The Evening Blues - 6-11-21
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features blues and rock guitarist Elvin Bishop. Enjoy!
Elvin Bishop - Travelin' Shoes
"In a police state, referencing one's rights is seen as an act of aggression."
-- Philip Schuyler
News and Opinion
At a House Judiciary Committee hearing on oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation on Thursday, Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., asked FBI Director Christopher Wray for information the bureau had collected on her work as an organizer and activist before her time in Congress. In 2014 and 2017, Bush protested in Ferguson, Missouri, and St. Louis — after police killed 18-year-old Michael Brown and after a judge found the officer who killed 24-year-old Anthony Lamar Smith not guilty, respectively — and the FBI is known to have collected data on several of the demonstrations in which she participated.
On June 4, Bush sent a letter to Wray requesting that the bureau deliver access to all information it had collected on her protest and organizing activities before Wray’s scheduled testimony on Thursday. Her office said the inspector general for the Department of Justice responded Thursday to a different letter she sent in February, asking about the disparate treatment of protesters last summer and the people who participated in the January 6 attacks on the Capitol. According to Bush’s office, the inspector general’s review is pending.
“Public reporting leaves little doubt that the FBI did, in fact, investigate and surveil those who were protesting for racial justice against police brutality,” Bush wrote. “I was one such protester.” She had not received a response by Thursday morning. “When can I expect to hear back from the bureau regarding that information?” Bush asked Wray at Thursday’s hearing, referring to the data the FBI had compiled on her protest activity. Wray replied that he had only recently learned about the letter, that the bureau receives thousands of requests for files, and that he would have his staff follow up to help her understand how the process works. Bush went on to ask him whether the bureau had deputized federal agents and law enforcement agents in response to civil unrest last summer; if the FBI was authorized to use force in response to the Capitol attacks; and why Wray had stated, earlier in the hearing, that the FBI doesn’t surveil First Amendment protests when there is ample evidence to the contrary.
“I remain concerned that many law enforcement agencies continue to characterize Black protestors as a threat to public safety rather than as citizens who are more than justified in exercising their First Amendment right to organize and voice their grievances,” Bush wrote, pointing to the bureau’s past use of the term “black identity extremism.” She added that she would introduce legislation to “correct the Bureau’s excesses, if necessary.” Bush said she couldn’t yet discuss specifics of the legislation, but her office is working on a protester’s bill of rights, similar to local proposals in Missouri. “We know that we want to protect our protesters and curb any intimidation tactics,” Bush said, noting that states across the country, including Missouri, introduced or passed anti-protest legislation this year.
“Julian Is Suffering”: Family of WikiLeaks Founder Assange in U.S. to Demand His Release from Prison
The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, issued a rebuke of Ilhan Omar on Thursday, after the outspoken Minnesota congresswoman said she was a victim of “harassment and silencing” by fellow Democrats over a remark about the US, Israel, Afghanistan and Hamas.
“Drawing false equivalencies between democracies like the US and Israel and groups that engage in terrorism like Hamas and the Taliban foments prejudice and undermines progress toward a future of peace and security for all,” Pelosi said, in a statement issued with the House majority leader, Steny Hoyer, and other members of the party hierarchy.
We must have the same level of accountability and justice for all victims of crimes against humanity.
We have seen unthinkable atrocities committed by the U.S., Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban.
— Rep. Ilhan Omar (@Ilhan) June 7, 2021
As Republicans accused Omar of antisemitism and pushed for her to be expelled from the House foreign affairs committee, a group of Jewish House Democrats issued their own criticism. “Equating the United States and Israel to Hamas and the Taliban is as offensive as it is misguided,” they wrote in a statement. “Ignoring the differences between democracies governed by the rule of law and contemptible organisations that engage in terrorism at best discredits one’s intended argument and at worst reflects deep-seated prejudice.
Citing an open case against Israel, US, Hamas & Taliban in the ICC isn’t comparison or from “deeply seated prejudice”. You might try to undermine these investigations or deny justice to their victims but history has thought us that the truth can’t be hidden or silenced forever.
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) June 10, 2021
On Thursday Omar did clarify her remarks, saying she was not making “a moral comparison between Hamas and the Taliban and the US and Israel” and was “in no way equating terrorist organisations with democratic countries”.
I'm not a huge fan of Ryan Grim, but I have to give him points for his performance defending Ilhan Omar here:
Congresswoman Ilhan Omar of Minnesota hit back Wednesday at the dozen fellow House Democrats who accused her of "equating" the United States and Israel to Hamas and the Taliban after she pointed out that the U.S. and Israeli governments have committed human rights atrocities—an uncontroversial statement that the right-wing media and Republican lawmakers rushed to warp and sensationalize.
In a joint statement released late Wednesday, Democratic Reps. Brad Schneider (Ill.), Jake Auchincloss (Mass.), Ted Deutch (Fla.), Lois Frankel (Fla.), Josh Gottheimer (N.J.), Elaine Luria (Va.), Kathy Manning (N.C.), Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.), Dean Phillips (Minn.), Kim Schrier (Wash.), Brad Sherman (Calif.), and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.) claimed that by invoking U.S. and Israeli crimes against humanity, Omar was giving "cover to terrorist groups" and evincing "deep-seated prejudice."
"We urge Congresswoman Omar to clarify her words placing the U.S. and Israel in the same category as Hamas and the Taliban," the lawmakers said.
The Minnesota Democrat was quick to defend herself on Twitter, slamming her colleagues for putting out a public statement demanding clarity on her comments without first contacting her privately to discuss the matter.
Citing an unnamed House Democratic aide, the New York Times reported Thursday that Omar had heard the Democratic lawmakers "were going to publicly call for a clarification of her remarks and reached out to them several times on Wednesday."
"They did not respond before their public chastisement," the aide told the Times.
Omar also accused the House Democrats of deploying "Islamophobic tropes" by claiming her remarks were fueled by "prejudice" against the U.S. and Israel.
The exchange stems from a tweet Omar posted earlier this week in which she demanded "the same level of accountability and justice for all victims of crimes against humanity." ...
In March, Blinken said the U.S. opposes the probe in the occupied territories on the grounds that the ICC has "no jurisdiction over this matter"—a position the secretary of state repeated during Monday's hearing.
In response to the attack from her fellow House Democrats, Omar said Wednesday that "citing an open case against Israel, the U.S., Hamas, and the Taliban in the ICC isn't comparison or from 'deeply seated prejudice.'" ...
On Thursday, Omar's allies in the House and progressive advocacy groups came to her defense. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), the first Palestinian-American woman ever elected to Congress, tweeted that she is "tired of colleagues (both D+R) demonizing Ilhan Omar."
"Their obsession with policing her is sick," Tlaib continued. "She has the courage to call out human rights abuses no matter who is responsible. That's better than colleagues who look away if it serves their politics." ...
IfNotNow, a progressive Jewish advocacy organization, said Thursday that the House Democrats "using Islamophobic tropes to smear Ilhan Omar do not represent the American Jewish community."
"They are more interested in protecting Israeli occupation and apartheid than working towards Jewish safety and equal rights for Palestinians and Israelis," the group added.
In a statement, Edward Ahmed Mitchell, national deputy director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said that "although we expect far-right, Islamophobic voices to target Rep. Omar for speaking up on human rights, it is shameful for her own colleagues in the House to join them in doing so."
"Rep. Omar stated an indisputable fact: various actors in the Middle East, including our own government, have committed atrocities and should face accountability for their conduct in the appropriate international forums," said Mitchell. "There is nothing 'prejudiced' about this observation."
Bomb without an air force and you're a horrible, evil terrorist. Bomb with an air force and you won't even make the news. https://t.co/JuVckyliNs
— Caitlin Johnstone (@caitoz) June 8, 2021
The US Air Force (USAF) is preparing for “over-the-horizon” strike capabilities in Afghanistan following the withdrawal of American troops from the country, Acting Air Force Secretary John P. Roth revealed to members of the Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee Tuesday.
The air force is seeking $10 billion from Congress for its presence across the Middle East.
“We have a series of air bases, they will stay for the time being, that’s where your over-the-horizon capability will come from,” Roth said.
The USAF has Al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar, Al-Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates, and Ali Al-Salem and Ahmad Al-Jaber air bases in Kuwait.
An Iranian destroyer and support vessel are now sailing in the Atlantic Ocean on a rare mission far from the Islamic Republic, Iran’s state TV has reported, amid speculation that the ships could be bound for Venezuela. The destroyer Sahand and the intelligence-gathering vessel Makran departed last month from Iran’s southern port of Bandar Abbas, said Adm Habibollah Sayyari, Iran’s deputy army chief, on Thursday. He described the mission as the Iranian navy’s longest and most challenging voyage yet, without elaborating. ...
“The navy is improving its seafaring capacity and proving its long-term durability in unfavourable seas and the Atlantic’s unfavourable weather conditions,” Sayyari said, adding that the warships would not call at any other ports during the mission.
Images from Maxar Technologies dated 28 April appear to show seven Iranian fast-attack craft typically associated with its paramilitary Revolutionary Guard on the deck of the Makran. Satellite images from Planet Labs Inc suggest it left a port at Bandar Abbas some time after 29 April. It is not known exactly where the Makran and the destroyer are now. ...
The fast-attack craft aboard the Makran are the type that the Guard uses in its tense encounters with US warships in the Persian Gulf and its narrow mouth, the strait of Hormuz. It’s not immediately clear what Venezuela’s plans would be for those ships.
BREAKING: 100% of voting records have been processed in Peru.
Pedro Castillo 50.199%
Keiko Fujimori 49.801% pic.twitter.com/KNbbyTL2On
— Kawsachun News (@KawsachunNews) June 10, 2021
Nobody ever does a piece on how slashing executive pay would lower prices. https://t.co/5tMOxtw8wk
— Schooley (@Rschooley) June 9, 2021
Inflation in the US has jumped to the highest rate since 2008 as the world’s largest economy rebounds strongly from the coronavirus crisis. The consumer prices index rose at an annual rate of 5% in May, up from 4.2% in April and the highest since August 2008, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Inflation has steadily climbed since January, when it was 1.4%.
Fears over rising prices in the US have gripped markets, with investors fearing that pent-up demand and supply chain bottlenecks would create inflationary pressures, forcing central bankers at the Federal Reserve to slow their stimulus programme.
But US stocks rallied on the news, with the S&P 500 touching a new high as traders anticipated that the inflationary surge would be temporary, allowing the Fed to put off tapering a bond-buying policy that has pumped money into global markets.
“US stocks rallied to a fresh record high after investors realised the punchbowl of stimulus is not going away any time soon,” said Edward Moya of trading platform Oanda.
Core inflation, which strips out volatile items such as food and energy, leaped to the highest level since 1992. It rose 3.8% year-on-year, up from 3% in April.
BREAKING: Rich people rule out tax hikes on rich people. https://t.co/3qfDIVWQNr
— Steve Marmel (@Marmel) June 10, 2021
This new infrastructure deal comes after negotiations between Joe Biden and the Republican party reached an impasse. A group of five Democrats and five Republicans – Bill Cassidy, Susan Collins, Joe Manchin, Lisa Murkowski, Rob Portman, Mitt Romney, Jeanne Shaheen, Kyrsten Sinema, Jon Tester, and Mark Warner – developed the $1.2tn plan.
It is unclear whether the deal will work for the White House, or for legislators from both parties. Biden had been adamant that a sweeping infrastructure bill should be funded by increasing the corporate tax rate, a move that Republicans vehemently opposed. Many Democrats are also firm that an infrastructure package should include investment in clean energy and projects to combat climate change – which again, Republicans vehemently oppose.
You're paying for Jeff Bezos's child support. And it’s perfectly legal. pic.twitter.com/vxwZbkvJeI
— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) June 10, 2021
After fully vaccinating at least 70% of all residents over the age of 12 against Covid-19, Seattle has become the most vaccinated city in America, the mayor said.
Furthermore, Jenny Durkan announced that Seattle has partially vaccinated 78% of those aged 12 and up.
Seattle, Washington state’s largest city with a population of roughly 750,000, administered over 250,000 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, vaccinating almost 131,000 people. In February, Durkan had previously announced a goal of getting 70% of all Seattle adults vaccinated.
Durkan also stated that since vaccination goals have been reached, the city can begin re-opening efforts, encouraging Seattle residents to support local businesses, and enjoy Seattle’s art and culture. “Now that we have reached community protection, we can lead the nation in safely reopening and recovering in earnest,” Durkan said.
When New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was running for his job eight years ago, pitching himself as a champion of progressive values and police reformer, he promised to end “a stop-and-frisk era that unfairly targets people of color.” Last week, as a crowded field of mayoral candidates sparred about public safety and policing during the first in-person forum of this campaign season, the infamous New York Police Department practice was back on the debate stage. Some candidates claimed credit for their role in ending it, while others accused their competitors of wanting to return to the days when officers stopped, questioned, and searched tens of thousands of mostly Black and Latino New Yorkers.
But stop-and-frisk never actually ended, and New Yorkers of color have continued to bear the brunt of it — even last year, when the coronavirus pandemic shut down much of the city and many of its residents stayed home. A review of the NYPD’s stops-related data shows that in 2020, the number of reported stops was at its lowest ever — 9,544, down from 13,459 in 2019 and 11,008 in 2018. Despite the drop, the racial disparity remained as stark as ever, with New Yorkers of color making up 91 percent of those stopped, roughly the same as in the two years prior. Black New Yorkers, who account for 24 percent of the city’s population, accounted for 56 percent of those stopped last year.
As in years past, the majority of stops were concentrated within a handful of police precincts in East New York, the Bronx, and East Harlem — all majority Black, Latino, and poor parts of the city. “The data on the precincts with the highest number of stops only confirms what New Yorkers of color have been saying all along — predominantly Black and Latinx neighborhoods are policed differently than predominantly white neighborhoods, and stop-and-frisk is no exception,” said Molly Griffard, an attorney with the Legal Aid Society, which analyzed the data. “Anyone who believes stop-and-frisk is over clearly isn’t talking to people who live in these overpoliced neighborhoods that many of our Legal Aid clients call home.”
The NYPD is required to report data on the stops officers make following a landmark federal class-action lawsuit challenging its stop-and-frisk practices. A federal judge ruled in 2013 that the department had engaged in a pattern of racially discriminatory and unconstitutional stops, targeting, at its peak in 2011, nearly 700,000 New Yorkers, 90 percent of them people of color. Only 2 percent of people stopped that year were found in possession of any unlawful items, such as drugs or weapons.
Levels in Lake Mead – the largest US reservoir by volume – fell to historic lows on Thursday, as the region continues to face the effects of a devastating prolonged drought.
Stationed on the main stem of the Colorado River in the Mojave along the Arizona-Nevada border, Lake Mead was formed with the construction of the Hoover dam, which generates electricity for areas in Arizona, California and Nevada. It provides water for urban, rural and tribal lands across the south-west.
Officials, who said the reservoir will be at its lowest since the 1930s when the dam was built, expect levels to get worse through another dry, hot summer. With no reprieve expected in the coming months, the human-made lake is currently at roughly 36% of its capacity.
In normal years, the dam produces enough electricity for 8 million people, but the water shortage will slow energy output while adding additional pressure on the increasingly water-starved systems across the west. “Every foot of lake level decline means about six [megawatt] of lost capacity,” Patricia Aaron, the Bureau of Reclamation spokesperson, told CNN. The Hoover dam’s energy capacity had already dropped by 25% by Tuesday, and Aaron added that levels will continue to decline through the autumn this year.
The rapid decline has prompted plans for the first-ever water shortage declaration from the federal government, according to reports from the US Bureau of Reclamation released in April, which projected the record-breaking declines. The declaration, which will probably be issued in August of this year, would affect distribution to states and Mexico.
NYT still refusing to cover the Ecuador case and my 673-day detention. pic.twitter.com/462fegZqT0
— Steven Donziger (@SDonziger) June 10, 2021
Environmental protesters and Native American tribes have joined together to try to block construction efforts that would expand and repair a controversial pipeline called Line 3, which would carry hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil through tribal lands and fragile watersheds in northern Minnesota.
The protesters said they were there as water and land protectors, fighting Enbridge, a Canadian-owned company, and the $9bn upgrade of the pipeline. The action sparked a confrontation with law enforcement officers and raised the prospects of a high-profile fight set to highlight the use of fossil fuels at a time of growing climate crisis.
Earlier this week, police made mass arrests of people who had chained themselves to construction equipment and barricaded a road to a construction site off Highway 71 north of Park Rapids with an old fishing boat and other obstacles. Police also used a sonic device known as a long-range acoustic device, or LRAD, on the protesters. ...
Participants called on Joe Biden to stop Line 3, which opponents say threatens northern Minnesota’s waters, the global climate, and Anishinaabe treaty rights.
Humanity must solve the climate and nature crises together or solve neither, according to a report from 50 of the world’s leading scientists. Global heating and the destruction of wildlife is wreaking increasing damage on the natural world, which humanity depends on for food, water and clean air. Many of the human activities causing the crises are the same and the scientists said increased use of nature as a solution was vital.
The devastation of forests, peatlands, mangroves and other ecosystems has decimated wildlife populations and released huge amounts of carbon dioxide. Rising temperatures and extreme weather are, in turn increasingly damaging biodiversity. But restoring and protecting nature boosts biodiversity and the ecosystems that can rapidly and cheaply absorb carbon again, the researchers said. While this is crucial, the scientists emphasise that rapid cuts in fossil fuel burning is also essential to ending the climate emergency.
They also warned against action on one crisis inadvertently aggravating the other, such as creating monoculture tree plantations that store carbon but are wildlife deserts and more vulnerable to extreme weather. “It is clear that we cannot solve [the global biodiversity and climate crises] in isolation – we either solve both or we solve neither,” said Sveinung Rotevatn, Norway’s climate and environment minister.
The peer-reviewed report was produced by the world’s leading biodiversity and climate experts, who were convened by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, both which report to the world’s political leaders. The report identified actions to simultaneously fight the climate and nature crises, including expanding nature reserves and restoring – or halting the loss of – ecosystems rich in species and carbon, such as forests, natural grasslands and kelp forests.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Elvin Bishop - Beer Drinking Woman
Elvin Bishop - Juke Joint Jump
Elvin Bishop - Fishin'
Elvin Bishop & Charlie Musselwhite - Help Me
Elvin Bishop - Struttin' My Stuff
Elvin Bishop - Callin' All Cows
Elvin Bishop - Yonder's Wall
Elvin Bishop - What the hell is going on?
Paul Butterfield, Rick Danko, Carlos Santana and Elvin Bishop - Walkin' Blues
Elvin Bishop - Something Smells Funky 'Round Here