISIS. And it is Western intervention that continues to plunge Syria headlong into an internecine struggle, increasingly fought along ethno-religious lines, and fuelled by external interests. ISIS may no longer be in the ascendancy, but those the West has helped to prosper in its stead, with the brutal Islamists of al-Nusra to the fore, are no friends of the West. Nor, indeed, are they friends of the Syrian people.

Fighting Rages in Aleppo: Over 180 Civilians Killed Over Weekend

Heavy fighting was reported across northern Syria’s Aleppo this weekend, as the Nusra Front attempted to double-down on last week’s gains, attacking a pair of government districts in the western half of the city. The main fighting on Sunday centered around a cement factory in the city’s southwest. ...

As usual, however, it’s the civilian bystanders taking the brunt of the casualties. Over the course of the weekend, over 180 civilians have been killed, overwhelmingly within Aleppo, where Nusra shelled government districts, and the military airstrikes pounded Nusra-held districts.

Kurds Accused of Changing Demography in Manbij

Though ISIS has been expelled from the area, the “liberated” city of Manbij could be facing a major new battle, as the city’s overwhelmingly Arab population fears the Kurdish-dominated forces who captured the city are eyeing some major demographics shifts.

Locals report that almost immediately after “liberating” Manbij, Kurdish forces set fire to the civil registry and land registry buildings in the city, destroying records of who owns what property around the city. The troops are also preventing Arab and Turkmen residents who fled the fighting from returning, even though ISIS is gone. ...

At the same time, the YPG’s political wing, the PYD, has been very public about their interest in American left-anarchist Murray Bookchin’s writings, who was averse to the notion of private property, which raises the alternative possibility that this is the Kurds trying to implement a system in which the Manbij residents have no private ownership of land.

There are so many foreign backers in the Syrian war that nothing is changing – rebels hope that Hillary Clinton could change that

The Syrian army and its militia allies from the Shia world are preparing a counter-offensive to cut the recently-opened corridor connecting East Aleppo to rebel territory. Syrian and Russian aircraft pound the ruins of this corner of Aleppo through which also runs the main supply road to the government-held west side of the city.

The strengths and weaknesses of all sides in the Syrian war are on show in the present battle. First there was a victory by President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, which cut the enemy’s supply line to East Aleppo on 28 July. But this was balanced within a few days by a rebel success in another part of the city, which shows how equally the two sides are balanced. ... Each side responds to any setback on the battlefield by asking and getting greater support from foreign backers. In this case, the Syrian government is looking to Russia, Iran and Shia militias from Lebanon and Iraq for reinforcements and air strikes. As they have shown repeatedly since 2011, none of these allies can afford to see Assad defeated and have a great deal riding on his staying in power. ...

The Syrian army has enough combat troops to launch successful offensives backed by airstrikes. But it does not have the manpower to hold fixed position. ... It is striking how little real change there has been on the ground in western Syria since the end of 2012. This contrasts with the vast but under-populated spaces of eastern Syria where Isis and later the Syrian Kurds have made sweeping advances. ...

Indigenous factions in Syria are not going to bring an end to the war except by victory on the battlefield and this is a long way off. But the conflict has become progressively internationalised with the US starting its air campaign against Islamic State in September 2014 and Russia doing the same in defence of Assad a year later. Could the geopolitical environment be turning against the rebels after a rapprochement between Russia and Turkey? Turkish support or tolerance has always been crucial for the rebel cause. The meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin on 9 August sparked speculation that Turkey might do a U-turn in Syria, reconcile itself to Assad staying in power and abandon its anti-Assad rebel protégés. ...

Turkey is likely to be absorbed by its domestic affairs in the aftermath of the failed coup of 15 July. But switching sides in Syria, even if politically feasible, would not necessarily win Erdogan many friends while alienating Saudi Arabia and Qatar. It may be, however, that Turkish capacity and willingness to help the anti-Assad rebels will be more limited in future. The rebels will hope this does not happen and wait to see if they will be rescued by a Hillary Clinton Presidency. More hawkish towards Assad than President Obama, she might shift from giving priority to destroying Islamic State, but more likely she will stick with his policies.

Saudi Warplanes Bomb North Yemen School, Killing 10 Children

Saudi warplanes are adding to the ever-growing number of incidents of attacks on civilians fueling international disquiet this weekend, attacking a village in the northern Saada Province and killing 19 civilians, most of them children.

The majority of the casualties in the village came in the attack on a school, which killed 10 children and wounded 21 others, according to Doctors Without Borders. ... Saudi officials confirmed the attack, but insisted that the school was secretly an Iranian-backed training camp for child soldiers.

While the Saudi claims about the school are preposterous and readily disproven, the Saudi comments defending their attack amount to an admission that they deliberately targeted a site full of children which they themselves believed to be full of children.

Amid More Civilian Deaths, Lawmakers Push to End Saudi Arms Flow

U.S. senators are attempting to block the State Department's deal to sell Saudi Arabia nearly $1.5 billion in weapons, just days after the move was announced by the Obama administration.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) told Foreign Policy that he would "work with a bipartisan coalition to explore forcing a vote on blocking this sale. Saudi Arabia is an unreliable ally with a poor human rights record. We should not rush to sell them advanced arms and promote an arms race in the Middle East."

Congressional opposition to the arms sale came as the Saudi-led, U.S.-backed military coalition broke an unsteady five-month ceasefire in Yemen last week and resumed bombing in the capital city of Sana'a—prompting immediate reports of civilian deaths. On Saturday, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) reported that an airstrike on a school in northern Yemen killed 10 children and wounded 28 others.

Paul and Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), both of whom sit on the Foreign Relations Committee, are outspoken critics of the coalition.

"If you talk to Yemeni Americans, they will tell you in Yemen this isn't a Saudi bombing campaign, it's a U.S. bombing campaign," Murphy said in June. "Every single civilian death inside Yemen is attributable to the United States."

Congress has 30 days after arms sales are announced to block or modify the deal, but actual intervention is rare.

Can Dündar announces he is stepping down as editor of Turkish paper

Cumhuriyet editor-in-chief sentenced to prison over story

Can Dündar, the editor of one of Turkey’s leading opposition newspapers, has announced that he is stepping down, saying he no longer has faith in the judiciary to hear an appeal in a secrecy trial after the failed coup.

In May, a Turkish court sentenced Dündar, the editor-in-chief of Cumhuriyet, to five years and 10 months in prison for allegedly revealing state secrets in a story that infuriated the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The journalist was allowed to go free pending an appeal and is now believed to be in Germany.

In a column for Cumhuriyet entitled “time to say farewell”, he said he would not surrender to the judiciary as the state of emergency imposed after the coup meant that he would not get a fair hearing.

Dündar said all the signs indicated that a period of “lawlessness” was under way and the state of emergency was being used by the government as a pretext to arbitrarily control the judiciary. “To trust such a judiciary would be like putting one’s head under the guillotine,” he wrote. ...

Dündar, a prominent figure in Turkey and the author of several books and documentaries, was appointed as the Cumhuriyet editor-in-chief in February 2015 and swiftly made it Turkey’s most vocal opposition paper.

Cumhuriyet’s report on a shipment of arms intercepted at the Syrian border in January 2014 led to a furore when it was published in May 2015, with Erdoğan warning Dundar that he would “pay a heavy price”.

Kurds may abandon Turkey after coup against Erdogan

Turkey's government has wasted no time in going after political opponents in the month since the failed coup. Germany's main Kurdish organization has warned that displaced people could seek asylum in large numbers.

Prosecutors in Istanbul have requested a five-year prison sentence for Selahattin Demirtas (pictured), accusing the 43-year-old former human rights lawyer and co-chair of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), which advocates for Kurds and other minorities, of "terrorist propaganda" for allegedly maintaining ties to Abdullah Ocalan, the detained leader of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Turkey, the United States and the EU have classified the group as a terrorist organization. ...

A long-running uprising in Turkey's Kurdish regions was temporarily overshadowed by the July 15 coup attempt. The PKK first took up arms against the government over 30 years ago, and the fighting has led to more than 40,000 deaths. Neither the PKK nor the Turkish government is looking to reconcile following the end of a ceasefire last year. Kurds in eastern Turkey, where most live, are facing a state of emergency, Toprak said. "Entire cities and regions have been razed," he added. "There are 500,000 internally displaced Kurds."

The Turkish government's wide-ranging post-coup crackdown has only worsened the situation. "We've seen the risk of a new refugee crisis in Turkey for months," Toprak said. "No one wanted to listen to us. Now, it's not just Kurds looking to get out - but many democrats and those in the opposition."

Official from Christian charity tortured by Israel

Israel is intensifying its assault on humanitarian aid efforts in the besieged Gaza Strip, with accusations against officials from two more international agencies.

Meanwhile, the global Christian charity World Vision has rebutted Israeli claims that its Gaza director could have diverted tens of millions of dollars to the Palestinian resistance organization Hamas.

Israel detained Mohammad El Halabi in June, interrogated him for more than 50 days and then charged him with diverting up to $50 million to the military wing of Hamas.

There are also new indications that Israel’s Shin Bet secret police tortured Halabi to extract the confessions it is relying on.

On Monday, Kevin Jenkins, president and CEO of World Vision International, said his organization is “seeking to understand the truth behind the allegations laid against Mohammad El Halabi,” and had suspended operations in Gaza pending investigations.

Jenkins added that “we still have not seen any of the evidence.”

“World Vision’s cumulative operating budget in Gaza for the past ten years was approximately $22.5 million, which makes the alleged amount of up to $50 million being diverted hard to reconcile,” Jenkins said. He also noted Halabi’s signing authority to spend funds was limited to to just $15,000.

Interesting story of your tax dollars in action:

In Bungled Spying Operation, NSA Targeted Pro-Democracy Campaigner

Tony Fullman is a middle-aged former tax man and a pro-democracy activist. But four years ago, a botched operation launched by New Zealand spies meant he suddenly found himself deemed a potential terrorist — his passport was revoked, his home was raided, and he was placed on a top-secret National Security Agency surveillance list.

The extraordinary covert operation, revealed Sunday by Television New Zealand in collaboration with The Intercept, was launched in 2012 after New Zealand authorities believed they had identified a group planning to violently overthrow Fiji’s military regime.

As part of the spy mission, the NSA used its powerful global surveillance apparatus to intercept the emails and Facebook chats of people associated with a Fijian “thumbs up for democracy” campaign. The agency then passed the messages to its New Zealand counterpart, Government Communications Security Bureau, or GCSB.

One of the main targets was Fullman, a New Zealand citizen, whose communications were monitored by the NSA after New Zealand authorities, citing secret evidence, accused him of planning an “an act of terrorism” overseas.

But it turned out that the claims were baseless — Fullman, then 47, was not involved in any violent plot. He was a long-time public servant and peaceful pro-democracy activist who, like the New Zealand and Australian governments at that time, was opposed to Fiji’s authoritarian military ruler Frank Bainimarama.

Gays Against Guns: civil disobedience campaign to target gun companies

Hundreds of gay activists will begin a campaign of civil disobedience and direct action against gun companies and their supporters on Monday, to demand an end to the epidemic of gun violence blighting the US.

Members of Gays Against Guns, a group formed in the wake of the massacre of 49 people at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando earlier this summer, said they would “no longer stand by and watch the gun industry profit from death”.

Organizers of the collective, which has more than 300 members in New York and chapters in nine other cities across the country, said they were prepared to break the law and get arrested in their fight against gun manufacturers, their shareholders, the National Rifle Association (NRA) and its corporate backers. ...

As well as directly targeting the US two biggest gun companies, Smith & Wesson and Sturm, Ruger & Co, the campaign – which is modeled on and includes members of the 1980s direct action gay rights campaign group Act Up – will also go after their investors.

On Monday, the group will gather for a “die-in” at the headquarters of the investment firm BlackRock, which is one of the biggest investors in Smith & Wesson and Sturm, Ruger, whose assault rifles have been used in several recent mass shootings.

“Here is a company whose CEO, Laurence Fink, prides himself on their socially conscious investment yet comes right out and tells clients that mass shootings worked to their financial advantage,” said campaigner Cathy Marino-Thomas. “They’re smart enough to acknowledge they profit from massacres but can’t find a way to unload those stocks? That’s amoral.”

Mothers at US immigration center on hunger strike to protest year in custody

Female immigrants detained with their children at the Berks County Residential Center in Pennsylvania say they have been on hunger strike for more than a week to challenge government claims they are released after 20 days. By the end of August at least three families will have spent a full year in custody.

“On many occasions our children have thought about suicide because of the confinement and desperation that is caused by being here,” read a letter 22 mothers sent last week to Department of Homeland Security secretary Jeh Johnson.

The protest comes after Johnson recently defended the Obama administration’s controversial family detention practices by telling reporters it “is ensuring the average length of stay at these facilities is 20 days or less”.

Twenty days is the maximum time suggested in a federal order that limits how long children can be detained by immigration authorities to three to five days, except “in the event of an emergency influx”.

In their letter to Johnson, the mothers at Berks accuse the government of “making arguments that are false” and cite the federal order, saying “our children are entitled to freedom according to the case of Flores, and still they are here with us”.

The children held at Berks range from age two to 16 years old. ...

Many of those participating in the protest fled gang violence in Honduras and El Salvador and believe they will be killed if sent home. One woman escaped with her seven-year-old son after receiving repeated death threats because her partner, and son’s father, cooperated with local police in reporting their activities.

"This is the Madness They Spark": Uprising in Milwaukee After Police Kill 23-Year-Old Black Man

Wisconsin governor activates national guard after police shooting sparks violent protests

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker activated the National Guard on Sunday to assist Milwaukee in case further protests break out against the police killing of a black man who allegedly brandished a firearm during a traffic stop. ...

Police also said that Sylville Smith was the 23-year-old black man fatally shot by police during a traffic stop on Saturday night. The police officer who shot him is also African-American, police said. ...

Violence erupted on Saturday night in the city after police shot and killed Smith earlier in the day in the predominantly African-American north side neighborhood of Sherman Park. ...

Protesters had poured into the street Saturday evening to protest the killing, firing shots, setting a gas station on fire, torching at least one police car, and throwing bricks through the windshields of two others. ...

Police pulled Smith over for what Mayor Barrett called "suspicious activity." Barrett said on Sunday afternoon that he had seen a still image from the police body cam footage that showed "without question" that Smith had a gun in his hand when he was shot. ... It's not clear if Smith aimed the weapon at or threatened officers.

Texas Readies to Kill Man—Who Killed No One—for Murder

Texas—the state that leads the nation (pdf) in number of executions—is on the brink of killing Jeffery Wood.

His execution is scheduled for Aug. 24, which is "just five days after his 43rd birthday, for a crime that everyone, including prosecutors, admits he did not commit,"Jordan Smith wrote at The Intercept.

He's been on death row since 1998. Two years earlier, as the Austin Chronicle reported, he was arrested

for the murder of Kris Keeran, a gas station attendant in Kerrville. Wood didn't fire the bullet that killed Keeran. In fact, he wasn't even inside the building. He was in a pickup truck in the parking lot when his friend Daniel Reneau shot Keeran in the face during a botched robbery. Wood jumped out of the car and ran inside when he heard the gunshot. There, Reneau pointed his gun at Wood and told him to make off with the Texaco's surveillance camera and VCR.

So why is Wood about to face a lethal injection of pentobarbital?

Hooman Hedayati, an attorney and a member of the Texas Moratorium Network Board of Directors, explained in an op-ed at the Austin American-Statesman last month:

Wood was convicted and sentenced to die under Texas' arcane felony-murder law, more commonly known as the "the law of parties"—for his role as an accomplice to a killing, which he had no reason to anticipate. Under the law of parties, those who conspire to commit a felony, like a robbery, can be held responsible for a subsequent crime, like murder, if it "should have been anticipated." The law does not require a finding that the person intended to kill. It only requires that the defendant, charged under the law of parties, was a major participant in the underlying felony and exhibited a reckless indifference to human life. In other words, neglecting to anticipate another actor's commission of murder in the course of a felony is all that is required to make a Texas defendant death-eligible.

Human rights group Amnesty International issued an "urgent alert" Friday to help stop the execution, noting that Wood "has a history of emotional and intellectual impairments, and an IQ consistently assessed at about 80."

the horse race

Feds debate releasing Clinton's FBI interview

The Obama administration is urgently debating how to respond to congressional demands for the official report on Hillary Clinton's three-and-a-half-hour interview at FBI headquarters, as some inside and outside government raise concerns about giving lawmakers access to politically sensitive records of the FBI's investigation into Hillary Clinton's private email system.

During congressional testimony last month, FBI Director James Comey promised to respond promptly to lawmakers' requests for the interview summaries known as "302s" for Clinton and other witnesses, as well as other information gathered in the course of the year-long FBI probe.

"I'll commit to giving you everything I can possibly give you under the law and to doing it as quickly as possible," Comey told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee July 7.

Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) sent Comey a letter the same day requesting the entire "investigative file" on the Clinton email issue. Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) also asked Comey for all 302 reports related to the case, requesting that they be turned over by the end of last month.

Comey and the FBI are pressing to send at least some of the requested information to the Hill soon, but others in government have stepped in to question such a move, officials tracking the debate said.

Among those involved in the discussions are State Department officials, since many of those interviewed in the FBI probe are current or former State employees.

Did Companies & Countries Buy State Dept. Access by Donating to Clinton Foundation?

New Hacks Threaten Chaos for Soros and Democratic Party

Hacktivists Guccifer 2.0 and DCList leak personal information and records of Democratic lawmakers and insiders

Online hacktivists have thrown the Democratic elite into complete chaos after a pair of websites, Guccifer 2.0 and DC Leaks, posted a series of leaks this weekend exposing the personal data of federal lawmakers and the internal records of party donor and influencer George Soros. 

Purporting to "shed light on one of the most influential networks operating worldwide," DCLeaks on Saturday published more than 2,500 documents, which included "workplans, strategies, priorities, and other activities" related to George Soros's Open Society Foundation.

The Hungarian-American investor and philanthropist a major donor to the Democratic Party and, predictably, conservative and other ideological websites are having a field day with the data drop. 

Less than 24 hours before that leak, the infamous Democratic National Committee (DNC) hacker Guccifer 2.0 late Friday published a spreadsheet containing the personal cellphone numbers and email addresses of nearly 200 current and former members of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and their staff.

Hmmm. Paul Jay and Henry Giroux carry out a discussion of lesser-evilism and the need for a third party without acknowledging that there are alternative parties now. It's sad to see these two guys buying into the mass hypnosis, self-fulfilling prophecy that there is no third party that could possibly win instead of working with the perfectly legitimate alternative campaign that exists now and is on the ballot in enough states to win the presidency.

Which Presidential Candidate Would Be More Favorable For Building an Independent Movement?

'Disappointed' in Obama, Sanders Calls on Top Dems to Drop Lame Duck TPP Push

Hillary Clinton may not have heeded progressives' call to clearly say she'll urge the White House and her fellow party members to oppose a "lame-duck" vote on the Trans Pacific Partnership, but Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has done just that, calling on Democratic Congressional leadership to publicly oppose a post-Election Day vote on the "job-killing trade deal."

Sanders' statement, issued Friday, comes as the Obama administration continues its push to get the TPP passed this year.

On Friday, as Politico reports, the White House sent lawmakers a draft, as required by "fast track" or trade promotion authority, that "describes the major steps the administration will take to implement any changes to U.S. law required by the deal." That notification comes a week after Obama said he expected Congress to pass the deal in the lame duck session.

Sanders said in his statement that he was "disappointed by the president's decision to continue pushing forward on the disastrous Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement that will cost American jobs, harm the environment, increase the cost of prescription drugs, and threaten our ability to protect public health."

"In my view, it is now time for the leadership of the Democratic Party​ in the Senate and the House to join Secretary Clinton and​ go on the record in opposition to holding a vote on this job-killing trade deal during the lame-duck session of Congress and beyond," he added.

the evening greens

The Leap Manifesto: Could This Be Canada's Progressive Answer?

The left in places like the United States and the UK has positioned itself behind political figures, but Leap Manifesto architects Avi Lewis and Naomi Klein, along with other progressives in Canada, are trying something different

Flint residents worry as federal government steps away from water crisis

On Sunday, the city of Flint passes a milestone: the federal government, which has been administering water relief for the past eight months, is pulling out, and state and local officials will take over providing water to residents.

It means that local agencies — the same ones that repeatedly told residents their lead-contaminated water was safe — will once again be in charge of distributing bottled water, filters, and testing kits to 100,000 residents that were exposed to lead when the city switched water sources from the city of Detroit to the Flint River back in the fall of 2014.

While services are not supposed to change, and there is $200 million in state money dedicated to finding relief, residents are concerned. These are some of the same officials and institutions that reassured them they had nothing to fear from the brown, foul-smelling water that was actually poisoning their children with lead.

"The uncertainty is what's going to happen next and what does it mean?" said Maegan Wilson, a 36-year-old mother of two and lifelong Flint resident. "This is more than just an emergency, this is a total disaster." ...

Michigan state Representative Phil Phelps, a Democrat representing Flint and surrounding areas, criticized the state's early efforts as uncoordinated and insufficient. ... The question is whether the state is more capable today to deliver safe water to people than it was eight months ago.

"They're really saying the state of emergency does not exist any longer in the city of Flint in the federal government's eyes, I think it's too early to say that," Phelps said.

Electric cars will need internal combustion engines, MIT scientists say

Electric cars could take over most driving necessities tomorrow, according to a group of scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but they’ll need the help of internal combustion engines to do it.

Using travel surveys and global positioning data, the MIT team has evaluated the possible widespread use of electric cars, and has found that grids could easily support today’s cheap electric cars, and that the cars themselves can already meet drivers’ requirements almost nine times out of 10.

“We find that the energy of 87% of vehicle-days could be met by an existing, affordable electric vehicle,” wrote authors of the report, published on Monday in science journal Nature. “This percentage is remarkably similar across diverse cities.”

The problem that remains to be solved, said Jessika Trancik, one of the report’s authors, is that 87% isn’t quite good enough. “That number is very high, but to get people to actually buy cars, people need to know that it will meet their needs on all days,” she said. “Nobody wants to be waiting by the side of the road.” ...

Whether or not drivers ever take that dreamed-of road trip from one end of I-40 to the other, the MIT team admits the limited range of battery-powered electric vehicles is a major barrier to entry. “The picture I have is of a lot of people owning electric cars but then being able to very conveniently get an internal combustion engine vehicle to take that long road trip,” Trancik said. “That needs to be as easy as getting an Uber.”

Louisiana flooding: 20,000 people rescued as major disaster declared

More than 10,000 people are in shelters and more than 20,000 people have been rescued across south Louisiana amid widespread flooding, Governor John Bel Edwards has said.

Baton Rouge river center, a major events location, would be opened on Sunday to help care for the large numbers of evacuees, he said, as the federal government declared a major disaster in four parishes. ...

Edwards emphasized Sunday that the rain-caused flooding was “not over”.

He said the fatalities have not risen from the three dead reported on Saturday. One person is unaccounted for in St Helena Parish. Edwards added that the storm has “subsided in its intensity” but encouraged people to not go out and “sightsee” even as the weather improves.

The governor says water is continuing to rise in some areas even though the sunshine is out.

Emergency crews plucked motorists from cars stranded by high water along a seven-mile stretch of highway in southern Louisiana and pulled others from inundated homes and waist-deep waters.

Pounding rains swamped parts of south-east Louisiana, leaving whole subdivisions and shopping centers looking isolated by flood waters, which have claimed at least three lives.

Also of Interest

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

Chuck D: 'Black Lives Matter is a defensive movement'

Social Security and the 1 Percent - Rising Inequality is Killing Social Security

What’s it like living in Turkey one month after the failed coup?

Fruits of labor: sunny California is no paradise for farm workers

A Little Night Music

Lee Dorsey - Working In The Coal Mine

Lee Dorsey - Give It Up

Lee Dorsey - Ya Ya

Lee Dorsey - Work, Work, Work

Lee Dorsey - I Can't Get Away

Lee Dorsey - Lottie Moe

Lee Dorsey - Yes We Can

Lee Dorsey - Gator Tail

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Raggedy Ann's picture

Was waiting for this post before I take off from the dr. to say thanks for all you do, joe. You and JtC are my lifeline and this community is the boat that keeps me afloat!

Will read and listen later. Just want to say - that Hitler - he really got to the heart of the matter, didn't he?

Have a beautiful evening, my friends! Bye

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"The “jumpers” reminded us that one day we will all face only one choice and that is how we will die, not how we will live." Chris Hedges on 9/11

joe shikspack's picture

i am just as pleased at the way events seem to have turned as you are, for many of the same reasons. this is a great community and i am delighted to be here and take a role in shaping its existence.

have a great evening, ra!

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OLinda's picture

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- - - -
If you don't like the Mafia, why don't you join it and change it from the inside?

joe shikspack's picture

i can't decide, either sports writers think that their audience is a bunch of knuckle-dragging sexists, or the sports writers themselves are. then again, maybe it's both groups. Smile

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JekyllnHyde's picture

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A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma

joe shikspack's picture

heh, for some reason that cartoon brought this tune to mind:

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enhydra lutris's picture

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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

thanks for reading!

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Thank you, Joe.

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joe shikspack's picture


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Shockwave's picture

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The political revolution continues

joe shikspack's picture

yeah, but then what would the ceo do? it's not like he has any useful skills.

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Shockwave's picture

I tape John Oliver.

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The political revolution continues

joe shikspack's picture

that's incredible. what could possibly go wrong?

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riverlover's picture

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Hey! my dear friends or soon-to-be's, JtC could use the donations to keep this site functioning for those of us who can still see the life preserver or flotsam in the water.

Crider's picture

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joe shikspack's picture

that's a pretty amazing statement coming from mr. trump.

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Crider's picture

I used to enjoy the way he would make fun of his GOP primary opponents, but now he's become a total buffoon.

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joe shikspack's picture

i think that he may have run out of insults. where is don rickles when you need him?

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lotlizard's picture

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From Naked Capitalism

I might be naive, but Erdogan is so ham handed about what is going on that things are going to unravel.

On another subject, but related, Thom Hartmann today described a Chinese ponzi scheme - put in money and get 10% interest. There are no investments that provide that so they are just circulating money. The amount of $ in these is in the trillions, as large as 1/3 of the economy. These could collapse - using new money to pay off the interest ....

I bring that up because for several years the Turkish economy was doing well, but the global economy is shaky and something big like China or the US could take it down. And there are ongoing wars in the middle east and central asia. And the swords are being rattled against Russia. Thus even with a good political situation, things could go bad in Turkey. Erdogan stirred up the war with the Kurds and that is another problem area.


Putin-Erdogan Meeting a Dud: No Common Ground on Syria

HELMER: I wouldn’t say I oppose, I simply know what happened and the western press is completely misleading itself as to what happened. A three letter word, it was a dud. It was a failure, total failure on the part of the Turkish side to achieve any sign of a rapprochement or an improvement in relations with Russia.

To give you an idea of just how bad it was, the Russia Foreign Ministry has yet to put on its website any acknowledgement that during Tuesday, the foreign minister of Russia met a Turk. Instead, the only things indicated of importance by the Foreign Ministry of Russia that occurred on Tuesday was a telephone call between Foreign Minister Lavrov and the German Foreign Minister, Mister Steinmeier.

So, what happened was, let me try and say it quickly for you, a lot of expectations built up by the Turks for Washington and Berlin to take care and to be more supportive of Mr. Erdogan as he tries to continue fighting his coup in Turkey, with hundreds if not thousands, if not a hundred thousands of arrests, purges of the military, the state bureaucracy and so forth, and a total reconstruction of political power in that country.

The coup in Turkey did not end on July the 16. It is continuing, and Erdogan needs to reinforce his power domestically, he needs to begin to promise to deliver economic payoffs to his policies, when the major economic constituencies of the country, the farmers, the exporters, the energy distributers and so forth, can only see weakness in their currency, weakness in their financial balance sheets, and so on.

So Erdogan promises big, he’s also trying to achieve more bribery from the European Union to stop refugee flows, he tries to attract bribes from the United States by making a conspiracy theory of US intervention in his country, et cetera, et cetera. And this idea that there would be a complete change in Turkish strategic alliance is nonsense, it was a Turkish bluff and the rug dealer’s had the rug pulled from underneath him by himself.

interesting article

ends with

But Mr. Erdogan, if he thought he came to Russia to prove that he’s in charge, proved that he’s not even in charge of his own mouth.

This seems to have been on The Real News Network so Joe could have posted it before now

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joe shikspack's picture

thanks for the link, john helmer always has an interesting viewpoint.

erdogan is pretty much between a rock and a hard place, but he's a gambler who likes to double down in the face of adversity.

when his streak ends it won't be pretty and it looks to me like there's a pretty good chance that turkey will descend into chaos one of these days.

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Unabashed Liberal's picture

to say 'hi,' and thanks for tonight's News & Blues, Joe.

Hope your eyes are back to normal. We have some type of computerized photo of our eyes taken, so that our pupils don't have to be dilated. (I've wondered if it's really as good of an exam, though.) I agree with your sentiment from another thread--'relieved' that the Lifeboat will stay afloat!


Traveling South, we've been in floods, and temps hovering around 105 degrees--so-called 'real feel' temps; so, hope Everyone stays cool.

Have a nice evening!


“I believe in the redemptive powers of a dog’s love. It is in recognition of each dog’s potential to lift the human spirit and therefore– to change society for the better, that I fight to make sure every street dog has its day.”
--Stasha Wong, Secretary, Save Our Street Dogs (SOSD)

The SOSD Fantastic Four

Available For Adoption, Save Our Street Dogs, SOSD

Cole - SOSD

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Everyone thinks they have the best dog, and none of them are wrong.

snoopydawg's picture

From the continuing of the bogus war on terror which has seen millions of innocent people killed, trillions of dollars wasted, billions in weapons sales to countries with horrible human rights violations, the war on whistle blowers, not prosecuting the war criminals or the bank CEOs that crashed the global economy and not doing anything that has helped most of the people in this country except for the rich, hell I could go on, but you all know that he has wasted over 7 years of having a chance to be a great president. Plus working for 7 years on the TPP. Imagine if he had put that much effort in the ACA, except he got exactly what he wanted out of it.
Now this.

The Obama administration skipped the standard public process of bidding and offered the nation’s largest prison company a generous deal to build a massive detention facility for women and children seeking asylum.
Chico Harlan reports at The Washington Post:
The four-year, $1 billion contract — details of which have not been previously disclosed — has been a boon for CCA, which, in an unusual arrangement, gets the money regardless of how many people are detained at the facility. Critics say the government’s policy has been expensive but ineffective. Arrivals of Central American families at the border have continued unabated while court rulings have forced the administration to step back from its original approach to the border surge.

People are worried about how many immigrants Trump will deport while not exposing that Obama has deported more people then even Bush did.
I guess one thing we can be grateful for is that he didn't privatize social security.
I guess he has to leave some things for Hillary to do.

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It is not until the tide goes out that you discover who has been swimming naked.

divineorder's picture

in Muleshoe TX. A senior citizen guy also having breakfast there said he no longer used his Nikon to do sports photog replaced it with Sony mirrorless. Wonder if you have heard of /considered /evaluated mirrorless?

Would share that two days of driving including overnight in Lubbock KOA awakened at 3amish by train sounding off just as did a pack of coyotes no doubt in hot pursuit of little bunny foo foo, (purpose of our journey was in part fleeing the 104 degree TX heat) got us back to much cooler Santa Fe after being gone to Costa Rica, Central TX, Northern CA, Malawi, Zambia, South Africa, France, Switerland, Houston, Austin Centex since January.

On the road trip 'home' to Santa Fe we were driving the Global Warmer II, our embarrassing used 2001 black honking off road 4x4 with Craigslist ragged special '96 slide in fiberglass camper, towing our used 2001 Honda CRV. Use a buttload of diesel between TX Hill Country and Santa Fe. We had discussions of flying next time so could visit our elderly parents between trips, vs buying a hybrid or electric when these two vehicles finally die. Buses and trains might be possible, but would quadruple the amount of travel time and expense.

Our Swiss frins are flying over for camping/kayaking trip to Utah in October, but cautioned them that if the old rig dies we will have to make other plans.

Interesting that we our return to the US has been frought with challenges. In the last week we had a fiber optic cable droop down over the state highway and rake off the clearance lamps, AC shroud, and solar panel, and the quasi governmental agency owner say they are not to blame. Heh. The fresh water tank pump on the camper quit working. Then the clutch pedal on the F250 broke. ( I was miraculously able to make temporaty field repairs on the pump and the pedal, barely made it into the parking lot without catastrophe after 600 plus miles of driving.)

So now reading this quote is quite interesting to me:

So this quote was interesting:

Whether or not drivers ever take that dreamed-of road trip from one end of I-40 to the other, the MIT team admits the limited range of battery-powered electric vehicles is a major barrier to entry. “The picture I have is of a lot of people owning electric cars but then being able to very conveniently get an internal combustion engine vehicle to take that long road trip,” Trancik said. “That needs to be as easy as getting an Uber.”

What will we do? Jakkalbessie justs seems to adopt the 'it is what it is' attitude toward our rig, whereas I fret and worry about the cognitive dissonance it creates for me. Heh.

Trust all is well with you and yours.

Thanks for the digest. Rock on!

20160815_194133.jpg 'Home' again in Santa Fe......

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A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

joe shikspack's picture

i haven't used any mirrorless cameras, but marilynw has one and, last i heard was very pleased with it and has done some nice work with it.

i looked at them about a year ago and decided against going that route for basically 2 reasons. first, i have a bunch of dslr lenses that i'm really happy with and, while you can get a fairly expensive adapter to use them with some mirrorless cameras, i'm told that they focus slowly and generally don't work as nicely as the native lenses designed for mirrorless cameras.

the other thing that throws me off is the lack of an optical viewfinder. call me an old fogey, but i really like that sort of thing. Smile

that said, for other folks, the mirrorless has a lot of advantages. it's smaller, lighter and some of them produce really high quality images.

for me though, i will keep dreaming of a full frame like the 5d.

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Santa Susanna Kid's picture

This is my go-to news page that I look at daily to actually learn about current events that are actually genuine news...

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detroitmechworks's picture

I fear when the next nuke is dropped, all the media will talk about is whether or not the proper procedure was followed in order to facilitate the proper chain of responsibility for the nuclear incineration of a proper target.


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I do not pretend I know what I do not know.

lotlizard's picture

Could the American Herald Tribune site qualify for a spot on the c99p blogroll?

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lotlizard's picture

Mike Morell’s Kill-Russians Advice

Washington’s foreign policy hot shots are flexing their rhetorical, warmongering muscles to impress Hillary Clinton, including ex-CIA acting director Morell who calls for killing Russians and Iranians

Who is Mike Morell? Here’s his Wikipedia entry:

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lotlizard's picture

. . . America doesn’t need more obedience: it needs more dissent. Not only among its citizens but within its military — maybe there especially.

Unfortunately, in the post-9/11 era, we’ve exalted and essentially worshipped the military as “our greatest national treasure” (the words of former Defense Secretary and CIA Director Leon Panetta at the recent Democratic convention). The military has, in fact, become so crucial to Washington that aspiring civilian commanders-in-chief like Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump lean on retired generals to anoint them as qualified for the job. (For Trump, Lieutenant General Michael Flynn did the honors; for Hillary, General John Allen.)

The Pentagon has, in a very real sense, become America’s national cathedral. If we’re going to continue to worship at it, we should at least ask for some minimal level of honesty from its priests. In militarized America, the question of the moment is how to encourage such honesty.

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riverlover's picture

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Hey! my dear friends or soon-to-be's, JtC could use the donations to keep this site functioning for those of us who can still see the life preserver or flotsam in the water.

but backing Hillary?


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Bob In Portland's picture

When I lived in the SF Bay Area KALW, a local public radio station, used to use the first few seconds of Dorsey's "Sneaking Sally Through The Alley" before they'd switch to the BBC overnight. Right to the "hey hey hey" part. It took me a year or so to connect it to the song. I'd be laying in bed wondering what the song was.

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