The Evening Blues - 9-14-17
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features Cincinatti blues musician Albert Washington. Enjoy!
Albert Washington - Woman Love
“Humanism is the only - I would go so far as saying the final - resistance we have against the inhuman practices and injustices that disfigure human history.”
-- Edward Said
News and Opinion
Earlier today the US Senate voted by a nearly two-to-one margin to kill Senator Rand Paul’s amendment to sunset the 16 year-old Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) which has been used to justify disastrous US military interventionism in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia. It can in theory be used to justify continued military expansionism in any nation purported to have a terrorist presence that could pose a threat to the United States, without further authorization by congress.
The Senate voted to continue violating the US Constitution by leaving that immense power in the hands of the executive branch today, which is of course headed by one Donald J Trump. And how much objection do you think has been raised to this by the coalition of establishment Democrats who call themselves “the resistance” to Trump’s administration? How much “resistance” do you think people like Neera Tanden, Joy Reid, Peter Daou, Keith Olbermann and the rest of the anti-Trump establishment loyalists are putting up to this vote ensuring that Trump maintains unrestricted war authority?
Go ahead and check right now; I’ve hyperlinked the aforementioned names to their respective Twitter accounts in the preceding paragraph for you. You’ll see them babbling about Russia, DACA, “Teflon Don” whatever the fuck that is, but you won’t see anything about the Senate’s vote to leave unbridled military force authorization in the hands of a president they assure us is a traitor, a madman, and a barely-closeted Nazi.
Anyone else seeing a bit of a plot hole here?
The Trump Administration Was Ordered to Disclose the Legal Basis for its Syria Strike. It Handed Over Squat.
After President Donald Trump launched a cruise missile strike against Syria in April, his administration struggled to justify the legal basis for the attack. For months, a watchdog group has hounded the Trump administration for its legal reasoning. Under court order, the government has finally produced documents that reveal little, if anything. ...
The day after the missile strike, an advocacy group called the Protect Democracy Project filed a request with multiple agencies for documents that outline the administration’s legal basis for the attack. After the Pentagon and State Department denied the group’s request for expedited processing, a judge ruled in July that there was a “compelling need” for the information to get out and ordered the administration to provide answers “as soon as practicable.”
In response, the administration on Friday released nearly 60 pages of responsive documents, none of which contain any legal reasoning beyond what appears in the White House’s public statements. The Protect Democracy Project has published the documents on its website. ...
Allison Murphy, a lawyer with Protect Democracy and former White House attorney for the Obama administration, told The Intercept that the release demonstrates how little the American people know about the strikes, and she urged Congress to step in and provide clarity.
“The founders gave Congress the power to declare war precisely because they wanted to ensure such a momentous decision was subject to public debate,” said Murphy. “This is why Congress must reassert its authority now and not wait until a dangerous decision is made with Congress and the American people left in the dark.”
McCain still pimping for war:
Sen. John McCain on Sunday called for the United States to step up its presence around North Korea and make clear to its leader, Kim Jong Un, that aggressive acts would lead to the annihilation of his country.
Washington needs to "make sure that Kim Jong Un knows that if he acts in an aggressive fashion, the price will be extinction," McCain said on CNN's "State of the Union."
The Arizona Republican called for a strategy on North Korea that involved increasing missile defense and other defensive capabilities in South Korea, doing more to pressure China, and considering the deployment of nuclear weapons to the Korean Peninsula. McCain's remarks came in his first nationally televised interview since being diagnosed with brain cancer in July.
North Korea has threatened to sink Japan and said the US should be “beaten to death like a rabid dog” after the two countries spearheaded fresh UN security council sanctions in response to the regime’s recent nuclear test.
The Korea Asia-Pacific peace committee, which oversees North Korea’s relations with the outside world, described the UN security council, which passed a new round of sanctions on Monday, as a “tool of evil” in the pay of Washington, and called for it to be broken up.
It is the first time that Pyongyang has issued an explicit threat to Japan since it fired a medium-range ballistic missile over the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido at the end of last month, triggering emergency sirens and mass text alerts.
“The four islands of the [Japanese] archipelago should be sunken into the sea by the nuclear bomb of Juche,” the committee said in a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency. Juche is the ideology of self-reliance pioneered by Kim Il-sung, the country’s founder and grandfather of the current leader, Kim Jong-un.
“Japan is no longer needed to exist near us,” the committee added.
China signaled on Wednesday it was willing to back an international inquiry into atrocities in Yemen, as demanded by the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, but Saudi Arabia and the United States said they did not support the idea.
For three years running U.N. human rights chief Zeid Ra‘ad al-Hussein has asked the 47 countries in the U.N. Human Rights Council to set up an independent investigation into Yemen’s war, which has killed at least 10,000, destroyed the economy, led to a cholera epidemic and pushed millions to the brink of famine.
On Wednesday, the Netherlands and Canada unveiled a draft resolution to establish an international commission of inquiry (COI) to ensure that “perpetrators of violations and abuses, including those that may constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity, are held accountable”.
The three-page text was supported by many countries when diplomats met to discuss amendments.
“We agree with the actions, including the COI, to promote the political solving of the Yemen crisis,” a Chinese delegate told the meeting, which was boycotted by the Arab group of countries supporting a rival Saudi-led resolution.
Chelsea Manning will be joining Harvard University as a visiting fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, according to the school’s website. Manning will speak on issues of LGBTQ identity in the military, Institute of Politics Fellows co-chairs Emily Hall and Jason Ge wrote in an announcement posted Wednesday.
“We welcome the breadth of thought-provoking viewpoints on race, gender, politics and the media,” Bill Delahunt, IOP acting director, said in the announcement.
Federal Communications Commision Chairman Ajit Pai has selected Julia Johnson, president of a consulting firm called NetCommunications, to lead the Advisory Committee on Diversity and Digital Empowerment, a group Pai said he established to champion the voice of every American, “no matter their race, gender, religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.” ...
Over the years, Johnson has used racial minorities as a cudgel to disingenuously lobby on behalf of industry. For instance, as The Intercept previously reported, a news website created by Johnson’s consulting firm, Politic365, worked aggressively to slam the idea of “net metering,” which allows homeowners to claim credit for the solar electricity they generate and send back to the utility grid. Politic365 published multiple pieces sharply criticizing the rule, claiming that the metering would somehow harm African-American consumers and would simply benefit “privileged” elites. Those claims directly contradict findings by independent analysts, especially those working in communities of color on renewable and green job initiatives. What’s more, while Politic365 led the anti-net metering effort, it did not disclose that Johnson was paid by the utility firms opposed to net metering, including FirstEnergy and NorthWestern Energy.
[See Julia Johnson in action below:]
Secretary Steven Mnuchin requested use of a government jet to take him and his wife on their honeymoon in Scotland, France and Italy earlier this summer, sparking an “inquiry” by The Treasury Department's Office of Inspector General, sources tell ABC News.
Officials familiar with the matter say the highly unusual ask for a U.S. Air Force jet, which according to an Air Force spokesman could cost roughly $25,000 per hour to operate, was put in writing by the secretary's office but eventually deemed unnecessary after further consideration of by Treasury Department officials. ...
Mnuchin, an independently wealthy former Goldman Sachs banker, has already triggered a review of his travel for using government jet to travel to Louisville and Fort Knox, Kentucky last month. The inspector general is reviewing whether he improperly used that trip to catch a prime view of the solar eclipse with his wife, a Scottish actress and model named Louise Linton.
Mnuchin's office denied he took that trip to watch the eclipse and said he was there to attend meetings on tax reform, and the Treasury Department said the Mnuchins would reimburse the government for Linton’s travel costs.
An official within The Treasury Department's Office of Inspector General said that in addition to reviewing the Kentucky trip, it has started an official "inquiry" into Mnuchin's honeymoon travel request.
Donald Trump said on Thursday he was “fairly close” to a deal with Democrats to protect Dreamers, young undocumented migrants brought to the US as children.
Seeming to confirm the framework of the agreement described by Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi of the House on Wednesday night, Trump told reporters “We’re working on a plan for Daca” – Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Daca) program, which he cancelled last week.
He said the deal would include “massive border security. The wall will come later.”
Asked if he favored an amnesty for the nearly 800,000 young undocumented migrants with Daca status, which protects against deportation and gives access to work permits, Trump shouted back: “The word is Daca.” He said he had spoken to congressional Republican leaders Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell and they were both “on board”.
White House Rejects Supremacist Label: “No One Has Done More Than Trump to Prove White People Are Not Superior”
Upbraiding the ESPN anchor Jemele Hill for calling Donald Trump a “white supremacist,” the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said on Wednesday that “no one has done more than President Trump to prove that white people are not superior.”
“It’s grossly unfair that Ms. Hill sought to portray Donald Trump as an upholder of white supremacy, when everything he says or does directly undermines that whole concept,” Sanders said. “Anyone who thinks that Donald Trump is on some mission to make white people look good hasn’t been paying attention.”
Hillary Clinton has an explanation for why women — white women, in particular — voted against her last November: they caved in to pressure from their husbands, fathers, boyfriends and male bosses.
Clinton made the excuse during an interview with NPR’s Rachel Martin during a promotional tour of her book, “What Happened.”
In the interview, Clinton was asked why, given that she was the first female presidential candidate, she fared worse than expected among female voters.
In typical Clinton fashion, she deflected the blame, suggesting that women who voted against her were somehow manipulated by men in their lives. She also claimed that “sexism” from supporters of Bernie Sanders might have played a part in her poor showing among female voters.
Glenn Greenwald weighs in with an excellent post:
To pitch her book, Hillary Clinton is sitting down this week for a series of media interviews, mostly with supportive TV personalities, such as Rachel Maddow, to discuss her views of “What Happened,” the book’s title. Calls for Clinton to be quiet and disappear are misguided for all sorts of reasons, including the fact that she is a very smart, informed, and articulate politician, which means her interviews — especially when she’s liberated from programmed campaign mode — are illuminating about how she, and her fellow establishment Democrats who have driven the party into a ditch, really think.
An hourlong interview she sat for with Vox’s Ezra Klein is particularly worthwhile. ... Despite being illuminating, Klein’s discussion with Clinton contains a glaring though quite common omission: There is not a word about the role of foreign policy and endless war during the entire hour. While some of this may be attributable to Klein’s perfectly valid journalistic focus on domestic policies, such as health care, a huge factor in Clinton’s political career and how she is perceived — as a senator and especially as secretary of state — is her advocacy of multiple wars and other military actions, many, if not all, of which were rather disastrous, rendering it quite strange to spend an hour discussing why she lost without so much as mentioning any of that.
This is not so much a critique of Klein’s specific interview (which, again, is worthwhile) as it is reflective of the broader Democratic Party desire to pretend that the foreign wars it has repeatedly prosecuted, and the endless killing of innocent people for which it is responsible, do not exist. Part of that is the discomfort of cognitive dissonance: the Democratic branding and self-glorification as enemies of privilege, racism, and violence are directly in conflict with the party’s long-standing eagerness to ignore, or even actively support, policies which kill large numbers of innocent people from Pakistan, Libya, and Somalia to Yemen, Iraq, and Gaza, but which receive scant attention because of the nationality, ethnicity, poverty, distance, and general invisibility of their victims.
But a major part of this minimization is a misperception of the domestic political importance of these policies. From the beginning of his candidacy through the general election, Donald Trump rhetorically positioned himself as a vehement opponent of endless war, inveighing against both parties when doing so.
Though there is now a revisionist effort underway to falsely depict those who pointed this out as being gullible believers in Trump’s dovish and antiwar credentials, the reality is that most of us who warned of the efficacy of Trump’s antiwar campaign theme made explicitly clear that there was no reason to believe Trump would actually be dovish if he were elected. Indeed, from Trump’s history of endorsing the wars he was denouncing to his calls for greater and more savage bombing to his desire to nullify the Iran deal, there was ample reasons to doubt that he would usher in dovishness of any kind. But the point was that Trump’s antiwar posturing was politically potent approach because of how unpopular endless war and militarism have become.
Amid statewide efforts to clean up the aftermath left by the historic flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey, the Pentagon announced last week that it had dispatched C-130H Sprayers from the Air Force Reserve's 910th Airlift Wing in order to "assist with recovery efforts in eastern Texas." However, these "recovery efforts" have little to do with rebuilding damaged structures or with the resettlement of evacuees. Instead, they are set to spray chemicals in order to help "control pest insect populations," which they allege pose a "health risk to rescue workers and residents of Houston."
The Pentagon has requested that the planes treat more than 6 million acres throughout the Houston area. The Air Force noted that the current effort is "expected to significantly surpass previous [spraying] missions in scope," specifically the spraying campaigns that followed Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
While the Pentagon has framed its efforts to "assist" as seeking to eliminate a potential human health risk, the particular chemical it is using to control insect populations is likely to do more harm than good. According to the Air Force, the mosquito control protocol involves spraying the "Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved and regulated material, Naled," which the Air Force insists will not be used in amounts large enough to "cause any concern for human health."
Naled is a known neurotoxin in animals and humans, as it inhibits acetylcholinesterase—an enzyme essential to nerve function and communication—and has even been known to have caused paralysis. Mounting scientific evidence, including a recent Harvard study, has also pointed to Naled's responsibility for the mass die-off of North American bees. Just one day of Naled spraying in South Carolina killed more than 2.5 million bees last year.
Native ash trees, abundant across North America, are on the brink of extinction as an invasive beetle ravages forests, according to the new red list of threatened species from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
The list now includes more than 25,000 species at risk of extinction and the scientists warn that species, such as the American ashes and five African antelopes, that were thought to be safe, are now disappearing faster than they can be counted.
The new red list declares the Christmas Island Pipistrelle bat extinct, but also reports that conservation efforts have improved the prospects for snow leopards and the Rodrigues flying fox from Mauritius.
In July, scientists reported that a “biological annihilation” of wildlife in recent decades means a sixth mass extinction in Earth’s history is under way and is more severe than previously feared. Half of all animals on the planet have been lost in the past 40 years, due to the destruction of wild areas, hunting and pollution as the human population grows.
Since President Trump took office, he’s slashed environmental regulations and proposed a budget that would cut funding to agencies on the front lines of disaster relief. At the same time, some Republicans in Congress are mobilizing to secure funding for disaster relief before disasters happen.
Last week, Congress passed a $15 billion disaster relief program to aid those affected by the back-to-back hurricanes which struck Florida and Texas. But some Republicans, fearing that federal spending could get out of hand, are fighting the funding. Those Republicans, like South Carolina Rep. Mark Sanford, want disaster funding built into the budget. He argues that certain types of disasters have become predictable.
But even as Republicans in Congress look to secure funding for disaster relief — even those claiming to act in service of “fiscal responsibility” — Trump has been slashing budgets at the agencies that prepare for and predict disasters and rolling back the environmental regulations that help mitigate the fallout of natural disasters.
The budget the Trump administration put forward in March, for example, cuts emergency relief from the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies by about 9 percent and asks that states and the private sector step up to make up the difference, according to the Washington Post. The proposed budget would also eliminate $667 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s budget — which was $13.9 billion in 2016 — and request that states match 25 percent of the FEMA money they get. Trump’s budget also cuts funding by 17 percent to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the federal organization responsible for monitoring and predicting hurricanes.
“Trump’s budget proposal was so drastic that when it came out, you saw lots of Republicans saying it was basically dead on arrival,” Ana Unruh Cohen, the Director of Government Affairs at the National Resources Defence Council, told VICE News. “A lot of those concerns were for places like NOAA and FEMA — places that are seen as critical to public safety.”
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Albert Washington - Tellin' All Your Friends
Albert Washington - Betty Jane
Albert Washington - Doggin' Me Around
Albert Washington - Wings of a dove
Albert Washington - Bring It On Up
Albert Washington - You're Messing Up My Mind
Albert Washington - I'm The Man
Albert Washington - Turn On the Bright Lights
Albert Washington - One More Chance
Albert Washington - You Gonna Miss Me
Albert Washington - Ramble
Albert Washington - Having a Good Time
Albert Washington - Lonely Mountain