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This evening's music features the outrageous r&b stylings of Screamin Jay Hawkins. Enjoy!
Screamin Jay Hawkins - I Put A Spell On You
“It would be well to realize that the talk of ‘humane methods of warfare’, of the ‘rules of civilized warfare’, and all such homage to the finer sentiments of the race are hypocritical and unreal, and only intended for the consumption of stay-at-homes. There are no humane methods of warfare, there is no such thing as civilized warfare; all warfare is inhuman, all warfare is barbaric; the first blast of the bugles of war ever sounds for the time being the funeral knell of human progress… What lover of humanity can view with anything but horror the prospect of this ruthless destruction of human life. Yet this is war: war for which all the jingoes are howling, war to which all the hopes of the world are being sacrificed, war to which a mad ruling class would plunge a mad world.”
-- James Connolly
News and Opinion
Gaza War Toll Continues to Soar: 607 Palestinians, 27 Israelis Killed
The death toll among Palestinians is up over 100 more today already, with the overall death toll now standing at 607, overwhelmingly civilians and including well over 100 children.
The question of when and how the war will actually end remains unclear, with no real exit strategy in place and Prime Minister Netanyahu making only vague references to a return of calm, even as he continues to make the situation less calm by adding more and more troops to the situation.
The war may also be expanding beyond the strip to some extent, with reports emerging of Israel’s military attacking an ammunition warehouse north of the Sudanese capital of Khartoum, apparently on the notion that the ammunition would eventually be funneled to Hamas.
What Does Hamas Really Want? Israeli Journalist Gideon Levy on Ending the Crippling Blockade of Gaza
Hamas Offers Reasonable Truce, Greeted by Deafening Silence
During its first 14 days, the Israeli military aggression on the Gaza Strip has left atoll of over 500 dead, the vast majority of whom civilians, and many more injured. Thousands of houses were targeted and destroyed together with other essential civilian infrastructures. Over one hundred thousand civilians have been displaced. By the time you will read this article the numbers will have grown higher and, despicably, no real truce seems in sight. When I say real, I mean practicable, agreeable to both sides and sustainable for some time.
The Israeli government, followed suit by Western media and governments, was quick to put the blame on Hamas for that. Hamas – they claim – had an opportunity to accept a truce brokered by Egypt – and refused it. Others have already explained at length why this proposal crafted without any consultations with Hamas, was hard to accept by Hamas.
Much less noticed by the Western media was that Hamas and Islamic Jihad had meanwhile proposed a 10 year truce on the basis of 10 – very reasonable – conditions. While Israel was too busy preparing for the ground invasion, why didn’t anyone in the diplomatic community spend a word about this proposal? The question is all the more poignant as this proposal was in essence in line with what many international experts as well as the United Nations have asked for years now, and included some aspects that Israel had already considered as feasible requests in the past. ...
This refusal to deal with the proposal is particularly problematic in the current context. Without any pressure by the international community, Israel, the party who has the upper hand in this conflict, will feel legitimized to keep refusing negotiations for a real truce with Hamas. Truces and negotiations are made with enemies not friends. International organizations and Western leaders, echoing Israel and the United States, maintain that Hamas is a terrorist organization and thus any direct negotiations with it are embargoed.
Israel hits hundreds of targets in Gaza as soldier is confirmed missing
Israel continued to pound Gaza overnight, including hitting 100 targets in Shujai'iya, the scene of the most intense fighting of the conflict, as the Israeli military confirmed that one of its soldiers was missing.
Hamas claimed on Sunday that it had captured an Israeli soldier during the intense battle in Shujai'iya.
The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) named the missing soldier as Sergeant Oron Shaul, 21, a combat soldier of the Golani brigade.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad reportedly agreed to a five-hour pause in the fighting. However, Haaretz quoted senior Israeli officials as saying a humanitarian ceasefire was "not on our agenda right now". ...
Twenty-seven soldiers have been killed in fighting, the IDF said in a statement. The Palestinian death toll in Gaza was climbing steadily towards 600, a third of whom are children, according to the UN children's agency Unicef. ...
Ten Israeli human rights organisations have written to the attorney general to raise concerns about grave violations of international law in the conflict. They questioned the legality of Sunday's operation in Shujai'iya, "in particular, the potential violation of the fundamental principles of the laws of war, specifically the principle of distinguishing between combatants and civilians".
Dead Gazans Missing From Senate Endorsement of Israeli Invasion
On Thursday, all 100 U.S. senators—including progressives Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Al Franken and Sherrod Brown—voted to pass an AIPAC-drafted resolution supporting the Netanyahu government’s military invasion of the Gaza Strip. ...
M.J. Rosenberg, a former senior foreign policy fellow at Media Matters Action Network, wrote of the agreement in a mass email: “There is not one word of compassion for Palestinians killed or injured, not a word calling for peace, not a word indicating that the Senate would perhaps prefer to see the invasion end. On the other hand, it calls for dissolution of the Palestinian unity government which has been Netanyahu’s goal since it was established.”
UN Presses Gaza Ceasefire, But No Sign Anyone Is Listening
[UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon] joins a lot of international officials calling for the ceasefire, but there is little sign that Israel is on board for the deal right now, nor has Egypt yet even agreed to talk to Hamas, though they did indicate some new “flexibility” on the matter. ...
The 2012 Israeli war on Gaza is likely informing Israeli officials on the ceasefire talks, as they were panned by hawks for ending that war too soon, and even if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu isn’t clear what he wants out of this war, it seems an unpopular peace deal is something he very much wants to avoid, no matter how long he has to continue a pointless war to avoid it.
'Silence is Consent': Thousands Worldwide March For Gaza
As the world watches in horror Israel's ongoing bombardment of the Gaza strip—which as of Monday has killed over 550 Palestinians trapped in the sealed-off territory—a unified call for an end to the assault has come in the form of worldwide demonstrations because, as one protester wrote, "silence is consent."
"People across the world are coming out in condemnation of Israel’s crimes and in condemnation of U.S. support for those crimes,” said Hatem Abudayyeh with the Chicago Coalition for Justice. Abudayyeh was one of tens of thousands of Chicago-area residents who took to the streets on Sunday in an outpouring of support and solidarity for those in Gaza.
Many of the global protests were held by citizens frustrated by what they see as their own government's complicity in Israel's military bombardment that has now last two weeks. Observers note that the massive crowds clearly contradict comments made by Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday that there is "very strong support within the international community for the activity that the IDF is doing."
Hundreds of peaceful protesters gathered outside the U.S. State Department headquarters in Washington D.C. on Sunday, demanding an end to the violence in Gaza and criticizing the U.S. government's continued and "unconditional" support of Israel while ignoring the plight and suffering of Palestinians living under occupation.
“The U.S. is the primary patron of Israel and provides unequivocal diplomatic and military support,” Noura Erakat, a Palestinian lawyer and professor at George Mason University, told reporters with the Washington Post. “It’s a complicit third party in what amounts to a massacre of the Palestinian population entrapped within the Gaza strip.”
Hysteria Over MH17 Plane Transitions to Post-Crash Accusations
Earlier this morning, NBC News presented the story “fury grows as pro-Russian rebels block access to MH17 site,” which pictures of scary-looking rebels with masks and guns.
But that doesn’t seem to be true, as BBC News was reporting at virtually the same time that “Dutch experts examine bodies,” a story focusing on how the rebels were actually letting the Dutch access the bodies. Another group of international investigators is making their way to the site as well.
The narrative of the rebels doing something untoward by positioning guards around the crash site paradoxically comes alongside complains that, before those guards showed up, locals were looting the bodies. Secretary of State John Kerry even mocked the “drunken” rebels in a condemnation on Sunday.
State Dept. Annoyed at Press Questioning MH17 Narrative
The Obama Administration continues to reiterate its narrative on what happened to Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 with more certainty (and often different details) every day, but there is a stark lack of evidence, beyond a handful of “authenticity could not be verified” images floating around on social media.
With Russia denying the allegations, the US must have some really damning evidence to be so certain, right? Just so, insists the State Department, just don’t ask them to show any of it. ...
When pressed further on Russia’s denial, Harf turned visibly hostile toward the press members at the briefing, angrily insisting that it was unfair for the media to even consider Russian statements that contradict the State Department, when everyone is supposed to know the US is more credible. When pressed further on that line of reasoning, Harf angrily barked “I’m not even dignifying that question with a response.”
Russia challenges accusations that Ukraine rebels shot down airliner
Russia's Defence Ministry on Monday challenged accusations pro-Russian rebels were to blame for shooting down a Malaysian airliner and asked the United States to produce satellite images to support its assertions. ...
The ministry also denied supplying the separatists in east Ukraine with SA-11 Buk anti-aircraft missile systems, known as "Gadfly" in NATO, or "any other weapons".
The hi-tech presentation appeared a direct response to video and audio recordings used by Ukrainian security officials to back up their accusations of Russian and rebel involvement - recordings the ministry's comments suggested were fabricated.
"Russian air space control systems detected a Ukrainian Air Force plane, presumably an SU-25 (fighter jet), scrambling in the direction of the Malaysian Boeing ... The distance of the SU-25 plane from the Boeing was from 3 to 5 kilometres (2 to 3 miles)," Air Force Lieutenant-General Igor Makushev said.
"Earlier, Ukrainian officials said that on the day of the Boeing 777 crash there were no military aircraft in the region - as you can see this does not appear to be true."
Another officer, Lieutenant-General Andrei Kartopolov, said that, "whether it is a coincidence or not", a U.S. satellite had been monitoring the area at the time.
"We also have some questions for our U.S. partners," he said. "According to the U.S. declarations, they have satellite images that confirm the missile was launched by the rebels. But nobody has seen these images." "If the American side has pictures from this satellite, then they should show the international community."
Kerry’s Latest Reckless Rush to Judgment
Secretary of State John Kerry boasts that as a former prosecutor he knows he has a strong case against the eastern Ukrainian rebels and their backers in Russia in pinning last Thursday’s shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 on them, even without the benefit of a formal investigation.
During his five rounds of appearances on Sunday talk shows, Kerry did what a judge might condemn as “prejudicing the case” or “poisoning the jury pool.” In effect, Kerry made a fair “trial” almost impossible, what a bar association might cite in beginning debarment proceedings against prosecutor Kerry.
If you were, say, a U.S. intelligence analyst sifting through the evidence and finding that some leads went off in a different direction, toward the Ukrainian army, for instance, you might hold back on your conclusions knowing that crossing senior officials who had already pronounced the verdict could be devastating to your career. It would make a lot more sense to just deep-six any contrary evidence.
Indeed, one of the lessons from the disastrous Iraq War was the danger of enforced “group think” inside Official Washington. Once senior officials have made clear how they want an assessment to come out, mid-level officials scramble to make the bosses happy.
If Kerry had cared about finding the truth about this tragedy that claimed the lives of 298 people, he would have simply noted that the investigation was just beginning and that it would be wrong to speculate based on the few scraps of information available. Instead he couldn’t resist establishing a narrative that has – in the eyes of the world – made Russian President Vladimir Putin the guilty party.
Kerry’s TV performance recalled his rush to judgment in blaming the Syrian government for a still-mysterious sarin gas attack last Aug. 21. In both instances, the Secretary of State stitched together circumstantial evidence around the repeated refrain, “we know.”
However, in the Syrian case, much of what Kerry claimed to “know” later turned out to be false.
U.S. Senate panel to debate wave of corporate tax-avoidance deals
As more U.S. corporations do deals to cut taxes by shifting their tax domiciles overseas, the Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing on Tuesday focused on these transactions known as inversions.
Nine such deals have been agreed to this year by companies ranging from banana distributor Chiquita Brands International, Inc to drugmaker AbbVie Inc and more are being considered. The transactions are setting a record pace since the first inversion was done 32 years ago.
Witnesses at the Senate Finance Committee's hearing will include government officials and academics. Chairman Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, is expected to call for stand-alone legislation to respond to the flurry of inversions that has Washington on edge. ...
An inversion involves a U.S. corporation buying or setting up a smaller company abroad, then shifting its tax home base to that company's country, which typically has lower tax rates than in the United States.
Such deals seldom mean a U.S. corporation physically leaves home. Usually an inversion means that a company will open a small office abroad, perhaps in England or Ireland, as a new address for tax purposes, leaving major operations intact.
But the move can put foreign earnings out of the reach of the Internal Revenue Service and make other tax savings possible that can boost a multinational company's bottom line.
Appeals court undercuts key tax plank in health care law
A top appeals court on Tuesday undercut a key plank of the Affordable Care Act, ruling that tax credits that help consumers buy coverage can’t be provided in the 36 states that use the federal health insurance marketplace.
In a highly anticipated 2-1 ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit concluded the Internal Revenue Service stretched the law’s ambiguous language too far in allowing subsidies through the HealthCare.gov website. ...
The case, Halbig v. Sebelius, argued that the health law doesn’t allow the federal government to provide subsidies _ which help people purchase health coverage _ in states that use the federal marketplace.
That’s because a section of the health care law says the tax credits can only be applied to coverage purchased “through an exchange established by the state.” ...
Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, a liberal patient advocacy group that filed an amicus brief, has called the case “probably the most significant existential threat to the Affordable Care Act.”
Right-wing obstruction could have been fought: An ineffective and gutless presidency’s legacy is failure
[A]llow me to kick off the speculation about the Obama legacy. How will we assess it? How will the Barack Obama Presidential Library, a much-anticipated museum of the future, cast the great events of our time?
In approaching this subject, let us first address the historical situation of the Obama administration. The task of museums, like that of history generally, is to document periods of great change. The task facing the makers of the Obama museum, however, will be pretty much exactly the opposite: how to document a time when America should have changed but didn’t. Its project will be to explain an age when every aspect of societal breakdown was out in the open and the old platitudes could no longer paper it over—when the meritocracy was clearly corrupt, when the financial system had devolved into organized thievery, when everyone knew that the politicians were bought and the worst criminals went unprosecuted and the middle class was in a state of collapse and the newspaper pundits were like street performers miming “seriousness” for an audience that had lost its taste for mime and seriousness both. It was a time when every thinking person could see that the reigning ideology had failed, that an epoch had ended, that the shitty consensus ideas of the 1980s had finally caved in—and when an unlikely champion arose from the mean streets of Chicago to keep the whole thing propped up nevertheless.
The Obama team, as the president once announced to a delegation of investment bankers, was “the only thing between you and the pitchforks,” and in retrospect these words seem not only to have been a correct assessment of the situation at the moment but a credo for his entire term in office. For my money, they should be carved in stone over the entrance to his monument: Barack Obama as the one-man rescue squad for an economic order that had aroused the fury of the world. Better: Obama as the awesomely talented doctor who kept the corpse of a dead philosophy lumbering along despite it all.
David Dayen: A Modest Proposal for Eric Holder: Back Off the Banks
Dear Attorney General Holder:
I don’t have much pull with you and the Justice Department, but allow me to offer a modest proposal. You know all this work you’re doing on creating large settlements with major banks in the United States over conduct from the financial crisis? Just stop. Stop doing it.
This suggestion will come as a surprise to those who have followed my work over the past several years. I have described, in painstaking detail, the crimes committed by banks that led to the financial crisis, spurring one of the largest destructions of wealth in American history. I have shown that the mortgage market of 2002 to 2006 was constructed on a mountain of fraud, and that we must do everything we can to both punish the wrongdoers and ensure that such a disaster never happens again.
But with these settlements you’ve reached, the Justice Department has massively distorted and perverted the notion of accountability until it no longer has meaning. Your recent actions, seen by many observers as reflective of a bold and aggressive new stance, amount to little more than a public relations vehicle. The actual victims of the fraudulent conduct being settled will see no relief. Homeowners will get hurt rather than helped. The perpetrators will not be forced to expose their crimes to the world. Just about the only thing these actions accomplish is a reduction in the national debt, which you can more responsibly achieve by taxing bank executives rather than subjecting their shareholders to penalties.
Worst of all, these PR moves masquerading as crackdowns do violence to the very concept of justice. In this case, the illusion of accountability is far worse than no accountability at all.
Argentine default in balance as government refuses to capitulate
Argentine President Cristina Fernandez's unflinching poker face in the battle against "holdout" investors suing the country is increasing the odds that her government will default for a second time in 12 years at the end of this month.
She has refused to budge from her stance that Argentina cannot pay out in full to the holdout hedge funds, which snapped up bonds on the cheap after its $100 billion default in 2002. That is despite indirect talks aimed at cutting a deal.
Fernandez last week told leaders of the BRICS emerging economies that it was "impossible" to pay holdouts the full face value of the debt they hold. The funds, she said, could enter a bond swap matching the terms of restructuring deals in 2005 and 2010, which saw creditors accept large writedowns.
It is an old offer the holdouts have previously scoffed at and they have no reason to take it now given that U.S. courts have ruled in their favor and put Argentina on the verge of default. ...
A default risks more economic pain for Latin America's No. 3 economy which is in recession and grappling with one of the world's fastest rates of inflation. ...
The tough-talking Fernandez has pledged to keep paying the country's restructured debt but vows never to pay at face value the "vultures" that bought the bonds at a steep discount and are suing for full payment.
Chinese city sealed off after bubonic plague death
A Chinese city has been sealed off and 151 people have been placed in quarantine since last week after a man died of bubonic plague, state media said.
The 30,000 residents of Yumen, in the north-western province of Gansu, are not being allowed to leave, and police at roadblocks on the perimeter of the city are telling motorists to find alternative routes, China Central Television (CCTV) said.
A 38-year-old man died last Wednesday, the report said, after he had been in contact with a dead marmot, a small furry animal related to the squirrel. No further plague cases have been reported.
Detroit retirees vote for major pension cuts – by a landslide
A year after filing for bankruptcy, Detroit is building momentum to get out, especially after workers and retirees voted in favor of major pension changes just a few weeks before a judge holds a crucial trial that could end the largest public filing in U.S. history.
Pension cuts were approved in a landslide, according to results filed shortly before midnight Monday. The tally from 60 days of voting gives the city a boost as Judge Steven Rhodes determines whether Detroit's overall strategy to eliminate or reduce $18 billion in long-term debt is fair and feasible to all creditors.
The trial starts August 14.
"I want to thank city retirees and active employees who voted for casting aside the rhetoric and making an informed, positive decision about their future and the future of the city," said Kevyn Orr, the state-appointed emergency manager who has been handling Detroit's finances since March 2013.
General retirees would get a 4.5 percent pension cut and lose annual inflation adjustments. They accepted the changes with 73 percent of ballots in favor. Retired police officers and firefighters would lose only a portion of their annual cost-of-living raise. Eighty-two percent in that class voted "yes."
Voting ended July 11, and the counting was done by a private company.
The Evening Greens
Detroit residents fight back over water shutoff: 'It's a life-or-death situation'
Anyone who owes $150, or is two months overdue, on their water bills, faces shut-offs by the private contractor, Homrich, a demolition company that is being paid up to $6m in public funds. The city says that about 80,000 residential customers are now past due on their bills, owing a total of $43m – more than $535 on average. Last month, the city council approved an 8.7% increase on water prices, which will push household bills to almost twice the US average. ...
The situation is so dire that last month the United Nations weighed in. Responding to a complaint filed by the pressure groups, an expert panel led by Catarina de Albuquerque, the UN's special rapporteur on safe drinking water and sanitation, said cutting off the supplies of those who cannot afford to pay “constitutes a violation of the human right to water and other international human rights.” ...
[A]nger boiled over into downtown Detroit ... when a rally of a few thousand protesters marched on a dispatch facility for the shut-off trucks, blocking the entrance. Nine were said to have been arrested. “The banks got paid off, we got shut off!” some chanted. They demanded an immediate and long-term moratorium on shut-offs and a drastic overhaul of the water pricing system to make it less expensive for poorer users – for which they have detailed plans.
The crowds were addressed by the actor Mark Ruffalo, who campaigns against hydrofracking and for safe water. “These shut-offs are an absolute humiliation to the American sensibility of decency,” he told the Guardian.
“Listen, man,” he added, leaning in and growing visibly angry. “These people are Americans. We will not blink an eye to send trillions of dollars overseas to wage warfare in an illegal war. But we can't come up with the money that it takes to keep a community in water, when it's in the throes of an economic catastrophe that was caused by Wall Street?”
About half of $1.16bn in bonds issued by the city for the water and sewer department in 2011-12 – $547m – was used to pay for termination fees to major Wall Street banks after the contractual cancellation.
Detroit bankruptcy judge pleased with water shut-off suspension
Detroiters behind on their water bills won’t have to worry about crews shutting off water service -- for the next two weeks.
The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department announced Monday it’s suspending water shut-offs for 15 days. The department is facing criticism worldwide for mass shutoffs that have turned off water to 17,000 customers since March, but department spokesman Bill Johnson said the move is not a concession.
“This is a pause. This is not a moratorium,” Johnson said. “We are pausing to give an opportunity to customers who have trouble paying their bills to come in and make arrangements with us. We want to make sure we haven’t missed any truly needy people.” ...
Roughly half of Detroit’s water customers are delinquent and could face shutoffs. ...
The department on Monday morning informed U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes of the suspension. Last week, the judge overseeing Detroit’s municipal bankruptcy said the cutoffs give the city a bad reputation and are a distraction.
World breaks temperature record for June after hottest May
The globe is on a hot streak, setting a heat record in June after it also broke the record for May.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced on Monday that last month's average global temperature was 16.2C (61.2F), which is 0.7C higher than the 20th-century average. It beat 2010's record by one-twentieth of a degree. ...
Global temperature records go back to 1880 and June was the 352nd hotter-than-average month in a row.
Germany, UK and Poland top ‘dirty 30’ list of EU coal-fired power stations
The UK and Germany lead a list of the EU’s most polluting coal-fired power stations compiled by environmental campaigners, who say coal emissions are undermining efforts to combat climate change. Both countries have nine of the so-called “dirty 30” and the campaigners say coal burning is increasing due to the relatively low price of the fuel compared to gas.
“Germany and the UK are the self-declared climate champions of the EU,” says the new report. “However, Germany uses more coal to generate electricity than any other EU country, while the UK comes third in absolute coal consumption for power after Poland.” The report argues current EU policy on climate, energy and air pollution in the power sector is not strong enough to achieve the switch from coal to renewable energy and energy efficiency.
Poland’s Belchatow plant came top of the list, with annual CO2 emissions of 37m tonnes in 2013. The UK’s largest coal plant, Drax, was sixth, with four German plants occupying second to fifth place.
Blog Posts of Interest
Here are diaries and selected blog posts of interest on DailyKos and other blogs.What's Happenin' Is On Hiatus
A Little Night Music
Screamin' Jay Hawkins - Frenzy
Screamin' Jay Hawkins - Thing Called Woman
Screamin' Jay Hawkins -Whistling Past The Graveyard
Screamin' Jay Hawkins - Constipation Blues
Screamin' Jay Hawkins - Little Demon
Screamin Jay Hawkins - Ice Cream Man
Screamin' Jay Hawkins - Alligator Wine
Screamin´ Jay Hawkins - Voodoo
Screamin' Jay Hawkins - Yellow Coat
Screamin´ Jay Hawkins - I Hear Voices
Screamin' Jay Hawkins - The Whammy
Screamin` Jay Hawkins - You Put The Spell On Me
Screamin` Jay Hawkins - Heart Attack & Vine
Screamin Jay Hawkins - I Am The Cool
Screamin' Jay Hawkins - Shut Your Mouth When You Sneeze
Screamin'Jay Hawkins - Old Man River
It's National Pie Day!
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