The Evening Blues - Labor Day 2015
The Evening Blues - Labor Day 2015
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features songs in the theme of working, workers and labor. Enjoy!
Maddy Prior - Honest Work
For those of you joining us for the first time, welcome to the new digs! Poke around, enjoy the site and if you have any questions, just ask in the comments.
“Please do not look only at the dark side
All the newspapers in the free world explain why you return their readers understand how you feel
You have the sympathy of millions
As a tribute to your sorrow we resolve to spend more money on nuclear weapons there is always a bright side
If this were only a movie a boat would be available have you ever seen our movies they end happily
You would lean at the rail with 'him' the sun would set on China kiss and fade
You would marry one of the kind authorities
In our movies there is no law higher than love in real life duty is higher
You would not want the authorities to neglect duty
How do you like the image of the free world sorry you cannot stay
This is the first and last time we will see you in our papers
When you are back home remember us we will be having a good time.”
-― Thomas Merton
News and Opinion
This is an excellent essay, well worth reading in full.
By the time the Arab-Israeli War of 1948 ended, Israeli forces had expelled about 700,000 Palestinian Arabs from their homes. Their plight led to the overthrow of Arab regimes as well as civil wars in Jordan in 1970 and in Lebanon from 1975 to 1990. Israel bombed refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Gaza. Radicalized Palestinians staged hijackings, airport massacres and suicide bombings that captured headlines around the world and more than once led to dangerous American-Soviet confrontations.
The legacy of Syria’s refugee disaster awaits. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, António Gutteres, has just declared that 4 million Syrians are now refugees in neighboring countries. That is almost six times greater than the number who fled Palestine. Another 7.6 million Syrians, he says, have also lost their homes but remain destitute within Syria. Gutteres said, “This is the biggest refugee population from a single conflict in a generation.”
Before the war began in 2011, Syria fed itself and provided almost all of its medicines from flourishing pharmaceutical industries. Now it is dependent on foreign charity that is anything but adequate. ... The U.N. has had to cut food supplies to 1.6 million refugees. John Owen reported on Voice of America that the monthly food allowance for refugees in Lebanon has been reduced from $27 last January to $13.50. Try feeding yourself on $13.50 a month to understand the reasons behind the desire of some Syrians to escape the region to feed their children. ...
To imagine that the long-term plight of millions of Syrian refugees in the Middle East and Europe will have no consequences is folly on a greater scale than predicting the Palestinian refugee problem would disappear after 1948. This is a political more than a humanitarian issue. For the refugee exodus to stop, the war must end.
The large numbers of people now seeking sanctuary in Europe should be seen as immigrants, not as refugees, because they are seeking a "German life" and refuse to stay in the first safe country they reach, Hungary's prime minister said on Monday, as he also rejected planned migrant quotas.
Viktor Orban, a right-wing populist whose robust handling of the migrant crisis has drawn both condemnation and praise, said the European Union (EU) should consider providing financial support to countries such as Turkey which are near to the conflict zones so that migrants stay there and do not move on.
Syrians, Iraqis and others entering Greece, Macedonia, Serbia or Hungary are safe in those countries and, in line with EU rules, should have their asylum applications processed there, Orban told a gathering of Hungarian diplomats in Budapest. ...
Left unchecked, this inflow will place an impossible financial burden on the EU, Orban said, endangering what he called Europe's "Christian welfare states." He has previously said the arrival of large numbers of mostly Muslim migrants posed a threat to Europe's Christian culture and values.
Last week, the Guardian contacted the campaigns of every candidate for the White House – 17 Republicans and five Democrats – to ask two questions. Should the US be accepting more refugees? And, as president, how would each candidate define US policy toward those seeking asylum from war-torn and impoverished countries?
But even as presidential candidates offer foreign policy pitches through a lens of moral leadership, just one of 22 contenders – former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley – said unequivocally that the US should take in more refugees and put forward a specific number. In a statement issued on Thursday, the Democrat called on the government to accept 65,000 refugees from Syria over the next year.
“If Germany – a country with one-fourth our population – can accept 800,000 refugees this year, certainly we – the nation of immigrants and refugees – can do more,” O’Malley said in a statement. ...
Several campaigns, including those of top contenders such as Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton and her closest challenger, Bernie Sanders, and Republicans Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, did not respond to repeated requests for comment on the specific question of whether the US should accept more refugees.
France will begin reconnaissance flights over Syria with a view to carrying out airstrikes against Islamic State, President François Hollande has said.
He blamed the group for the refugee crisis in Europe as well as a number of terrorist attacks carried out in France and other countries. However, the French leader ruled out sending ground troops to Syria and said nothing should be done that could strengthen the country’s leader, Bashar al-Assad, or help him remain in power. “In the end, Assad must go,” Hollande said.
During a press conference at the Elysée Palace, his sixth since coming to power in 2012, Hollande also addressed the refugee crisis in Europe. He said France and Germany would ask the European commission to introduce an “obligatory and permanent” system to deal with those fleeing warzones and force member countries to take their share of asylum seekers.
He called on Britain to not shirk its duty. “Every country must engage,” he said. “The important word is ‘obligatory’ … and permanent, meaning continuing for some time.”
Amid a growing humanitarian crisis in Europe and the Middle East, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday refused calls to admit non-Jewish refugees from Syria and announced plans to build a "security fence" to shut out people fleeing war—directly referencing concerns that admittance would skew demographics.
"Israel is a small country, and we do not have the geographic and demographic depths [to absorb them]," Netanyahu's office declared in an English language statement released Sunday. "We will not allow Israel to be flooded with illegal migrants and terrorists."
"Today, we are starting to build a fence on our eastern border. In the first stage, we will build it from Timna to Eilat in order to protect the airport being built there, and we will continue the fence up to the Golan Heights, where we have already built a strong security fence," the statement continued.
However, as Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man pointed out in +972 Magazine, the Hebrew version of the statement released from Netanyahu's office struck a different chord—referring to the Syrian refugees as "infiltrators." ...
The prime minister's statement came a day after Isaac Herzon, opposition leader, called on Israel to allow entry to Syrian refugees.
The UN’s humanitarian agencies are on the verge of bankruptcy and unable to meet the basic needs of millions of people because of the size of the refugee crisis in the Middle East, Africa and Europe, senior figures within the UN have told the Guardian.
The deteriorating conditions in Lebanon and Jordan, particularly the lack of food and healthcare, have become intolerable for many of the 4 million people who have fled Syria, driving fresh waves of refugees north-west towards Europe and aggravating the current crisis. ...
Speaking to the Guardian, the UN high commissioner for refugees, António Guterres, said: “If you look at those displaced by conflict per day, in 2010 it was 11,000; last year there were 42,000. ...
Recent months have seen severe cuts to food rations for Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan as well as for Somali and Sudanese refugees in Kenya. Darfuris living in camps in Chad have been warned that their rations may end completely at the end of the year. UN-run healthcare services have also been closed across a large part of Iraq, leaving millions of internally displaced people without access to healthcare.
Guterres warned that the damage being done by these cuts would be impossible to reverse. “We know that we are not doing enough, we are failing the basic needs of people.
Throughout the Syrian Civil War, there had been relative calm in the al-Suwayda Province, the primary home of the nation’s Druze minority. The Druze are largely seen as pro-government, and elsewhere in the country have been attacked by rebels as a consequence.
Suwayda is exploding in the past few days, however, after Friday saw a pair of car bombings killing 33 Druze civilians, including top religious leader Sheikh Wahid al-Balous. There was no claim of responsibility, but Balous was an outspoken opponent of the government, and had urged Druze to stop joining the military, which led to suspicion that he was killed by government forces.
Unrest is growing province-wide, and six Syrian troops were killed by Druze militant attacks late Saturday. ... An outright revolt against the government is bad news for the government, but may also be dangerous for the Druze, as they have few natural allies in the ever-splintering nation.
Days after Russia had already denied media reports of a military buildup in Syria, aimed at helping in the fight against ISIS, Secretary of State John Kerry confronted Russian officials on the matter, expressing “concern” that Russia might be increasing involvement in the war. ...
Bizarrely, Secretary Kerry warned Russia that, if the rumors are true, they risk a “confrontation” with America’s anti-ISIS coalition, even though all the reports suggested Russia’s entire motive was to fight ISIS as well.
Russia has been an ally of the Syrian government for decades, and is keen to ensure that they remain an ally, as they host Russia’s lone naval base in the Mediterranean. The US interest in Syria, while at least in part also anti-ISIS, comes with an understanding that they want a regime change, and are very much keen on the new regime being pro-US, likely meaning they’d expel Russia.
NAIMAN: Well first of all, you know, the word 'destabilizing' is a very funny word. Regardless of what you think of Iranian policy in Syria or the Russian policy in Syria, to call it destabilizing is quite odd. Regardless of what one thinks of the Assad government, it is the internationally recognized government. It does hold a seat at the United Nations. So it's strange to call Iran and Russia destabilizing when they're supporting the internationally recognized government. Again, that's different from whether you like the government or not. Its legal status is clear, and of course the Saudis and also the U.S. to some degree, at least until recently, supporting armed opposition groups attacking the Syrian government. Which you know, again, if the word 'terrorism' has any objective meaning surely apples to armed groups fighting the Syrian government. In fact, some of these groups are classified as terrorists by the U.S. government, like Al-Qaeda, like ISIS, like Al-Nusra, which is the Al-Qaeda affiliate.
Fighter jets from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) bombed multiple sites in Yemen on Sunday in a series of airstrikes that came after dozens of soldiers from the Saudi-led coalition were killed by a rebel missile attack on Friday.
At least 20 people were reported killed during a wake in northern Yemen after Saudi jets hit the area, local tribesmen told Reuters. The wake was reportedly for a man killed by Houthi rebels, and the strike was believed to be accidental. ...
Several buildings in the capital reportedly crumbled after being hit. One of the buildings affected by the strikes was the al-Sabeen Maternity and Children's Hospital, which reportedly asked for help from international aid organizations to evacuate patients. Two deaths were reported in Sanaa after the airstrikes.
Turkish warplanes bombed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets overnight after the militants staged what appeared to be their deadliest attack since the collapse of a two-year-old ceasefire in July, killing as many as 16 soldiers.
The PKK said it had killed 15 members of the armed forces in Sunday's attack on a convoy in the mountainous Daglica area of Hakkari province, near the Iraqi border. A security source told Reuters 16 soldiers had been killed, which would be the highest military death toll in a single attack for years.
The surge in violence has torn apart a peace process which President Tayyip Erdogan launched with jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan in late 2012 in a bid to end an insurgency that has killed more than 40,000 people.
Turkish authorities arrested a veteran Dutch reporter for the second time this year on Sunday, detaining journalist Fréderike Geerdink in southeastern Turkey while she covered the People's Democratic Party (HDP), a Kurdish opposition group.
Geerdink said on Twitter she was arrested in the Turkish town of Yuksekova and was waiting to be questioned by a prosecutor. Geerdink said she was with a group called Human Shield, and that they had all been arrested. ...
Geerdink was arrested earlier this year in Turkey and briefly held on charges that she had engaged in propaganda on behalf of Kurdish rebels. She faced spending five years in prison on the charges before she was acquitted.
Geerdink has reported on Kurdish issues for years as a freelance journalist, and said she was shocked by the fact that her reporting has seemingly made her a target for the government. ...
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Turkey was one of the top 10 jailers of journalists in 2014.
Tens of thousands of protesters rallied on Sunday in the capital of Moldova to demand the resignation of the president and early elections after $1 billion disappeared from the country's banking system and rapidly depreciated the Eastern European country's currency. ...
Police put their numbers at between 35,000 and 40,000 — bigger even than mass anti-communist protests of April 2009 — though the organizers estimated the turnout as nearly three times that many.
The protesters called for the resignation of President Nicolae Timofti, who has presided over a pro-European Union leadership since early 2012. ... The fraud has caused a rapid depreciation in the national currency, the leu, stoking inflation and hurting living standards.
It has also tarnished the image of the pro-Europe ruling class for ordinary Moldovans, many of whom struggle by on a family income of about $300 a month.
Thousands of protesters in Moldova yesterday pic.twitter.com/5rNgT5J13N
— Ihar Losik (@ihar_losik) September 7, 2015
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has informed the leaders of several major Arab nations of his intention to carry out a series of resignations from all of his posts, and to soon retire from politics outright. He took these leadership positions in 2004 and 2005, in the wake of Yasser Arafat’s death. ...
It’s unclear who Abbas envisions as his successor, and there is no obvious leader-in-waiting. The timing, in that regard, is a bit of a surprise, but at 80-years-old and with a stalled peace process, Abbas appears not to be interested in staying in politics for its own sake.
Israeli analysts are seeing this entirely as a plot by Abbas to embarrass the Netanyahu government.
British taxpayers should be allowed to opt out of funding the Army, Jeremy Corbyn once proposed in an idea former generals have called "stark-starring bonkers".
The Labour leadership front-runner suggested voters should be able to act with their "conscience" and order the Treasury not spend their tax money on soldiers.
Britain's leading former generals warned the "corrosive" idea could undermine public support for soldiers and was "absolutely ludicrous".
It has emerged after Mr Corbyn triggered a backlash by saying he “couldn’t think” of a situation in which he would deploy troops.
Asked in what circumstances he would back deploying British troops, Mr Corbyn said: “I'm sure there are some. But I can't think of them at the moment."
American service members used in chemical and biological testing have some questions: What exactly were they exposed to? And how is it affecting their health?
Tens of thousands of troops were used in testing conducted by the U.S. military between 1922 and 1975. As one Army scientist explained, the military wanted to learn how to induce symptoms such as "fear, panic, hysteria, and hallucinations" in enemy soldiers. Recruitment was done on a volunteer basis, but the details of the testing and associated risks were often withheld from those who signed up.
Many of the veterans who served as test subjects have since died. But today, those who are still alive are part of a class action lawsuit against the Army. If they're successful, the Army will have to explain to anyone who was used in testing exactly what substances they were given and any known risks. The Army would also have to provide those veterans with health care for any illnesses that result, in whole or in part, from the testing.
On September 1, the United States government rejected several recommendations from countries which suggested how the U.S. could better uphold human rights. Rejected recommendations included abolishing the death penalty, ending spying on private communications of people of the world, and allowing foreign aid to assist rape victims in war zones who need access to safe abortions.
The recommendations were made during a Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process for signatories of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
Signatories of the treaty are supposed to undertake measures to ensure the rights in the treaty are protected in their countries. The U.S. ratified the treaty in 1992, and the government has an obligation to comply with the treaty, as it would any other domestic law. ...
In a submitted document, the U.S. government indicated which recommendations it outright rejected.
Farmers have clashed with police in Brussels during protests about falling dairy and meat prices in Europe.
An estimated 4,000 farmers, including some from Britain, gathered in the Belgian capital on Monday as European farming ministers hold an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in the agriculture industry. ...
European farmers have suffered a sharp decline in demand for their products as Russia blocks western imports of food and China tries to bolster domestic production rather than buying milk from Europe. One banner held up by protesters in Brussels claimed that “Europe is drowning in milk”. ...
British farmers blame supermarkets for the slide in milk prices. They claim milk has been used as a weapon in the industry price war and that retailers are not doing enough to promote British-sourced products. In protest they have blockaded distribution centres and herded two cows through an Asda store in Stafford.
Millions of students around the US have started autumn with familiar rituals: waiting for absent teachers, flipping through outdated books and watching their peers fall behind in strained, segregated schools that experts warn represent a slow-burning crisis neglected by leaders.
Little has changed since a 2014 report concluded that 60 years after the supreme court declared segregation unconstitutional, major regions of the US have turned away from integration toward deeper inequality, said Gary Orfield, a UCLA professor and co-author of that paper.
The “substantial majority” of black and Latino students are in schools segregated by race and poverty, Orfield said. Such students are being primed by struggling schools for “a downward spiral” in a society that increasingly demands college diplomas. ...
According to the report, black people are most segregated in the north-eastern US, especially in New York, where 65% of black students go to school almost exclusively without white peers.
In the western US, Latinos still largely lack access to mostly white schools, the report adds. In California, where white people are a minority, the average Latino student in a public school has only one to two white classmates.
In the south, where courts and officials worked hardest to desegregate schools and dismantle unconstitutional policies, integration has best endured.
Public education advocates are welcoming the Washington State Supreme Court's ruling late Friday that the state's charter school law is unconstitutional.
The Seattle Times reports that
The ruling — believed to be one of the first of its kind in the country — overturns the law [I-1240] voters narrowly approved in 2012 allowing publicly funded, but privately operated, schools.
Teacher and author Mercedes Schneider offers more on the Act:
As is true of charter schools nationwide, the charters in Washington State (up to the current ruling) were eligible for public funding diverted from traditional public schools. Charter schools were approved via a November 2012 ballot initiative (I-1240, the Charter Schools Act) in which charters were declared to be “common schools” despite their not being subject to local control and local accountability. And also like America’s charters in general, Washington’s charters are not under the authority of elected school boards.
Thus, Washington voters had approved to give public money to private entities—a one-way street that provided no means for such funds to overseen by the public.
The new ruling (pdf) states that charters, "devoid of local control from their inception to their daily operation," cannot be classified as "common schools," nor have "access to restricted common school funding."
Education policy analyst Diane Ravitch writes that the 6-3 decision "is a big win for parents and public schools," and that it "gives hope to parents all across America, who see charter schools draining funding from their public schools, favoring the privileges of the few over the rights of the many."
Black men have been killed by police in California at eight times the rate of other residents over the past decade, according to records released under the first in a series of new state initiatives to disclose data on the use of deadly force by law enforcement.
Statistics published by California attorney general Kamala Harris stated that about 19% of almost 1,000 homicides by law enforcement recorded between 2005 and 2014 were against African American men, who made up only about 3% of the state’s population.
Harris said last week that “clear racial disparities” had emerged from the figures, which also showed African Americans were arrested and died in custody at disproportionately high rates.
Last Sunday at a campaign event in Iowa, former Maryland governor and Democratic presidential hopeful Martin O’Malley responded to a request from a University of Iowa student and signed a pledge supporting publicly financed elections and getting big money out of politics. The pledge is the creation of Democracy Matters, a national student organization founded by former NBA center Adonal Foyle, and has already been signed by Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
The action by O’Malley, whose polling numbers have recently ranged between 1 and 4 percent, leaves Hillary Clinton more isolated among top declared Democratic presidential candidates in not signing the pledge. Clinton was questioned in July by the same student, Mason Buonadonna, at an event at the Iowa City Public Library, on how she would combat big money in politics, and gave a general statement with few specifics. Her website is similarly vague, vowing to make “Revitalizing Our Democracy” one of the “Four Fights” of her presidential campaign, while making few specific commitments.
Senator Bernie Sanders has opened a nine-point lead over fellow Democrat Hillary Clinton among party supporters in New Hampshire, according to an NBC News/Marist Poll released on Sunday.
The survey showed that 41% of Democratic voters would back Sanders while 32% would cast a vote for Clinton if the poll were held today – and Vice-President Joe Biden were on the ballot.
Support for Biden, who has yet to decide whether to run after the death of his son Beau in May, was at 16%.
In July, in the same poll, Sanders had 32% support while Clinton had 42%.
NBC also reported that its polling showed Clinton with a lead in Iowa, another state with an early voice in the nomination process, though her margin over Sanders had shrunk to 11% from 24% in July.
Campaign finance reform advocate Lawrence Lessig on Sunday confirmed that he would run for U.S. president in 2016, announcing that the exploratory committee he formed in August had hit its $1 million fundraising target by its Labor Day deadline.
Lessig made his statement on ABC's This Week during an interview with host George Stephanopoulos. ...
As he explained in August, Lessig will run on a platform that targets campaign finance—and, if elected, would step down as soon as Congress passed a package of pro-democracy reforms.
The Evening Greens
There are just three wolves remaining on Isle Royale, a Michigan island in Lake Superior, and that's a problem for the ecosystem, as the moose population is surging and their grazing is threatening the islands vegetation. But it's also a sign of the climate change-related impacts the nation is set to face.
The number has been on a steady decline. Michigan Tech professors John Vucetich and Rolf Peterson, who lead the study, write in their report (pdf):
These changes are part of a longer trend. Since 2009 the wolf population has dropped by nearly 90%. As a result of very low wolf abundance, each of the past four years has seen unprecedented low rates of predation. In response, the moose population has been growing at a mean rate of 22% per year for each of the past four years.
But why plummeting numbers on Isle Royale?
As Peterson previously stated: "The human imprint is written all over the dynamics of this wolf population in recent decades." And the National Parks Conservation Association explains
that the route that brought wolves to the island – naturally occurring ice bridges that form in winter from the mainland – do not form as often because of the warming climate. When ice bridges do form, it is hard to predict whether wolves will use the bridge to arrive and stay on the island or to leave; both scenarios occurred the last two winters. Coupled with a period of disease and other factors, the wolves on the island are now inbred, which negatively impacts the health of the pack and their ability to breed.
The "frequency of ice bridges is expected to continue to decline because of climate warming," Vucetich said.
In a unanimous ruling hailed as "a major victory for human rights and corporate accountability," the Canadian Supreme Court declared on Friday that a group of Ecuadorian villagers can pursue a multi-billion pollution lawsuit against oil giant Chevron in the province of Ontario.
"The law has finally caught up with Chevron," the nonprofit Amazon Watch said in a press statement.
As a result of the ruling, the Ecuadorian villagers may now continue with a 2012 lawsuit they launched against Chevron's Canadian subsidiary in Ontario. They claim Chevron's activities have caused "horrific contamination"—and an Ecuadorian court agreed, ruling in 2011 that Chevron should pay $9.5 billion for the destruction it caused.
"This decision is the beginning of the end of Chevron's abusive and obstructionist litigation strategy to avoid paying for the clean-up of the company's extensive toxic contamination of our ancestral lands in Ecuador," said Humberto Piaguaje, executive coordinator of the Union of Persons Affected by Texaco/Chevron, the local organization in Ecuador representing the communities suing Chevron.
The U.S. Coast Guard said Thursday that up to 250,000 gallons of oil slurry could have been spilled into the Mississippi River following a towboat collision near Columbus, Kentucky.
The Coast Guard says the spill occurred at roughly 8 PM Wednesday when a boat crash caused a cargo tank on a barge to rupture and spill some of the refinery byproduct it was carrying into the river.
A section of the river is now closed, and the Coast Guard stated that an aerial assessment spotted "a five-mile discoloration" starting at the site of the accident.
Look for the Hellraiser's Journal tomorrow which will feature a round-up of news accounts of Labor Day Celebrations from across the nation.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee - Pick a Bale of Cotton
Paul Black and the Flip Kings- Factory Girl
Woodie Guthrie - Workin Hard Blues
Hazel Dickens + Alice Gerrard - Working Girl Blues
Doyle Lawson - Poor Boy Working Blues
Phil Ochs - The Ballad of Joe Hill
Jerry Garcia + John Kahn - Spike Driver Blues
Merle Travis - Sixteen Tons
Red Army Choir - Sixteen Tons
Jim Croce - Working at the Car Wash Blues
Jimmy Reed - Big Boss Man
Solomon Burke - Maggie's Farm
Creedence Clearwater Revival - The Working Man
Joe Louis Walker - Workin' Blues
James Burton - Working Man Blues
James McMurtry - We Can't Make It Here Anymore
Bob Dylan - Working Mans Blues
Dropkick Murphys - Which Side Are You On
The Clash - Career Opportunities
Dropkick Murphys - Workers Song
Billy Bragg - There Is Power In A Union