The Evening Blues - 12-1-20
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features an assortment of artists that I couldn't find enough material to do a full feature for. Enjoy!
Dorothy Williams - The Well's Gone Dry
“That war only made billionaires out of millionaires. Today's war is making trillionaires out of billionaires. Now I call that progress.”
-- Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
News and Opinion
Rejecting Michèle Flournoy, Progressives Demand Biden Pick Pentagon Chief 'Untethered' From Military-Industrial Complex
A coalition of progressive anti-war groups on Monday warned President-elect Joe Biden against selecting Michèle Flournoy as his defense secretary, characterizing the former Pentagon official's ties to the military-industrial complex and record—specifically her support for Obama's troop surge in Afghanistan and NATO assault on Libya—as unacceptable and disqualifying.
"We urge President-elect Joe Biden and U.S. senators to choose a secretary of defense who is unencumbered by a history of advocating for bellicose military policies and is free of financial ties to the weapons industry," reads a new statement signed by CodePink, Our Revolution, Progressive Democrats of America (PDA), RootsAction.org, and World Beyond War.
"Flournoy's record includes emphatic support for the failed and tragic military surge in Afghanistan, troops on the ground in Syria, and military intervention in Libya—policies resulting in geopolitical disasters and tremendous human suffering," the statement continues. "Flournoy has opposed a ban on arms sales to Saudi Arabia, while that country has continued to inflict massive suffering and death in Yemen."
The coalition, which said it is "prepared to launch a major nationwide grassroots campaign" to prevent Flournoy's confirmation, also expressed alarm at the potential nominee's militaristic rhetoric toward China. In the June 2020 issue of Foreign Affairs, Flournoy wrote that the U.S. should be able to credibly "threaten to sink all of China's military vessels, submarines, and merchant ships in the South China Sea within 72 hours."
Formerly the under secretary of defense for policy in the Obama administration, Flournoy is widely considered the Biden team's leading candidate for Pentagon chief. Other top contenders, according to the Wall Street Journal, include former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, a Lockheed Martin board member, and Gen. Lloyd Austin, a Raytheon board member. ...
Lamenting that Flournoy "has received unequivocal support from numerous individuals who are respected in progressive circles"—including leaders of the Ploughshares Fund and Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists—RootsAction.org co-founder Norman Solomon wrote in an op-ed for Common Dreams Monday morning that progressives should instead "emphatically challenge every odious aspect of the Biden administration, every step of the way."
As Marcy Winograd, co-founder of the Los Angeles chapter of PDA, put it, "Progressives may be tempted to trade truth for access to the powerful and privileged, thinking they can influence the course of events if they bite their tongue when Flournoy talks of fighting and prevailing in a war with China."
"But this sort of thinking is misguided," said Winograd. "The power progressives hold must be wielded now before it's too late, before Flournoy is crowned and the U.S. slips further into decline, mired in a high-stakes high-tech arms race—or worse, another endless war, this one with a nuclear-armed nation of over 1.3 billion people."
[Full statement here.]
Really excited Biden is hiring an all star team of girl bosses to prevent universal healthcare and communicate to the press why his corporate pro war policies that make people miserable are super great. I might not be able to afford medicine but I feel empowered as a woman.
— Rania Khalek (@RaniaKhalek) November 30, 2020
Iran has bestowed martyr status on the nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh at a full state funeral in Tehran, vowing to redouble his work after an assassination blamed on its arch-foe Israel. In footage carried by state TV, Fakhrizadeh’s casket was shown surrounded by flowers and pictures of him, alongside portraits of Qassem Suleimani, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps killed by a US drone strike in Baghdad in January. ...
Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of the country’s supreme national security council, accused Israel on Monday of using “electronic devices” in the attack. “Unfortunately, the operation was a very complicated operation and was carried out by using electronic devices. No individual was present at the site,” he said.
The semi-official Fars news agency also claimed that were no assailants at the scene and that Fakhrizadeh was fired on by an automatic remote-controlled machine-gun, placed in a pickup car 150 metres away. Two bullets hit him in the side and one in the back, Fars claimed, and a bodyguard that came to cover him was also shot multiple times.
Fars said the entire operation lasted no more than three minutes, and ended with the pickup car exploding. Other news sites claimed the weapons were activated by satellites. ...
Iranian state TV claimed on Monday, without providing evidence, that a weapon recovered from the scene bore “the logo and specifications of the Israeli military industry”.
The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was reckless, provocative, and illegal. As a new administration takes power, it was clearly intended to undermine U.S.-Iran diplomacy. We must not allow that to happen.
Diplomacy, not murder, is the best path forward. https://t.co/BzOhNmwSGv
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) November 28, 2020
The US continued to report more than 100,000 new coronavirus cases a day over the holiday weekend, as experts warned that widespread Thanksgiving travel could fuel a surge in coming weeks. In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo warned of “a problem in the hospitals … a serious situation”, and appealed for retired physicians to return to the frontlines.
There was some good news on Monday, as Moderna said it would apply for US authorisation to use its coronavirus vaccine. The company announced final results from its trial, which it said confirmed 94% efficacy. Moderna’s data will be weighed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on 17 December. The company said it expected to have doses for 10 million people ready for the US by the end of December. Pfizer and BioNTech submitted an application for emergency use on 20 November.
The news came as the number of hospitalisations in the US reached a record high. According to the Covid Tracking Project, 93,238 patients were in hospital on Sunday, a steady climb from 47,531 at the start of November, straining workers and resources as winter approaches. “Hospital capacity is the top concern,” Cuomo told reporters on Monday, after ordering all elective surgeries to cease in one county and urging hospitals statewide to ready plans to increase capacity by 50% or set up field hospitals.
Scott Atlas has resigned as special adviser to Donald Trump, a White House official said on Monday, after a controversial four months during which he attacked science-based public health measures and clashed repeatedly with other members of the coronavirus taskforce.
“I am writing to resign from my position as Special Advisor to the President of the United States,” Atlas said in a letter to Trump dated 1 December, according to Fox News, which first reported his resignation. Atlas later confirmed his resignation in a tweet.
Atlas is a neuroradiologist and fellow at Stanford’s rightwing Hoover Institution, where he works on healthcare policy. He has no expertise or experience in infectious diseases or epidemiology, yet was nevertheless selected by Trump to advise the president on the pandemic.
Atlas joined the White House this summer, where he clashed with top government scientists, including Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr Deborah Birx, as he resisted stronger efforts to contain the pandemic.
Atlas attacked public health measures such as masks, stay-at-home orders and social distancing. He called on residents of Michigan to “rise up” against restrictions put in place by Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who had been the target of a kidnapping plot, leading to calls for his firing.
Trump Failures Highlighted in GAO's Devastating Report on Pandemic, Calling for 'Urgent Action' to Preserve Public Health
The nonpartisan congressional watchdog on Capitol Hill called for "urgent action" from the Trump administration and legislators in a report released Monday that highlights numerous failures at the top levels of government which have led to "catastrophic loss of life and substantial damage to the global economy, stability, and security" since the coronavirus pandemic reached the U.S. in January. ...
Directly contradicting guidance released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), President Donald Trump last week urged "all Americans to gather, in homes and places of worship."
Trump's potential worsening of what Dr. Jonathan Reiner said could become "the mother of all super-spreader events" came as healthcare workers continue to report shortages of crucial personal protective equipment (PPE), testing supplies, and materials to administer vaccines once they are available to the public, the GAO found.
The majority of states reported to the GAO that they have been able to fulfill PPE requests in recent months, following critical shortages last spring. But availability restraints remain with regard to nitrile gloves and boot covers, leaving healthcare workers vulnerable to the spread of Covid-19.
Nearly half the states in the U.S. reported shortages of rapid point-of-care tests, and 21 said they're currently facing shortages of reagents used to determine test results. Sixteen states reported shortages in testing instruments other than swabs, which are currently widely available in all but nine states.
The GAO report comes two months after the agency released recommendations on medical supply shortages. In Monday's report, officials "underscore[d] the critical imperative of implementing our September 2020 recommendations," including calling on the Health and Human Services Department and FEMA to mitigate the medical supply gaps, help states track the status of supply requests, and document responsibilities for supply chain management.
Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), chairman of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, said in a statement that according to the GAO, "more than 10 months into this pandemic, the Trump administration still refuses to learn from its repeated failures, leading to more disease, more deaths, and more economic devastation across this country."
The GAO also expressed concern about states' preparedness to administer Covid-19 vaccines once they become widely availableto the public, with one-third of states telling the agency "that they were 'greatly' or 'completely' concerned about having sufficient vaccine-related supplies," particularly expressing doubts about the federal government's ability to supply enough needles, amid challenges to maintain supplies of needles to vaccinate against influenza this season.
Beyond supply concerns, the GAO said the federal government has done an insufficient job of building trust among the public regarding the effectiveness and safety of future vaccines, leading to fears that many people will go without vaccinations and make it more difficult for the U.S. to reach herd immunity.
Without legislative action from a divided lame-duck Congress before the end of the year, nearly 90 million public and private-sector workers in the U.S. could soon lose federal paid sick and family leave benefits that have helped prevent tens of thousands of coronavirus infections.
The federal paid leave benefits mandated under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) are set to expire at the end of December without an extension from Congress, which—thanks in large part to obstruction by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)—has made little progress toward another relief package in recent months despite spiking Covid-19 cases and a worsening economic crisis. ...
Even the limited paid sick leave mandated under the FFCRA—which denied benefits to workers at companies with more than 500 employees—prevented an estimated 400 coronavirus cases each day per state in the U.S., according to research published last month in the journal Health Affairs.
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), whose attempt to amend the FFCRA to provide paid sick and family leave to all U.S. employees and independent contractors was blocked by Senate Republicans, warned of "disaster" if Congress lets the benefits expire at the end of the year.
"If you do not have paid sick leave, if you cannot take work off, you go to work when you're sick," Murray told HuffPost in a phone interview last week. "One of the things we know people need to do is to isolate themselves if they're exposed. That's how you stop the spread. But if you do not have any paid sick leave, you're going to go to work. You need to put food on the table. You need to pay your rent."
The US Congress on Monday began a two-week sprint to rescue the federal government from a possible shutdown amid the coronavirus pandemic, the first major test since the election of whether Republicans and Democrats intend to cooperate.
Government funding for nearly all federal agencies expires on Saturday 11 December.
Congressional negotiators have made progress on how to divvy up around $1.4tn to be spent by 30 September 2021, the end of the current fiscal year, according to a House of Representatives Democratic aide.
But more granular details are still unresolved and votes by the full House and Senate on a huge funding bill may come close to bumping up against that 11 December deadline.
Still unclear is whether Donald Trump, who was defeated in the 3 November election, will cooperate with the effort.
The coin-operated congress is at it again:
In early October, Harvard researchers sounded an alarm: They released a report showing a pattern of coronavirus deaths surging soon after workers filed requests for workplace safety assistance from the U.S. Labor Department. The takeaway was clear: Workers are desperately begging the government to help protect them from a deadly pandemic, the government has been unresponsive, and lots of workers have subsequently died preventable deaths.
Today, a little more than a month after the study came out, the federal government is finally responding: A bipartisan group of Senate and House lawmakers have announced legislation to shield corporations from lawsuits when their lax safety standards kill more workers.
In practice, the legislation, which is being tucked into a larger COVID relief package, is a holiday-season gift for corporate donors: It would strip frontline workers of their last remaining legal tool to protect themselves in the workplace — at the same time the unemployment system is designed to financially punish those workers if they refuse to return to unsafe workplaces during the pandemic. ...
At the behest of corporate lobbyists, the liability shield initiative has spread like a virus in America’s political system: As The Daily Poster first reported, it coursed through state legislatures across the country after New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo responded to a COVID massacre in nursing homes by shielding nursing home executives from lawsuits — after a health care lobby group funneled $1 million into his political machine. Senate Republicans in Washington then copied Cuomo’s liability shield legislation and pasted it word-for-word into their last COVID stimulus proposal in July.
Unable to pass that federal liability shield legislation on its own, lawmakers from both parties have now come together in a grand show of post-election bipartisan unity to help their corporate donors create a hostage situation that’s something out of a dystopian sci-fi movie: Their proposal predicates long overdue and desperately needed unemployment assistance on the condition that corporations are given a get-out-of-jail free card when their profit-maximizing business practices extinguish the lives of employees. Support from Democratic lawmakers for the liability shield legislation comes after the same health care lobby group that drafted New York’s law has poured more than $11 million into House and Senate Democratic super PACs.
Largest protest in history of the world. 250 million on strike all over India at the movement. Sea of red flags is marching towards Delhi. pic.twitter.com/YwsS8lujxQ
— Taimur Rahman (@Taimur_Laal) November 29, 2020
Tens of millions of workers throughout India joined a one-day general strike yesterday in opposition to the pro-investor economic reforms and associated austerity measures of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party-led government. The huge mobilisation, which organisers said involved 250 million people, is a powerful expression of growing mass anger, not just against the Modi administration but Indian bourgeois rule as a whole. It demonstrates the readiness of workers to fight the ruling elite’s onslaught on jobs and wages, along with working and living conditions.
Strikers’ demands included a cash transfer of 7,500 rupees (about $US100) per month to all non-income tax-paying families; the withdrawal of anti-farmer laws and anti-worker labour codes; universal social security; a minimum monthly wage of 21,000 rupees with indexation to all employees including scheme workers; compulsory registration of trade unions within a period of 45 days from the date of application submissions; an end to forced premature retirements for government and public sector employees; public health care for all; and the allocation of 6 percent of GDP for public health and 5 percent for public education. ...
While involvement varied according to industry, occupation and region, the national walkout involved workers from public sector units, including the banks, oil refineries, steel mills, power plants, coal mines and defence production facilities, all demanding withdrawal of the Modi government’s privatisation measures, its promotion of contract labour and its reactionary new “labour reform” restricting workers’ right to strike. ...
Yesterday’s strike, which cut across all language, religion and caste divisions, was a powerful demonstration of the objective unity of the Indian working class. This is a powerful blow against the Modi government’s relentless barrage of Hindu chauvinism targeting Muslims and other religious minorities, and the ruling elite’s constant incitement of ethnic-regional, caste and communal divisions.
Rio de Janeiro is rejoicing after voters inflicted a humiliating electoral defeat on a widely loathed neo-Pentecostal bishop considered by some to be the worst mayor in the city’s history. Marcelo Crivella, a gospel-singing preacher who has branded homosexuality a “terrible evil” and had shunned Rio’s annual carnival, lost in every one of the city’s 49 constituencies in Sunday’s run-off vote.
Observers called the result a triumph for diversity and a blow to Brazil’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, who had backed Crivella’s campaign.
“Rio is free of the worst government in its history – of its most negligent, most unprepared, most prejudiced government,” the victor, Eduardo Paes, proclaimed after his landslide win. “I want to tell all cariocas [Rio citizens] that today – whatever your faith, orientation or skin colour – you are free,” added Paes, a samba-loving centre-right politician who was mayor from 2009 until 2016.
Many voters have misgivings about Paes but there was widespread jubilation on Monday as news of Crivella’s catastrophe sank in.
Ladies and Gentlemen, introducing "the party of the working class."
President-elect Joe Biden announced the second major group of cabinet and White House appointments Sunday and Monday, including most of his economic team, drawn almost entirely from the major financial institutions and hedge funds.
The most important nomination, of former Federal Reserve Board chair Janet Yellen to become secretary of the treasury, was leaked to the press last week. Yellen was deputy chair of the Fed from 2010 to 2014, then chair from 2014 to 2018, meaning that she played a major role in economic policy for the bulk of the Obama administration, a period that saw the greatest transfer of wealth from the poor and working class to the wealthy of any time in American history.
Throughout her tenure at the Fed, Yellen was identified with the policy of “quantitative easing,” in which the central bank made effectively unlimited sums of money available to the financial markets. This policy was pursued while the White House, Congress, and the media insisted that there was no money available to create jobs, sustain education and other social services, reduce poverty, or accomplish any other progressive social goal.
Her top deputy at the treasury, officially designated Monday, will be Adewale Adeyemo, a former Obama White House aide who became a senior adviser at BlackRock, the world’s largest hedge fund, after Trump took office. In 2019, Adeyemo left BlackRock to head the Obama Foundation in Chicago. Adeyemo is one of two BlackRock officers named for high economic posts in the Biden administration, with the New York Times reporting that Brian Deeson, another former Obama aide turned investment banker, will become chairman of the National Economic Council, the top White House economic policymaking post.
For director of the Office of Management and Budget, Biden nominated Neera Tanden, currently chief executive of the Center for American Progress (CAP), a major Democratic Party think tank, whose selection is perhaps the most revealing decision of the Biden transition so far. A book could be written about Tanden’s role in promoting right-wing social policies and the defense of American imperialism while using the language of liberalism and “progressive” politics. ...
The six economic nominees announced Monday include four women, two African Americans (Rouse and Adeyemo) and an Indian-American (Tanden). While this is celebrated endlessly by the Biden camp and the media as a cabinet that “looks like America,” the reality is that many of those selected are multi-millionaires. All are vehement defenders of the capitalist system and the “right” of the giant corporations, banks, hedge funds and a few hundred billionaires to control the economic resources of America.
Ladies and Gentlemen, introducing "the party of the working class."
Your wife is managing director of Goldman Sachs https://t.co/y3YmCjLRkl
— Ken Klippenstein (@kenklippenstein) November 29, 2020
Worth a full read. Glenn Greenwald has the goods on Neera Tanden.
Biden Appointee Neera Tanden Spread the Conspiracy That Russian Hackers Changed Hillary's 2016 Votes to Trump
The announcement that Joe Biden intends to nominate Neera Tanden as his Director of the Office of Management and Budget — a critical position overseeing U.S. economic and regulatory policy — triggered a wide range of mockery, indignation and disgust from both the left and the right. That should not be surprising: though a thoroughly mediocre and ordinary D.C. swamp creature from the perspective of both ideology and competence, Tanden’s uniquely unhinged, venomous, corrupt and pathologically dishonest conduct as a Clinton Family and DNC apparatchik and President of the corporatist-and-despot-funded Center for American Progress (CAP) has earned her a list of enemies far longer and more impressive than her accomplishments. ...
One can reasonably view Biden’s choice of Tanden as a positive. She is no different in character or ideology than any of the faceless, more obscure DNC operatives who would occupy this position if she did not. But because of how well-known her sociopathy, militarism and corporatism are to many on the liberal-left, her face serves as an undeniable and unavoidable reminder of what the Biden administration and the Democratic Party really are. She illuminates the truth about their real aims. But beyond things like wanting to steal Libya’s oil after bombing it into oblivion, outing sexual harassment complainants, and physically assaulting and censoring her own employees, there is one uniquely abominable feature of Neera Tanden. She is one of the most deranged conspiracy theorists in the United States, and has done more than almost any other Washington functionary to contaminate Democrats’ mental health, capacity to reason, and faith in the legitimacy of U.S. elections. ...
Few people took Hillary’s 2016 loss to Donald Trump as hard as Tanden, or handled it as poorly. Indeed, she refused to believe it really happened, and encouraged others to similarly refuse to accept its reality. In the weeks after Trump’s victory, Tanden joined numerous Democrats in encouraging electors of the Electoral College to ignore their states’ votes and refuse to elect Trump as President (many rationale were invoked for this: Tanden’s was a CAP article promoting #Resistance fanatic Richard Painter’s argument that Trump’s violations of the Emolument Clause precluded an Electoral College win). She insisted that Hillary lost because of Russia, claiming the “Russians did enough damage to affect more than 70k votes in 3 states.” And she was not only one of the first to push the Steele Dossier’s claim that Russia held blackmail power over Trump but also one of the last to do so — insisting in 2018 that “the dossier been mostly proven to be true” and claiming as late as 2019 that nothing in this discredited junk report had been disproven.
But what really distinguished Tanden when it came to unhinged and toxic behavior was her repeated (and obviously baseless) claims that Hillary only lost because Russian hackers invaded the U.S. voting system and clandestinely changed Hillary’s votes to Trump’s, costing the real winner — Hillary — her rightful place on the throne, behind the Resolute Desk. Four days after the 2016 election, Tanden began strongly implying, if not outright stating, that Russian hackers changed the vote totals, and that this is why “Trump was as surprised as everyone else” by his victory. ...
This conspiracy-mongering led by Tanden and other prominent liberal activists had a corrosive effect on the ability of Democrats to perceive basic reality, to put that mildly. A 2018 poll from Economist/YouGov — conducted more than a year after Trump’s inauguration — found that a large majority of Democrats (66%) believe that “Russia tampered with vote tallies in order to get Donald Trump elected President.” ... Democratic leaders and their media allies love to patronizingly warn that conservative media outlets and their audiences are prone to spread and believe crazy conspiracy theories. They purport particular worry when such conspiracies are designed to undermine faith and trust in the U.S. electoral system itself. Yet few have done more to destroy such confidence and faith than Neera Tanden, achieved by disseminating over the course of several years some of the most unhinged, evidence-free and deranged conspiracy theories in which she deliberately deceived Democratic partisans into believing that Moscow’s dastardly hackers invaded the sanctity of the U.S. voting system to change Hillary’s votes to Trump’s. And it worked: at least as of 2018, large majorities of Democrats believe that this utterly unproven but dangerous assertion is true.
Digital rights groups applauded the news Monday that FCC Chairman Ajit Pai—known for his efforts to destroy net neutrality and his fealty to corporate telecom interests—will resign his powerful post when President Donald Trump leaves office in January.
"Ajit Pai will go down in history as one of the most corrupt government officials of the century," Fight for the Future deputy director Evan Greer said in a statement. "His callous attack on net neutrality and blatant coddling of Big Telecom monopolies sparked the largest cross-partisan online backlash in the modern era. As he fades into the background, his smug demeanor and giant Reese's mug will become cautionary memes—reminding internet users what happens when we don't hold our government accountable."
While Pai said in his announcement (pdf) that "it has been the honor of a lifetime" to lead the commission, he was arguably the most controversial chairperson in the FCC's 86-year history. He is best known for leading the successful push to overturn net neutrality rules in 2017, a move that former FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn at the time likened to "handing the keys to the internet to a handful of multi-billion dollar corporations." In 2018, Pai was also investigated by his own agency for alleged corruption in connection with his deregulatory blitz.
While the Pai-led effort to kill net neutrality may soon be overturned after Democrats regain a 3-2 majority on the commission, his shepherding of the T-Mobile-Sprint megamerger—for which he was accused of betraying the public interest in service of major corporations—will be much more difficult to reverse.
It will now be up to President-elect Joe Biden to decide whether to promote one of the two Democrats serving on the commission—Jessica Rosenworcel or Geoffrey Starks—to become chair or find someone new to fill the top spot.
As protests over the killing of George Floyd spread across the country in early summer, federal and local law enforcement authorities in Minnesota and California culled social media for postings on upcoming protests, then disseminated RSVP counts and other details to agencies. Documents obtained by The Intercept show that into at least mid-July, law enforcement officials in Austin did the same — and that they kept tabs on cultural events with no apparent protest component, including an online Juneteenth celebration.
The documents originate with the Austin Regional Intelligence Center, or ARIC, part of a network of fusion centers established after 9/11 to share intelligence among federal agencies, local police departments, and the private sector. They show that law enforcement personnel there monitored Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, and Twitter for announcements of protests, social gatherings, and other events organized by supporters of Black Lives Matter, and sometimes merely by Black people. Fusion center employees then prepared dispatches listing organizers’ names or social media handles, information about notable guests, and RSVP totals. The fusion center, which is managed by the Austin Police Department, sent the updates to local, state, and national law enforcement, including recipients at the CIA, FBI, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
“We at the ARIC completely understand concerns as they may relate to ‘monitoring’ protests or events,” Ron Phillips, deputy director of the fusion center, wrote in an email. “We do not continually monitor protests or events.” He added that when the ARIC does take an interest in events, “we only look at it from a standpoint of determining if there is an impact on the area that could pose a concern for the safety of our community.”
But the documents tell a different story. The monitored events include a Juneteenth celebration, a meditation event, and two candlelight vigils. “In our heightened political moment, the fact that now every single public gathering is being surveilled by local, state, and federal government is incredibly concerning for civil liberties,” said Matthew Guariglia, a policy analyst focused on surveillance and policing at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
The surveillance in Austin this summer follows years of similar monitoring by federal law enforcement agencies in other parts of the U.S. Documents obtained by The Intercept through a Freedom of Information Act request in 2015 show that the Department of Homeland Security collected similar information on social events in historically Black neighborhoods, at one point circulating details about a funk music parade. Later reporting by Foreign Policy and The Intercept shows that the FBI devoted significant resources to monitoring people it labeled “black separatist extremists.” In the early days of the George Floyd protests, a woman in Tennessee who created a Facebook event for a Black Lives Matter rally said she received a visit from FBI agents who questioned her about her knowledge of antifa, suggesting that the monitoring of activists had continued. In late June, the release of 19 gigabytes of data hacked from fusion centers around the country — a trove of documents known as BlueLeaks — confirmed it.
INBOX: Arizona has certified victories for Joe Biden and Mark Kelly in the state's November elections.
— Laura Litvan (@LauraLitvan) November 30, 2020
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Joe Biden confirmed as winner in Wisconsin ahead of promised lawsuit from President Donald Trump.
— Mike Balsamo (@MikeBalsamo1) November 30, 2020
The European court of human rights has ordered 33 European governments to respond to a landmark climate lawsuit lodged by six youth campaigners, the Guardian has learned. The plaintiffs’ British barrister says it could be the most important case ever tried by the Strasbourg-based judges.
In a sign of the urgency of the climate crisis, the court will announce on Monday that it has green-lighted the crowdfunded case, which was filed two months ago. It has already confirmed it will be treated as a priority, which means the process will be fast-tracked.
The states – the EU27 plus Norway, Russia, Switzerland, the UK, Turkey and Ukraine – are obliged to respond by 23 February to the complaints of the plaintiffs, who say governments are moving too slowly to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that are destabilising the climate.
If the defendant countries fail to convince the Strasbourg-based judges, lawyers say they will be legally bound to take more ambitious steps and to address the contribution they – and multinational companies headquartered in their jurisdictions – make to overseas emissions through trade, deforestation and extractive industries. ...
The court has also taken the unusual step of expanding its consideration of the case by asking the 33 countries to explain whether their failure to tackle global heating violates article 3 of the European convention on human rights, which protects the right not to be subjected to ‘inhumane and degrading treatment’.
To End Impunity for 'Deliberate Destruction' of Planet, International Lawyers Drafting Plan to Criminalize Ecocide
An expert panel of top international and environmental lawyers have begun working this month on a legal definition of "ecocide" with the goal of making mass ecological damage an enforceable international crime on par with war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.
Assembled by the Stop Ecocide Foundation at the request of several Swedish parliamentarians, the initiative to criminalize the destruction of ecosystems at the global level has already garnered support from European countries as well as small island nations highly vulnerable to rising sea levels.
The drafting panel is co-chaired by Philippe Sands QC, a professor at University College London, and Justice Florence Mumba, a former judge at the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The November 20 launch date of the project coincided with the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Nuremberg trials of Nazi leaders, where the terms "crimes against humanity" and "genocide" were coined.
"The time is right," Sands said recently at an event commemorating the Nuremberg trials, "to harness the power of international criminal law to protect our global environment."
"Seventy five years ago, 'crimes against humanity' and 'genocide' were spoken for the first time, in Nuremberg's Courtroom 600," Sands added, "and my hope is that this group will be able to draw on experience since that day to forge a definition that is practical, effective, and sustainable, and that might attract support to allow an amendment to the ICC Statute to be made."
Charles Jalloh, a professor at Florida International University and member of the United Nations International Law Commission who is on the panel drafting a legally robust definition of ecocide, said that "states should use all tools at their disposal, including their criminal law power at the national and international levels, to protect our shared global environment and to bring the most responsible perpetrators to justice."
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Percy Milem - She's About A Mover
The Ovations - I Believe I'll Go Back Home
Barbara Perry - A man is a mean thing
Percy Milem - Crying Baby Baby Baby
Percy Milem - Call On Me
Percy Milem - I Don't Know What You've Got (But It's Got Me)
Wee Willie Walker - There Goes My Used To Be
The Lyrics - The Side Wind
The Lyrics - So Hard To Get Along
Veltones - Fool In Love
Barbara Perry - Say You Need It
Dorothy Williams - Country Style
Barbara Perry - Why Can't Women Have A Good Beer Drinking Song