Evening Blues Preview 4-20-15

This evening's music features blues, r&b and soul songwriter, guitarist, flute and organ player Johnny Heartsman.

Here are some stories from tonight's post:

My Reports on 1995 Human Rights Abuses in Bahrain Ignored by State Department - John Kiriakou

Worrying Rise of US Weapon Sales Greeted by a Middle East Engulfed in War

Conflicts and war across the region, says one analyst, 'have been an economic boon to those who wipe away crocodile tears with one hand and sign weapons contracts with the other.'

With ongoing wars and armed conflicts currently underway across the Middle East, South Asia, and large portions of Africa, the role that U.S. weapons makers play across the region was highlighted in weekend reporting by the New York Times, which showed how the drive for corporate profits has unleashed an arms race with perilous human consequences and no end in sight for people living in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Libya, and elsewhere.

"As the Middle East descends into proxy wars, sectarian conflicts and battles against terrorist networks, countries in the region that have stockpiled American military hardware are now actually using it and wanting more," the Times reports. "The result is a boom for American defense contractors looking for foreign business in an era of shrinking Pentagon budgets — but also the prospect of a dangerous new arms race in a region where the map of alliances has been sharply redrawn." ...

Sharif Nashashibi, an award-winning journalist and expert on the Middle East region, noted in a Sunday column in the Middle East Eye that though war-profiteering is anything but new, the current scale of the problem is worrying. "Weapons exports provide massive economic benefits," notes Nashashibi, "which translate to political benefits, domestically and in terms of influence with clients. The Middle East and North Africa has long been a theatre of combat—often on numerous fronts—and hence among the most lucrative markets on the planet. However, weapons purchases have skyrocketed in recent years as unrest, tension and war between and within states have increased markedly."

He continued:

Arms suppliers derive maximum benefit from just the right amount of destabilisation: enough to make clients bulk-buy, but not enough to existentially threaten them or disrupt energy supplies. That is why, for example, the US profited so immensely from the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s - it armed both sides, resulting in a war of attrition that lasted almost a decade.

Similarly, the Arab Spring, Arab-Iranian tensions and the rise of the Islamic State, among other current crises, have been an economic boon to those who wipe away crocodile tears with one hand and sign weapons contracts with the other. Operation Decisive Storm over Yemen will no doubt add to the buying frenzy.

US 'Trainers' Arrive in Ukraine for Operation Fearless Guardian

Russian President Putin says 'it enables destabilizing the situation'

Nearly 300 U.S. soldiers have arrived in Ukraine to act as 'trainers' for the county's newly-formed National Guard as part of what is being called Operation Fearless Guardian. ...

Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a statement Friday rebuking the troops' arrival.

"The participation of instructors and specialists from a third country on the territory of Ukraine, where an unresolved intra-Ukrainian conflict remains, where problems persist in carrying out the Minsk agreement, is far from helping resolve the conflict. To the contrary, it enables destabilizing the situation," spokesperson Dmitry Peskov stated.

The Kremlin isn't alone in criticizing the operation, as the Ottawa Citizen reported this week:

But some foreign affairs experts say the decision to send Canadian, British and U.S. training troops to Ukraine could worsen matters with nuclear-armed Russia.

"Canada’s decision is not only provocative to Russia but it’s dangerous," said retired Canadian diplomat James Bissett. "We are poking at them unnecessarily."

Chomsky: 'US invades, destroys country - that’s stabilization. Someone resists - destabilization'

Our Enemies, the Saudis

The Saudi invasion of Yemen, under the pretext of alleged Iranian involvement in the Houthi rebellion, is nothing but a thinly disguised helping hand extended to Al Qaeda. Saudi air strikes are directed exclusively against the Houthi militia, which the New York Times says “is considered Al Qaeda’s most determined foe.” Al Qaeda, however, is untouched.

The Saudis took the Americans by surprise, much to John McCain’s delight: at a congressional hearing, the Arizona Senator declared: “These countries, led by Saudi Arabia, did not notify
us nor seek our coordination or our assistance in this effort because they believe we are siding with Iran. The prospect of radical groups like Iranian-backed Houthi militants” was “more than [U.S. Arab allies] could withstand.” Radical groups like Al Qaeda don’t seem to be in McCain’s purview: Iran is the main enemy, and Al Qaeda is just a footnote.

However, the Pentagon doesn’t quite see it that way, as Al Jazeera reports:

“A senior commander at Central Command (CENTCOM), speaking on condition of anonymity, scoffed at that argument. ‘The reason the Saudis didn’t inform us of their plans,’ he said, ‘is because they knew we would have told them exactly what we think – that it was a bad idea.’

“Military sources said that a number of regional special forces officers and officers at US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) argued strenuously against supporting the Saudi-led intervention because the target of the intervention, the Shia Houthi movement – which has taken over much of Yemen and which Riyadh accuses of being a proxy for Tehran – has been an effective counter to Al-Qaeda.”

When are we going to stop pretending the Saudis are our allies?...

The idea that we have any allies in the Middle East is laughable – and, yes, that includes Israel. It’s one big snake pit, with the biggest serpents professing their eternal friendship with Washington – while biting us on the ankles when they can. What we are faced with now is a Saudi-Gulf states-Israeli alliance intent on war with Iran – with the United States directly in the crossfire.

We are, in short, but a few steps away from a regional conflict that has all the makings of a third world war.

Homeless People in Colorado Could Soon Have Their Own ‘Bill of Rights’

Homeless people in Colorado may soon be able to sleep in public without being subjected to police harassment if a new bill discussed Wednesday in the state's legislature comes to pass.

The bill — dubbed the "Homeless Persons' Bill of Rights" — is sponsored by Democratic Representatives Joe Salazar and Jovan Melton, along with Senator John Kefalas. According to the draft legislation, current Colorado laws "result in people in Colorado being criminally punished for doing what any person must do to survive."

The legislators initially introduced the bill in March. It aims to ensure homeless people the right to move freely without discrimination, and to rest, eat, accept food, and maintain privacy over their belongings. ...

Other states like California and Oregon have also attempted to draft bills that end the criminalization of homelessness. Eric Tars, National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty's senior attorney, told VICE News that criminalizing the homeless costs states double or triple what it would take to provide housing for them. Tars said the main cause of homelessness is the lack of affordable housing, but according to him, the bill is a potential step to improve the current situation of homeless people. ...

"These advocacy efforts are an effort to bring us back to our best ideals, to something that says we are all equally deserving of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. No one should be punished for trying to survive," Tars added, saying we have to see the homeless "as people, as our fellow citizens, equally deserving of rights and dignity… this is about who we are as Americans."

Also of interest:

The Pentagon Planned to Nuke the Sky

Share
up
0 users have voted.

Comments

Big Al's picture

international, is just humming along. If you sit back and think about it honestly I don't know how
you can't think it's all just absolutely insane with out justification. If we don't find a reset button somewhere
soon, there is going to be a breaking point.

up
0 users have voted.
cybrestrike's picture

Apparently I missed a verbal war against Dr. Cornel West by Dr. Michael Eric Dyson in the New Republic. David Zirin of The Nation Magazine has a take on the whole kerfuffle: Cornel West Is Not Mike Tyson

Dr. Michael Eric Dyson has, along with Al Sharpton and Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry, been an unapologetic supporter of President Barack Obama...even as he lurched to the right in economic issues that affected minority communities and the working class. I've watched Dyson speak and whenever he does, it's in empty platitudes. He even once said that Black America should support the president 100%, even when he is criticized. I shook my head in disbelief. He's never gotten it. West may be allegedly controversial, but he's always kept it real in my book. Walking the walk and talking the talk, even if it got him arrested.

Meanwhile, at the GOS, BoiseBlue has started a multipart series on FTA, particularly the TPP. Let's learn about TPP. Part two: manipulating free trade. There's a link to part one in there. It's actually pretty informative and presented in a fair manner, even though BB outright opposes TPP (much to commenter and serial neoliberal policy promoter Draxinium's chagrin).

We had a downpour heavy afternoon in Downtown Orlando, and I'm pretty sure across the rest of the state. Rainy season is back. It might be time to buy an umbrella.

up
0 users have voted.
JayRaye's picture

both of these links are great, but esp Cornel West. Will check them out.

up
0 users have voted.

Never be deceived that the rich will allow you to vote away their wealth.-Lucy Parsons

joe shikspack's picture

it really seems that cornel west's fairly temperate criticisms of obama have painted a target on his back and his attackers are pretty viscious. i remember early on in obama's presidency reading one of melissa harris perry's articles in response to west and thinking that her attack was just way over the top.

up
0 users have voted.
Unabashed Liberal's picture

stand to listen to Dyson or Harris-Perry. IMO, they're both corporate Dem toadies/apologists.

One way you can tell--Dyson is often on the Sunday Talk Shows. Heck, ONLY corporatist/conservative Democrats like Cokie Roberts/Donna Brazile get on those shows!

Wink

Zirin mostly shows up on corporatist (left) media like the radio program "Left Jab." (Gag!) I didn't even know he wrote for The Nation. [So I was glad to see that he defended Dr West as much as he did.]

And Sharpton is a total sell-out. What a shame!

Mollie

up
0 users have voted.

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

So 1,100 people have drowned in the Mediterranean over the past week while trying to flee chaos in Libya.
What would be the solution of intelligent human beings? Coast Guard patrols to rescue people?

Nope! The solution is to BLOW SHIT UP!
Quite possibly the very worst response.

The European Union is to launch military operations against the networks of smugglers in Libya deemed culpable of sending thousands of people to their deaths in the Mediterranean.
...
The meeting “identified some actions” aimed at combatting the trafficking gangs mainly in Libya, such as “destroying ships”, Mogherini said.

Since when does a humanitarian crisis mean a military response?

up
0 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

and everything from bomb-throwing loonies to ebola outbreaks are a reason to send the marines.

up
0 users have voted.
mimi's picture

that if the Coast Guard patrols regularly the waters, the human traffickers will just use them as a taxi service, throwing the fugitives overboard and counting on the Coast Guard to rescue them.

up
0 users have voted.

mimi

mimi's picture

Sort of like negotiating with hostage takers.

up
0 users have voted.

"Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

mimi's picture

up
0 users have voted.

mimi

Unabashed Liberal's picture

earlier this morning. Folks over at EB probably know how fond I am of Wyden (snark intended). Seriously, have nothing personal against him--he's just a typical fiscally conservative Dem, so I have little use for him.

Also, I tend to take C&L with a little bit of a grain of salt (after hearing Madrak on with radio talk show host Mark Thompson--she's definitely more of a partisan Dem than a lefty, IMO), and I'm not very well-versed on the TPP, but this article seemed like one worth passing around.

So here you go:

Screenshot -- Ron Wyden Tweet, TPP, Crooks & Liars.png

A Look At Fast Track Bill Shows It's The Wrong Thing To Do

The "fast track" trade promotion authority bill has been introduced in the Senate. Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution says, "The Congress shall have power to ... regulate commerce with foreign nations."

But under fast track, Congress relinquishes that power and agrees to pass trade bills brought to them by the executive branch in a very short time frame with little debate and without making any changes should any problems present themselves.

Though it was announced that this year's fast track bill was the result of a "deal" between Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) the 2015 bill is nearly identical to the 2014 bill that died in Congress without support for a vote. See this side-by-side comparison from Rep. Sander Levin of the House Ways and Means Committee.

It is unclear from this comparison why the "negotiations" between Hatch and Wyden took so long, and what Wyden got that enabled him to put his name on it, enabling the bill to be sold as "bipartisan." . . .

(My emphasis and paragraph breaks.)

Mollie

up
0 users have voted.

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