The Evening Blues - 9-25-20
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features blues musician Taj Mahal. Enjoy!
Taj Mahal & Ry Cooder - Statesboro Blues
“From whence shall we expect the approach of danger? Shall some trans-Atlantic military giant step the earth and crush us at a blow? Never. All the armies of Europe and Asia...could not by force take a drink from the Ohio River or make a track on the Blue Ridge in the trial of a thousand years. No, if destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of free men we will live forever or die by suicide.”
-- Abraham Lincoln
News and Opinion
In late November 2000, hundreds of mostly middle-aged male protesters, dressed in off-the-peg suits and cautious ties, descended on the Miami-Dade polling headquarters in Florida. Shouting, jostling, and punching, they demanded that a recount of ballots for the presidential election be stopped. The protesters, many of whom were paid Republican operatives, succeeded. A recount of ballots in Florida was abandoned. What became known as the Brooks Brothers riot went down in infamy, and George W Bush became president after a supreme court decision.
In 2020, fears are growing that the US could see an unwanted sequel to the Brooks Brothers debacle – but with more violent participants. After a year in which armed Donald Trump supporters have besieged state houses across the country and shot and killed Black Lives Matter protesters – and in which Trump has said he will only lose if the election is rigged – a 2020 reboot of the Brooks Brothers stunt could be dangerous. ...
Trump supporters have been fed a “steady diet” of misinformation that the election is likely to be stolen by Democrats, Joe Lowndes, professor of political science at the University of Oregon and co-author of Producers, Parasites, Patriots, said. Trump has encouraged supporters to go to voting places to act as “poll watchers”, and on Sunday a group of Trump supporters intimidated early voters at a polling location in Fairfax, Virginia. ...
“The 2020 version of the Brooks Brothers could potentially be white men, ages between 18 and 40, who are staunch Trump supporters,” said Emmitt Riley, a political scientist and director of the Africana Studies Program at DePauw university. Riley added: “I think these are the individuals who are warm toward Confederate imagery, toward images like the Confederate flag. These are individuals who are highly racially resentful and individuals who also see whiteness as being under attack.”
The winner of November’s election may not be clear on the night of the vote, given what is expected to be a vast number of postal ballots, adding to what Riley said could be a “perfect storm”.
Leading Republicans have sought to quell fears that Donald Trump could stoke violence in an attempt to cling to power if he loses the US presidential election – though they stopped short of rebuking Trump directly. ...
Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, tweeted: “The winner of the November 3rd election will be inaugurated on January 20th. There will be an orderly transition just as there has been every four years since 1792.” Senate judiciary committee chairman Lindsey Graham, a close Trump ally and golf partner, told Fox News: “I can assure you it will be peaceful. Now we may have litigation about who won the election, but the [supreme] court will decide and if the Republicans lose, we will accept that result. But we need a full court.” ...
Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, the sole Republican to vote to remove Trump from office at his impeachment trial earlier this year, drew comparisons with a crisis in Europe, tweeting: “Fundamental to democracy is the peaceful transition of power; without that, there is Belarus. Any suggestion that a president might not respect this Constitutional guarantee is both unthinkable and unacceptable.” ...
But there were alarming signs of dissent on the Republican side. Thomas Massie, a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, tweeted ominously: “In the spring, stores sold out of hand sanitizer and toilet paper. This fall, they sold out of ammo.”
As Trump and GOP Openly Hatch Election Theft Plot, Question Grows: 'Which Side Will Our Military Be On?'
Amid President Donald Trump's transparent efforts to sow doubt and discord around this year's election, his desire to confirm a right-wing Supreme Court justice ahead of November's contest, and his repeated refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power regardless of the outcome, the specter of Trump ordering active-duty troops to quash protests during a possibly chaotic interregnum has reportedly provoked anxiety at the Pentagon.
According to Friday reporting by the New York Times, high-ranking military leaders have vowed to keep the armed forces out of the electoral process and its potentially chaotic aftermath, with Defense Department officials saying top generals could resign if the commander in chief tries to deploy them to U.S. streets.
As the Times reports:
Senior leaders at the Pentagon, speaking on the condition of anonymity, acknowledged that they were talking among themselves about what to do if Mr. Trump, who will still be president from Election Day to Inauguration Day, invokes the Insurrection Act and tries to send troops into the streets, as he repeatedly threatened to do during the protests against police brutality and systemic racism.
The Insurrection Act gives the president the power to deploy active-duty military personnel to neutralize civil unrest even if governors are opposed to it. General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Defense Secretary Mark Esper both objected to taking that route this summer, and Trump yielded, though not before nearly firing Esper.
But the Times noted that Trump, "who refers to the armed forces as 'my military' and 'my generals,' has lumped them with other supporters like Bikers for Trump, who could offer backup in the face of opposition" this fall and winter.
"Which side will our military be on when this happens?" tweeted Charles Idelson of National Nurses United earlier this week after Trump refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he is defeated at the polls. In other countries, a head of state's threat to "get rid of the ballots" to ensure a "continuation" rather than a "transfer" of power would be called a coup d'état, Idelson remarked.
Many have been wondering for weeks what will happen if Trump, who has declined more than once to abide by the results of the election and has repeatedly and baselessly attacked mail-in ballots in an attempt to undermine the validity of the vote—which is already underway in some states—loses and refuses to voluntarily leave office.
On August 11, retired Army officers John Nagl and Paul Yingling argued in an open letter to Milley that "you may have to choose between defying a lawless president or betraying your constitutional oath... If Donald Trump refuses to leave office at the expiration of his constitutional term, the U.S. military must remove him by force, and you must give that order."
As CNN reported last month, Nagl and Yingling's "advocacy for having the armed forces get involved in settling a disputed election prompted backlash from both the Pentagon and other experts in the field of civilian-military relations."
When answering questions posed by Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.) and Rep. Mikie Sherril (D-N.J.), both members of the House Armed Services Committee, Milley in late August was emphatic that the military would play no role in resolving a disputed election.
The Covid-19 virus is continuing to mutate throughout the course of the pandemic, with experts believing it is probably becoming more contagious, as coronavirus cases in the US have started to rise once again, according to new research.
The new US study analyzed 5,000 genetic sequences of the virus, which has continued to mutate as it has spread through the population. The study did not find that mutations of the virus have made it more lethal or changed its effects, even as it may be becoming easier to catch, according to a report in the Washington Post, which noted that public health experts acknowledge all viruses have mutations, most of which are insignificant.
David Morens, a virologist at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that the new study should not be over-interpreted, but added that the virus could be responding to public health interventions such as social distancing. “All those things are barriers to transmissibility, or contagion, but as the virus becomes more contagious it statistically is better at getting around those barriers,” he said. Morens noted that this could mean that the virus might continue to mutate even after a vaccine is available, meaning the vaccine will have to be tinkered with – just as the flu vaccine is altered each year. ...
At a hearing before Congress on Wedensday, Dr Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), emphasized data that shows that young Americans have been driving the rise in cases. According to Redfield, people aged 18 to 25 have made up 26% of new coronavirus cases – the largest of any age group.
Redfield also said more than 90% of the American population remains susceptible to Covid-19, crushing any belief about widespread immunity developing.
Declaring 'Tremendous Trust' in Big Pharma, Trump Threatens to Block Stricter Covid Vaccine Standards
With the Food and Drug Administration reportedly planning to propose stricter guidelines for emergency approval of a coronavirus vaccine, President Donald Trump late Wednesday threatened to block the agency's push for tougher standards because he trusts for-profit pharmaceutical corporations to conduct adequate safety testing.
"I have tremendous trust in these massive companies that are so brilliantly organized in terms of what they've been doing with the tests. I don't know that a government as big as we are could do tests like this," Trump said during a press briefing, minimizing the central role the federal government has played in coordinating and providing much of the funding for vaccine trials.
Asked specifically about the FDA's push for stricter vaccine guidelines, the president declared that any revisions to existing standards "have to be approved by the White House." The FDA declined to comment when a CNN reporter asked about the president's remarks.
"We may or may not approve it," Trump said. "That sounds like a political move, because when you have Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, these great companies coming up with the vaccines and they've done testing and everything else, I'm saying why would they have to be, you know, adding great length to the process?"
As of yesterday, FEMA had only ~$3 billion remaining in the $44 billion approved for an extra unemployment benefit. That money is almost gone even w/ these numbers below https://t.co/rD0hj2yAlw
— Jeff Stein (@JStein_WaPo) September 24, 2020
An additional 1.5 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week and more than 20 million people across the U.S. are going hungry, but Senate Republicans are preparing to leave Washington, D.C. for the campaign trail as early as Thursday without approving any legislation to ameliorate nationwide suffering brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic and congressional inaction.
On Wednesday, Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) said senators could skip town for an extended recess ahead of the November 3 election if the upper chamber approves a House-passed continuing resolution Thursday to keep the government funded through mid-December, averting a looming shutdown.
Following the House's passage of the resolution earlier this week, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)—who from the start rejected calls to use the government funding negotiations as leverage to force through additional Covid-19 aid—expressed "hope" that Congress could still "reach a bipartisan agreement on coronavirus relief."
But the prospects of the GOP agreeing to a deal before the November election appear vanishingly slim at present, given the refusal of many Senate Republicans to approve much-needed spending on state and local aid, an expansion of nutrition assistance, robust housing relief, and a $600-per-week unemployment supplement.
"For 27 weeks in a row new jobless claims far surpassed the worst of the Great Recession. We have a major economic emergency—Donald Trump and Senate Republicans must stop blocking relief," Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) tweeted Thursday morning. "Worse disaster looms for many, including those on Pandemic Unemployment Assistance or state Extended Benefits: without a new economic relief deal, they'll be entirely cut off from aid. They will get nothing."
While stonewalling on coronavirus aid, Senate Republicans have been perfectly willing to move ahead with business entirely unrelated to the pandemic, from confirming a raft of right-wing federal judges to forming a plan to force through Trump's yet-to-be-named Supreme Court pick ahead of Election Day.
"Trump and his allies in Congress are rushing to ram through Justice Ginsburg's replacement, but where was this urgency when Americans pleaded with lawmakers and the Trump administration to help support their families and keep their businesses afloat?" Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US, said in a statement.
"Small businesses are at risk. People are struggling to keep their families housed and fed," Herrig continued. "It's disgraceful that Trump and his Senate allies have found time to fast-track their SCOTUS plans while Americans are continuing to suffer without a new relief package."
US authorities have never asked a WikiLeaks rival to take down unredacted cables that have been among those at the centre of the legal battle to send Julian Assange to the US, his extradition hearing has been told.
The evidence was given by a veteran internet activist whose website, Cryptome, published more than 250,000 classified documents a day before WikiLeaks began placing them online.
In a short statement submitted by Assange’s team at the Old Bailey, John Young said he had published unredacted diplomatic cables on 1 September 2011 after obtaining an encrypted file, and that they remained online.
Young, who founded Cryptome in 1996, added: “Since my publication on Cryptome.org of the unredacted diplomatic cables, no US law enforcement authority has notified me that this publication of the cables is illegal, consists or contributes to a crime in any way, nor have they asked for them to be removed.”
The US military is making increasing use in Syria of a gruesome and secretive non-explosive drone missile that deploys flying blades to kill its targets.
Described as less likely to kill non-combatants, the so-called ninja bomb – whose development was first disclosed last year – has been used a number of times in the last year to kill militants in Syria, including those linked to aal-Qaida, most recently earlier this month.
Officially designated as the Hellfire AGM-114R9X – usually shortened to R9X and sometimes know as the “Flying Ginsu” – the weapon has been increasingly deployed in targeted assassinations by the US Joint Special Operations Command.
The missile, believed to have been first used in 2017 to kill al-Qaida’s then No 2 leader, Abu Khayr al Masri, in Idlib province, first came to wider attention when its existence was disclosed by an article in the Wall Street Journal last year.
The weapon uses a combination of the force of 100lb of dense material flying at high speed and six attached blades which deploy before impact to crush and slice its victims.
The German carmaker Volkswagen has agreed to pay millions in compensation to former employees in Brazil who were persecuted during the country’s military dictatorship.
A Brazilian government-appointed investigation found that Volkswagen was one of several corporations that secretly collaborated with the 1964-85 military government to identify suspected “subversives” and trade unionists.
The compensation payments announced on Thursday have been agreed between the company and federal, state and labour law prosecutors.
But some of those involved in the investigations said the deal whitewashed the extent of Volkswagen’s cooperation with Brazil’s military regime and failed to include a memorial to targeted workers which had originally been proposed.
Warning against "mere capitulation" to the unpopular effort by President Donald Trump and Senate Republicans to rush through another right-wing Supreme Court justice right before the November election, a memo circulating on Capitol Hill outlines a number of ways in which Democrats in both chambers of Congress can gum up the works and delay the advance of Trump's nominee.
First reported by The Daily Poster on Thursday and later published in full by The Intercept, the document was compiled by people familiar with the nuances of congressional procedure, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has frequently used to further his party's aims while stifling those of his Democratic counterparts.
The memo details a number of procedural maneuvers available to congressional Democrats, including the introduction of privileged War Powers Resolutions—an idea floated this week by Kate Kizer of Win Without War—and House passage of impeachment resolutions against Trump or other administration officials, which the Senate would be required to consider before moving to other business.
Acknowledging that their list of possible delay tactics is "far from exhaustive" and not guaranteed to succeed, the authors of the memo maintain that they "have reason to believe that not all potential options have been thoroughly explored" by Democratic leaders, who are facing pressure from advocacy groups and progressive lawmakers to pull out all the stops against Trump's pick to fill the vacancy left by the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Thus far, as Bloomberg's Steven Dennis reported Thursday, Senate Democrats not been doing all they can to slow activity in the chamber.
"As a threshold matter," the document recommends, "congressional Democrats must enter a war-room posture and convene a group of the people most knowledgeable of Senate (and House) procedure who can work together and be mutually generative of relevant tactical ideas."
The memo authors note that on top of the potentially disastrous confirmation of another right-wing justice—who the president has vowed to name Saturday—failure by Democrats to do everything in their power to slow Trump's Supreme Court pick could "be viewed by many as abandonment of the Democratic base and could undermine enthusiasm."
"Much of the broad electorate will want to see congressional Democrats fighting to protect the court and their constitutional rights," the document says.
Despite a bloody summer of police shootings and civil rights protests calling for radical change, Chicago is the only city of America’s top 10, and by far the biggest, not yet to agree new reforms to policing. Every other city on the list – and many prominent cities just outside the 10 largest – has decided on changes, ranging from redirecting funding or new laws curbing brutality to ballot measures improving transparency and accountability by the police. ...
But not Chicago. Community leaders are at their wits end in a city where having the largest per-capita police force in the US is not translating into less crime or less violence, especially in neighborhoods long blighted by structural racism and now slammed by the twin coronavirus and economic crises. ...
In 2017, the US Department of Justice found a pattern and practice of misconduct and civil rights violations by Chicago police and implemented a consent decree, or a list of necessary reforms to be made, including in the use of force, accountability, training and recruitment. Yet, against the backdrop of a particularly bloody and bitter summer, the city has missed more than 70% of the benchmarks set by that federal order.
And the lack of bodycam footage being released from the five most recent city police shootings has happened despite Chicago previously gaining national notoriety for withholding video of the fatal police shooting of Laquan McDonald in 2014, which eventually prompted a process that was supposed to guarantee timely release of relevant footage and other evidence. In addition, the agency charged with investigating police misconduct has continuously failed to do so, according to a new audit.
Some changes announced for police training by the office of the city’s mayor, Lori Lightfoot, in June were principally related to consent decree requirements, not new plans in the light of protests.
Breonna Taylor’s family spoke out on Friday for the first time since a grand jury in Kentucky announced two days ago that it had decided not to charge three police officers directly in the killing of the 26-year-old medical worker in March. Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, attended a press conference in Louisville, at the downtown park that has become a focus for protests and a makeshift memorial to Taylor, who was shot dead in her apartment after police barged in and fired a hail of bullets during a botched investigation.
When Palmer wept and was too upset to speak, Bianca Austin, Palmer’s sister and Taylor’s aunt, read a statement written by Palmer. “Know this: I am an angry Black woman,” Palmer’s statement read. “Angry because our Black women keep dying at the hands of police officers … you robbed the world of a queen.”
The family of Taylor heavily criticized Daniel Cameron, Kentucky’s attorney general, who was in charge of the state’s investigation into Taylor’s death. “I never had faith in Daniel Cameron to begin with, I knew he was too inexperienced with a job of this caliber. I knew he chose to be at the wrong side of the law,” Austin said, reading more of the statement.
“My hope was that he knew he had the power to do the right thing, that he had the power to start the healing of this city, that he had the power to help mend over 400 years of oppression. What he helped me realize is that it will always be us against them. That we are never safe,” she said.
For nearly 120 days, protesters in Louisville, Kentucky, have shouted “no justice, no peace!” as they called for charges against three police officers involved in the killing of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman who was shot in her apartment in March as police executed a search warrant. In the minutes following the announcement that only one officer would be indicted – for wanton endangerment for firing into an apartment next door to Taylor’s – a quiet, stunned sadness and simmering anger overtook Louisville’s Jefferson Square Park, the epicenter of protests, which has been dubbed Injustice Square Park. ...
On the edge of the square, David Mour, a 59-year-old attorney who is a fixture at demonstrations and represents many protesters, was wearing body armor. “People say they fear for our city. I don’t fear for our city. I fear for our people,” he said. “We can rebuild buildings, we can fix broken windows, we can wash off graffiti, but we can’t heal broken hearts. We can’t heal broken spirits – and that’s what we’ve got.” Mour said he’d “had clients indicted for way less evidence than they had to indict these guys”. ...
Last week, the city of Louisville paid $12m to Taylor’s estate to settle a lawsuit and announced a number of additional reforms that would come to the police department. Hankison’s firing, the settlement and the promised reforms were all heralded as victories and promising signs by protesters in this segregated city. But what happened on Wednesday felt like a step back to many, as though change wasn’t possible. ...
Deziree Edwards, 21, was driving on the highway towards the protest square on Wednesday afternoon when she learned of the decision while watching a livestream. She said it was disappointing, but somewhat expected. “I definitely believe that change is due because this is not the system that I deserve to live in,” she said. “This is not the system that we deserve to live in. This city is hostile.”
As the election inches closer, the pressure to support Joe Biden over Donald Trump intensifies for much of the so-called “left”-leaning sections of the United States. Hardliners in the Democratic Party are using fear of Trump as the principle argument for why Biden should be the next president. Susan Sarandon and other Sanders surrogates have proclaimed that a vote for Biden is a vote against fascism. Bernie Sanders has allegedly voiced concerns in private about Biden’s obsession with courting Republican Party mainstays into the Democratic Party’s crowded tent of corporate donors and intelligence operatives. Still, Sanders and the rest of the Democratic Party have upheld the slogan that Trump is the most “dangerous president in modern American history” without any clarity as to how a Biden administration would resolve the numerous crises facing working class people, especially Black Americans.
Workers are currently struggling with a mass eviction and joblessness crisis on top of the health crisis posed by COVID-19. Over 80 percent of people at risk of eviction from the economic crisis reside in Black or Latino neighborhoods. Official unemployment remains close to nine percent and Black unemployment a full two percentage points higher than white unemployment despite Black Americans making up a disproportionate number of workers employed in jobs deemed too “essential” to shut down during a pandemic. Black wealth was already heading toward zero prior to the pandemic, with the average Black family possessing just $1700 in total assets. The trend toward zero wealth is likely to accelerate as the myriad of debts incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic siphon what is left of Black assets into the coffers of the finance capitalist class.
Biden has opposed any kind of significant relief for working people during the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic has thoroughly exposed the limitations of the U.S. for-profit healthcare system yet Biden has remained firm in his opposition to Medicare for All. He has also rejected or outright ignored the possibility of a federal jobs program or a universal basic income to ensure that the basic needs of a vast majority of the population are met. Instead, Biden and the Democrats say they want to restore “the soul of the nation.” The 2020 election is thus more of a religious crusade to politically purify Washington D.C. of its Trumpian elements in a bid to make America “great” again. ...
Biden and the Democrats are principally concerned with salvaging social peace while extending the empire’s reach abroad. Any alleviation to the suffering of the masses is considered by all sections of the ruling class to be a fetter on the maximum accumulation of private profit. This is why Biden has promised to increase the $740 billion military budget while offering nothing of substance to the starving masses. For Democratic Party operatives in the liberal class, Biden represents a return to neoliberal “normalcy.” Biden’s promise to expand the U.S. military is a non-story in the United States’ corporate media but has significant consequences for the future of humanity. The pursuit of full spectrum dominance and a bloated military budget exposes “normalcy” as nothing more than an extension of the crisis of American empire by other means. A bigger military budget means more opportunities to wage endless war on the planet and starve the U.S. state of any capacity to reverse the course of austerity. ...
A Biden victory in November will bring the Obama legacy back into the driver’s seat of politics. This is its own kind of nightmare. Obama’s legacy was principally characterized by the inheritance of a massive military and austerity machine that was expanded to new heights under the auspices of a Democratic Party administration. Drone strikes, bank bailouts, public school closures, witch hunts of whistleblowers, deportations of undocumented immigrants, and overseas wars all grew under the rule of the Obama-Biden presidency. So did the militarization of U.S. police departments and the wealth gap between white and Black America. The Democratic Party and Joe Biden have more than proven their commitment to worsening, not alleviating, the pain of the masses.
Against a backdrop of fires that have burned over 600,000 acres in Washington state, the climate crisis is becoming an important issue in the congressional race between two Democrats in the state’s 10th Congressional District, which includes Olympia and the surrounding area. State Rep. Beth Doglio, a supporter of the Green New Deal, is facing off against former Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland. The race pits an environmental activist who successfully fended off fossil fuel projects in Washington against a mayor who stood by as fossil fuel infrastructure developed in her city without necessary permits. Which one will go to Congress will say much about what kind of Democratic Party will be tackling climate change in the years ahead.
In Strickland’s two terms as mayor of Tacoma, from January 2010 to January 2018, she frequently clashed with climate activists by supporting expanded fossil fuel infrastructure at the Port of Tacoma. ...
Doglio has been endorsed by the League of Conservation Voters, the Sierra Club, and the Sunrise Movement, while the endorsement list on Strickland’s website does not include any environmental groups. The groups backing Doglio point to her record in the state House, where she passed a green construction bill mandating efficiency benchmarks for large commercial buildings, legislation to eliminate fossil fuels from utilities by 2035, legislation to eliminate food waste, and legislation to allow localities to more easily raise funds for mass transit. Doglio also passed a complete overhaul of regulation of toxic substances after a bruising battle with the chemical industry, a win that has acquired new relevance as toxins in home construction are now being sent directly into the atmosphere due to the fires. ...
The race in the crowded primary was to replace four-term Rep. Denny Heck, who decided to run for lieutenant governor. Strickland has the backing of former Democratic Govs. Christine Gregoire and Gary Locke — the latter of whom was also secretary of commerce and the ambassador to China in the Obama administration — among many other members of the Washington Democratic political establishment, including centrist U.S. representatives Derek Kilmer, Suzan DelBene, Rick Larsen, and House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn. In addition to environmental groups, Doglio also has the endorsement of the Washington State Labor Council federation of unions. Washington has all-party political primaries, à la California and Louisiana, which led to the Democrat-on-Democrat race. Doglio and Strickland had raised a roughly equal amount of money — just over $600,000 — as of the June 30 FEC deadline.
Michael Moore Responds: New Report REVEALS Green Billionaire Attacks On Movie ‘Planet Of The Humans’
Mexican farmers in the drought-stricken state of Chihuahua are pitted against riot squads from the national guard in an increasingly violent standoff over their government’s decision to ship scarce water supplies to the United States. The confrontation has already led to bloodshed: earlier this month, a woman was shot dead and her husband was wounded after guardsmen opened fire on farmers wielding sticks and stones.
The Mexican government, meanwhile, has accused protesters of being backed by opposition politicians and sabotaging La Boquilla dam, which holds some of the water it wants to send north. The standoff in Chihuahua underscores the severity of water shortages as the climate crisis provokes more severe droughts and puts agriculture under strain.
It has also raised questions about why Mexico’s nationalist president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has put such a priority on repaying water debts to the US rather than going to bat for Mexican farmers. “In all the history of Chihuahua, the army has never been sent to take the dams,” said Mario Mata Carrasco, a federal lawmaker from Chihuahua. “Instead of fighting organised crime and narcotics traffickers, they’re fighting our farmers.”
Disputes over water are nothing new on the high plains of Chihuahua state, where rainfall is becoming increasingly irregular. Neither is sending water to the US, which is required under the terms of a 1944 treaty. But the unrest has grown amid US demands that Mexico meets its five-year quota and completes the transfer of more than 100bn gallons by 24 October.
Local farmers insist any shortfall on that quota can be repaid in the future, and argue that water held behind Mexican dams – for which they have concessions – has never been part of the agreement. “When the government comes to steal our property, we don’t have any other option but to defend it,” said Raymundo Soto, a spokesman for the farmers. “The international water treaty clearly establishes alternatives for resolving these problems.” Under the treaty, Mexico sends water from rivers in the Rio Grande basin to the United States, which in turn sends Mexico water in the Colorado River, further to the west.
The Trump administration has announced it will move forward with a plan to roll back regulations protecting millions of acres in America’s largest national forest from logging, sparking an outcry from environmental advocacy organizations, Alaskan tribal nations, and fishermen.
More than half of the Tongass national forest – a 16.7m-acre old-growth temperate rainforest in south-east Alaska – has been protected for the last two decades by the so-called “roadless area conservation rule”, which prohibits development in designated wild areas. The US Forest Service is expected to release a final environmental impact statement on Friday which would allow for the Tongass to be exempt from the rule, moving one step closer to ending the protections entirely.
Supporters of the exemption see it as increasing access to federal lands for such things as timber harvests and development of minerals and energy projects. Republican leaders in Alaska have lobbied the federal government to reverse the rule over the last two years. In a Washington Post op-ed published last year, the Republican senator Lisa Murkowski wrote that the regulations were “an unnecessary layer of paralyzing regulation that should never have been applied to Alaska”. Under the former governor Bill Walker, the state asked the federal government to consider the exemption in 2018, and members of Alaska’s congressional delegation last fall supported a draft proposal that listed an exemption as a preferred alternative.
Development could also have a devastating impact on the native people who call the area home. Critics say the move could also adversely affect wildlife, fuel the climate crisis and hurt tourism and recreation opportunities. The sprawling wilderness is also an important source of salmon for the billion-dollar commercial fishing industry.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Taj Mahal - Stagger Lee
Taj Mahal & Keb' Mo' - Diving Duck Blues
Taj Mahal w/Pointer Sisters - Texas Woman Blues
Taj Mahal - Blues Aint Nothin'
Dr. John & Taj Mahal - Everybody Gets The Blues
Taj Mahal - Mississippi Big Butt Blues
Taj Mahal & The Hula Blues Band - New Hula Blues
Taj Mahal - Gonna Move Up The Country (Paint My Mailbox Blue)
Taj Mahal - Cakewalk Into Town
TajMo': The Taj Mahal & Keb' Mo' Band - Jazz San Javier 2017 || Full Concert