The Evening Blues - 1-15-21
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features blues guitarist and singer Robert Cray. Enjoy!
The Robert Cray Band - Right Next Door
"The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all."
-- H. L. Mencken
News and Opinion
Following the fascist riot at the US Capitol, progressives and liberals have begun to mimic the calls for “law and order” of their conservative counterparts, even going as far as threatening to expand the “war on terror”. While this may be well-intentioned, it fits neatly within the trajectory of attacks against civil liberties over the last two decades. A Biden administration with a 50-50 Senate will seek unity and compromise wherever it can find it, and oppressing political dissidents will be the glue that holds together Biden’s ability to govern.
A wide array of actors within the United States government have long predicted, and begun to prepare for, a new age of protests and political instability. In 2008 the Pentagon launched the Minerva Initiative, a research program aimed at understanding mass movements and how they spread. It included at least one project that conflated peaceful activists with “supporters of political violence” and deemed that they were worth studying alongside active terrorist organizations.
A 2018 war game enacted by the Pentagon had students and faculty at military colleges create plans to crush a rebellion led by disillusioned members of Gen Z. This hypothetical “ZBellion” included a “global cyber campaign to expose injustice and corruption”. A campaign that would in real life no doubt be monitored by the NSA’s Prism program, which captures the vast majority of electronic communications in the United States. Prism was developed in 2007, partially out of fear that environmental disasters might lead to a rise in anti-government protest.
These steps further the already oppressive post-9/11 surveillance apparatus developed through the Patriot Act, a bipartisan piece of legislation championed by President-Elect Biden. Though some of these tools were developed to “fight terrorism”, in practice they’ve also been used to monitor and interfere with the work of activists – leading to violations of civil liberties such as the placement of undercover NYPD officers in Muslim student groups across the north-east. And every post-9/11 president has added to this, steadily increasing federal and local agencies’ power to surveil, detain and prosecute those who appear to pose a challenge to the status quo.
But now the Democrats have caught the tune and returned to their post-9/11 calls for heightening the “war on terror”. Joe Biden has already made it clear that he intends to answer these calls. He has named the rioters “domestic terrorists” and “insurrectionists”, both terms used to designate those whose civil liberties the state is openly allowed to violate. ... Biden will be desperate to both prove his competency and demonstrate that he isn’t the protest-coddler that Trump framed him as. This, combined with demands for repression from Democrats, Republicans and large segments of the American public, is a perfect storm for a radical escalation in the decades-long war on civil liberties and our right to protest, at a time that we need it the most.
Before Donald Trump exhorted the Jan. 6 rally to march on the Capitol, the White House had been warned by the rally sponsor that there was no permit for a march, that DC Metro Police were promised there would be no march, and that such an unplanned march was dangerous. As a result, the Metro police were stunned, undermanned and unprepared for Trump’s surprise launch of thousands of his enraged Trump supporters, some armed, on the Capitol.
“I mean, it was shocking. It’s something we advocated against doing for exactly the reasons that ended up playing themselves out,” said a high-level source inside Women for America First, the organization that held the permit for the rally. They spoke to this reporter on condition of anonymity. ...
The White House had been warned about Alexander and his dangerous plan to move on the Capitol. The leaders of Women for America First sent several frantic, angry text messages to the White House warning that such a march was both illegal and dangerous. “When Ali was putting up things about the Capitol on the sixth, [we were] screen-shotting that, sending it to people both at Parks and at the White House, a couple of times, like ‘WTF’!,”a organizer source said. ...
The first news that there would be, despite warnings, an illegal, uncontrolled march was at 12:15 pm when Trump himself surprised the protest organizers with his announcement. The charge on the Capitol was set in motion when the President announced he himself would join it. “The announcement that he was going to go was news to us,” the insider said. “But then [Trump] said he’s walking! It caught our team by surprise and unprepared.” ...
Alex Jones stated on his podcast that he and Alexander were called by the White House just before the president’s speech and were told to prepare to lead the crowd on a march. “We had a legitimate deal with the White House,” Jones said in an InfoWars show filmed with Alexander after the riot. The White House has not denied the duo’s extraordinary claim, a claim consistent with events.
At least 170 people are currently under investigation in connection to the January 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol, and officials expect that number to “grow to the hundreds in the next coming weeks” — a criminal probe that the top federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C., has described as “unprecedented, not only in FBI history, but probably DOJ history.”
Some 111 people were arrested or charged for actions connected to the Capitol siege as of Thursday morning, according to the Prosecution Project, an open-source research platform that monitors criminal cases involving political violence. Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Michael Sherwin said that prosecutors were considering a growing set of charges against those involved in the riot. He said that the crimes they could be accused of span from the relatively minor trespassing dozens of people have already been charged with; to theft of mail, digital devices, and possibly national security information from the Capitol; and up to assault of a law enforcement officer, seditious conspiracy, and felony murder. “The gamut of cases and criminal conduct we’re looking at is really mind-blowing and that has really put an enormous amount of work on the plate of the FBI and field offices throughout the entire United States,” Sherwin said at a press conference this week, warning that the cases could take years to prosecute. “This is only the beginning.” ...
Amid warnings of more violence to come in the next days and conflicting calls for unity versus accountability, the country is bracing for what will likely be a yearslong effort to investigate and prosecute those responsible for the January 6 attack, harrowing details of which continue to emerge more than a week later. But many who have pointed to the glaring inequities in law enforcement’s response to the Capitol assault as compared to recent racial justice or anti-Trump protests have also warned against calls for mass conspiracy prosecutions or any expansions of law enforcement resources, civil rights erosions, and domestic terrorism and anti-protest laws. Such measures, they said, will inevitably be turned against people of color and government critics legitimately expressing their dissent. As they grappled with the question of how the justice system can meaningfully address the dramatic surge in far-right and white supremacist extremism in this country, many cautioned that accountability is better sought from those who enabled and coordinated its rise, rather than through the mass criminalization of all who embraced it.
“I don’t see how we can prosecute or jail our way out of a burgeoning fascist movement in the United States,” Thomas Harvey, justice project director at the civil rights group Advancement Project, told The Intercept. “That’s going to take a lot more effort, and I think some of the accountability that we’ll be talking about is going to happen politically.” Harvey and several others warned against responding to the attack with “knee-jerk” calls for expanded law enforcement powers and overly broad prosecutions. “We have a strong desire for punishment and retribution in our society, and I don’t think people on the left are completely exempt from that,” he said. As for the mass prosecution of individuals who protested President Donald Trump’s inauguration and others charged during last summer’s unrest, Harvey said, “I understand the desire to see that equivalence, but what we want is for the people who were involved in the J20 protests and people who went out to exercise their First Amendment rights after the George Floyd uprising and who were met with extreme police violence, we want those cases to be dismissed. We don’t want more punishment for people who came out on January 6 as some kind of offset.”
Lots of details at the link:
John Sullivan, a self-described activist for racial justice who filmed the fatal shooting of the QAnon cultist Ashli Babbitt during the storming of the U.S. Capitol, was detained in Utah on Thursday on federal charges of interfering with efforts by the police to stop the riot. According to an affidavit submitted to a federal court in Washington, D.C., the FBI determined that Sullivan was not just an observer but a participant in the riot, based on a review of nearly 90 minutes of raw footage of the raid that he recorded on his phone and posted on YouTube. He is being held by the Toeele County Sheriff’s Office, near his home in Sandy, Utah.
For the past week, Sullivan’s presence in the Capitol, and his previous record of anti-Trump activism, has been the focus of frenzied attention in the right-wing media, where the baseless conspiracy theory that pro-Trump rioters were led into violence by left-wing antifascist agitators lives on. At the same time, left-wing organizers have been keen to stress that they ejected Sullivan from their ranks months ago, accusing him of being either a right-wing infiltrator or a dangerously naive amateur.
Although Sullivan began describing himself as a journalist in the aftermath of the raid, when his footage of the shooting was licensed by major news organizations, including The Washington Post and MSNBC, his raw footage captures him repeatedly expressing what sounded like genuine enthusiasm for the success of the riot. At one point highlighted in the federal complaint, Sullivan could even be heard trying to convince police officers to abandon their posts and let the rioters seize the House chamber. If Sullivan’s prosecution proceeds, it will focus new attention on the ever-thinner line between journalism and activism in the era of social media, as participants in demonstrations become an ever more important source of the viral images that frequently define the success or failure of a protest.
MSNBC: Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) just implied that Rep Lauren Boebert (R-CO) gave the "reconnaissance tour" of the Capitol building the day before the deadly attacks on the Capitol, showing maps and escape routes to the insurrectionists.
— Not Donald Trump (Dale Cooper) (@DCooper_Resists) January 13, 2021
The storming of the U.S. Capitol on January 6 has brought to the fore a host of activists on the extreme right whose violent rhetoric helped to create the conditions for an assault that left five dead. One of the most prominent of those activists is Arizona Republican Party Chair Kelli Ward.
On December 19, Ward fired off a tweet urging President Donald Trump to “cross the Rubicon,” referring to the historical event that led to Julius Caesar declaring a dictatorship in ancient Rome. The tweet was shared by former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn. On January 4, Ward’s Arizona Republican Party retweeted Ali Alexander, one of the organizers of the event that culminated in the Capitol siege, who said that he was “willing to give my life for this fight”; the Arizona GOP said, “He is. Are you?” Later that day, the Arizona GOP tweeted, “This is what we do, who we are. Live for nothing, or die for something.”
At a rally that also occurred on December 19, Alexander praised Ward, saying “I want to thank Chairwoman Kelli Ward and the Arizona Republican Party. I work in seven states, and there is no party like the Arizona GOP Party, so let’s thank Kelli Ward.” ... Ward spoke at the rally. Ward’s role could bring attention to her biggest financiers in politics: hedge fund manager Robert Mercer and his daughter, Rebekah Mercer. The Mercers were the largest donors to Ward’s super PAC in both the 2016 and 2018 election cycles, giving $1.5 million in total as well as over $33,000 in direct contributions to her campaigns.
The Mercers have funded numerous other organizations now peddling baseless claims about the election. Rebekah Mercer is a principal investor in the Parler social media network and has an equity stake in Breitbart News, which has propagated false information about the election being stolen, and she is a close associate of former Trump adviser Steve Bannon and current Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway as well as Flynn. Robert Mercer was a major investor in Cambridge Analytica, which mined data on behalf of the Trump campaign and shared office space with Mercer-funded conservative advocacy group Reclaim New York.
In 2008, President Barack Obama prioritized getting Republican lawmakers to support a stimulus bill in the middle of an economic crisis. The effort did not go well — the legislation ended up being far smaller than necessary, the effort to appease Republicans ended up garnering barely any GOP votes for the bill in Congress and America was left with one of the slowest economic recoveries in history.
Twelve years later, amid an economic emergency, the lesson of this cautionary tale is apparently still lost on Obama’s vice president, Joe Biden, who will become president next week. According to Bloomberg News, “Biden will seek a deal with Republicans on another round of COVID-19 relief, rather than attempting to ram a package through without their support.”
Bloomberg adds: “The approach could mean a smaller initial package that features some priorities favored by Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell. The idea is to forgo using a special budget process that would remove the need to get the support of at least 10 Republicans in the Senate.”
To know this is insane, ask yourself a simple question: How is it that Democrats take back Congress and yet the Democratic president's first priority is securing a deal with Republicans? Or ask a different question: How is it that an incoming Democratic president wants to actively reward and legitimize a GOP that tried to overturn a national election, even though that incoming president doesn’t even need GOP votes to pass a stimulus bill? ...
And things get truly maddening when you remember Biden’s focus on appeasing Republicans comes at a time when the new chairman of the Senate Budget Committee that could utilize budget reconciliation is none other than Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who remains one of America’s most popular political figures and who could use that notoriety to go big. Polls show there is broad consensus in support of huge new investments.
We have the majority, and we have a mandate. We need to bring immediate, comprehensive relief to people without compromising with the same party that just encouraged and excused an insurrection. https://t.co/SYCIg8Twkn
— Jamaal Bowman (@JamaalBowmanNY) January 14, 2021
Let's not just give ordinary Americans a one-time $2,000 check. With our new majority and a worsening crisis, let's meet the need: $2,000/month, every month, until this crisis is over.
— Ro Khanna (@RoKhanna) January 14, 2021
Oh I'm sorry, did I say $2000? I meant a swift expansion of the surveillance state.
— Jawn Jacob Jingle Heimer Schmidt (@Jawn_Hancock) January 14, 2021
Joe Biden has unveiled a $1.9tn coronavirus relief proposal, aimed at urgently combating the pandemic and the economic crisis it has triggered. As the US faces its deadliest stage of the pandemic, Biden described the moment as “a crisis of deep human suffering”. The ambitious, wide-ranging plan includes $160bn to bolster vaccination and testing efforts, and other health programs and $350bn for state and local governments, as well as $1tn in relief to families, via direct payments and unemployment insurance.
Details of the aid package had been released by Biden’s transition team earlier on Thursday. If adopted, the proposal would tack on $1,400 to the $600 in direct payments for individuals that Congress approved most recently. “We will finish the job of getting a total of $2,000 in relief to people who need it the most,” Biden said.
Supplemental unemployment insurance would also increase to $400 a week from $300 a week and would be extended to September. ...
Biden has also called on lawmakers to extend a national eviction moratorium, which expires on 31 January. ...
Still, several provisions in the president-elect’s plan could face resistance, including his bid to have Congress raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. As a candidate, Biden signaled that raising the minimum wage would be a top priority. But Republicans have long opposed such a move. The Republican Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, blocked a minimum wage increase in 2019, and Republicans filibustered a minimum wage increase effort in 2014.
So far the plan has, however, united two diametrically opposed forces – Democratic socialist Sanders and big business. The US Chamber of Commerce, an influential lobbying organization that represents business interests, praised Biden’s proposal.
After Biden Vowed '$2,000 Checks Will Go Out the Door' Ahead of Georgia Wins, Relief Plan Reportedly Includes Just $1,400
On the eve of the pivotal January 5 Senate runoffs in Georgia, President-elect Joe Biden promised that if Democratic candidates Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff emerged victorious, "$2,000 checks will go out the door, restoring hope and decency and honor for so many people who are struggling right now."
Georgia voters ultimately delivered, sending Ossoff and Warnock to the Senate and giving Democrats control of the chamber.
But the coronavirus relief proposal Biden plans to unveil Thursday is reportedly expected to include direct payments of just $1,400, raising the question of whether the president-elect is already backtracking on a promise that helped Democrats retake the Senate.
"The stimulus package has a price tag above $1.5 trillion and includes a commitment for $1,400 stimulus checks," Reuters reported Thursday, citing an unnamed source familiar with the proposal.
On top of the $600 direct payment that was approved by the coronavirus relief measure signed into law last month, a new $1,400 check would bring the total direct payment that many Americans have received in recent weeks to $2,000.
That is what would have been accomplished by the House-passed CASH Act, legislation that proposed replacing the $600 payments in the most recent relief law with $2,000 checks. The Republican-controlled Senate blocked an effort by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to force a vote on the bill ahead of the Georgia runoffs. Both Warnock and Ossoff enthusiastically embraced the push for $2,000 direct payments.
But as Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, and others have continued to call for $2,000 checks in the wake of the Georgia contests without explicitly clarifying that the payments would actually be a $1,400 top-off, analysts have openly wondered what precisely Democrats are proposing.
"So, heretofore, '$2,000 checks' have meant 'increasing the size of the $600 check by $1,400," New York magazine's Eric Levitz tweeted last week, referring to the goal of the CASH Act. "When Dems talk about $2,000 checks now, is that what they mean? Or do they mean bringing the total up to $2,600?"
On Thursday, writer and freelance journalist David Mizner tweeted in response to news of Biden's $1,400 proposal that it "looks like Biden is breaking his promise of $2,000 checks."
As recently as Tuesday, Harris tweeted that "we need $2,000 stimulus checks," pointing to strained food banks across the nation, struggling essential workers, and collapsing small businesses. Two days earlier, Biden declared on Twitter, "$600 is simply not enough when you have to choose between paying rent or putting food on the table."
'No Reason for This—Other Than Greed,' Says Sanders as GAO Shows Medicare Pays Twice as Much as VA for Same Drugs
A new report commissioned by Sen. Bernie Sanders shows that Medicare Part D in 2017 paid twice as much as the Department of Veterans Affairs for the same prescription medicines, a finding the Vermont senator characterized as further evidence of the need to "take on the greed" of Big Pharma and empower the federal government to negotiate drug prices.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) study (pdf) released Thursday found that in a "sample of 399 brand-name and generic prescription drugs, the V.A. paid an average of 54% less per unit than Medicare, even after taking into account rebates and discounts."
The report found that the VA paid at least 50% less for 233 of the 399 drugs examined, and at least 75% less for 106 of the medicines.
"The programs pay for drugs differently," the GAO explains. "Medicare reimburses the Part D plan sponsors to pay pharmacies, but the VA buys drugs directly from manufacturers. The V.A. may be able to get lower prices because it can... negotiate as a single health system with a unified list of covered drugs [and] use discounts defined by law that Medicare doesn't have."
In a statement Thursday, Sanders said that "there is absolutely no reason, other than greed, for Medicare to pay twice as much for the same exact prescription drugs as the VA."
"If the VA can negotiate with the pharmaceutical companies to substantially reduce the price of prescription drugs we must empower Medicare to do so as well," Sanders added. "We can no longer allow the pharmaceutical industry to rip-off the more than 40 million people who receive prescription drug coverage through Medicare Part D and fleece U.S. taxpayers."
Under current federal law, Medicare is prohibited from negotiating drug prices with manufacturers, an unpopular ban that analysts and advocacy groups say is partially responsible for sky-high prescription medicine prices in the United States. During the 2020 campaign, President-elect Joe Biden vowed to "repeal the existing law explicitly barring Medicare from negotiating lower prices with drug corporations."
In an effort to restrain soaring drug costs, the Democrat-controlled House passed legislation in December of 2019 that would have enabled the federal government to negotiate the prices of up to 250 commonly used drugs. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) refused to allow a vote on the bill, which progressives—including Sanders—criticized as inadequate.
In January of 2019, Sanders introduced the Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Act, legislation that would have directed the secretary of Health and Human Services "to negotiate lower prices with drug manufacturers that participate in Medicare Part D."
"The United States pays by far the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs. This has created a healthcare crisis in which one in five American adults cannot afford to get the medicine they need," Sanders said at the time. "If the pharmaceutical industry will not end its greed, which is literally killing Americans, then we will end it for them."
Bond Modification Sought After Alleged Kenosha Killer Kyle Rittenhouse Drinks Beer, Flashes White Power Signs With So-Called 'Proud Boys'
Criminal justice reform advocates on Thursday reaffirmed calls for cash bail reform following reports that Kyle Rittenhouse, the alleged killer of two people in Kenosha, Wisconsin last August, was recently spotted drinking in a bar and flashing white power signs with men who local prosecutors said in a court filing were neo-fascist Proud Boys.
Kenosha County prosecutors on Wednesday asked a judge to modify Rittenhouse's bond agreement after he was seen visiting Pudgy's Pub in Mount Pleasant with his mother on January 5, the same day he pleaded not guilty to first-degree intentional homicide charges in connection with the shooting deaths of Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber at a Black Lives Matter protest on August 25, 2020.
Prosecutors ask that judge ban Kyle Rittenhouse from associating with Proud Boys, going to bars https://t.co/bRbBhjpHzz
— Journal Sentinel (@journalsentinel) January 14, 2021
Now prosecutors want the 18-year-old Rittenhouse banned from bars and from fraternization with white supremacists following surveillance footage showing him in the bar apparently drinking beers while wearing a "Free as Fuck" t-shirt, flashing white power signs, and posing for maskless photos with apparent Proud Boys supporters, who loudly serendaded the alleged killer with "Proud of Your Boy," a song from the 1992 Disney film Aladdin coopted as the hate group's unofficial anthem.
People ages 18-20 can legally drink alcohol in Wisconsin if accompanied by a parent, guardian, or spouse. However, prosecutors argued that "the defendant's continued association with members of a group that prides itself on violence, and the use of their symbols, raises the significant possibility of future harm."
"Further, this association may serve to intimidate potential witnesses, who may be unwilling to testify in this case because they may fear that the defendant's associates will harm them or their families," they added.
Police in the United States are three times more likely to use force against leftwing protesters than rightwing protesters, according to new data from a non-profit that monitors political violence around the world.
In the past 10 months, US law enforcement agencies have used teargas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, and beatings at a much higher percentage at Black Lives Matter demonstrations than at pro-Trump or other rightwing protests.
Law enforcement officers were also more likely to use force against leftwing demonstrators, whether the protests remained peaceful or not.
The statistics, based on law enforcement responses to more than 13,000 protests across the United States since April 2020, show a clear disparity in how agencies have responded to the historic wave of Black Lives Matter protests against police violence, compared with demonstrations organized by Trump supporters. ...
The new statistics come from the US Crisis Monitor, a database created this spring by researchers at Princeton and the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data project (ACLED), a nonprofit that has previously monitored civil unrest in the Middle East, Europe and Latin America.
Letitia James, New York’s attorney general, sued the New York police department (NYPD) on Thursday, calling the rough treatment of protesters against racial injustice last spring part of a longstanding pattern of abuse that stemmed from inadequate training, supervision and discipline.
James’ lawsuit includes dozens of examples of alleged misconduct during the spring demonstrations in the wake of George Floyd’s police killing, including the use of pepper spray and batons on protesters, trapping demonstrators with a technique called kettling and arresting medics and legal observers.
“We found a pattern of deeply concerning and unlawful practices that the NYPD utilized in response to these largely peaceful protests,” James said at a news conference announcing the lawsuit. James, a Democrat, was tasked by the governor, Andrew Cuomo, with investigating whether NYPD officers used excessive force to quell unrest and enforce Mayor Bill de Blasio’s nightly curfew.
She issued a preliminary report in July that cited a “clear breakdown of trust between police and the public”. She is seeking reforms including the appointment of a monitor to oversee the NYPD’s policing tactics at future protests and a court order declaring that the policies and practices the department used during the protests were unlawful.
purely for amusement purposes:
An anti-tax group funded primarily by billionaires has emerged as one of the biggest backers of the Republican lawmakers who sought to overturn the US election results, according to an analysis by the Guardian.
The Club for Growth has supported the campaigns of 42 of the rightwing Republicans senators and members of the House of Representatives who voted last week to challenge US election results, doling out an estimated $20m to directly and indirectly support their campaigns in 2018 and 2020, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.
About 30 of the Republican hardliners received more than $100,000 in indirect and direct support from the group.
The Club for Growth’s biggest beneficiaries include Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz, the two Republican senators who led the effort to invalidate Joe Biden’s electoral victory, and the newly elected far-right gun-rights activist Lauren Boebert, a QAnon conspiracy theorist. Boebert was criticised last week for tweeting about the House speaker Nancy Pelosi’s location during the attack on the Capitol, even after lawmakers were told not to do so by police.
Public records show the Club for Growth’s largest funders are the billionaire Richard Uihlein, the Republican co-founder of the Uline shipping supply company in Wisconsin, and Jeffrey Yass, the co-founder of Susquehanna International Group, an options trading group based in Philadelphia that also owns a sports betting company in Dublin. While Uihlein and Yass have kept a lower profile than other billionaire donors such as Michael Bloomberg and the late Sheldon Adelson, their backing of the Club for Growth has helped to transform the organization from one traditionally known as an anti-regulatory and anti-tax pro-business pressure group to one that backs some of the most radical and anti-democratic Republican lawmakers in Congress.
Last year was by a narrow margin the hottest ever on record, according to Nasa, with the climate crisis stamping its mark on 2020 through soaring temperatures, enormous hurricanes and unprecedented wildfires.
The average global land and ocean temperature in 2020 was the highest ever measured, Nasa announced on Thursday, edging out the previous record set in 2016 by less than a tenth of a degree.
Due to slightly different methods used, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) judged 2020 as fractionally cooler than 2016, while the UK Met Office also put 2020 in a close second place. The European Union’s climate observation program puts the two years in a dead heat.
Regardless of these minor differences, all the datasets again underlined the long-term heating up of the planet due to the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation and other human activities.
The world’s seven hottest years on record have now all occurred since 2014, with the 10 warmest all taking place in the last 15 years. There have now been 44 consecutive years where global temperatures have been above the 20th-century average.
Millions of people around the world are facing disaster from flood, droughts, heatwaves and other extreme weather, as governments fail to take the measures needed to adapt to the impacts of climate breakdown, the UN has warned.
Nearly three-quarters of countries around the world have recognised the need to plan for the effects of global heating, but few of those plans are adequate to the rising threat, and little funding has been made available to put them into force, according to the UN environment programme’s Adaptation report 2020, published on Thursday.
But spending on measures to adapt to extreme weather has failed to keep pace with the rising need, according to UNEP. Only about $30bn (£22bn) is provided each year in development aid, to help poor countries cope with the effects of the climate crisis, which is less than half of the $70bn currently estimated to be needed. Those costs are set to increase further, to between $140bn and $300bn by the end of the decade.
About half of global climate finance should be devoted to adaptation, the UN secretary-general, António Guterres, has said, with the rest going to efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, while private companies are often willing to provide funding for some projects to reduce emissions, such as profitable renewable energy generation schemes in rapidly emerging economies, projects that help people adapt to the impact of climate change, such as early warning systems, flood barriers or storm drains, are often more difficult to finance.
Former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder was charged Wednesday with two counts of willful neglect of duty for his role in the deadly and ongoing Flint water crisis, news that comes in the wake of a report indicating Snyder was aware of a Legionnaires' disease outbreak linked to the emergency months before he acknowledged it in public.
According to court records, Michigan prosecutors have charged the former Republican governor with misdemeanors that each carry up to one year in jail or a maximum fine of $1,000—a punishment that Flint resident and activist Melissa Mays denounced as "beyond disgusting and insulting."
"In America, a rich white man can poison 100,000 people and only get charged with a misdemeanor and fined one cent per poisoned person," Mays tweeted late Wednesday. "That is not justice!"
The Wall Street Journal reported that "the charging document, a bare-bones filing made Wednesday in state court in Flint, lists only the two charges, and refers to April 25, 2014, as the 'offense date.' That day, Flint officials held a ceremony at the city's water plant to switch its water supply to the Flint River."
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
The Untold Story of How the Republican Attorneys General Association, Funded with Large Sums from Corporate Felons, Including OxyContin Drug Pusher Purdue, Participated in Recruiting the Mob that Attacked the Capitol
A Little Night Music
Robert Cray, Robben Ford, David Sanborn, Marcus Miller - All Your Love
The Robert Cray Band - Poor Johnny
Robert Cray - Smoking Gun
Tina Turner Duet with Robert Cray - 634 5789
Robert Cray - Sittin On Top Of The World
Robert Cray and Shemekia Copeland - I Pity The Fool
Robert Cray, Keith Richards, Chuck Berry - Brown Eyed Handsome Man
The Rolling Stones w/Robert Cray - Stop Breaking Down
Robert Cray ~ That's What Keeps Me Rockin'
Robert Cray: Cookin' in Mobile 2010