The Evening Blues - 8-4-21
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features Stax house band Booker T & The M.G.'s. Enjoy!
Booker T & The M.G.'s - Green Onions
"One of the necessary accompaniments of capitalism in a democracy is political corruption."
-- Upton Sinclair
News and Opinion
The US government has issued a new moratorium on evictions that will last until 3 October, following mounting pressure on Joe Biden to take action to help keep Americans in their homes as Covid-19 continues to spread. The moratorium, signed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Tuesday, comes as the Delta variant drives a surge in cases nationwide, and as states have been slow to release federal rental aid.
The new order would temporarily halt evictions in counties with “substantial and high levels” of virus transmissions and would cover areas where 90% of the US population lives. The announcement was something of a reversal for the Biden administration, which initially said that a supreme court ruling prevented a fresh ban after a prior moratorium lapsed at the end of July.
While as many as 3.6 million Americans are at risk of eviction, the administration has also emphasized that money has already been approved and many Americans will be able to stay housed with the efforts under way. The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, had called the prospect of widespread evictions “unfathomable”. The Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and other progressive lawmakers intensified pressure on the White House to issue an immediate extension.
George Marcus, chairman of both the massive real estate brokerage Marcus & Millichap and the real estate investment trust Essex Property Trust, donated $1 million on June 1 to House Majority PAC, a super PAC that works to elect Democratic lawmakers. The donation amounted to nearly 7 percent of the total funding the committee has raised so far this year. ... During the 2020 election cycle, Marcus donated a combined $1 million to the DCCC and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which elects Democratic Senate candidates. He contributed millions more to the party-aligned super PACs that aid those committees: $3.5 million to Senate Majority PAC and $3 million to House Majority PAC.
Marcus, who has a net worth of $1.7 billion, has also been a huge Biden supporter. He donated $4 million to super PACs that supported Biden: Priorities USA ($2 million), Unite the Country ($1 million), and American Bridge PAC ($1 million). He also hosted a Biden fundraiser in 2019, and donated $500,000 to the Biden Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee benefiting the Biden campaign, the Democratic National Committee, and state parties. ...
Marcus is far from the only Democratic donor who stands to gain from the eviction moratorium expiring. During the 2020 election cycle, executives from the Blackstone Group, the private equity giant, donated $2.3 million to Senate Majority PAC, $250,000 to House Majority PAC, and $350,000 to Unite the Country, the pro-Biden super PAC. ... Lobbyists for real estate interests have also been flooding Democrats with cash. The lobbying firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck has bundled $227,550 worth of donations for the DSCC this year. Brownstein’s lobbying clients include Apollo Global Management and Ares Management, two private equity firms with substantial real estate interests.
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and its lobbyists have bundled $336,500 for the DSCC this year. The firm lobbies for Koch Industries, the conglomerate led by conservative billionaire Charles Koch that has been investing in residential real estate, specifically single-family rental homes, during the pandemic. Another Akin Gump client, the National Association of Realtors, lobbied to end the CDC’s eviction ban. The firm also lobbies for KKR, a private equity giant with significant investments in luxury apartments.
Heather Podesta, who has raised $177,000 for the DSCC and $114,000 for the DCCC, is the founder and CEO of Invariant LLC, which lobbies for the National Association of Realtors and NAREIT, the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts. Steve Elmendorf, a partner at Subject Matter, has raised $63,000 for the DCCC this year. His clients include Blackstone and the American Investment Council, a lobbying group for private equity firms. The National Realtors Association PAC has separately bundled $114,500 worth of donations for conservative Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia this year.
'Give the Money Back,' Demands Tlaib After Revelation of $1 Million Donation to House Dems From Real Estate Titan
Following the revelation Tuesday that House Democrats received $1 million from the chairman of an apartment rental company weeks before they let the nationwide eviction moratorium expire, Rep. Rashida Tlaib led calls to return the money—and extend the federal eviction moratorium.
As Common Dreams reported Tuesday, The Daily Poster's Andrew Perez and Joel Warner revealed that George Marcus—who is chairman of both the real estate brokerage firm Marcus & Millichap and the real estate investment trust Essex Property Trust—donated $1 million to the House Majority PAC on June 1, days after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention extended the pandemic-related moratorium through late June.
Additionally, Marcus gave $263,400 last month to a committee benefiting the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) reelection campaign. He has also donated at least $6.5 million to PACs supporting Democrats' congressional campaigns, among other Democratic candidates and causes.
Tlaib (D-Mich.) called on Democrats to return Marcus' donation, arguing that accepting the check "does not help in building trust among people we are fighting for."
Daybreak PAC founder Jackie Fielder, a former California state Senate candidate whose campaign eschewed corporate contributions, tweeted that it is "unbelievable" that "Democrats were bought off for leaving six million Americans without an eviction moratorium."
On Tuesday, progressive House Democrats and grassroots organizers welcomed reports that President Joe Biden would later in the day announce a targeted eviction moratorium that will cover most—but not all—U.S. renters.
Brazil’s top electoral authority has launched a counter-offensive against Jair Bolsonaro’s Donald Trump-style campaign against the country’s voting system by announcing it will investigate his potentially criminal propagation of groundless vote-rigging claims.
Bolsonaro has stepped up his long-running crusade against Brazil’s electronic voting system in recent weeks, apparently hoping to energize supporters at a time when his ratings are plunging over his handling of a Covid outbreak that has killed nearly 560,000 Brazilians.
Addressing followers on Sunday, the populist leader warned that next year’s presidential election – which polls suggest Bolsonaro would lose to his leftwing rival Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva – might not be held if physical ballots were not reintroduced.
Bolsonaro made a similar threat last month, leading another prominent leftwing rival, Ciro Gomes, to urge the international community to signal that “the premature death of Brazilian democracy” would be intolerable.
Last week, Bolsonaro, who has a long history of anti-democratic bombast, caused outrage by using public television to make unsubstantiated allegations about past elections that Bolsonaro himself admitted were not grounded in fact.
Covid-19 hospitalizations are surging across the US and stretched hospitals are warning that the overwhelming majority of coronavirus patients are unvaccinated and their serious sickness preventable.
More than 50,000 people were hospitalized across the US as of Monday, according to the US health department. This is significantly fewer people than during the peak in cases, deaths and hospitalizations this January, but similar to the rates last summer when coronavirus vaccines were still in development. ...
The CDC said 99.99% of people fully vaccinated against Covid-19 have not had a breakthrough case that resulted in hospitalization or death. As of 26 July, there were 6,587 known breakthrough cases, according to the CDC. Most of the cases, about 74%, occurred in adults 65 and older.
The US is seeing more new Covid-19 infections a day than it did last summer, with an average of 72,000 cases a day this month. Cases are still much lower than in January, when there were 250,000 new cases a day in the US.
Health officials are especially concerned about Florida, where cases are the highest they have been since the pandemic began. On Monday, there were more Covid-19 hospitalizations in Florida than at any time in the pandemic. The chief executive of the Florida Hospital Association, Mary Mayhew, told MSNBC that about 95% of those hospitalized were unvaccinated.
Although President Joe Biden has called for investing $30 billion in pandemic preparedness, congressional Democrats are reportedly considering slashing such proposed funding by $25 billion in forthcoming legislation, alarming public health advocates and prompting critics to ask if lawmakers have learned anything from the ongoing coronavirus disaster.
And yet, as Democrats finalize their $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill to authorize federal spending on a range of social welfare measures, they are contemplating devoting just $5 billion to bolstering the nation's defenses against future infectious disease outbreaks, according to The Hill.
The Atlantic reported Monday that while the precise amount of funding for pandemic preparedness "is still in flux, it is significantly less than requested," according to an unnamed source familiar with the negotiations. The Senate's bipartisan infrastructure bill, meanwhile, does not include any substantial investments in public health.
"It's so stunning because if there was ever a teachable moment that we need to invest in public health, it is now," Tom Frieden, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during the Obama administration, told The Hill late last week. "We will not have another moment like this in our lifetimes."
When the White House unveiled its $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan at the end of March, Biden proposed spending $30 billion over four years to "protect Americans from future pandemics."
Those funds would be used to improve the production of vaccines and therapeutics, train personnel for epidemic response, and build up the Strategic National Stockpile, which is meant to avert potential shortages of lifesaving supplies, medicines, and devices during public health emergencies. Such funding would also make it possible to proactively develop "universal vaccines for pathogens most likely to cause a pandemic (e.g., influenza)" as well as "treatments such as broad spectrum antivirals and rapid monoclonal antibodies."
Eric Levitz of New York magazine noted Tuesday that "when the novel coronavirus reached our shores, the CDC was spending only $500 million a year on programs aimed at tackling emerging diseases. The National Institutes of Health's total budget for its program on infectious diseases, meanwhile, was roughly $5.5 billion, with only a small fraction of that sum going toward pandemic prevention. Little to nothing was spent on shoring up U.S. hospitals' surge capacity."
"By contrast, in late 2019, Congress increased the Pentagon's budget—which was already larger than the military budgets of China, India, Russia, the U.K., Saudi Arabia, Germany, France, Japan, and Australia combined—by $21 billion," Levitz pointed out. "In other words: The U.S. government treated preparing for a pandemic as a nigh-trivial concern, or a matter roughly 0.01% as important as modernizing the nation's stockpile of nuclear warheads."
Levitz suggested that "perhaps America could only have learned the hard way. Only after seeing a novel pathogen kill hundreds of thousands of its citizens, shutter its economy, and shred much of its social fabric would Congress finally see that spending a pittance on public health had significant downsides."
"This is what I thought a little over a year ago, anyway," he added. "Today, such an assessment looks far too optimistic... Congress is already back to treating pandemic preparedness as a minor concern."
Amazon warehouse workers in Alabama may get a second chance to form the company’s first union, after a US labor board official recommended a rerun of a landmark vote that failed to pass in April.
An official at the US National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) determined Amazon’s tactics against unionization tainted the election sufficiently to warrant a do-over. Workers had voted by a margin of 2-1 not to form a union in what was viewed as a huge blow to labor advocates seeking to organize Amazon, the second-largest employer in the country.
In the coming weeks, a regional director for the NLRB will decide whether to order the rerun based on this recommendation, according to an official with the board who spoke with Reuters on Monday and asked not to be named. Amazon said it planned to appeal. ...
The union at the center of the vote, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), had said Amazon had illegally threatened staff with reduced benefits and compromised the election’s integrity via a ballot collection box it secured outside the warehouse.
Specifically, the RWDSU argued Amazon had improperly influenced voting by pressuring employees to drop ballots in the mailbox while they were in view of warehouse cameras, creating a perception of surveillance. Amazon also improperly adorned a tent surrounding the mailbox with messaging related to its anti-union campaign, the RWDSU said.
The governor of Missouri has made good on his promise to pardon Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the couple who gained notoriety for pointing guns at a group of demonstrators who marched past the couple’s home in a luxury St Louis neighborhood during racial justice protests last year.
Mike Parson, a Republican, announced on Tuesday that he had pardoned Mark McCloskey, who pleaded guilty in June to misdemeanor fourth-degree assault and was fined $750, and Patricia McCloskey, who pleaded guilty to misdemeanor harassment and was fined $2,000.
The McCloskeys, both lawyers in their 60s, said they felt threatened by the protesters, who were passing their home in June 2020 on their way to demonstrate in front of the mayor’s house nearby in one of hundreds of similar demonstrations around the country after George Floyd’s death. The couple also said the group was trespassing on a private street.
Mark McCloskey emerged from his home with an AR-15-style rifle, and Patricia McCloskey waved a semiautomatic pistol, according to the indictment.
Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York state, faced demands to resign on Tuesday after an investigation found that he sexually harassed 11 women, created a “climate of fear” in a “toxic” workplace and violated federal and state civil laws.
An explosive 165-page report released by the state attorney general, Letitia James, delivered a mountain of damning and often graphic evidence that threatened to bring down Cuomo, a leading figure in the Democratic party who served in Bill Clinton’s cabinet. Among the allegations was that Cuomo, 63, reached under the blouse of an executive assistant and grabbed her breast, and that he ran his finger down the spine of a female state trooper assigned to protect him.
But the governor released a defiant video address on Tuesday, insisting “that I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances” and making clear that he still has no intention of stepping down. ...
Announcing its findings at a press conference on Tuesday, the attorney general said: “Specifically, the investigation found that Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed current and former New York state employees by engaging in unwelcome and non-consensual touching and making numerous offensive comments of a suggestive and sexual nature that created a hostile work environment for women.” ...
But the governor refused to stand down and has been raising money to run for a fourth term in office, apparently determined to brazen out the storm. The attorney general’s report, however, could prove crucial to an inquiry in the state assembly into whether there are grounds for Cuomo to be impeached.
The Democratic establishment dealt a crushing blow to the progressive movement Tuesday, when Shontel Brown, the preferred candidate of party stalwarts, triumphed over Nina Turner, a face of the insurgent left, in a special congressional primary election.
Turner conceded shortly after 10 p.m. with a biblical reference: "On this night, we will not cross the river." She trailed Brown 51 percent to 44 percent when The Associated Press called the race.
Brown’s victory in the primary, which is tantamount to the general election in this deep-blue, Northeast Ohio seat, brings an end to a contentious summer of internecine squabbling for Democrats over the direction of their party with Joe Biden in the White House. The establishment forces leave the race with a blueprint for how to blunt progressive enthusiasm this cycle. But for the liberal wing, it's another setback after a series of losses in off-year races.
In a spirited concession speech from a bowling alley in the Cleveland suburb of Maple Heights, Turner blamed the super PACs that opposed her for the loss and vowed to fight for better infrastructure and campaign-finance reform to aid like-minded candidates.
"I am going to work hard to ensure that something like this never happens to a progressive candidate again," she said. "We didn’t lose this race — the evil money manipulated and maligned this election." ...
The race united several establishment forces in the party, including pro-Israel groups and the centrist organization Third Way — partnerships that will likely continue throughout the cycle. Redistricting will create a swath of open seats over which the different ideological factions will spar.
Agents of a foreign power meddled in US election:
Nina Turner is facing blowback from both sides of the political aisle after she blamed her special election primary loss Tuesday night in Ohio on "evil money." ...
During her concession speech Tuesday night, Turner characterized the election as one manipulated by "evil money."
"I am going to work hard to ensure that something like this never happens to a progressive candidate again. See, we didn't lose this race — evil money manipulated and maligned this election," she said, according to a video posted by Newsweek. ...
According to Jewish Insider, Jewish community members in the district, who represent a sizable and politically active voting bloc, were "particularly energized" by Brown's candidacy and had launched an "aggressive" canvassing campaign on her behalf.
Liberal and conservative critics on social media called Turner’s "evil money" comments anti-Semitic. They also pointed out that Turner outraised Brown by roughly $2.4 million, according to The Columbus Dispatch. Others compared Turner to former President Trump, who still claims he was the rightful winner of the 2020 presidential election.
She lost for multiple reasons.
1) Although @ninaturner raised a ton of $$, in final weeks before the election, Dem Party Super Pacs FLOODED TV here with ads smearing Turner. Just being in hotel room days b4 election, I couldn't turn the channel w/ out seeing anti-Turner ads...
— Jordan (@JordanChariton) August 4, 2021
3) @ninaturner's campaign didn't go negative against Brown until a few weeks before the election. By the time they did, the MILLIONS worth of negative ads against her had already been on TV for awhile.
4) From multiple sources, other than the flood of volunteers that came in..
— Jordan (@JordanChariton) August 4, 2021
Whether she ran as a Democrat, Green Party, or fill-in-the-blank party, the same flood of $$ would have come in against her (money that worked based on the reasons many voters gave for supporting Brown to volunteers knocking on doors).
This doesn't mean the Dem Party is great...
— Jordan (@JordanChariton) August 4, 2021
Worth a full read:
The Senate’s new bipartisan infrastructure bill is being sold as a down payment on addressing the climate crisis. But environmental advocates and academics are warning the proposed spending bill is full of new fossil fuel industry subsidies masked as climate solutions. The latest draft bill would make fossil fuel companies eligible for at least $25 billion in new subsidies, according to an analysis by the Center for International Environmental Law.
“This is billions upon billions of dollars in additional fossil fuel industry subsidies in addition to the $15 billion that we already hand out to this industry to support and fund this industry,” said Jim Walsh, Food and Water Watch’s senior policy analyst. Scientists say that to meet the goals of the international Paris climate accord, the U.S would need to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 — and be well on the way there by 2030. With subsidies that keep fossil fuel industries going, Walsh said, “We will never be able to meet the Paris agreement if we fund these kind of programs.”
Just as concerning is the new economy the subsidies could entrench, said Walsh, through the creation of new fossil fuel infrastructure. “This would support the development of four petrochemical hubs that would create profit incentives for greenhouse gas emission production and would be focused on finding new ways of integrating fossil fuels into our economy for transportation, energy, petrochemical development, and plastics.”
In short, he added, “This deal envisions a world where we will use fossil fuels into perpetuity.”
Governments and businesses hoping to plant trees and restore forests in order to reach net-zero emissions must sharply limit such efforts to avoid driving up food prices in the developing world, the charity Oxfam has warned.
Planting trees has been mooted as one of the key ways of tackling the climate crisis, but the amount of land needed for such forests would be vast, and planting even a fraction of the area needed to offset global greenhouse gas emissions would encroach on the land needed for crops to feed a growing population, according to a report entitled Tightening the net: Net zero climate targets implications for land and food equity.
At least 1.6bn hectares – an area five times the size of India, equivalent to all the land now farmed on the planet – would be required to reach net zero for the planet by 2050 via tree-planting alone. While no one is suggesting planting trees to that extent, the report’s authors said it gave an idea of the scale of planting required, and how limited offsetting should be if food price rises are to be avoided. ...
Food prices could rise by 80% by 2050, according to some estimates, if offsetting emissions through forestry is over-used. About 350m hectares of land – an area roughly the size of India – could be used for offsetting without disrupting agriculture around the world, but taken together the plans for offsetting from countries and companies around the world could soon exceed this.
Surrounded by fires, parched by drought, and shut down by the pandemic – residents of California’s scenic South Lake Tahoe thought they’d endured everything. That was until this week, when the US Forest Service announced it was closing several popular sites after discovering bubonic plague in the chipmunk population.
The federal agency announced this week that “based on positive plague tests” in the rodent population around hiking areas, it would close the well-trafficked Taylor Creek Visitor Center and nearby Kiva Beach through Friday. The closure includes some of the region’s most spectacular hiking spots, which meander through forested glades speckled with wildflowers and along a creek that leads to Lake Tahoe’s shore.
According to the forest service, plague can be spread by “squirrels, chipmunks and other wild rodents”, specifically by fleas that come in contact with infected animals and go on to bite humans.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Booker T. And The M.G.'s - Chicken Pox
Booker T. & MGs - Soul Limbo
Booker T. & The MG's - Time Is Tight
Booker T and the MGs - Groovin'
Booker T & The MG's - Summertime
Booker T. & the MG's - Melting Pot
Booker T. & the MG's - Hip Hug-Her
Booker T & The MG's - Downtown
Booker T & the MG's - Fuquawi
Booker T & the MG's - Boot-Leg