The Evening Blues - 7-28-21
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, 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:
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.
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. ...
(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 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.
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 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."
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.”
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.
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.
Bezos offers NASA 2 billion dollars to put his penis on the moon.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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