The Evening Blues - 1-19-21
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features early blues singer Crying Sam Collins. Enjoy!
Crying Sam Collins - Riverside Blues
"If you're not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing."
-- Malcolm X
News and Opinion
The U.S. Justice Department has reversed an earlier assertion in court by prosecutors that protestors who broke into the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 had plans to “capture and assassinate elected officials.” Instead, the head of the DOJ investigation into the Capitol siege admitted that federal prosecutors filed a misleading statement before a federal judge in Arizona that was intended to prevent Jacob Chansley, aka Jake Angeli, from being released on bail.
The DOJ said that though there were calls to kill officials during the two-hour takeover of the Capitol, no evidence has been discovered yet to prove any serious effort to carry out such a plan.
“There is no direct evidence at this point of kill-capture teams and assassination,” Michael Sherwin, the Washington DC federal district attorney running the investigation of the attack, told reporters, Agence France-Presse reported. Sherwin said it may be “appropriate” to raise it at trial, but at this point it could “mislead the court.”
The original story of intentions to kill officials has entered the media discourse and is likely to remain a Democratic talking point despite the DOJ reversal. The only major media outlets that reported the new story is NBC News and The Washington Post. It has not appeared in The New York Times or on CNN’s website, for instance.
Having saturated the public with days of lurid tales of intentions to hang Vice President Mike Pence and abduct House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, it will be hard to shake such beliefs without reporting the DOJ’s reversal with the same intensity.
Thousands of military personnel guarding Joe Biden’s inauguration as US president on Wednesday are being vetted by the FBI amid fears of an insider attack.
The biggest ever security operation for a presidential transition has turned swaths of Washington into a fortress, barricades, razor wire and 7ft fences erected to prevent a repeat of the deadly 6 January attack on the US Capitol by a mob incited by Donald Trump.
National guard personnel train part-time while holding civilian jobs or attending college. Some 25,000 members – more than double the number at previous inaugurations – are pouring into Washington from across the country, at short notice.
There are concerns that some of the very people assigned to protect the city could present a threat to the incoming president and other dignitaries, the Associated Press reported. Their names will be fed through an FBI database for any evidence of connections to investigations or terrorism or other red flags. ...
At least two active-duty service members or national guard members have been arrested in connection with the Capitol assault. Video footage from inside the building suggests some rioters had military training and that there was a significant level of planning and coordination.
Parler, the social network popular with Donald Trump supporters, has partially returned online with the help of a Russian-owned technology company. The network vanished from the internet after it was dropped by Amazon’s hosting arm and other partners over a lack of moderation after its users called for violence and posted videos glorifying the attack on the US Capitol on 6 January.
On Monday, Parler’s website was reachable again, though only with a message from its chief executive, John Matze, saying he was working to restore functionality.
The internet protocol (IP) address it used is owned by DDos-Guard, which is controlled by two Russian men and provides services including protection from distributed denial of service attacks, infrastructure expert Ronald Guilmette told Reuters. ...
If Parler’s “free speech” website is fully restored, users would be able to see and post comments. Most users prefer the app, however, which remains banned from the official Apple and Google stores.
Federal authorities are looking for a woman whose former romantic partner says she took a laptop from the office of the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, during the riot at the US Capitol earlier this month. The FBI said in an arrest warrant on Sunday, however, that Riley June Williams has not been charged with theft but only with illegally entering the Capitol and with disorderly conduct.
FBI officials said a caller claiming to be an ex of Williams said friends of hers showed him a video of her taking a laptop computer or hard drive from Pelosi’s office. The caller alleged that she intended to send the device to a friend in Russia who planned to sell it to that country’s foreign intelligence service, but that plan fell through and she either has the device or has destroyed it. ...
Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff, Drew Hammill, confirmed on 8 January that a laptop was taken from a conference room but said “it was a laptop that was only used for presentations”.
Donald Trump is expected to issue more than 100 presidential pardons on Tuesday, during his final hours in the White House, but may not pardon himself or his immediate family, it was reported on Monday. White House officials say Trump has privately debated with aides whether he should take the extraordinary step of pardoning himself. Some administration insiders have reportedly warned against it, arguing that it would make Trump look guilty.
On Sunday, Trump met his son-in-law Jared Kushner, daughter Ivanka Trump and senior advisers to thrash out a lengthy list of pardon requests, the Washington Post reported. The meeting took up much of the day. The president was personally engaged with the details of every case, it said. ...
CNN reported on Monday that the final batch of clemency actions was expected to feature criminal justice reform-minded pardons as well as more controversial ones for allies and friends. Lobbyists have been pushing for months to include their clients on Trump’s valedictory list. ...
Participants in the Capitol riot have appealed directly – via television or their lawyers – for pardons from Trump. On Sunday Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a key Trump ally, appealed to the president directly, telling him not to pardon anyone associated with the attack.
A last-minute campaign by a coalition of groups working to check monopoly is being launched to stave off what they worry could be a series of calamitous antitrust appointments by President-elect Joe Biden. The move follows reports on Friday from the American Prospect and The Intercept, confirmed and expanded on Sunday by Reuters, that Biden is leaning toward two attorneys with deep experience advising monopoly platforms to head the antitrust division at the Department of Justice.
Renata Hesse, a former Justice Department official under President Barack Obama, worked alongside Sen. Ted Cruz defending Google a decade ago, helped shepherd through the Amazon/Whole Foods merger, and represented several pharmaceutical companies and other clients in antitrust cases. She is the leading contender for the assistant attorney general for antitrust position, multiple sources told the Prospect and The Intercept on Friday. Sources also said that Juan Arteaga, another Obama Justice Department veteran who defended JPMorgan Chase and several other financial firms in fraud cases and represented AT&T in its merger with Time Warner, was also being considered but was more likely to be appointed deputy assistant attorney general in the antitrust division. Reuters on Sunday reported that Hesse and Arteaga were the leading candidates for AAG.
The Big Tech ties have progressives particularly exercised by the possible Hesse pick, though Arteaga’s long track record of working on behalf of consolidation is also alarming. There are active anti-monopoly cases at the antitrust division against Google and Facebook, the biggest such cases in 20 years. Hesse’s work for Google would likely force her to recuse from the former. There is bipartisan support for reining in Big Tech and a blueprint for how to do it in an exhaustive report from the House Antitrust Subcommittee. Picking a Big Tech lawyer would open up Biden to criticism from the left and right, aside from the unusual circumstance of the top attorney in the division recusing herself from the most important case under her watch.
“Bringing in anybody from Big Tech to a leadership role in antitrust is a political, policy, and managerial disaster,” said Zephyr Teachout, author of “Break ’Em Up” and a frequent Big Tech critic, referring to Hesse. “We know how the revolving door works. The ideology of big companies shapes the ideology of government.” ...
The final decision on who will take the AAG position has not been made, but the current candidates for the top job and the deputy positions include a number of additional corporate attorneys, as well as at least one with progressive backing. Jonathan Kanter, a plaintiff’s lawyer who helped design the cases against Google and Facebook, remains in the mix for the AAG job. Gene Kimmelman is being considered for a deputy position, and while he brings consumer protection experience and has some progressive support, a recent paper of his suggesting that an entirely new agency is needed to tackle digital platforms has some reformers skeptical of his commitment to aggressive antitrust enforcement. Floating his name could be a way for the Biden team to make a show of progressive inclusion without changing the actual dynamic.
Many Americans appear to be experiencing cautious optimism about the role that vaccines could play in ending the pandemic. But recent public opinion research suggests that 29 percent to 37 percent of Americans plan to refuse a COVID-19 vaccine. According to some epidemiological estimates, as many as three-fourths of Americans must become immune to Covid-19 — either by recovering from the disease or by getting vaccinated — to halt the virus’s spread.
Since Pfizer and Moderna vaccines gained emergency use authorization, front-line health care workers and other vulnerable groups have started to receive the vaccine. Public opinion research, however, has documented substantial Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy. While intentions to vaccinate have rebounded in recent weeks following a substantial drop-off this past summer, some recent estimates suggest that more than a third of Americans plan to forgo vaccination. Refusal rates that high could jeopardize our ability to achieve population immunity, and thereby prolong the pandemic.
Worth a full read:
As Fed Chair, Janet Yellen Discounted Economic Desperation. The Pandemic Will Likely Force a Different Approach.
Janet Yellen will face senators tomorrow at her confirmation hearing. While the January 6 assault on the Capitol and the ensuing threat of further far-right violence has taken precedence over news from the Biden transition, the decisions that Yellen makes — how seriously she takes the economic desperation suffered by millions of Americans — could determine whether or not in 2023 Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is the chair of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee overseeing the Capitol Police.
Yellen will face senators tomorrow at her confirmation hearing. While the January 6 assault on the Capitol and the ensuing threat of further far-right violence has taken precedence over news from the Biden transition, the decisions that Yellen makes — how seriously she takes the economic desperation suffered by millions of Americans — could determine whether or not in 2023 Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is the chair of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee overseeing the Capitol Police.
Yellen’s tenure at the Fed, which included rate hikes that almost certainly caused higher unemployment rates from 2015 through 2017, demonstrates that Yellen has, in the past, overestimated the strength of the economy for working people. Her recent statements, however, suggest that the pandemic, along with the run of wage growth and unemployment decline after 2017 many economists thought wasn’t possible, has altered her thinking, and she now believes in aggressive action by the Fed and Treasury to continue to lift up the economy. In October, Yellen said, “While the pandemic is still seriously affecting the economy, we need to continue extraordinary fiscal support. … We need support for the economy from both monetary and fiscal policy.”
Which direction she chooses — austerity or stimulus, deficits or employment — will have enormous import for this deeply divided country.
Joe Biden is planning to cancel the permit for the $9bn Keystone XL pipeline project as one of his first acts as president, perhaps as soon as his first day in office, according to a source familiar with his thinking.
Donald Trump had made building the pipeline a central promise of his presidential campaign. Biden, who will be inaugurated on Wednesday, was vice-president in the Obama administration when it rejected the project as contrary to its efforts to combat the climate crisis.
The words “rescind Keystone XL pipeline permit” appear on a list of executive actions likely to be scheduled for the first day of Biden’s presidency, according to an earlier report by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
Biden had previously vowed to scrap the oil pipeline’s presidential permit if he became president.
The project, which would move oil from the Canadian province of Alberta to Nebraska, had been slowed by legal issues in the US. It also faced opposition from environmentalists seeking to check the expansion of Canada’s oil sands by opposing new pipelines to move its crude to refineries.
The outgoing Trump administration is proposing to strip away protections for millions of acres of California desert, threatening damage to Joshua trees, desert tortoises and landmarks. The plan would open up California’s desert areas to mining projects, eliminate up to 2.2m acres of conservation lands, as well as remove 1.8m acres designated as Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (Acecs).
Acecs are regions given special protections because of extra sensitive and culturally important features. The spires of eroded volcanic rock known as Turtle Mountain, for example, is one of the Acecs considered for the chopping block, and has an extremely dense population of endangered desert tortoise, as well as many indigenous homestead sites and historic mining camps.
“It’s a bit baffling at the 11th hour that something like this would hit the street,” said Geary Hund, the executive director for the Mojave Desert Land Trust, a non-profit conservation group that has purchased nearly 90,000 acres of desert over 15 years in order to protect it. “It doesn’t make sense. Any changes to this plan should really be within the purview of the new administration.
“I’m not saying that there should be no renewable energy development out here,” Hund said. “But I think it needs to be thoughtful, smart and avoid impacts to important conservation lands.”
Other areas that would be affected by the rule changes include wildlife corridors near beloved desert landscapes, such as Death Valley national park, Mojave Trails national monument and Joshua Tree national park. The amendment would also change or eliminate 68 existing conservation rules. The changes would allow for greater impacts in recreation areas used by hikers, birders and off-road vehicles.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Crying Sam Collins - My Road Is Rough And Rocky
Crying Sam Collins - Hesitation Blues
Crying Sam Collins - Devil In The Lion's Den
Crying Sam Collins - The Jailhouse Blues
Crying Sam Collins - New Salty Dog
Crying Sam Collins - Dark Cloudy Blues
Crying Sam Collins - Yellow Dog Blues
Crying Sam Collins - Midnight Special Blues
Crying Sam Collins - Lonesome Road Blues