The Evening Blues - 1-13-21
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features Texas barrelhouse piano player Robert Shaw. Enjoy!
Robert Shaw - Piggly Wiggly + Do The Mess Around + Playing In The Grass
"Politics is the soil in which the nettle of poisonous enmity, evil suspicions, shameless lies, slander, morbid ambitions, and disrespect for the individual grows rapidly and luxuriantly. Name anything bad in man and it is precisely in the soil of political struggle that it grows with particular liveliness and abundance."
-- Maxim Gorky
News and Opinion
Mike Pence on Tuesday formally rejected calls to strip Donald Trump of his presidential authority by invoking the 25th amendment, effectively paving the way for the House to move forward with impeachment.
In a letter to House speaker Nancy Pelosi, released hours before the House voted on a resolution urging him to invoke the 25th amendment, Pence said he did not believe “such a course of action is in the best interest of our nation or consistent with our constitution” and warned that efforts to remove Trump from office risked “further divide and inflame the passions of the moment”. ...
Moments later, Pelosi announced the team of House impeachment managers who would prosecute the case against Trump in the Senate. The team would be lead by the Maryland congressman Jamie Raskin, a former constitutional law professor who helped draft the article of impeachment against him for inciting the mob that led a deadly assault on the US Capitol last week. ...
Ahead of the vote on Tuesday, several Republican members came out in support of impeachment, including Liz Cheney, the third-ranking House Republican, who said there had “never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States” than Trump’s encouragement of an insurrection on the seat of American government.
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has reportedly told associates that he believes Trump committed impeachable offenses, though he has not voiced public support for removing the president from office.
Shameless. Worth a full read:
Within one day of last week’s attack on the Capitol, at least three states introduced legislation to criminalize protest. The bills, advanced by Republican lawmakers in Florida, Mississippi, and Indiana, do not represent new strategies designed specifically to prevent future right-wing insurrections. Rather, they draw from a set of policies that numerous state legislators introduced this summer in order to appear tough on protests against police brutality.
Florida’s and Mississippi’s bills in particular represent a new brand of anti-protest laws on steroids, creating penalties for a wide array of activities, from damaging monuments to obstructing traffic. The bills include measures that could encourage harsh law enforcement responses to protests as well as provisions meant to prevent local governments from reducing police funding. The narrower Indiana bill would broaden the definition of rioting — which the Florida bill did as well — and would criminalize camping at the Indiana state Capitol. The Mississippi bill would also allow the state to strip unemployment benefits from anyone who pleads guilty to participating in disruptive protests.
Civil liberties advocates warn that the three bills are only the tip of the iceberg. “It’s important to think about these bills as not just responses to the attack on the Capitol,” said Elly Page, creator of the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law’s U.S. Protest Law Tracker. She started the database to monitor a wave of anti-protest bills that began around the time of President Donald Trump’s election, in the wake of the movement against the Dakota Access oil pipeline at Standing Rock, and widespread police brutality protests.
“The concern is that the attack on the Capitol will be used to push the kind of legislation we’ve already seen, especially in response to this summer’s racial justice protests,” Page said.
Carrying Confederate flags and white supremacist symbols, an unruly mob of mostly white men invaded the U.S. Capitol on January 6. Broadcast by television news cameras outside and cellphones within, the violent and unsuccessful insurrection ended in the death of five people and, in the following days, dozens of arrests. ... Indeed, if previous cases involving right-wing violence inspired by Donald Trump are any indication, blaming the president may be one of the few strategies available to those arrested for their roles in the Capitol mob.
James R. Pratt, a defense lawyer in Kansas, represented a man who was inspired to violence by Trump in 2016. Patrick Stein conspired with a couple of friends, as well as a pushy FBI informant, in a plot to bomb Somalis who lived in their community. “Number one, the cockroaches got to go, period,” Stein said of the Somalis. Stein had believed Trump’s rhetoric from the 2016 presidential campaign: that the Obama administration was allowing Muslims, and possibly terrorists, into the country without background checks. Stein was convicted at trial of conspiring to detonate a bomb. Pratt, his lawyer, asked the judge for leniency in sentencing, describing how Stein saw “Trump’s appeal as the voice of a lost and ignored white, working-class set of voters.” Pratt argued that Trump’s “rough-and-tumble verbal pummeling” persuaded Stein that terrorists were being allowed in and that he could do something to protect the country.
U.S. District Judge Eric F. Melgren, a George W. Bush appointee, was unmoved by the argument. ...
“Our point about Trump was that he made what they believed seem legitimate,” Pratt said in an interview Monday. Pratt sees similarities between his Trump-inspired client and the people who stormed the Capitol last week. “I do see a parallel in what Trump did on Wednesday, and even before then, about normalizing this,” Pratt said. “I mean, it’s coming from the president of the United States. It’s not coming from some guy in his basement with a website followed by a thousand people. He’s up there saying, ‘We need to fight. We need to take this back. The election was stolen.’ Any feelings that his followers had, whether they came from Trump before the election or after the election, that it was stolen, he went out of his way to normalize those feelings for them.” ...
Pratt said that he expects lawyers representing the alleged insurrectionists to request leniency at sentencing by arguing that their clients were inspired to act by the sitting president of the United States. “Certainly, I don’t think it’s going to play [well] for whoever killed that police officer,” Pratt said, referring to the Capitol Police officer who was beaten to death during the insurrection. “But if it’s someone who went into the rotunda and yelled at cops for a little bit and turned around and went out, I don’t know — it could work. I would make that argument.”
Members of Congress have been warned that there remain serious threats against their security on inauguration day when they plan to gather in Washington to usher Joe Biden into office as the 46th US president on 20 January. ... Democratic congressman Conor Lamb, one of several politicians given a law enforcement briefing on Monday evening relating to security concerns, said that the threats the government is receiving are “very specific”.
One domestic terrorist plot uncovered ahead of next week’s inauguration involved thousands of people surrounding the US Capitol building. “They were talking about 4,000 armed ‘patriots’ to surround the Capitol and prevent any Democrat from going in,” Lamb, of Pennsylvania, told CNN earlier on Tuesday. He said they were painting themselves as patriots on a mission to reclaim the country as if they were overthrowing the British colonial power in the American revolution prior to the United States declaring independence in 1776.
“They have published ‘rules of engagement’, meaning when you shoot and when you don’t. So this is an organized group that has a plan. They are committed to doing what they’re doing because I think in their minds, you know, they are patriots and they’re talking about 1776 and so this is now a contest of wills,” Lamb said.
The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, has claimed, without providing evidence, that al-Qaida leaders have established a new “home base” in the Iran, in what appeared to be his latest effort to raise the political cost of the next administration reviving the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran.
Speaking with just eight days left in office, Pompeo alleged that Iran was “the new Afghanistan”, telling a news conference in Washington: “Unlike in Afghanistan, when al-Qaida was hiding in the mountains, al-Qaida today is operating under the hard shell of the Iranian regime’s protection.”
In remarks to the National Press Club, after which he did not take questions, the outgoing secretary of state also confirmed press reports that a senior al-Qaida figure, Abu Mohammed al-Masri, was assassinated last August in Tehran, where he was said to be living under a false identity.
Masri, who was accused of helping to mastermind the 1998 bombings of two US embassies in Africa, was reported to have been shot in his car with his daughter, Miriam, the widow of Osama bin Laden’s son Hamza. Pompeo’s remarks were the first on-the-record comments supporting the claim.
Most experts on the subject say that Iran does have a relationship with al-Qaida but it is a complicated one. It has harboured some senior members of the organisation, possibly as insurance against direct attack by the terrorist group, but fought against it elsewhere.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has cancelled a trip to Europe at the last minute after European officials were publicly critical of Donald Trump’s role in last week’s storming of the Capitol.
The official reason for the cancellation of the trip, originally to Brussels and Luxembourg, was the need to coordinate with a transition team from the incoming Biden administration, but it comes after the unprecedented attack on American democracy that stunned many world leaders and US allies.
The Luxembourg leg of the trip was called off on Monday after its foreign minister Jean Asselborn called Trump “criminal” for inciting the attack. Asselborn described the outgoing US president to RTL radio as a “political pyromaniac who must be brought before a court”.
Reuters and Fox News both quoted diplomatic sources as saying it was Luxembourg that had called off the meeting, a devastating snub from a tiny country for a secretary of state that continually claims to have restored “swagger” to the state department. ...
Reuters reported that EU officials had declined to meet Pompeo on his last foreign trip, but a EU spokesperson denied there had been any plan or request for meetings with EU leaders.
Three lawmakers who had to shelter for safety during the US Capitol riot have tested positive for Covid-19. Pramila Jayapal, a Democrat from Washington state, announced her positive result early on Tuesday, while chastising Republican colleagues who refused to wear masks while they waited in a secured room for more than five hours.
The New Jersey representative Bonnie Watson Coleman, also a Democrat, said she decided to get tested because of the possibility of exposure and tested positive. She also tweeted that she was receiving monoclonal antibody treatment – which is still being investigated – on the advice of her doctor. Coleman, 75, is a cancer survivor.
Later on Tuesday, Brad Schneider, another Democrat, from Illinois, announced he too had tested positive. “Today, I am now in strict isolation, worried that I have risked my wife’s health and angry at the selfishness and arrogance of the anti-maskers who put their own contempt and disregard for decency ahead of the health and safety of their colleagues and our staff,” he said in a statement on his website. ...
Jayapal called for “serious fines” to be levied on the lawmakers who did not wear a mask, putting their colleagues at risk. Six Republicans, including the Georgia representative Marjorie Taylor Greene and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, were seen on a tape refusing to accept a mask, according to CNN.
Jayapal and Coleman had received the first round of the Pfizer vaccine and were days away from the second. They join more than 222,000 Americans who have tested positive already this week as the virus continues to rage, according to Johns Hopkins University data. More than 376,000 people have died in the US since the pandemic started last year.
New legislation proposed in California aims to put limitations on law enforcement’s use of automated license plate readers (ALPRs), a technology used to collect large amounts of data and track the real-time movement of hundreds of millions of people without a warrant. California state senator Scott Wiener on Tuesday will introduce the License Plate Privacy act, which would require regular audits of police department’s use of such technology, ban the retention of data that is not relevant to police’s needs and restrict the sharing of any retained data.
The bill’s introduction comes after alarm has grown among privacy advocates over the technology, which is used by hundreds of local police forces across the country, as well as by federal government agencies such as the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (Ice).
ALPRs use cameras mounted on police vehicles or a stationary location such as a highway overpass to collect images of license plates, documenting the image accompanied by the date, time and location of that vehicle and in some cases photographs of drivers and their passengers.
California legislation was passed in 2015 to limit the use of ALPRs but, without regular auditing, it is unclear how well police forces are following the requirements, proponents of the new legislation argue. A 2019 audit of police forces showed they were, in many cases, collecting excessive amounts of information and sharing them with hundreds of other agencies, often without clear reasoning.
A former Minneapolis police officer who knelt on George Floyd’s neck for several minutes will be tried separately from three other former officers accused in his death, according to scheduling orders filed on Tuesday.
Derek Chauvin will stand trial alone in March due to the coronavirus pandemic while the other three former officers will be tried together in the summer, according to the orders filed in Hennepin county district court. ...
Judge Peter Cahill cited the limitations of physical space during the pandemic for his order to split the trials. It is “impossible to comply with Covid-19 physical restrictions” given how many lawyers and support personnel that four defendants say would be present, Cahill wrote. ...
Prosecutors had argued against dividing the trial, saying the evidence against all four is similar, the officers acted together and the public and witnesses should be spared the trauma of multiple trials.
A New York City police officer tasked with leading its workplace anti-discrimination office has chosen to retire rather than face a 30-day suspension without pay for posting racist messages to a online platform for police officers.
Deputy Inspector James Kobel had been relieved of his command in November while officials investigated the allegations he penned messages that the New York police department (NYPD) commissioner, Dermot Shea, called “abhorrent” and “utterly disgusting”.
According to investigators, Kobel posted threatening, racist rhetoric on the platform known as Rant, a chat board for NYPD personnel, using the pseudonym “Clouseau”, drawing from the French detective in the Pink Panther film series.
For more than a year he attacked primarily Black and Jewish people, as well as women and the LGBTQ+ community.
Former Michigan governor Rick Snyder, his health director and other ex-officials have been told they’re being charged after a new investigation of the Flint water scandal, which devastated the majority Black city with lead-contaminated water and was blamed for a deadly outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in 2014-15, the Associated Press has learned.
Two people with knowledge of the planned prosecution told the AP on Tuesday that the attorney general’s office has informed defense lawyers about indictments in Flint and told them to expect initial court appearances soon. They spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.
The AP could not determine the nature of the charges against Snyder, former health department director Nick Lyon and others who were in the Snyder administration. The attorney general’s office declined to comment on details of the ongoing investigation. Spokeswoman Courtney Covington Watkins said investigators were “working diligently” and “will share more as soon as we’re in a position to do so”.
Planet-heating emissions in the US fell by more than 10% in 2020, a record drop generated by extraordinary reductions in travel and industrial activity in the teeth of the coronavirus pandemic, new figures show.
The historic jolt to American life, which has resulted in more than 375,000 deaths and a huge surge in joblessness, caused many states to impose travel restrictions and curbs on business activity. This resulted in greenhouse gas emissions dropping by 10.3% last year, according to a new estimate by Rhodium Group.
It is the largest annual drop in emissions since the second world war, outstripping a temporary downturn in the 2009 recession, and has forced US carbon pollution to its lowest level in three decades. The reduction will also push the US toward its goal of reducing emissions by at least a quarter by 2025, based in 2005 levels, that it submitted as part of the Paris climate agreement. ...
Emissions from the power sector fell by 10%, fueled by a collapse in the coal sector, the Rhodium analysis found, while emissions from transportation plummeted as people stayed at home due to Covid-19. At the peak of lockdowns in April and May, jet fuel demand was down 68% compared to 2019 levels, while gasoline used in cars dropped by 40%.
However, the authors pointed out the emissions reductions had come at huge cost and will likely rebound as vaccines are distributed.
The Arctic is “pervasively” polluted by microplastic fibres that most likely come from the washing of synthetic clothes by people in Europe and North America, research has found.
The most comprehensive study to date found the microplastics in 96 of 97 sea water samples taken from across the polar region. More than 92% of the microplastics were fibres, and 73% of these were made of polyester and were the same width and colours as those used in clothes. Most of the samples were taken from 3-8 metres below the surface, where much marine life feeds.
Other recent analysis estimated that 3,500tn plastic microfibres from clothes washing in the US and Canada ended up in the sea each year, while modelling suggested plastic dumped in the seas around the UK was carried to the Arctic within two years.
The researchers found plastic fibres at the north pole. With plastic recently discovered at the deepest point on Earth, the Mariana Trench, and the peak of Mount Everest, it is clear humanity’s litter has polluted the entire planet. It is known to injure wildlife that mistake it for food. People also consume microplastics via food and water, and breathe them in, although the health impact is not yet known.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Robert Shaw - The Cows
Robert Shaw - The Ma Grinder
Robert Shaw - Hattie Green
Robert Shaw - Fast Santa Fe (Bear Cat)
Robert Shaw - People, People
Robert Shaw - Going Down to the Gulf
An Evening with Robert Shaw: Barrelhouse Blues (1977; Austin, Tx)