Welcome! "The Evening Blues" is a casual community diary (published Monday - Friday, 8:00 PM Eastern) where we hang out, share and talk about news, music, photography and other things of interest to the community.
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This evening's music features delta bluesman Willie Brown. Enjoy!
Willie Brown - Make Me a Pallet on the Floor
“You can bomb the world to pieces, but you can't bomb it into peace.”
-- Michael Franti
News and Opinion
Obama: US Strikes on Iraq Will be 'Long Term Project'
The United States' renewed airstrikes in Iraq will likely be a "long term project," President Barack Obama told reporters on Saturday.
In remarks made following his weekly address before leaving for a two-week vacation on Martha's Vineyard, the President said, "I don’t think we’re going to solve this problem in weeks," adding, "This is going to be a long-term project."
The comments came one day after the Pentagon confirmed that the U.S. warplanes had dropped bombs on Iraq, targeting fighters affiliated with the Islamic State (IS) rebel group. According to reports, the U.S. military launched three rounds of airstrikes throughout the day on Friday. ...
The strikes mark the first official U.S. military operation in Iraq since Obama pulled ground troops out in 2011. Observers were quick to condemn the attacks saying that foreign military involvement is precisely what fueled the current sectarian violence in the country and will only escalate the growing crisis.
Why Airstrikes in Iraq Are a Mistake
As America goes back to war in Iraq with airstrikes, here’s what to know and do instead:
– This is a slippery slope if those words have any meaning left. Airstrikes are in part to protect American advisors sent earlier to Erbil to support Kurds there because Iraqi central government won’t. The U.S. is assuming the role of the de facto Iraqi Air Force. What happens next week, next crisis, next “genocide?” Tell me how that ends.
– Understand how deep the U.S. is already in. It is highly likely that U.S. Special Forces are active on the ground, conducting reconnaissance missions and laser-designating targets for circling U.S. aircraft. If U.S. planes are overhead, U.S. search and rescue assets are not far away, perhaps in desert forward operating positions. This is how bigger wars begin. ...
– The only realistic hope to derail ISIS is to alienate them from Iraq Sunnis, who provide the on-the-ground support any insurgency must have to succeed. Mao called a sympathetic population “the water the fish swims in.” Separating the people from the insurgents is CounterInsurgency 101. Instead, via airstrikes, the U.S. has gone all-in on side of Iraqi Shias and Kurds. You cannot bomb away a political movement. You cannot kill an idea that motivates millions of people with a Hellfire missile.
– Sunnis are not confined by the borders of Iraq and this is not a chessboard. U.S. actions toward Sunnis in Iraq (or Syria, or wherever) resonate throughout the Sunni world. There is no better recruitment tool for Sunni extremists than showing their fight is actually against the Americans.
[There are more of Peter Van Buren's ideas at the link. -js]
Iraq: US plans rescue mission for besieged Yazidi refugees
More than 20,000 of the 40,000 trapped by jihadists on a mountaintop have escaped but US considering full-scale rescue
The United States is exploring options to evacuate thousands of Iraqi civilians trapped on a mountain in northern Iraq by Islamic militants after four nights of humanitarian relief airdrops, officials in Washington said.
At least half of the 40,000 people besieged by jihadists on Mount Sinjar had escaped by Sunday night, aided by Kurdish rebels who crossed from Syria to rescue them.
But proposals for a mission to save the remaining thousands of Yazidi people underscore the limits of the airdrops, ordered last week by Barack Obama.
"We're reviewing options for removing the remaining civilians off the mountain," deputy US national security adviser Ben Rhodes told Reuters late on Sunday.
"Kurdish forces are helping, and we're talking to the (United Nations) and other international partners about how to bring them to a safe space." ...
Fleeing Yazidis said their escape had been aided by the YPG, a Syrian Kurdish rebel faction, and by US air strikes on Islamic State (Isis) positions which had forced the jihadists to withdraw for around six hours on Saturday.
U.S. “Humanitarian” Bombing of Iraq: A Redundant Presidential Ritual
For those who ask “what should be done?,” has the hideous aftermath of the NATO intervention in Libya – hailed as a grand success for “humanitarian interventions” – not taught the crucial lessons that (a) bombing for ostensibly “humanitarian” ends virtually never fulfills the claimed goals but rather almost always makes the situation worse; (b) the U.S. military is not designed, and is not deployed, for “humanitarian” purposes?; and (c) the U.S. military is not always capable of “doing something” positive about every humanitarian crisis even if that were really the goal of U.S. officials?
The suffering in Iraq is real, as is the brutality of ISIS, and the desire to fix it is understandable. There may be some ideal world in which a superpower is both able and eager to bomb for humanitarian purposes. But that is not this world. Just note how completely the welfare of Libya was ignored by most intervention advocates the minute the fun, glorious, exciting part – “We came, we saw, he died,” chuckled Hillary Clinton – was over.
It is simply mystifying how anyone can look at U.S. actions in the Middle East and still believe that the goal of its military deployments is humanitarianism. The U.S. government does not oppose tyranny and violent oppression in the Middle East. To the contrary, it is and long has been American policy to do everything possible to subjugate the populations of that region with brutal force – as conclusively demonstrated by stalwart U.S. support for the region’s worst oppressors. Or, as Hillary Clinton so memorably put it in 2009: “I really consider President and Mrs. Mubarak to be friends of my family.”
How can anyone believe that a government whose overt, explicit policy is “regime continuity” for Saudi Arabia, and who continues to lend all sorts of support to the military dictators of Egypt, is simultaneously driven by humanitarian missions in the region?
Oil and the Iraqi Civil War: How Security Dynamics May Affect Oil ProductionNaturally, the Kaganate of Nulands should pick the head of the Iraqi government, rather than allowing the Iraqis themselves to sort things out... and the United States would never meddle in the appointment of governing figures supplanting normal government processes. Cough, cough, Yats, cough.
It should be obvious that a key consideration for the United States arising from the revived civil war in Iraq is its potential to affect Iraqi oil production. Iraq is now the second largest producer in OPEC. And although Americans are ecstatic about fracking, energy experts have been warning that future oil prices are more dependent on increasing Iraqi production than North American shale. In October 2012, the International Energy Agency stated that, “The increase in Iraq’s oil production in the Central Scenario of more than 5 [million barrels per day] over the period to 2035 makes Iraq by far the largest contributor to global supply growth. Over the current decade, Iraq accounts for around 45% of the anticipated growth in global output.”
Consequently, any significant disruption of current Iraqi oil production or long-term diminution in its expected growth could have major repercussions for the U.S. economy. As former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan pointed out back in 2002, “. . . all economic downturns in the United States since 1973, when oil became a prominent cost factor in business, have been preceded by sharp increases in the price of oil.” Greenspan’s observation came before the 2007-2009 “Great Recession,” which was also preceded by a tripling of oil prices.
Kerry warns Iraq's Maliki not to cause troubleForced out? Maybe.
US Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday warned Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki not to cause trouble as he threw his weight behind newly-elected President Fuad Masum to help fight Islamic militants. ...
Maliki, who has been under huge pressure to give up his bid for a third term in office, announced his plans to file a complaint to the federal court in a surprise address at 2100 GMT Sunday.
He alleged that Masum, a Kurdish politician, had twice violated the constitution, including by failing to task a prime minister-designate with forming a new government.
Meanwhile, security sources Monday said Iraqi police, army and counter-terrorism forces were deployed in unusually large numbers across strategic locations in Baghdad overnight.
Maliki 'forced out' as Iraq's prime minister
Iraq's embattled prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, appeared to have lost his job on Monday, after the country's president appointed a rival Shia candidate to form a new government.
In a major defeat for Maliki, Iraq's largest coalition of Shia political parties nominated Haider al-Abadi, a member of Maliki's Shia Islamist Dawa party, to take over as prime minister.
Iraq's Kurdish president, Fouad Massoum, formally announced Abadi's appointment soon afterwards. The move is likely to deepen Iraq's political turmoil and comes just hours after Maliki deployed his elite security troops on the streets of Baghdad. ...
But a defiant Maliki has insisted that he has the right to carry on as prime minister following elections in April because he commands the largest bloc in the Iraqi parliament.
Speaking on Sunday, the US secretary of state, John Kerry, warned Maliki to abide by the constitutional process and not to use his powers as head of the armed forces to cling to office.
Kerry said that any move to circumvent the political process would lead to a cut-off of international aid. He said: "There should be no use of force, no introduction of troops or militias into this moment of democray for Iraq."
Hillary Slams Obama for Not Arming Syrian Rebels Even More
In her newly published interview with hawkish Jeffrey Goldberg, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was sharply critical of President Obama’s “failure” in Syria, saying that if he had only sent dramatically more weapons to the so-called “moderates” in the Syrian rebellion, ISIS would never have grown so large. ...
President Obama more or less directly answered the question in his own newly published interview ... in which he insisted that the notion of creating a “moderate” Syrian army by throwing weapons at “what was essentially an opposition made up of former doctors, farmers, pharmacists and so forth” was a “fantasy.”
Though Obama’s comments are an answer for why the US didn’t more dramatically escalate its arming of rebels, it leaves open the question of why Obama has continued to throw hundreds of millions of dollars in weapons at the Syrian rebels when, by his own admission, he knew it was never going to work.
Barack Obama rebukes Hillary's Syrian moderate rebels ‘fantasy’Boo!!! Where's Tom Ridge when you need him to go to "Code Orange?"
In Syria, Obama said the idea that arming rebels would have made a difference has “always been a fantasy.”
The president’s interview with op-ed columnist Thomas Friedman, published online Friday, offered an inherent rebuke of Hillary Clinton, whose memoir revealed that the former secretary of state wanted to arm moderate Syrian rebels in the nascent stages of the war. In a newly published interview with The Atlantic given before Obama’s interview, Hillary Clinton said the failure to build a strong rebel force against the Assad regime “left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled.” ...
“This idea that we could provide some light arms or even more sophisticated arms to what was essentially an opposition made up of former doctors, farmers, pharmacists and so forth, and that they were going to be able to battle not only a well-armed state but also a well-armed state backed by Russia, backed by Iran, a battle-hardened Hezbollah, that was never in the cards,” the president said.
A warning on ‘torture report’ release
An internal U.S. intelligence memo warns that the release of a Senate report on CIA interrogation techniques could inflame anti-U.S. passions in the Mideast, resulting in potentially violent street protests and threats to U.S. embassies and personnel, U.S. officials tell Yahoo News.
The eight-page memo by the National Intelligence Council is being used by some in the intelligence community to argue for holding the line against Senate Intelligence Committee chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s demands to release a more complete version of the report’s 480-page summary. The memo went to the White House late last month but, administration officials said, played no role in the redactions to the report that Feinstein is objecting to.
“The Mideast is a tinderbox right now and this could be the spark that ignites quite a fire,” said one U.S. intelligence official who was briefed on the findings.
Israel and Hamas agree to Egyptian proposal for 72-hour Gaza ceasefire
Ceasefire to due to begin at midnight welcomed by people in Gaza, but experts fear long war ahead with sporadic truces
Israel and Hamas agreed to an Egyptian proposal for a new 72-hour ceasefire on Sunday night in a last-ditch attempt to avert a lengthy war in Gaza.
Though most people in the coastal enclave welcomed the prospect of relief from the conflict, few expressed much optimism that any new pause – the eighth attempt at ending the fighting – would last.
The ceasefire was due to come into effect from midnight local time. It would allow talks on a more comprehensive agreement.
Israeli officials said a delegation would travel to Cairo, where the indirect talks have been held, if the ceasefire held.
One of Hamas's negotiators in Cairo said negotiations would resume at 10am on Monday.
"The Egyptian mediators have informed us that the Israelis will take the process seriously," he said.
Hamas had refused to extend the last truce, saying Israel had failed to respond to any of the demands Palestinian negotiators made in indirect talks in Cairo, and there has been continuous rocket and mortar fire into Israel from Gaza since. Two Israelis have been injured.
At least 15 people in Gaza have been killed by Israeli air strikes since the last ceasefire ended on Friday.
Hundreds of Thousands March in 'Day of Rage' Against Israel
As airstrikes continued to rain down on Gaza, Palestinian groups call for international arms embargo against Israel
As Israeli airstrikes continued to rain down on the the Gaza Strip on Saturday, hundreds of thousands of people worldwide are taking to the streets in an international Day of Rage to condemn the attacks and demand that their governments do their part and boycott Israel.
In an open letter announcing the demonstration, a coalition of Palestinian groups organized by the Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement, write: "As we face the full might of Israel’s military arsenal, funded and supplied by the United States and European Union, we call on civil society and people of conscience throughout the world to pressure governments to sanction Israel and implement a comprehensive arms embargo immediately."
Taking up their call, an estimated 170,000 people took to the streets of Cape Town, South Africa in one of the biggest demonstrations the city has seen in 20 years. According to reports, Archbishop Desmond Tutu joined the marchers who carried signs that read: "Africans understand colonialism," and “Zuma suffer of (sic) historical amnesia."
In London, over 100,000 people rallied in Hyde Park in a massive outpouring of solidarity and in Paris activists marched through the city carrying a large banner which read: "Boycott Israel Apartheid."
NYT Discovers Ukraine’s Neo-Nazis at War
The New York Times reported almost in passing on Sunday that the Ukrainian government’s offensive against ethnic Russian rebels in the east has unleashed far-right paramilitary militias that have even raised a neo-Nazi banner over the conquered town of Marinka, just west of the rebel stronghold of Donetsk. ...
On Sunday, a Times article by Andrew E. Kramer mentioned the emerging neo-Nazi paramilitary role in the final three paragraphs:“The fighting for Donetsk has taken on a lethal pattern: The regular army bombards separatist positions from afar, followed by chaotic, violent assaults by some of the half-dozen or so paramilitary groups surrounding Donetsk who are willing to plunge into urban combat.In other words, the neo-Nazi militias that surged to the front of anti-Yanukovych protests last February have now been organized as shock troops dispatched to kill ethnic Russians in the east – and they are operating so openly that they hoist a Swastika-like neo-Nazi flag over one conquered village with a population of about 10,000. ...
“Officials in Kiev say the militias and the army coordinate their actions, but the militias, which count about 7,000 fighters, are angry and, at times, uncontrollable. One known as Azov, which took over the village of Marinka, flies a neo-Nazi symbol resembling a Swastika as its flag.
“In pressing their advance, the fighters took their orders from a local army commander, rather than from Kiev. In the video of the attack, no restraint was evident. Gesturing toward a suspected pro-Russian position, one soldier screamed, ‘The bastards are right there!’ Then he opened fire.”
Last April, as the Kiev regime launched its “anti-terrorist operation” against the ethnic Russians in the east, [founder of the Ukrainian Social-National Party, the coup regime’s national security chief Andriy] Parubiy announced that his right-wing paramilitary forces, incorporated as National Guard units, would lead the way. ... (Parubiy resigned from his post this past week for unexplained reasons.)
Now, however, as the Ukrainian military tightens its noose around the remaining rebel strongholds, battering them with artillery fire and aerial bombardments, thousands of neo-Nazi militia members are again pressing to the front as fiercely motivated fighters determined to kill as many ethnic Russians as they can. It is a remarkable story but one that the mainstream U.S. news media would prefer not to notice.
Ukrainian forces prepare to recapture DonetskNATO blowhards wind up the warning sirens again. It's funny how when the US bombs and invades people, it is for "humanitarian" reasons, but the same high government officials that, um, humanely bomb the crap out of brown people scoff at the idea that Russia could have good intentions. A bit of projection no doubt.
Military spokesman says Donetsk now cut off from other main rebel-held city, Luhansk
Ukrainian government forces are preparing for the final stage of recapturing the city of Donetsk from pro-Russia separatist rebels after making significant gains that have divided rebel forces, a military spokesman said on Monday.
The spokesman, Andriy Lysenko, said Kiev's forces had cut off Donetsk from the other main rebel-held city, Luhansk, on the border with Russia.
"The forces of the anti-terrorist operation are preparing for the final stage of liberating Donetsk. Our forces have completely cut Donetsk off from Luhansk. We are working for liberating both towns but it's better to liberate Donetsk first – it is more important," Lysenko said.
NATO sees 'high probability' of Russian invasion as Ukraine troops close on Donetsk
NATO said on Monday there was a "high probability" that Russia could launch an invasion of Ukraine, where the government said its troops have been closing in on Donetsk, the main city held by pro-Russian rebels. ...
An industrial metropolis with a pre-war population of nearly 1 million, the main rebel-held redoubt rocked to the crash of shells and gunfire over the weekend and heavy guns boomed through the night into Monday from the outskirts of the city. ...
But NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said there was still no sign Russia had withdrawn the troops it had massed at the frontier, which prompted warnings from the West last week that President Vladimir Putin could be planning to invade.
Asked in a Reuters interview how high he rated the chances of Russian military intervention, Rasmussen said: "There is a high probability."
"We see the Russians developing the narrative and the pretext for such an operation under the guise of a humanitarian operation and we see a military buildup that could be used to conduct such illegal military operations in Ukraine," he said.
Ukraine Spurns Rebel Call for Humanitarian Ceasefire, Demands Surrender
The Ukrainian military has angrily spurned a call from eastern Ukrainian rebel leaders for a humanitarian ceasefire, aiming to allow civilians trapped in the sieged city of Donetsk to escape.
The proposal was pushed overnight by Alexander Zakharchenko, the premier of the secessionist Donetsk People’s Republic, saying it was necessary to avert a growing humanitarian crisis in the city, the largest rebel-held city.
Ukrainian military spokesman Andriy Lysenko insisted no offers for a ceasefire would even be considered without a unilateral, unconditional surrender by the rebels.
Judge Threatens Argentina Following Lawsuit Filed Against US
Argentina filed a suit against the United States in the Hague's International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Thursday in an attempt to force an international resolution to the dispute that caused the country's default last month.
In response to the lawsuit, Judge Thomas Griesa—who made the initial ruling that forced Argentina's default —called a hearing at 3 p.m. on Friday, in which he threatened a contempt-of-court order if Argentina doesn't stop issuing what he says are false statements from Argentine officials that the country payed its debt. ...
Argentina maintains that it hasn't actually defaulted, since it made a $539 million interest payment on one of its bonds that is due in 2033. But the default was technically triggered after that payment was frozen in a Bank of New York Mellon account by Griesa on the grounds that the country must also pay the hold-out investors in full if it wishes to make payments to the investors that agreed to a restructuring of Argentina's debt payments in 2005.
The suit filed on Thursday alleges that the country's sovereignty was violated by U.S. court decisions that the country must pay in full its debts to the so-called 'vulture funds' that bought the country's debt for pennies on the dollar back in 2001. ...
The ICJ has now sent the suit to the United States, which must agree to accept the UN body's jurisdiction in order for the case to go forward. While the U.S. has acknowledged the ICJ's jurisdiction 22 times in the past, it's not clear whether they will in this instance.
Obama vow to speed deportation of children at odds with public opinion
President Barack Obama's pledge to fast-track the deportation of migrant children from Central America is out of step with the opinion of a majority of Americans, who say the children should be allowed to stay in the United States, at least for a while.
The results of a Reuters/Ipsos poll highlight the complexity of the child migrant issue for Obama, who has sought to emphasize his compassion while also insisting that his administration plans to send home most of the children, many of whom have fled violence in their homelands.
The poll, conducted on July 31-Aug. 5, found that 51 percent of Americans believe the unaccompanied children being detained at the U.S.-Mexico border should be allowed to remain in the country for some length of time.
That included 38 percent who thought the unaccompanied youngsters should be sheltered and cared for until it was deemed safe for them to return home. Thirteen percent said the children should be allowed to stay in the United States, while 32 percent said the children should be immediately deported.
The Evening Greens
Exxon Begins Drilling Russia's Pristine Arctic Waters
Despite increasing western sanctions against Russia over the crisis in Ukraine, Exxon Mobil has begun drilling their first well in Russia's pristine Arctic territory on Saturday. ...
The West Alpha drilling rig, brought in by the oil giant from Norway, is the first to tap the earth beneath the Kara Sea. Environmental campaigners have long-warned that an oil spill in the Arctic would be devastating to the unique and unspoiled Arctic ecosystem. The territory slated for drilling, the Akademichesky field in the East- Prinovozemelsky -1 license block, overlaps the Russian Arctic National Park ad threatens the wildlife at the nearby Novaya Zemlya Russian National Park, according to Greenpeace.
Further, the Russian territory does not require the presence of a relief rig, which would be critical to intercepting a spill before it spreads to Arctic ice.
Keystone XL could mean more carbon emissions than estimated, study says
Building the Keystone XL pipeline could lead to as much as four times more greenhouse gas emissions than the State Department has estimated for the controversial project, according to a new study published in Nature Climate Change that relies on different calculations about oil consumption.
Emissions of heat-trapping carbon dioxide became central to the Obama administration’s review of a federal permit for Keystone XL, after the president announced in June 2013 that he would let the project proceed only if “it does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.”
The study’s authors based their calculation on the premise that increased supplies of petroleum through the pipeline would push down global oil prices marginally, and that would lead to an increase in consumption and thus pollution. ...
In its environmental impact statement issued in February, the State Department estimated that the Keystone XL pipeline, which would ultimately carry 830,000 barrels of oil daily, could increase emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases by 1.3 million to 27.4 million metric tons annually.
The new study estimates that emissions could be 100 million to 110 million metric tons every year, “or four times the upper State Department estimate,” the authors wrote.
New Zealand decision created world’s first climate refugees
A Tuvalu family has been granted residency in New Zealand after claiming to be climate change refugees, saying they would be affected by climate change if they were forced to return home.
The unusual situation will not open the floodgates to such applications, but offers a peep into what the future may hold, experts say.
“The ruling isn’t precedent setting,” said David Estrin, a senior environmental lawyer with Gowlings, a large Canadian law firm.
But it is the tip of the iceberg.
“Many people from small countries that are going to be potentially flooded will claim refugee status and their claim will be based on the fact that they have nowhere to live and nothing to do with the fact whether or not they have relatives in that country.”
The Tuvalu family, believed to be the first successful applicant for residency on humanitarian grounds where climate change is one factor, waited for two years for this decision.
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
Willie Brown - Mississippi Blues
Stefan Grossman - Mississippi Blues
Willie Brown - Future Blues
Willie Brown - Ragged And Dirty
Willie Brown - M & O Blues
Rory Block - M & O Blues
Charlie Patton + Willie Brown - Dry Well Blues
Kid Bailey (Willie Brown?) - Mississippi Bottom Blues
Kid Bailey (Willie Brown?) - Rowdy Blues
Be Good Tanyas - Rowdy Blues
Doc Watson - Make Me a Pallet On Your Floor
Gillian Welch - Make Me A Pallet On Your Floor
It's National Pie Day!
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