The Evening Blues - 6-21-21
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features Motown girl group The Velvelettes. Enjoy!
The Velvelettes - He Was Really Saying Somethin
"Learning about the real villains in our world is like an endless series of Scooby Doo episodes where the gang is being chased by communists, Muslims, Russians, domestic terrorists etc, then they get the mask off and it always turns out it’s just oligarchic imperialism every time."
-- Caitlin Johnstone
News and Opinion
Glenn Greenwald, worth a full read:
The axis of liberal media outlets and their allied activist groups - CNN, NBC News, The Washington Post, Media Matters — are in an angry uproar over a recent report questioning the foreknowledge and involvement of the FBI in the January 6 Capitol riot. As soon as that new report was published on Monday, a consensus instantly emerged in these liberal media precincts that this is an unhinged, ignorant and insane conspiracy theory that deserves no consideration. The original report, published by Revolver News and then amplified by Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, documented ample evidence of FBI infiltration of the three key groups at the center of the 1/6 investigation — the Oath Keepers, the Proud Boys, and the Three Percenters — and noted how many alleged riot leaders from these groups have not yet been indicted. While low-level protesters have been aggressively charged with major felonies and held without bail, many of the alleged plot leaders have thus far been shielded from charges.
The implications of these facts are obvious. It seems extremely likely that the FBI had numerous ways to know of any organized plots regarding the January 6 riot (just as the U.S. intelligence community, by its own admission, had ample advanced clues of the 9/11 attack but, according to their excuse, tragically failed to “connect the dots”). There is no doubt that the FBI has infiltrated at least some if not all of these groups — which it has been warning for years pose a grave national security threat — with informants and/or undercover spies. It is known that Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio has served as an FBI informant in the past, and the disrupted 2020 plot by Three Percenters members to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D-MI) was shaped and driven by what The Wall Street Journal reported were the FBI’s “undercover agents and confidential informants.”
What would be shocking and strange is not if the FBI had embedded informants and other infiltrators in the groups planning the January 6 Capitol riot. What would be shocking and strange — bizarre and inexplicable — is if the FBI did not have those groups under tight control. And yet the suggestion that FBI informants may have played some role in the planning of the January 6 riot was instantly depicted as something akin to, say, 9/11 truth theories or questions about the CIA’s role in JFK’s assassination or, until a few weeks ago, the COVID lab-leak theory: as something that, from the perspective of Respectable Serious Circles, only a barely-sane, tin-foil-hat-wearing lunatic would even entertain. ...
As it usually does, The Washington Post — which told Americans that Russians had invaded the U.S. electricity grid and that a huge army of Kremlin-loyal American writers was shaping our discourse — echoed the instant CNN/liberal consensus by mocking it as “Tucker Carlson’s wild, baseless theory,” claiming that “it’s the kind of suggestion journalists in other organizations would quite possibly be fired for if they sought to push it nearly as hard.” The standard liberal blob of HuffPost/ DailyBeast/ BusinessInsider all recited from the herd script. “A laughable conspiracy theory,” chortled The Huffington Post, who has done more to help the FBI find citizens allegedly at the Capitol riot than any local law enforcement agency. ...
If the FBI had advanced knowledge of what was being plotted yet did nothing to stop the attack, it raises numerous possibilities about why that is. It could be that they just had yet another “intelligence failure” of the kind that they claimed caused them to miss the 9/11 attack and therefore need massive new surveillance authorities, budget increases, and new Patriot-Act-type laws to fix it. It could be that they allowed the riot to happen because they did not take it seriously enough or because some of them supported the cause behind it, or because they realized that there would be benefits to the security state if it happened. Or it could be that they were using those operatives under their control to plot with, direct, and drive the attack -- as they have done so many times in the past — and allowed it to happen out of either negligence or intent.
Nobody is claiming to know the answers to those questions, including Revolver News, Carlson, or anyone else. Instead, they are doing the work of actual journalists — pointing out the gaping holes in the public record about what we do and do not know about an event that is being exploited to launch a new domestic War on Terror, prompt massive new police and security state spending, and empower and justify new domestic surveillance and censorship authorities. Anyone not asking these questions or, worse, trying to delegitmize them, is a propagandist and has no business calling themselves a journalist.
World powers attempting to revive the Iran nuclear deal have warned of complications on the path to an agreement as they met for the first time since the election as Iranian president of Ebrahim Raisi, a hardline conservative cleric deeply antagonistic towards the west.
Jake Sullivan, the US national security adviser, said the arrow was pointing in the right direction, but he refused to say if sanctions imposed on Raisi by the Trump administration would be lifted. The German government’s human rights commissioner, Bärbel Kofler, said it was concerning that Raisi had not distanced himself clearly from human rights abuses. A European diplomat meanwhile warned the talks could not be open-ended, hinting strongly they needed a deal before Raisi took power in early August.
Israel – which was not at the talks – led opposition, denouncing the incoming government as a “regime of brutal hangmen” in reference to Raisi’s involvement in mass executions in 1988, and predicting it would be a pawn in the hands of the supreme leader, Ali Khamenei. ...
Senior diplomats from China, Germany, the UK, France and Russia will now return to their capitals for consultations after meeting in Vienna to take stock of developments on the 2015 deal. The US pulled out under Trump but the Biden White House has said it will rejoin under terms that will broadly mean it scales back sanctions if Iran will return to its original commitments on issues such as uranium enrichment, which it has since breached.
Iranian diplomats, including the foreign minister, Javad Zarif, insist they have the same negotiating mandate as before and say a deal could be reached well before Raisi takes power in early August, since none of the remaining obstacles are insurmountable. Raisi himself said in the election campaign that he supported the deal.
The House of Representatives voted today to repeal the 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force, a significant step to reassert congressional control over the executive branch’s military powers. But the vote does little to reduce the actual authority amassed by the White House over the past 20 years to use force all around the world. That’s because a far more consequential piece of legislation, the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force, which was passed just after the September 11 attacks, remains in place. While the 2002 AUMF relates to the use of force in Iraq and has been rarely invoked in recent years, the 2001 law is the legal backbone for U.S. military action against what are deemed to be terrorist entities or threats in any country.
Under the 2001 law, which was introduced and passed just three days after the most devastating attack on the United States since Pearl Harbor, the Defense Department has conducted airstrikes in Afghanistan, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen — killing and injuring significant numbers of civilians. Under the 2001 law, the U.S. military has detained prisoners at Guantánamo Bay and deployed troops to such varied countries as the Philippines, Kenya, Eritrea, and Georgia. The reach of the Pentagon’s arm is so vast that members of Congress were surprised to learn that the U.S. had forces in Niger when four American and four Nigerien soldiers lost their lives in an October 2017 ambush.
The 2001 AUMF includes vague language that allows the president to use force “against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.” The resolution doesn’t include a congressional reporting requirement, nor does it even mention Al Qaeda or the Taliban — and yet years later the Pentagon uses it to conduct operations against al-Shabab in Somalia. Critics of the law regard it as evidence of the legislative branch’s excessive deference to the executive branch in a democratic system that’s supposedly predicated on a balance of power over the use of military force.
While Congress has not previously had an appetite to check the White House’s post-9/11 war powers, today’s vote may be an indication of an important shift. The bill to repeal the 2002 AUMF, introduced by Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Cal., secured 49 Republicans among its 268 votes to pass. The measure has also gotten the support of President Joe Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who said the Senate Foreign Relations Committee would take up a similar bill introduced by Sens. Tim Kaine, D-Va., and Todd Young, R-Ind. Congress first passed this AUMF in October 2002 to give then-President George W. Bush the power to launch an invasion of Iraq on the basis of now-discredited claims that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was harboring weapons of mass destruction. Many lawmakers who voted in favor of the resolution later retracted their support for what they had done.
The prospect of the son of illiterate Andean peasants becoming president as his rival cries fraud has shaken Peru’s entrenched class system and its fragile democracy, letting loose a torrent of racism in the bicentennial year of the country’s independence. ...
Two weeks after the election, which national and international observers said was transparent, the stance of Keiko Fujimori – the daughter of jailed 1990s autocrat Alberto Fujimori – has emboldened the far right, who have vowed not to accept the election results. In a move which illustrates the skewed playing field, Fujimori has recruited Lima’s most expensive law firms to quash 200,000 votes, almost all from poor Andean regions which voted overwhelmingly for Castillo.
“The tension has reached a breaking point,” said José Ragas, a Peruvian historian at Chile’s Catholic University. “The Lima elite is not just trying to keep power – it’s not just that they don’t want to recognise the victory of Pedro Castillo – but they are trying to cancel the rural vote.”
The election has unleashed expressions of racism that go beyond the discrimination against Japanese-descended Alberto Fujimori who took office in 1990 and Alejandro Toledo, a US-educated Andean, who governed Peru from 2001 to 2006. In one ugly but not unusual case, the online news site Sudaca published a private text messages between middle-class white men in Lima who discussed how people from the highlands should “die of hunger” and called for the return of Alberto Fujimori’s alleged forced sterilisations which mostly targeted indigenous women. ...
As officials at Peru’s electoral board work overtime to reinspect the disputed ballots, social media and partisan news broadcasters have helped spread fake news stirring up the spectre of totalitarian rule, violence and even mass expropriations if Castillo is declared the winner amid rumblings of coup plots among the far-right. Apparently inspired by Donald Trump’s refusal to accept defeat at the US elections, Fujimori has led a string of marches against “fraud” telling supporters at one rally: “The election will be flipped, dear friends.”
A top official in the outgoing Bolivian government plotted to deploy hundreds of mercenaries from the United States to overturn the results of the South American country’s October 2020 election, according to documents and audio recordings of telephone calls obtained by The Intercept. The aim of the mercenary recruitment was to forcibly block Luis Arce from taking up the presidency for Movimiento al Socialismo, or MAS, the party of former Bolivian President Evo Morales. The plot continued even though Arce, a protégé of Morales, trounced a crowded field, winning 55 percent of first-round votes and eliminating the need for a runoff election.
In one of the leaked recordings, a person identified as the Bolivian minister of defense said he was “working to avoid the annihilation of my country.” The armed forces and the people needed to “rise up,” he added, “and block an Arce administration. … The next 72 hours are crucial.”
Disagreements between ministers and divisions within the armed forces, strained under the weight of Arce’s convincing victory on October 18, 2020, appear to have undermined the plan. It was never executed, and several top officials of the outgoing government have either fled Bolivia or been arrested on separate charges linked to corruption and their alleged role in the 2019 coup. ...
The long-serving economy minister under Morales, Arce also distanced himself from his former boss. “We have recovered democracy,” Arce told supporters, vowing to work to stabilize and unify the country. The Bolivian right wing, however, was not ready to relinquish power. The call with Áñez’s defense minister, in which the speakers suggest several other top officials are likely to be on board, sketches a coup plot even more flagrant than the one in October 2019.
Several of the plotters discussed flying hundreds of foreign mercenaries into Bolivia from a U.S. military base outside Miami. These would join forces with elite Bolivian military units, renegade police squadrons, and vigilante mobs in a desperate bid to keep the country’s largest political movement from returning to power. The phone calls, along with leaked emails discussing a mass deployment of hired guns to coincide with the elections, reveal how Bolivia could have seen fresh bloodshed late last year.
As Brazil's Covid-19 death toll surpassed 500,000 on Saturday, at least hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets of more than 400 cities across the nation and around the world to blame President Jair Bolsonaro for the grim pandemic milestone and demand his ouster.
Chanting and holding signs with slogans including "Bolsonaro Out," "500,000 Deaths, It's His Fault," and "Vaccines Now," protesters called for the resignation or impeachment of the far-right president. Demonstrators also implored the government to ramp up vaccination efforts. ...
According to Folha de São Paulo, only 15% of Brazilians are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, a sore point in a nation that prides itself on its historically successful vaccination drives. ...
In addition to #ForaBolsonaro protests across Brazil, solidarity demonstrations were also held Saturday in cities around the world, including Barcelona, Berlin, Helsinki, London, Los Angeles, New York, Tokyo, and Vienna. ...
Last month, lawmakers launched a probe of the president and his former Cabinet ministers to determine who is responsible for the country's botched pandemic response. At Saturday's demonstrations, former Health Minister General Eduardo Pazuello and Former Foreign Minister Ernesto Araújo were blasted for delaying negotiations for the purchase of Covid-19 vaccines.
Economy Minister Paulo Guedes was also condemned by protesters, some of whom demanded emergency aid payments of R$600 (about $118 U.S.) for the duration of the pandemic.
With about 100,000 new daily infections and around 2,000 people dying each day from Covid-19, Brazil is currently suffering the world's second-deadliest outbreak after India. The Ministry of Health reported 2,301 new deaths on Saturday. ...
According to a PoderData poll published on May 27, 57% of Brazilians support Bolsonaro's impeachment.
With Covid vaccination penetration in the US likely to fall short of Joe Biden’s 70% by Fourth of July target, pandemic analysts are warning that vaccine incentives are losing traction and that “two Americas” may emerge as the aggressive Delta variant becomes the dominant US strain.
Efforts to boost vaccination rates have come through a variety of incentives, from free hamburgers to free beer, college scholarships and even million-dollar lottery prizes. But of the efforts to entice people to get their shots have lost their initial impact, or failed to land effectively at all.
“It’s just not working,” Irwin Redlener at the Pandemic Resource and Response Initiative at Columbia University, told Politico. “People aren’t buying it. The incentives don’t seem to be working – whether it’s a doughnut, a car or a million dollars.” In Ohio, a program offering five adults the chance to win $1m boosted vaccination rates 40% for over a week. A month later, the rate had dropped to below what it had been before the incentive was introduced, Politico found. ...
Public officials are sounding alarms that the window between improving vaccination penetration and the threat from the more severe Delta variant, which accounts for around 10% of US cases, is beginning to close. The Delta variant appears to be much more contagious than the original strain of Covid-19 and has wreaked havoc in countries like India and the United Kingdom. ...
Separately, pandemic researchers are warning that a picture of “two Americas” is emerging – the vaccinated and unvaccinated – that in many ways might reflect red state and blue state political divides. Only 52% of Republicans said they were partially or fully vaccinated, and 29% said they have no intention of getting a vaccine, according to a CBS News/YouGov poll. 77% of Democrats said they were already vaccinated, with just 5% responding that were resisting the vaccine.
Joe Biden’s far-reaching domestic agenda in the US is facing serious setbacks on a range of issues as the political quagmire of a tightly contested Senate is seeing Democratic ambitions sharply curtailed in the face of Republican obstruction. On a number of key fronts such as pushing election reform and voting rights, efforts to curb gun control and to moving forwards on LGBTQ civil rights, there has been an effective push back by Republicans – and a handful of conservative Democrats – that is forcing Biden and the wider Democratic party on to the back foot.
The Senate, whom critics deride as an increasingly unrepresentative body that gives undue influence to smaller, less diverse Republican-run states, is scheduled to vote Tuesday on For the People Act, the voting rights bill that’s certain to be defeated having won no support from Republicans.
Republicans are expected to run down the clock – a controversial tactical rule known as a filibuster – on the package that requires lawmakers to reach a 60-vote threshold. On Sunday, Ohio Republican senator Rob Portman shot down amendments proposed by West Virginia’s conservative Democrat Joe Manchin, whose rejection of the initial bill all-but scuttled the Democrats’ project. Portman described the planned legislation as a “federal takeover of our election system”. ...
By forcing Republicans to carry out their filibuster and making their opposition clear and public to a law seen as defending the voting rights of communities of color. Democrats hope to embarrass the party. But – without destroying the filibuster, which Manchin also opposes – there is little chance of the bill passing.
They were pointed questions, not personal criticisms. But they will have conveyed a warning to Joe Biden that the patience of the left of the Democratic party and its leaders in ‘the Squad’ of progressive politicians is not infinite. “Are we passing the deal that helps working people the most?” asked Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the firebrand New York congresswoman and best known member of the squad. “Are we passing the deal that makes the most jobs? Are we passing a deal that brings down the most climate emissions? Are we passing a deal that raises wages and actually improves our infrastructure for the next generation?”
Ocasio-Cortez’s appearance on the influential TV program Morning Joe last week came with the US president weeks into negotiations with Republicans over a massive infrastructure spending package – and apparently little to show for it. ...
Biden’s next big ticket item, the American Jobs Plan, which initially proposed more than $2trn for infrastructure, is facing a rockier road. He conceded ground in negotiations with Republican senator Shelley Moore Capito that ultimately collapsed. Then a bipartisan group of senators came up with a $1.2trn proposal but, progressives say, it fails to address the climate crisis, healthcare and childcare. Democratic leaders are now discussing a two-step process in which they pass a smaller bill with bipartisan support but then follow up with a second measure passed through a process known as budget reconciliation, which would require near total party unanimity.
Yvette Simpson, chief executive of the progressive organization Democracy for America, said: “Right now people are really getting frustrated because it’s been six months and we don’t see Joe Biden engaging in the way that he should to push for more support. In fact, he’s negotiating against us and what Democrats want. “So I think there’s a growing sense of frustration among progressives and it’s understandable. We’re feeling like the clock is running out and we’re wasting valuable time and that’s where you’re going to start to see the squad and other members of the progressive movement push back and saying, ‘OK, we’ve got a limited window of time here. We need to put up or shut up’.”
Roman Catholic bishops in the US have voted to press ahead with moves that could result in Joe Biden being banned from receiving communion because of his stance on abortion, and that risks increasing tensions in a divided church. After three days of online debate, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) voted by three to one to draft new guidance on the eucharist. The unexpected strength of support for the move among the bishops was a rebuff to the Vatican, which had signalled its opposition.
Biden, a devout Catholic who attends Mass every weekend and carries a rosary that belonged to his late son, said in response to the vote that the matter was private: “I don’t think that’s going to happen.”
Conservative bishops are behind the push to draw up a new teaching document expected to say that Catholics who diverge from the church’s standpoint on abortion should be denied holy communion. Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, who proposed the motion, said: “We need to accept the discipline that those who obstinately persist in grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.” Cardinal Raymond Burke, a leading conservative and critic of Pope Francis, has previously said that politicians who “publicly and obstinately” support abortion are “apostates” who should not only be barred from receiving communion but deserve excommunication. ...
On abortion, Biden has said he personally believes life begins at conception, but recognises others do not share his view. “What I’m not prepared to do is impose a precise view that is borne out of my faith on other people,” he said in 2015. The Biden administration has lifted restrictions on federal funding for research involving human foetal tissue, rescinded a Trump policy barring organisations that refer women for abortions from receiving federal grants, and allowed women to remotely obtain a prescription for an abortion pill during the pandemic.
“Disbelief. Distraught and traumatized.” Just some of the words United Steelworkers Local 8-957 president Joe Gouzd used to describe how he and hundreds of other workers felt after their 56-year-old pharmaceutical plant in West Virginia was shut down, sending between 1,500 and 2,000 jobs to India and Australia. The Viatris plant at Chestnut Ridge, just outside Morgantown, has been in operation since 1965, providing well paid jobs in one of America’s poorer states. And the timing of the closure has workers furious.
“This is the last generic pharmaceutical manufacturing giant in the US, and executives are offshoring our jobs to India for more profits. What is this going to do to us if we have another pandemic?” said Gouzd. It is also causing a political row, with Congress accused of inaction and workers denouncing profits before people. “When is this going to end, losing American jobs? Every politician you hear, part of their political platform is: jobs, domestic jobs, domestic manufacturing, bringing jobs and manufacturing back to America,” said Gouzd. ...
Biden has proposed taxing companies that offshore jobs, but it remains to be seen whether he will be successful. Viatris may prove his first big test. The union is fighting to prevent the plant closure, asking elected officials to repurpose the plant via the Defense Production Act of 1950. It also criticized elected officials in Congress for ignoring their pleas for assistance “for no other reason than stakeholder return on investment dollars,” said Gouzd, who has also worked at the plant for 22 years. ...
Less than a month after Mylan merged with Pfizer’s Upjohn to form Viatris, the company informed the union of its plans to shut down the plant and send the work abroad, as part of a $1bn cost-cutting restructuring plan. Mylan reported $3.9bn in profits in 2019, and over $1bn in quarterly profits before the merger. The plant is scheduled to end manufacturing on 31 July when the majority of the workforce will be laid off, with closure operations planned to end by 31 March next year. ...
According to Gouzd, Republican senator Shelley Moore Capito has ignored pleas to work with Biden officials to save the plant, and Democrat Joe Manchin, whose daughter served as Mylan’s chief executive until she retired in 2020, has also ignored their requests to get involved and help.
Backed by a coalition of dozens of human rights organizations, Democratic lawmakers on Friday reintroduced legislation to do away with the constitutional loophole which has allowed forced labor to persist in the United States for more than 150 years—the 13th Amendment.
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Rep. Nikema Williams (D-Ga.) led two dozen of their colleagues in introducing the Abolition Amendment, which would strike the "slavery clause" from the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Adopted in January 1865, the amendment bans enslavement in the U.S., except as a form of punishment for criminal activity.
The lawmakers introduced the Abolition Amendment a day after President Joe Biden signed a bill making Juneteenth—the anniversary of the day Black people who had been enslaved in Galveston, Texas learned that the Union had won the Civil War and slavery was abolished—a federal holiday. Williams said doing away with the slavery clause is the next step in working to achieve equal justice in the United States.
"States are amending their constitutions to finally abolish slavery in all forms, and Congress will lead the way and finally abolish involuntary servitude in America," Williams said in a statement. "We are in a period of reckoning with our country's history and a lot of that history is marked with racism and systems of oppression. Eliminating the loophole in the 13th Amendment that allows for slavery is another opportunity to do that."
More than 20 states still include slavery clauses in their constitutions, but three—Utah, Nebraska, and Colorado—have recently put the question to voters regarding whether to strike slavery clauses from their state constitutions. Large majorities in each case approved the measures, including 80% of voters in Utah.
After it was ratified, the 13th Amendment allowed southern states to adopt "Black Codes," which drove the over-incarceration of Black men for perceived infractions such as not yielding to white people on sidewalks. Sheriffs then placed inmates in convict leasing programs in which they were forced to work for wealthy landowners—sometimes on the same plantations where they had been enslaved.
As Merkley explained in a press statement, by 1898, nearly three-quarters of Alabama’s state revenue came from renting out the forced labor of Black Americans.
"At the moment that we are celebrating, if you will, the 13th Amendment and the end of slavery and its eventual announcement ... we should at the same time recognize that the 13th Amendment was flawed," Merkley said. "It enabled states to arrest people for any reason, convict them, and put them back into slavery."
"The loophole in our Constitution's ban on slavery not only allowed slavery to continue, but launched an era of discrimination and mass incarceration that continues to this day," the senator added. "To live up to our nation's promise of justice for all, we must eliminate the slavery clause from our constitution."
Bianca Tylek, executive director of the nonprofit Worth Rises, which is "dedicated to dismantling the prison industry," said the 13th Amendment as written significantly impacts people who are incarcerated today.
"We're talking about people who can be beaten for not working. People can be denied calls and visits, contact with their family," Tylek told the Associated Press. "People can be put into solitary confinement. People can take hits on their long-term record."
The slavery clause represents "a huge stain on our culture, on our Constitution, on our nation to say 'No slavery except,'" Tylek added. "We have to be able to say no slavery—no exceptions."
"This effort to pass and ratify the Abolition Amendment joins a proud, centuries-long struggle to bend the arc of America's Constitution further toward progress," said Elizabeth Wydra, president of the Constitutional Accountability Center. "By deciding we cannot allow any exception to the prohibition of slavery and involuntary servitude to persist in the Constitution, we stand on the shoulders of giants whose legacies call upon us today to make our union ever more perfect, more equal, more inclusive, and more free."
Constitutional amendments require approval by two-thirds of the House and Senate and must be ratified by three-quarters of state legislatures.
Williams expressed hope that the issue would not be viewed as a partisan one but would be embraced by all members of Congress.
"I am willing to work with you as long as you are willing to work around making sure that everyone in this country—regardless of their background, their ZIP code, or their bank account—has access to the full promise of America," Williams said. "That includes making sure we rid involuntary servitude in this country in our Constitution."
New York City will effectively choose its next mayor in the coming days, drawing to a close a tumultuous election race marred by allegations of sexual misconduct, by the staff of one campaign launching a protest against their own candidate, and by accusations that at least one of the mayoral hopefuls doesn’t actually live in the city. The winner in Tuesday’s Democratic primary will, given the leftward political leanings of the city, almost certainly win the election proper in November, and immediately be tasked with leading New York through its darkest period in several decades.
After eight years of Bill de Blasio, who was elected as a progressive mayor but whose time in charge has frequently disappointed both the left and right wings of the Democratic party, the signs are that New Yorkers are ready to swing to the center.
But Adams, who would be the second Black man to be mayor of New York City, and his fellow centrist frontrunners Kathryn Garcia and Andrew Yang, have also been helped by the spectacular implosion of two of the most hotly-tipped left-leaning candidates over the past two months. Many supporters abandoned Scott Stringer, New York’s comptroller, after two women accused him of sexual misconduct, while followers of Dianne Morales, a former non-profit executive, were aghast when most of her campaign staff led an angry demonstration outside her office in May, accusing their candidate of union busting and inaction over allegations of racism.
Despite that added importance of the looming ballot, early voting has so far been very low in a city, and country, that may be suffering from election burnout. Just 32,032 people voted on the first two days they were eligible to do so, which New York magazine pointed out is less than 1% of the city’s 3.7 million registered Democrats and 566,000 registered Republicans. This is the first mayoral election in the city that has featured early voting, however, and the candidates are hoping most voters turn out to the city’s 1,107 polling sites on the day.
Far-right anti-government activist and militia figure Ammon Bundy has announced a bid to be governor of Idaho governor in a further sign of the rightward trend of politics in the rural and Republican-dominated state.
The Stetson-wearing activist said he wants to defend Idaho from President “Joe Biden and those in the Deep State that control him” because they “are going to try to take away our gun rights, freedom of religion, parental rights, and more and further violate the Constitution in unimaginable ways even more than they’ve already done.” ...
Bundy filed documents last month indicating plans to run. He will likely face competition. The current Idaho governor, Brad Little, Lt Governor Janice McGeachin and four other Republicans Jeff Cotton, Edward Humphreys, Lisa Marie and Cody Usabel have also filed papers.
But Idaho Republican party chairman Tom Luna said this month that Bundy is not welcome among GOP ranks, KTVB reported, pointing to Bundy’s failure to register as a Republican before at the time he filed initial campaign paperwork. “Furthermore, we do not support his antics or his chaotic political theater,” Luna said. “That is not the Idaho Republican Party, and we will not turn a blind eye to his behaviors.”
The head of climate change at the UN has warned that world leaders are still “far away” from securing a deal to limit the disastrous effects of global heating, with less than five months to go before a key summit in Glasgow.
Time is now running out, said Patricia Espinosa, who was formerly foreign minister of Mexico but now leads the UN on climate policy. She told the Observer that although advances had been made at the G7 meeting in Cornwall last weekend, progress had not been made on honouring past commitments to find $100bn (£72.5bn) a year to help developing countries invest in green technologies.
“We’re still very far away from being fully confident of having a full success at Cop26,” she said. The UN climate conference, opening on 31 October in Glasgow, is considered to be of special importance in the battle against global warming, which is now melting ice sheets, raising sea levels, destroying coral reefs and disrupting weather systems across the planet.
The Paris climate agreement in 2015 pledged that nations would try to limit temperature rises to less than 1.5C by drastically limiting fossil fuel emissions, the principal cause of global heating. Glasgow will be the first opportunity to assess the impact of the promises made in Paris and to implement new measures to avert global catastrophe. ...
Honouring the pledge is seen as critical if developing countries are to come into line with plans to cut emissions and take costly steps necessary to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels. At the G7, there were commitments to get to the target before Cop26, but a lack of detail remained about precisely how much money wealthier nations would be willing to give.
Some excerpts from an interesting article:
“I personally know probably a dozen people in California, maybe 20, who’ve had to personally outrun flames.”
It’s early June, and I am speaking to climate scientist Daniel Swain, who grew up in the state and has become, over the past several, record-setting fire seasons in California, perhaps its single most essential science communicator on weather, disaster, and fire risk. “Before the last six or seven years, I had literally never heard of that,” he says. “And then all of a sudden it’s like, Oh, you too? For a random person to know multiple people who are running from walls of flames in the middle of the night, several of them having to do it on two separate occasions in the last five years in different parts of the state…” He trails off. “I mean, that’s pretty striking.”
It can be hard to remember now, with images of orange sky and darkness at noon blurring into other surreal memories of the pandemic uncanny, but last year the state of California experienced, by acres burned, the worst year in the state’s modern fire history by far. The previous record had been set just two years before, in 2018, when the Camp Fire incinerated Paradise and almost 2 million acres burned in total throughout the state. The books that were written about that year are just being published now, and what seemed then like a horrible harbinger worth commemorating between hardcovers is already more like a keepsake, a dot on a trend line. The 2020 season more than doubled the damage of 2018, spawning a whole new term, gigafire, to describe a single blaze burning more than a million acres — a fire the size of Rhode Island. Ten percent of the world’s giant Sequoias died in the flames, though the species evolved to thrive in fire conditions — just not fire conditions as intense as these. In total last year, 4.4 million acres burned — about 4 percent of the state — producing so much smoke that there was more air pollution throughout the American West from the wild burning of forest than from all other human and industrial activity in the region combined. ...
Across the American West, “extreme” drought conditions are more widespread than they’ve been in at least 20 years. The next category worse, called “exceptional” drought, typically rare, is already this year blanketing most of the West and Southwest; it’s so widespread it would probably be better called “unprecedented drought,” at least in the age of modern record-keeping. This week arrives, throughout the region, what is expected to be a record-breaking heat wave, with temperature warnings issued for more than 50 million people: In Phoenix, it could reach 118, and in Death Valley 127. ...
In 2019, I visited California to report a story, “Living with Fire,” that tried to reckon with both the future of fire and that impulse towards accommodating and normalizing it. I spoke with countless homeowners who told me that California had always had fire, who acknowledged that the damage was getting worse but seemed unable to see clearly what those curves portended for their own future. I spoke with some who admitted to feeling a little flicker of excitement at the apocalyptic color that natural disaster gave their lives and their skies. I spoke to some who believed the changes could be corralled by clearing a bit more brush off their own property, through better housing policy and better forest management — which, to some degree, they can. But I also spoke with Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti, now 50 years old. In the year he was born, wildfires burned 61,000 acres in California. In 2013, when he was first elected mayor, it was 602,000 acres. In 2017, the year he was reelected, the total was around 1.2 million. In 2018, it was 1.89 million. “There’s no number of helicopters or trucks that we can buy, no number of firefighters that we can have, no amount of brush that we can clear that will stop this,” Garcetti told me in 2019. “The only thing that will stop this is when the Earth, probably long after we’re gone, relaxes into a more predictable weather state.”
A group of Indigenous women opposed to the Line 3 pipeline on Thursday invited Interior Secretary Deb Haaland—the first Native American woman to hold her Cabinet position and a professed critic of fossil fuel infrastructure on public and tribal lands—to visit northern Minnesota and "learn more about the impacts" of the tar sands project first-hand.
"The Line 3 pipeline project poses a significant threat to water, Indigenous Treaty rights, and worsens the global climate crisis," the group wrote in a letter (pdf) addressed to Haaland. "Line 3 is being constructed in Minnesota on Indigenous lands without consent from local tribes and public officials, and without a federal environmental review."
As the group noted, "Enbridge's new pipeline route crosses the 1854 and 1855 Treaty territories, where Anishinaabe people retain the right to hunt, fish, gather medicines, and harvest wild rice. The impact of construction—or worse, an oil spill—would permanently damage our people's ability to exercise these rights."
"The White Earth Band of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe and the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians wrote (pdf) to President Joe Biden informing him these sovereign nations do not consent to Line 3 and have enacted multiple resolutions opposing the project, and requesting President Biden respect treaty rights," the group added. "So far, President Biden and the Army Corps of Engineers haven't listened to our voices—we are hoping they will listen to yours."
The invitation was sent by Tara Houska (Couchiching First Nation), Giniw Collective; Winona LaDuke (White Earth Nation), Honor the Earth; Taysha Martineau (The Fond Du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa), Camp Migizi; Sasha Beaulieu (Red Lake Nation), Red Lake Treaty Camp; Simone Senogles (Red Lake Nation), Indigenous Environmental Network and RISE Coalition; and Joye Braun (Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe), Indigenous Environmental Network. ...
"None of us want further harms or mass arrests for communities on the ground protecting water, the global climate, and Indigenous lands," the women wrote. "There have been over 500 arrests since construction began in December. Old and young, Indigenous and allied, church and religious people of all walks are engaging in nonviolent civil disobedience to stop the pipeline. We do not want to see an escalation of militarized force against water protectors."
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
The Velvelettes - Needle In A Haystack
The Velvelettes - [We've Got] Honey Love
The Velvelettes - I'm The Exception To The Rule
The Velvelettes - (Ain't That) Good News
The Velvelettes - These Things Will Keep Me Loving You
The Velvelettes - Throw A Farewell Kiss
The Velvelettes - Should I Tell Them
The Velvelettes - A Bird In The Hand
The Velvelettes - Lonely Lonely Girl Am I
The Velvelettes - Stop Beating Around The Bush
The Velvelettes - Since You've Been Loving Me
The Velvelettes - Puisque Je Sais Qu'il Est A Moi
The Velvelettes - Boy From Crosstown