The Evening Blues - 5-18-21


The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: Robert Parker

Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features New Orleans r&b singer and sax player, Robert Parker. Enjoy!

Robert Parker - Barefootin'

"In one way or another, this is the oldest story in America: the struggle to determine whether “we, the people” is a moral compact embedded in a political contract or merely a charade masquerading as piety and manipulated by the powerful and privileged to sustain their own way of life at the expense of others."

-- Bill Moyers

News and Opinion

Steven Donziger Describes Contempt Case as a “Charade” as Trial Comes to a Close

After five days in court and 650 days on house arrest, Steven Donziger, the environmental attorney who helped win a multibillion-dollar judgment against Chevron over contamination from oil drilling in Ecuador, chose not to testify in his own defense in the final day of a trial over contempt of court charges. “My lawyers said you’d be crazy to testify, so we decided to cut the case short,” Donziger told The Intercept. “No need to continue to legitimize what’s essentially a charade.”

As the Intercept previously reported, Donziger was charged with contempt of court for refusing to hand over his computer, cellphone, and other electronic devices in August 2019 and has since been on house arrest in his Upper West Side apartment in New York City. Although no attorney without a criminal record in the federal court system has ever before been detained pretrial for a misdemeanor offense, Donziger has been confined to his home for 21 months for the misdemeanor charge. If convicted, he faces six months in prison. ...

As activists strive to hold fossil fuel companies responsible for their role in the climate crisis, there is growing popular recognition of the significance of Chevron’s aggressive legal campaign against the environmental lawyer. ... A 2011 Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations, or RICO, suit that Chevron filed against Donziger initially sought $60 billion in damages. Such suits seeking damages entitle a defendant to a jury, but Chevron dropped the monetary claims two weeks before trial, and as a result, no jury was present. In August, Judge Loretta Preska, who is overseeing the contempt trial, denied Donziger’s request to have a jury present. Preska also denied Donziger’s request to stream video of the trial.

“We tried again at the beginning of the trial to get a jury, and she denied it again,” Donziger said of Preska. “Had I had an unbiased fact-finder, that is, a jury of my peers, there’s a very good chance I would be acquitted of all six counts.” Charles Nesson, an attorney and Harvard Law School professor, agrees. “This is a story of the denial of jury trial,” Nesson said. “He’s been effectively convicted and disbarred and more or less bankrupted without any jury. And now he’s about to be convicted. And all of this without a jury.”

Litigation between Donziger and Chevron, whose consultants acknowledged a plan to demonize the environmental lawyer in 2009, had been overseen by Judge Lewis A. Kaplan. The judge had asked the U.S. attorney to prosecute Donziger for the contempt charge; the federal attorney, Geoffrey Berman, had declined to do so. In a move that appears to be unprecedented, Kaplan appointed a private law firm to handle the prosecution in July 2019. Bypassing the standard random assignment process, Kaplan then hand-picked the judge who would oversee the case: Preska. “He knows in choosing her, he is choosing the one judge in the Southern District, perhaps, who is going to go after Steven in the worst possible way. And Kaplan was exactly right,” said Martin Garbus, one of Donziger’s attorneys.

Garbus, who has represented Nelson Mandela, Daniel Ellsberg, and Cesar Chavez and worked in Rwanda, China, and the Soviet Union, among other countries, said he was stunned by Donziger’s case. “I have seen many, many oppressive judges, and I have seen many, many rigged court systems. The way this is rigged is peculiar and amazing in New York,” said Garbus. “Nothing like this has ever happened before in the American legal system.”

Gaza Physician: Israel Is Targeting Doctors & Health Facilities to Overwhelm Our Crumbling System

Amnesty International Calls for ICC War Crimes Probe of Israeli Strikes on Gaza Homes

Citing a "shocking disregard for the lives of Palestinian civilians" demonstrated by the Israeli military's ongoing attacks on civilian homes in the densely populated Gaza Strip, Amnesty International on Monday implored the International Criminal Court to "urgently investigate" such bombings as possible "war crimes or crimes against humanity."

Amnesty said in a statement that it "has documented four deadly attacks by Israel launched on residential homes without prior warning and is calling for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to urgently investigate these attacks."

"The death toll in Gaza continues to climb with at least 198 Palestinians killed including 58 children and more than 1,220 injured," the group noted after a weekend in which the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) perpetrated at least three major massacres in Gaza.

According to the Gaza Ministry of Health, the death toll from Israeli air and artillery attacks reached 212, including 61 children and 36 women, on Monday.

Late Friday night or early Saturday morning at least 10 members of the Abu Hatab family—including eight children and two women—were killed in a nighttime attack on a home in the Shati refugee camp in northern Gaza, according to The Times of Israel. This attack is not mentioned in the Amnesty statement.

In another bombing not mentioned by Amnesty, the Times of Israel reported that at least 42 Palestinians, including a 1-year-old and a 3-year-old, were killed in an airstrike in the upscale Al-Rima neighborhood of Gaza City early Sunday.

Also on Sunday, Al Jazeera reported, IDF missiles struck a home in the al-Wehda district of Gaza, killing at least 33 people including numerous women and children and two top doctors, further straining a healthcare infrastructure already reeling from over 14 years of Israeli blockade. Amnesty said 11 children died in this attack.

Amnesty said that "shortly before midnight on May 14, Israeli airstrikes hit the three-story building of the al-Atar family in Beit Lahia, killing 28-year-old Lamya Hassan Mohammed al-Atar [and] her three children Islam, 7, Amira, 6, and Mohammed, an 8-month-old baby."

According to the statement:

At least 152 residential properties in Gaza have been destroyed since May 11, according to the Gaza-based human rights organization, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Public Works and Housing in Gaza, Israeli strikes have destroyed 94 buildings, comprising 461 housing and commercial units, while 285 housing units have been severely damaged and rendered uninhabitable.

According to United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), more than 2,500 people have been made homeless due to the destruction of their homes, and more than 38,000 people have been internally displaced and have sought shelter in 48 [U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees] schools across Gaza.

Indiscriminate rocket fire by Palestinian armed groups towards civilian areas of Israel has also killed and injured civilians and damaged homes and other civilian properties. The rockets fired from Gaza into Israel are imprecise and their use violates international humanitarian law, which prohibits the use of weapons that are by nature indiscriminate. These attacks should also be investigated by the ICC as war crimes.

"There is a horrific pattern emerging of Israel launching airstrikes in Gaza targeting residential buildings and family homes—in some cases entire families were buried beneath the rubble when the buildings they lived in collapsed," Saleh Higazi, Amnesty's deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, said in a statement.

"Under international humanitarian law, all parties must distinguish between military targets and civilian objects and direct their attacks only at military objectives," asserted Higazi. "When carrying out attacks, parties must take all feasible precautions to minimize harm to civilians."

"Although the Israeli military has given no explanation of what military objectives it was targeting in these attacks, it is hard to imagine how bombing residential buildings full of civilian families without warning could be considered proportionate under international humanitarian law," Higazi continued. "It is not possible to use large explosive weapons, like aircraft bombs that have a blast radius of many hundreds of meters, in populated areas without anticipating major civilian casualties."

"By carrying out these brazen, deadly attacks on family homes without warning, Israel has demonstrated a callous disregard for lives of Palestinian civilians who are already suffering the collective punishment of Israel's illegal blockade on Gaza since 2007," he said.

"Deliberate attacks on civilians and civilian property and infrastructure are war crimes, as are disproportionate attacks," added Higazi. "The International Criminal Court has an active investigation into the situation in Palestine and should urgently investigate these attacks as war crimes."

"States should also consider exercising universal jurisdiction over those who commit war crimes," Higazi concluded. "Impunity only works to fuel the pattern of unlawful attacks and civilian bloodshed, which have we have repeatedly documented in previous Israeli military offensives on Gaza."

“Genocide”: Palestinian Lawmaker Condemns Netanyahu for Bombing Gaza to Stay in Power, Avoid Charges

Israel-Gaza conflict: 200 Palestinians killed in a week

Two hundred Palestinians, including 59 children, have been killed during a week of attacks in Gaza, health officials in the territory have said, as Benjamin Netanyahu signalled Israel’s bombardment would rage on despite mounting global pressure to stop the bloodshed.

After a phone conversation with Netanyahu on Monday afternoon, US president Joe Biden issued a statement for the first time expressing support for a ceasefire – but though he did not say it should be immediate. “The president reiterated his firm support for Israel’s right to defend itself against indiscriminate rocket attacks,” the statement said. “He encouraged Israel to make every effort to ensure the protection of innocent civilians. The two leaders discussed progress in Israel’s military operations against Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza. The president expressed his support for a ceasefire and discussed US engagement with Egypt and other partners towards that end.”

Israeli reports quoting military officials, suggested that Israeli forces wanted to continue their military operations for another day or two before withdrawing. Meanwhile, the US blocked – for the third time in a week – the adoption of a joint UN security council statement calling for a halt to Israeli-Palestinian violence.

Early on Monday, warplanes launched more heavy airstrikes on Gaza City, rocking apartment blocks and sending fireballs into the air. Israel said it had “struck 110 targets” overnight, including in a densely populated neighbourhood. It was unclear how many people might have been killed. During the past week, Israeli attacks have destroyed a health clinic, hit the home of an aid worker, killed two doctors, destroyed high-rise residential towers, blown up a mattress factory and flattened the offices of international news organisations.

Israeli Human Rights Group B’Tselem: Israel Is Committing War Crimes by Killing Civilians in Gaza

'Criminal Complicity': Outrage as Biden Pushes $735 Million Weapons Sale to Israel Amid Gaza Slaughter

Human rights advocates warned Monday that the Biden administration is deepening U.S. complicity in the Netanyahu regime's ongoing massacre of civilians in Gaza by attempting to push through a $735 million sale of so-called "precision-guided weapons" to Israel.

The Washington Post reported Monday that the Biden administration officially notified Congress of the sale on May 5, just days before Israeli forces began their latest bombardment of Gaza last week—an assault that has killed nearly 200 Palestinians, wounded more than 1,200, and displaced tens of thousands.

Since last Monday, the Israeli military has used bombs and missiles made by major U.S. military contractors such as Boeing and General Dynamics to obliterate major buildings in Gaza, including one over the weekend that housed offices of the Associated Press and Al-Jazeera.

"Criminal complicity," Yousef Munayyer, a Palestinian-American writer and political analyst, tweeted in response to reports of the sale, under which Boeing would provide Joint Direct Attack Munitions to Israel.

Freelance journalist Alex Kane warned that "those bombs will be dropped on Gaza if approved, as is likely."

Speaking to the Post on the condition of anonymity, one Democratic lawmaker on the House Foreign Affairs Committee similarly cautioned that "allowing this proposed sale of smart bombs to go through without putting pressure on Israel to agree to a cease-fire will only enable further carnage."

While Democratic-controlled Congress has the power to block the weapons sale, it is unclear whether there would be enough support in either chamber to pass a resolution of disapproval, even as a growing chorus of progressive lawmakers expresses support for conditioning—and, if necessary, cutting off—the $3.8 billion in military aid the U.S. sends to Israel each year.

As the Post reported, one Democratic Senate aide said that "it's unlikely debate over the sale will ultimately result in a resolution of disapproval," which must pass within 20 days of the formal notification.

Palestinians Stage Historic General Strike from the River to the Sea for the First Time Since 1936

Hamas Official Denies Group Used Destroyed Gaza Media Tower for Intelligence

The Israeli government’s claim that Hamas operated a military intelligence unit in a Gaza City building that housed the offices of the Associated Press and Al-Jazeera is false, a Hamas official has told The Intercept. The Israeli military destroyed the Al-Jalaa Tower after giving the journalists who worked there an hour to evacuate. Israel used Hamas’s alleged military operations in the building to justify the bombing. “Hamas did not have any military or intelligence operations in Al-Jalaa Tower,” said Basem Naim, a Hamas official who is the head of the Council on International Relations in Gaza, in an interview with The Intercept. It was the group’s first official denial of Israel’s allegations to the international media.

The Jerusalem Post, quoting an unnamed senior Israeli official, reported that Israel showed the United States “smoking gun” evidence that Hamas’s military operated an intelligence office in the building. However, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said today he has not seen any evidence, and the White House declined to comment in a briefing today.

“We don’t operate anything related to the military wing from civilian houses,” said Naim. Hamas is a militant and political organization. In 2006, the group won elections in the Palestinian territories and entered into a power-sharing agreement with Fatah, its rival political party, to run the Palestinian Authority in the occupied territories. In 2007, fighting erupted after a U.S.-backed armed effort to remove Hamas from power, and the group took over governance of the densely populated Gaza Strip.

Naim told The Intercept that Hamas may have had a civilian office in the Al-Jalaa tower, since offices used for civilian administration are spread throughout the territory, but unequivocally denied the Israeli claim that Hamas operated a military intelligence unit in the building. ... Naim said he and other Hamas officials believe that Israel targeted the building in order to make it more difficult for Associated Press and Al-Jazeera journalists to disseminate reports, videos, and photographs of Israeli air and artillery assaults on Gaza.

Krystal Ball: Israel DECIMATES AP Bureau And Biden Does NOTHING

Anti-Israel protests in Germany prompt calls for antisemitism crackdown

Politicians in Germany have called for tougher measures against antisemitism after thousands of people attended what became aggressive protests at the weekend in connection with the escalating violence in the Middle East. In the most violent protest, in the southern Berlin district of Neukölln, demonstrators who had gathered to show solidarity with Palestinians burned Israeli flags, chanted anti-Israel slogans and flew Hamas banners.

“We are experiencing antisemitic protests and despicable hatred towards Jews in these days, which makes it vital that we take on antisemitism much more decisively,” Paul Ziemiak, the general secretary of the Christian Democrats, told German media.

The Neukölln demonstration, which drew a reported 6,500 people, was broken up by police who had warned organisers they must adhere to coronavirus restrictions. A small group among the demonstrators threw bottles, stones and fireworks at some of the 600 officers in attendance, who responded with pepper spray. An unknown number of protesters were injured and scores of arrests were made. The demonstration had reportedly started peacefully on Saturday morning when 120 people gathered in the district, which is home to a large number of people of Arab origin, and called for a “free Palestine from Jordan to the Mediterranean”. ...

Felix Klein, the federal government’s ombudsman for tackling antisemitism, called for police and prosecutors to be given greater powers to recognise antisemitism and punish those expressing it. He told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung he wanted the introduction of a national strategy in the fight against antisemitism and a “European standard” for its identification and punishment.

Jacob Zuma corruption trial in South Africa adjourned shortly after opening

A long-delayed corruption trial of Jacob Zuma has opened in South Africa but was adjourned almost immediately for nine days. Zuma, who was president from 2009 to 2018, faces charges of fraud, racketeering and money laundering relating to a $2.5bn (£1.98bn) deal to buy European military hardware to upgrade South Africa’s armed forces in 1994.

The 79-year-old denies the charges against him. He has alleged his case has been prejudiced by lengthy delays in bringing the matter to trial and political interference. Lawyers for the former president are applying for the lead state prosecutor to stand down on undisclosed grounds, and the postponement is to allow their request to be prepared. Zuma has been accused of using delaying tactics to avoid the trial.

Patricia de Lille, the minister of public works and infrastructure and a key witness in the case, said that after 22 years a further week’s delay was bearable. “We have all been waiting for this day so South Africans can hear the truth and former president Jacob Zuma can put his side of the case … We are all equal before the law,” she said outside the court.

The case has become a battleground for factions within the ruling African National Congress party, which remains deeply divided. Successive corruption scandals have badly hurt the reputation of the ANC, which has ruled South Africa since the end of apartheid in 1994.

Chilean Voters Elect Progressive Alliance to Rewrite Pinochet-Era Constitution

In a development that was celebrated by champions of democracy around the world, Chilean voters this weekend elected a progressive slate of delegates to the constituent assembly tasked with rewriting the country's right-wing constitution, which was imposed more than 40 years ago during Gen. Augusto Pinochet's military dictatorship and has continued to reproduce inequality for over three decades since the end of his rule.

Progressive International tweeted Monday that Chileans took a major step forward in the quest to "bury Pinochet's constitution and write a new future for Chile"—one that includes guaranteed access to public goods such as water, education, healthcare, pensions, and other necessities.

"Chile will be the grave of neoliberalism!" the group added—a particularly meaningful designation given that the country is often referred to as the laboratory of neoliberalism, where the privatization of everything was first tested on an unwilling population.

After a U.S.-backed coup toppled Chile's democratically elected socialist president Salvador Allende, on September 11, 1973, Pinochet's regime implemented a wave of pro-market policies under anti-democratic circumstances at the behest of economists trained at the University of Chicago. This led to vast inequalities and rendered egalitarian reform exceedingly difficult, even in the post-dictatorship period that began in 1990.

There have been numerous attempts over the past 30 years to rein in market fundamentalism in Chile, but because neoliberalism was so deeply embedded in the country's 1980 constitution, the reign of Pinochet's politics outlived the military dictator.

During a historic referendum last October, which represented the culmination of a decadeslong revolt against the neoliberal model, Chileans voted in a four-to-one landslide to rewrite the dictatorship-era constitution. Notably, voters chose for the new constitution to be written by a popularly elected assembly of constituents rather than a mixed assembly of politicians and citizens.

At the time, political theorist Melany Cruz called the overwhelming popular support for a new constitution a "chance to bury Pinochet's legacy... and rebuild the country on a truly democratic basis." Still, the question remained: Who would be in charge of the process? Which of the more than 1,300 candidates would be selected for this monumental task?

During this past weekend's election—originally scheduled for April but pushed back due to an increase in coronavirus infections—Chileans were finally given a chance to answer that question definitively.

Of the 155 citizens elected to the constituent assembly, only 38, which is less than a quarter, came from the right-wing coalition known as Vamos por Chile, El Ciudadano reported.

The Chilean newspaper noted that candidates from the center-left coalition, known as Lista del Apruebo, won 25 seats. Meanwhile, 27 candidates from the left-wing coalition, Apruebo Dignidad, were victorious. Furthermore, 48 seats were picked up by "Independent" candidates whom El Ciudadano described as "mostly linked to social movements in Chile."

In addition, 17 seats at the constitutional convention were reserved for the representation of Indigenous peoples.

By delivering a knockout blow to the country's right-wing, voters ensured that a large majority of the 155 delegates responsible for establishing a new political framework at the constituent assembly will be bringing progressive perspectives rather than neoliberal orthodoxy to the table, increasing the likelihood that a genuinely emancipatory constitution gets created. ...

In a world-historic first that feminists say could establish a new global standard for greater equality in politics, Congress mandated gender parity at the constitutional convention, meaning that an equal number of women and men had to be elected. According to Reuters, 77 of the 699 women who ran for seats at the constituent assembly were victorious, compared with 78 of the 674 male candidates.

Women candidates did so well, Reuters noted, that the requirement of parity resulted in adjustments having to be made in favor of more men: "A total of five seats were handed to female candidates who polled lower than male counterparts in certain districts to ensure a 50-50 gender split, while seven seats were handed to men who polled lower." As the news outlet noted, some "lamented the fact any ceiling had been placed on victorious female candidates at all."

The Guardian reported that "although Chile's current constitution guarantees equality or nondiscrimination based on sex, it does not ensure women's rights to equality in marriage and stipulates the protection of 'life to be born'—a clause that has blighted access to legal, safe abortion in the country."

While women's rights advocates "acknowledged that not all women in the assembly will share feminist values," they expect the makeup of the constituent assembly to result in a framework that enshrines equal rights for women as well as marginalized groups that have been "excluded from political spaces, including the country's Indigenous communities, LGBT groups, and gender-nonconforming people," the newspaper added.

In addition, although there are no guarantees they were elected to the constituent assembly, at least 5% of parties' candidates were required to be people with disabilities, NACLA noted, offering further evidence of Chileans' efforts to build a more inclusive and representative democracy.

Last year's referendum that rendered the transformation of Chile's constitution possible was not on the political agenda until nationwide protests against austerity erupted in October 2019 following a transit fare hike. As Pablo Abufom wrote at the time, however, the social uprising in Chile is "not about 30 pesos, it's about 30 years."

Chilean President Sebastián Piñera—himself a billionaire whose University of Chicago-trained brother served as one of Pinochet's economists during the military dictatorship—responded viciously to the political unrest, "shooting anti-austerity protesters, blinding and maiming [them] by the thousands," as Ben Norton documented at The Grayzone.

Despite the government's violent repression of demonstrations, which killed 36 people, Chilean citizens' persistent and militant resistance forced Piñera in November 2019 to schedule a plebiscite for April 2020, which was postponed until October of last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The constituent assembly will have nine months to a year to draft a new constitution, the key provisions of which must be approved by a two-thirds majority, necessitating the formation of alliances among members. After that, the Chilean people will be asked next year in another national referendum whether or not they accept the new constitution.

The Chilean left's triumph this weekend was not limited to electing representatives to the constituent assembly. In a historic victory, Irací Hassler became the first candidate from the Communist Party of Chile to be elected mayor of Santiago's downtown district when she defeated the current right-wing mayor, Felipe Alessandri.

Call for homeless people to camp on beaches, parks sparks fury in LA

Lobbyists CONFIDENT ‘Moderate’ Dems Will Oppose Taxes On The Rich

US supreme court agrees to consider major rollback of abortion rights

The US supreme court agreed on Monday to consider a major challenge to reproductive rights, saying it will take up Mississippi’s bid to enforce a ban on almost all abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy. It will be the first abortion case to come before the court since the confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett, a devout Catholic, gave conservatives a 6-3 majority. It could lead to the landmark Roe v Wade precedent being gutted after nearly half a century.

The supreme court established a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion in the 1973 decision and reaffirmed it 19 years later in Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v Casey.

The Mississippi law, enacted in 2018, was blocked by lower courts as inconsistent with supreme court precedent that protects a woman’s right to obtain an abortion before the foetus can survive outside her womb. When the only abortion clinic in Mississippi, Jackson Women’s Health Organization, sued to try to block the measure, a federal judge in 2018 ruled against the state. In 2019 the New Orleans-based fifth US circuit court of appeals reached the same conclusion, prompting the state to appeal to the supreme court.

The court will hear arguments in the case in its next term, which starts in October, and may not arrive at a decision until the spring or summer of 2022 – setting up a politically explosive showdown months before the midterm elections for Congress. ...

Steve Vladeck, a law professor at the University of Texas, told CNN: “This will be, by far, the most important abortion case the court will have heard since the Casey decision in 1992. “If states are allowed to effectively ban abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy, as the Mississippi law in this case does, then pregnant women would have a far shorter window in which they could lawfully obtain an abortion than what Roe and Casey currently require.”

Ex-officer charged in Daunte Wright shooting to appear in court

A former suburban Minneapolis police officer charged with second-degree manslaughter for fatally shooting the 20-year-old Black motorist Daunte Wright is scheduled to appear in court via videoconference on Monday.

The former Brooklyn Center officer Kim Potter, who is white, has an omnibus hearing, also known as a pre-trial hearing, on Monday afternoon in Hennepin county district court. The purpose of such a hearing is to go over evidence and determine if there is probable cause for the case to proceed.

Wright, father of a young son, was killed on 11 April after a traffic stop. The former Brooklyn Center police chief has said he believes Potter meant to use her Taser on Wright instead of her handgun. Body-camera video shows her shouting “Taser!” multiple times before firing. The shooting ignited days of unrest. Wright’s family members and protesters had wanted prosecutors to file murder charges. ...

The criminal complaint noted that Potter holstered her handgun on the right side and her Taser on the left, both with their grips facing rearward. To remove the Taser – which is yellow and has a black grip – Potter would have to use her left hand, the complaint said.

Intent is not a necessary component of second-degree manslaughter in Minnesota. The charge – which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison – can be applied in circumstances where a person is suspected of causing a death by “culpable negligence” that creates an unreasonable risk and consciously takes chances to cause a death.

Poorly organized and written, but there's some interesting information if you care to click and plow through the article:

The FBI is supposed to track how police use force – years later, it’s falling well short

In the weeks after George Floyd was murdered, US police flooded the streets in more than 100 cities with some form of teargas, according to an analysis by the New York Times. A later analysis of 7,305 protest events in all 50 states, involving millions of attendees during May and June, found that police used teargas or related substances in about 183 of these events, or 2.5% of them. Experts called the use of teargas a dangerous choice during a pandemic involving a respiratory disease; hundreds of protesters in one city have reported lasting health effects, including abnormal menstrual cycles.

The Guardian selected 18 police departments that used teargas for a closer examination of their documented uses of force since 2019, suspecting they may have troubling interactions with residents more broadly. We turned to the FBI for this data, because the bureau was tasked with collecting it after the first wave of protests against police killings of Black people that began in 2014.

Only half responded to our requests, and those that did sent us back extraordinarily varied data points, making comparisons across departments or years virtually impossible. Only two sent back substantial data. Among police departments that sent us information, there was a striking pattern: a tendency to use force at far higher rates against people who were not white, especially Black people.

More than half a decade after Eric Garner in New York and Michael Brown in Ferguson were killed by police, the public is still unable to access this information for the majority of US police departments, raising concerns about the ability of the nation’s top law enforcement agency to institute even the barest transparency reforms. ....

Because the FBI has not released any force data it has collected, the Guardian attempted to verify the effectiveness of the program by asking police for the same use-of-force reports they sent to the FBI. We also sent a records request for this exact data to the FBI, which declined to provide it. Though the data we received was incomplete, it still indicated that police used aggressive force against Black and Native American people most often in cities where police used chemical munitions to disperse protesters last year.

the horse race

Ryan Grim: Manchin's Latest Roadblock To HR1

the evening greens

‘This is environmental racism’: activists call on Biden to stop new plastics plants in ‘Cancer Alley’

On Monday, groups of climate activists protested against a proposed petrochemical complex an hour away from New Orleans, Louisiana, calling on the Biden administration to revoke the plastics company’s federal permit to start construction. ...

Last January, the Louisiana department of environmental quality (LDEQ) approved permits for the Taiwanese plastics-giant Formosa to build 14 separate plastics plants in St James parish. The decision proved controversial; for years, the parish’s predominantly Black community has witnessed their neighbors suffer from pollution-linked conditions such as cancer, asthma and other respiratory illnesses.

Rise St James, a grassroots environmental justice group that has been leading the fight to block Formosa from building the mammoth facility, organized Monday’s protest in conjunction with the Sunrise Movement. In 2019, Rise St James found that Formosa’s chosen location sits on two former sugarcane plantations and the burial grounds of enslaved people.

In November, the project’s federal permit was suspended, and is currently under re-evaluation. The activists protesting on Monday argue that, just as Biden revoked a necessary permit for the Keystone XL pipeline on his first day as president, he should do the same for the proposed Formosa facility.

“This is the epitome of environmental racism,” said Varshini Prakash, the co-founder and executive director of Sunrise Movement. “Biden was elected on a climate mandate rooted in racial and environmental justice, and we demand he fulfill his campaign promise by directing the army corps to revoke the federal permits on this plant.”

Jaguars could be reintroduced in US south-west, study says

Jaguars could be reintroduced in the south-western US, where hunting and habitat loss led to the big cats’ extinction, a new study says.

Scientists and other environmentalists make the case for bringing back the third-largest big cat, after tigers and lions, in Arizona and New Mexico in a paper published in the journal Conservation Science and Practice.

The authors believe restoring jaguars can be a net benefit to people, as well as the “cultural and natural heritage” of the states in question.

“We see reintroducing the jaguar to the mountains of central Arizona and New Mexico as essential to species conservation, ecosystem restoration and rewilding,” the paper states.

The authors say an area of more than 31,800 sq miles could support from 90 to 150 adult jaguars, a population that could be viable for at least 100 years. The last known jaguar in the region was hunted in 1964, according to the paper.

Los Angeles: at least 1,000 under evacuation orders amid wildfire

A brush fire in southern California has torn through more than 1,300 acres, shrouding parts of Los Angeles with plumes of smoke and ash and prompting evacuation orders for at least 1,000 residents.

Investigators suspect an arsonist may have sparked the Palisades fire, and have taken a suspect into custody, Los Angeles’s mayor, Eric Garcetti, announced at a Monday morning news conference.

The wildfire, dubbed the Palisades fire, broke out late on Friday in the Santa Monica Mountains and grew rapidly on Saturday afternoon.

Historically dry conditions and warm temperatures helped fuel the fire as it ripped through dense, drought-desiccated vegetation in Topanga Canyon, a remote community of ranch homes west of Los Angeles. The region had not burned in more than 50 years, according to other Los Angeles fire departments.

Also of Interest

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

Who Benefits From Israel's Slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza?

I live in Sheikh Jarrah. For Palestinians, this is not a ‘real estate dispute’

Arab states split for first time on refusal to condemn Israel over Gaza

Nearly 30 Senate Dems Call for Immediate Cease-Fire as Death Toll From Israeli Assault on Gaza Tops 190

Leak Reveals Power Shifting to Hard-Liners in Iran

US To Lead 27-Nation NATO Naval Exercise Near Crimea

How The Military Slow Rolled Trump

Are Record-Setting Commodity Prices a Result of Demand or Futures Manipulation?

Sharks use Earth’s magnetic field as ‘GPS’ guidance system, study says

Krystal and Saagar: Biden’s Call For Ceasefire IGNORED By Hamas-Israel

Krystal and Saagar: Biden QUIETLY Appoints Neera Tanden To Key WH Position

Rising: Cuomo Pockets Over $5 MILLION From Failed Book Deal

A Little Night Music

Robert Parker - Let's Go Baby (Where The Action Is)

Robert Parker - All Nite Long

Robert Parker - Everybody's Hip Huggin

Robert Parker - June Teen

Robert Parker - Happy Feet

Robert Parker - Lawdy Miss Clawdy

Robert Parker - You See Me

Robert Parker - Twistin' Out In Space

Robert Parker - Mash Potatoes All Nite Long

Robert Parker - Holdin Out

Robert Parker - Tip Toe

20 users have voted.


it would seem to me that the verdict in the Donziger case seems to have ample grounds for an appeal.

12 users have voted.
enhydra lutris's picture


to make any appealable errors in these purely punitive cases.

be well and have a good one

8 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


well, ianal, but donziger is and he and his lawyers feel like they have sufficient grounds for an appeal. i suspect that they will take it as high up the food chain as they need to.

have a great evening!

8 users have voted.

@joe shikspack might sit in home arrest for a year or more awaiting appeals. Depends on if the judge made orders covering the post judgment appeal time frame.
For everyone's edification: One files a motion to recuse a judge due to impartiality. One files a motion to disqualify an opposing attorney for conflict of interest.
Denial of either of these are grounds for reversal on appeal. I am sure the attorneys filed the motions, held the hearings, got adverse rulings.
The problem with Israel is the US and the US driven idea that criticism of a government that is composed of Jews is antisemitic, rather than a criticism of a government policy.
I think it is an upgrade of "don't criticize Hillary because woman...and don't criticize Biden because Blue No Matter Who.
It is pretty cool, some light rain, perfect for listening to the thunder and rain.
Storms will come while I am in bed.
Thanks for all you do, joe.

9 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@on the cusp

thanks for the info. i had figured that one of donziger's bases for appeal would be the partiality of the judge, which, given the blatant appearance of a conflict seems like a pretty good move. i would guess that donziger's legal team has logged a host of procedural issues as well in case the partiality question goes against them.

heh, antisemitism smears seem to be working pretty well for those that use them, after all, they managed to take down jeremy corbyn with that b.s.

i'd guess that we are going to see those smears used until they become a common joke.

6 users have voted.
Shahryar's picture

that's how we live now. Judges rule in favor of whoever has more power.

There is only one solution which isn't a solution at all. Anyone solving the problem using that solution becomes the problem.

12 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


yep, historically, these sorts of oppressive injustice systems do get fixed eventually, though the fix is usually pretty traumatic. perhaps some of the kangaroo-people that run the courts might want to ponder that.

5 users have voted.

15 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


we shall have to remember to refer to cnn as "state media cnn."

7 users have voted.

10 users have voted.
enhydra lutris's picture

time does fly pst. In fact, 2021-1948 = 73. We might as well forget Afghanistan, we'll never match that.

Thanks for the news and blues

be well and have a good one

9 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

well, yeah. by the time we get to 73 years in afghanistan, israel will be 123 years into its slow-rolling ethnic cleansing genocide. unless israel gets impatient and decides to finish the job, they are always going to be ahead of our record in afghanistan.

the u.s. can take comfort, though. it is more than a century ahead of israel in its ethnic cleansing genocide of native americans and brutal oppression of people of african descent.

8 users have voted.
Azazello's picture

There are revisionists saying that neoliberalism in the US was a good faith experiment and that nobody knew that its implementation would result in the grotesque inequality we see today. Bullshit. Chile was the experiment. They saw what it did there and decided that we needed the same treatment here.
This is a week old, I can't remember if it was linked in the EB or not:
"Our post-American era."
This is new: Inside the Military's Secret Undercover Army

10 users have voted.

It didn't have to be this way.

joe shikspack's picture


yep, it's excellent news for chileans. their lives might be about to get much better. hopefully, the u.s. will keep its grubby paws off chile this time.

i remember reading through that patrick lawrence article a while ago, but i don't remember if i posted it or not.

thanks for the newsweek article, pretty interesting stuff.

i hope that you enjoy the new jaguars that your state is giving out. Smile

7 users have voted.

gets it right. I love the way you begin your news reports, Joe. Definitely sets the tone and tenor of what follows.

Grim times. Members here seem to share a worldview that I wish was wrong. I learn so much on Caucus 99 which is the only reason I read and write on the web.

So, in a lighter moment let me contribute Yang Strikes Back. in this tweet, Andrew Yang answers one of the dumbest charges leveled against him early on in this campaign. he was massively mocked for calling his neighborhood a bodega when in the opinion of NYC RW racist Democrats was, get this, "Too nice to be a bodega. That's a deli."

8 users have voted.


@NYCVG entire clip to get the joke. The owner sure gets it.

6 users have voted.


@NYCVG @NYCVG as a bonus.

9 users have voted.


9 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


from what little i see of ny mayoral race coverage, it still looks like yang is doing pretty well. having a sense of humor will probably do his campaign some good, too.

have a great evening!

5 users have voted.

broiling, hot, piping hot, red-hot, roasting, scalding, scorching, searing, sizzling
aglow, flaring, flickering, glowing, live, smoldering (or smouldering)
ablaze, afire, aflame, alight [chiefly British], blazing, burning, combusting, conflagrant, fiery, flaming, ignited, inflamed (also enflamed), kindled, lit (or lighted)


is how I feel after watching this,

People's Party Invites You To Nominate Your Next Congress Person

One reason I like to download vids is it's easier have excrement fill my ears at 1.50X speed, saves me half the time. If anyone else can tell from that convo how the PP is going to be so NEW and IMPROVED once elected and sent to DC (PU!), please say. What is the plan after all that election churn they're going on about? I mean Jimmy's face is giving it away, is it his shadow peeking out or what, is he even aware? I know every one has to eat, but private contractors are still stealing everything to death, in case ya didn't notice. Do they even listen to themselves? I quote, from near the end (yay!):

Zeynab (same chick helped get AOC elected, woo!):

and we are targeting people from marginalized communities

so... ? I can already see what happens to "marginalized communities" once they get to Washington DC, tyvm. What is the PP plan, are they just going to break all the rules of seniority that Congress is built on over the last couple centuries? All that pomp and circumstance? What's the plan to disrupt that shitty sewer hole once you're in it? HOPE
Nick (same guy helped get Bernie not elected, woo!):

we can be the second party!

Because duopoly sucks! Hahahahaahahaha! aaaaahh ah oh my. kshape cry

Peace and Love
Good Luck

6 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


well jimmy starts out with something like "for people who are into electoral politics" (paraphrase).

personally, i think this pp thing is not going to make a difference. the problems we have need to be solved by something other than a corrupt government. i.e., we don't need a new party, we need a new government.

5 users have voted.

@joe shikspack they put out my hair fire with marigolds and fresh greens. I don't why. I mean I talk out loud in real life the same exact way I do here, not very nice. Like Jimmy, I am not a math surgeon (1.50 = 200%!), and I have had too much psychotherapy of the Jungian kind. My therapist had an Ouroboros tattoo, the snake eating its tail. I used to hate tattoos, but now young people think they are great! Most holocaust survivors are dead, so forget about it. It's artistic. Every one has to eat.

I regret peeing in the electoral politics wheaties bowl, sorry. I do mean it kindly when I say good luck to all. Go forth and resolve. Have fun!

Bruce Hornsby & The Range - The Way It Is (Official Video)

Peace and Love

2 users have voted.