The Evening Blues - 9-11-19
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features r&b singer Little Willie John. Enjoy!
Little Willie John - You Hurt Me
"Currently there is no law to prosecute those who are destroying the planet. Instead, climate campaigners do not have the support of the judiciary in preventing the corporate ecocide that is daily occurring under our very noses. Ecocide is permitted (as genocide was in Nazi Germany) by the government and, by dint of the global reach of modern-day transnational business, every government in the world. Corporate ecocide has now reached a point where we stand on the brink of collapse of our ecosystems, triggering the death of many millions in the face of human-aggravated cataclysmic tragedies."
-- Polly Higgins
News and Opinion
The president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, appears today as the main culprit because, ever since his presidential campaign, he has been delivering hate speeches against indigenous peoples and their territories, calling them a "hindrance to development”. He has also attacked NGO-supported conservationist policies and current legislation limiting the expansion of agriculture and stockbreeding, as well as mining and oil drilling. ... We should be acutely aware of the fact that the deforestation and the burning of the Amazon and other high biodiversity ecosystems which are critical for the eco-systemic balance and the reproduction of life on the planet is not something that has materialized with Bolsonaro, nor will it be solved simply by removing Bolsonaro.
In the case of Brazil, in the last months of 2014, during Dilma Rousseff's mandate (a leftist government), deforestation in the Amazon increased by 467% compared to 2013. According to INPE data, between 2012 and 2014 approximately 8.000 square kilometres were deforested. And today, while the fires rage in the Brazilian Amazon, more than 500.000 hectares of the Bolivian Chiquitanía are also burning as a result of the institutionalized pressure of the agricultural industry (coca cultivation) and industrial stockbreeding, which are both benefiting from the expansion of intensive and large-scale crops promoted by Evo Morales's “progressive” government. Something similar is happening in the Ecuadorian Amazon. In 2013, under the government of the likewise “progressive” Rafael Correa, oil drilling in the Yasuni National Park - one of the highest biodiversity regions in the world and home of the Voluntary Isolation Villages - was given the green light. In addition to this, Correa promoted the expansion of oil blocks and large-scale mining in the southern parts of the Ecuadorian Amazon.
Currently, in Ecuador, new large-scale mining operations have started in the Amazon region. They are being promoted by the current Ecuadorian government, which is not in any way considered to be ultra-rightist. This is posing a very serious threat to well-preserved Amazonian territories, which are also indigenous territories and protected areas untouched so far by the oil industry. Reliable studies show that the rate of deforestation in the Ecuadorian Amazon is reaching approximately 0.7% annually, while in Brazil it is only around 0.2%. So, the idea that only Bolsonaro is destroying the Amazon is obviously a hasty and simplistic one.
All this being so, we cannot but think that Bolsonaro and Morales, Macri and Maduro, Uribe and Correa, Lula and Bachelet, among many others, are after the same, even though they may justify it in different ways and through different discourses. Ultimately, though, they have all in practice contributed and are contributing to the extinction of life on this planet and have been complicit in covering up a systematic Ecocide.
President Donald Trump parted ways with his hawkish national security adviser John Bolton on Tuesday, ending a 17-month tenure that included additional troops deployed to the Middle East, saw the U.S. repeatedly threaten “military action” against the Venezuelan government, and brought the country within minutes of bombing Iran. In May 2018, less than two months after Trump announced Bolton’s appointment on Twitter, Bolton achieved part of his dream when the Trump administration pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal and set U.S.-Iran relations on a path toward escalation. According to a New Yorker profile, Trump’s decision to abandon the agreement meant so much to Bolton that he hung a framed copy of the executive order in his office.
The strategy that defined Bolton’s tenure was to torpedo the slow work of diplomacy and position the U.S. as aggressively as possible, no matter the results. U.S. adversaries would capitulate to the demands. With Iran — a country Bolton has long recommended bombing — experts say his efforts have backfired and pushed the country to renuclearize. ...
Bolton’s policy record is equally unimpressive on Venezuela, where the Trump administration seeks the ouster of President Nicolas Maduro’s regime and has thrown its support behind self-declared “interim president” Juan Guaido. Bolton said the U.S. military needed to be “ready to go” in Venezuela. But since a planned May 1 uprising dubbed “Operation Freedom” by Guaido fizzled into a series of street protests, Maduro’s position appears as strong as ever. ...
Trump and Bolton reportedly parted over policy disagreements on Iran, Afghanistan, and North Korea. Trump tweeted that he “disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions.” It’s difficult to predict where U.S. foreign policy will go next under Trump. But it’s possible that Bolton’s most lasting impact will be the fallout from his open contempt for international institutions. ...
Bolton has been vocal about his disdain for the U.N. and international law in general. In a 2018 speech at the Federalist Society, Bolton told the audience that “the largely unspoken, but always central, aim” of the International Criminal Court was “to constrain the United States,” and promised to let it “die on its own.” ... During his time with the Trump administration, the U.S. took the extraordinary step of denying visas to ICC investigators and announced that it was withdrawing from the U.N. Human Rights Council. ... When the ICC announced in April that it had rejected its lead prosecutor’s request to investigate American war crimes in Afghanistan, Bolton was jubilant.
Four words: MSNBC contributor John Bolton
— Noah Shachtman (@NoahShachtman) September 10, 2019
John Bolton is out as President Trump’s National Security Advisor. Trump says he fired Bolton, Bolton says he offered to resign first. Both suggested that the departure was due to disagreements over foreign policy, which independent reports seem to confirm. ...
Trump says he’s going to name a new National Security Advisor next week, and the good news is that it is literally impossible for whoever he ends up picking to be worse than John Bolton. They might not be any better, but there’s no way they can be more of a bloodthirsty psychopathic monster than their predecessor, because Bolton is without exaggeration as bad as it gets in terms of sheer drive to start World War Three. Right now Bolton’s acting replacement is a neocon ghoul named Charles Kupperman, who analyst Jeffrey Kaye describes as “a Reaganite neanderthal Islamophobe, a creature of the defense industry, and a very close associate of Bolton himself,” and there are rumors that another vile neoconservative Bolton ally, former CIA analyst Fred Fleitz, is among the top possible picks. So we can’t be confident that Bolton’s replacement will be any better, but we can absolutely be confident that they won’t be any worse.
It is an indisputably positive thing that the former PNAC director who is so psychopathic that he once threatened to murder the children of an OPCW official for inconveniencing his attempts to engineer the Iraq invasion is no longer in the most powerful foreign policy advisory position on planet Earth. That is clearly and obviously an intrinsically beneficial thing for all of humanity. So of course the leaders of the Democratic Party are objecting to it.
“John Bolton’s sudden departure is a symbol of the disarray that has unnerved our allies since day one of the Trump Administration,” tweeted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “Steady leadership & strategic foreign policy is key to ensuring America’s national security.” “Today’s action by @RealDonaldTrump is just the latest example of his government-by-chaos approach and his rudderless national security policy,” tweeted Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. “When Ambassador Bolton’s extreme views aren’t enough for you, the U.S. is headed for even more chaotic times.” ...
These “I’m no Bolton fan, but-” comments are plastered all over Centrist Twitter today, showing just how mainstream the mass media propaganda machine has made Bolton’s demented bloodlust. They are being enthusiastically waved on by neoconservative propagandists like Max Boot, who just published an article for The Washington Post titled “John Bolton was bad. His departure might be worse.”, as well as imperialist comedy propagandists like The Daily Show.
I’m not going to get excited and buy into the popular idea at this time that Bolton’s termination marks a turning point for the already blood-soaked Trump administration. His absence isn’t going to bring the tens of thousands of Venezuelans who have been killed by Trump administration sanctions back to life, nor is it likely to have any impact on this president’s consistently collapsing pledges to withdraw the US military from Syria and Afghanistan. But it can’t possibly make things any worse, and it could, maybe, perhaps make things a bit better. The political/media class which freaks out every time this president pays lip service to the possibility of scaling down foreign interventionism and embraces any time he advances it would of course oppose the abrupt termination of the most virulent warmonger in Washington, DC; the forever war has been so normalized that any move to rein it in is always portrayed by the narrative makers as abnormal and freakish. Their response to Bolton’s removal tells you everything you need to know about what these so-called “centrists” really are: violent extremists whose ideology threatens our entire world.
While progressives celebrated the departure of John Bolton as President Donald Trump's national security advisor, that joy is likely to be shortlived due to the character of Bolton's acting replacement, Charles M. Kupperman. Kupperman has been a member of the boards of a number of defense contractors, including Lockheed Martin and Boeing. He served in the Ronald Reagan administration and boasts a decades-long relationship with Bolton.
Bolton referred to the two men's longstanding ties in a statement in January when Kupperman was first appointed his deputy.
"Charlie Kupperman has been an advisor to me for more than thirty years, including during my tenure as National Security Advisor to President Trump," Bolton said at the time. "Charlie's extensive expertise in defense, arms control and aerospace will help further President Trump's national security agenda."
Critics say that Kupperman is a right-wing extremist, pointing to his connections to infamous Islamophobe Frank Gaffney through the latter's Center for Security Policy (CSP), where Kupperman served on the board from 2001-2010. CSP is a major booster of a conspiracy theory alleging the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated the U.S. government.
Benjamin Netanyahu has announced he will annex large swathes of occupied Palestinian territories if he is re-elected, a decision that for decades has been considered an endgame scenario for Palestinians’ aspirations of statehood. The Israeli prime minister said on Tuesday that he planned to make the move, which would permanently seize up to one-third of the West Bank, after the election next week and hinted it may have been approved by Washington.
“I am waiting to do this in maximum coordination with [Donald] Trump,” he said in a speech broadcast live on Israeli television. Netanyahu said the US president was likely to release his long-touted Middle East peace plan soon. US officials have suggested the plan will not include a Palestinian state, something Netanyahu has promised to never let happen.
A White House official said there had been no change in its policy and would not comment further.
Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving leader, is battling for his political survival and the announcement was interpreted as a rallying cry to his hardline rightwing base.
Here's the map of the territory of the Jordan Valley, in the West Bank, that Netanyahu vowed to annex if he wins next week's election (blue: will be annexed to Israel; orange: will remain under Palestinian control) pic.twitter.com/xMcsPeDLpt
— Raphael Ahren (@RaphaelAhren) September 10, 2019
A French-led initiative to restore Europe’s relations with Moscow has led to an offer from Donald Trump to join talks to resolve Russia’s incursion into Ukraine. Trump has said he is willing to join the so-called Normandy format talks between France, Germany, Ukraine and Russia that may take place at the end of this month, saying he would do so if his presence would help progress.
“I believe the fact that the exchange of prisoners between Russia and Ukraine took place … is a very big step, and a very positive step. If they need me to join, I would join [the talks],” Trump said.
Ukraine and Russia exchanged 70 prisoners on Sunday, an event greeted with joy in Kiev and seen as the most fruitful episode in Russian-Ukrainian relations since the election of the new Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
Trump’s remarks follow a rare meeting this week in Moscow between Russian officials and the French foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, and the defence minister, Florence Parly. The talks have been called a new opening to Moscow by the French. Le Drian said he would like the next ministerial meeting in the Normandy format to take place this month in Paris, the first such meeting since 2016. Ukraine supports US inclusion in the Normandy format as a way of breaking the five-year deadlock over autonomy and elections in eastern Ukraine.
Two Democrats on the House Oversight Committee on Tuesday threatened to subpoena the Pentagon for documents related to taxpayer money spent at President Donald Trump's Scotland golf resort after the New York Times reported that Trump cut a deal with a local airport to help funnel flight crews to his hotel.
"We're challenging Trump's laughably fraudulent claim that he had 'nothing to do with' the Prestwick Airport near his failing Scottish resort," tweeted Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), who along with Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper requesting the documents.
The letter comes hours after the Times reported that, in 2014, Trump played a direct role in establishing a partnership with Glasgow Prestwick Airport "to get Trump Turnberry added to a list of hotels that the airport would routinely send aircrews to, even though the Turnberry resort is 20 miles from the airport, farther away than many other hotels, and has higher advertised prices."
Details of the arrangement, and Trump's direct involvement, emerged days after Politico reported that the U.S. military has spent $11 million on fuel at the Prestwick Airport since 2017. Prestwick also "provided cut-rate rooms and free rounds of golf at Turnberry for U.S. military members," according to Politico.
"The incidents," Politico noted, "raise the possibility that the military has helped keep Trump's Turnberry resort afloat—the property lost $4.5 million in 2017, but revenue went up $3 million in 2018." Cummings and Raskin said in their letter (pdf) that using taxpayer money to prop up Trump's Turnberry resort would violate the Domestic Emoluments Clause of the Constitution.
Angela Merkel has highlighted the economic danger posed by Britain if it is allowed to become a Singapore-on-Thames as Boris Johnson’s Brexit envoy outlined a plan to ditch the UK’s commitments to stay aligned to the EU’s social and environmental standards.
In talks with European commission officials, the prime minister’s negotiator, David Frost, insisted that the UK is seeking a “clean break” from an array of the bloc’s regulations, a policy choice from the new British government that has caused alarm in other EU capitals.
As the UK’s new vision was laid out in Brussels, the German chancellor, speaking in the Bundestag, said she was determined to strike a deal with Johnson but that a no-deal Brexit could not be ruled out.
Merkel also warned of the economic threat that the UK could pose. Johnson had privately told EU diplomats during his time as foreign secretary of his desire to build a “buccaneering” Britain, which has been seen as an indication of his plan to recast the UK as a low-tax and low-regulation state.
Merkel’s comments indicate the difficulty that the British government will face in striking what it has described as a “best in class” free trade deal if it fails to match EU standards on goods, workers’ rights, tax and the environment, among others. EU sources have said that the UK will need to sign up to more onerous, level playing-field obligations than Canada due to the UK’s proximity and the size of its economy.
The rate of Americans without health insurance coverage spiked in 2018, according to government data — reversing some of the gains achieved by Obamacare.
Last year, 27.5 million Americans went without insurance, or about 8.5 percent of the population overall, according to a U.S. Census Bureau survey. That’s compared to the 7.9 percent of Americans that went without insurance in 2017.
The gain of approximately 2 million uninsured residents marks the first significant drop in coverage since the Affordable Care Act was widely implemented in 2014.
The National Rifle Association sued San Francisco on Monday over the city’s recent declaration that the gun-rights lobby is a “domestic terrorist organization”.
The lawsuit, filed in US district court for the northern district of California, accuses city officials of violating the gun lobby’s free speech rights for political reasons and says the city is seeking to blacklist anyone associated with the NRA. It asks the court to step in “to instruct elected officials that freedom of speech means you cannot silence or punish those with whom you disagree”.
Last week, the San Francisco board of supervisors passed a resolution calling the NRA a “domestic terrorist organization”, contending the group spreads propaganda that seeks to deceive the public about the dangers of gun violence.
“They continue to stand in the way of gun violence reform and people are dying because of it,” said Catherine Stefani, the San Francisco supervisor who drafted the resolution not long after a mass shooting at a garlic festival in nearby Gilroy, California, left three people dead.
Civil rights advocates said Tuesday that The U.S. Supreme Court must restore a key provision of the Voting Rights Act after a sweeping new report showed how the court's decision led to the closure of nearly 1,700 polling places across the American South.
The Leadership Conference Education Fund's study, "Democracy Diverted," revealed Tuesday that nearly 1,200 of the polling places were closed between the 2014 and 2018 midterm elections, "underscoring the scale of this assault on U.S. democracy."
The group is the research and education arm of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Under Law, the nation's largest coalition of civil rights groups.
"We must recognize that closures are taking place at alarming speed amid broader efforts to prevent people of color from voting," said Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference. "And meanwhile, states are under no obligation to evaluate the discriminatory impacts of such closures. This is exactly why we need to restore the Voting Rights Act and all of its protections."
In its 2013 ruling on Shelby County vs. Holder, the Supreme Court invalidated Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. The provision mandated that voting precincts and counties with a history of racial discrimination must seek "preclearance" or approval of any changes in voting rules that could affect minority voters' access to the polls.
WATCH: @vanitaguptaCR just testified before the @HouseJudiciary Committee to discuss our sister org’s new #DemocracyDiverted report (https://t.co/uCeE4QMpJN) and the need for Congress to fully restore the Voting Rights Act.
— The Leadership Conference (@civilrightsorg) September 10, 2019
Ten candidates. Three hours. One stage. A Texas showdown. This Thursday, Democratic White House 2020 hopefuls meet for round three of the party’s presidential debates as the contest for the party’s nomination enters a new, more urgent stage.
The Houston hothouse will be the first time the party’s top contenders appear together on a single night.
Among the most highly anticipated face-to-faces of the evening will be between former vice-president Joe Biden and the Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren, who have yet to share a stage in this race.
Warren is jostling with the Vermont senator Bernie Sanders to be the leading progressive alternative to Biden, who has maintained a comfortable lead over his rivals despite a summer of gaffes and miscues.
Beyond the top three candidates, the California senator Kamala Harris and South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg are looking to regain the momentum that propelled their candidacies earlier in the primary. Rounding out the stage arethe Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar, the New Jersey senator Cory Booker, former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke, former housing secretary Julián Castro and the only non-politician, tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang, need a breakout moment to jumpstart their lagging campaigns.
Mo Elleithee, a former spokesman of the Democratic National Committee who is now the executive director of Georgetown University’s Institute of Politics and Public Service, said to expect a “messy debate”.
The operator of the ruined Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant will have to dump huge quantities of contaminated water from the site directly into the Pacific Ocean, Japan’s environment minister has said – a move that would enrage local fishermen. More than 1 million tonnes of contaminated water has accumulated at the plant since it was struck by a tsunami in March 2011, triggering a triple meltdown that forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of residents.
Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) has struggled to deal with the buildup of groundwater, which becomes contaminated when it mixes with water used to prevent the three damaged reactor cores from melting. Tepco has attempted to remove most radionuclides from the excess water, but the technology does not exist to rid the water of tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen. Coastal nuclear plants commonly dump water that contains tritium into the ocean. It occurs in minute amounts in nature.
Tepco admitted last year that the water in its tanks still contained contaminants beside tritium.
Currently, more than 1m tonnes of contaminated water is held in almost 1,000 tanks at the Fukushima Daiichi site, but the utility has warned that it will run out of tank space by the summer of 2022. “The only option will be to drain it into the sea and dilute it,” Yoshiaki Harada told a news briefing in Tokyo on Tuesday.
No decision on how to dispose of the water will be made until the government has received a report from a panel of experts. Other options include vaporising the liquid or storing it on land for an extended period.
Urgently Investing $1.8 Trillion to #AdaptOurWorld and Avert 'Climate Apartheid' Could Yield $7.1 Trillion in Benefits, Analysis Shows
Warning that the world is at risk of experiencing a "climate apartheid," a report released Tuesday by the Global Commission on Adaptation found that spending $1.8 trillion globally over a decade on adaptation could yield $7.1 trillion in net benefits.
The commission's report, Adapt Now: A Global Call for Leadership on Climate Resilience (pdf), outlines the human, environmental, and economic imperatives of investing in adaptation to the human-caused climate crisis. The report highlights the "triple dividend" of urgent, coordinated action: it would avoid future losses, generate positive economic gains, and deliver additional social and environmental benefits.
The proposed $1.7 trillion investment in climate adaptation and resulting $7.1 trillion in benefits are based on significant spending in five key areas—early warning systems, climate-resilient infrastructure, improved dryland agriculture, mangrove protection, and making water resources more resilient—between 2020 and 2030. The systemic transformations called for in the report particularly aim to address global inequalities that are increasingly exacerbated by the climate emergency.
The commission that produced the new analysis is chaired by former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates, and World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva. The trio wrote in the report's foreward that, in terms of adapation, "so far the response has been gravely insufficient. Meanwhile, the climate crisis is here, now: wildfires ravage fragile habitats, city taps run dry, droughts scorch the land, and floods destroy people's homes and livelihoods."
As sugar was to the 18th and 19th centuries, so chicken is to the 20th and 21st centuries. It has been turned into one of the defining commodities of our era. A luxury until it underwent its industrial revolution from the 1960s on, it is now ubiquitous. Today, questions about how poultry is produced, by and for whom, and to whose profit, take you to the heart of the global trade system. So there is no escape from the debate about chlorinated US chicken. ...
Serious minds are engaged on the matter for good reason. For the US, one of the chief prizes of Brexit is the chance to open up a major European economy to its agribusiness, after years of failed trade talks in which the EU has refused to accept its food and farming standards. For British Brexiters, the reward will be cheaper goods for consumers on low incomes. Both parties see the EU regulations on these standards, such as its ban on imports of poultry washed with chlorine, as unnecessary and at root protectionist. Chlorinated chicken has become totemic because it encapsulates a much wider argument over what sort of agriculture the world needs and how far we should regulate it.
We chlorinate our water, so what’s the problem with using chlorine washes to make chicken safe? Why all the fuss, asked Zippy Duvall, the head of the US farmers’ lobby group, on the BBC’s Today programme last month. The fact that we disinfect water with chlorine will not do as an argument here, despite Duvall’s hopes. We disinfect our lavatories with it, too. The issue of safety depends on concentration. ... The WHO recommends limits on levels because disinfecting with chlorine leaves behind harmful residues of chlorinated compounds, some of which are known from animal tests to be cancer-causing. Residues in water supplies have been studied, and the benefits far outweigh the risks. However, there has been very little proper study of the residues left by the use of chlorine in food processing.
The US argues that it has the comparative advantage of more land for grain to turn into feed, so that it can produce chicken that is cheaper than ours and there are no health reasons to object to it. The British poultry industry fears being caught between a rock and a hard place: if it wants to continue to export to the EU and to meet consumers’ expectations of welfare standards and reduced antibiotic use, it needs to stick to the more expensive rules the union imposes. But if it does, it will be undercut by cheaper US imports. The Brexiters see themselves in the radical mould of the 19th-century free trade campaigners. Their heroes are the Liberal statesmen Richard Cobden and John Bright, who fought for the repeal of the corn laws, which imposed tariffs and restrictions on imported grains. These tariffs kept grain and bread prices high, to the benefit of British landowners but to the detriment of the rapidly growing population of urban workers in the new cities of the Industrial Revolution. When the corn laws were abolished, the cost of staple food tumbled; the price was a split in the Tory party.
Free us from onerous EU regulation, today’s Brexiters believe, whether it be on genetically modified or gene-edited crops, on pesticide residues and agrochemical use, or on antibiotics and other veterinary drugs, and we will all benefit from cheaper food. But these are answers to old questions from a previous era. In developed countries such as the UK, the cost of our food as a percentage of income is lower than it has ever been. Chicken is already as cheap as chips. The crises we face of climate breakdown, loss of natural species, and epidemics of diet-related disease globally will not be addressed with more of the same intensive production.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Little Willie John - I'm Shakin'
Little Willie John - I Like To See My Baby
Little Willie John - I'll Carry Your Love Wherever I Go
Little Willie John - Don't Play With Love
Little Willie John - I'll Do It For You
Little Willie John - Take My Love (I Want To Give It All To You)
Little Willie John - Fever
Little Willie John - All Around The World
Little Willie John - Do You Love Me