The Evening Blues - 7-28-21



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The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: Papa Charlie Jackson

Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features blues banjo, guitar and ukelele player Papa Charlie Jackson. Enjoy!

Papa Charlie Jackson - Shake That Thing

"Most of the time you hear someone crying about people being oppressed by a tyrannical authoritarian foreign government they’re really just crying because they want those people to be oppressed by the tyrannical authoritarians in the United States government."

-- Caitlin Johnstone


News and Opinion

Daniel Hale Sentenced to 45 Months in Prison for Drone Leak

Daniel Hale, a former U.S. Air Force intelligence analyst, was sentenced to 45 months in prison Tuesday after pleading guilty to leaking a trove of government documents exposing the inner workings and severe civilian costs of the U.S. military’s drone program. Appearing in an Alexandria, Virginia, courtroom, the 33-year-old Hale told U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady that he believed it “was necessary to dispel the lie that drone warfare keeps us safe, that our lives are worth more than theirs.”

“I am here because I stole something that was never mine to take — precious human life,” Hale said. “I couldn’t keep living in a world in which people pretend that things weren’t happening that were. Please, your honor, forgive me for taking papers instead of human lives.”

In delivering his judgement, O’Grady said that Hale was “not being prosecuted for speaking out about the drone program killing innocent people” and that he “could have been a whistleblower … without taking any of these documents.”

Though the nearly four-year sentence fell short of the maximum sentence of 11 years behind bars sought by federal prosecutors, the conviction marked another victory for the U.S. government in an ongoing crackdown on national security leaks that has spanned multiple presidential administrations.

Hale was indicted by a grand jury and arrested in 2019 on a series of counts related to the unauthorized disclosure of national defense and intelligence information and the theft of government property. In addition to documents related to how the government chooses its drone strike targets — and information detailing how often people who are not the intended targets of those strikes are nonetheless killed — Hale was also linked to the release of a secret, though unclassified, rulebook detailing how the U.S. government places individuals in its sprawling system of watchlists. Long shrouded in secrecy, the release of the rulebook has been celebrated by advocacy groups as a triumph of the post-9/11 era.

Worth a full read:

Hedges: The Price of Conscience

The Justice Department coerced Daniel Hale, who was deployed to Afghanistan in 2012, on March 31 to plead guilty to one count of violating the Espionage Act, a law passed in 1917 designed to prosecute those who passed on state secrets to a hostile power, not those who expose to the public government lies and crimes. Hale admitted as part of the plea deal to “retention and transmission of national security information” and leaking 11 classified documents to a journalist. If he had refused the plea deal, he could have spent 50 years in prison.

The sentencing of Hale is one more potentially mortal blow to the freedom of the press. It follows in the wake of the prosecutions and imprisonment of other whistleblowers under the Espionage Act including Chelsea Manning, Jeffrey Sterling, Thomas Drake and John Kiriakou, who spent two-and-a-half years in prison for exposing the routine torture of suspects held in black sites. Those charged under the act are treated as if they were spies. They are barred from explaining motivations and intent to the court. They cannot provide evidence to the court of the government lawlessness and war crimes they exposed. Prominent human rights organizations, such as the ACLU and PEN, along with mainstream publications, such as The New York Times and CNN, have largely remained silent about the prosecution of Hale. The group Stand with Daniel Hale has called on President Biden to pardon Hale and end the use of the Espionage Act to punish whistleblowers. It is also collecting donations for Hale’s legal fund. The bipartisan onslaught against the press — Barack Obama used the Espionage Act eight times against whistleblowers, more than all other previous administrations combined — by criminalizing those within the system who seek to inform the public is ominous for our democracy. It is effectively extinguishing all investigations into the inner workings of power.

For Every Whistleblower They Make An Example Of, They Prevent A Thousand More

Whistleblower Daniel Hale has been sentenced to nearly four years in prison after pleading guilty to leaking secret government information about America’s psychopathic civilian-slaughtering drone assassination program.

The sentence was much harsher than Hale’s defense requested but not nearly as harsh as US prosecutors pushed for, arguing that longer prison sentences are necessary for deterring whistleblowing in the US intelligence cartel. ...

The US government makes no secret of the fact that it uses draconian prison sentencing to keep people from reporting the truth about its murderous behavior. It’s the same as the way kings would torture dissidents in the town square to show everyone what happens when you speak ill of your ruler, just dressed up in 21st-century language about “national security” (a claim that is itself nonsense because as Julian Assange said, the overwhelming majority of information is classified to protect political security, not national security).

The idea is that for every whistleblower you flog in the town square with harsh prison sentences, you deter a thousand other government insiders from ever picking up the whistle themselves. They’re not punishing anyone for endangering “national security”, or even necessarily for damaging or inconveniencing them in any real way; Reality Winner’s leaks were of no particular significance, yet she got more than five years just to make an example of her.

And it works. Of course it works. If you’ve witnessed your government doing something horrific, and you’ve got kids, or if you’re in love, or if you’ve got a loved one who needs care, or if you just really don’t want to go to prison, then you’re probably going to look at these whistleblowers being robbed of years of their lives and decide you can find a way to live with the psychological discomfort of knowing what you know without saying anything.

We may be certain that this exact scenario has played out many times. Probably thousands of times.

Think about what this means for a minute. This means that what we know about malfeasance in so-called “free democracies” like the United States is necessarily just the tiniest tip of the iceberg compared to what we do not know, because for every bit of information that leaks out there are orders of magnitude more which remain secret. They remain secret because, like any gang member, government insiders know what happens to those who talk.

So people have no idea what their government is really up to, yet they’re expected to make informed decisions about who they want to vote for to run it, and about whether or not they consent to this government in the first place.

Militaries understand that you need intelligence before you can act efficaciously; you need to be able to look before you leap, to see and know what you’re dealing with so you can take action which accords with reality. Truth is hidden and obscured from us precisely for this reason: because knowledge is power, and they want all the power.

That’s what Julian Assange was going for when he founded WikiLeaks: a tool to help the people see and know what’s going on in the world so we can act in an informed way.

That’s also why he’s in prison.

The amount of power one is given should have a directly inverse relationship with the amount of secrecy they are allowed to have. Power with secrecy is illegitimate. If you’ve got power over people you don’t get to keep secrets from them. That is not a valid thing for any power structure to do.

The US government imprisons journalists and whistleblowers for telling the truth about its murderous behavior. All US government statements about authoritarianism in other nations are invalidated by its treatment of whistleblowers and journalists.

They do evil things, they make it illegal to report those evil things to the public, they sentence anyone who does to draconian prison sentences to deter all other potential whistleblowers, then when the public starts guessing what they are up to behind those veils of secrecy, they are branded “conspiracy theorists” and banned from internet platforms.

If the American people could actually see everything the world’s most powerful government is doing in their name, they would be stricken with horror and all consent for their government would collapse. The only reason the US is able to hold together a globe-spanning undeclared empire using violence and terror is because it hides so much from public vision, uses mass media propaganda to form a false perception of what’s going on, and then stigmatizes distrust and attempts to guess what it’s up to behind the thick walls of opacity it has erected to obscure their vision.

This is illegitimate. The entire US government is illegitimate, and so is every other government that’s aligned with it and engaging in similar practices like Australia and the United Kingdom. We should unlearn all the tolerance for these systems of rule which this giant global power structure has indoctrinated into our minds.

Ecuador strips Assange of citizenship, cites ‘mistake’

Julian Assange stripped of citizenship by Ecuador

Ecuador has revoked the citizenship of Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks who is currently in a British prison.

Ecuador’s justice system formally notified the Australian of the nullity of his naturalisation in a letter that came in response to a claim filed by the South American country’s foreign ministry.

A naturalisation is reconsidered when it is granted based on the concealment of relevant facts, false documents or fraud. Ecuadorian authorities said Assange’s naturalisation letter had multiple inconsistencies, different signatures, the possible alteration of documents and unpaid fees, among other issues.

Carlos Poveda, Assange’s lawyer, said the decision was made without due process and Assange was not allowed to appear in the case.

Tunisia’s political crisis greeted with indifference on streets of capital

Two days after Tunisia’s stumbling democracy ground to a halt, the streets of the country’s capital were quiet, even indifferent on Tuesday, with the presence of army troops near a TV station one of the few symbols of a new and unsettling normal. Protesters who had raged on Sunday before President Kais Saied sacked the county’s prime minister and suspended parliament were absent from sites that days before had been febrile hubs of discontent. Instead, passersby seemed to go about their business caring little about the gravity of the moment. In some parts of Tunis, the mood was almost celebratory.

After the storied success of Tunisia’s revolution and decade-long crawl towards democracy, the standard bearer of the Arab spring appears exhausted and uncertain. The slow pace of change has worn down many of its citizens, and the Covid-led global slowdown has led some to defer to the certainty of strongman rule over pledges of a brighter future made by political leaders.

In a popular square, makeshift stalls vied for space with taxis and mopeds. Near a cart stacked with prickly pears, Abderrazak Gasouma, 53, said he supported the president’s decision. “The decisions are 99% correct, I’m just not sure about the methods,” he said. “They should have been more democratic. They’ve lost people’s trust,” he said of the parliament. “They need more youth. Less people fighting. The parliament is needed. You can’t have a country without the parliament, but it needs trust.”

Further along the crowded street, Firas Gallah, a 24-year-old student, suggested the intervention, which has been described by elected officials as a coup, was overdue. “It should have been like this for 10 years. Those corrupt politicians, they took the money and they did nothing. You have to go and see our hospitals. They would shock you. Look at our hospitals, our houses, our cars. It’s wrong.” He added: “Democracy is fine, the problem is Tunisian democracy. We’re all fine. We want to live together, and we should. You want to pray, I want to drink beer, so what? Everyone can do what they want.”

The sacked prime minister, Hichem Mechichi, on Tuesday said he would not contest his dismissal, as Saied tightened his grip on the north African state by imposing a nationwide curfew from 7pm to 6am and banning gatherings of more than three people. Movement between cities has also been limited under comprehensive emergency powers. Saied warned violent protests would be met by force. But there was little immediate sign of anger, or mobilisation against the measures. Tunisia’s political leaders appeared stunned by the president’s move and the absence of police on the streets of towns and villages suggested those who had seized power had little fear of imminent pushback.

Human Rights Watch Accuses Israel of 'Apparent War Crimes' During May Assault on Gaza

Human Rights Watch on Tuesday issued a damning report that accuses Israeli forces of committing "apparent war crimes" during an 11-day assault of the occupied Gaza Strip in May.

"Israeli forces carried out attacks in Gaza in May that devastated entire families without any apparent military target nearby," said Gerry Simpson, associate crisis and conflict director at Human Rights Watch (HRW).

"Israeli authorities' consistent unwillingness to seriously investigate alleged war crimes, as well as Palestinian forces' rocket attacks toward Israeli population centers, underscores the importance of the International Criminal Court's inquiry," Simpson added.

The ICC probe, which outgoing Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda confirmed in March, covers any relevant crimes committed by Israeli authorities as well as members of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), Hamas, and Palestinian armed groups since June 13, 2014.

In the midst of the recent violence on May 12, Bensouda said that "my office will continue to monitor developments on the ground and will factor any matter that falls within its jurisdiction." A few days later, Amnesty International flagged some specific attacks from Israel's devastating air and artillery bombardment of Gaza that the group urged the ICC to investigate.

"There is a horrific pattern emerging of Israel launching airstrikes in Gaza targeting residential buildings and family homes," Saleh Higazi, Amnesty's deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, said in May. "Under international humanitarian law, all parties must distinguish between military targets and civilian objects and direct their attacks only at military objectives."

For the report released Tuesday, HRW "investigated three Israeli strikes that killed 62 Palestinian civilians where there were no evident military targets in the vicinity."

From May 10 to May 21, 260 Palestinians were killed in Gaza, according to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. While 64 were deemed members of armed groups, at least 129 were civilians, including 66 children.

HRW focused on three Israeli strikes that killed high numbers of civilians in Gaza and where there was no clear military target, but its report notes that "other Israeli attacks during the conflict were also likely unlawful."

Peru’s new president to take charge of divided country ravaged by Covid

Receiving his presidential credentials last week, Castillo called for unity, emphatically rejecting claims he would seek to imitate “models from other countries”. “We are not Chavistas”, he said. “We are not communists, we are not extremists, much less are we terrorists.” But while Castillo, the maverick candidate of Marxist-Leninist party Perú Libre, has moderated his radical message – ruling out nationalising mines and calling for the longstanding central bank chief, Julio Velarde, to stay on – the outright or tacit refusal of far-right opponents to accept his legitimacy will undermine his ability to govern. ...

Crucially, Castillo is completely new to Lima’s corridors of power, not belonging to any of the traditional political, military or business elite channels to the presidency but rather coming to prominence as the leader of a nationwide teacher’s strike in 2017. His party has 37 out of 130 seats in congress so he will need to seek alliances to survive.

While many Peruvians identify with Castillo, who wears the typical wide-brimmed straw hat of his home region Cajamarca, many also chime with his social conservatism. His views opposing abortion and LGBTQ+ rights differ little from those of his far-right opponents. “Absolutely not,” he told a journalist when asked whether he would legalise abortion in an interview on national television. When asked the same question about gay marriage, he responded: “Even worse. Family first.”

Javier Torres, director of the regional news service Noticias Ser, says Castillo’s election is the result of a “political crisis deepened by the pandemic”. Peru has the highest Covid-19 death rate per capita and the economic fallout has forced millions back into poverty. He said expectations from Castillo’s voters would be high. “Let’s see what capacity Castillo has to redistribute [wealth] better,” he said. “But we’re in a crisis, and that redistribution could generate even more conflict.”

Biden to announce vaccine requirement for US federal workers – report

Joe Biden says requiring all federal workers to get coronavirus vaccine is “under consideration” as the Delta variant surges.

Meanwhile, CNN has reported that the president will indeed announce a vaccine requirement for all federal employees and contractors, or submit to regular testing and mitigation requirements, according to a source the network said is close to the matter.

US tells vaccinated people in high Covid risk areas to mask again

CDC advises vaccinated people to wear masks indoors in Delta surge areas

The nation’s top health agency revised its mask guidance on Tuesday and now recommends fully vaccinated Americans wear masks indoors in certain places.

In a shift from its earlier guidance issued on 13 May, which said vaccinated individuals did not need to wear masks in most indoor settings, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now advises Americans to wear a mask in “public indoor settings” with “substantial and high transmission”. This comes amid a surge in Covid cases as the highly contagious Delta variant has become more prevalent.

Tuesday’s updated guidelines come two months after the CDC revised its mask guidance for vaccinated people. The guidance, which still called for wearing masks in crowded indoor settings, like buses, planes, hospitals, prisoners and homeless shelters, had cleared the way for reopening workplaces and other venues.

The CDC now recommends that fully vaccinated people living with vulnerable household members such as those who are immunocompromised and children wear masks in indoor public spaces. In addition, the agency recommended everyone in K-12 schools wear masks, “including teachers, staff, students and visitors, regardless of vaccination status”, said the CDC director, Dr Rochelle Walensky, in a press briefing on Tuesday.

Jeff Bezos is so desperate to get to the Moon... he's offering to pay NASA?

Bezos offers NASA 2 billion dollars to put his penis on the moon.

Jeff Bezos offers Nasa $2bn in exchange for moon mission contract

Jeff Bezos has offered Nasa $2bn – if the US space agency reverses course and chooses his company, Blue Origin, to make a spacecraft designed to land astronauts back on the moon. In an open letter to the Nasa administrator, Bill Nelson – a former astronaut and Democratic senator from Florida – Bezos, who last week completed a suborbital trip to space, criticised the agency’s decision to award the moon contract to rival company SpaceX, owned by Elon Musk, in April.

Bezos urged Nasa to reconsider and said Blue Origin would waive payments in the government’s current fiscal year and the next after that up to $2bn, and pay for an orbital mission to vet its technology.

Nasa handed Musk’s SpaceX a $2.9bn contract to build a spacecraft to bring astronauts to the lunar surface as early as 2024, rejecting bids from Blue Origin and the defense contractor Dynetics. Nasa had been expected to winnow the field to two companies, but went all in on SpaceX. Blue Origin had partnered with Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Draper in its bid.

The space agency cited its own funding shortfalls, SpaceX’s proven record of orbital missions and other factors in a contract decision that a senior Nasa official, Kathy Lueders, said represented “what’s the best value to the government”. At the time Blue Origin said the decision “not only delays but also endangers America’s return to the moon”. The company filed a complaint with the Government Accountability Office, accusing the agency of giving SpaceX an unfair advantage by allowing it to revise its pricing.

Briahna Joy Gray: Biden REFUSAL To Extend Student Debt Payments PURELY COSMETIC, Debt STRIKE Coming?

Alabama is prosecuting a mom for taking prescribed medication while pregnant

A 36-year-old Alabama woman is facing felony charges for filling a doctor’s prescription. Kim Blalock, a mother of six, suffers from severe back pain caused by degeneration of her spinal discs. “There are days that I can’t get up,” Blalock has said. Her condition worsened over the years following surgeries and car accidents. An orthopedist prescribed hydrocodone, an opiate pain killer, and she started using it occasionally when the pain became too much to handle. She stopped taking her prescription during her most recent pregnancy, but as her bump grew, the weight added pressure on her back, and the pain worsened. Midway through her third trimester, she couldn’t take it any more, and refilled her prescription. She gave birth to a healthy baby boy soon after, this past September. Out of caution, she told her doctor about medications she had taken during pregnancy – including the hydrocodone. That’s where the trouble started. After her son tested positive for hydrocodone, an investigation was launched. The state child services agency found no wrongdoing, but the local police and district attorney pressed on. Two months after she gave birth, seven armed officers raided her house, terrifying her children.

Blalock is charged with prescription fraud; prosecutors allege that she committed a crime when she failed to inform her prescribing doctor that she was pregnant before refilling her hydrocodone. It’s a novel charge for such a case, but Alabama has a long history of prosecuting pregnant women under a strict reading of a statute against “chemical endangerment of a child”, which classifies substance use during pregnancy as a form of child abuse. Since 2006, when meth labs were appearing across rural communities, Alabama has made it a felony to expose a child to a chemically toxic environment. The law was meant to enforce heavier penalties on people who make drugs around children, exposing them to the vapors that are emitted in the creation of crack and meth. But prosecutors quickly began deploying the law against pregnant women, interpreting a “chemically toxic environment” to mean the pregnant body itself. ...

The case raises troubling questions. Since Blalock is being charged with a felony for not disclosing her pregnancy, does that mean that pregnant people in Alabama have an obligation to share such sensitive information – even when they haven’t been asked? Since prosecutors claim that it was illegal for Blalock to take her meds while pregnant, but was not illegal for her to take them when she wasn’t pregnant, does that suggest that pregnancy negates a patient’s right to medical treatment? Are some conditions worth treating in patients who aren’t pregnant, but somehow not worth treating in patients who are? ...

t’s hard not to dwell on the realization that if Blalock hadn’t been frank with her doctor, she would have been spared this entire ordeal. For many women, this will be the takeaway: don’t trust the doctor. When laws incentivize women to be dishonest with their medical providers, or forgo medical care entirely while pregnant, it’s not clear how those laws can be said to ensure the safety of a fetus.

'Vile': Biden DHS to Turn Away Migrant Families Under 'Expedited Removal' Policy

Immigrant rights advocates are decrying what some called an "appalling" Monday night announcement by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that under the Biden administration will return to the use of an "expedited removal" process to send families seeking asylum back over the U.S.-Mexico border if they can't convince immigration agents that they need refuge in the United States.

Groups including Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center and the ACLU had hoped the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would revoke Title 42, under which the federal government has had the authority to send to Mexico any undocumented immigrants who attempt to cross the southern U.S. border.

Instead, DHS on Monday said that some families, many of whom Mexican officials have refused to accept under Title 42, "will be placed in expedited removal proceedings" to provide "a lawful, more accelerated procedure to remove those family units who do not have a basis under U.S. law to be in the United States. "

"The announcement we had been hoping for was about an end to Title 42," Linda Rivas, executive director of Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center in El Paso, Texas, told the New York Times. "This administration continues to seek efficiency over safety and due process for migrant families."

Under the policy, immigrant families who are intercepted by immigration agents at the border will be screened promptly to determine if they have a "credible fear" of persecution or violence in their home country which led them to seek asylum.

If an agent determines there is no credible fear, families will be expelled from the country without an immigration judge hearing their case.

The policy has been used by both Democratic and Republican administrations in the past.

Before Monday's announcement, thousands of families who Mexico would not accept under Title 42 have been sent by U.S. Border Patrol agents to stay in shelters while they wait to appear in immigration court.

The departure from that system "is not due process," tweeted Camille Mackler, founder and executive director of Immigrant ARC, which provides legal services to immigrants and was formed after legal advocates descended on John F. Kennedy International Airport to provide support to immigrants when the Trump administration announced its travel ban in January 2017.



the horse race



In the Race Against Nina Turner, GOP Donors Fund Shontel Brown

As the Democratic primary for Ohio’s 11th Congressional District draws to a close, establishment pick Shontel Brown, a current Cuyahoga County Council Member and county Democratic Party chair, is facing a potential ethics probe for her past work supporting millions of dollars in contracts awarded to companies run by her partner and campaign donors. According to a story published Tuesday by Newsweek and the Daily Poster, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office took interest in an earlier Intercept story and in June referred it to the state auditor’s office, where officials agreed the matter should go before the state ethics commission. Meanwhile, and unrelated to the potential probe, newly released campaign finance disclosures show that Brown and a major Democratic PAC supporting her campaign have been heavily funded by donors who usually support Republicans.

The revelations come with just one week left in the contest between Brown and Nina Turner, a progressive former state senator who stumped for Sen. Bernie Sanders during his 2016 and 2020 presidential runs and who, to many observers, remains representative of his campaign against Hillary Clinton. Clinton, a high-profile backer of Brown, notoriously lambasted Sanders as “not a Democrat,” and said that she was proud that her greatest enemies were “Republicans.” But in this case, finance reports show GOP donors flocking to Clinton’s chosen candidate in the heated congressional race.

With Clinton and Sanders again pitted against each other, this time via state-level surrogates, the special election race for Ohio’s 11th Congressional District has been described as a reflection of “party tensions.” In addition to Clinton, Democratic establishment figures like Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., and well-funded super PACs have rallied behind Brown, while progressives like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Justice Democrats have coalesced to support Turner.

Nina Turner Challenger May Face ETHICS PROBE, Race IGNITES Amid Women's March Historic Endorsement

Republicans poised to rig the next election by gerrymandering electoral maps

Ten years ago, Republicans pulled off what would later be described as “the most audacious political heist of modern times”. It wasn’t particularly complicated. Every 10 years, the US constitution requires states to redraw the maps for both congressional and state legislative seats. The constitution entrusts state lawmakers with the power to draw those districts. Looking at the political map in 2010, Republicans realized that by winning just a few state legislative seats in places like Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and North Carolina, they could draw maps that would be in place for the next decade, distorting them to guarantee Republican control for years to come.

Republicans executed the plan, called Project Redmap, nearly perfectly and took control of 20 legislative bodies, including ones in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Then, Republicans set to work drawing maps that cemented their control on power for the next decade. Working behind closed doors, they were brazen in their efforts.

In Wisconsin, lawmakers signed secrecy agreements and then drew maps that were so rigged that Republicans could nearly hold on to a supermajority of seats with a minority of the vote. In Michigan, a Republican operative bragged about cramming “Dem garbage” into certain districts as they drew a congressional map that advantaged Republicans 9-5. In Ohio, GOP operatives worked secretly from a hotel room called “the bunker”, as they tweaked a congressional map that gave Republicans a 12-4 advantage. In North Carolina, a state lawmaker publicly said he was proposing a map that would elect 10 Republicans to Congress because he did not think it was possible to draw one that would elect 11.

This manipulation, called gerrymandering, “debased and dishonored our democracy”, Justice Elena Kagan would write years later. It allowed Republicans to carefully pick their voters, insulating them from the accountability that lies at the foundation of America’s democratic system. Now, the once-a-decade process is set to begin again in just a few weeks and Republicans are once again poised to dominate it. And this time around things could be even worse than they were a decade ago.

The redistricting cycle arrives at a moment when American democracy is already in peril. Republican lawmakers in states across the country, some of whom hold office because of gerrymandering, have enacted sweeping measures making it harder to vote. Republicans have blocked federal legislation that would outlaw partisan gerrymandering and strip state lawmakers of their authority to draw districts. Advances in mapmaking technology have also made it easier to produce highly detailed maps very quickly, giving lawmakers a bigger menu of possibilities to choose from when they carve up a state. It makes it easier to tweak lines and to test maps to ensure that their projected results will hold throughout the decade.

Ocasio-Cortez Warns Republicans Are Laying the Groundwork to 'Overturn Results' of Elections

Imploring the Democratic leadership to act before it's too late, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez warned Monday that the Republican supporters of newly enacted state-level voter suppression laws are laying the groundwork to overturn election results in the near future.

The New York Democrat joined the chorus voicing concern over the national Democratic Party's emerging plan to try to "out-organize" GOP-authored voter suppression laws—a strategy that civil rights organizations have said is doomed to fail in the absence of federal action to protect ballot access.

"Communities cannot 'out-organize' voter suppression when those they organize to elect won't protect the vote," Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. "Even if they do out-organize, the ground is being set to overturn results."

"The time to fight like hell for democracy is right now," she added. "We may not get another chance."



the evening greens


Video shows salmon injured by unlivable water temperatures after heatwave

Salmon in the Columbia River were exposed to unlivable water temperatures that caused them to break out in angry red lesions and white fungus in the wake of the Pacific north-west’s record-shattering heatwave, according to a conservation group that has documented the disturbing sight.

In a video released on Tuesday by the non-profit organization Columbia Riverkeeper, a group of sockeye salmon swimming in a tributary of the river can be seen covered in injuries the group say are the results of stress and overheating.

The salmon had been traveling upstream in the Columbia River from the ocean, to return to their natal spawning areas, when they unexpectedly changed course, explained Brett VandenHeuvel, the executive director of Columbia Riverkeeper. He described the sockeye as veering off to the Little White Salmon River, a tributary of the Columbia River where the video was recorded, in an effort to essentially “escape a burning building”.

The conservation group recorded the video following the heatwave on a day when water temperatures breached 70F (21C), a lethal temperature for these anadromous fish if they are exposed to it for long periods. The Clean Water Act prohibits the Columbia River from rising over 68F (20C).

VandenHeuvel compared the situation to a person trying to run a marathon in over 100F (38C) temperatures. “The difference is that this isn’t recreation for the salmon,” he said. “They have no choice. They either make it or they die.” The salmon in the video won’t be able to spawn in the tributary, and are expected to die from disease and heat stress.

Workers Beg Joe Manchin to Save West Virginia Pharma Plant as His Daughter Walks Away with $31M

Manchin’s Coal Conflict of Interest Not of Interest to Corporate News

The Biden administration vowed to at least begin to address the climate crisis this year as part of its infrastructure plan. Whether it will do so depends largely on West Virginia's Sen. Joe Manchin.

Manchin, who famously shot a bullet through a copy of Barack Obama's cap-and-trade climate proposal in a 2010 campaign ad, is now the chair of the Senate's Energy and Natural Resources Committee. He has starred in countless news stories about the infrastructure bills: as the key vacillating vote needed to slip Biden's $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill—which mandates the phasing out of fossil fuels—past a Republican filibuster, and as a leading broker of the parallel bipartisan bill that stripped out climate provisions entirely.

As Vox (4/1/21) reported back when the infrastructure package was first shaping up:

Figuring out whether Biden will be able to make good on promises to decarbonize the economy necessarily involves an inquiry into the beliefs, motivations and intentions of one man: Manchin.

The problem is, corporate reporters don't seem so interested in Manchin's "motivations." If they were, they'd have to tell their audience that Manchin has a giant conflict of interest in the matter of fossil fuels.

As Sludge's David Moore (7/1/21) pointed out, Manchin in 1998 founded a coal brokerage firm, Enersystems, that sells coal to local power plants. He has since passed it on to his son, but it continues to be a lucrative gig for the senator: His latest financial disclosure reported $492,000 of income from Enersystems stock for 2020. Since he took office in 2010, he's made more than $4.5 million off coal.

Every single news article about Manchin and the climate bill should name this conflict. Every reporter asking Manchin how he feels about the climate provisions should also be asking about his private interests in the bill. But in the past four months, we found exactly two US news stories in the entire Nexis news database of newspapers, magazines and TV news shows that even mentioned Enersystems.

Both mentions implied that Manchin's relationship with the company was over. Neither questioned Manchin's conflict.

The first came in a lengthy New Yorker profile of Manchin (6/28/21). Out of over 8,000 words, two sentences were devoted to Enersystems:

Out of government, he had become a successful coal broker, running a firm called Enersystems. (In his most recent Senate disclosures, he and [his wife] Gayle reported a net worth of between $4 million and $13 million.)

By referring only to worth, not earnings, the parenthetical suggests that while Manchin and his wife built a fortune through coal, he no longer profits directly from it.

The other came from the New York Times in a web-only article (6/28/21): "Can Biden Get a Coal-State Democrat on Board With His Climate Agenda?" Reporter Giovanni Russonello inched close to the conflict, writing that Manchin "himself has close ties to" the energy industry, but mentioned Manchin's relationship to Enersystems as if it were past tense:

By [the time he arrived in the Senate] Mr. Manchin had already made millions from his involvement with the coal brokerage firm Enersystems, which he had helped run before entering politics, and which continued to pay him dividends thereafter.

Russonello wrote that West Virginia's deep red politics, "as well as his history as an ally of the coal industry and other business interests, help to explain why Mr. Manchin has insisted on bipartisanship." The piece only quoted observers who professed to believe that Manchin votes strictly with the interests of his constituents in mind.

With Manchin's massive financial stake in the coal industry neatly obfuscated, why would anyone doubt such pronouncements?

Perhaps the Times feels it's done its work on Manchin's conflict, since it did report on it at length—in 2011. Damningly, Russonello's piece links to that 2011 article, which detailed Manchin's ongoing "lucrative ties" to coal. But neither Russonello or his editors apparently cared enough about the conflict of interest to report on their persistence or relevance today.

In the past three months, there was a single mention of Manchin's coal earnings that actually presented them as a conflict—a column by Alex Kotch in the British Guardian (7/20/21), who also pointed out that Manchin is trying to strip conflict of interest rules from the For the People Act. (Any reporters want to inquire into Manchin's motivations there?)

When asked about the Democratic infrastructure bill last week, Manchin told CNN (7/14/21):

I'm finding out there's a lot of language in places they're eliminating fossils, which is very, very disturbing, because if you're sticking your head in the sand, and saying that fossil [fuel] has to be eliminated in America, and they want to get rid of it, and thinking that's going to clean up the global climate, it won't clean it up all. If anything, it would be worse.

The quote reverberated around the US news ecosystem. Some pointed out how wildly unfactual the statement is. None pointed out the conflict of interest.


Also of Interest

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

Pegasus spyware is just the latest tool autocrats are using to stay in power

Failed US Empire: Is This Country Heading for the Exit?

Biden Promised Diplomacy, But He’s Overseeing Military Buildup Against China

How Washington’s top Taiwan specialist embraced separatist party leader and opened new cross-Strait crisis

A Race Between Revolution And Robotics: Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix

John Kiriakou: The Same FBI

They All Scream Over Ben & Jerry’s Not Selling Ice Cream on the West Bank

A Great Idea About Capitalism That Was Wrong

How to Defend Yourself Against the Powerful New NSO Spyware Attacks Discovered Around the World

'Recess Can Wait': 23 Groups Demand Senate Stay in DC to Pass For the People Act

Kim Iversen: Israel’s ‘Boycott Ben & Jerrys’ Mirrors CHINA Policy, EXPOSES GOP Free Speech HYPOCRISY

S&P 500 Companies Earn MORE Than Expected After COVID Wealth HEIST, Millions To LOSE Unemployment


A Little Night Music

Papa Charlie Jackson - Lexington Kentucky Blues

Papa Charlie Jackson - All I Want Is A Spoonful

Papa Charlie Jackson - Gay Cattin'

Papa Charlie Jackson - Drop That Sack

Papa Charlie Jackson - Shave 'Em Dry

Papa Charlie Jackson - Mama, Don't You Think I Know?

Papa Charlie Jackson - Long Gone, Lost John

Papa Charlie Jackson - Sheik of Desplaines Street

Papa Charlie Jackson - Good Doing Papa Blues

Papa Charlie Jackson - If I Got What You Want


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Comments

What a juicy round-up. Thanks.

Daniel Hale is 33 and got a sentence of 45 months. 45 months and out by 37 or 38 years old seems gentle compared to the life destruction heaped on Julian Assange, Steven Donziger, and even Ed Snowden, because however cozy Ed and his wife may be in Moscow, they can never come home. Not to mention Seth Rich and Michael Hastings both dead at a young age for crossing the crumbling empire.

Caitlin's piece calls this right. The War on Terror is being fought against us and it will be effective.

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11 users have voted.

NYCVG

usefewersyllables's picture

@NYCVG

“shuddered into silence”, as the saying goes.

I for one am glad that I don't know anything deserving of a whistle-blowing, because I doubt that I could bring myself to get out of bed in the morning.

I've been actively looking for a new position as an electrical design engineer for quite some time now, and I've had to flush almost all of the possibilities as they came up because I categorically refuse to get a security clearance. If it involves a clearance, I will have no part of it.

That really cuts down the job possibilities here in the land of the military and telecomm industries. But that is the only position I can take and also live with myself. Once the toy manufacturers decide that a clearance is required to design new toys, I'll be homeless and (more) bankrupt, toot sweet. My retirement plan has been "die at my desk" since the last crash. That would just hasten it...

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12 users have voted.

Twice bitten, permanently shy.

@usefewersyllables terrible news. I'm so sorry you are going through this crisis. Security clearances, vaccine passports, all of the surveillance and security theater rigamarole are designed to enervate and cripple us. and it works.

Fight it as best you can. design toys and whatever else you can without measures you cannot bear. Hang on.

I will be cheering you on.

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8 users have voted.

NYCVG

usefewersyllables's picture

@NYCVG

as such. I do have a gig currently, although I’m pretty badly underemployed, and the benefits are good- which is a good thing after needing two surgeries this year. I’m in much better shape than many, many people, so I can’t really complain that much. No one needs to feel bad for me, given that.

I’ve got 40 years experience, and that is a problem. A *huge* problem. 40 years of experience means one thing: I’m old. There simply are no jobs for 60-somethings in design engineering, especially those who don’t want to build explody things. Now, if I was 25 with 40 years of experience, I’d be in fat city, especially if I wanted to kill people. As it is, I’m in a job that really needs only 3-5 years to do well, and it pays like it. I work with new college grads who call me Gramps, and it pays enough that if we are really frugal, we will be able to pay off all the debts we ended up with (mostly to the IRS) after losing my business and our home in 2015- by about 2025. And that’s it.

Oh, well, maybe next time around I’ll pick my parents better. Always wanted to give that a try.

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11 users have voted.

Twice bitten, permanently shy.

joe shikspack's picture

@usefewersyllables

good luck with your job search.

heh, maybe if things keep going the way that i see them going, you might be able to keep yourself afloat helping people to design electrical systems to help them go off-grid.

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9 users have voted.
usefewersyllables's picture

@joe shikspack

to do that, especially within the constraints described above. If I can find a way to make enough money at it to break even before I kick the proverbial bucket, I’d be all over it- power electronics are enjoyable. Battery support and inverters for delivery are well understood technologies: the magic these days is in finding the perfect balance between cost, efficiency, and availability of components in the face of the current parts shortages in semiconductors and some specific passive components. And Tesla, of course: they are buying everything in sight, component-wise, and if you want to compete with them Ya Gotta Bring Cash. Lots and lots of cash.

I’d love to get a crack at that.

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10 users have voted.

Twice bitten, permanently shy.

joe shikspack's picture

@NYCVG

not to mention hale's lifetime sentence of ptsd, war guilt and likely heightened government scrutiny of everything that he says, writes or intimates through phatic communication.

the empire has made it clear that it will not tolerate insolence from the people that serve it (which of course is the whole world in their view).

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8 users have voted.

The lukewarm response of the Tunisian people to this current crisis reminded me of a conversation I had with a young Egyptian dentist who was doing his internship in Manhattan during the Arab Spring which was in 2011.

I asked him his views and he told me, "It is the Middle East. Nothing will change." Of course, I disputed this a bit and he laughed.

In the same conversation he told me he was in Cairo University when Obama visited and the excited reception our former President received from the students was genuine, but, "Nothing will change. It is the ME."

How right he was and yes I was a complete fool about Obama.

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10 users have voted.

NYCVG

joe shikspack's picture

@NYCVG

you can't blame the tunisian people for expressing relief that the old boss is gone before the new boss starts the same old shenanigans.

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6 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

I’m guessing democrats didn’t want to blame the parliamentarian again for not canceling student loans. Lots of shitlibs are defending her reasoning. I just don’t get their how their minds work. Or if they do anymore. Trump pretty much showed that the president can do whatever the hell he wants. But presidents can attack and bomb countries without congress permission and decide not to hold heinous lawbreakers accountable like they do us small fries.

Oops looks like Liz needs to talk to Nancy about that. If the senate is calling for Biden to do it does that mean they believe he does have the power to do it? Seems kinda like it.

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9 users have voted.

In a free country civil liberties are not only for certain groups.
So this is how liberty dies . . . with thunderous applause.
The donor class doesn’t want it, and Americans elect the bribed. So suck it up.

QMS's picture

@snoopydawg

like here in my little town, 80% of our budget is spent on cops and schools. We have no chilluns
and no need for being harassed by the cops. But we pay our taxes, like most everyone else.
She has a very weak argument. Capitalism rules do not make sense.

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12 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@snoopydawg

heh, yeah, i see the flaw - pelosi's husband hasn't had time to dump their investments that have exposure to the student debt market.

heh, well, nancy, i prefer to be surrounded by well educated people and i'm no fan of rentiers, so i'll be happy to kick in a bit in my taxes to help people get better educated.

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10 users have voted.
enhydra lutris's picture

Classic example of the early 6 string jazz banjo, or at least it sounds like it; all the plunk and no drone.

Interesting article by Ian Welsh. Everybody knows that "when you got nothing you got nothing to lose" a classic tautology, but I never considered that the poor parasite class has nothing to steal. There are limits to their ability to exploit the asset deprived which is, no doubt, very hard on them.

be well and have a good one

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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

@enhydra lutris

yep, i think that his main instrument is a six string banjo, played a lot like tenor banjos were played by ragtime folks later on.

i remember thinking desoto's ideas were pretty good back in the 80's, too. it seems that i was inadequately cynical back then. when the elites organize to give you a title to property, it's their way of surveying that which they intend to steal from you later.

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8 users have voted.
Azazello's picture

Evening all,
Everybody's a systems analyst these days.
Here's Ian Welsh:

Realism aside (I was going to say snark, but this is just how the system is meant to work) this is what happens when we are indoctrinated into thinking that capitalism is a system designed [to] uplift everyone ...

This is what I mean about our thinking being captive to our semantics. If capitalism is a system, then it must have been designed, right ? Well, no. Capitalism is not a system and it wasn't designed or developed. It wasn't meant to work any particular way. There is no founding document. There was no secret conference where the decision was taken to institute capitalism. "Capitalism" evolved. It came about through a combination of human nature and technological progress. It wasn't "developed to concentrate wealth and power in a few hands while pretending that it’s all voluntary." As a matter of historical fact, it didn't happen like that.

No wonder Mark Kelly wants more money for "defense".
There's a new missile gap !

Tucson-based Raytheon Missiles & Defense has been awarded a new contract to develop an air-launched hypersonic missile, as the Pentagon looks to accelerate development of the ultra-fast weapons in response to recent testing of hypersonics by Russia and China.

This might be good. Starts in half an hour.

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10 users have voted.

It didn't have to be this way.

joe shikspack's picture

@Azazello

i dunno. i suspect that if you were to break into jeff bezos' home, start stuffing his things into a backpack and try to make off you would soon discover multiple systems and systemic rules related to wealth and property.

thanks for the links. i guess the talent and creativity of russian engineers means that raytheon is going to have another windfall. they should send a thank you note.

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7 users have voted.
Azazello's picture

@joe shikspack

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10 users have voted.

It didn't have to be this way.

@Azazello Very sad!

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5 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@Azazello

no, that's some sad news. thanks for the heads up.

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7 users have voted.
Azazello's picture

@joe shikspack
Great resource, I hope Margaret and staff can keep it going.

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9 users have voted.

It didn't have to be this way.

joe shikspack's picture

@Azazello

glen seemed to be the engine behind the black agenda radio segments on the site and a major editorial voice, but there are a number of good writers there and hopefully they will be able to keep it going.

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9 users have voted.
enhydra lutris's picture

@Azazello

and limitations are, I think, to blame for a lot of the seemingly teleological insinuations. Part of its evolution was, however, directed to some extent. Certain institutions came into being and "Theoreticians" and "economists" began to propose that certain programs, laws and regulations be instituted, certain practices be rewarded, and others punished, and that certain propaganda streams and so-called theories be pushed and supported. Our political institutions, practices, powers and power wielders evolved along with our economic practices and regulations. But, like the inhabitants of Pandora's box, many drivers were set loose that cannot be put back into the box. The semi slavish obedience paid by the political classes to the nonsense that spews from Chicago has had a force tantamount to design, though not perfectly implemented, a flawed implementation of a flawed design, if you will. We now have institutions intended to steer and constantly redesign, but they are inordinately flawed. There are real cabals out there too, trying to force certain effects and/or practices. We have reached a point where we can assert the existence of certain general rules of thumb which we may rely upon for the near future barring cataclysmic change however.

be well and have a good one

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7 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 --

Azazello's picture

@enhydra lutris
It looks like you're talking about neoliberalism. This was a political program based on "free-market" economics. Laws were changed and propaganda was used to sell the program to a gullible public. You have described it quite well. But note, neoliberalism was not inevitable. The neoliberal reforms of the 1980s and 90s were not inherent in "capitalism". Thatcher and Reagan might have been defeated at the polls. Some people refer to neoliberalism as "late-stage capitalism", as though capitalism had identifiable stages, like cancer. It does not. The deindustrialization of the US, the financialization of our economy, the refusal to enforce anti-trust law. None of that had to happen.

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5 users have voted.

It didn't have to be this way.

enhydra lutris's picture

@Azazello

nor a theory nor a model. The best descriptor I can come up with is ideology or arguably religion. Some seeming savants or seers declared the advent of a central bank or, before that, of corporations as harbingers of certain doom, and some of their pronouncements seem to have come surprisingly close to what we have today, but there has never been necessity nor certitude that I can discern. Like the weather or chaos theory, sometimes the totally unforeseeable things have had made major impacts. Heck, the entire US owes a huge amount of its business and investment practices and strategies to (or can blame them on) Delaware, 1,981 square miles & 2020 population of 990,837. That's smaller than the Los Angeles "metro area". Just take a look at 3 Delaware Supreme Court cases: Sinclair Oil Corp. v. Levien, Unocal Corp. v. Mesa Petroleum Co., and Revlon, Inc. v. Macandrews & Forbes Holdings, Inc.. Fucking Delaware, man. One can track back, trace back and jump through as many hoops as scholarship may dictate, but, all along, as noted by some dude on the internet, "It didn't have to be this way".

be well and have a good one

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6 users have voted.

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

Azazello's picture

@enhydra lutris
That's what I'm about.

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5 users have voted.

It didn't have to be this way.

Pluto's Republic's picture

... internally and externally.

This seems like a good time to set farsighted political goals that are personal and independent.

One such goal may be to seek distance and safety from increasingly evil conditions. It's important to get out of the way of danger.

One has everything to gain from maintaining a low political profile while working toward those goals since the nation may be toppling in a different direction.

That's the clarity I get out of tonight's EB. Thanks for the news, Joe.

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14 users have voted.

Add some perspective to your news. Read People's Daily — Feel the difference in your mind!

joe shikspack's picture

@Pluto's Republic

it seems that there is little opportunity for average people to rein in the powerful forces of the elites who are destroying what exists and hoping to profit from the chaos that results.

i think we all should do what we think is right as we go forward.

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10 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

It’s definitely not good for my health.

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8 users have voted.

In a free country civil liberties are not only for certain groups.
So this is how liberty dies . . . with thunderous applause.
The donor class doesn’t want it, and Americans elect the bribed. So suck it up.

@snoopydawg @snoopydawg My tax dollars fund this crap. With me having no say so whatsoever.

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6 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@snoopydawg

but it seems like the stupid is rising.

have a great evening anyway!

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6 users have voted.