The Evening Blues - 2-25-21


The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: The Chairmen of the Board

Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features soul group The Chairmen of the Board. Enjoy!

The Chairmen of the Board - Give Me Just A Little More Time

“Hell is truth seen too late.”

-- Thomas Hobbes

News and Opinion


Freedom Rider: No Human Rights in Texas

The term “human rights” is a serious one but it has been so badly misused in this country that its meaning has been lost. ... The definition was discussed at a press briefing given by Hua Chunying, spokeswoman for China’s foreign ministry. “Not to be wanting of food or clothing, not to be hungry or cold, this is the fundamental human right that is the most real. In the meantime in Texas ... millions of people found themselves caught in the terrible situation of not having electricity and heating at home, a few tens of people even lost their lives because of this. This gave the Chinese people a deeper appreciation for what is the real human right, and made us believe more strongly that China is on the right path. We are fully confident about our future.” ...

The average American has an image of this country that is a mixture of fantasy, indoctrination, and ignorance. They think of their country as being “rich” because that is what they have been told. But the word is meaningless and bears little resemblance to the life experiences of people who struggle. How great is a nation if it doesn’t manage the simple task of weatherizing its energy infrastructure? Yet there has to be serious analysis of the situation lest finger pointing and do-goodism take the place of meaningful discussion. Texas Senator Ted Cruz was caught sneaking away to Cancun, Mexico with his family when they didn’t want to be inconvenienced like everyone else in their state. His public relations nemesis, New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, made the most of the moment and spearheaded a charity drive which ultimately raised $3 million. She even showed up in Houston herself to embarrass Cruz in person.

Personal charity is no substitute for a government that acts on behalf of and in the interests of its people. No individual should have to raise money for Texas. The federal government and that state are responsible for the care of the people. Of course, Texas is extremely conservative with no income taxes, a legislature that only meets every other year, and no requirements for the ironically named Energy Reliability Council of Texas to make sure that it can operate safely in cold weather. Stupid politicians, tit for tat attention seeking, and feel-good fund raising are not the point of the matter. People have a right to have their most basic needs met and it is the responsibility of the government to ensure public safety and provide relief when needed. In an ideal, non-capitalist country, utilities would be in public hands. No government would be allowed to disconnect itself from standards of safety.

The corporate media will often show images of sparse food store offerings in Cuba or Venezuela to make the case against socialism. (The same reports never mention the damage caused by U.S. sanctions.) But the reverse never happens. Despite thousands of photographs showing empty shelves, people waiting on long lines for food and water, and property damage caused by governmental neglect, very few will ask if capitalism is to blame for this catastrophe.

As leaks expose UK op to 'weaken' Russia, suppression of Grayzone reporting backfires

Amnesty strips Alexei Navalny of 'prisoner of conscience' status

Amnesty International has said it will cease calling Alexei Navalny a “prisoner of conscience”, following pressure to condemn anti-migrant statements he made in the 2000s as hate speech.

Employees of Amnesty International said the organisation had received messages about Navalny’s past remarks that they felt “were part of a coordinated campaign to discredit him abroad”, but nonetheless felt compelled to change his designation.

“Yes, we are no longer going to use the phrase ‘prisoner of conscience’ in regards to [Navalny] insofar as our law and policy department, having reviewed Navalny’s remarks from the mid-2000s, came to the conclusion that they meet the level of ‘hate speech’,” Alexander Artemev, Amnesty International’s media manager for Europe and central Asia, told TV Rain.

In a crowing tweet, the head of Russia’s state-funded TV network RT, Margarita Simonyan, wrote that the west was “crying that this came after our columnist used concrete examples that reminded everyone he [Navalny] is a Nazi”.

She added: “Happy Defender of the Fatherland Day, countrymen!” ...

Amnesty International’s change in policy was made internally and was revealed this week in an email exchange posted online by Aaron Maté, a US journalist who has been critical of Navalny.

'Like a bad joke': Al Jazeera staff bemused at rightwing US venture

Al Jazeera’s surprise decision to launch a digital platform for conservatives in the US has left many within the Qatar-based news organisation dumbfounded and confused, staff have told the Guardian. The network has announced the launch of Rightly, a platform that will host programmes and produce online content aimed at “audiences currently underrepresented in today’s media environment”, in this case right-of-centre Americans.

It will be overseen by Scott Norvell, part of the founding team of Fox News, who said in a press release that Rightly aimed to show the wide spectrum of the American right. ... The platform’s first show, “an opinion-led interview programme”, will launch on Thursday.

The announcement of the new franchise appears to fit awkwardly with a Qatar government-funded organisation that has fashioned itself as a leading international outlet of the global south and an alternative to the western media perspective on regions such as Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

“So far the co-workers I’ve talked to are just dumbfounded,” said an Al Jazeera employee who asked not to be named. “They didn’t know it was coming and are confused why they would do this.” An Al Jazeera journalist based outside Qatar said the decision was a shock to staff. “It’s pretty weird,” they said. “I can’t see how it works for them.” Some Al Jazeera staff were calling the new platform Wrongly, they added.

“Decades in the Making”: How Mainstream Conservatives & Right-Wing Money Fueled the Capitol Attack

Judge Upholds California's Gold Standard Net Neutrality Law

Defenders of the open internet celebrated a major victory late Tuesday after a federal judge ruled that a California law establishing strong net neutrality protections can take effect, a severe blow to the telecom giants that spent big money trying to kill the measure through aggressive lobbying and litigation.

The California state legislature approved the protections in 2018 after former President Donald Trump's Federal Communications Commission (FCC)—then headed by ex-Verizon lawyer Ajit Pai—voted to repeal national net neutrality rules in late 2017, opening the door to throttling and other telecom manipulation and degradation of internet service.

In his ruling on Tuesday, Judge John Mendez of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California rejected a telecom industry motion for a preliminary injunction against the Golden State's attempt to preserve and strengthen open internet protections in the wake of the FCC's rollback of federal standards.

"We applaud the court for affirming that California has the power to protect access to the internet, and that net neutrality is vital for healthcare, education, public safety, and economic growth," California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement. "This is an important victory for all Californians and for our democracy."

Brought in 2018 by four groups representing such telecom behemoths as Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast, the industry-led legal effort came on top of a lawsuit filed that same year by the Trump Justice Department. Earlier this month, the Biden administration withdrew the DOJ challenge, a move that Acting FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel celebrated as a key step toward restoring net neutrality nationwide.

America's Communications Association, CTIA, the NCTA, and USTelecom said they plan to review Mendez's ruling before "deciding on next steps," including a possible appeal.

Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future, said in a statement Tuesday that "telecom lobbyists used every dirty trick in the book to try to kill off California's gold standard net neutrality law" and voiced confidence that any appeal will fall flat.

"They spent millions on lobbying. They drove misleading robo-calls to senior citizens. They propped up fake astroturf organizations, paid off an academic, and lied through their teeth. And they still lost," said Greer. "That's because net neutrality is one of the most popular policies of the last century." ...

Since Democrats took full control of the federal government last month, activists have been pressuring the Biden administration and congressional Democrats to restore net neutrality protections at the national level. Following Tuesday's ruling, Greer said Congress should use California's efforts as a roadmap and "ensure that any future legislative protections are at least as good as California's law—rock solid, with no loopholes for devious ISPs to abuse."

California is one of several states—including Washington and Oregon—that moved to institute their own net neutrality protections following the FCC's vote to repeal the federal rules in 2017.

As the Washington Post's Tony Romm reported last month, "Reinstating those protections [nationwide] may prove difficult for Rosenworcel and her Democratic peers, at least at first. The FCC, with two Democrats and two Republicans, is politically deadlocked, lacking a fifth member."

"The process of naming that fifth member of the FCC, either a new Democratic chair or commissioner, is likely to span months—preventing Rosenworcel from forging ahead as interim leader for the time being," Romm noted. "In the meantime, advocates said they plan to dial up the pressure, aiming to ensure Biden makes a pick who supports their cause and Senate Democrats act quickly to return the commission to its full strength."

“Not Ready to Give Up”: Democrats Push Senate to Keep Popular $15 Minimum Wage in Stimulus Bill

Billionaires Added $1.3 Trillion to Their Fortunes During Pandemic

As the United States this week mourned the devastating milestone of 500,000 lives lost to the coronavirus, a report out Wednesday shows that the nation's billionaires have seen their collective wealth grow by $1.3 trillion since the deadly pandemic began last year.

According to the new analysis by the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) and Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF), America's 664 billionaires now have a combined net worth of $4.2 trillion—a figure that stands in staggering contrast to the economic pain being felt by countless families across the U.S. as joblessness, uninsurance, and hunger remain sky-high.

"It is unseemly that billionaires have experienced such gains as we mark a half a million lives lost and millions more who have lost their health, wealth and jobs," Chuck Collins, director of the Program on Inequality at IPS, said in a statement. "Taxing those who have experienced windfall wealth gains to pay for Covid relief and recovery is a matter of equity and justice."

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos—the richest man in the world—and SpaceX founder Elon Musk saw their wealth grow by $76.3 billion and $158 billion respectively between March 18, 2020 and February 19, 2021—bigger gains than any other U.S. billionaire. Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, saw his net worth jump by $41 billion during that period.

"Even as congressional Republicans try to nickel-and-dime suffering Americans by opposing President Biden's American Rescue Plan, including its $1,400 relief checks, American billionaires have reaped $1.3 trillion in pandemic profits," said ATF executive director Frank Clemente. "The need for the kind of fair-share tax program Biden ran and won on becomes clearer every day, as billionaire wealth balloons while working-family hopes deflate."

Krystal Ball: Democrat CAUGHT Bilking Taxpayers On Behalf Of Big Bank

Worth a full read:

Dems’ Gift To Health Insurance Predators

Propping up the corporate health insurance industry isn’t cheap or painless, but for Democrats in Washington, it’s the only way. Instead of enacting a universal Medicare for All health care system that would save the United States and its citizens hundreds of billions of dollars annually, temporarily expanding Medicare or championing a promised “public option,” Democrats are rallying behind a health care proposal that will funnel tens of billions of dollars to corporate health insurance companies even as they are already experiencing record profits and jacking up premiums, while continuing to deny claims.

Democrats’ current plan will lower people’s premiums, but only on a temporary basis. It will also not stop insurers from passing on huge out-of-pocket costs to enrollees if they need medical care, nor does it improve the quality of people’s health insurance. Indeed, it will push people onto state exchanges where one in six in-network medical claims were denied in 2019. The proposal would be a boon for the health insurance industry, which has specifically lobbied for the new subsidies. Health insurers have already seen their profits skyrocket during the COVID-19 pandemic, since people have avoided going to the doctor, which means insurance companies are paying less to providers while collecting the same amount of premiums.

House Democrats’ COVID relief legislation, modeled on President Joe Biden’s “American Rescue Plan,” would increase subsidies available to people buying health insurance on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace and greatly expand who’s eligible for subsidized coverage. Americans who don’t qualify for any premium tax credit today because they earn more than $51,040 (or $104,800 for families of four) would see their premiums capped at 8.5 percent of their income. The House language would also provide premium subsidies to Americans collecting unemployment, and it would subsidize 85 percent of the cost of COBRA coverage to help people who were laid off during the pandemic keep their employer-sponsored insurance plans. Labor unions want to see COBRA subsidized at 100 percent, as Biden’s plan called for. ...

The Congressional Budget Office projects 1.3 million new people will gain insurance coverage under these provisions, meaning that millions of Americans will remain uninsured during a historic, deadly pandemic. There were nearly 29 million uninsured people in the U.S. in 2019, before COVID caused widespread job losses.

Will BERNIE Be Deciding Vote On Neera Tanden?

Johnson & Johnson's one-shot Covid vaccine effective, FDA review says

Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot coronavirus vaccine appeared safe and effective in trials, US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) staff said in documents published on Wednesday, paving the way for emergency authorization in the US.

An advisory panel of independent experts will meet on Friday to decide whether to recommend the vaccine be authorized. While the FDA is not bound to follow the advice of its experts, the agency did so when authorizing the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines late last year.

The vaccine was effective in reducing the risk of Covid-19 and preventing PCR test-confirmed Covid-19 at least 14 days after vaccination, the FDA said in its briefing documents.

In a trial of more than 44,000 participants, federal regulators said the vaccine was 72% effective in the US, 66% effective in Latin America and 57% effective in South Africa, where the B1351 variant is widespread.

The vaccine was 85% effective at preventing severe cases of Covid-19. The vaccine’s efficacy rate held across Asian, Black, white and Latino trial participants.

Biden is locking up migrant children. Will the world still care with Trump gone?

This week, the Biden administration did the unthinkable. It reopened a Trump-era detention site for migrant children. The detention center, a reconverted camp for oil field workers in Carrizo Springs, Texas, is expected to hold 700 children between the ages of 13 and 17, and dozens of kids have already arrived there.

This is an awful development, reminding me of some of the worst abuses of the Trump years. And while we obviously don’t know how this ominous development will play out in the long run, what we do know is this: unaccompanied migrant children deserve compassion, not detention. But rather than seeking out new and better solutions, the Biden administration is instead trying to sell us an image of a kinder, gentler imprisonment.

How else are we to understand the words of Mark Weber, spokesperson for Health and Human Services (HHS), the agency that oversees the welfare of unaccompanied migrant children? Weber told the Washington Post that “the Biden administration is moving away from the ‘law-enforcement focused’ approach of the Trump administration to one in which child welfare is more centric”. That may play well as a soundbite, but how welfare-centric is it to place children in jail in the first place? And if you don’t think it’s a jail, you should know that the “unaccompanied teens sent to the Carrizo Springs shelter will not be allowed to leave the facility”, as reported by the news website ...

Despite the language coming from the administration, these children are facing a terrible and possibly illegal situation. In 1997, a class-action lawsuit settlement established standards for the detention and release of unaccompanied minors taken into custody by the authorities. According to the Flores Settlement Agreement, the federal government must transfer these unaccompanied children to a non-secure and licensed facility within days of being in custody. In an emergency, the government can keep the children for up to 20 days while seeking to reunite them with family members or place them with a sponsor. Meanwhile, the Carrizo Springs site is a secure site (the kids can’t leave), is unlicensed by the state of Texas (it’s operated by a government contractor for the Office of Refugee Resettlement), and is expected to hold children for 30 days, as reported by the Washington Post, which is obviously longer than the 20 days dictated by the Flores Agreement. ...

All of these extremely disturbing facts surrounding this detention should elicit massive amounts of outrage in all of us, but the Biden administration seeks to deflect the criticism by assuring us their version of childhood detention is thoughtful and humane, even while opening a facility where kids are delivered in unmarked vans to an internment camp that is geographically remote and difficult to access. Does it feel like we’re being sold a bill of goods?

California lawmakers push to stop deportations and end jail transfers to Ice

California lawmakers are fighting to protect thousands of residents from deportation with new legislation that would stop state prisons and jails from handing over immigrants to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice).

California’s controversial practice of coordinating with Ice agents has received widespread scrutiny in past months, including after the Guardian revealed that the state had transferred two immigrant prisoners to Ice for deportation after they had served as incarcerated firefighters on the frontlines – and after they had completed their sentences. ...

Assembly member Wendy Carrillo, of Los Angeles, and other lawmakers on Wednesday unveiled legislation that would ensure that immigrant community members eligible for release from state jails or prisons would not be sent to Ice, but instead would be able to re-enter society and reunite with their families.

Supporters of Assembly Bill 937, the Voiding Inequality and Seeking Inclusion for Our Immigrant Neighbors (Vision) Act, say that the practice of transferring people from prison to Ice was a cruel form of “double punishment” that indefinitely separated people from their loved ones after they have served their time. “If it wasn’t for where they were born, these Californians would be able to return home,” Carrillo said.

California has no legal obligation to report prisoners to Ice, and despite intense backlash last year, Gavin Newsom, the state’s Democratic governor, has defended the policy and allowed the voluntary transfers to continue. The transfers can affect undocumented people and legal permanent residents, who lose their green cards once they are in Ice custody, due to their criminal records.

US navy veteran having mental health crisis died after officer knelt on his neck

A US navy veteran who was experiencing a mental health crisis died after a police officer called out to help him knelt on his neck for several minutes, asphyxiating him, lawyers for his family have said. Angelo Quinto, 30, was suffering a bout of paranoia, anxiety and depression in his family home in Antioch, northern California, when his sister Isabella Collins called police on 23 December.

According to an account given by the family at a recorded press conference, the responding officer grabbed Quinto from the arms of his mother who was trying to calm him, then knelt on his neck for almost five minutes while his legs were being held by another officer.

In a cellphone video recorded by his mother, Cassandra Quinto-Collins, her son is seen lying limp on the floor with blood on his face and on the floor beneath him. She is heard saying: “What happened? Does he have a pulse?”, as officers begin pumping his chest in an attempt to resuscitate him.

Quinto was taken unconscious to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead three days later. Lawyers for the family have filed a wrongful death claim against the city of Antioch, accusing police of having carried out an illegal chokehold.

Illinois Approves Elimination of Cash Bail

Policymakers across the United States are now facing increased pressure to eliminate cash bail after Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker this week signed into law sweeping criminal justice reform legislation that would make his state the first to do so.

House Bill 3653, which the Democratic governor signed Monday, will end cash bail by 2023. Experts and justice advocates applauded the measure as a "historic" milestone and yet another model from Illinois that could be adopted elsewhere.

"Cash bail perpetuates inequities in justice system that are disproportionately felt by communities of color and those experiencing poverty," tweeted Anthony V. Clark, a Democrat who ran last year to represent Illinois' 7th Congressional District in the U.S. House. "All other states should follow."

Police Want Larry Krasner Gone, So They’re Backing His Opponent

As Larry Krasner, Philadelphia’s reformist district attorney, faces his first reelection challenge, the city’s law enforcement groups have coalesced around a former homicide prosecutor whom Krasner fired when he entered office in 2018. Carlos Vega, one of the 31 staffers Krasner fired during his first week on the job as part of his effort to reform the culture of the office, announced his challenge to Krasner two months ago. He has garnered support from police groups, including the local chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, which represents Philadelphia police officers, and the Protect Our Police PAC, a group started by ex-cops in Philadelphia to fight against “Soros-backed candidates” and elect “pro-police” candidates, with Krasner as their primary target.

Vega’s challenge is the culmination of three years of significant opposition to Krasner’s approach to criminal justice reform from police and their allies, who have blamed him for incidents of gun violence. Krasner was a frequent target of Philadelphia’s former top federal prosecutor under President Donald Trump, Republican U.S. Attorney William McSwain, who blamed him when a police officer was shot and killed while serving an arrest warrant last spring. Lawmakers in Harrisburg, the Pennsylvania capital, passed legislation in 2019 taking away some of the DA’s power to prosecute certain gun crimes in Philadelphia, giving them instead to the attorney general. ...

The incumbent DA’s chances of winning the May primary in the heavily Democratic city are strong; he has raised more money than his opponent this cycle and has significantly more cash on hand. Still, just how much traction Vega’s campaign gains — at a time when tough-on-crime rhetoric is resonating with some segments of the public — will be a bellwether for the challenges facing other radical reformers elected on similar promises. That includes St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell, up for reelection in 2022; St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, up for reelection in 2025; and San Francisco DA Chesa Boudin, up for reelection in 2024, who have also faced intense backlash for their decarceral policies. The Philadelphia race will test whether aggressive criminal justice reforms can survive the inevitable opposition they face from groups that see such reforms as a threat to the status quo and if progressive prosecutors can out-message law enforcement groups on the other side.

the horse race

Key Biden aide said pandemic was 'best thing that ever happened to him', book says

A senior adviser to Democrat Joe Biden in his campaign for president believed “Covid is the best thing that ever happened to him”, a new book reports.

It was, the authors add, a necessarily private comment that “campaign officials believed but would never say in public” as the US reeled from the impact of the pandemic amid hospitals stretched to breaking and with deaths mounting and the economy falling off a cliff.

The remark, made to “an associate” by Anita Dunn, a Washington powerbroker who the Atlantic called “The Mastermind Behind Biden’s No-Drama Approach to Trump”, is reported in Lucky: How Joe Biden Barely Won the Presidency, by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes.

Ken Klippenstein: FBI CAUGHT Spying On Members Of Congress After January 6th

Evangelical leaders condemn role of Christian nationalism in Capitol attack

More than 100 prominent evangelical Christian pastors and church leaders have spoken out against what they call the “perversion” of Christian nationalism and the role it played in enabling the violent insurrection at the US Capitol in Washington on 6 January.

In an open letter released on Wednesday, the evangelical leaders say they are speaking out now because they do not want to be “quiet accomplices in this ongoing sin”.

They call on all church people to clarify that Christianity is incompatible with “calls to violence, support of white Christian nationalism, conspiracy theories, and all religious and racial prejudice”.

The letter, first reported by NPR, notes that the evangelical community in the US has long been susceptible to the “heresy” of Christian nationalism – the belief that the country is fundamentally Christian and run by and for white conservative Americans. The signatories blame that tendency on church leaders accommodating white supremacy over many years.

As a result the ideology of Christian nationalism was allowed to flourish and helped to legitimize the 6 January attack by giving participants the false impression that their actions were “blessed by God”, the religious leaders said.

the evening greens

Manchin Backs Haaland for Interior

Conservative Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin announced Wednesday that he will vote to confirm for President Joe Biden's nominee to lead the Interior Department, Rep. Deb Haaland.

The West Virginia senator, who'd been under sustained pressure from progressives to back Haaland (D-N.M), said in a statement that "while we do not agree on every issue, she reaffirmed her strong commitment to bipartisanship, addressing the diverse needs of our country, and maintaining our nation's energy independence."

Manchin's statement pointed to Haaland having "reiterated the position of the Biden administration that our country will continue to use fossil fuels for years to come, even as we transition to a cleaner energy future, through innovation not elimination."

"I look forward to working with her to protect our public lands and ensure the responsible use of all our natural resources in a bipartisan manner," said Manchin.

Haaland supports the Green New Deal and opposes fossil fuel drilling on public lands. A member of the Laguna Pueblo in New Mexico, Haaland would be the first-ever Native American cabinet secretary if confirmed for Interior secretary. 

The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, which Manchin chairs, held the second day of Haaland's confirmation hearing on Wednesday. Up to this point, Manchin's vote on Haaland was still unclear, making her confirmation uncertain in light of the chamber's narrow Democratic majority.

Manchin's statement appears to refer to Haaland's remarks Tuesday, when she told lawmakers: "There's no question that fossil energy does and will continue to play a major role in America for years to come. I know how important oil and gas revenues are to fund critical services."

"But," she added, "we must also recognize that the energy industry is innovating, and our climate challenge must be addressed."

Avowed Climate Champion Gavin Newsom Sued for 'Completely Unacceptable' Approval of Oil and Gas Projects in California

Accusing California regulators of "reckless disregard" for public "health and safety," the environmental advocacy group Center for Biological Diversity on Wednesday sued the administration of Gov. Gavin Newsom for approving thousands of oil and gas drilling and fracking projects without the required environmental review.

The lawsuit (pdf) claims that the California Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM) failed to adequately analyze environmental and health risks before issuing fossil fuel extraction permits, as required by law. According to the suit, California regulators approved nearly 2,000 new oil and gas permits without proper environmental review.

"CalGEM routinely violates its duty to conduct an initial study and further environmental review for any new oil and gas well drilling, well stimulation, or injection permits and approvals," the suit alleges. "Instead, CalGEM repeatedly and consistently issues permits and approvals for oil and gas drilling, well stimulation, and injection projects without properly disclosing, analyzing, or mitigating the significant environmental impacts of these projects."

The center noted that "despite Gov. Newsom's progressive rhetoric on climate change, he has failed to curb California's dirty and carbon-intensive oil and gas production."

"His regulators continue to issue thousands of permits without review, and the governor has refused to act on his stated desire to ban fracking," the group said in a statement. "Newsom's regulators also failed to meet the governor's deadline to publish a draft health-and-safety rule after vowing to do so before the end of 2020."

Last September, as deadly climate-driven wildfires ravaged large swathes of California and turned skies in the San Francisco Bay Area an apocalyptic shade of orange, Newsom called on the Democrat-controlled state legislature to stop issuing new fracking permits by 2024, drawing widespread rebuke from climate campaigners who argued that now is the time to act.

Hollin Kretzmann, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity's Climate Law Institute, said Wednesday that "it is completely unacceptable for Gov. Newsom to continue to ignore our flagship environmental law that's meant to protect people from oil industry pollution."

Texas freeze casts renewable energy as next battle line in US culture wars

The frigid winter storm and power failure that left millions of people in Texas shivering in darkness has been used to stoke what is becoming a growing front in America’s culture wars – renewable energy. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (Ercot), which oversees the Texas grid, has been clear that outages of solar and wind energy were only a minor factor in blackouts which, at their peak, left 4 million Texans without electricity, with many resorting to burning furniture or using outdoor barbecues to desperately warm themselves amid the shocking blast of Arctic-like conditions.

Crucially, the supply of natural gas, which supplies about half of Texas’s electricity, seized up due to frozen pipes and a lack of standby reserves. The grid failed after about a third of Ercot’s total capacity – supplied by coal, nuclear and gas – went offline as demand for heating dramatically surged. Regardless, the Republican leadership in Texas, abetted by rightwing media outlets and a proliferation of false claims on social media, has sought to pin the crisis on wind turbines and solar panels freezing when the Lone Star state needed them most. ...

The expansion of wind and solar, a key policy goal of Joe Biden, is now developing into yet another cultural battle line, despite strong public support for renewables. Jesse Keenan, an expert in climate adaptation at Tulane University, said the use of “targeted disinformation” and conspiracy theories is obscuring the more pressing issue of how states like Texas cope with the challenges of extreme weather linked to the climate crisis.

“There are plenty of other comparable extreme events that are going to compromise the integrity of the energy system,” Keenan said. “These events are going to increasingly resonate in the monthly power bill. The question is do ratepayers want to keep paying to clean up a mess or do they want to invest in building resilience that will save them a lot more in the future?” Keenan said that much like how the US reacted to the 9/11 attacks by escalating its national security activity, the country now needs a similar level of response to the climate crisis by first taking basic steps, like weatherizing infrastructure and keeping reserve power in store, that Texas’s free-market grid system neglected to do.

America has now “reached a turning point where the costs of disasters far exceed the amortized costs of upfront investments in resilience”, Keenan said. “Part of the impetus here is an acknowledgment that the status quo is unsustainable and we need to adapt our infrastructure and our way of life.”

Also of Interest

Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.

'Tired of getting slapped in the face': older Black farmers see little hope in Biden's agriculture pick

Harvard Newspaper to Biden: Cancel More Than $10K in Student Debt and Don't Use Ivy League as Excuse Not To

Former Cuomo aide says New York governor kissed her without consent

Amid Scrutiny of Tweets, Tanden’s Role in Killing a Union Website Should Not Be Forgotten

Censorship Gone Bonkers - 'Be A Good Citizen!'

Michael Hudson Discusses the Economic Winds of [Non] Change Under Biden on Radical Imagination

Within a Matter of Months, the Fed’s Balance Sheet Will Hit $8 Trillion; These Charts Tell the Rest of the Story

Covid-19 is pushing New York's EMTs to the brink

DeJoy Says He Plans to Remain Postmaster General for a 'Long Time'

Rising: Soledad O'Brien SHOCKS By Telling Truth About Maddow Conspiracy Theories

Richard Hanania: Biden Appears SET To EXTEND Afghan War Despite Promises

Krystal and Saagar: Why Our Politics SUCK In Two Charts

Saagar Enjeti: A Story Of How Elites SOLD Us Out And Trump Did NOTHING About It

A Little Night Music

Chairmen of the Board - Chairman of the Board

Chairmen Of The Board - Elmo James

Chairmen Of The Board - Pay To The Piper

Chairmen Of The Board - Skin I'm In

The Chairmen of the Board - You got me dangling on a string

Chairman Of The Board - Working On A Building Of Love

Chairman Of The Board - Patches

Chairman Of The Board - Since The Days Of Pigtails (and Fairy Tales)

Chairman Of The Board - Feelin Alright

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ggersh's picture

One could easily say this "Chairman of the Board" has no soul

“Hell is truth seen too late.”

-- Thomas Hobbes

Always seeming to have a front row seat when tragedy approaches, Schwab’s proximity to world-altering events likely owes to his being one of the most well-connected men on Earth. As the driving force behind the World Economic Forum, “the international organization for public-private cooperation,” Schwab has courted heads of state, leading business executives, and the elite of academic and scientific circles into the Davos fold for over 50 years. More recently, he has also courted the ire of many due to his more recent role as the frontman of the Great Reset, a sweeping effort to remake civilization globally for the express benefit of the elite of the World Economic Forum and their allies.

Schwab, during the Forum’s annual meeting in January 2021, stressed that the building of trust would be integral to the success of the Great Reset, signalling a subsequent expansion of the initiative’s already massive public relations campaign. Though Schwab called for the building of trust through unspecified “progress,” trust is normally facilitated through transparency. Perhaps that is why so many have declined to trust Mr. Schwab and his motives, as so little is known about the man’s history and background prior to his founding of the World Economic Forum in the early 1970s.

Like many prominent frontmen for elite-sponsored agendas, the online record of Schwab has been well-sanitized, making it difficult to come across information on his early history as well as information on his family. Yet, having been born in Ravensburg, Germany in 1938, many have speculated in recent months that Schwab’s family may have had some tie to Axis war efforts, ties that, if exposed, could threaten the reputation of the World Economic Forum and bring unwanted scrutiny to its professed missions and motives.

In this Unlimited Hangout investigation, the past that Klaus Schwab has worked to hide is explored in detail, revealing the involvement of the Schwab family, not only in the Nazi quest for an atomic bomb, but apartheid South Africa’s illegal nuclear programme. Especially revealing is the history of Klaus’ father, Eugen Schwab, who led the Nazi-supported German branch of a Swiss engineering firm into the war as a prominent military contractor. That company, Escher-Wyss, would use slave labor to produce machinery critical to the Nazi war effort as well as the Nazi’s effort to produce heavy water for its nuclear program. Years later, at the same company, a young Klaus Schwab served on the board of directors when the decision was made to furnish the racist apartheid regime of South Africa with the necessary equipment to further its quest to become a nuclear power.

With the World Economic Forum now a prominent advocate for nuclear non-proliferation and “clean” nuclear energy, Klaus Schwab’s past makes him a poor spokesperson for his professed agenda for the present and the future. Yet, digging even deeper into his activities, it becomes clear that Schwab’s real role has long been to “shape global, regional and industry agendas” of the present in order to ensure the continuity of larger, much older agendas that came into disrepute after World War II, not just nuclear technology, but also eugenics-influenced population control policies.

13 users have voted.

Joementia says to protesters no looting, just peaceful protests or IOW's

"I can excuse extrajudical murder, but property damage is a step too far."


joe shikspack's picture


heh, i guess that's a somewhat unsurprising background for one of the masters of the universe. i'm sure that most of the davos set has skeletons in their closet. why would we expect them to be any better than the bush dynasty?

9 users have voted.


worth the read - by Tessa Lena:

What is “the Great Reset”?

The Great Reset is a massively funded, desperately ambitious, internationally coordinated project led by some of the biggest multinational corporations and financial players on the planet and carried out by cooperating state bodies and NGOs. Its soul is a combination of early 20th century science fiction, idyllic Soviet posters, the obsessiveness of a deranged accountant with a gambling addiction—and an upgraded, digital version of “Manifest Destiny.”

the rest at her substack

5 users have voted.
QMS's picture

@Blue Republic

until the body politic
reclaim their rights

don't look for it in the news
it will be buried
it will still happen

3 users have voted.

Is so on the money. I've seen people on-line commenting how clever it is that Bernie has just sat back and let Manchin be the villain, but, aside from how feckless that looks, this isn't over yet. The Biden administration isn't going to give this up, for whatever reason. That they've doubled down on Tanden is a real bad sign for whatever dimension chess Bernie is trying to play here. It's embarassing. He has plenty of reasons to vote no without even going into the tweets (which, after all the kvetching over Trump, I think should be on the table.) How many more bowls of shit is he going to be willing to publicly eat? (And why?)

16 users have voted.

Just another Bozo on the bus.

joe shikspack's picture

@Dr. John Carpenter

yep, it's hard to figure why bernie won't stand up for himself or anyone else when the going gets tough.

i wonder if maybe tanden is in bernie's mind not much worse than most of the other clintonites that he's put up with in the past.

or, who knows, maybe he's getting some perverse pleasure out of dragging out her likely failure?

11 users have voted.
enhydra lutris's picture

never snows below 2,000 feet, especially West of the Sierras and South of Sackamenna; just sayin'. We also don't need Al Jazeera to provide a voice for the right of center among the populace because we are a Democratic Party majority state and as such, a right of center majority state, so our MSM broadcasts that viewpoint day in and day out. The funny thing is, from what I see of the national news media, the right of center talking points and ideology prevail nation wide. Maybe, being from Quatar, they are confused as to just where the left stops and the right begins?

Thanks for the tunes.

Be well and have a good one

10 users have voted.

That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

joe shikspack's picture

@enhydra lutris

i'm glad y'all got your net neutrality, wear it in good health.

seems like only yesterday that right-wing wackos from the u.s. were bombing al jazeera offices and assassinating their journalists. stockholm syndrome?

have a great evening!

10 users have voted.

@enhydra lutris

or south of Eugene and you'll start running into plenty of folks that
would happily be gone from CA and OR and become upstanding citizens
of the State of Jefferson - despite this being an active movement with
an eighty year history my posting the video below in response to some
pearl clutching anti gun whine-fest thread at TOS did not sit well at all with the
Blue Guards there, especially my placing it in 'Occupied State of Jefferson'.

Unacceptable CT, I was informed in no uncertain terms...

State of Jefferson - 51st state movement:

SOJ Don't Tread logo.jpg

Residents and police reaction to open carry in Rogue River, (for now) Oregon

2 users have voted.
enhydra lutris's picture

@Blue Republic

plenty of folks not so hot on the idea. Statehood for a secessionist territory is not guaranteed - presumably they would have to get in line behind Puerto Rico, Guam and other territories. Given that there are two states and several tribes involved, to have any semblance of legality it would require Ca, Or, the US and the UN to monitor the plebescite and assuming that two states and the US didn't feel like selling the secessionist flock any US or state lands, you would have a patchwork of rural fiefdoms constituting Jefferson Territory and endlessly squabbling over how to rule themselves. The US, arms purveyor to the entire world, would no doubt be happy to keep them supplied with arms and ammo, and no doubt somebody would sell them gasoline and diesel, at a price, maybe even nat gas and electricity, if the price was right. Not something I'd like to watch, even on TV.

be well and have a good one

6 users have voted.

That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

@enhydra lutris

Statehood for a secessionist territory is not guaranteed - presumably they would have to get in line behind Puerto Rico, Guam and other territories.

What precedent is there for that?

The fundamental problem here is lack of effective representation and the disregard by liberal-controlled urban population centers for the differing concerns and attitudes of rural and small town residents. This is hardly confined to Oregon and California - the resentment of those in the vast swaths of red fly-over territory toward the blue blob authoritarians who these days don't even bother to conceal their contempt for the rural peasantry is real and growing, just as much in NY or WA as in Oregon and California.

What distinguishes the State of Jefferson movement is it's long history and growing grassroots organization.

Watch for the next public display of such sentiment in May when advisory votes on whether to leave Oregon and join with Idaho will be held in five Eastern Oregon counties. In Washington, longstanding proposals to divide the state into a rump Washington State west of the Cascade Mountains and a new 'State of Liberty' to the east have also been revived.

Expect to see a lot more of this rather than less. Is it divisive? Well, the divisions already and pretty starkly exist - these movements are a step toward ensuring that political boundaries reflect those realities.

0 users have voted.
QMS's picture

sociopaths believe they can rule the world
by their ability to hoard wealth. Guess that is why
the rulers discourage renewables. They can not
control the source, hence profit buy it. Only nibble around
the edges. The sun's energy can only be harnessed -
not controlled.

Thanks for the nightly blues!

13 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


heh, in my view, it is not merely the hoarding of wealth that allows them to run the game. it is the act of getting between the great masses of people and their existential needs that gives them their power.

9 users have voted.
Raggedy Ann's picture

I am grateful for what happened in Texas so that the world can witness how capitalism works for the people. I'm sad for the people of Texas, but they keep voting these jokers in, so there's a consequence for that action. Dubbya began the privatization of the Texas grid. I hope he continues to be held in high esteem by the establishment. Of course he will - he did their bidding and the rich are reaping the rewards at the expense of everyone else. Gosh - that's exactly how it's all supposed to work!

Enjoy the evening! Pleasantry

11 users have voted.

The UFO’s are coming to unify us.

joe shikspack's picture

@Raggedy Ann

yep, if there is a silver lining for texans (and the rest of us by extension) it is the lesson that we demand far too little of the government.

i hope texans get all up in their politicians' grills and force them to do better by them.

10 users have voted.

@Raggedy Ann rather that grateful?
I am not grateful that the display of the murderous behavior of capitalism killed approximately 70 Texans last week. The world could have seen it without 70 new graves.
There are very likely more lefties than righties in Texas, but gerrymandering has dashed that hope.
I have a bit of cold water running in my home, unsafe to drink, and can't get plumbing repaired until the various capitalist supply chains get to me and mine.
I hope the entire world sees the failings, but hope they see it as capitalism killing ordinary, every day, perfectly innocent and well-meaning people for profit for a few who laughed and celebrated the tragic event.

10 users have voted.
Raggedy Ann's picture

@on the cusp . Pleasantry

3 users have voted.

The UFO’s are coming to unify us.

snoopydawg's picture

Our Benny?


Yeah seems like it’d be a no brainer that you WILL do everything in your power to get it done. People know that republicans fired the persons who told them that and that democrats have no excuse for not doing it. This hiding behind Manchin has gotten old already. But the centrists are saying that it’s okay because this way money gets in people’s hands faster. Yeah except for when it’s gone they still will be living in poverty which Biden tells us is not to be tolerated any longer. Here’s one I grabbed:

Except the Senate “majority” is really due to VP Harris And the 50th Democratic vote (Manchin) is much more conservative than most Democrats.

So that means people can’t get bent. That means it should be clear to them that they have to get MORE Democrats in there"

The majority because of Manchin is not enough votes because of Manchin who loves to vote with republicans more than democrats and blocks most of their bills, but you can’t primary him cuz he gives us the majority. Ro is saying lots of stuff too. You know like telling us again what congress should do so that we get some help. People are seeing it for what it is now. Yada yadaing instead of working. Instead of passing the checks ASAP congress impeached Trump again knowing that republicans would let him off again. Biden’s sold lots of weapons to bad guys again. He’s given out lots of drilling permits. He’s gotten his hideous cabinet approved and now he’s bombing Syria less than a week after he spoke to Bibi. Just a coincidence I’m sure.

Yup. All we need is more and better democrats because of course once we do all the rest will fall in line and vote with democrats. Just watch and see how that happens.

And for some reason Biden is bombing Iranian troops in Syria. Funny tho that Russia was just warning of a chemical weapon false flag attack there by the white helmets and HST Al Qaida goons. Sure wish Russia could put a stop to all the bombings there or give Assad the tools to do it.

10 users have voted.

The donor class doesn’t want it, and Americans elect the bribed. So suck it up.

Humans must not submit to policing by machine.

joe shikspack's picture


yep, i was just reading the news about biden's incredible shrinking promises and put them in tomorrow's eb.

biden's toting up a pretty big list of stuff that he just can't/won't do, so predictably, biden will get his wish and there will be a strong republican party after the midterms.

heh, he didn't promise to be a busy bomber, but you knew that he would be.

11 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

@joe shikspack

Hudson is excellent.

So will Biden be Trump 2.0 or Obama 3.0? It really doesn’t matter much. Because both Obama and Biden were basically Republicans running with a different ethnic profile for the voters that they delivered to their campaign contributors.

I knew Obama screwed us royaly but not as bad as he did. Biden is going to be much worse than Obama dreamed of because he knows that this will be the last time democrats have any power. Well except that it doesn’t matter who holds it does it? See I’m waking up.

So basically nothing has changed for Israel either.

bibi wants to get his war on. if possible, he'd like americans to start it, prosecute it and pay for it both with their lives and their taxes while bibi watches shock 'n awe ii on the teevee.

I’ve been saying that on the Twit and I’m surprised I haven’t been put in Twitter jail yet. I’m sure it’s just a matter of time tho.

9 users have voted.

The donor class doesn’t want it, and Americans elect the bribed. So suck it up.

Humans must not submit to policing by machine.

joe shikspack's picture


here is a prediction you can take to the bank. no matter how poorly biden performs he will be replaced by someone just like him in everything but style. all of biden's worst policies will be repeated, just as biden is repeating all of the worst policies of his predecessors.

8 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

@joe shikspack

I thought I posted a tweet from Kamala saying that she supports $15....yada and when she’s president....yada. It’s from a few years ago, but damn that’s a great receipt.

Democrats are planning for the future with all the games they are playing. One they know if they fail to deliver they will be wiped out in the midterms and that the next Trump is going to be worse because they are counting on it. After Herheinous got beaten by Trump and how close Biden came to losing they could have wondered about the results, but you never ask a question that you know the answer to. Democrats set it up just like that. They may have been surprised that she lost, but not that upset about it either.

Heh..Sam got to go to the doctor with me and she got lots of "wow what a well behaved puppy. HOW old is she?" She was calm and sat nicely and stayed sat. One gal has a puppy her age and asked lots of questions. I went to the dollar store and forgot to bring the stuff in so she had a blast picking out toys during the ride. I threw in 10 stuffed animals when I walked in the door because how can you pass up $1 toys that are just going to be destroyed? I bought 3 toilet scrubbers. 1 for me. 1 for Sam. And one for me when she takes mine. I went out for my walk and there was this huge stick inside the dawg door and burst out laughing. 5 more feet of it was on the patio and I can’t imagine how hard it must have been for her to get 1-2 feet of it through the door before it got stuck. Life with Sam.

10 users have voted.

The donor class doesn’t want it, and Americans elect the bribed. So suck it up.

Humans must not submit to policing by machine.

snoopydawg's picture

Biden shared it with democrats.

I’m still seeing tweets about the 8 republicans that went to Russia ONE year and nothing about people from both parties going to Israel yearly on their dime. Funny huh? Verily funny. Sounds good.

10 users have voted.

The donor class doesn’t want it, and Americans elect the bribed. So suck it up.

Humans must not submit to policing by machine.

joe shikspack's picture


it's not a big secret. bibi wants to get his war on. if possible, he'd like americans to start it, prosecute it and pay for it both with their lives and their taxes while bibi watches shock 'n awe ii on the teevee.

8 users have voted.

@joe shikspack @joe shikspack from his legal troubles...BTW, how cool is tonight's music? A Ten? Yeah, a Ten.
We have cold water to the kitchen sink and water connected to one bathroom toilet. I am heating water to take a bath, and TLOML is carrying it to the bathroom from the stove because I can't lift those damn pots.
You have a good evening, and be glad you are not in Texas.

10 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@on the cusp

heh, yep, bibi has done pretty well at diverting the israeli public. he'd be doomed if there was serious competition.

glad to hear that you can drink, flush and afterwards have a nice, warm bath. it's the little things, eh?

have a good one!

6 users have voted.

@joe shikspack and that is an improvement from the third of last week.
I hope to pass on the plumbing cost to insurer, but there is no guarantee.
We are fine, inventive, imaginative, and have a sense of humor. It is all good, always.
Over 20 years ago, this guy I represented got custody of his kids, back when that was remarkable.
He is my plumber, and he put me top of the line for his jobs.
What goes around, comes around.

11 users have voted.
mimi's picture

boy (man) told and taught me the last couple of months, it is the motto of his life. He is a firefighter and used to find corpses burned or forgotten and neglected in houses he is called to enter for whatever reasons. I think more people die of the incapability of neighbors to be human and civil and in communication with each other than any other reason. I feel our society is very sick. And I don't see the healing necessary to not go on like that.

Never give up. I appreciate so much the humor and humanity speaking out from so many comments here.

So, please don't die, be it as an inhabitant of the first world, second world or third world or a banana republic. It's all the same global shit. So get some more toilet paper. Sigh.

OtC, be very grateful to TLOYL. It's hard to do humor alone, one needs company for that, And I believe as long as you have that it will end well, plumbing and all that. Good luck to you and yours.

9 users have voted.

Hey joe, I met another Joe down by the dirt patch this week. He flew B-52s for the Air Force before retirement. Of all the people, he is the one who stopped and introduced himself. Life is weird. Everything in constant motion and nothing ever changes.

Caption says:

Jo Jo Garcia applies strongly diluted Round-Up to a mustard crop on Dry Creek Road in Healdsburg Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021 as wine grapes are prepped for bud break.

I noticed my neighbor's plum tree started blooming, and she was all like "I know! And there are no bees yet, so there will be less fruit. Yay!" It's an ornamental tree, inedible fruit, but still. I'd rather have the bees come when things start blooming. Thoughts and prayers.

Thank you to all who sent words of encouragement and kindness these past few days. Thanks a lot.

There is a mole devastating the dirt patch now, each day is a new excavation and there will be nothing left by spring. C'est la vie.

Peace and Love

6 users have voted.
enhydra lutris's picture


of dry ice in each hole does the trick. As it sublimates, the CO2 sinks (heavier than air) and floods all the tunnels and exits with CO2 and it dies of oxygen starvation after falling asleep.

Problem is that you have to buy Dry ice and hope it works. Gopher snake is mo bettah, but nobody rents them out

be well and have a good ne

3 users have voted.

That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

about the Capitol Riots sure helped remove any lingering respect I had for Amy Goodman...

The deadly invasion, the white supremacists, the threat of insurrection...

She purposely and wrongly conflates the rally where Trump spoke with those breaking into the Capitol - when only a small number of the perhaps half-million who were at the Trump speech (at which, as is usual for Trump rallies (if no Antifa/BLM show up) there was no violence at all) even went on to the Capitol - and only a small subset of those at the Capitol were fighting with police, vandalizing, etc.

She paints all Trump supporters as white supremacist, presumably even the Asian, black and Latino ones, as if that makes any sense - to drive that home throws in an unhinged Corey Bush rant about how wrong it is to suggest that the actions of George Floyd/BLM protestors were nothing but noble and not to be compared with those of evil white supremacists posing an existential threat to our beloved democracy...

Let's see - hundreds of riots versus one. Billions of dollars in damages, versus ?? Multiple killings by "protestors" versus none. Thousands of businesses looted and/or destroyed versus none...

Apparently, in Corey Bush/PBS Land, walking around taking selfies in the Capitol = insurrection, while this

even though it involves viciously beating someone you don't know while they are praying - does not merit prosecution (the St. Louis DA who is prosecuting the McCloskeys for daring to defend their home, declined to prosecute the attack to the St. Louis monument despite graphic evidence and public admission of the thug/attacker).

Double standard much?

Bush launched herself toward congress based on her involvement with the Ferguson BLM demo/riots.

So, who played the more positive role there - her or the Oath Keepers - among those that she is now condemning?

2 users have voted.