The Evening Blues - 4-15-21
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features songs about taxes. Enjoy!
Robert Cray - 1040 Blues
"If religion is a reaction of man, and nothing more, it seems to me that it represents a human desire for wrongdoers to be punished. I hate the idea of Idi Amin living in Saudi Arabia for the last 25 years of his life. That galls me to no end. I feel some sort of need for biblical atonement, or justice, or something. I like to believe there is some comeuppance, that karma kicks in at some point, even if it takes years or decades to happen. My girlfriend says this great thing that’s become my philosophy as well. 'I want to believe there's a heaven. But I can't not believe there's a hell.'"
-- Vince Gilligan
News and Opinion
The Taliban never kept secret what their reaction would be if the Biden administration delays the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, and now that it’s happened, U.S. forces may have to deal with a new, unbridled wave of violence and bloodshed in the months leading up to the new September pull-out deadline.
Hours after news broke on Tuesday that following a “rigorous policy review,” President Joe Biden is planning to have all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan by Sept. 11—a break away from the previously agreed May 1 deadline—Taliban military leaders sat down for a policy review of their own. The group then announced it would be boycotting peace talks unless “all foreign forces completely withdraw from our homeland.”
Speaking to The Daily Beast on Wednesday, Mullah Salih Khan, a Taliban group commander from Afghanistan’s Helmand Province, said that the insurgent group is “very much prepared to strike,” against U.S. and Afghan government forces, warning that the militants will turn Afghanistan “into a nightmare” for them.
Mullah Mujahid Rahman, a Taliban subcommander from the Ghazni province, added that the U.S. has “proven they can’t be trusted after retreating from the May 1 deadline,” and that the group is willing to “fight till the end” of the U.S. presence in Afghanistan.
“We have the pride of defeating about 100,000 invaders from [different] countries in Afghanistan. A few thousand won’t be a problem at all,” he said, referring to the 3,500 American troops still stationed in the country.
Central Intelligence Agency Director William Burns said Wednesday that the planned withdrawal of U.S. military from Afghanistan would hurt the agency’s ability to gather intelligence in the country.
“Our ability to keep that threat in Afghanistan in check, from either al Qaeda or ISIS in Afghanistan, has benefited greatly from the presence of U.S. and coalition militaries on the ground and in the air fueled by intelligence provided by the CIA and our other intelligence partners. When the time comes for the U.S. military to withdraw, the U.S. government's ability to collect and act on threats will diminish. That’s simply a fact,” Burns told the Senate Intelligence Committee during Wednesday's worldwide threat hearing.
“So all of that, to be honest, means that there is a significant risk once the U.S. military and the coalition militaries withdraw.”
Russia’s unexplained buildup along Ukraine’s border set alarm bells ringing in the west last month as military analysts noted unusual flourishes – such as new field hospitals, long-distance shipments of armour and artillery and last-minute railcar bookings – that did not feel like a normal exercise.
Whether it is merely an attention-grabbing feint or a prelude to an escalation will depend on the Kremlin’s will. But through the buildup, Russia has already signalled that if a larger war does take place, it is prepared to deliver a hammer blow to its neighbour.
“My take is that all the signalling from Russia’s side is that the next war with Ukraine will be a much larger one … and that it will result in a much larger defeat in terms of Ukrainian force. That’s at least what they’re posturing,” said Michael Kofman, a senior researcher at CNA, referring to the troop buildup and rhetoric from Kremlin officials. At least so far, he said, Russia was making its buildup “very easy to see and find”.
The message has reached US and Nato officials, who have reaffirmed their support for Kyiv and called on Russia to de-escalate tensions. Joe Biden has proposed holding a presidential summit with Vladimir Putin. The foreign ministers of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia are expected to visit the conflict zone on Thursday.
The United States has cancelled this week's planned deployment of two warships to the Black Sea, Turkish officials and media said Wednesday, amid high tensions between Russia and Ukraine.
Turkish diplomatic sources said the passage of the first ship through the Bosphorus due on Wednesday did not take place.
Anadolu state news agency said both deployments, scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, have been cancelled with Ankara not yet informed of any possible rescheduling.
Last week Turkey announced that it had been informed through diplomatic channels that two US warships "will pass toward the Black Sea" and remain in the region until May 4. ...
Washington is required to give Ankara at least 15 days notice before sending warships through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits under the terms of the 1936 Montreux Convention. The treaty's terms allow foreign warships to stay in the Black Sea for 21 days.
The Biden administration is planning to announce sanctions on Russian officials as soon as Thursday, in a move that will target several individuals and entities, according to several people familiar on the matter.
A package of sanctions targeting several Russian officials will be coupled with orders also expelling some of them from the United States, said one informant. ...
Nearly 30 entities are expected to face sanctions for the SolarWinds breach or interference in US elections, with about 10 Russian officials being expelled.
Cut the Defense Budget: Rep. Khanna on Bloated Pentagon Spending, Ending War in Yemen, UAE Arms Deal
Since 2015, Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., has been the leading congressional critic of Israel’s military detention of Palestinian children, introducing multiple pieces of legislation that would bar Israel from using U.S. military aid to arrest Palestinian youth. By targeting Israel’s detention of Palestinian children — just one aspect of Israel’s military occupation, but one that involved a highly vulnerable population — McCollum was attempting to make her bills appeal to the widest swath of Democrats possible. For most others in her party, the check the U.S. wrote to Israel every year was not up for debate.
McCollum is now planning to introduce legislation on Thursday that would bar U.S. aid from subsidizing a wider array of Israeli occupation tactics, an indication of just how far the debate over U.S. aid to Israel has come in the past six years.
“There is nothing out of the ordinary about conditioning aid. … All taxpayer funds provided by Congress to foreign governments in the form of aid are subject to conditions in a myriad of generally applicable laws, yet the $3.8 billion provided to Israel by the State Department has no country-specific conditions despite Israel’s systemic violations of Palestinian human rights,” McCollum told The Intercept. “I don’t want $1 of U.S. aid to Israel paying for the military detention and abuse of Palestinian children, the demolition of Palestinian homes, or the annexation of Palestinian land.”
McCollum’s bill is the result of years of work by Palestinian rights activists to cut or condition aid to Israel. These calls have been fueled by reports of U.S.-made weapons being used to kill Palestinian civilians, whether with Hellfire missiles fired by Israeli fighter jets on homes in Gaza or with U.S.-made rifles used to gun down Palestinian protesters. Human rights organizations have documented the Israeli military’s repeated use of bulldozers produced by the Illinois-based Caterpillar company to demolish Palestinian homes.
The legislation has been endorsed by more than 20 groups, including mainstays in the Palestinian rights movement like the Adalah Justice Project and Jewish Voice for Peace Action, as well as the liberal pro-Israel group Americans for Peace Now and the progressive Justice Democrats, which focuses on launching primaries against establishment Democrats. Fifty-three percent of Democratic voters told Gallup this year that they support increasing pressure on Israel — an increase of 10 points since 2018 — yet most Democrats in the House and Senate do not support conditioning aid, and the bill faces steep odds of even getting a hearing in the House Foreign Affairs and Appropriations committees.
The Biden administration has reportedly informed Congress that it is planning to advance a $23.4 billion sale of weaponry to the United Arab Emirates that was inked under former President Donald Trump, a move anti-war critics denounced as a betrayal of President Joe Biden's recent pledge to end U.S. support for "offensive operations" in Yemen.
One of the major members of the Saudi-led coalition that has been bombing and strangling Yemen since 2015, the UAE is set to receive 50 F-35 fighter jets, more than a dozen armed drones, and billions of dollars worth of munitions from the U.S. if the deal receives final approval.
A State Department spokesperson told HuffPost Tuesday that "the administration intends to move forward with these proposed defense sales to the UAE, even as we continue reviewing details and consulting with Emirati officials to ensure we have developed mutual understandings with respect to Emirati obligations before, during, and after delivery."
The spokesperson would not comment on the New York Center for Foreign Policy Affairs' ongoing lawsuit against the State Department over the sale, which the nonprofit group says is illegal.
"It is our hope that the Biden administration would put mitigating a humanitarian crisis of global proportions before putting arms in the hands of an aggressor nation like the UAE," Justin Russell, principal director of the New York Center for Foreign Policy Affairs, told HuffPost, referring to UAE interventions in Yemen and Libya.
Shireen Al-Adeimi, an assistant professor at Michigan State University, said the decision to advance the $23 billion weapons sale is "more evidence that Biden's pledge to end the war on Yemen was only performative."
My, now what could possibly go wrong with this?
The FBI has been hacking into the computers of US companies running insecure versions of Microsoft software in order to fix them, the US Department of Justice has announced.
The operation, approved by a federal court, involved the FBI hacking into “hundreds” of vulnerable computers to remove malware placed there by an earlier malicious hacking campaign, which Microsoft blamed on a Chinese hacking group known as Hafnium.
Hafnium’s operation placed backdoors into “tens of thousands” of servers running Microsoft’s Exchange software, which allows businesses to manage emails, contacts and calendars for their employees. It took advantage of a weakness in the servers, now fixed, to plant the malware, which allowed the hackers to return at a later date.
The FBI’s campaign uses the same weakness in the “hundreds” of servers that have still not been patched to hack the hackers – breaking into the vulnerable computers and removing the backdoors entirely.
“Today’s court-authorised removal of the malicious web shells demonstrates the Department’s commitment to disrupt hacking activity using all of our legal tools, not just prosecutions,” the US Department of Justice’s assistant attorney general, John C Demers, said.
Democrats are planning to introduce a bill to expand the supreme court – proposing to add four justices to the US’s highest court.
Senator Ed Markey, and representatives Jerrold Nadler, Hank Johnson and Mondaire Jones plan to present their legislation Thursday at a news conference. The measure would expand the number of justices from nine to 13, according to Reuters, which reviewed a copy of the bill in advance of it being released publicly. Although Joe Biden announced a commission to study supreme court expansion and reform, the politically incendiary question of changing the court is unlikely to be approved.
Progressives have been pushing to expand the supreme court, after Donald Trump’s three appointees tilted the judicial body sharply to the right. ... Discussions over reforming the court have taken on new urgency in recent months as the court is poised to address key questions on voting rights, reproductive rights and environmental protections.
Jayapal Calls for Crackdown on Wealthiest After IRS Chief Says Tax Evasion Costs US $1 Trillion a Year
Following IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig's admission Tuesday that tax dodgers are depriving the federal government of as much as $1 trillion or more per year, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal called for strengthening the agency's ability to crack down on the rampant tax avoidance strategies used by America's wealthiest individuals and corporations.
"We don't just need a wealth tax," said the Washington Democrat, who is a co-sponsor of the Ultra-Millionaire Tax Act that was introduced last month by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). If enacted, the bill would levy a 2% annual tax on the net worth of households and trusts above $50 million, plus a 1% annual surtax on billionaires—bringing in at least $3 trillion in revenue over 10 years without raising taxes on 99.95% of U.S. households.
"We also need to give the IRS the tools it needs to make sure the ultra-rich finally pay their fair share," Jayapal added.
While Warren's wealth tax legislation includes robust anti-evasion measures, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) in February unveiled a standalone bill—the Stop Corporations and Higher Earners from Avoiding Taxes and Enforce Rules Strictly (CHEATERS) Act—that would provide $100 billion in additional funding to the IRS over a decade, enabling the agency to bring in an estimated $1.2 trillion in federal revenue during those 10 years.
Such an investment in beefed-up enforcement is sorely needed, according to Rettig's testimony during Tuesday's Senate Finance Committee hearing.
Although the IRS has officially calculated a "tax gap" of $441 billion based on figures from 2011-2013, Rettig—who was appointed to lead the IRS in 2018 by former President Donald Trump after spending decades battling the agency—said the difference between taxes owed and taxes paid "could approach and possibly exceed $1 trillion per year." ...
Politico reported Tuesday that "a confluence of factors suggest the tax-gap growth Rettig projected, including increased virtual currency holdings, which weren't figured in the 2011-2013 period but now amount to more than $2 trillion worldwide."
Yesterday, 10,227 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Michigan, the state's highest daily toll since the pandemic began over a year ago. And for the seventh week in a row, K-12 schools were Michigan's number one source of COVID-19 outbreaks, followed once again by manufacturing and construction job sites. Yet Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer continues to refuse to order schools to go virtual and nonessential workplaces to close. Michiganders caught COVID-19 at a rate of over 7,000 per day over the last week, numbers not seen in the state since last Thanksgiving, the peak of the fall/winter surge. The state continues to lead the US with 78.7 new cases for every 100,000 residents. The next highest state-wide case rate is 43.5 in Rhode Island.
In virtually every part of the state, the pandemic is spreading like wildfire. Sixty-one of Michigan’s 83 counties saw more than 50 cases per 100,000 residents on April 13. The rural “thumb” area north of Detroit is especially dangerous, with the counties of Lapeer, Tuscola, and Sanilac all above 100 daily new cases per 100,000 residents, and St. Clair and Huron counties both over 150, according to the website CovidActNow. COVID-19 hospitalizations in Michigan are now at their highest levels ever, surpassing anything seen in previous surges, and health care is now being rationed across the state to make room for more patients. The situation is so severe that even Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky called Monday for Governor Whitmer “to really close things down, to go back to our basics, to go back to where we were last spring, last summer, and to shut things down.”
Michigan’s new surge is fueled by the B.1.1.7 variant, which is now dominant across the US. This variant is also up to 75 percent more contagious than wild-type COVID-19, and it thrives among children. B.1.1.7 is more concentrated in Michigan than in any other state, accounting for an estimated 70 percent of new cases there. ... B.1.1.7 took hold in Michigan and schools reopened for the new semester, outbreaks in schools skyrocketed to unseen heights, reaching 81 per week by April 5. This rise preceded the surge in case rates across Michigan, which shows that not only are schools vectors for transmission when community spread is already high, but that they actually serve as a catalyst for community spread.
But Whitmer continues to refuse to order even a limited lockdown of schools or workplaces. She maintains that “Michigan doesn’t have a policy problem, we have a compliance problem.” This is an effort to shift blame for the new surge onto individual “problem” workers and youth, who won’t “comply” with the Governor’s completely voluntary recommendations to wear a mask inside Michigan’s cramped schools and factories and to order takeout instead of dining out at restaurants, which she has also allowed to remain open for in-person dining.
Much more detail at the link:
Black families in the US have gone hungry at two to three times the rate of white families over the course of the pandemic, according to new analysis which suggests political squabbling over Covid aid exacerbated a crisis that left millions of children without enough to eat. An investigation into food poverty by the Guardian and the Institute for Policy Research (IPR) at Northwestern University found gaping racial inequalities in access to adequate nutrition that threatens the long-term prospects of a generation of Black and brown children.
The statistical analysis by economists at IPR is based on landmark research by the Census Bureau tracking in real time the impact of the pandemic on hunger, jobs, housing, mental health, finances and schooling. ...
Our analysis, drawing on data from the nationwide surveys, found:
Hunger – defined as not having enough to eat sometimes or often during the previous week – has been reported between 19% and 29% of Black households with children over the course of the pandemic. This compares with 7% to 14% of white American families.
Latino families have experienced the second highest rates of hunger, ranging from 16% to 25% nationally.
Racial disparities varied across states: Black families in Texas reported hunger at four times the rate of white families in some weeks, as did Latinos in New York.
Overall, hunger declined sharply last month, but is falling far slower for people of color.
Overall, the rate of hunger for families with children has been on average 61% (41% to 83%) higher than for adult-only households.
More detail at the link:
A leading forensic pathologist has told the Derek Chauvin trial that George Floyd was killed by his heart condition and drug use. Dr David Fowler, testifying for the defence, also introduced the idea that vehicle exhaust may have played a part in Floyd’s death by raising the amount of carbon monoxide in his blood and affecting his heart.
Fowler, Maryland’s former chief medical examiner who trained in South Africa during the apartheid era, said the combination of cardiac disease, methamphetamine use and carbon monoxide killed the 46-year-old Black man while Chauvin, who is white, was arresting him last May in Minneapolis. “All of those combined to cause Mr Floyd’s death,” he said. ...
In cross-examination, the prosecution forced a number of important concessions by Fowler, including that Chauvin did have his knee on Floyd’s neck, despite the defence claims, and that the detained man should have received medical care at the scene when he went into cardiac arrest. ...
Fowler is a controversial witness. He is being sued by the family of a Black teenager, Anton Black, killed by the Maryland police in 2018 after being held face down by three police officers. Fowler certified that Anton Black died from natural causes, with his bipolar disorder a contributing factor.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has accused Fowler of “creating false narratives about what kills Black people in police encounters”.
While he said he felt bad for how the events of a traffic-stop late last year unfolded, the police chief of the town where a Black and Latino military officer from Petersburg, Virginia, was accosted by two of his officers said Wednesday that he does not think the soldier is in need of an official apology.
In response, Army Lt. Caron Nazario's legal team said Windsor Police Department Chief Rodney D. Riddle "continues a false narrative" of the case and blaming their client for initiating it. They said the video of the stop "shows otherwise" that their client was nothing but compliant.
"I'm gonna own what we did," Riddle said about the stop during a news conference Wednesday in the Isle of Wight County, Virginia, community where Nazario was stopped last December while on his way home. "My guys missed opportunities to verbally de-escalate that thing and change that outcome."
When asked by a reporter if Nazario was owed an apology for that, Riddle replied: "I don't believe that," adding he wished the driver "would have complied a whole lot earlier."
Former police officer Kimberly Potter was charged with second-degree manslaughter on Wednesday after fatally shooting the 20-year-old Black motorist Daunte Wright, officials said. The white former suburban Minneapolis police officer was arrested earlier in the day in relation to the shooting dead of Wright during a traffic stop on Sunday in Brooklyn Center, a suburb of Minneapolis. ...
The charge against Potter was filed on Wednesday, three days after Wright was killed during a traffic stop and as the nearby murder trial progresses for the ex-officer charged with killing George Floyd last May, the Washington county attorney Pete Orput said.
“Certain occupations carry an immense responsibility and none more so than a sworn police officer,” said Imran Ali, Washington county assistant criminal division chief and director of the major crime unit, in a statement announcing the charge and as second-degree manslaughter charges were due to be unsealed.
“With that responsibility comes a great deal of discretion and accountability. We will vigorously prosecute this case and intend to prove that Officer Potter abrogated her responsibility to protect the public when she used her firearm rather than her Taser. Her action caused the unlawful killing of Mr Wright and she must be held accountable,” he added.
A second-degree manslaughter conviction carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. Potter was reportedly released from jail after posting bail on Wednesday.
When Shontel Brown was running for her seat on Cuyahoga County Council in 2014, she responded to questions about her links to the family of a major contractor by promising to “recuse herself from county contracts with ties to Mark Perkins as necessary.” Perkins, Brown’s partner, has longstanding ties to the Cleveland-based general contractor Perk. On February 28, 2017, Brown deemed recusal unnecessary and voted with her colleagues to give a nearly $7 million contract to Perk. Ten weeks later, one of the firm’s owners helped organize a fundraiser that bankrolled a significant portion of her reelection campaign, making an in-kind donation of $2,000 at a fundraiser for Brown that netted her over $7,000, a significant sum in the low-budget world of Cleveland-area council races. In total, she has approved more than $17 million to Perk and has received $13,000 in campaign donations from the Perkins family and Perk’s current owners, the Cifani family.
Brown is now running in a competitive House primary against Nina Turner to replace Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge in Ohio’s 11th District. Turner, a former Ohio state senator, was a leading surrogate for Bernie Sanders in his two presidential runs. While much of the establishment has lined up behind Brown, who is the head of the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party, Turner has a bevy of local establishment endorsements as well, including from influential moderate Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson. Turner has significantly outraised Brown, raising $1.6 million in the first quarter of 2021 to Brown’s $680,000, though both candidates’ numbers are high for this early in a congressional primary, which will be held August 3.
Besides the $7 million contract in 2017, Brown also voted on three other occasions to approve Cuyahoga city contracts for Perk, totaling an additional $10 million between 2015 and 2019. And in August 2020, she voted in favor of contracts of $1.875 million to two firms, one headed by Mark Perkins’s sister and a second whose vice president is another family member of Perkins. Perk also frequently subcontracts with McTech, a company owned by Mark Perkins. Perk was co-founded by Charles Perkins, the uncle of Brown’s longtime partner Mark. Perk’s current owners, the Cifani family, have been generous supporters of her campaigns for office. Brown received campaign contributions from the Perkins and Cifani families in her low-budget campaigns for county council and, before that, for city council in the Cleveland suburb of Warrensville Heights, where both she and her mentor, Marcia Fudge, got their political starts.
Just over a month after the staff of Nevada’s Democratic Party quit rather than work alongside an incoming slate of candidates backed by the local chapter of Democratic Socialists of America, taking $450,000 and severance with them, the party’s new leadership has raised that money back with some to spare.
The Nevada Democrats have raised $530,000 from more than 16,500 contributions since the March 6 elections, when a progressive slate of five candidates — one incumbent and four newcomers — took over the party, beating the preferred picks of the local machine. The figure includes $100,000 raised on their own within a few weeks of the election and a boost in contributions with help from national progressive allies like Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., who sent fundraising emails over the last several weeks on the party’s behalf.
When Judith Whitmer, founder and chair emeritus of Left Caucus, won the March 6 election for state party chair, her predecessors did not only almost empty the state party’s accounts, but they also funneled the money to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and notified Whitmer that all their consultants had terminated their contracts. ... Only a few smaller consultants stayed on after the election, so the party will need to develop consulting relationships “pretty much from scratch,” Whitmer said, and make efforts to work with minority consultants. As they work to keep voters engaged during the midterms and elect down-ballot candidates, Nevadans will be paying close attention to whether the White House keeps its promises to the state’s Black and Latino voters who delivered for President Joe Biden, which could impact voter enthusiasm in 2022.
Indoor dust contains dangerous, endocrine-disrupting chemicals, according to a study published today in Environmental Health Perspectives. The study of 46 dust samples from 21 buildings at a U.S. university found that all 46 samples contained hormonally active compounds that can lead to health effects, including infertility, diabetes, obesity, abnormal fetal growth, and cancers.
The study helps explain how industrial chemicals known as PFAS and flame retardants, which are found in the blood or urine of over 90 percent of Americans and are already known to cause widespread health and reproductive effects, enter the body. PFAS, which first came to light as ingredients in Teflon, are also used to coat carpets, furniture, and clothing. Despite a lack of evidence that they prevent fires, flame retardants are added to furniture, carpet, electronics, and building insulation. While we don’t eat these products, this study makes it clear that we breathe in tiny bits of them that have entered the air as dust.
“We don’t realize we’re taking this dust into our bodies all day every day,” said Anna Young, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Environmental Health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and lead author of the study. According to Young, people ingest an average of 20 milligrams of dust each day.
While the health effects of PFAS and flame retardants have been known for years, the Environmental Protection Agency has been ineffective at curbing exposure to the chemicals.
A federal appeals court on Tuesday dealt the final blow to former President Donald Trump's attempt to open nearly 130 million acres of territory in the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans to oil and gas drilling.
Though the Trump administration appealed the ruling, President Joe Biden revoked his predecessor's 2017 order shortly after taking office, rendering the court case moot. On Tuesday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed to dismiss the Trump administration's appeal.
"Because the terms of the challenged Executive Order are no longer in effect, the relevant areas of the [Outer Continental Shelf] in the Chukchi Sea, Beaufort Sea, and Atlantic Ocean will be withdrawn from exploration and development activities," the court said in its order.
Bracing for another year of severe, destructive fires, California’s governor on Tuesday approved a half-a-billion dollar emergency funding plan to prepare for the looming wildfire season. The state, which saw its worst fire season on record last year, is descending deep into a drought that portends even more megablazes this year. But experts say that while the huge spending plan is a start, it isn’t nearly enough to avert the crisis ahead. “We are in a very deep hole that we’re gonna have to dig ourselves out of,” said Chris Field, climate scientist at Stanford University. ...
As the state heads into its dry, summer season, its reservoirs remain at about half capacity. The region is so dry that the chamise plants that cover the state’s chaparral landscape didn’t sprout or flower this year in some locations. Instead, the highly flammable vegetation has already started to dry out – transforming into kindling that could invite more destructive fires, earlier than usual. Already this year, California has seen more than 1,160 fires burn 3,304 acres across the state. Over the past five years, an average of about 550 acres burned during the same time period.
The plan “is a step in the right direction”, said Don Hankins, a pyrogeographer and Plains Miwok fire expert at California State University, Chico. Hankins, along with other indigenous fire experts and researchers in California, has been pushing state leaders to direct more funds and resources toward prescribed burning – using small controlled burns to clear out fire-fueling vegetation, renew the soil and prevent bigger, runaway wildfires. Hundreds of tribes across California used prescribed burns for thousands of years until European settlers outlawed the practice.
Hankins said he was heartened that the state’s fire plan had earmarked money for prescribed burning – but he said it left out key details. For instance, since the majority of forests in California are managed by the federal government, rather than the state, California’s plans to ramp up prescribed burning will be largely contingent on the US government for funding and staffing. And while the plan promises partnership with “tribal entities”, it’s short on details about how, exactly, the partnership would work.
Moreover, because Californians banned prescribed burning for more than a century, Hankins said it would take a much bigger investment to burn through the backlog.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings - What If We All Stopped Paying Taxes?
JBs - I'm Payin' Taxes, What Am I Buyin'
J.B. Lenoir - Tax Paying Blues
Brownie McGhee - Income Tax Blues
Johnny Cash - After Taxes
Steve Chizmadia - The Wall Street Fat Cat Tax Payer Bail-Out Blues
Eddie Vinson - Luxury Tax Blues
New Lost City Ramblers - Sales Tax on the Women
Gene Autry - I Paid My Income Tax Today
Mississippi Sheiks - Sales Tax
Ry Cooder - Taxes on the Farmer Feeds Us All
Champion Jack Dupree - Income Tax
The Beatles - Taxman
Schoolhouse Rock: Money - Tax Man Max