The Evening Blues - 7-10-20
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features Chicago blues singer and guitarist Hound Dog Taylor. Enjoy!
Hound Dog Taylor - Shake Your Moneymaker
"The only way to meet pressing social needs and be fiscally responsible is to cut the runaway Pentagon budget, which now almost equals the military spending of all other countries in the world combined."
-- Dennis Kucinich
News and Opinion
It's business as usual for the imperial armaments industry, while they wait for the useless eaters to die.
How the House Armed Services Committee, in the Middle of a Pandemic, Approved a Huge Military Budget and More War in Afghanistan
While the country is subsumed by both public health and an unemployment crisis, and is separately focused on a sustained protest movement against police abuses, a massive $740.5 billion military spending package was approved last week by the Democratic-controlled House Armed Services Committee. The GOP-controlled Senate Armed Services Committee will almost certainly send the package with little to no changes to the White House for signing.
As we reported last week, pro-war and militaristic Democrats on the Committee joined with GOP Congresswoman Liz Cheney and the pro-war faction she leads to form majorities which approved one hawkish amendment after the next. Among those amendments was one co-sponsored by Cheney with Democratic Rep. Jason Crow of Colorado that impeded attempts by the Trump administration to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, and another amendment led by Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) and Cheney which blocked the White House’s plan to remove 10,000 troop stationed in Germany.
While those two amendments were designed to block the Trump administration’s efforts to bring troops home, this same bipartisan pro-war faction defeated two other amendments that would have imposed limits on the Trump administration’s aggression and militarism: one sponsored by Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard to require the Trump administration to provide a national security rationale before withdrawing from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) signed with the Soviet Union in 1987, and another to impose limits on the ability of the U.S. to arm and otherwise assist Saudi Arabia to bomb Yemen.
Perhaps most remarkable is the amount of the military budget itself. It is three times more than the planet’s second-highest military spender, China; it is ten times more than the third-highest spender, Saudi Arabia; it is 15 times more than the military budget of the country most frequently invoked by Committee members as a threat to justify militarism: Russia; and it is more than the next 15 countries combined spend on their military. They authorized this kind of a budget in the midst of a global pandemic as tens of millions of newly unemployed Americans struggle even to pay their rent.
How does this happen? How do Democrats succeed in presenting an image of themselves based on devotion to progressive causes and the welfare of the ordinary citizen while working with Liz Cheney to ensure that vast resources are funneled to the weapons manufacturers, defense sector and lobbyists who fund their campaigns? Why would a country with no military threats from any sovereign nation to its borders spend almost a trillion dollars a year for buying weapons while its citizens linger without health care, access to quality schools, or jobs? Who are the people in Congress doing this, and why?
America’s top general has said military intelligence agencies are working to corroborate reports of Russia paying Taliban fighters bounties for killing US soldiers and vowed a response if they were confirmed. Gen Mark Milley, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, told the House armed services committee, that the Pentagon was committed to discovering whether Russian military intelligence had paid for attacks on American soldiers in Afghanistan.
“We’re going to get to the bottom of this bounty thing. If in fact there are bounties, I’m an outraged general, just like every one of us in uniform is,” Milley said. “That’s a real big deal. We don’t have that level of fidelity yet, but we’re still looking.”
He suggested that the US may not be responding to the reports as robustly as necessary in non-military ways. “The issue is at the strategic level,” he said. “Is there diplomatic, and informational and economic … sanctions, are there démarches, are there phone calls, is there pressure, those sorts of things. And I can tell you that some of that is done. Are we doing as much as we could or should? Perhaps not, not only to the Russians but to others.”
The defence secretary, Mark Esper, who was testifying alongside Milley, said that the original reports did not come from any of the nine of the total of 17 US intelligence agencies under Pentagon’s authority, implying the information leaked to the press in recent weeks came from the CIA or another civilian agency.
The free market wants you dead.
The U.S. is experiencing a coronavirus déjà vu. Just like in early March, cases are spiking across the country, hospitals are overwhelmed, testing is lagging, and the White House doesn’t have a concrete plan to address the situation. And just like in the early days of the outbreak, the country is once again running out of gowns, masks, gloves and other personal protective equipment (PPE).
On Wednesday, speaking at the White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing, Vice President Mike Pence claimed that PPE supplies remain “very strong,” but in the same breath he said the Trump administration is now encouraging healthcare workers “to use some of the best practices” to “preserve and reuse” face masks and other protective equipment.
While the White House claims there are no “severe shortages” of PPE, healthcare professionals including doctors and nurses in hospitals and clinics across the country are telling a very different story. In Texas, which is experiencing one of the biggest spikes in COVID-19 cases among the states, doctors at a hospital in Houston are being told to reuse single-use N95 respirator masks for up to 15 days before throwing them out.
The National Nurses United, the country’s largest organization of registered nurses, found 85% of members were forced to reuse disposable N95 masks while treating coronavirus patients. ...
But it’s not just hospitals that are suffering from significant shortages of supplies. The American Medical Association told the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that centers providing primary care, chemotherapy, and minor surgeries have struggled to reopen because they are unable to secure PPE.
The free market wants your money to replace the profits it lost while you were struggling to stay alive. You useless eaters should have been working and consuming, damnit!
600+ Groups Warn 'Unprecedented' Wave of Corporate Lawsuits Could Imperil Global Fight Against Covid-19
More than 600 civil society groups from 90 countries have published an open letter urging world governments to take action to prevent an "unprecedented" and potentially disastrous wave of lawsuits by foreign corporations seeking taxpayer compensation for profits lost to policies enacted in the fight against Covid-19.
As Common Dreams reported in May, prominent corporate law firms in the U.S., Spain, and other major nations have in recent weeks openly discussed potential opportunities for companies to sue governments over Covid-19 measures using the secretive investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) system established in thousands of trade agreements across the globe.
In their letter (pdf) made public Tuesday, 630 advocacy organizations applauded "some" political leaders for acting "to save lives, stem the pandemic, protect jobs, counter economic disaster, and ensure people's basic needs are met."
"But the expansive reach of the ISDS system could open such critical government actions to claims for millions in compensation from foreign investors," the groups wrote. "The numbers of such claims could also be unprecedented and impose massive financial burdens on governments struggling under the burden of devastating health and economic crises."
The ISDS system allows foreign investors to take legal action against governments in shadowy tribunals that critics have dubbed "corporate courts."
In one notable example, TransCanada—the former owner of the Keystone XL pipeline—filed a $15 billion ISDS suit against the U.S. in 2016 alleging that former President Barack Obama violated the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) by rejecting the fossil fuel infrastructure project. The company suspended its lawsuit in 2017 after President Donald Trump reversed Obama's decision with an executive order.
The coalition of civil society organizations behind Tuesday's letter includes prominent international organizations like Doctors Without Borders, Greenpeace, and Oxfam. The groups warned that as governments continue to take sweeping action to address the coronavirus pandemic and widespread economic pain, they could be slammed with a flood of lawsuits by foreign investors seeking massive payments in the middle of a recession.
The groups said countries could be targeted for policies that restrict business activity to slow the spread of Covid-19, bring down pharmaceutical costs, ensure access to clean water, and suspend rent and mortgage payments.
"At a time when government resources are stretched to the limit in responding to the crisis," the coalition wrote, "public money should not be diverted from saving lives, jobs, and livelihoods into paying ISDS awards or legal fees to fight a claim."
Millions of people are being pushed towards hunger by the coronavirus pandemic, which could end up killing more people through lack of food than from the illness itself, Oxfam has warned. Closed borders, curfews and travel restrictions have disrupted food supplies and incomes in already fragile countries, forcing an extra million people closer to famine in Afghanistan and heightening the humanitarian disaster in Yemen, where two-thirds already live in hunger.
One million more people are facing famine in Afghanistan as a result of coronavirus, according to a report from the charity. The number of people on the brink of famine in the country rose sharply from 2.5 million last September to 3.5 million in May, the result of border closures and the economic downturn in neighbouring Iran that caused a drop in home remittances by overseas workers.
Oxfam said that up to 12,000 people could die from hunger every day globally – 2,000 more than died from Covid-19 each day in April. Along with Afghanistan, the charity identified Yemen, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Venezuela, the west African Sahel, Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, and Haiti as extreme hunger hotspots.
“The knock-on impacts of Covid-19 are far more widespread than the virus itself, pushing millions of the world’s poorest people deeper into hunger and poverty. It is vital governments contain the spread of this deadly disease, but they must also prevent it killing as many – if not more – people from hunger,” said the chief executive of Oxfam GB, Danny Sriskandarajah. ...
Oxfam said countries with existing problems, such as South Sudan and Syria, were already seeing hunger worsen but there was also concern for middle-income countries such as India and Brazil.
As the US set a world record for most Covid-19 cases in one day, with 60,000 reported on Wednesday, Dr Anthony Fauci, a senior member of the White House coronavirus taskforce, said states needed to pause reopening efforts. “Rather than think in terms of reverting back down to a complete shutdown, I would think we need to get the states pausing in their opening process,” the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases told the Hill.
Fauci’s comment represented a retreat from a remark made on a Wall Street Journal podcast on Wednesday, when he said “any state that is having a serious problem, that state should seriously look at shutting down” again.
Fauci has been attacked by Donald Trump and reportedly barred from major media appearances but he has found other ways to reach the American public, speaking to webcasts and in testimony before a Senate committee.
In remarks published by the Journal on Thursday and likely to anger the president, Fauci said the government needed to do better in making the case for personal responsibility and added: “We need to get people like myself, like my colleagues, out there more.”
Two more leading Latin American politicians – from Bolivia and Venezuela – have said they have tested positive for Covid-19 in the same week Brazil’s president announced he had contracted coronavirus.
Diosdado Cabello, Venezuela’s number two official and the leader of the Socialist party, announced his diagnosis on social media on Thursday evening and said he was in self-isolation. “We will prevail!!” tweeted the influential Chavista.
Jeanine Añez, Bolivia’s rightwing interim president, said she had received the same diagnosis. “I’ve tested positive for Covid-19,” tweeted Añez, who controversially took power after Evo Morales was forced into exile last year.
“I’m OK, I will work in isolation. Together, we will get through this.”
The announcements came two days after Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, said he had tested positive and underline the extent to which Covid-19 is sweeping across the region. Latin America is home to 8% of the global population but nearly half of recent Covid-19 deaths. The region has suffered more than 120,000 of the world’s 550,000 coronavirus fatalities since its first official case was recorded in Brazil in March.
Holding US Government to Its Treaty Promises 'For Once,' Supreme Court Rules Nearly Half of Oklahoma Still Native American Territory
In the 5-4 decision, Justice Neil Gorsuch sided with the liberal-leaning justices and wrote the majority opinion, ruling that since Congress has not stated otherwise, the land promised to tribes in the 19th century remains a reservation for the purposes of federal criminal law.
"On the far end of the Trail of Tears was a promise," Gorsuch wrote. "Forced to leave their ancestral homes in Georgia and Alabama, the Creek Nation received assurances that their new lands in the West would be secure forever... Because Congress has not said otherwise, we hold the government to its word."
David Hill, principal chief of the Creek Nation, said the ruling marked "a historic day."
"This is amazing," Hill told the New York Times. "It's never too late to make things right."
Rebecca Nagle, a Cherokee writer based in Oklahoma, said that Native people in the state will "be talking about today for decades."
The big news at the Supreme Court today will be Trumps taxes. But for Indians in Oklahoma, we’ll be talking about today for decades.
After a century of #Oklahoma not following our treaty rights, the Supreme Court said no more.
Eastern Oklahoma is Indian Country.
— Rebecca Nagle (@rebeccanagle) July 9, 2020
The decision to recognize nearly half of the state—home to 1.8 million people and including much of Tulsa—as Indian Country controlled by the Creek Nation as well as four other tribes came after the court heard a case pertaining to the state's criminal justice system.
Jimcy McGirt, a member of Seminole Nation, was convicted of sex crimes and is currently serving a 500-year prison sentence. McGirt argued that Congress never officially denied the Creek Nation sovereignty over the area where the crime took place and said the state had no right to prosecute him.
Following the court's ruling on Thursday, the federal government will have jurisdiction to prosecute crimes committed by tribal members in the half of Oklahoma now recognized as a reservation, but the state will not.
Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter and the leaders of the Creek, Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Seminole nations issued a joint statement Thursday saying they were working on an agreement regarding taxation, zoning, public safety, and other regulations.
"Many folks are in tears," Jonodev Chaudhuri, ambassador for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation told Indian Country Today. "Despite a history of many broken promises, as is true with many tribal nations, the citizens feel uplifted that for once the United States is being held to its promises."
In the majority opinion, Gorsuch strongly disagreed with the other conservatives on the court, who said in their dissent that the ruling "profoundly destabilized the governance of eastern Oklahoma" and created "significant uncertainty for the State’s continuing authority over any area that touches Indian affairs."
"Unlawful acts, performed long enough and with sufficient vigor, are never enough to amend the law," Gorsuch wrote in the opinion. "To hold otherwise would be to elevate the most brazen and longstanding injustices over the law, both rewarding wrong and failing those in the right."
John Echohawk, a Pawnee member and executive director of the Native American Rights Fund, congratulated the Creek Nation on its victory.
"In holding the federal government to its treaty obligations, the U.S. Supreme Court put to rest what never should have been at question," Echohawk told Indian Country Today.
In early March, Antonio Rodriguez, a banquet waiter for 11 years at the luxurious Terranea resort in Palos Verdes, south of Los Angeles, was told he was being temporarily furloughed because of Covid-19. Rodriguez, 58, took that setback in stride, but then in mid-May he received a shocker – Terranea informed him he was being permanently laid off, even though the resort was planning to reopen in June. “I felt terrible knowing that I was going to lose my job and my benefits. I have three daughters, and now … how am I take care of them?” Rodriguez said. “I don’t know why they’re letting us go and hiring new people. They always say that we are family. This isn’t the way you treat family.”
Some other well-known hotels in California, including the famed Chateau Marmont, have also told longtime employees they have lost their jobs permanently. Several hotels in Baltimore, Phoenix and Boston, including the Four Seasons in Boston, have taken similar moves, sometimes telling dismissed employees that they could reapply for their jobs and, if hired, start out as new employees. These steps have infuriated workers and quickly gotten the attention of many labor leaders and lawmakers.
The result: Los Angeles, Long Beach, and several other California cities as well as Los Angeles county, have enacted legislation requiring hotels (and sometimes other industries) to rehire by order of seniority any workers they laid off because of the pandemic. Similar legislation is moving forward in Oakland and Pasadena, and has been introduced in the Baltimore and Phoenix city councils, although the Phoenix legislation was pulled from the council’s agenda last Wednesday in the face of intense hotel industry opposition. Supporters say such a recall bill will be introduced in the Massachusetts state legislature later this month.
The highest-stakes battle is taking place in Sacramento. In a 44-17 vote, the California state assembly approved a bill that would extend the recall requirement to hotels throughout the nation’s most populous state, but the bill is facing rougher-than-expected sailing in the Democratic-dominated state senate. The legislation would also cover tens of thousands of building service workers, such as janitors, as well as airport workers, such as baggage handlers. ...
Hotels and business groups have lobbied hard to defeat such legislation. While worker advocates see these bills as simple justice, business groups denounce them as heavy-handed, big-government mandates. They say these measures will undermine managerial flexibility and increase costs.
"Religious" grifters receiving free money from the government include televangelists Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Bakker and Peter Popoff. Great!
More than 10,600 religious organizations have taken at least $3bn in coronavirus financial aid from the US government, according to an analysis by the Guardian, raising concerns about the separation of church and state.
There is no restriction against churches – which do not pay taxes, don’t have to disclose their funding sources, and aren’t subject to all anti-discrimination laws – from receiving publicly funded forgivable PPP coronavirus relief loans.
Rachel Laser, the chief executive of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, said the situation was unprecedented and unacceptable. “The American government at the federal level has never before subsidized houses of worship to pay for the salaries of their clergy,” Laser said. “At Americans United we believe that the first amendment clearly forbids this. The Small Business Administration of the Trump administration may have allowed it, but the constitution forbids it.”
Nineteen organizations received the highest loan amount available – between $5m and $10m, according to data released on Monday by the SBA. Seven of those 19 are affiliated with the Catholic church, including the archdiocese of New York. Only 60% of the funds churches receive must go to salaries to be forgiven. The other 40% can be used on other expenses.
Lots more info at the link.
Leveraging close ties to to Twitter, controversial artificial intelligence startup Dataminr helped law enforcement digitally monitor the protests that swept the country following the killing of George Floyd, tipping off police to social media posts with the latest whereabouts and actions of demonstrators, according to documents reviewed by The Intercept and a source with direct knowledge of the matter.
The monitoring seems at odds with claims from both Twitter and Dataminr that neither company would engage in or facilitate domestic surveillance following a string of 2016 controversies. Twitter, up until recently a longtime investor in Dataminr alongside the CIA, provides the company with full access to a content stream known as the “firehose” — a rare privilege among tech firms and one that lets Dataminr, recently valued at over $1.8 billion, scan every public tweet as soon as its author hits send. Both companies denied that the protest monitoring meets the definition of surveillance. ...
But based on interviews, public records requests, and company documents reviewed by The Intercept, Dataminr continues to enable what is essentially surveillance by U.S. law enforcement entities, contradicting its earlier assurances to the contrary, even if it remains within some of the narrow technical boundaries it outlined four years ago, like not providing direct firehose access, tweet geolocations, or certain access to fusion centers. Dataminr relayed tweets and other social media content about the George Floyd and Black Lives Matter protests directly to police, apparently across the country. In so doing, it used to great effect its privileged access to Twitter data — despite current terms of service that explicitly bar software developers “from tracking, alerting, or monitoring sensitive events (such as protests, rallies, or community organizing meetings)” via Twitter.
And despite Dataminr’s claims that its law enforcement service merely “delivers breaking news alerts on emergency events, such as natural disasters, fires, explosions and shootings,” as a company spokesperson told The Intercept for a previous report, the company has facilitated the surveillance of recent protests, including nonviolent activity, siphoning vast amounts of social media data from across the web and converting it into tidy police intelligence packages.
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper still has no idea who ordered military forces to violently clear protesters out of D.C.’s Lafayette Park so President Trump could do his infamous photo-op early last month.
That’s what Esper told congressional leaders at a hearing before the House Armed Services Committee Thursday concerning the role of the Defense Department in civilian law enforcement — and it didn’t go over well.
“We’ve had that discussion a few times,” Esper said when asked where exactly the order came from. “We had it the other day with Secretary [Ryan] McCarthy and Major General [William] Walker, and it’s still unclear to me who gave the direction to clear the park at that moment in time.”
“See, I find that hard to believe,” Smith pushed back. “I’m sorry, but it’s, like, a pretty big decision. A lot of people there, everyone’s there, and it just sort of... happened?”
Esper, seemingly contradicting himself, told Smith he hasn’t pursued definitive answers as to who ordered the use of force. “I’m just saying, I don’t know, I’ve never pursued it with anybody because we get caught up in other things more relevant,” Esper said.
While Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into George Floyd’s neck, the 47-year-old Black man repeated 27 times that he couldn’t breathe and called out for his mother and his children.
Rather than taking his knee off Floyd's neck, Chauvin responded by saying, “Then stop talking, stop yelling. It takes a heck of a lot of oxygen to talk.”
The harrowing details of Floyd’s final moments were revealed in 82 pages of transcripts from body camera footage that were filed in court and made public on Wednesday.
As well as repeatedly telling Chauvin and the other cops that he couldn’t breathe, Floyd calls out for his mother more than a dozen times: “Mama, I love you. I can't do nothing,” Floyd says.
He also says: “Tell my kids I love them. I'm dead.”
Seconds before he lost consciousness, Floyd pleaded one final time with Chauvin and the other officers:
“Come on, man. Oh, oh. I cannot breathe. I cannot breathe. Ah! They'll kill me. They‘ll kill me. I can't breathe. I can‘t breathe. Oh,” the transcript reads.
His final words on the transcript are: “Ah! Ah! Please. Please. Please.”
The Wisconsin supreme court gave state Republicans a significant victory on Thursday, upholding a suite of laws passed during a lame-duck session in 2018 designed to curb the power of incoming Democratic officials.
In 2018 Wisconsin voters elected Tony Evers and Josh Kaul, both Democrats, to be the state’s governor and attorney general, respectively. In turn, Republicans passed a host of laws that blocked Evers and Kaul from withdrawing from lawsuits involving the state and forced the attorney general to seek approval from the legislature before withdrawing from lawsuits. The law also gave the legislature the ability to intervene in state lawsuits using their own attorneys.
The case underscores the brazen way Republicans in Wisconsin have been able to maintain power despite major Democratic victories. In 2011, Republicans passed a sweeping voter ID law and drew state legislative districts that made it virtually impossible for Democrats to take control of the state legislature. It worked tremendously well – in 2018, Republicans lost every statewide race, won less than half of the statewide vote, but won 63 of 99 seats in the state assembly and a majority in the state senate. Republicans used their majorities to pass the contested laws curbing Democratic power.
Legislatures in Michigan and North Carolina, where Republicans also have majorities because of gerrymandering, have undertaken similar efforts to curb Democratic power. ...
A coalition of labor unions argued that the Republican-backed laws violated the separation of powers between the three branches of government spelled out in the Wisconsin constitution. But the state supreme court, where Republicans currently have a 5-2 majority, rejected that argument, saying there were circumstances where powers were shared between the branches – such as when the attorney general is representing a legislative employee. The court left open the possibility for future individual challenges to specific cases where there was a separation of powers issue.
In an election year shaped by overlapping national crises, Joe Biden on Thursday laid out an optimistic economic vision, presenting a moment of turmoil as a “tremendous opportunity” to revive American industry, address systemic inequality, and prepare the US for threats posed by future pandemics and climate change.
At a metalworks near his home town of Scranton in Pennsylvania, Biden delivered the first in a series of speeches detailing his economic agenda and framed around a new slogan: “Build Back Better”. In a speech full of populist appeal, Biden declared manufacturing “part of the engine of American prosperity – now” and accused Donald Trump of protecting wealthy “cronies and pals” instead of working-class families.
“Throughout this crisis, Donald Trump has been almost singularly focused on the stock market, the Dow, the Nasdaq – not you, not your families,” the former vice-president said. “If I am fortunate enough to be elected president, I’ll be laser-focused on working families.”
Biden directly challenged Trump over his stewardship of the economy, which the president’s campaign see as his greatest – perhaps only – advantage. Though Biden dominates national and battleground state polling, voters consistently say they have more confidence in Trump’s handling of economic concerns.
Before his remarks, Biden’s campaign unveiled a proposal to invest $300bn in research and development of technologies such as electric vehicles, 5G cellular networks and artificial intelligence, and an additional $400bn for federal procurement of products made in the US. The plan would create “at least 5m new jobs in manufacturing and innovation”, according to an outline provided by the campaign, which touted the “largest mobilization of public investments in procurement, infrastructure and [research and development] since the second world war”.
Other policies include making it easier for workers to unionize and bargain collectively, and tightening enforcement of “buy American” laws designed to protect American industry. The push to “buy American” and create jobs is part of a broader economic platform to “mobilize the American people”, which includes, according to the campaign, an investment in a “clean energy future”; support for caregivers and domestic workers; and racial equality. Biden will roll out policy blueprints on those subjects in the coming weeks before the convention in August, his campaign said.
In a stunning victory for wildlife conservationists and indigenous tribes – and for bears – a US court ruled on Wednesday that grizzly bears living in the vast Yellowstone ecosystem will remain federally protected and not be subjected to sport hunting.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service had sought to strip Yellowstone-area grizzlies of safeguards conferred by the Endangered Species Act. This would have allowed the states of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho to permit a limited number of people to obtain hunting licenses, though sport hunting would have remained prohibited within Yellowstone itself.
“We applaud the decision of the 9th circuit court – a triumph of science over politics – in ensuring that Yellowstone grizzly bears are allowed to truly recover and thrive,” said Sarah McMillan, conservation director for WildEarth Guardians. WildEarth Guardians was among eight environmental groups, citizens and tribal entities that sued to have the highest level of species protection restored to grizzlies, on the basis that the bears’ recovery had not been assured.
The Greater Yellowstone population of bears is not only globally renowned and the focus of a robust nature-tourism industry, but synonymous with the wild character of Yellowstone, the world’s first national park. The number of bears in the region has rebounded from about 140 in the 1970s to more than 700 today, and grizzlies have expanded their range to places where they haven’t been in 100 years. Their comeback is considered one of the greatest successes in conservation history.
The US has argued for less regulation of the world’s energy systems, speaking out against the policy interventions promoting clean energy that are central to a “green recovery” from the coronavirus crisis. Dan Brouillette, the US energy secretary, told a global summit of energy ministers, focused on sustainable recovery, that democracies should choose the free market over policies such as taxes, regulations and climate risk assessments on companies that would “steer people away from some energy sources and in the direction of others”. ...
“My country is abandoning none of our fuels, and not one iota of economic opportunity, in the quest for a clean energy world. [We support] a bottom-up energy philosophy which by regulating less lets us innovate more.”
The US has devoted at least $3bn in coronavirus bailout cash to more than 5,600 fossil fuel companies, according to an analysis by the Guardian and Documented.
The amount of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere is approaching a level not seen in 15m years and perhaps never previously experienced by a hominoid, according to the authors of a study.
At pre-lockdown rates of increase, within five years atmospheric CO2 will pass 427 parts per million, which was the probable peak of the mid-Pliocene warming period 3.3m years ago, when temperatures were 3C to 4C hotter and sea levels were 20 metres higher than today.
But it seems we must now go much further back to see what’s ahead. Some time around 2025, the Earth is likely to have CO2 conditions not experienced since the Middle Miocene Climatic Optimum 15m years ago, around the time our ancestors are thought to have diverged from orangutans and become recognisably hominoid.
For the paper published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports, a team of researchers from the University of Southampton constructed a new high-resolution record of atmospheric CO2 during the Pliocene using data derived from the boron levels in tiny fossils about the size of a pin head collected from deep ocean sediments of the Caribbean Sea.
This confirmed trends previously observed in ice cores, but also allowed a more precise estimate of the CO2 range in that geological epoch, when levels of solar radiation were the same as today. “A striking result we’ve found is that the warmest part of the Pliocene had between 380 and 420 parts per million CO2 in the atmosphere,” one of the co-authors Thomas Chalk, said. “This is similar to today’s value of around 415 parts per million, showing that we are already at levels that in the past were associated with temperature and sea-level significantly higher than today.”
“Currently, our CO2 levels are rising at about 2.5 ppm per year, meaning that by 2025 we will have exceeded anything seen in the last 3.3 million years.”
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Hound Dog Taylor - My Baby's Coming Home
Hound Dog Taylor and the House Rockers - Kansas City
Hound Dog Taylor - Buster Boogie
Hound Dog Taylor - Take Five
Hound Dog Taylor - Kitchen Sink Boogie
Hound Dog Taylor - See Me In The Evening
Hound Dog Taylor - The Sun Is Shining
Hound Dog Taylor - Give Me Back My Wig
Hound Dog Taylor - ABC Radio, Australia 1975