The Evening Blues - 9-9-19
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features Chicago blues harmonica player Carey Bell. Enjoy!
Carey & Lurrie Bell - Better Break It Up
“It's very, very difficult I think for us to have a transparent debate about secret programs approved by a secret court issuing secret court orders based on secret interpretations of the law.”
-- Tom Udall
News and Opinion
In the dark, nearly two-decade long history of America’s war on terror certain initiatives stand out. The rendition and torture of suspected terrorists around the world. Drone warfare. Warrantless surveillance of private citizens. And the creation of watchlists, shadowy and opaque in their construction, with devastating consequences for communities caught in the dragnet. In the summer of 2014, The Intercept published the secret rulebook behind those lists. The 166-page “Watchlisting Guidance” detailed the process by which the U.S. national security apparatus adds individuals to the Terrorist Screening Database, or TSDB, better known as “the watchlist” from which other lists — such as the no-fly list — are built.
The document revealed a staggeringly due process-free system in which the government was routinely affixing the word “terrorist” to an individual’s name and disseminating that information to a sprawling network of foreign and private partners, with virtually no evidence required to support the claim.
In a post-9/11 world, this murky system disproportionately impacted Muslims, though U.S. lawmakers and infants were also caught in the mix. Armed with the government’s own rulebook, and the firsthand experiences of nearly two dozen plaintiffs, lawyers at the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, began a multiyear challenge to the secretive system. On Wednesday, the attorneys were rewarded a historic ruling, with a federal judge finding that the watchlisting process had violated their clients’ rights. ...
The 32-page decision, written by Judge Anthony J. Trenga of United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, detailed how individuals can be “nominated” to the watchlist as “known or suspected terrorists” even if there is no evidence the person is engaged in criminal activity, committed a crime, or is expected to commit a crime in the future. Having noted that the watchlist included roughly 1.2 million people as of 2017, among them about 4,600 U.S. citizens or green card holders, Trenga wrote that when it comes to due process, inclusion on the watchlist carries “an inherent, substantial risk of erroneous deprivation.” ... When a person is placed on the watchlist (typically unknowingly and frequently without suspicion of links to criminal activity), the judge wrote, that information is shared with more than “18,000 state, local, county, city, university and college, tribal and federal law enforcement agencies,” not to mention an additional “533 private entities” and foreign governments. ... “The dissemination of an individual’s TSDB status to these entities would reasonably be expected to affect any interaction an individual on the Watchlist has with law enforcement agencies and private entities that use TSDB information to screen individuals they encounter in traffic stops, field interviews, house visits, municipal permit processes, firearm purchases, certain licensing applications, and other scenarios.”
In other words, Trenga wrote, inclusion on such a widely shared, yet secret and potentially consequential list, raised the possibility that the traumatizing experiences the plaintiffs had at the border and the ports — “being surrounded by police, handcuffed in front of their families, and detained for many hours” — could be replicated in the interior of the country as well. “In short,” he wrote, “placement on the TSDB triggers an understandable response by law enforcement in even the most routine encounters with someone on the Watchlist that substantially increases the risk faced by that individual from the encounter.” ... Ruling that the watchlist “fails to provide constitutionally sufficient due process,” Trenga ordered attorneys for the plaintiffs and the government to file briefings in the coming weeks aimed at providing a remedy that will “protect a citizen’s constitutional rights while not unduly compromising public safety or national security.”
“These Negotiations Have Not Been About the Afghan People”: Trump Calls Off Peace Talks with Taliban
Donald Trump says he has cancelled secret peace talks on Afghanistan scheduled for Sunday that would have brought him face to face with Taliban leaders at Camp David, the presidential retreat in the hills of Maryland state – with the Islamist militant group warning on Sunday that the snub meant more American lives would be lost.
The US president made the remarkable claim in a series of tweets on Saturday evening declaring he had “called off” the negotiations after the Taliban claimed responsibility for a blast in Kabul that killed 12 people including a US soldier on Thursday.
“What kind of people would kill so many in order to seemingly strengthen their bargaining position?” Trump wrote, accusing Taliban leaders of trying to build leverage ahead of Sunday’s talks.
“If they cannot agree to a ceasefire during these very important peace talks, and would even kill 12 innocent people, then they probably don’t have the power to negotiate a meaningful agreement anyway.”
The revelation of the planned talks and their abrupt cancellation leave a question mark over the future of peace talks intended to bring American involvement in Afghanistan to an end, an early and regularly recited Trump campaign pledge.
The Taliban warned on Sunday that the cancellation meant more American lives would be lost, while the United States promised to keep up military pressure on the militants.
Britain is seeking to establish whether Iran has sold oil to Syria in breach of written undertakings given by Tehran to authorities in Gibraltar. Iran’s foreign ministry said on Sunday that a tanker seized by British Marines on 9 July and released in August had reached its final destination “on the Mediterranean coast” and sold its oil – without identifying the country.
However, Adrian Darya, previously called Grace 1, has been seen off the coast of Syria for the past three days.
The supertanker was detained off Gibraltar for allegedly breaking EU sanctions on Syria. On 15 August a court in Gibraltar released it when Iran gave assurances it would not sail to Syria, despite pressure from the US for the ship’s continued detainment. ...
Since leaving Gibraltar the ship had taken a peripatetic route towards Syria, but was last photographed off the Russian navy port of Tartus in Syria. TankerTrackers, a firm that monitors oil tankers, has seen no evidence that its 2.1m barrels of oil have been discharged. “We will continue to put pressure on Iran and as President Trump said, there will be no waivers of any kind for Iran’s oil,” US Treasury official Sigal Mandelker told Reuters on Sunday. ...
It is not clear if the UK would have any powers if indeed the Iranian oil has been sold to Syria, but the episode will hardly do much to rebuild shattered trust between Tehran and London, and will be used by Washington hawks to argue Iran’s word cannot be taken at face value.
In early Spring of this year, an Air National Guard crew made a routine trip from the U.S. to Kuwait to deliver supplies. What wasn’t routine was where the crew stopped along the way: President Donald Trump’s Turnberry resort, about 50 miles outside Glasgow, Scotland.
Since April, the House Oversight Committee has been investigating why the crew on the C-17 military transport plane made the unusual stay — both en route to the Middle East and on the way back — at the luxury waterside resort, according to several people familiar with the incident. But they have yet to receive any answers from the Pentagon.
The inquiry is part of a broader, previously unreported probe into U.S. military expenditures at and around the Trump property in Scotland. According to a letter the panel sent to the Pentagon in June, the military has spent $11 million on fuel at the Prestwick Airport — the closest airport to Trump Turnberry — since October 2017, fuel that would be cheaper if purchased at a U.S. military base. The letter also cites a Guardian report that the airport provided cut-rate rooms and free rounds of golf at Turnberry for U.S. military members.
Authorities in Paraguay have launched an investigation after human remains were found at a property once owned by the former rightwing dictator Alfredo Stroessner, during whose 35-year authoritarian rule at least 423 people were killed or forcibly disappeared. Bones belonging to an estimated four people were found under a bathroom in the house near Ciudad del Este, Paraguay’s second-largest city. ...
Gen Alfredo Stroessner oversaw the longest dictatorship in the modern history of South America, from a military coup in 1954 until 1989, when his longtime collaborator Gen Andrés Rodríguez led a military uprising that removed him from power. He died in exile in Brazil in 2006.
Stroessner’s 35-year dictatorship was characterised by the violent oppression of opposition groups. These practices were revealed to the world in 1992, when about 700,000 documents created by the regime’s security forces – which have come to be known as the “Archives of Terror”– were discovered in a locked room in a police station in Asunción, Paraguay’s capital.
These documents provided a record of the regime’s routine use of persecution, kidnap and torture. They also yielded evidence of Paraguay’s participation in the US-led Operation Condor – a programme that saw military dictatorships collaborate to violently suppress leftist opposition across South America.
Boris Johnson will fly to Dublin to meet the Irish prime minister, Leo Varadkar, on Monday, as he battles to show that his Brexit plan remains on track after Amber Rudd dramatically quit the cabinet. Against a backdrop of mounting disquiet inside government at Johnson’s gung-ho approach and the combative style of his chief strategist Dominic Cummings, the British prime minister hopes to demonstrate that he is serious about negotiating a fresh Brexit deal.
When he returns from Dublin later on Monday, Johnson is expected to make a second bid to trigger a 15 October general election by asking MPs to support a motion tabled under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act. But he is almost certain to be rebuffed for a second time, after opposition leaders agreed on Friday to reject a snap poll until a no-deal Brexit has been definitively avoided. The backbench bill aimed at blocking no deal is expected to receive royal assent on Monday. ...
On Sunday, Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, was asked how the government intended to proceed. He appeared to suggest Downing Street would seek to find some way around the legislation. “We will adhere to the law but also this is such a bad piece of legislation … we will also want to test to the limit what it does actually lawfully require. We will look very carefully at the implications and our interpretation of it,” he told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday. ...
A Downing Street source said Johnson could seek to “sabotage” any extension. “The ‘surrender bill’ only kicks in if an extension is offered. Once people realise our plans there is a good chance we won’t be offered a delay. Even if we are, we intend to sabotage that too.”
The crossbench rebel alliance that drafted the bill have left what they believe will be sufficient time between 19 October and Brexit day at the end of the month for the government to be challenged in the courts if it refuses to act.
Trump’s otherworldly vice president, Mike Pence, has just said more in one short sentence to unravel the complexities of the Brexit crisis that continues to bedevil the UK, than the ocean of column inches that have been devoted to the subject since the referendum was held in 2016.
Speaking at a black tie event in London on Thursday night, attended by an array of business executives, Pence proclaimed, “The minute the UK is out, America is in.”
Pence, a man who stands as living proof that human evolution is not wedded to an ever upwards path, delivered these words with the bombast of a Roman proconsul addressing the notables of a soon-to-be client state.
Thus let there be no doubt that the hard no-deal Brexit advocated by the UK’s newly installed Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his supporters is to all intents a Trump Brexit – one that will see the UK economy opened up to the tender mercies of U.S. corporations on terms set not by London but Washington.
India’s home affairs minister has said his government “will not allow a single illegal immigrant to stay” amid outcry over a citizenship register in Assam that could leave almost 2 million people stateless. The comment were made by Amit Shah during a visit to the border state. The home affairs ministry, paraphrasing Shah’s speech, said he was satisfied with the “timely completion of the process”.
Over the past four years, about 33 million people in Assam have been forced to prove they are citizens by demonstrating they have roots in the state dating to before March 1971. Shah, prime minister Narendra Modi’s right-hand man, has previously said India must act against “infiltrators who were eating the country like termites”.
Lawyers have raised serious concerns over the process, which they say has wrongly excluded people on the basis of minor clerical errors in decades-old documents. There are fears that Muslims, women and the poorest communities could be the worst affected. Senior figures in the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) had so far shied away from commenting on the list, published on 30 August.
Outsourcing jobs is nothing new to the United States. The country has been recruiting foreign labor to do its dirty work for decades — farmers, meat-packers, home healthcare workers, cooks. But now the U.S. needs teachers, and it needs them badly.
The same conditions that have led thousands of U.S. educators to strike and protest — like stagnant wages, underfunded schools, and overcrowded classrooms — have also contributed to a long list of vacancies in virtually every state. ...
Over the past decade, school districts around the U.S. have quietly begun using the J-1 visa program, which was originally created as a means of temporary cultural exchange, to fill persistent teacher vacancies. And no country has stepped up quite like the Philippines. In 2009, there were only a handful of public schools with Filipino teachers on J-1 visas, according to data from the U.S. Department of State. Today, there are more than 500, spanning at least 19 states throughout the country.
The Trump administration deported 120 Cuban immigrants in one fell swoop last week, even though many had passed credible fear interviews and said they would face violence and persecution if they were sent back, the Miami Herald reports.
The large-scale deportation marks a turning point in U.S.-Cuba relations regarding the deportation of Cuban immigrants, and officials say it’s just the beginning. ...
There are more than 37,000 Cubans in the U.S. with deportation orders, many of whom are required to check in with ICE a few times a year. But attorneys told the Herald that a growing number of people are being arrested during these check-ins.
A Mexican man shot while fleeing from immigration agents in Nashville, Tennessee, was recovering, an attorney for his family said.
Andrew Free said in an interview on Friday the man had been shot in the stomach and elbow on Thursday morning by an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) agent. He did not immediately go to the hospital because he was frightened. Free and another attorney later negotiated with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the man surrendered on Thursday afternoon.
The FBI was involved because the agency was asked to investigate whether the man assaulted a federal officer. Ice has said the immigration agent opened fire after the man drove at him while fleeing a traffic stop. Both agencies have declined to name the man and the officer.
As of Friday, the man had not been arrested or charged by the FBI. Free said he believes that is because the evidence does not support the Ice agent’s version of events.
In a series of tweets Friday excoriating a recent Washington Post "Fact Checker" column downplaying the rate of President Donald Trump's border wall construction, Rep. Raúl Grijalva laid out why the article and similar gotcha attempts are "dangerous."
Grijalva, an Arizona Democrat whose district borders Mexico, was responding to a piece by Post reporter Salvador Rizzo which gave the president three "Pinocchios" for claiming that the wall was under construction when, Rizzo said, the fact is that the administration is simply replacing older sections of existing wall with new fencing instead of building 1,000 miles of promised new barrier.
"Replacing a fence with a 30-foot structure covered in double razor wire and topped with floodlights qualifies as new construction no matter where it happens," tweeted Grijalva. "This is not a time to tell ourselves that Trump is losing. This is being built as we speak."
Grijalva also pointed to a worrying tendency in the media to take short-term, technical victories over Trump while disregarding the reality of the administration's policies and its victims. "The idea that this doesn't count as 'new wall,' and therefore there’s nothing to see here, is dangerous and leads to complacency," said Grijalva. "Thumbing our noses at Trump is no substitute for on-the-ground reporting." ...
10/11 Here’s Nogales, Arizona, and Nogales, Sonora, cut in half by the wall. I represent the U.S. side of this friendly but physically divided community. This is not what America should be about. This is an intentional symbol of hate and fear, not a security measure. pic.twitter.com/FGPGIgFYAY
— Raul M. Grijalva (@RepRaulGrijalva) September 6, 2019
Grijalva ended his thread by scolding the Post for missing the forest for the trees. "The conversation about the wall has to be about stopping it and making sure Trump and his successors don't expand it," said Girjalva. "They want this to grow beyond public control. Treating the wall as just a chance to be clever at Trump's expense is irresponsible."
Progressives Explode After ABC Panel Featuring Chris Christie and Rahm Emanuel Launches Attack on Medicare For All
The ABC political show "This Week" on Sunday devoted a chunk of time to attacking Medicare for All, drawing fire for the segment's panel makeup and language. Of particular gall to critics was the fact that the panel's nominal liberal was former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a fiercely right-wing Democrat whose decades-long career in Washington, as Intercept editor Ryan Grim recently detailed in his book "We've Got People," has been devoted to stifling the party's progressive wing.
Sunday was no different as Emanuel, now an investment banker with the firm Center View Partners, took aim at Medicare for All by framing the broadly popular policy proposal as a danger to Democratic electoral hopes in 2020. During the discussion, Emanuel attacked progressive calls for Medicare for All. Both men claimed that voters would viscerally reject any attempt to change the nation's healthcare system, both by getting rid of private insurance and ofering care to non-citizens. ...
As Democrats increasingly unite around solutions as big as the problems we face, the media still puts up panels featuring politicians with little relevance like Rahm Emanuel and Chris Christie solely to attack the progressive energy in our party. pic.twitter.com/oJmLQI4N7j
— Justice Democrats (@justicedems) September 8, 2019
The right tilt of the three partisan members of the show was noted by Washington Post reporter Dave Weigel in a tweet. "Ah, yes, a perfectly balanced panel," Weigel said sarcastically. "A centrist Democrat, a center-right Republican, a conservative magazine editor, and two straight news reporters."
Just one election cycle ago, the idea of either chamber of Congress passing a single-payer health plan was unthinkable. That was then. Now, a simple majority of House Democrats support Medicare for All, according to an analysis by the Washington Post. And it hit that key metric thanks to the endorsement this week by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-New York).
Jeffries is the 118th member of the House to back the bill, introduced in February, which would install a government-run health system. ...
But despite the support from her caucus, Pelosi has resisted holding a vote on the bill, introduced by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.). In April, Pelosi said she was “agnostic” on Medicare for All, and expressed doubt that the bill would deliver what it promises. ...
The majority of Americans support the concept of a national health system, and Kaiser Family Foundation research shows that support increasing when pollsters ask voters specifically about Medicare for All.
Ahead of Standing Ovation at New Hampshire Democratic Convention, Sanders Camp Announces Endorsements From 53 State Dems
Sen. Bernie Sanders on Thursday rolled out a list of 53 endorsements from state and local party officials ahead of Saturday's New Hampshire Democratic Party Convention in Manchester. Joe Caiazzo, Sanders' campaign director for New Hampshire, told WMUR that the campaign was "honored" to have the support (pdf) of so many members of the party in New Hampshire.
"This latest round of endorsements shows we are not only retaining and engaging supporters from 2016, but building new support from a broad swath of leaders from around the state," said Caiazzo.
Sanders received a hero's welcome at the convention on Saturday.
— Jane Fleming Kleeb (@janekleeb) September 7, 2019
The Democratic primary takes place on Feb. 11, 2020.
US Beekeepers File Suit Against Trump EPA Charging 'Illegal' Approval of Insecticide Linked to Mass Die-Off
A group of beekeepers joined forces on Friday against Trump's EPA by filing a lawsuit over the agency's move to put a powerful insecticide—one that scientists warn is part of the massive pollinator die-off across the U.S.—back on the market.
The lawsuit (pdf) charges that the EPA's approval of sulfoxaflor—touted by its manufacturer, agro-chemical giant Corteva, as a "next generation neonicotinoid"—was illegally rendered as it put industry interests ahead of the health of pollinators and ignored the available science.
"Honeybees and other pollinators are dying in droves because of insecticides like sulfoxaflor, yet the Trump administration removes restriction just to please the chemical industry," said Greg Loarie, an attorney with Earthjustice, the legal aid group representing the beekeepers. "This is illegal and an affront to our food system, economy, and environment."
According to a statement by Earthjustice:
EPA first approved sulfoxaflor in 2013, but thanks to a lawsuit brought by Pollinator Stewardship Council, the American Beekeeper Federation, and Earthjustice, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that decision. The Court ruled EPA failed to obtain reliable studies regarding the impact of sulfoxaflor on honeybee colonies.
In 2016, EPA re-approved sulfoxaflor subject to significant restrictions to reduce the risk to honeybees and other pollinators. On July 12, 2019, without any public notice, the Trump administration removed these restrictions on sulfoxaflor and approved a host of new uses for the bee-killing insecticide.
Plaintiffs in the lawsuit include beekeeper Jeff Anderson, the Pollinator Stewardship Council, and the American Beekeeper Federation.
Hurricane Dorian Was Fueled by Climate Change. Why Isn’t the Mainstream Media Making the Connection?
For decades, potentially lethal green algae has amassed in shallow bays on Brittany’s beautiful north-western coast. Environmentalists say the blossoming of unusually large amounts of green algae is linked to nitrates in fertilisers and waste from the region’s intensive pig, poultry and dairy farming flowing into the river system and entering the sea. When the algae decomposes, pockets of toxic gas get trapped under its crust — potentially fatal to humans if they step on it. ...
This summer, six Brittany beaches were closed because of a mass of dangerous seaweed. The bay of Saint-Brieuc was the focus, with bulldozers piling so much algae into dumper trucks on the beach that an inland treatment centre, where seaweed is dried out and disposed of, briefly closed due to an unbearable stench. The centre blamed the foul odour on the method used to collect the algae, which had mixed in mud and sand. Local residents complained the smell was so bad it woke them up at night.
The row over algae intensified in July when the family of a man who died in the putrid seaweed sludge of the Gouessant estuary in 2016 sued the state and local authorities. The family said not enough was done to prevent the spread of seaweed and the public was not properly warned of the fatal danger. ... Last year, after a legal battle, the death of another man, Thierry Morfoisse, was ruled to have been a workplace accident linked to the seaweed. Morfoisse died suddenly while he was driving a truck transporting algae away from a beach in 2009. The head of the French Green party, Yannick Jadot, recently accused the state of covering up the risks from the seaweed with “cynicism and the law of omertà”. He said the government was too keen to protect the food industry. Protesters have targeted industry giants rather than small farmers.
In the postwar period, Brittany became the centre of French industrial farming, with the intensive rearing of pigs and chickens, but also large-scale production of tomatoes and other produce. Brittany accounts for only a small percentage of the agricultural surface of France, but produces half the country’s eggs, milk and meat. One in three people in Brittany work in the farming and food industry. The region has more pigs than people. Fears about seaweed blooming because of nitrates from intensive agriculture first surfaced in 1971. ...
Yves-Marie Le Lay, a former philosophy teacher campaigning against the seaweed in Brittany, has launched a petition for coastal deaths to be tested for links to toxic gas from algae. He carries a gas mask and gas monitors, and often tests beaches. “For too long, public powers have thought: business first, environment later,” he said. “Now more and more people are joining our fight.”
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
An excellent discussion of The Washington Pinocchio's political bias:
A Little Night Music
Big Walter Horton & Carey Bell - Have Mercy
Carey Bell & Louisiana Red - When A Woman Gets In Trouble
Carey Bell - I Want To See You Tomorrow Night
Carey Bell - Hard To Leave You Alone
Carey Bell's Blues Harp Band - One Day
Carey Bell - Strange Woman
Carey Bell & Tough Luck - Mellow Down Easy
Robert Lockwood Jr. & Carey Bell - I'm a Steady Rollin' Man
Carey Bell - Carey Bell Rocks