The Evening Blues - 8-10-20
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features blues singer Gertrude "Ma" Rainey. Enjoy!
Ma Rainey and Her Georgia Jazz Band - Yonder Comes The Blues
"The way politicians pretend to despise their opponents’ depraved actions and then get all cuddly later proves they’re not each other’s enemy, they’re yours."
-- Caitlin Johnstone
News and Opinion
The protests in response to the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis have accelerated changes in New York state that police reform advocates had fought to enact for years. Within days of the protests spreading to New York City and across the state, legislators moved to ban chokeholds and repeal a controversial law that has long protected records of police abuse from public scrutiny. On June 12, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a sweeping executive order requiring the state’s more than 500 police agencies to “to develop a plan that reinvents and modernizes police strategies and programs in their community based on community input.” Departments across the state have until April 2021 to do so, or they risk losing state funding. ...
The mandate to comprehensively review existing police strategies, policies, procedures, and practices was in part an effort by state officials to return the conversation to police reform at a time when most protesters on the street had started demanding that police be defunded instead. But the order also left local officials across the state, and particularly those in small communities, scrambling and overwhelmed at the prospect of having to rewrite their police rulebooks from scratch. ... Following Cuomo’s order, Saranac Lake’s police chief reached out to colleagues across the state and found a solution: Lexipol, a California-based consulting company that has quietly drafted the policies of thousands of police departments across the country, would rewrite Saranac Lake’s for $11,000, plus additional yearly fees. “We’re a small village, we have 12 sworn officers including the chief,” said Rabideau. ...
Saranac Lake officials had never heard about Lexipol until the recent executive order sent them looking for it, but the story of how the village came to contract with the company has been repeated dozens of times across the country. Lexipol, founded in 2003 by two former cops, rapidly took over California’s law enforcement agencies, contracting with more than 95 percent of them. But its influence has quickly grown nationwide as well, as the company has seized on police protests — and the reforms they prompted — to pitch its services to departments looking to keep up with a changing landscape.
Critics of Lexipol warn that the company is committed to its bottom line rather than transformed policing: The policies it sells tend to be conservative interpretations of the law that prescribe the bare minimum to keep police departments from getting sued — a promise that is central to Lexipol’s aggressive marketing campaigns. And critics fear that by outsourcing the drafting of their policies to a private company, departments can maintain an appearance of professionalism while de facto hindering transparency and cutting local communities out of the process.
Prohibited From Holding Police Officer to Account, Federal Judge Calls on Supreme Court to Overturn 'Qualified Immunity'
Handing down a ruling to dismiss a civil lawsuit which alleged a police officer violated a Black man's Fourth Amendment rights during a traffic stop in 2013, a federal judge in Mississippi made clear that he sided with the plaintiff—and demanded the U.S. Supreme Court overturn legal precedent that makes it nearly impossible for the judicial system to hold officers accountable for rights violations.
Calling for an end to qualified immunity, which dates back to a 1982 ruling and shields police from civil liability in most cases, U.S. District Court Judge Carlton Reeves turned his ruling into a plea for justice for plaintiff Clarence Jamison as well as countless other Black Americans who have faced violent abuse and deadly use of force by officers.
"That the Justices haven't acted so far is perhaps understandable," wrote Reeves. "Not only would they likely prefer that Congress fixes the problem, they also value stare decisis, the legal principle that means 'fidelity to precedent.'
"Stare decisis, however, 'isn't supposed to be the art of methodically ignoring what everyone knows to be true,' the judge added, quoting Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch. "Every judge must learn to live with the fact he or she will make some mistakes; it comes with the territory. But it is something else entirely to perpetuate something we all know to be wrong only because we fear the consequences of being right. Let us waste no time in righting this wrong." ...
Jamison's case relates to a 2013 traffic stop in which Officer Nick McClendon pulled him over in Shreveport, Louisiana. McClendon allegedly lied to Jamison, telling him he'd received a tip that there were 10 kilos of cocaine in his Mercedes convertible, and demanded to search the vehicle.
McClendon aggressively searched the car, leaving $4,000 worth of damage and detaining Jamison for nearly two hours before leaving him on the side of the road, the interior of his car destroyed.
"Officer McClendon's physical intrusion into Jamison’s car was an unreasonable search in violation of the Fourth Amendment," Reeves wrote, siding with Jamison.
Under the 1982 Supreme Court ruling in Harlow vs. Fitzgerald, however, Reeves was unable to hear the case.
"Judges have invented a legal doctrine to protect law enforcement officers from having to face any consequences for wrongdoing," Reeves wrote. "The doctrine is called 'qualified immunity.' In real life it operates like absolute immunity."
Reeves called on the Supreme Court to restore 42 USC Section 1983, "Civil Action for Deprivation of Rights," which was passed by Congress during the Reconstruction era and held any government official liable for violating a person's constitutional rights.
The law was effectively nullified in 1982 when the Court created qualified immunity to ensure police officers would not be subjected to frequent litigation and held personally liable for damages. Under the ruling, plaintiffs have to prove that it was "clearly established" that the officer's actions amounted to a violation and was not simply part of the duties of law enforcement.
A fire lit inside a police union building by a small fraction of protesters in Portland overnight led the authorities to declare the situation a riot and then use flashbang munitions and smoke canisters to force hundreds away from the area.
The flare-up in the Oregon city marred demonstrations that took place across Portland this weekend as part of protests that have continued daily, calling for police restructuring and systemic anti-racism reforms, since George Floyd was killed by police in Minneapolis in May.
Portland protests had been in a calmer vein since federal law enforcement agents withdrew in late July, but early Sunday saw a clash at the scene of the arson attack.
It was the second time such a fire has been set in recent days. Though both fires were quickly put out, the incidents brought criticism of individuals who have been provoking police by damaging property and other belligerent tactics, in contrast to much wider, calmer protests, according to a report by the Oregonian. ...
Meanwhile, Oregon state politicians will discuss on Monday in a special session passing a broader ban on police use of chokeholds and further restricting other use of force, the Oregonian reported on Sunday.
Thousands of protesters pelted Lebanon’s parliamentary precinct with rocks on Sunday, demanding the fall of the government in the wake of the catastrophic blast that destroyed parts of Beirut last week. The violent rally took place around sunset, as an international donor conference launched to fund the enormous cost of recovery resolved that the country would not be abandoned.
Rioters fought running battles with police and soldiers, who had retreated inside the fortified central Beirut district, allowing demonstrators closer. They defended their position with teargas, while hundreds of men lobbed rubble from the blast over wrought iron walls. The crowds were determined to break into the compound and attack the legislature, whose members have been universally blamed for the widespread dysfunction that led to the disaster.
On Sunday, Lebanon’s information minister, Manal Abdel Samad, quit in the first government resignation since the explosion in the port killed more than 150 people and destroyed swathes of the capital, leaving a crater 43 metres (141ft) deep. “After the enormous Beirut catastrophe, I announce my resignation from government,” she said in a statement, apologising to the Lebanese public for failing them.
Later the environment minister resigned. A statement from Damianos Kattar said he was leaving in solidarity with the victims and the government had lost a number of opportunities to reform. Three more MPs also resigned from parliament on Sunday, the outskirts of which were besieged by demonstrators just before sunset. Though the large crowds seen in central Beirut on Saturday night had thinned, those who arrived on Sunday appeared determined to storm the precinct, setting the scene for major clashes with security forces.
At least 43 MPs would need to resign for the government to fall. So far nine have done so, and there are indications that many more will follow in the coming week, further loosening the already fragile government’s grip on power.
Demonstrators in Bolivia have dynamited Andean passes, scattered boulders across highways and dug trenches along rural roads to protest against repeated delays to a rerun of last October’s deeply contentious election, which led to the downfall of the long-serving leftwing president Evo Morales.
As the country’s death toll from the coronavirus pandemic mounts, more than 100 roadblocks and marches nationwide – convened on Monday by Bolivia’s main workers’ union and indigenous and campesino movements allied to Morales’s Movement Towards Socialism (Mas) – have brought the country to a standstill for six days.
The largest demonstrations since last year’s crisis come soon after the electoral authorities postponed elections originally scheduled for May for the third time – from 6 September to 18 October – citing the need to avoid a projected peak in coronavirus infections. ...
“We’re not doing this out of choice,” said Jaime Quiñones Veliz, 35, part of a group of mask-wearing protesters at a roadblock made of tyres, stones and wire strung across a street in El Alto, a sprawling conurbation overlooking Bolivia’s political capital, La Paz. “The people are desperate to know who their president will be, no matter who wins at the polls. We need a stable government,” he said. “We’re demanding that they respect the election date of 6 September. If not, things are going to get even uglier.”
What good is a fed govt if it refuses to support the most vulnerable in a time of a global pandemic & economic depression? Utter failure by Sen. Mitch McConnell who won't even bring a vote to the Senate floor to alleviate the tens of mills who are suffering. Pass #HEROESActNOW
— Rahna Epting (@rahnamepting) August 7, 2020
The US on Sunday passed the grim milestone of 5m coronavirus cases, as Donald Trump’s executive orders seeking to break a political impasse over further economic relief were denounced by a Republican as “unconstitutional slop” and Joe Biden accused the president of issuing little more than “excuses and lies”.
Recriminations have been flying in Washington since talks on further aid for the unemployed and for states struggling with a public health crisis collapsed on Friday. ... Trump then put forward measures including resuming the federal unemployment benefit enhancement that ran out last month, but cutting it from $600 a week to $400 – $100 of which would have to be supplied by the states themselves, via a new system. He also talked about extending protections against eviction for renters, but it turned out to be a proposal to examine such a move.And a proposal for a tax cut would need the cooperation of America’s employers.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Trump's executive actions: "Something's wrong. Either the President doesn't know what he's talking about. ... Or something's very wrong here about meeting the needs of the American people at this time" #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/Id401eeMdc
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) August 9, 2020
LOOK AT THIS.
In the United States, college students didn’t even get the one time $1,200 check.
In Canada COLLEGE STUDENTS will be getting $1,250 PER MONTH.
Their college students are getting MONTHLY more than WHOLE FAMILIES are getting in the United States altogether. https://t.co/rUWWD6VTC1
— Shaun King (@shaunking) April 22, 2020
Demonstrating the bipartisan support for the campaign to reopen schools in the US, New York’s Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo gave the green light for all school districts in the state to resume in-person instruction in the coming weeks. Making the blanket announcement, Cuomo declared, “Good news, all schools can reopen.”
In issuing this mandate, Cuomo is providing crucial political support for the Trump administration’s drive to reopen schools at no matter what cost to human life.
With multiple students immediately becoming infected in numerous schools that reopened last week, there has been a mounting wave of opposition to the resumption of in-person learning. The intervention by Cuomo intensifies the homicidal campaign demanded by the ruling class that schools reopen. This is an essential component of the broader return-to-work campaign, which is necessary for the financial oligarchy to bolster the mountain of debt created by the CARES Act. As one teacher succinctly stated on social media, “The billionaires command it.”
Despite its hand-wringing and supposed concern for “safety,” the Democratic Party is equally beholden to the financial oligarchy, which finds sharp expression in New York, the center of Wall Street and American capitalism. Shortly after Cuomo’s press conference, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, also a New York Democrat, declared, “If we don't open up the schools, you're going to hurt the economy significantly."
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio now has the support of the state to go ahead with reopening the largest school district in the country, with over 1.1 million students and 75,000 teachers, which will set a precedent for districts across the US.
In October 2019, months before the coronavirus pandemic hit, the Southeast Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in San Antonio received a citation for failure to “provide and implement an infection prevention and control program.” This was far from the first citation the facility had received. The report, which lists several problems at the facility, describes a staff member using a soiled towel to wipe clean a resident’s buttocks and then subsequently failing to wash their hands — and said residents were at risk of foodborne illness. The nursing home, residents’ relatives said, did not take the necessary steps toward improving conditions. But in early November, the owner, nursing home magnate Eliezer Scheiner, attended a fundraiser in New York City and donated $750,000 to the top super PAC supporting Donald Trump’s reelection campaign, America First Action.
“I want to thank Eli Scheiner for doing such an incredible job,” Trump said at the event. The New York Times reported that the fundraiser brought in over $3 million for the super PAC from the nursing home industry, which has benefited tremendously from an ambitious deregulatory agenda under the Trump administration. The administration decimated an Obama-era rule that would have banned binding arbitration agreements that tilt the justice system toward the industry. The average fine from the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services, or CMS, has gone down by 31 percent. And the administration proposed to water down a rule that would have enhanced infection control in nursing homes.
By late April, when the coronavirus was ripping through nursing homes nationwide, the San Antonio nursing home hadn’t made sufficient preparations for how to stop an infection in the facility. The Covid-19 outbreak at Southeast has killed 18 residents and one member of the staff, a nurse’s aide. Southeast houses about 85 residents, the overwhelming majority of whom are Black or Latino and are on Medicaid. Residents of other nursing homes controlled by, operated by, invested in by, or are tenants of Scheiner, his business partner Teddy Lichtschein, or his company TL Management have borne the brunt of the Covid-19 pandemic. In all, facilities in Florida, Texas, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C., have seen over 135 coronavirus deaths. At the same time, TL Management hired lobbyists to assist them in getting federal funding, and Scheiner-affiliated nursing homes identified by The Intercept have received over $27 million in grants and loans since the Covid-19 crisis began, public records show — and many of them are among the worst-rated nursing homes in their states.
Trump Just Admitted on Live Television He Will 'Terminate' Social Security and Medicare If Reelected in November
President Donald Trump on Saturday afternoon openly vowed to permanently "terminate" the funding mechanism for both Social Security and Medicare if reelected in November—an admission that was seized upon by defenders of the popular safety net programs who have been warning for months that the administration's threat to suspend the payroll tax in the name of economic relief during the Covid-19 pandemic was really a backdoor sabotage effort.
Announcing and then signing a series of legally dubious executive orders, including an effort to slash the emergency federal unemployment boost by $200 from the $600 previously implemented by Democrats, Trump touted his order for a payroll tax "holiday"—which experts noted would later have to be paid back—but said if he won in November that such a cut would become permanent.
The Trump campaign was apparently so satisfied with the public acknowledgement of the president's promise to make the payroll tax permanent—a move that would inherently bankrupt the Social Security system—that it clipped the portion of the press conference and shared on social media immediately after it concluded. The president's critics did as well, though they carried a different message:
— American Bridge 21st Century (@American_Bridge) August 8, 2020
Defenders of the program, including the advocacy group Social Security Works, were quick to point out the implication of what the president said and condemned Trump for threatening the program that has kept countless millions of people out of poverty—during retirement years or due to disability—since it was created over 75 years ago.
"We just heard it straight from Trump's own mouth," the group responded: "If reelected, he will destroy Social Security."
Commonly known as the payroll tax, those are taxes paid both by employers and employees—as dictated by the The Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA)—that go to pay for both Social Security and Medicare.
"Trump's executive order, which seeks to defer Social Security contributions, is bad enough," said Nancy Altman, president of Social Security Works. "But his promise to 'terminate' FICA contributions if he is reelected is a full-on declaration of war against current and future Social Security beneficiaries."
"Social Security is the foundation of everyone's retirement security," Altman added. "At a time when pensions are vanishing and 401ks have proven inadequate, Trump's plan to eliminate Social Security's revenue stream would destroy the one source of retirement income that people can count on. Moreover, Social Security is often the only disability insurance and life insurance that working families have. If reelected, Trump plans to destroy those benefits as well."
Say Joe, remember when Barack, er, "my boss" suspended the collection of the payroll tax? What did you say then? I guess you probably still don't remember back when you were in the legislature and tried for years to cut Social Security and Medicare. I wonder how long your newfound resolve will last?
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has hit back against President Donald Trump's open threat on Saturday to permanently cut the payroll tax which funds both Social Security and Medicare, two of the nation's most popular and vital safety net programs.
Even as White House officials on Sunday did their best to walk back Trump's clear-as-day pronouncement that he permanently "terminate" the payroll tax if reelected in November, Biden in a statement Saturday evening said: "Make no mistake: Donald Trump said today that if he is re-elected, he will defund Social Security."
While Republicans have refused to budge from their demands to drastically diminish a far-reaching Covid-19 relief package presented by Democrats, Biden in a statement characterized Trump's announced executive orders on Saturday—which experts and critics have roundly rebuked as not only "legally dubious" but wholly inadequate to the pandemic crisis at hand—as a "series of half-baked measures" that include "a first shot in a new, reckless war" on Social Security and Medicare and an order on jobless benefits that "will do nothing cuts, chaos, and confusion to our system of unemployment insurance."
Biden accused Trump of "putting Social Security at grave risk at a time when seniors are suffering the overwhelming impact of a pandemic he has failed to get under control," and denounced the president's failed leadership from day the first day of the pandemic through to the present.
"For months, Trump has golfed rather than negotiated, and sown division rather than pull people together to get a package passed," Biden said. "Now, instead of staying in Washington and working with Republicans and Democrats to reach a bipartisan deal, President Trump is at his golf club in New Jersey signing a series of dubious executive orders."
Biden added: "This is no art of the deal. This is not presidential leadership. These orders are not real solutions. They are just another cynical ploy designed to deflect responsibility. Some measures. do far more harm than good."
Fossil Fuel Investments and Hawkish Foreign Policy Among Serious Issues Progressives Have With Susan Rice as Possible VP Pick
As Democrats await a vice presidential pick from party nominee Joe Biden, progressives are pointing to Susan Rice's past fossil fuel investments—including stock in the company behind the Keystone XL Pipeline—and her hawkish foreign policy as reasons to disqualify her from the running.
"The financial disclosure reports reflect at worst a conflict of interest, and at best, an indifference to a perception of a conflict of interest," Yasmine Taeb, senior policy counsel at Demand Progress told Politico which early Friday published a detailed account of some of Rice's financial holdings.
"It's troubling to see that Susan Rice has invested in so many companies that fuel climate change and in entities at odds with Democratic values," said Taeb.
Biden unveiled a $1.7 trillion climate plan in June that was celebrated by climate activists. The former vice president also said he would refuse campaign donations from fossil fuel executives and corporations in a bid to win over the party's more left-leaning supporters.
"It makes them look like hypocrites," Julian NoiseCat, a vice president of Data for Progress who formerly worked for the environmental group 350.org, told Politico of a potential Rice VP pick.
In March, during a Democratic primary debate, Biden said his administration would have a policy of "no new fracking."
"It raises my eyebrows to think the potential vice president of the United States would have financial ties, whether present or historical, that are exactly opposed 180 degrees to the president," NoiseCat told Politico, noting that Biden has also said he opposes the Keystone XL Pipeline. Rice has held stock in fossil fuel companies as recently as 2015, according to Too Much Information.
In addition to her TransCanada holdings, Too Much Information reported, "Rice also had over $1 million invested in pipeline firm Enbridge as well as more than $2 million split between fossil fuel companies Cenovus, Encana, and Imperial Oil—all companies with significant involvement in developing the tar sands of Alberta. The investments netted as much as $237,000 in dividends that year."
Combined with her husband, Rice's net worth is between $23 and $43 million, TMI reported. To the ire of anti-corporate progressives, Rice's professional past also includes working as a management consultant at McKinsey & Company, a firm that manages 90 of the world's 100 largest companies.
But potential environmental and corporate conflicts of interest aren't the only concerns of progressives.
Given her notorious initial comments made in the wake of the Benghazi attack in 2012, Republican operatives have made clear they are salivating to use Rice's role in the incident to create another political circus around the attack like they did against Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Quoted by Politico, an unnamed Trump campaign official said Rice would be the GOP's "No. 1 draft pick."
Presented with Rice's history of fossil fuel investments and other possible conflicts of interest, Nebraska Democratic Party Chair Jane Kleeb, founder and president Bold Nebraska, which has long fought against Keystone XL, told Politico it was concerning given the current direction of the party.
"If you're a Democratic Party leader and you're still invested in oil and gas it's just a problem," Kleeb said.
Foreign Policy reported Thursday that Biden intervened after pro-Israel groups appealed to him, citing three sources, including Jason Isaacson, the chief policy and political affairs officer at the American Jewish Committee.
“The question of whether to allow the text to refer to ‘occupation’ or use the phrase ‘end the occupation’ was taken to the vice president and he said ‘no,’” Isaacson told Foreign Policy. Prior to Biden’s intervention, progressives in the party had secured agreement to include the word for the first time in the Democratic platform.
Ultimately, the section on Israel included more robust language defending the rights of the Palestinians to a state. It also condemned the boycott Israel movement.
Back in April I said “China’s gonna be so surprised when it finds out it interfered in the November election.”
Now three months ahead of schedule China is already getting its surprise, alongside fellow unabsorbed governments Iran and Russia.
U.S. intelligence agencies say China and Iran are working to sway voters against Trump while Russia is working against Biden https://t.co/enFRpMEBkr
— Bloomberg (@business) August 7, 2020
Mass media throughout the western world are uncritically passing along a press release from the US intelligence community, because that’s what passes for journalism in a world where God is dead and everything is stupid.
The press release, from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and authored by National Counterintelligence and Security Center Director William Evanina, claims that Russia wants Donald Trump to win re-election in November and is pushing to advance than goal, while China and Iran are doing the same with Joe Biden. ...
What this completely unsubstantiated narrative means, of course, is that no matter who wins in November America’s opaque government agencies will have already primed the nation for more dangerous escalations against countries which have resisted being absorbed into the blob of the US-centralized empire. If Trump wins we can expect his administration to continue its escalations against Russia in retaliation for its 2020 “election interference”, and if Biden wins we can expect his cabinet of Obama administration holdovers to ramp up escalations against China in the same way while Joe mumbles to himself off to the side as his brain turns to chowder. ...
The dumbest thing about believing foreign nations are interfering in American democracy is believing America has any democracy to interfere with. The integrity of US elections ranks dead last among all western democracies, public opinion is constantly manipulated by the media-owning plutocratic class which has a vested interest in maintaining the status quo which keeps them rich and powerful, and it’s a two-headed one party system where both corporate-owned parties advance the same establishment agendas.
Imagine believing that foreign leaders are looking at the dumpster fire that is the United States and thinking “I know how we can hurt them! We’ll sow division by saying mean things about their presidential candidates on social media!”
It’s the dumbest thing in the world. Yet all the establishment narrative managers are jumping on this intelligence community press release as a real thing that we should all be excited about.
While some climate activists raised concerns about the party tiptoeing around the largest driver of climate change, most mainstream media marveled over Biden’s personal climate promises. ... But that’s only if you take platforms and campaign promises at face value. Vague platitudes in a speech or campaign proposal aren’t the best indicator of a candidate’s direction, nor of what will actually influence a Joe Biden White House. There is a better gauge: personnel.
Viewed through that lens, environmental activists may have serious reason to worry about the man who could lead the United States for about half of our remaining years to prevent an irreversible climate catastrophe. For all the warranted celebration of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez co-chairing a task force on climate policy, Biden has not yet agreed to follow its recommendations.
Meanwhile, several of Biden’s informal advisers and confidants on energy policy are veterans of the Obama administration’s “all of the above” strategy, which embraced fossil fuel development and technologies like fracking while publicly trumpeting clean energy commitments. These individuals oversaw the BP oil spill and the violent repression of the Dakota Access pipeline protests (a set of tactics which President Donald Trump is now emulating to put down peaceful demonstrators) and then went to work for oil and gas companies or law firms, investment companies, and think tanks funded by the fossil fuel industry. If appointed to key energy and environmental jobs, they could pose an existential threat to even the most ambitious climate plans.
[See link for detailed listing of Biden's energy industry crony advisors. -js]
Federal agents arrested Ohio State House Speaker Larry Householder last month on racketeering and bribery charges in a $60 million scheme involving a utility-funded political slush fund and a $1.3 billion bailout of two state nuclear power plants. Householder was charged, along with four others, in relation to controlling the slush fund and using it to fund campaigns for himself and his preferred candidates in return for passing the bailout bill, in what federal prosecutors called a quid pro quo. It’s the biggest corruption scandal in Ohio history.
Similar scenarios have played out in at least six other states with major utility monopolies. Energy companies with strangleholds on state legislatures in South Carolina, New Mexico, West Virginia, Georgia, and Pennsylvania have pushed billions of dollars in bills onto ratepayers for coal and nuclear projects that have failed or fallen out of competition as public support for renewable energy investment continues to grow. In another energy-related case, the largest electric utility in Illinois was fined for trading contracts and payoffs in exchange for legislation that made it easier to increase electricity rates.
The thrust for nuclear energy as an alternative to fossil fuels in the U.S. has stopped and stalled for decades, losing most of its steam after the Three Mile Island accident in 1979. But investment picked back up after 2002, when President George W. Bush launched the “Nuclear Power 2010” program, which provided a government cost-sharing program and subsidies to help identify and develop new sites for nuclear development to meet projected energy needs by 2010. Investment and operating costs for nuclear run much higher than those of other renewable energy sources like wind and solar. That, plus the immense amount of water required to produce nuclear power, make it less efficient than other available sources of carbon-neutral energy. Most of the flagship nuclear plans introduced around that time have since stalled or been abandoned completely, a result of cost overruns and yearslong delays.
In mid-June the oil pipeline billionaire Kelcy Warren hosted a fundraising bash at his palatial Dallas, Texas, home that drew the presence of Donald Trump and raised $10m for the US president’s campaign coffers. Warren’s fundraising gusher for Trump occurred after he and his wife had donated a hefty $1.7m since 2019 to Trump Victory, a fundraising vehicle for Trump’s re-election and the Republican National Committee, according to the non-partisan Open Secrets group.
All this campaign largesse comes after Warren’s company Energy Transfer notched a major win soon after Trump took office, winning regulatory approval to move ahead with the controversial and legally embattled Dakota Access pipeline. The Dallas billionaire’s ties with Trump were boosted when Trump in 2017 tapped Rick Perry to be energy secretary; a former Texas governor, Perry sat on the board of an Energy Transfer subsidiary before his energy post, and afterwards in early 2020 joined another Energy Transfer board.
Warren’s fundraising skills, personal checks and access to top officials, underscore how fossil fuel billionaires and other energy moguls from Texas to New York to Oklahoma, have opened their wallets wide and raised cash to re-elect Trump, after three-plus years of enjoying Trump’s sweeping energy deregulation and tax cuts.
Since Trump took office his favorite Super Pac, America First Action, has raked in millions of fossil fuel dollars. The Super Pac has received $1m from the shale oil billionaire Harold Hamm and his company Continental Resources, and another $1m from the coal mogul Robert Murray, who runs the eponymous Murray Energy, according to Open Secrets. The Super Pac has also pulled in $500,000 from the coal billionaire Joe Craft of Alliance Resource Partners, $750,000 from the Texas oilman Syed Javaid Anwar of Midland Energy, and $500,000 from John Catsimatidis, a top investor in United Refining Co, as Open Secrets and news reports show.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Ma Rainey - Lawd Send Me A Man Blues
Ma Rainey w/Tampa Red & Georgia Tom - Daddy Goodbye Blues
Ma Rainey - Ma And Pa Poorhouse Blues
Gertrude "Ma" Rainey - See See Rider Blues
Gertrude 'Ma' Rainey - Prove It On Me Blues
Gertrude 'Ma' Rainey - Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
Ma Rainey & Louis Armstrong - Jelly Bean Blues
Ma Rainey & Louis Armstrong - Countin' The Blues
Gertrude 'Ma' Rainey - Georgia Cake Walk
Gertrude 'Ma' Rainey - Oh Papa Blues