The Evening Blues - 10-26-21
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features New Orleans r&b singer Lee Dorsey. Enjoy!
Lee Dorsey - Give It Up
"It’s a pretty interesting coincidence how western news media just happen to keep discovering reasons why censorship of internet platforms is gravely necessary in a globe-spanning empire that’s held together by global narrative control."
-- Caitlin Johnstone
News and Opinion
Glenn Greenwald discusses his former funder's political inclinations, here's a snippet to get you started:
It is completely unsurprising to learn, as Politico reported last Wednesday, that the major financial supporter of Facebook "whistleblower” Frances Haugen's sprawling P.R. and legal network coordinating her public campaign is the billionaire founder of EBay, Pierre Omidyar. The Haugen Show continues today as a consortium of carefully cultivated news outlets (including those who have been most devoted to agitating for online censorship: the New York Times’ "tech” unit and NBC News's “disinformation” team) began publishing the trove of archives she took from Facebook under the self-important title "The Facebook Papers,” while the star herself has traveled to London to testify today to British lawmakers considering a bill to criminally punish tech companies that allow “foul content” or “extremism” — whatever that means — to be published.
On Sunday, Haugen told The New York Times that her own personal Bitcoin wealth means she is relying on “help from nonprofit groups backed by Mr. Omidyar only for travel and similar expenses.” But the paper also confirmed that the firm masterminding Haugen's public campaign roll-out and complex media strategy, a group "founded by the former Barack Obama aide Bill Burton,” is “being paid by donors, including the nonprofit groups backed by Mr. Omidyar." He is also a major donor to a shady new group calling itself “Whistleblower Aid” — bizarrely led by anti-Trump lawyer and social media #Resistance star Mark Zaid, who has been one of the most vocal critics of actual whistleblowers Edward Snowden and Julian Assange, both of whose imprisonment he has long demanded — that is now featuring Haugen as its star client. ...
Omidyar's central role in this latest scheme to impose greater control over social media is unsurprising because he and his multi-national foundation, the Omidyar Network, fund many if not most of the campaigns and organizations designed to police and control political speech on the internet under the benevolent-sounding banner of combating "disinformation” and “extremism.” Though one could have easily guessed that it was Omidyar fueling Frances Haugen and her team of Democratic Party operatives acting as lawyers and P.R. agents — I would have been shocked if he had no role — it is still nonetheless highly revealing of what these campaigns and groups are, how they function, what their real goals are, and the serious dangers they pose.
President Biden’s public remarks Thursday that the United States would come to Taiwan’s defense if it were attacked by China left White House officials scrambling to explain it did not represent a shift in U.S. policy. ...
The White House on Friday sought to walk back Biden’s comments. “He wasn’t announcing a change in policy nor have we changed our policy,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters. “We are guided by the Taiwan Relations Act.”
Under the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, the U.S. is committed to providing Taiwan with arms for its defense. The law does not commit the U.S. to sending troops to Taiwan to defend it.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Friday dodged questions about Biden’s remarks, and about whether the U.S. would defend Taiwan from a military attack by China. “Nobody wants to see cross-strait issues come to blows, certainly not President Biden, and there’s no reason that it should,” Austin said from NATO headquarters in Brussels.
Rubbishing a US media report, Pakistan on Saturday categorically denied that any understanding with the United States was in place to allow the use of Pakistan’s airspace for military and intelligence operation in Afghanistan.
Quoting three sources, a CNN report published Friday claimed of the Biden administration had told the lawmakers of nearing a formalized agreement with Pakistan for use of its airspace to conduct military and intelligence operations in Afghanistan.
However, responding to the US media claim, the Foreign Office spokesperson said, “No such understanding is in place”. “Pakistan and the US have longstanding cooperation on regional security and counter-terrorism and the two sides remain engaged in regular consultations,” he maintained.
More than half of Afghanistan’s population is facing acute hunger as the country has been thrown into one of the world’s largest food crises. Almost 23 million Afghans will be hungry due to conflict, drought and an economic downturn that is severely affecting livelihoods and people’s access to food as a harsh winter looms, the UN has warned; an increase of nearly 35% compared with last year.
“Afghanistan is now among the world’s worst humanitarian crises – if not the worst – and food security has all but collapsed. This winter, millions of Afghans will be forced to choose between migration and starvation,” the World Food Programme’s executive director David Beasley said, adding that “we are on a countdown to catastrophe”.
The Taliban takeover in August has contributed to the economic upheaval as billions of dollars in foreign aid payments – 40% of the country’s gross domestic product – have ceased and almost $10bn (£7.3bn) of Afghan central bank assets have been frozen.
Half of all Afghans will be facing crisis or emergency levels of acute food insecurity between this November and March next year, the UN report said.
As desperation grows, the number of beggars throughout Afghanistan’s major cities – including children – has risen as urban residents, for the first time, suffer similar rates of food insecurity to rural communities; a shifting pattern of hunger in the country.
Sudan’s military has seized power in a coup, arrested leading civilian politicians including the prime minister, Abdalla Hamdok, and declared a state of emergency as thousands of protesters flooded the streets of Khartoum in opposition.
A health ministry official said late on Monday that seven protesters had been killed and 140 people wounded after security forces fired on demonstrators. As night fell in Khartoum, witnesses described gangs of young men armed with sticks reportedly beating anyone found on the streets.
Sudan has been on edge since a failed coup plot last month unleashed recriminations between military and civilian groups who have been sharing power since the toppling of the autocrat Omar al-Bashir two years ago.
Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who headed Sudan’s power-sharing “sovereign council”, justified the seizure of power and the dissolution of the country’s transitional government by saying infighting between the military and civilian parties had threatened the country’s stability. The military was meant to have passed leadership of the joint sovereign council to a civilian figure in the coming months.
“The armed forces will continue completing the democratic transition until the handover of the country’s leadership to a civilian, elected government,” Burhan claimed in a statement, adding that the country’s constitution would be rewritten and a new legislative body formed.
A former senior Saudi intelligence officer has claimed that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is a “psychopath with no empathy” who once boasted that he could kill the kingdom’s ruler at the time, King Abdullah, and replace him with his own father. In an interview on US television, Saad Aljabri, who fled Saudi Arabia in May 2017 and is living in exile in Canada, also said he had been warned by an associate in 2018, after the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, that a Saudi hit team was heading to Canada to kill him.
Aljabri told 60 Minutes on CBS he was warned “don’t be in a proximity of any Saudi mission in Canada. Don’t go to the consulate. Don’t go to the embassy.” When he asked why, he said he was told “they dismembered the guy, they kill him. You are on the top of the list.” ... He also spoke of the plight of his two youngest children, Sarah and Omar, who were arrested and are in prison in Saudi Arabia in what is widely seen as an attempt to force their father back to the country. ...
Aljabri was a close adviser to Mohammed bin Nayef, a former crown prince and interior minister who is being held in Saudi Arabia and has been seen as a potential political rival to Prince Mohammed. “I expect to be killed one day because this guy will not rest off until he see me dead,” Aljabri said.
Aljabri has strong support in the US, where former intelligence officials have credited their Saudi counterpart for helping to save American and Saudi lives following the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the US.
Pfffftttt!!! Congressional "Progressives" in the "pre-fold" position?
Reps. Ro Khanna, Ilhan Omar, and other House progressives on Monday stressed that they will fight for the inclusion of dental, hearing, and vision benefits, along with a host of other popular measures, in the Build Back Better agenda put on the chopping block by corporate Democrats.
[Hey, I got news for you guys. You don't have to fight. You just have to vote no. - js]
Echoing Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) weekend remarks that a proposed expansion of Medicare benefits—one of the pending legislative package's most popular provisions—is "not coming out" of the reconciliation bill to appease right-wing Democrats, Khanna (D-Calif.) told Democracy Now's Amy Goodman that the Vermont Independent "is absolutely right."
"This is actually the most popular part of the Build Back Better agenda," said Khanna. "That's not an opinion; it's a fact, if you look at the polling."
Surveys show that 84% of U.S. adults, including nearly nine in 10 Democratic voters, support Sanders' long-standing proposal to expand Medicare to cover dental, hearing, and vision care for tens of millions of older Americans.
"It's not coming out," Khanna added. "We will push very hard to make sure it stays in. I know that this is a top priority for the senator, and it's a top priority for House progressives." ...
In his interview, Khanna suggested that House progressives intend to push back against the Democratic Party's conservative obstructionists, whose opposition to the Build Back Better Act's transformative proposals has resulted in a significantly weaker version of the bill.
Asked about paid family leave, which was already on the verge of being cut to four weeks before it was reported that the number could actually be zero, Khanna said, "It's absurd to have it at four weeks."
"This is an area, again, where progressives are pushing very hard," Khanna continued. "We're saying do the 12 weeks, do what every other wealthy democracy and wealthy nation does, every other OECD country does." ...
Omar (D-Minn.) suggested on Monday that the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) may also withhold its support for the Build Back Better Act if the package continues to be gutted beyond recognition.
"Let's be clear," Omar tweeted. "Votes need to be earned."
"Progressives are fighting to tackle the climate crisis, expand Medicare to cover dental, vision, and hearing, and guarantee family leave in America," she added. "These are the investments major countries make in their communities and we can too."
Rep. Andy Levin (D-Mich.) has also emphasized that no deals have yet been reached.
A leading US conservation group, the Audubon Naturalist Society (ANS), has announced it will change its name, due to the “pain” caused by the 19th-century ornithologist and slaveholder John James Audubon. The group, which holds wildlife sanctuaries across Washington DC, Virginia and Maryland, said that it had become clear its name did not connect to its diverse set of programmes and that some members and volunteers had objected. ...
Originally called the Audubon Society of the District of Columbia, ANS was set up in 1897 as part of a wave of such groups seeking to protect bird species then under threat from hunters. Audubon achieved lasting fame for his detailed studies and illustrations of American birds, made in the early 19th century.
More recently, he has come under scrutiny for his buying and selling of enslaved people in the 1820s; for his objections to the abolitionist movement; and for writings that portrayed black and indigenous people as inferior to whites.
Much more at the link:
an. 6 Protest Organizers Say They Participated in ‘Dozens’ of Planning Meetings With Members of Congress and White House Staff
As the House investigation into the Jan. 6 attack heats up, some of the planners of the pro-Trump rallies that took place in Washington, D.C., have begun communicating with congressional investigators and sharing new information about what happened when the former president’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol. Two of these people have spoken to Rolling Stone extensively in recent weeks and detailed explosive allegations that multiple members of Congress were intimately involved in planning both Trump’s efforts to overturn his election loss and the Jan. 6 events that turned violent.
Rolling Stone separately confirmed a third person involved in the main Jan. 6 rally in D.C. has communicated with the committee. This is the first report that the committee is hearing major new allegations from potential cooperating witnesses. While there have been prior indications that members of Congress were involved, this is also the first account detailing their purported role and its scope. The two sources also claim they interacted with members of Trump’s team, including former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who they describe as having had an opportunity to prevent the violence.
The two sources, both of whom have been granted anonymity due to the ongoing investigation, describe participating in “dozens” of planning briefings ahead of that day when Trump supporters broke into the Capitol as his election loss to President Joe Biden was being certified. “I remember Marjorie Taylor Greene specifically,” the organizer says. “I remember talking to probably close to a dozen other members at one point or another or their staffs.” ...
These two sources also helped plan a series of demonstrations that took place in multiple states around the country in the weeks between the election and the storming of the Capitol. According to these sources, multiple people associated with the March for Trump and Stop the Steal events that took place during this period communicated with members of Congress throughout this process. Along with Greene, the conspiratorial pro-Trump Republican from Georgia who took office earlier this year, the pair both say the members who participated in these conversations or had top staffers join in included Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), and Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas).
“We would talk to Boebert’s team, Cawthorn’s team, Gosar’s team like back to back to back to back,” says the organizer. And Gosar, who has been one of the most prominent defenders of the Jan. 6 rioters, allegedly took things a step further. Both sources say he dangled the possibility of a “blanket pardon” in an unrelated ongoing investigation to encourage them to plan the protests. “Our impression was that it was a done deal,” the organizer says, “that he’d spoken to the president about it in the Oval … in a meeting about pardons and that our names came up. They were working on submitting the paperwork and getting members of the House Freedom Caucus to sign on as a show of support.”
Bolstering criticism of the few U.S. Senate Democrats who continue to impede key party priorities—including voting rights protections—by refusing to reform or abolish the filibuster, Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday signed "extremely gerrymandered" political maps that could help the GOP retain control of the state for another decade.
Abbott's approval of Texas' new congressional, legislative, and State Board of Education districts—which will be used for next year's elections if not blocked in court—comes just after U.S. Senate Republicans filibustered the Freedom to Vote Act.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), a key opponent of killing the filibuster, failed to win 10 GOP votes in favor of that compromise federal legislation, which he helped craft after Republicans repeatedly blocked the bolder For the People Act earlier this year.
"The inaction by corporate Democrats in the U.S. Senate encourages this behavior," the group People for Bernie said in response to Abbott's move Monday.
Noting that the "rigged" Texas maps "consolidate white power as the white population is shrinking as a percentage of the state," journalist and voting rights expert Ari Berman wrote last week for Mother Jones:
This stranglehold on power will embolden Republicans to continue to pass extreme and unpopular policies, like the six-week abortion ban, permission to carry guns without a permit, and the sweeping voter suppression bill enacted in the last year.
Some of the most egregious examples of gerrymandering are achieved by targeting diverse communities and those who represent them.
Dismantling competitive districts in once-reliably Republican suburbs where Hispanic, Black, and Asian American voters are electing their preferred candidates or are on the verge of doing so is a defining feature of the new maps.
Common Cause Texas executive director Anthony Gutierrez noted in a statement Monday that redistricting intended to favor Republicans isn't new to the state. ...
Following the failure of the Freedom to Vote Act last week, President Joe Biden said during a televised town hall that "we're going to have to move to the point where we fundamentally alter the filibuster," confirming to host Anderson Cooper that he supported reforms to pass voting rights legislation "and maybe more."
Jessica Reznicek was sentenced to eight years in federal prison, ordered to pay millions in fines and labeled a terrorist by the government for her actions of civil disobedience that damaged the equipment of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) is owned by Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) a $54 billion dollar corporation that also co-owns the Bayou Bridge Pipeline. When ETP intentionally and illegally damaged the private property of hundreds of people in Louisiana, the company received no criminal consequences at all.
Both actors damaged private property. Jessica Reznicek was labeled a domestic terrorist that is, “dangerous to human life.” Even after the courts deemed Bayou Bridge’s property destruction illegal, the company received no criminal charges and the company was ordered by the district court to pay a mere $150 to each objector. To understand why these two actors have received such different consequences in response to their private property destruction, we must examine their current places within existing power structures.
In July 2017, Jessica Reznicek and a friend from the Des Moines Catholic Worker community held a press conference and admitted several acts of civil disobedience which damaged the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline across Iowa. “We are speaking publicly to empower others to act boldly, with purity of heart, to dismantle the infrastructures which deny us our rights to water, land, and liberty,” they said. No one was harmed as a result of their actions.
On October 9, 2019, the U.S. Department of Justice brought nine felony charges against Reznicek and her co-defendant. Reznicek always admitted she had engaged in civil disobedience and damaged property and did so in court. On June 30, 2021, she was sentenced to eight years in federal prison and ordered to pay $3,198,512.70 restitution. At sentencing, the federal judge agreed to the prosecution request to impose a terrorism enhancement upon Reznicek’s sentence, even though she was never charged with any acts of terrorism nor did she plead guilty to terrorism. Intentionally, no one was harmed during their actions at remote valve sites. Jessica Reznicek is now in federal prison while her sentence is being appealed.
“I think you’re talking about somebody who needs to be removed from the gene pool” ETP CEO Kelcy Warren remarked in response to their actions. The Dakota Access Pipeline is operated by Energy Transfer Partners which has over 10,000 employees and operates more than 90,000 miles of pipeline.
In the summer of 2018, Bayou Bridge Pipeline, a continuation of the Dakota Access Pipeline, began illegally destroying trees and land in the Atchafalaya River Basin in Louisiana, America’s largest freshwater swamp. Bayou Bridge Pipeline is a pipeline operating as a joint venture of Energy Transfer Partners and Phillips 66 Partners and operated by ETP. Kelcy Warren’s net worth is estimated at $4 billion.
Bayou Bridge used barges and huge machines to dredge out large long trenches, while they began construction of a pipeline through private property in the Atchafalaya Basin in Louisiana. The corporation savagely altered the environment as it plowed through - see pictures of its destruction here and here and here. They also damaged private property with no legal authority to do so. They did not have a court order nor did they have permission from hundreds of co-owners.
A few small property owners objected. Months after Bayou Bridge Pipeline destroyed their private property, a Louisiana state district court judge agreed that the action was absolutely illegal but only awarded the objectors one hundred and fifty dollars ($150.00) each in damages. Both a court of appeal and the Louisiana Supreme Court agreed that the destruction of the private property was totally illegal. On appeal, damages of $10,000 plus attorney fees to the property owners were ultimately confirmed by the Louisiana Supreme Court.
Neither Bayou Bridge Pipeline nor ETP were ever prosecuted by any federal, state or local authorities. The corporations poured money into state and local law enforcement by hiring a security company which hired state and local law enforcement to arrest people who protested against their illegal actions. To date, there have been no criminal consequences for ETP nor Bayou Bridge for their illegal destruction of private property.
So, why would a billion-dollar corporation which intentionally and illegally destroyed private property for profit not even get a slap on the wrist while a person who commits civil disobedience to protect the earth and its people is labeled a terrorist and imprisoned for eight years?
Four reasons explain the double standard.
One is Donald Trump, who was President when the charges were brought against Jessica Reznicek and not brought against ETP. The Guardian reported that Donald Trump invested somewhere between $500,000 and $1 million dollars in ETP and leaders of ETP gave well over $100,000 to Donald Trump’s election campaign. Energy Transfer Partners was represented by a law firm assisting Donald Trump in the 2016 campaign.
Two is the general power that huge corporations like ETP exercise over all phases of society. Government officials must constantly appease the financial powerful, as they did in this instance.
Three is the ongoing campaign to label all protestors who damage property as terrorists. Human Rights Watch pointed out that environmental activists committing civil disobedience have been charged as terrorists across the globe for years. The Intercept likewise reported that U.S. Attorney General activated the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces to go after Black Lives Matter protestors.
Four is the nationwide campaign by oil and gas interests to hyper criminalize protests around pipelines. Under the leadership of the right wing American Legislative Council, dozens of bills and executive orders have been introduced in over 30 states to up the penalties for people who protest against oil and gas pipelines according to Inside Climate News. More than a dozen states have passed those laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Readers who are interested in fighting back can find more information at- Protecting Water is Never Terrorism: Repeal Jessica Reznicek’s Terrorism Enhancement.
— US StormWatch (@US_Stormwatch) October 25, 2021
A huge storm surged south in California on Monday after flooding highways, toppling trees, and causing rock slides and mud flows across northern part of the state over the weekend. The state, which has spent months mired in a devastating drought, is expected to be soaked through Tuesday. Santa Barbara county officials said the storm was expected to produce roughly 1in of rain per hour, threatening the newly charred coastal areas burned in the Alisal fire. Residents were ordered to stay in and lock their doors and windows or move to higher ground. ...
The system had already left flooding and flows in its wake to the north. Drenching rains and strong winds accompanied the arrival of an atmospheric river – a long plume of Pacific moisture – into the drought-stricken state, shattering records in several cities and pounding high elevations of the Sierra Nevada with heavy snow. “It’s been a memorable past 24 hours for the Bay Area as the long talked-about atmospheric river rolled through the region,” the local weather office said. “We literally have gone from fire [and] drought conditions to flooding in one storm cycle.”
Through Sunday the National Weather Service (NWS) peppered the state with flash flood warnings as emergency crews rushed to evacuate towns hit hardest by the storm. Flooding was reported across the San Francisco Bay Area, closing streets in Berkeley, inundating Oakland’s Bay Bridge toll plaza and overflowing rivers in Napa and Sonoma counties. Power poles were downed and hundreds of thousands of people in the North Bay were left without electricity.
The NWS called preliminary rainfall totals “staggering”. In just one day, towns in southern Marin reported more than 1ft of rain. Mount Tamalpais saw more than 16.5in of rain. About 150 miles to the north, the California highway patrol closed a stretch of State Route 70 in Butte and Plumas counties because of multiple landslides within the vast Dixie fire burn scar.
Hurricane-force winds also pummeled the region with gusts so strong it broke the equipment used to measure them in some cities. In the Santa Cruz mountains the wind was records at nearly 90mph and to the north trucks were toppled as they crossed bridges.
It is worth noting that this exact situation--an extremely strong atmospheric river bringing brief period of record rainfall in midst of severe and temperature-amplified drought--is what we expect to see in California with #ClimateChange. #CAwx #CAwater https://t.co/pKO7f0Pnhw
— Daniel Swain (@Weather_West) October 25, 2021
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Lee Dorsey - Everything I Do Gohn Be Funky (From Now On)
Lee Dorsey - Gotta Find A Job
Lee Dorsey - Get Out Of My Life Woman
Lee Dorsey - Holy Cow
Lee Dorsey - Ride Your Pony
Lee Dorsey - Confusion
Lee Dorsey - Sneakin' Sally Through The Alley
Lee Dorsey - Behind the 8-Ball
Lee Dorsey - Night People
Lee Dorsey - Working In The Coal Mine