Evening Blues Preview 7-15-15
This evening's music features one of the most influential blues harp players of all time, the original Sonny Boy Williamson, usually referred to as Sonny Boy Williamson I.
Here are some stories from tonight's posting:
All of Europe, and insouciant Americans and Canadians as well, are put on notice by Syriza’s surrender to the agents of the One Percent. The message from the collapse of Syriza is that the social welfare system throughout the West will be dismantled.
The Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras has agreed to the One Percent’s looting of the Greek people of the advances in social welfare that the Greeks achieved in the post-World War II 20th century. Pensions and health care for the elderly are on the way out. The One Percent needs the money. ...
Greek democracy has proven itself to be impotent. The looting is going forward despite the vote one week ago by the Greek people rejecting it. So what we observe in Alexis Tsipras is an elected prime minister representing not the Greek people but the One Percent.
The One Percent’s sigh of relief has been heard around the world. The last European leftist party, or what passes as leftist, has been brought to heel, just like Britain’s Labour Party, the French Socialist Party, and all the rest.
Without an ideology to sustain it, the European left is dead, just as is the Democratic Party in the US. With the death of these political parties, the people no longer have any voice. A government in which the people have no voice is not a democracy. We can see this clearly in Greece. One week after the Greek people express themselves decisively in a referendum, their government ignores them and accommodates the One Percent.
The American Democratic Party died with jobs offshoring, which destroyed the party’s financial base in the manufacturing unions. ... Today with the Western peoples facing re-enserfment and with the world facing nuclear war as a result of the American neoconservatives’ claim to be History’s chosen people entitled to world hegemony, the American left is busy hating the Confederate battle flag.
Alexis Tsipras, the Greek prime minister, is preparing for a make-or-break parliamentary vote over the austerity measures Athens must take in exchange for a fresh bailout from its eurozone partners.
The deal – which includes austerity measures tougher than those overwhelmingly rejected by the Greek public in a referendum this month – has come under fresh fire after the International Monetary Fund published a highly critical paper calling for large-scale debt relief for the stricken country.
The IMF’s “debt sustainability analysis”, which was published by the Washington-based lender after parts of it were leaked to the media, suggested Greece may need a 30-year moratorium on repayments; or a substantial “haircut” – a partial write-off of its debts.
Michel Sapin, France’s finance minister, supported the analysis, saying: “The IMF is saying the same thing as we are.” But Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, has made clear that a debt haircut is unacceptable.
Eurozone ministers received the paper before the 17-hour summit last weekend; but the deal that emerged contained no upfront pledge of debt relief – only a promise to discuss it.
The International Monetary Fund's threat to pull out of bailouts for Greece unless European partners grant Athens massive debt relief poses a stark challenge to Germany, the biggest creditor, which insists on IMF involvement in any future rescue. ...
Its latest intervention, saying in essence that Greece will never be able to repay its debt mountain, is bound to sharpen debate when the German parliament meets on Friday to decide whether to authorize negotiations on a third bailout for Greece since 2010 that could cost an extra 85 billion euros.
It sharpens an unadmitted rift between Chancellor Angela Merkel, who wants to hold the euro zone together, and Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, who thinks Greece needs to leave the currency area, at least temporarily. ...
But the IMF's debt sustainability analysis may force her within months to choose between two far more unpalatable options: grant massive debt relief or see the IMF walk away.
The report's conclusion that Greece needs debt relief "on a scale that would need to go well beyond what has been under consideration to date" makes it harder for her to argue that Germany will ever get much of its 57 billion euro exposure back.
The torture scandal consuming the US’s premiere professional association of psychologists has cost three senior officials their jobs, part of a reckoning that reformers hope will lead to criminal prosecutions.
As the American Psychological Association copes with the damage reaped by an independent investigation that found it complicit in US torture, the group announced on Tuesday that its chief executive officer, its deputy CEO and its communications chief are no longer with the APA.
All three were implicated in the 542-page report issued this month by former federal prosecutor David Hoffman, who concluded that APA leaders “colluded” with the US department of defense and aided the CIA in loosening professional ethics and other guidelines to permit psychologist participation in torture. ...
“This is a major step toward reforming the APA and the profession,” said Stephen Soldz, a longtime APA critic on torture affiliated with Physicians for Human Rights. ...
Soldz is part of a group pushing for the APA to refer the Hoffman report to the FBI and justice department for potential criminal inquiries. Thus far, the APA has committed to providing the report to the Senate committees overseeing the military and CIA, and a call to end all psychologist participation in US interrogation and detention operations is slated for APA consideration at a major conference next month.
Thus far, there is no indication from the justice department that it intends to revisit the politically fraught question of legal accountability for torture, which ended in 2012 without prosecutions. The defense department, which still assigns psychologists to Guantanamo Bay, has yet to comment; and the White House has stayed out of the fray.
Testifying to the Senate Armed Services Committee today, incoming Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Paul Selva raised some eyebrows by openly declaring that ISIS poses no threat to the US homeland, insisting they are simply something to be dealt with abroad.
Selva appeared eager to echo comments from the nominee for chairman, Gen. Joe Dunford, in his own testimony, declaring Russia an “existential threat to the United States” and laying out a list of threats, in order, topped by Russia.
Fresh off the announcement of the P5+1 nuclear deal with Iran, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter issued a statement declaring the US to be “prepared and postured” to attack Iran on Israel’s behalf whenever it decides to do so. ...
Carter is planning to visit Israel next week, something the White House is touting as proof of US military cooperation with Israel. With Israel railing against the nuclear pact, the idle talk of a US attack was seen as an effort to placate Israeli leadership that the deal doesn’t necessarily foil their efforts to spark a war with Iran.
This is an interesting article worth reading in full:
U.S. media coverage of the Iran deal is, as usual, overwhelmingly focused on American and Israeli voices, with the hard-liner fanatics in each country issuing apocalyptic decrees, insisting that the deal is far too lenient on Iran and provides it with far too many benefits. Though largely excluded from U.S. media discussions, there is also substantial debate among Iranians about the virtues of the deal, with most viewing it positively due to the economic benefits it is expected to provide, but with many holding the view that it unfairly impinges on Iranian sovereignty in exchange for very few legitimate concessions. ...
How Iranian negotiators look in real life vs. how they look in The New Yorker pic.twitter.com/H2ynttnSTc
— Kia Makarechi (@Kia_Mak) April 11, 2015
Hooshang Amirahmadi, an Iranian-American professor of international relations at Rutgers University (who was one of the individuals targeted for NSA spying), has devoted most of his career to advocating for a normalization of U.S./Iran relations and the lifting of the sanctions regime. To the extent this deal accomplishes that, he said today in an interview with The Intercept, he supports it, though if it ends up confined only to nuclear issues, “then it will be very bad for both countries.” Amirahmadi added that the mood in Tehran is, in general, “very happy.” Ordinary Iranians, he said, “obviously like what has happened” primarily because “they expect money to arrive, which will help the economy and create jobs.”
But he noted several critical caveats. To begin with, expectations among ordinary Iranians are very high: they expect substantial economic improvement, and if that fails to materialize, Amirahmadi sees a likelihood of serious political instability, which “could go in a terrible direction for Iran.” He pointed out that for many years, the Iranian government has, with some good reason, blamed the U.S., Europe and their sanctions regime for the economic suffering of Iranians. “They no longer have that pretext, which means they have to deliver,” he said. He argued that the 1979 revolution was driven primarily by the Shah’s devotion to distributing wealth to a tiny elite at the expense of most Iranians, and that any repeat of that with this new flow of money would exacerbate wealth inequality even further and risk serious domestic unrest.
Heh, looks like Poroshenko's erstwhile partners, the Nazis from Right Sektor aren't taking well to being disarmed and muscled aside. What's a Chocolatier-in-Chief to do?
Double bombing follows weekend shootout between Right Sector fighters and police as president attempts to crack down on armed nationalists
Booby-trap explosions have injured two police officers in western Ukraine, further raising tensions in the region after a shootout with nationalists at the weekend left two men dead.
The continued violence in the area, which borders the European Union and is rife with smuggling, highlights Kiev’s struggles with both endemic corruption and armed nationalist groups who have helped it fight pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine. On Monday Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko, ordered the security services and police to disarm “illegal groups” and root out corruption and smuggling.
Two police officers in Lviv were taken to hospital on Tuesday after mysterious bombings that the interior ministry said were connected with “events in the Zakarpattia region”, referring to the shootout in the city of Mukacheve on Saturday that killed two men.
The gunfight began after police responded to the arrival of heavily armed Right Sector members at a sports complex controlled by an MP, Mikhail Lano, who openly opposes the group. Right Sector said its men had been trying to stop a smuggling operation, but others called it a fight over contraband.
Video footage showed Right Sector men shooting at a police car with Kalashnikov assault rifles and a heavy machine gun mounted on a pickup truck. The interior ministry said the far-right group had shot first.
Hat tip Azazello. Neoliberal darling "Yats" of the Kaganate of Nulands begs the west to strip his country's assets. Ukrainians are too corrupt to own them, you see. Pffffttt!!!
Ukraine’s Prime Minister is calling on Canadian investors to take part in a massive privatization of state assets organized by Kiev as a way of weakening the power of wealthy oligarchs blamed for spreading corruption in his country.
Arseniy Yatsenyuk cited, for instance, Ukrainian businessmen who have been “sitting like vampires” on the country’s publicly owned energy sector.
Mr. Yatsenyuk spoke to The Globe and Mail Tuesday after he joined Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Chelsea, Que., to announce that Ukraine and Canada had struck a free-trade deal.
Ukraine is preparing to spin off billions of dollars of government enterprises – including power generation and distribution assets and chemical plants – and the government wants Western investors to bring more orderly business methods to the Eastern European country.
“I don’t want Ukrainian tycoons to buy these state-owned enterprises,” Mr. Yatsenyuk said. “We would be happy to see Canadian folks buying Ukrainian assets and bringing into Ukraine good corporate governance, new investment and new jobs. ...
Mr. Yatsenyuk said Ukraine’s leadership feels privatization and deregulation are the answers to the corruption that has plagued the country for decades.
“Big government always leads to big bribes and big corruption, so the less regulations you have the less authority the government has and the less chances to take bribes,” Mr. Yatsenyuk said.
Also of interest: