Evening Blues Preview 5-22-15

This evening's music features the blues rock band Canned Heat.

Here are some stories from tonight's posting:

In the Same Week, the U.S. and U.K. Hide Their War Crimes by Invoking “National Security”

Colonel Ian Henderson was a British official dubbed “the Butcher of Bahrain” because of atrocities he repeatedly committed during the 30 years he served as chief security official of that Middle Eastern country. ... For years, human rights groups have fought to obtain old documents, particularly a 37-year-old diplomatic cable, relating to British responsibility for Henderson’s brutality in Bahrain. Ordinarily, documents more than 30 years old are disclosable, but the British government has fought every step of the way to conceal this cable.

But now, a governmental tribunal ruled largely in favor of the government and held that most of the diplomatic cable shall remain suppressed. ... The tribunal’s rationale is that “full disclosure of the document would have ‘an adverse effect on relations’ with Bahrain, where the U.K. is keen to build further economic and defence ties.” In other words, disclosing these facts would make the British and/or the Bahrainis look bad, cause them embarrassment, and could make their close friendship more difficult to sustain. Therefore, the British and Bahraini populations must be denied access to the evidence of what their governments did. ...

This is exactly the same mentality driving the Obama administration’s years-long effort to suppress photographs showing torture of detainees by the U.S. ... In March of this year, a U.S. judge who had long sided with the Obama DOJ in this matter reversed course. In a lawsuit brought in 2004 by the ACLU, the judge ordered the release of thousands of photos showing detainee abuse in Afghanistan and Iraq, including at Abu Ghraib. He ruled that the Obama DOJ could no longer show any national security harm that would justify ongoing suppression.

Rather than accepting the ruling and releasing the photos after hiding them for more than a decade, the U.S. Justice Department last week filed an emergency request for a stay of that ruling with the appeals court. The argument from The Most Transparent Administration Ever™:

Disclosure of the photographs would also cause the Government irreparable injury. As Secretary Panetta determined,public disclosure of the DoD Photographs would endanger members of the U.S. Armed Forces, or U.S. Government employees abroad. That determination is entitled to deference and is not to be second-guessed.

... A government that is able to hide its own atrocities on “national security” grounds will be one whose public endlessly focuses on the crimes of others while remaining blissfully unaware of one’s own nation. That is an excellent description of much of the American and British public, and as good an explanation as any why much of their public discourse consists of little more than proclamations that Our Side is Better despite the decades of brutality, aggression and militarism their own side has perpetrated.

George W. Bush's CIA Briefer: Bush and Cheney Falsely Presented WMD Intelligence to Public

For a dozen years, the Bush-Cheney crowd have been trying to escape—or cover up—an essential fact of the W. years: President George Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and their lieutenants misled the American public about the WMD threat supposedly posed by Saddam Hussein in order to grease the way to the invasion of Iraq. For Bush, Cheney, and the rest, this endeavor is fundamental; it is necessary to protect the legitimacy of the Bush II presidency. Naturally, Karl Rove and other Bushies have quickly tried to douse the Bush-lied-us-into-war fire whenever such flames have appeared. And in recent days, as Jeb Bush bumbled a question about the Iraq War, he and other GOPers have peddled the fictitious tale that his brother launched the invasion because he was presented lousy intelligence. But now there's a new witness who will make the Bush apologists' mission even more impossible: Michael Morell, a longtime CIA official who eventually became the agency's deputy director and acting director. During the preinvasion period, he served as Bush's intelligence briefer.

Appearing on MSNBC's Hardball on Tuesday night, Morell made it clear: The Bush-Cheney administration publicly misrepresented the intelligence related to Iraq's supposed WMD program and Saddam's alleged links to Al Qaeda. ...

Referring to the claims made by Bush, Cheney, and other administration officials that Saddam was in league with Al Qaeda, Morell noted, "What they were saying about the link between Iraq and Al Qaeda publicly was not what the intelligence community" had concluded. He added, "I think they were trying to make a stronger case for the war." That is, stronger than the truth would allow.

Morell's remarks support the basic charge: Bush and Cheney were not misled by flawed intelligence; they used the flawed intelligence to mislead.

Civil war still a bitter memory as El Salvador prepares to beatify Romero

Thirty-five years after he was murdered at the altar, Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero will be beatified in El Salvador on Saturday in a ceremony that aims to at least temporarily unite a conflict-plagued nation.

An envoy of Pope Francis will lead the event, which is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of Catholics to the main square of San Salvador in recognition of a man who was known during the military dictatorship and civil war as a “voice for the voiceless”.

Romero was a deeply divisive figure in life, and his beatification – a step towards his becoming El Salvador’s first saint – was long resisted by rightwing clerics and politicians.

Romero – a conservative who later came to sympathise with the leftwing Liberation Theology movement – was shot through the heart by a sniper during mass at a hospital chapel on 24 March 1980, a day after he admonished the military and called on soldiers to cease killing innocent civilians in the country’s dirty war.

“In the name of God and this suffering population, whose cries reach to the heavens more tumultuous each day, I beg you, I beseech you, I order you, in the name of God, cease the repression,” he said in his final sermon.

At his funeral, the army opened fired on the more than 100,000 mourners, killing dozens.

Apparently this fruitcake, who is now Israel's deputy foreign minister, thinks that she has a title signed by god to the land of Palestine.

Israel's new deputy foreign minister: 'This land is ours. All of it is ours'

Israel’s new deputy foreign minister on Thursday delivered a defiant message to the international community, saying that Israel owes no apologies for its policies in the Holy Land and citing religious texts to back her belief that it belongs to the Jewish people.

The speech by Tzipi Hotovely illustrated the influence of hardliners in Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s new government, and the challenges he will face as he tries to persuade the world that he is serious about pursuing peace with the Palestinians.

Hotovely, 36, is among a generation of young hardliners in Netanyahu’s Likud party who support West Bank settlement construction and oppose ceding captured land to the Palestinians. Since Netanyahu has a slim one-seat majority in parliament, these lawmakers could complicate any attempt to revive peace talks.

With Netanyahu also serving as the acting foreign minister, Hotovely is currently the country’s top full-time diplomat.

In an inaugural address to Israeli diplomats, Hotovely said Israel has tried too hard to appease the world and must stand up for itself.

“We need to return to the basic truth of our rights to this country,” she said. “This land is ours. All of it is ours. We did not come here to apologise for that.”

Police officer shoots two men suspected of stealing beer in Washington

Two stepbrothers suspected of trying to steal beer from a grocery store were not armed when they were shot early on Thursday by a police officer who later confronted them in Washington state’s capital city.

The officer reported that he was being assaulted with a skateboard before the shooting that left one man critically injured and one in stable condition, authorities said.

Officer Ryan Donald was among those who responded around 1am to a call from a Safeway in Olympia, the police chief, Ronnie Roberts, said at news conference. Employees said two men tried to steal beer and then threw the alcohol at workers who confronted the pair.

Officers split up to search for the suspects based on witnesses’ descriptions. Donald encountered two men with skateboards who matched the descriptions, and moments later, he radioed in that shots had been fired, the police chief said. ...

One suspect was shot at the back of the police vehicle following a confrontation, Roberts said. Both men, one of them injured, then ran across the street, where the second suspect was shot multiple times in the torso.

'Fight for $15' will ease economic inequality. But could it end police violence too?

The Fight for $15 movement is spreading. Seattle, San Francisco and now Los Angeles have adopted plans to make $15 the minimum wage. The effort to roughly double the federal minimum wage will greatly ease economic inequality, but it can do more than that: it can also keep citizens from being killed by the police.

As we have seen in grisly police murder after murder over the past year, a great deal of police violence happens when officers encounter men engaging in the informal economy. This is particularly true when black men (locked out of the formal economy pretty much since slavery, through one trick or another) turn to the informal economy to get by. It was while Eric Garner, father of six, was illegally selling loose cigarettes that he was choked in a homicide by NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo.

By paying workers $15 an hour, we could give poor people access to enough money to live, disincentivizing the informal economy. ...

As the anthropologist David Graeber wrote at Gawker, the police “are essentially just bureaucrats with weapons” for financially strapped municipalities where “as much as 40% of the money governments depend on comes from the kinds of predatory policing that has become a fact of life for the citizens of Ferguson.” ... If companies paid a fair wage, workers could pay payroll taxes to keep the lights on in their cities, without the cities having to rely on debt financing (or citizens having to pay a get out of jail tax). And the police wouldn’t have to enforce this shakedown. ...

But most urgently, by paying people $15, we could decrease the size of our police forces and end police violence. If workers are paid enough, the police won’t be needed to protect the loot of those hoarding everything from everyone else. Maintaining the social order in a nation where white people have 12 times the wealth of black and Hispanic people (and in a world where 1% of the population controls about half of all wealth) requires robust policing.

EU dropped pesticide laws due to US pressure over TTIP, documents reveal

US trade officials pushed EU to shelve action on endocrine-disrupting chemicals linked to cancer and male infertility to facilitate TTIP free trade deal

EU moves to regulate hormone-damaging chemicals linked to cancer and male infertility were shelved following pressure from US trade officials over the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) free trade deal, newly released documents show.

Draft EU criteria could have banned 31 pesticides containing endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs). But these were dumped amid fears of a trade backlash stoked by an aggressive US lobby push, access to information documents obtained by Pesticides Action Network (PAN) Europe show.

On the morning of 2 July 2013, a high-level delegation from the US Mission to Europe and the American Chambers of Commerce (AmCham) visited EU trade officials to insist that the bloc drop its planned criteria for identifying EDCs in favour of a new impact study. By the end of the day, the EU had done so.

Minutes of the meeting show commission officials pleading that “although they want the TTIP to be successful, they would not like to be seen as lowering the EU standards”.

The TTIP is a trade deal being agreed by the EU and US to remove barriers to commerce and promote free trade.

Responding to the EU officials, AmCham representatives “complained about the uselessness of creating categories and thus, lists” of prohibited substances, the minutes show. ...

Later that day, the secretary-general of the commission, Catherine Day, sent a letter to the environment department’s director Karl Falkenberg, telling him to stand down the draft criteria.

Also of interest:

How the U.S. ‘Solved’ the Central American Migrant Crisis

Lessons From the Thinnest of Seymour Hersh’s Thinly Sourced Claims

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Big Al's picture

What a joke. Secret documents, secret trade deals, secret everything. Not even our so called representatives
can see behind the curtain.
Olympia, Washington - Oly. That's where I grew up.

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Big Al's picture

Just imagine what they'll do to protect the mansions.

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joe shikspack's picture

back when they originally passed the patriot act and there were sections of it that were classified - secret laws, which had to be adjudicated in secret courts. now we're supposed to feel good because in the "reform" act that might pass (the usa freedumb act) there's a provision for a "public advocate" to the secret court that rubber stamps anything that the secret government wants.

woohoo! i'm pretty f*cking impressed with the reform, aren't you?

now that the secret government has started classifying what used to be considered "the people's business," like trade bills as national security secrets, we've gone yet another level further down into the subterranean sewer system of demockery.

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Big Al's picture

rhetoric against them. The idea that we live in a democracy has to be challenged.

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Big Al's picture

"Maintaining the social order in a nation where white people have 12 times the wealth of black and Hispanic people (and in a world where 1% of the population controls about half of all wealth) requires robust policing."

Does it? What's this person saying, that without a "robust" police force the have nots would be attacking the haves? I don't see crime on the
rise because of wealth inequality. If anything crime is down while wealth inequality has gone up.

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joe shikspack's picture

that quote gives a different impression of what "order" means than what i think the author intended. the article spends a lot of its verbiage discussing how many young black me participate in an "informal" (i.e. black market) economy - selling "loosies" or drugs, etc. this informal economy is something that is considered disorder by the powers-that-be and a lot of police effort is put into stopping it.

the big point of thrasher's piece is that by paying decent wages, people will be able to exit from the informal economy and municipalities will prosper because they will have a tax base. this means that they won't be reliant on creating crimes through opportunistic traffic stops and other such police revenue-raisers in order to raise revenue.

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