The Evening Blues - 9-24-18
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features Chicago blues guitarist John Littlejohn. Enjoy!
John Littlejohn & Carey Bell - Hoochie Coochie Man
"When they say [Donald Trump] is not "presidential": I asked myself what does it mean to be "presidential"? You wear a suit; you talk to the American people like you possess the character and the dignity of one who seeks the highest office in the land, and behind the door you're the worst criminal on the planet, plotting the overthrow of nations and governments, and regime change, and sending drones to kill people you don't like? That's presidential."
-- Louis Farrakhan
News and Opinion
A famine inflicting “huge loss of life” could strike at any time in Yemen, as food prices soar and the battle rages over the country’s main port, the UN humanitarian chief, Mark Lowcock, has warned.
Lowcock said that by the time an imminent famine is confirmed, it would be too late to stop it. Accelerating economic collapse has caused prices of staples to increase by 30% at a time many millions of Yemenis were already finding it hard to feed their families.
Meanwhile, fighting over the port of Hodeidah has limited its capacity, shut down its grain mills and closed the main road inland towards the capital, Sana’a, threatening a lifeline that has allowed aid agencies to reach 8 million people and stave off famine so far this year.
“One of the things about what happens in famines is there’s a sudden collapse of which you get no notice,” Lowcock, the UN under-secretary for humanitarian affairs, told the Guardian on the eve of a UN general assembly meeting on Monday to discuss the Yemeni crisis. “When the collapse happens, it’s too late to do anything. There’s a huge loss of life very, very quickly. So that’s the issue we’re flagging.”
Just when you thought this administration couldn’t get more cartoonishly villainous, Trump lawyer and Simon Bar Sinister stunt double Rudy Giuliani takes to the stage and enthuses about how US sanctions are making Iranian citizens so desperate they are offering to sell their internal organs for $500 in order to stay alive. “Probably a fortune in Iran today. This is truly pitiful!” he crowed triumphantly to the crowd at the Iran Uprising Summit in New York on Saturday, pleased as punch by the US government’s success in torturing everyday Iranians with starvation.
Giuliani, who is basically what you’d get if necrophilia and racist police shootings had a baby, fumbled his way through a paid speech for the MEK terror cult with all the grace of a drunken creepy uncle MCing his way through a family wedding. In it he not only gloated over the starvation and severe impoverishment of Iranian civilians, but openly proclaimed that regime change was coming to Iran due to the actions of the Trump administration. ...
At the MEK regime change cult’s Iran Uprising Summit, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani proclaims in paid address, “They will be overthrown!” He then celebrates reports of desperate Iranians seeking to sell their organs and begging for food due to US sanctions. pic.twitter.com/AEt6Pl4y5y
— Max Blumenthal (@MaxBlumenthal) September 23, 2018
Corpse bride Nikki Haley was quick to distance the Trump administration from Giuliani’s regime change rhetoric, as was the US State Department in a statement to Reuters, because as we saw them do with Libya and as we’ve seen them attempt with Syria, the US government has ever since the disastrous Iraq invasion had a standing policy of denying that it is pushing for regime change in key strategic regions while doing exactly that.
The announcement that Time magazine would be bought by software CEO Marc Benioff highlighted the growing trend of billionaires buying up media outlets. While media moguls have always been wealthy—with press barons (Rupert Murdoch, Michael Bloomberg, Donald Newhouse, etc.) still well-represented on Forbes’ running list of the world’s billionaires—what distinguishes this new breed of press magnate is that they bought their media properties with fortunes made in other industries.
Some, like Benioff, come out of the tech industry; tech tycoons like Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, eBay’s Pierre Omidyar and Steve Jobs’ widow Laurene Powell Jobs have profited from a tech boom (or bubble) that gives them plenty of cash to spend. Others come out of the financial sector, which has doubled its share of the US economy over the past 70 years. Real estate developer Mort Zuckerman—who owned The Atlantic from 1980–1999, the Daily News from 1993–2017, and still owns US News & World Report, which he bought in 1984—was a harbinger of non-media money coming into the media sector.
If RussiaRussiaRussia doesn't induce immediate somnolence for you at this point, this is a good wrap up of the (lack of) evidence available. Here's a teaser:
We’ve seen it before: a newspaper and individual reporters get a story horribly wrong but instead of correcting it they double down to protect their reputations and credibility—which is all journalists have to go on—and the public suffers. ... The most egregious example was the reporting in the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq. Like nearly all Establishment media, The New York Times got the story of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction—the major casus belli for the invasion—dead wrong. But the Times, like the others, continued publishing stories without challenging their sources in authority, mostly unnamed, who were pushing for war. ...
In a massive Times‘ article published on Thursday, entitled, “‘A Plot to Subvert an Election: Unravelling the Russia Story So Far,” it seems that reporters Scott Shane and Mark Mazzetti have succumbed to the same thinking that doubled down on Iraq. They claim to have a “mountain of evidence” but what they offer would be invisible on the Great Plains.
With the mid-terms looming and Special Counsel Robert Mueller unable to so far come up with any proof of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign to steal the 2016 election—the central Russia-gate charge—the Times does it for him, regurgitating a Russia-gate Round-Up of every unsubstantiated allegation that has been made—deceptively presented as though it’s all been proven. This is a reaffirmation of the faith, a recitation of what the Russia-gate faithful want to believe is true. But mere repetition will not make it so. The Times’ unsteady conviction is summed up in this paragraph, which the paper itself then contradicts only a few paragraphs later:
“What we now know with certainty: The Russians carried out a landmark intervention that will be examined for decades to come. Acting on the personal animus of Mr. Putin, public and private instruments of Russian power moved with daring and skill to harness the currents of American politics. Well-connected Russians worked aggressively to recruit or influence people inside the Trump campaign.”
But this schizoid approach leads to the admission that “no public evidence has emerged showing that [Trump’s] campaign conspired with Russia.” The Times also adds: “There is a plausible case that Mr. Putin succeeded in delivering the presidency to his admirer, Mr. Trump, though it cannot be proved or disproved.” This is an extraordinary statement. If it cannot be “proved or disproved” what is the point of this entire exercise: of the Mueller probe, the House and Senate investigations and even of this very New York Times article? Attempting to prove this constructed story without proof is the very point of this piece.
Google bosses have forced employees to delete a confidential memo circulating inside the company that revealed explosive details about a plan to launch a censored search engine in China, The Intercept has learned. The memo, authored by a Google engineer who was asked to work on the project, disclosed that the search system, codenamed Dragonfly, would require users to log in to perform searches, track their location — and share the resulting history with a Chinese partner who would have “unilateral access” to the data.
The memo was shared earlier this month among a group of Google employees who have been organizing internal protests over the censored search system, which has been designed to remove content that China’s authoritarian Communist Party regime views as sensitive, such as information about democracy, human rights, and peaceful protest. According to three sources familiar with the incident, Google leadership discovered the memo and were furious that secret details about the China censorship were being passed between employees who were not supposed to have any knowledge about it. ...
Internal security efforts at Google have ramped up this year as employees have raised ethical concerns around a range of new company projects. Following the revelation by Gizmodo and The Intercept that Google had quietly begun work on a contract with the military last year, known as Project Maven, to develop automated image recognition systems for drone warfare, the communications team moved swiftly to monitor employee activity. The “stopleaks” team, which coordinates with the internal Google communications department, even began monitoring an internal image board used to post messages based on internet memes, according to one former Google employee, for signs of employee sentiment around the Project Maven contract. Google’s internal security team consists of a number of former military and law enforcement officials.
A left-wing Italian lawmaker and her friends were attacked by chain-wielding far-right extremists as they left an anti-racism rally Friday night, in a brutal assault that left her assistant with a 3-inch gash in his head. And she’s blaming Italy’s populist new government, which has pursued a high-profile campaign against illegal immigration since coming to power in June, for emboldening far-right extremist groups.
“It was terrifying,” Eleonora Forenza, a member of the European Parliament for left-wing alliance The Other Europe, told VICE News Monday. “My assistant was very seriously injured to his head. He was losing a lot of blood. I was very scared about the possibility of something very serious happening to him.” Forenza said she and her friends were walking home from an anti-racism rally in the southern city of Bari late Friday when they passed a young Eritrean woman with a baby. The woman was intimidated as her path home was being blocked by a group of 20 or so supporters of the far-right CasaPound movement, who were gathered outside their local headquarters.
As Forenza and her group stood with the woman, the CasaPound group started marching toward them, then chased them down the street. ... The politician said she was shoved against a wall by the attackers, but the two men in her group, including her parliamentary assistant Antonio Perillo, bore the brunt of the violence, with the extremists beating them with the chains. She said the assault, carried out by at least five attackers, continued until the assailants spotted another group of left-wing demonstrators and ran off after them.
Forenza reported the assault to police and says she is confident arrests will be made, and she’s called on the Italian government to shut down the operations of CasaPound and other neo-fascist groups through Italy.
In the middle of the night and with dozens of Native Americans watching, San Francisco city workers tied safety ropes around a 124-year-old bronze statue and pulled. Carefully, they dislodged the piece from a granite platform and laid it on top of a flatbed truck. It was a moment stoked with meaning. After decades of effort, the Early Days statue, a symbol of colonization and oppression to many, was gone. ...
Erected in the aftermath of the California mission era, the Early Days statue depicts a Native American on his back, defeated, a Catholic priest above him pointing to the heavens, and an anglicized vaquero bestriding the scene in triumph. The statue is part of the Pioneer Monument celebrating the state’s origins. Native Americans saw it as dehumanizing art but no one had managed to convince politicians to take it down. It wasn’t until gender- and racially-diverse city boards, as well as backlash against Eurocentric depictions of dominance, that change came.
Over the last few months, I spoke with Native Americans who said the existence of this type of art in a public sphere kept alive false narratives. That native people’s systematic killing was a necessary means to an end of the state’s development and current prosperity. It’s the type of thinking that becomes gospel if only one side tells you what to believe in.
A white Dallas police officer accused of fatally shooting her black neighbor inside his own apartment has been dismissed, the police department announced on Monday.
Dallas police fired Officer Amber Guyger weeks after she fatally shot 26-year-old Botham Jean inside his own apartment on 6 September. Court records show Guyger said she thought she had encountered a burglar inside her own home.
Guyger was arrested on a preliminary charge of manslaughter days after the shooting. She is out on bond. Jean family attorneys and protesters called for her firing following the shooting.
Senate Republicans’ reason for attempting to push through a vote on Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation came into view Sunday night after The New Yorker reported on a second woman who’s accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault—an accusation that Senate Republicans have reportedly known about since last week.
In a report by Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer, a Yale University classmate of Kavanaugh’s named Deborah Ramirez alleged that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a party.
“Senior Republican staffers also learned of the allegation last week and, in conversations with The New Yorker, expressed concern about its potential impact on Kavanaugh’s nomination,” wrote Farrow and Mayer. “Soon after, Senate Republicans issued renewed calls to accelerate the timing of a committee vote.”
A possible fourth person has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, Maryland law enforcement officials told a Maryland newspaper. An anonymous witness told Montgomery County investigators over the weekend about another incident that occurred while Kavanaugh was in high school, according to a Monday report in the Montgomery County Sentinel.
In a response to this report, The Montgomery County Police Department put out a statement that said it had not received a request from an alleged victim to start a criminal investigation — though it’s unclear if the witness from the Sentinel’s report is an alleged victim.
“At this time, the Montgomery County Police Department has not received a request by any alleged victim nor a victim’s attorney to initiate a police report or a criminal investigation regarding Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh,” the statement said. Montgomery County prosecuting attorney John McCarthy told the Sentinel that authorities are working to determine if the alleged incident happened within the county. “We are prepared to investigate if the victim wants to report to us, and we can determine it occurred in the county,” he said.
It’s the latest in a series of sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh. ... A second woman, Deborah Ramirez, who attended Yale with Kavanaugh told the New Yorker that the Supreme Court nominee exposed his genitals to her without her consent.
Michael Avenatti, the attorney representing adult film star Stormy Daniels, said Sunday that he was representing a third client who had accused Kavanaugh, his childhood friend Mark Judge, and more men of “targeting of women with alcohol/drugs in order to allow a ‘train’ of men to subsequently gang rape them.” Avenatti later said that the woman has worked in the U.S. government and had “multiple security clearances” in the past.
Maryland Governor Rebuffs Call for Criminal Investigation Into Brett Kavanaugh Attempted Rape Allegations
On Friday morning, Maryland state Sen. Cheryl Kagan, a Democrat, sent a letter to her state’s Republican Gov. Larry Hogan calling on him to direct the Maryland State Police to launch an investigation into Christine Blasey Ford’s sexual assault allegations.
Ford “deserves the basic fairness she has been denied, and you have the power to give it to her because the assault allegedly occurred in Montgomery County, Maryland.” Kagan wrote. ...
Hogan rejected Kagan’s request at a news conference several hours later, according to the Baltimore Sun. “The Maryland State Police will not be getting involved in this,” he said, without further explanation. Kagan tweeted that she was “disappointed” in Hogan and “hopes he’ll reconsider!” Two hours later, she tweeted again that she hopes the governor “changes his tune and decides to stand up for Maryland women who have been assaulted. #InvestigateKavanaugh”
The Maryland Democratic Party seized on the opportunity to blast the governor, sending out an email with the subject line: “BREAKING: After Months of Silence on Kavanaugh, Hogan Stands with Trump in Defense of SCOTUS Nominee.” The email included a quote from Democratic state party chair Kathleen Matthews, saying: “If Donald Trump doesn’t have the integrity to authorize an independent investigation by the FBI, then Larry Hogan has a duty to authorize an independent investigation by Maryland state police.”
Glenn Greenwald: Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 11/9” Aims Not at Trump But at Those Who Created the Conditions That Led to His Rise
"Fahrenheit 11/9," the title of Michael Moore’s new film that opens today in theaters, is an obvious play on the title of his wildly profitable Bush-era “Fahrenheit 9/11,” but also a reference to the date of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 election victory. Despite that, Trump himself is a secondary figure in Moore’s film, which is far more focused on the far more relevant and interesting questions of what – and, critically, who – created the climate in which someone like Trump could occupy the Oval Office. For that reason alone, Moore’s film is highly worthwhile regardless of where one falls on the political spectrum. The single most significant defect in U.S. political discourse is the monomaniacal focus on Trump himself, as though he is the cause – rather than the by-product and symptom – of decades-old systemic American pathologies. ...
The overriding value of "Fahrenheit 11/9" is that it avoids – in fact, aggressively rejects – this ahistorical manipulation. Moore dutifully devotes a few minutes at the start of his film to Trump’s rise, and then asks the question that dominates the rest of it, the one the political and media establishment has steadfastly avoided examining except in the most superficial and self-protective ways: “how the fuck did this happen”? Moore quickly escapes the dreary and misleading “Democrat v. GOP” framework that dominates cable news by trumpeting “the largest political party in America”: those who refuse to vote. ...
One of the most illuminating pieces of reporting about the 2016 election is also, not coincidentally, one of the most ignored: interviews by the New York Times with white and African-American working-class voters in Milwaukee who refused to vote and – even knowing that Trump won Wisconsin, and thus the presidency, largely because of their decision – don’t regret it. “Milwaukee is tired. Both of them were terrible. They never do anything for us anyway,” the article quotes an African-American barber, justifying his decision not to vote in 2016 after voting twice for Obama. Moore develops the same point, even more powerfully, about his home state of Michigan, which – like Wisconsin – Trump also won after Obama won it twice. ...
After many months of abuse, of being lied to, of being poisoned, Flint residents, in May, 2016, finally had a cause for hope: President Obama announced that he would visit Flint to address the water crisis. As Air Force One majestically lands, Flint residents rejoice, believing that genuine concern, political salvation, and drinkable water had finally arrived. Exactly the opposite happened. Obama delivered a speech in which he not only appeared to minimize, but to mock, concerns of Flint residents over the lead levels in their water, capped off by a grotesquely cynical political stunt where he flamboyantly insisted on having a glass of filtered tap water that he then pretended to drink, but in fact only used to wet his lips, ingesting none of it. A friendly meeting with Gov. Snyder after that – during which Obama repeated the same water stunt – provided the GOP state administration in Michigan with ample Obama quotes to exploit to prove the problem was fixed, and for Flint residents, it was the final insult. “When President Obama came here,” an African-American community leader in Flint tells Moore, “he was my President. When he left, he wasn’t.”
Like the unregretful non-voters of Milwaukee, the collapsed hope Obama left in his wake as he departed Flint becomes a key metaphor in Moore’s hands for understanding Trump’s rise. ... Moore could have easily made a film that just channeled and fueled standard anti-Trump fears and animus and – like the others who are doing that – made lots of money, been widely hailed, and won lots of accolades. He chose instead to dig deeper, to be more honest, to take the harder route, and deserves real credit for that. He did that, it seems clear, because he knows that the only way to move forward is not just to reject right-wing demagoguery but also the sham that masquerades as its #Resistance. As Moore himself put it: “sometimes it takes a Donald Trump to get us to realize that we have to get rid of the whole rotten system that gave us Trump.”
Deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein remains in his job, after reports on Monday said he had resigned or offered to do so. The White House said Donald Trump and Rosenstein had “an extended conversation” about news stories published last week reporting that Rosenstein discussed with colleagues secretly recording Trump or having him removed from office.
The two plan to meet on Thursday, after the president’s return from a United Nations general assembly meeting in New York, press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement. Sanders said the meeting was at Rosenstein’s request.
The New York Times reported last week that he discussed secretly recording the president and invoking the 25th amendment to remove Trump from office. Rosenstein said the report was “inaccurate”.
President Donald Trump on Friday abandoned plans to quickly declassify and release sensitive documents connected to the FBI's Russia investigation, citing a "perceived negative impact" on the probe and concerns raised by "key allies" about dumping the materials.
Trump instead announced that he would defer to a Justice Department watchdog — Inspector General Michael Horowitz, who he once derided as an "Obama guy" — to finish a review of whether anti-Trump bias affected the FBI's handling of its 2016 Russia probe.
"Therefore, the Inspector General ... has been asked to review these documents on an expedited basis," Trump tweeted Friday morning. "I believe he will move quickly on this (and hopefully other things which he is looking at). In the end I can always declassify if it proves necessary. Speed is very important to me — and everyone!"
Trump had sought the release of classified portions of a surveillance warrant application used to track former campaign adviser Carter Page. He also said he wanted to publish the interview notes of a top Justice Department official and the text messages sent by former FBI Director James Comey and other senior bureau officials.
Duke Energy said Sunday that flooding of the Cape Fear River caused by Hurricane Florence has not resulted in coal ash contamination downstream, as environmentalists had feared. The Charlotte-based utility company has received expedited lab results on water samples taken upstream and downstream of the Sutton power plant in Wilmington, where the company had deposited the pollutant in the ground for decades.
“Initial water tests from Duke Energy’s L.V. Sutton Plant in Wilmington confirm that discharges from the cooling lake to the Cape Fear River are not harming water quality downstream,” the company said. “Water samples captured on Friday (upstream) and downstream of the Sutton plant site show little to no impact to river water quality. All results are well within the rigorous state water quality standards in place to protect the environment.” One of Duke’s coal ash impoundments at the Sutton power plant flooded Friday when rising water breached the dam, filling adjacent Sutton Lake and then flowed over the ash.
Cape Fear River Watch, an environmental group, and the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality have been monitoring the situation by boat. Both took their own water samples but have not yet received the lab results. DEQ hopes to have results by mid-week. “It takes time to properly conduct the analysis of samples,” said Bridget Munger, a DEQ spokeswoman.
The United States stands to lose a lot more from climate change than it realizes. In a study published Monday, scientists estimate for the first time how much each country around the world will suffer in future economic damage from each new ton of carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere. What they found may come as a surprise: the future economic costs within the U.S. borders are the second-highest in the world, behind only India.
The results suggest that the U.S. has been underestimating how much it benefits from reducing its greenhouse gas emissions and that the country has far more to gain from international climate agreements than the Trump administration is willing to admit. "Our analysis demonstrates that the argument that the primary beneficiaries of reductions in carbon dioxide emissions would be other countries is a total myth," said lead author Kate Ricke, an assistant professor at the University of San Diego's School of Global Policy and Strategy and Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
Some smaller countries will lose significantly larger portions of their economies to climate change. But the authors found, after modeling hundreds of scenarios, that the U.S. consistently faces among the costliest damages, as measured by what economists call the social cost of carbon. "It makes a lot of sense because the larger your economy is, the more you have to lose. Still, it's surprising just how consistently the U.S. is one of the biggest losers, even when compared to other large economies," she said. ...
This study, published in the scientific journal Nature Climate Change, estimates the future costs to each country based on all the ways climate change currently effects economies, such as higher health and energy costs and damage to property and agriculture. But the authors stress that it's still a conservative estimate because it doesn't capture longer-term effects that are still coming, including sea level rise that will put coastal cities at risk and ocean acidification that can damage fisheries.
After her house flooded for the third year in a row, Elizabeth Boineau was ready to flee. ... Last year, after Hurricane Irma introduced 8in of water into a home Boineau was still patching up from the last flood, local authorities agreed this historic slice of Charleston could be torn down. “I was sloshing through the water with my puppy dog, debris was everywhere,” she said. “I feel completely sunken. It would cost me around $500,000 to raise the house, demolish the first floor. I’m going to rent a place instead, on higher ground.”
Millions of Americans will confront similarly hard choices as climate change conjures up brutal storms, flooding rains, receding coastlines and punishing heat. Many are already opting to shift to less perilous areas of the same city, or to havens in other states. Whole towns from Alaska to Louisiana are looking to relocate, in their entirety, to safer ground. The era of climate migration is, virtually unheralded, already upon America. ...
By the end of this century, sea level rise alone could displace 13 million people, according to one study, including 6 million in Florida. States including Louisiana, California, New York and New Jersey will also have to grapple with hordes of residents seeking dry ground. ... Within just a few decades, hundreds of thousands of homes on US coasts will be chronically flooded. By the end of the century, 6ft of sea level rise would redraw the coastline with familiar parts – such as southern Florida, chunks of North Carolina and Virginia, much of Boston, all but a sliver of New Orleans – missing. Warming temperatures will fuel monstrous hurricanes – like the devastating triumvirate of Irma, Maria and Harvey in 2017, followed by Florence this year – that will scatter survivors in jarring, uncertain ways.
The projections are starting to materialize in parts of the US, forming the contours of the climate migration to come. “I don’t see the slightest evidence that anyone is seriously thinking about what to do with the future climate refugee stream,” said Orrin Pilkey, professor emeritus of coastal geology at Duke University. “It boggles the mind to see crowds of climate refugees arriving in town and looking for work and food.” Pilkey’s new book – Sea Level Rise Along Americas Shores: The Slow Tsunami – envisions apocalyptic scenes where millions of people, largely from south Florida, will become “a stream of refugees moving to higher ground”.
“They will not be the bedraggled families carrying their few possessions on their backs as we have seen in countless photos of people fleeing wars and ethnic cleansing, most recently in Myanmar and Syria,” Pilkey states in his book. “Instead, they will be well-off Americans driving to a new life in their cars, with moving trucks behind, carrying a lifetime of memories and possessions.”
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
John Littlejohn - So Glad You're Mine
John Littlejohn - Dream
Johnny Little John - Kitty O
John Littlejohn - What In The World You Goin' To Do
Johnny Littlejohn - Keep On Running
Johnny Littlejohn - Guitar King
Johnny Little John - I Need Lovin
Johnny Little John & Menard Rogers - Can't Be Still
John Littlejohn & Carey Bell - Mama Told Me
Johnny Littlejohn - 1975 Pori Jazz, Kirjurinluoto, Pori, Finland