The Evening Blues - 9-24-21
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features zydeco singer and accordion player Lynn August. Enjoy!
Lynn August - 58 Pink Cadillac
"To protest in the name of morality against 'excesses' or 'abuses' is an error which hints on active complicity. There are no 'abuses' or 'excesses' here, simpily an all-pervasive system."
-- Simone de Beauvoir
News and Opinion
Anti-war groups on Thursday welcomed the U.S. House's passage of an amendment to the annual defense bill that would cut off the flow to Saudi Arabia of U.S. logistical support and weapons "that are bombing civilians" in Yemen.
"This is BIG," tweeted the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) following the afternoon 219-207 vote, which fell largely along party lines, with just 11 Democrats voting "no."
At issue was Rep. Ro Khanna's (D-Calif.) amendment to H.R. 4350, the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). It's one of dozens of amendments to the NDAA under consideration by the House this week.
According to Khanna, the vote "sent a clear message to the Saudis: end the bombing in Yemen and lift the blockade."
Speaking on the House floor Wednesday, he made a succinct case for why the measure is so needed.
Khanna said his amendment "would end all U.S. logistical support and transfer of spare parts for Saudi warplanes that are bombing Yemen, that are bombing schools, that are killing children, that are bombing civilians in the largest humanitarian crisis around the world."
"We're not going to use taxpayer dollars to give them equipment for their planes to bomb Yemeni kids," Khanna added, urging his colleagues to help "finally begin to end this war."
At least 5 million people in Yemen are on the brink of famine and a further 16 million are “marching toward starvation”, as the country’s humanitarian crisis spirals out of control.
The situation in Yemen, which has been torn apart by civil war, has been described as “rapidly deteriorating” by experts.
The World Food Programme (WFP) has raised grave concerns about the number of people facing starvation over the coming weeks and months.
The WFP’s executive director David Beasley said supply chains in the country had been disrupted and food prices were “spiking”.
He said: “With food pricing and the lack of fuel, it is catastrophic. We’ve got 5 million people right now knocking on famine’s door, we’ve got 16 million people marching toward starvation.”
Beasley also told the UN general assembly that without further funding, the organisation will be forced to cut 3.2 million people’s food rations by October, increasing to 5 million people by December.
$778 billion! Sure congress can come up with that, it's just short of $8 trillion over 10 years pissed down a rathole. But $3.5 trillion over 10 years for stuff Americans need, well, sorry you pissants, go away.
The House on Thursday passed its sweeping annual defense policy bill that would add billions of dollars to President Biden’s defense budget proposal, call for answers on failures in the war in Afghanistan and require women to register for the draft.
The House easily approved its $778 billion fiscal 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in a bipartisan 316-113 vote Thursday night. Thirty-eight Democrats and 75 Republicans voted against the bill's passage. ...
The $778 billion in funding that would be authorized by the NDAA is about $25 billion more than Biden proposed in his fiscal 2022 budget request, an increase that was approved when 14 House Armed Services Committee Democrats in vulnerable seats or with national security backgrounds sided with a Republican amendment during the committee’s consideration of the bill.
Republicans have argued for months that Biden’s defense budget proposal, which was $13 billion more than the Trump administration’s final defense budget, was inadequate in the face of threats from China and Russia and was actually a cut when accounting for inflation.
Anti-war groups on Thursday lamented the failure of two progressive-led amendments to the fiscal year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act that sought to slash the Pentagon's funding by tens of billions of dollars, with one peace campaigner calling the $780 billion U.S. military budget a "national shame."
The defeat of the amendments to next year's NDAA—one by Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) that would have reduced the Pentagon budget by 10%, and another from Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) that would have canceled $25 billion in additional military funding over what President Joe Biden requested—was expected.
British forces are linked to the deaths of 86 children and more than 200 adult civilians during the Afghanistan conflict, with compensation of just £2,380 paid on average for each life lost, new figures reveal. They are recorded in official Ministry of Defence (MoD) compensation logs, obtained by a series of freedom of information requests. According to the data, the youngest recorded civilian victim was three years old.
One of the most serious incidents listed in the records is the award of £4,233.60 to a family following the death of four children who were mistakenly “shot and killed” in an incident in December 2009.
Some of the payments amounted to less than a few hundred pounds. In February 2008, one family received £104.17 following a confirmed fatality and damage to a property in Helmand province, while another was compensated £586.42 for the death of their 10-year-old son in December 2009.
The data was compiled by Action on Armed Violence (AOAV), which examined the logs to coincide with the withdrawal of western forces from Afghanistan last month culminating in the chaotic airlift from Kabul airport.
Australia has signed up to an empty promise by agreeing to a US nuclear powered submarine deal for which there is no clear delivery date or technology transfer agreement, the furious head of the French defence contractor Naval Group has warned.
Pierre Eric Pommellet also said his firm will be seeking compensation for Australia’s cancellation of a €56bn (£48bn) contract for 12 new Attack-class submarines, which he described as a purely political decision which came without warning.
His comments to Le Figaro were the latest allegations that Australia’s decision to replace the French contract with the Aukus deal with the UK and US was political rather than defence-based. Australia has implied that the contract cancellation followed a new assessment of the security threat posed by China.
The former Catalan government head Carles Puigdemont has been detained by Italian police in Sardinia, his office said in a statement. Puigdemont was detained on Thursday when he travelled to the city of Alghero from Brussels to attend the Adifolk International Exhibition and to meet with the regional head of Sardinia and its ombudsman, his office said in a statement.
“When he arrived at the Alghero airport, he was stopped by the Italian border police. Tomorrow he will be placed at the disposal of the judges of the court of appeal of Sassari, which is competent to decide whether to release him or extradite him,” his office said in the statement.
Spain has accused the Catalan separatist leader of sedition, claiming he helped organise a 2017 independence referendum deemed illegal by Spanish courts.
The US Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday authorized a booster dose of the Pfizer and BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for those ages 65 and older and some high-risk Americans, paving the way for a quick rollout of the shots.
The booster dose is to be administered at least six months after completion of the second dose, and the authorization would include people most susceptible to severe disease and those in jobs that left them at risk, the FDA said.
Those people include “healthcare workers, teachers and daycare staff, grocery workers and those in homeless shelters or prisons, among others,” said Janet Woodcock, acting commissioner of the FDA. “This pandemic is dynamic and evolving, with new data about vaccine safety and effectiveness becoming available every day.”
Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said the agency will “continue to analyze data submitted to the FDA pertaining to the use of booster doses of Covid-19 vaccines and we will make further decisions as appropriate based on the data”.
A US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advisory panel could vote on Thursday on the use of a third shot of the vaccine, an agency official said at a public meeting of the panel on Wednesday. The CDC will have to approve any booster shot before it can be given.
The US vaccination drive against Covid-19 stood on the verge of a major new phase as government advisers on Thursday recommended booster doses of Pfizer’s vaccine for millions of older or otherwise vulnerable Americans – despite doubts the extra shots will do much to slow the pandemic.
Advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said boosters should be offered to people 65 and older, nursing home residents and those aged 50 to 64 who have risky underlying health problems. The extra dose would be given once they are at least six months past their last Pfizer shot.
Deciding who else might get one was far tougher. While there is little evidence that younger people are in danger of waning immunity, the panel offered the option of a booster for those 18 to 49 who have chronic health problems and want one. But the advisers refused to go further and open boosters to otherwise healthy frontline healthcare workers who are not at risk of severe illness, but want to avoid even a mild infection.
Top Republicans in the Senate are poised to block a key spending package advanced by Democrats in a move that could precipitate the dual fiscal crises of a government shutdown and an unprecedented US default on its colossal debt obligations.
The House has approved a combined stopgap funding measure that would keep the federal government open until early December and suspend the debt limit until after the 2022 midterm elections, sending the legislation to the Senate.
But the Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell swiftly announced that Republicans would sink the measure with a filibuster and prevent it from receiving the 60 votes needed to pass – causing a government shutdown on 1 October and a default weeks later. ...
At issue are the consequences of an unprecedented default on federal debt, which could plunge the economy into an immediate recession, trigger a meltdown in global financial markets and lead to the downgrading of America’s credit rating. Economists say a prolonged impasse could cost the US economy millions of jobs, wipe out trillions in household debt and send unemployment rates surging.
Southern California is dealing with a traffic jam unlike any other, as a record number of container ships have been stuck waiting in the waters outside the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to unload cargo. The bottleneck this week at America’s busiest port complex is the result of a shortage of trucks and drivers to pick up goods, coupled with an overwhelming demand for imported consumer products.
As of Wednesday, 62 container ships were waiting offshore to unload cargo, according to the Marine Exchange of Southern California. The backup of ships has grown since last week, when 60 ships were waiting to unload. On Sunday, there were a record 73 cargo ships waiting to enter the ports.
The surge has put increasing pressure on the Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex, already the largest in the US and the ninth largest in the world. Together the ports move 40% of container imports in the US and 30% of exports, and serve as a key gateway for imported goods from Asia. ...
With the peak shipping period getting under way as the holiday shopping season approaches, in recent weeks the ports have been setting new records for ships in port almost daily. Traffic has been rising since last summer amid a pandemic-induced buying boom that created a backlog at both ports and overwhelmed the workforce, some of whom were themselves recovering from Covid.
An anti-abortion bill that would ban abortions after an embryonic heartbeat is detected, about six weeks, and allow citizens to sue doctors who perform them, modeled after Texas’s abortion ban SB8, was introduced in Florida on Wednesday.
Filed by the Republican representative Webster Barnaby, the bill allows people to sue practitioners and others who aid people seeking abortions up to six months after an abortion was performed versus only four months allocated in Texas’s SB8. The implications of the bill have alarmed many concerned about the role of anti-abortion vigilante lawsuits.
Previous attempts to pass such restrictive abortion laws in Florida had failed, but the supreme court’s decision not to block Texas’s anti-abortion law has ignited new attempts to pass anti-choice legislation across the country. In addition to Florida, Republican leaders in at least five other states have said that they are interested in passing legislation similar to the Texas abortion ban.
The California governor signed two laws that aim to protect the privacy of abortion providers and their patients, declaring the state to be a “reproductive freedom state” and drawing a sharp contrast with Texas and its efforts to limit the procedure.
One law makes it a crime to film people within 100 feet (30 meters) of an abortion clinic for the purpose of intimidation, a law abortion rights groups believe to be the first of its kind in the country. The other law makes it easier for people on their parents’ insurance plans to keep sensitive medical information secret, including abortions.
The laws, signed by Gavin Newsom on Wednesday, intensify the political rivalry between the nation’s two most populous states. California and Texas have become bastions of their respective political ideologies, with each state carving out opposing positions on issues including healthcare, immigration and the environment. ...
“These are dark days. I don’t think one can understate the consequential nature of the moment that we are living in,” Newsom said. “It becomes of outsized importance that California assert itself.”
David Simon, creator of The Wire, announced that he will not be filming an upcoming HBO series in Texas because of the state’s abortion ban that passed earlier this month.
While the specific HBO project has not been announced, Simon said that the restrictive abortion law passed in Texas, which bans the procedure after about six weeks and allows citizens to sue doctors and others who help people access procedures, motivated his decision to film in other locations.
“[As] an employer, this is beyond politics,” Simon wrote on Twitter. “I’m turning in scripts next month on an HBO non-fiction miniseries based on events in Texas, but I can’t and won’t ask female cast/crew to forgo civil liberties to film there. What else looks like Dallas/Ft. Worth?”
Rep. Maxine Waters: Biden Admin Must End “Inhumane” Deportation & Whipping of Haitian Asylum Seekers
The Biden administration has condemned abuses at the border – while maintaining the policies underlying these abuses. That’s beyond cynical
You’ve probably seen a photograph haunting the internet this week: a white-presenting man on horseback – uniformed, armed and sneering – is grabbing a shoeless Black man by the neck of his T-shirt. The Black man’s face bears an unmistakable look of horror. He struggles to remain upright while clinging dearly to some bags of food in his hands. Between the men, a long rein from the horse’s bridle arches menacingly in the air like a whip. The photograph was taken just a few days ago in Texas, but the tableau looks like something out of antebellum America.
The image is profoundly upsetting, not just for what it portrays but for the history it evokes. What’s happening at the border right now puts two of our founding national myths – that we’re a land of liberty and a nation of immigrants – under scrutiny. To put it plainly, we don’t fare well under inspection. ...
This might explain why the White House, which has executive authority over the border patrol, rushed to condemn the pictures. But is this just image control? At the same time that it condemns the actions of its own law enforcement agency, the Biden administration has refused media access to the camp at Del Rio, invoked a Trump-era order (the rarely used public health law known as Title 42) to expel asylum seekers without review, and forcibly deported hundreds of Haitians in Texas – many of whom left the country more than a decade ago, after its 2010 earthquake – back to a country that is not only reeling from a massive earthquake last August but also from a political earthquake, the assassination of its president, last July.
Without review, it’s impossible to know who is facing real threats of persecution when returned to Haiti. The United Nations human rights spokesperson, Marta Hurtado, said that the UN “is seriously concerned by the fact that it appears there have not been any individual assessments of the cases”. Why does the Biden administration not share her concern? One has to wonder if the same policies expelling Haitians from the US today would be in effect if those arriving at the border were Europeans or even Cubans. If history is any guide – for decades, the US privileged Cubans over Haitians and other Caribbean peoples in immigration matters – the answer is no.
The US envoy to Haiti has resigned after just two months in the role, in protest at what he called the Biden administration’s “inhumane” mass deportation of Haitian migrants and asylum seekers to what he said was a highly dangerous “collapsed state”.
Daniel Foote’s angry resignation letter is a serious blow for an administration which came to office promising a more humane approach to immigration in the wake of Donald Trump’s policy of child separation. The state department said he had given a misleading account of his resignation. A senior official said that Foote had advocated sending in US troops to impose order, and that had been rejected. ...
Foote, who has previously served as deputy chief of mission in Haiti and ambassador in Zambia, was appointed special envoy after Moïse’s killing, which remains unsolved.
After about 14,000 migrants gathered in an impromptu camp under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) bureau started flying hundreds out on multiple flights every day, without the opportunity for asylum appeals or hearings.
“I will not be associated with the United States’ inhumane, counterproductive decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees and illegal immigrants to Haiti, a country where American officials are confined to secure compounds because of the danger posed by armed gangs to daily life,” Foote said in his letter to the secretary of state, Antony Blinken, that was leaked on Thursday. “Our policy approach to Haiti remains deeply flawed, and my policy recommendations have been ignored and dismissed, when not edited to project a narrative different from my own.”
Frontline communities in Latin America and advocacy groups on Thursday announced a new global campaign that targets major polluters and aims "make the right to a healthy environment an internationally recognized human right" through court action.
Launched ahead of United Nations climate talks scheduled for next month, the campaign kicked off with a pair of lawsuits filed in Chile and Colombia by the Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and member organizations in each country.
"#SeeYouInCourt is not just a hashtag or a publicity campaign," FIDH said in a statement. "It launches a series of actions to hold companies accountable for their harmful practices that prevent tens of thousands of communities around the world from living in a healthy, safe, and clean environment."
A campaign video released Thursday calls out polluters for not only disregarding human rights and the environment but also pressuring governments "to conduct business at any cost."
"Money isn't everything: Nature is priceless and its destruction causes lasting, irreparable damage," said Luis Misael Socarras Ipuana, a human rights defender and leader of the Wayuu communities of Guajira in Colombia. "Defending nature means denouncing the social, economic, and spiritual harm that companies have caused by destroying it, putting the survival of our people at risk."
In Colombia, the José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers' Collective (CAJAR), an FIDH member, joined with communities impacted by the diversion of a waterway, the Arroyo Bruno, to expand the massive Cerrejón open-pit coal mine.
"The environmental and climate impacts of the diversion have endangered the lives of local Indigenous communities and destroyed the fragile tropical dry forest ecosystem," explains FIDH's webpage for the case. "All of this is taking place in the context of a water and climate crisis."
In Chile, FIDH member Observatorio Ciudadano, the Terram Foundation, and members of the communities of Quintero and Puchuncaví, filed a constitutional protection action against the company AES Gener—recently renamed AES Andes—and the Chilean government for the impacts of coal-fired power plants.
José Aylwin, director of Observatorio Ciudadano, explained that they are taking on "the complacency of the state and the lack of even the most basic due diligence by the companies responsible for greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change with serious human rights impacts."
The new lawsuits follow other coordinated legal actions against multinational polluters over the past year taken in the pursuit of justice and promoting the right to a healthy environment, noted FIDH's statement.
"Protecting the planet and fighting the climate crisis are two of the greatest challenges of our time," said FIDH president Alice Mogwe. "States must listen to communities' demands to recognize the human right to a healthy environment and better regulate businesses with respect to the impacts of their operations."
The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday finalized a rule long pushed for by climate campaigners that slashes the use of chemicals identified as "super-pollutants" that are commonly used in air conditioners and refrigerators.
The Biden administration announced a new rule requiring the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) be cut by 85% over the next 15 years, implementing a measure in the American Innovation and Manufacturing Act, which was passed by Congress last year.
"Today EPA is taking a significant step forward to advance President Biden's bold agenda to tackle the climate crisis," said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. "Cutting these climate 'super pollutants' protects our environment, strengthens our economy, and demonstrates that America is back when it comes to leading the world in addressing climate change and curbing global warming in the years ahead." ...
HFCs, which frequently leak from appliances, heat the atmosphere at a rate hundreds of thousands of times faster than carbon dioxide and are used widely in grocery stores across the country. Undercover investigators with the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) found earlier this year that HFC leaks existed in the freezers and refrigerators of 55% of supermarkets it surveyed in the Washington, D.C. area. ...
The reduction in HFCs resulting from the rule is expected to be the equivalent of 4.5 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide and will generate about $272 billion in cost savings and public health benefits over the next three decades, according to the White House. The regulation is also expected to promote job creation as companies manufacture alternative cooling mechanisms.
Worth a click and a full read or, watch the video above:
This September 23, the United Nations holds its Food Systems Summit in New York. Under the guise of the UN system, and despite sleight-of-hand language about “equal opportunities,” this summit represents a hostile takeover of world governance by corporate forces and the billionaire elite. Today, social movements are standing up for democracy and against big capital’s devastation of their lands, farms, and communities. The United Nations is based on the idea of multilateralism, where states seek peaceful solutions on the basis of equality and respect, replacing the colonialist institutions that preceded it. That’s why for decades, the United States government has instead pushed for things like G-7, NATO, and other forms of control over geopolitics. As far-right governments have pulled back from multilateral institutions like the UN and the WHO, corporate actors have been moving in. ...
La Vía Campesina is possibly the world’s largest social movement. Made up of 200 million small farmers, peasants, farm workers, and indigenous peoples, it has popularized the idea of food sovereignty as the right of peoples to control and defend their own food systems using healthy, agro-ecological methods. After years battling against free-trade agreements and the World Bank in the streets of Seattle, Cancun, and Seoul, La Via Campesina made an incursion into institutional politics, helping to draft and carry the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants through 18 years of negotiations, until it was passed by the UN General Assembly in December 2018. This declaration protects the right of rural people to access land, water, seeds, and other resources in order to produce their own food and that of their society. Worldwide, 70% of food is produced by small farmers, who use only one-quarter of total farmland.
Meanwhile, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation created the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, or AGRA, in 2006. AGRA promised to double yields and incomes for 30 million families while cutting food insecurity by half in 13 African countries by 2020. Over the ensuing decade, AGRA collected nearly $1 billion in donations, and spent $524 million on programs promoting the use of genetically modified and hybrid seeds, commercial fossil fuel-based fertilizers, and chemical pesticides. After 14 years of mega-philanthropy’s knee on the neck of Africa, a 2020 Tufts University study showed that, in AGRA’s 13 focus countries, hunger had jumped 30%, as farmers were pushed to abandon nutritious, traditional polycultures to focus on monoculture fields of imported corn seed. Opposition to AGRA’s corporate takeover of the African countryside is part of what drove La Via Campesina and farmers across the continent to demand a place at the table in UN debates about food. ...
In June 2019, the office of UN General Secretary António Guterres, without previous discussion in the General Assembly or any other intergovernmental process, signed a strategic partnership with the World Economic Forum. ... The 2021 UN Food Systems Summit was initiated through a partnership with the World Economic Forum, with limited participation of other UN bodies, such as the Food and Agriculture Organization or the Committee on World Food Security, which traditionally handle food policies. In contrast to previous food summits, there was no intergovernmental body that convened the summit. The current president of AGRA, Agnes Kalibata, was named as special envoy to the summit, a clear sign of the hand of the Gates Foundation. ...
The summit seeks to erase the last 15 years of progress in recognizing human rights in food systems, and instead promotes false solutions like “zero-net emissions”, “soil carbon pricing”, and “a new deal for nature”, that in practice put more control over land, biodiversity, and water in the hands of elite and secretive bodies run by corporations.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Lynn August - When I Woke Up This Morning
Lynn August - Railroad Blues
Lynn August - Dont You Know I Love You
Lynn August - All the Things I Did for You
Lynn August - I'd Rather Go blind
Lynn August - Black Olives
Lynn August & the Hot August Nights - Blind Man
Lynn August - Bo Weevil
Lynn August - Hippi Ty O
Lynn August - Miquen